New year, new games!

After so many COVID-19-related disruptions to the video game industry, along with a continued plague of current-gen console shortages, it seems that gaming is slowly becoming poised to return to its normal pace in 2022. With the ninth console generation now in full swing (if you were lucky enough to have found a PS5 and/or Xbox Series console anyway), we’re going to see significantly more blockbuster games made explicitly for the higher-end hardware this year, while the last-gen PS4 and Xbox One continue to hang on for those unable to upgrade for now. Nintendo and various third-party publishers have also got plenty of exciting projects in the works for the hugely successful Nintendo Switch hybrid console, along with no doubt many surprises that haven’t yet been made known to the public.

Coming up with just ten games that I’m especially looking forward to in 2022 was fairly difficult for me. This is a good sign, because it means that there are already many exciting video games to look forward to in the coming year, even with 2022 barely having started at the time of writing. This is also despite my usual rules being in place, namely that my list won’t include remasters, special editions, ports, or anything else that simply repackages a game from a previous year, although spiritual successors are fair game, as is evident with at least one of my picks.

Another rule is that any game featured on the list must have had an officially confirmed 2022 release plan, as in directly from the publisher and/or developer themselves. Even so, I obviously can’t account for games ultimately being delayed out of 2022 (there’s always at least one), nor can I obviously list games set for release in 2022 that haven’t been publicly announced yet. Finally, this list is also my personal opinion of what I’m currently most looking forward to playing in the new year, and it’s not reflective of the eventual quality (or potential lack thereof) that these games’ final products may offer.

With that out of the way then, let’s get to it! These are the top ten games that I’m most looking forward to playing in 2022:

 

#10 – Saints Row [2022]

Platform(s): PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Sandbox Action-Adventure
Release Date: August 23rd, 2022

WHY: Saints Row is one of my favourite gaming franchises, and one that frustratingly slept through the entire eighth console generation. Fortunately, developer, Volition is finally set to revisit this fan-favourite sandbox action game series in 2022, with a full-on reboot that goes back to basics, at least by the deranged nature of Saints Row.

Moving the setting to fictional city, Santo Ileso, a ripe-for-the-ravaging burg that appears to draw simultaneous inspiration from Las Vegas, Nevada, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Phoenix, Arizona, 2022’s Saints Row reboot delivers a whole new Saints gang, along with the same ultra in-depth customization options for your player character. There will be new districts to conquer, new gangbangers to slaughter and humiliate, and new helpings of story and optional missions that will create yet more opportunities to paint the town red, or, more accurately, purple.

Despite the significant change in scenery, along with the all-new cast of supporting characters, Saints Row appears to be maintaining the simple, but fun hallmarks of this darkly comedic sandbox series. We were already overdue for a new Saints Row game as it stands, but after years of pandemic-fueled misery especially, I’m more than ready to let loose and get to know Santo Ileso in the best-worst way. I simply can’t wait to see what crazy new activities Volition has cooked up for Saints Row’s long-awaited return to the gaming space!

 

#9 – Sea of Stars

Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch, ???
Genre: Turn-Based RPG
Release Date: Holiday 2022

WHY: This spot on my list was a very close toss-up between Sea of Stars and Stray (consider this an honourable mention for Stray, one of the most promising-looking PlayStation indies planned for release in 2022!), but because we know a little more about Sea of Stars at this point, it narrowly took the #9 spot. This could also come down to the fact that I’m just a big old sucker for turn-based, Japanese-style console RPG’s, considering that those were the games I grew up on.

Whatever the case, Sea of Stars is the latest project to come from Sabotage Studio, who previously brought us the thoroughly great Ninja Gaiden-inspired indie action game, The MessengerSea of Stars also serves as a spiritual successor to much-beloved Super NES RPG, Chrono Trigger, complete with turn-based battles that unfold right on the field screen, much like its 1995 inspiration. Considering that Chrono Trigger is one of my favourite games of all time, and The Messenger was a superb indie gem all around, you can imagine that I was sold on this project pretty quickly!

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Sea of Stars is that it also takes place in the same universe as The Messenger, and will somehow be connected to Sabotage’s former indie opus, despite a universal shift in gameplay. Regardless of how that pans out, Sea of Stars’ gameplay footage, which got a larger showcase during a recent Nintendo Direct Indie World broadcast, looks pretty awesome, and I’m definitely eager to relive the good old days with its final product towards the end of 2022, barring any potential delays.

So far, Sea of Stars has only been explicitly confirmed for release on PC and Nintendo Switch this year, and its potential status on PlayStation and Xbox platforms is unknown for now. It’s possible that the game may end up being a timed console exclusive on Switch in 2022, much like The Messenger originally was in 2018, but we’ll have to wait and see. Either way, if Sea of Stars is half as good as The Messenger, it’s bound to be a gem in its own right!

