Each and every year, PlayStation Plus subscribers are gifted monthly free games that have since become one of the biggest reasons to own the subscription service (apart from playing online). For the most part, PlayStation has maintained a steady stream of great games, usually with some underwhelming months. However, 2021 stands out as being a shocking disappointment for what the service is capable of delivering.
This seems to be a sentiment shared by the PlayStation community who have been pretty vocal about the hit-or-miss nature of 2021’s PlayStation Plus offerings. While the year started off on a good foot, it seemed like criticism grew with each underwhelming passing month and December might’ve been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
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First and foremost, let’s take a look back at all the games that have been released over 2021 on PlayStation Plus:
PlayStation Plus in 2021
- January 2021: Greedfall, Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- February 2021: Destruction AllStars, Control: Ultimate Edition, Concrete Genie
- March 2021: Final Fantasy VII Remake, Remnant From the Ashes, Farpoint, Maquette
- April 2021: Days Gone, Zombie Army 4: Dead War, Oddworld: Soulstorm
- May 2021: Battlefield V, Stranded Deep, Wreckfest
- June 2021: Star Wars: Squadrons, Operation: Tango, Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown
- July 2021: Call of Duty Black Ops 4, A Plague Tale: Innocence, WWE 2K Battlegrounds
- August 2021: Hunter’s Arena: Legends, Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, Tennis World Tour 2
- September 2021: Hitman 2, Predator: Hunting Grounds, Overcooked: All You Can Eat!
- October 2021: Mortal Kombat X, PGA Tour 2K21, Hell Let Loose
- November 2021: Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning, Knockout City, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, The Persistence, Until You Fall, First Class Trouble
- December 2021: LEGO DC Super-Villains, Mortal Shell, Godfall Challenger Edition
The year started off strong enough with PlayStation some fantastic selections such as Control: Ultimate Edition, Concrete Genie, Final Fantasy VII Remake and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. However, around April is when that quality bar seems to suddenly dip. This isn’t to say that any one of the games offered are bad. In fact, games like A Plague Tale: Innocence, Mortal Shell and Hitman 2 are phenomenal games in their own right. However, the selection of these critically acclaimed or highly praised titles was in very low supply as the year ran on.
Final Fantasy VII Remake, for example, was perhaps the “newest” AAA title that PlayStation offered this year, and that bordered on being a year old in March 2021. The rest are comprised of new, smaller releases like Destruction AllStars or Hunter’s Arena: Legends that would’ve otherwise been brushed off had they not appeared on the subscription service in the first place. It’s perfectly fine for PlayStation to use the service as a means of promoting fresh lesser-known titles, but historically, that would’ve been offset by another major game added in that same month.
This wasn’t necessarily always the case for PlayStation Plus in 2021, which is quite disappointing. Understandably, PS5 offerings are in short supply since we’ve just crossed the one year mark of the console’s release, meaning PS5-specific games wouldn’t be delivering on big titles like Demon’s Souls yet. That said, and given the number of games released over the past two years, it’s a bit shocking to see PlayStation stretch as far back as 2016 to pick out games like Mortal Kombat X (not to mention it wasn’t even the XL version either) or 2018, digging up both Call of Duty Black Ops 4 and Battlefield V which have since seen a vast majority of its player bases move onto newer entries.
Other than that, a good majority of PlayStation Plus games in 2021 were middle-of-the-road or baffling. Tennis World Tour 2 and PGA Tour 2K21 are there for sports enthusiasts, but nobody was exactly rushing to renew their subscriptions for these games. Adding even more disappointment to the line-up were games like the mediocre Predator: Hunting Grounds, the weird survival sim Stranded Deep, an attempt to kickstart a dwindling player base with Knockout City, and the egregious Godfall Challenger Edition which doesn’t even include the game’s campaign for some reason.
Above all, apart from maybe March 2021 which gave us two great games, there’s nothing here that really justified renewing your monthly PlayStation Plus subscription for unless you were already a huge fan of the game – which in that case, you might’ve already played it. PlayStation was pulling their punches this year for no reason other than the console transition phase, though that still shouldn’t be an excuse to drop the ball so heavily on monthly free games.
A Second Take
We also need to remember that Sony once promised us that PlayStation Plus games would always remain above a Metacritic rating of 70%. That has now fallen away especially with games that Sony so-called “launches” with PlayStation Plus. By Sony launching these games on PS5 with the subscription service, they somehow got away with badly-rated games being okay. Hunter’s Arena: Legends doesn’t even have a Metacritic rating. Its user score is sitting on 4.6 which is a sign of how horrible the game is. Hell Let Loose is sitting on 68 on Metacritic, under Sony’s 70% “promise”. A quick look at some of the PlayStation Plus games reveals just how low these scores have been. At least one game each month failed to meet Sony’s stamp of 70%.
- Destruction Allstars – 62 / 5.1
- Maquette – 70 / 6.2
- Oddword: Soulstorm – 66 / 6.4
- Stranded Deep – 65 / 4.1
- WWE 2K Battlegrounds – 60 / 4.8
- Tennis World Tour 2 – 58 / 3.2
- Predator: Hunting Grounds – 56 / 6.0
- Hell Let Loose – 68 / 6.9
- Kingdoms of Amular: Re-Reckoning – 72 / 6.9
- LEGO DC Super-Villains – 72 / 7.2
There’s also the debate whether or not Sony is using PlayStation Plus as a means to drive DLC purchases and release free-to-play games hidden in the subscription. A good half the majority of the free games in 2021 included base game versions of titles that are ridden with DLC packs. Battlefield V for example is a fraction of the experience unless you splurge on the DLC. The same goes for Mortal Kombat X, Zombie Army 4 and others. There’s very little value in a multiplayer game with three-season passes locking you out of content.
Yes, we can use the whole “Final Fantasy VII was good” excuse but let’s not forget that the PlayStation Plus version didn’t come with the PS5 upgrade. You also need to remember that a month later, conveniently Square Enix also released the Intergrade DLC. Here is another example of how Sony is using these free games as stepping stones towards PS5 upgrades and DLC purchases.
Even Plants Vs Zombies. Support ended for this game back in 2019 and since, there’s been no new maps, modes or characters released. This might seem like nitpicking but there’s clearly an agenda behind PlayStation Plus and how Sony decides to release base games to help boost player numbers and in turn, sales. The latest being Godfall: Challenger Edition is a demo of the game that locks out all campaign content in favour of just multiplayer modes. I am sure Sony hopes you enjoy the game and end up buying the full product. If anything, it smells like this version of Godfall was designed specifically just for PlayStation Plus subscribers.
39 games in total came to PlayStation Plus. How many can you say you spend at least two hours playing? Let us know down below.