Featured Game: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (Switch) | $60 | Amazon
The heart of the summer usually isn’t the most exciting window in the game release schedule, but if you’re looking for some cool games to pour hours into while escaping the heat, July has some new releases that you can really savor over the long haul.
From role-playing adventures like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD and Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin to engrossing simulations like F1 2021 and Microsoft Flight Simulator, there might be something here to tickle your fancy. And if not, there’s also NEO: The World Ends With You and The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles to consider.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin (Switch, PC)
Release Date: July 9
What’s this? Another Monster Hunter game, just a few months after the well-received Monster Hunter Rise for Switch? It’s true, but as the trailer shows, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is a very different type of game. The original Stores might have flown a bit under the radar as a late-era Nintendo 3DS game eventually ported to mobile, but the sequel has a greater chance to shine on Switch and PC.
It has a more cartoonish, anime-inspired look, but Monster Hunter Stories 2 is also a turn-based role-playing adventure with more of a narrative edge. Kotaku’s Heather Alexander described the original Stories as “the best Pokémon game I’ve ever played.” Hopefully the sequel is even better. There’s a free Switch demo out now if you want to give it a spin.
Release Date: July 15
If you missed The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on the original Wii back when, now’s your chance to give it a shot with a fresh coat of paint. Skyward Sword HD is essentially a visually enhanced remaster of the original experience, albeit with new button-centric controls (motion controls are optional) and the ability to use Amiibo smart toys for added perks.
Skyward Sword received mostly glowing reviews when it launched, although a more critical underbelly of the fanbase has emerged over time. It was the last core entry before the Switch’s own brilliant Breath of the Wild, which delivered a much more dramatic overhaul of the classic Zelda template, so that shift might have affected Skyward Sword’s legacy in the process. In any case, while this isn’t the Breath of the Wild sequel coming in 2022, Skyward Sword HD ought to be a nice pit stop for Zelda fans this summer.
F1 2021 (PS5, Xbox, PC, PS4)
Release Date: July 27
F1 2021 will be the first entry in the series published by EA Sports and the first one enhanced for the new generation of consoles—and if you’re an F1 fan who hasn’t checked out the consistently well-reviewed game series, then maybe this should be your first one. As someone who only got into Formula 1 with the Netflix docuseries and recently started following the ongoing action, it might be high time for me to give it a shot, actually.
Given the series’ recent track record, F1 2021 likely has the fundamentals aced, delivering a realistic simulation that can scale easier for casual players. It has all of the licensed cars, drivers, and tracks from the current season, as well as some classic drivers and rides in the mix, and the Braking Point story mode looks like an entertaining way to soak it all in. There’s local and online multiplayer in the mix, too, plus a two-player career (co-op or vs.) and plenty more.
Microsoft Flight Simulator (Xbox Series X/S)
Release Date: July 27
I vividly recall playing a jagged Microsoft Flight Simulator on my early-90s Mac as a kid, so going from that to this insanely gorgeous modern version is a bit of a trip. The new Flight Simulator launched on PC last year to rave reviews, and now it’s coming to Xbox Series X and Series S in a matter of weeks. Sadly, the planned Xbox One version isn’t happening.
This dazzling simulator delivers the most lifelike sensation of flying that you’ll find on consumer hardware. Certainly, the Xbox Series X has the power to deliver a strong rendition of what was seen on PC last year, but here’s hoping that the controller scheme manages to be both approachable enough for newcomers and robust enough for serious enthusiasts. Die-hards might want to invest in Turtle Beach’s upcoming VelocityOne control system… for $350.