The Most Popular Action Games Of 2021, According To Ranker

Whilst 2021 wasn't a huge year for new action releases, with Halo Infinite and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition being the two most notable, that didn't mean fans of action games weren't enjoying the best of what the genre has to offer. Without many new releases, fans returned to some of the best action games of what has been a spectacular decade.

This includes some incredible titles, so players had some tough choices on their hands. Video game fans on Ranker came together to vote on the titles they were playing the most in 2021, and the results include amazing RPGs, action-adventure, and shooter titles from the last few years.

10 Ghost Of Tsushima (2020)

Putting the player in the role of one of the last surviving samurai on the titular island of Tsushima, Ghost of Tsushima continued to be popular in 2021 partly thanks to the Director's Cut edition that was released last year. The game's open-world environment is stunning at times and rewards exploration, and the combat is as intense as samurai combat should be.

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On top of that, Ghost of Tsushima weaves beautiful stories and uses its characters to great effect, bringing the 13th century Tsushima to life as it faces the onslaught of the Mongol invasion. A few outdated choices make the game feel slightly older than it really is, but plenty of players still found a lot to enjoy in the samurai action game.

9 Spider-Man (2018)

The best modern superhero game, Spider-Man became one of the central draws of PlayStation consoles when it was released as an exclusive in 2018. Four years on and players are still enjoying the unrivaled thrill of swinging around a beautifully realized open world in the form of Manhattan as the iconic red-suited web-slinger.

Insomniac focused a lot of effort on making the Spider-Man experience feel consistently engaging, with tight combat, satisfying special attacks, and all sorts of upgrades for the player to sink their teeth into. Whilst the title didn't do much out of the ordinary, it managed to hit all the right notes for a mainline superhero game.

8 Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)

Sadly 2015's Arkham Knight was the most recent installment of the Arkham game series, meaning it has been almost 8 years since the last mainline title. With Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League slated for a 2023 release, however, there is hope for Arkham fans. In the meantime, Arkham Knight remains a very enjoyable substitute.

The action-adventure formula that put the emphasis heavily on brutal action continues to work for the Batman Arkham series, and grappling around the ever-gloomy Gotham City is a lot of fun. With loads of great side-missions also in Arkham Knight, there is good reason why the game remains replayable.

7 The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (2017)

The Legend of Zelda series holds a special place in the action-adventure game genre, and Breath of the Wild is no exception. With a large open world and a style that encourages the player to explore and forge their own path, Breath of the Wild revamped the Zelda formula and made it perfect for modern players.

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With the sequel set to release next year, 2021 was a year where plenty of players found themselves revisiting Breath of the Wild. Despite now being a few years old, the Zelda title remains one of the best action games on the switch and it's easy to see why it continues to be so popular amongst fans.

6 Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (2016)

With a big-budget Hollywood adaptation of the action-adventure series released earlier this year, it's clear that the Uncharted name still has plenty of appeal among fans. Uncharted 4 continued the story of Nathan Drake, now apparently retired from adventuring although, of course, that doesn't last for long.

A Thief's End delivers exactly what players have come to expect from Naughty Dog games, with a focus on story and spectacle that means there's rarely a dull moment. Of course, the game is no slouch when it comes to puzzles and rip-roaring action either. It soon becomes obvious why Uncharted 4 is considered one of Naughty Dog's best games.

5 Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales (2020)

Developing on what made Spider-Man (2018) so great, Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales brings a new story, characters, and more interesting combat to players who were eager for more web-slinging fun. Whilst the earlier Spider-Man title doesn't hold up badly, Miles Morales made the experience feel brand new even in 2021.

Ideal for playing on the PlayStation 5 with its superior specs, Miles Morales looks amazing and is worth revisiting even just for the joy of exploring and seeing the beauty of the game. On top of that, the title feels great to play and it's safe to assume its popularity will continue into 2022.

4 God Of War (2018)

With fans still eagerly awaiting the release of God of War: Ragnorok which is still slated to drop later this year, fans of the newly reinvigorated mythological action-adventure franchise used last year as an opportunity to enjoy the title that breathed new life into the series.

God of War is a masterpiece of epic, cinematic action and, more surprisingly, touching character moments. One of the best parts of playing God of War is seeing the father-son relationship between Kratos and Atreus develop as the game continues. Of course, satisfying combat and brilliant action set-pieces ensure the game is endlessly replayable.

3 Grand Theft Auto V (2013)

Nearly a decade after its release and Grand Theft Auto V is still an incredibly popular title. The game took open-world games to the next level, giving an unrivaled level of freedom to roam and have fun while also having a well-developed story to enjoy at the same time.

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An online mode and high-profile re-releases on the newest generation of consoles have helped keep Grand Theft Auto V relevant in recent years, although inevitably some signs of age have started to show. Even with that, it's amazing just how popular Rockstar's most beloved game continues to be.

2 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)

CD Projekt Red's most recent effort in the form of the ambitious Cyberpunk 2077 may have struggled to live up to fans' expectations, but that was already a difficult task given just how good The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is. At the time of its release, The Witcher 3 received universal acclaim for its beautiful world and brilliant storytelling.

Although the first two video game adaptations of Andrzej Sapkowski's novels were somewhat popular, The Witcher 3 blew them out of the water, and the sudden interest in the series even led to a well-liked Netflix show. With enjoyable combat and a surprisingly addictive minigame in the form of Gwent, The Witcher 3 retains a huge amount of its popularity.

1 Red Dead Redemption II (2018)

The long-awaited sequel to Rockstar's beloved western franchise had a lot of expectations to live up to, but it managed to surprise everyone by surpassing them. Not only is Red Dead Redemption 2 one of the greatest video game storytelling experiences, its sheer scale means that a player can easily pour hundreds of hours into it.

There are countless things to do that only die-hard fans of Red Dead Redemption 2 ever discover, and that's a big part of what has helped it stay popular into 2021. While the online mode may leave some things to be desired, Red Dead Redemption 2's success speaks for itself, as it managed to be the most popular action game of 2021.

NEXT: The 10 Best PS4 Games Ever, According To Ranker

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