Android Central Game Awards 2021
This year was a pivotal year for the games industry, marking the first full year of the ninth generation of video game consoles, beginning with the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. It saw blockbuster titles and indies alike release in a time where the future was (and frankly, still is) uncertain. Between hardware and software, there were plenty of products that stood out to us here at Android Central despite a ton of delays.
And if you're looking for our general Android Central Awards, we've got you covered there too, discussing the best products and services across all of Android.
Here are our top picks for the best games and accessories in 2021 across PlayStation, Android, virtual reality, and Stadia. Congratulations to all of the winners!
Best Games of 2021
Game of the Year
There was a lot of hype surrounding Resident Evil Village based solely on the reveal of tall vampire Lady Dimitrescu, but both fans of the franchise and newcomers got a complete horror experience beyond just one (rightfully amazing) character. Village is not only a great Resident Evil game, but it's a love letter to horror, crafting a tale that has a type of terror for every occasion. Combined with smooth first-person gameplay, gorgeous landscapes, and nightmare-inducing monsters, Resident Evil Village is a must-play experience.
Best PS5 exclusive
Coming from Arkane, the studio behind the Dishonored series and Prey, Deathloop was billed as a murder puzzle that saw players stuck in a time loop, attempting to kill eight targets in a single day to free themselves. The world that Arkane created in Deathloop is equal parts fascinating and troubling, portraying a mysterious world of eccentric characters who would do anything to preserve the loop. Its mission design is thoughtful without being frustrating, and the 1960s aesthetic lends itself to the atmosphere wonderfully. Deathloop is a game we never wanted to end, and hopefully we see more of in the future.
Best Oculus Quest game
Resident Evil 4 VR transforms an all-time classic into something even better. Armature Studios ported RE4 VR to add motion controls, and did so so successfully that you'll never want to play it with a controller again. This game is easily one of the best games on the Quest 2, especially for fans of shooters and action/horror, and might be the thing to get non-VR users to pick up a headset.
Best Android game
Pokémon Unite really has no reason to be as fun and addicting as it is. Most people balked at the idea of a Pokémon MOBA, but it works. The progression is fair and players aren't pressured to spend money on microtransactions if they don't want to. With a growing roster of nearly 30 Pokémon, each with their own unique skillsets, it's easy to sink a lot of time into mastering them all. And once you find your favorite, you'll want to keep playing match after match, losing track of all that time you're spending. Pokémon Unite defied the odds, and that's what makes it our best Android game this year.
Best Stadia game
Stadia was quietly releasing a lot of cross-platform games this year, and they were often the definitive versions of those titles. Going along with our top pick of the year though, our favorite Stadia release goes to Resident Evil Village. It's a tremendous game on its own, but Stadia sweetened the deal for users. Pre-ordering the game got you a Stadia Premiere Edition for free, but if you were a Stadia Pro member, you also received a copy of Resident Evil 7. That way you could get the whole story of Ethan Winters in one of gaming's best deals.
Best Hardware and Accessories of 2021
Best PS5 accessory
The ability to add to your PS5 internal storage was a godsend in 2021. PS5 games have to run on an ultra-fast SSD, meaning that the WD Black SN850 is the perfect accessory to pick up. Our extensive testing showed practically identical results to the PS5's internal drive, so you get steady, persistent performance and extremely fast load times, regardless of what games you're playing. Meanwhile, the included heatsink means there's no extra assembly required — just plug it in and you're good to go — making this the best PS5 accessory of 2021.
Best PS5 headset
The SteelSeries Arctis 7P was already one of the best PS5 headsets on the market, and it only got better with the 7P+ model. The Arctis 7P+ retained its predecessor's impeccable form factor while adding a better battery and USB-C charging, essentially rectifying the biggest complaints. It delivers crystal clear audio and is so comfortable that you won't even notice you're wearing a headset for hours at a time. It doesn't get much better than that, and that's why we consider it to be the king of PS5 headsets. Coming in at under $200 is the cherry on top.
Best Oculus Quest accessory
When the Quest 2 debuted at the end of 2020, many were unhappy with the cloth strap. Turns out that the official Oculus Quest 2 Elite Strap wasn't any better, and while it offered better ergonomics it was prone to breaking easily. This fall, KIWI Design finally released their own version of the Elite Strap and it was totally worth the wait. Reinforced plastic keeps the straps from breaking under stress, yet makes it light enough to be comfortable. An additional adjustment hinge helps alleviate stress and fit a wider range of head sizes, and the knob on the back makes it easy to quickly adjust. On top of that, the removable, washable pads are not only comfortable, but are more sanitary than foam pads.
Best Android controller
With mobile gaming bigger than ever, it's likely you need a mobile controller for your phone. The Gamesir X2 Bluetooth turns your phone into a Nintendo Switch of sorts. The best part about the Bluetooth model is that because it connects wirelessly to Android phones, it can fit nearly any device, including those with cases. It offers a firm hold so that you'll never worry about your phone falling out, and it feels great to use. Mobile controllers aren't always the most comfortable, but the materials and design of the Gamesir X2 mean you can use it for hours on end.
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Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.