 

#8 – Pokemon Legends: Arceus

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Action-RPG
Release Date: January 28th, 2022

WHY: Pokemon is still fun, but it’s tough to deny that the series’ core formula has grown a little stagnant in recent years. Pokemon Legends: Arceus aims to fix that, with a more real-time focus that finally brings the Pokemon franchise to the next level, with an all-new storyline that takes place in the distant past of the Sinnoh region from Pokemon Diamond Version, Pokemon Pearl Version, and their recent Nintendo Switch remakes.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus isn’t fully open-world, contrary to initial speculation, but it does aim to present an especially large, open-ended landscape, complete with all-new Pokemon and regional variants. There’s been some early concern about the game’s technical aspects, which is why it slipped lower on my list than I would have initially anticipated, but I still can’t deny the innate appeal of playing a Pokemon experience that more closely resembles the pace and style of the Pokemon anime that I grew up watching, complete with the ability to capture Pokemon without always engaging them in battle.

There’s still a heavy air of mystery surrounding Pokemon Legends: Arceus, even as it nears release at the end of this month, but it appears to exist as the biggest step yet toward the Breath of the Wild-style Pokemon blockbuster of our childhood dreams, and, let’s face it, our adulthood dreams. If the game catches on, perhaps we’ll see yet more exciting innovations in future Pokemon games, hopefully finally allowing the series to fully transition out of its dedicated handheld roots, and enter a bold new era that’s a little more at home in the triple-A home console space.

 

#7 – Starfield

Platform(s): PC, Xbox Series X|S
Genre: Action-RPG
Release Date: November 11th, 2022

WHY: Starfield is another game that probably would have placed a bit higher on my list, had it not been shrouded in such a heavy veil of secrecy. Still, the fact remains that Starfield stands as by far the biggest Xbox console exclusive of 2022, not least because it’s the first-all new franchise developed by Bethesda in over two decades!

Starfield promises a sci-fi-themed world that brings Bethesda’s familiar action-RPG formula into the far reaches of space. The game takes place in the 24th Century, placing players in control of a custom character that’s part of Constellation, a guild of space explorers. Players will presumably make choices, advance a storyline set amid the lingering fallout of a brutal war, and influence a fragile peace that could alter the fate of the solar system. Any specific gameplay innovations are still being held close to Bethesda’s and Microsoft’s chests from there, but I imagine that elevating Bethesda’s RPG formula to accommodate multiple worlds, rather than just one, is sure to expand the possibilities (and probably the bugs, if we’re being honest!), tenfold!

Starfield is also, more than any other upcoming Bethesda project, no doubt the vanguard of what we can expect from this company, now that they’re owned by Microsoft, and seemingly permanently in the business of making Xbox console exclusives. Hopefully it’s a fruitful partnership, and hopefully Starfield’s potential success can lead to even more ambitious creative endeavours from Bethesda and Xbox in the future. Either way, I’m very eager to see what will no doubt be the world’s next Skyrim-level obsession. The fact that Starfield will be free to Xbox Game Pass subscribers right from launch is all the better!

 

#6 – Elden Ring

Platform(s): PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Soulslike Action-RPG
Release Date: February 25th, 2022

WHY: I confess that I have a bit of a strained relationship with Soulslike games. I enjoy them, but being as busy as I am, I rarely have the time to truly embrace them to their full potential, especially when these are games crafted around the premise of dying repeatedly, and slowly crawling your way to a bittersweet victory.

That being said, it’s impossible to deny that Elden Ring looks like a fantastic evolution of the Soulslike formula. The game’s creative, harrowing premise further builds upon conventions established in prior games from developer, From Software, such as Dark Souls and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, to deliver a more open-ended design that allows the player to explore the game’s setting, The Lands Between, on their own terms.

I’m sure that Elden Ring will still kill me, a lot. I can’t realistically expect anything less from a collaboration between From Software boss, Hidetaka Miyazaki and Game of Thrones mastermind, George R.R. Martin. Even so, with 2022 currently looking to be another excellent year for RPG fans, Elden Ring stands alongside Starfield as one of the most ambitious and promising offerings of the lot. Hopefully it lives up to the hype, and gives us another Soulslike gauntlet that hurts so good!

 

#5 – Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

Platform(s): PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S
Genre: Co-operative Action-Adventure-Shooter
Release Date: TBA 2022

WHY: I have been waiting so many years for a Suicide Squad game, being a huge fan of this DC property since even before its much-derided 2016 movie, and its far superior 2021 movie. Now, not only is a Suicide Squad game officially in the works, but it’s also being developed by Rocksteady, the extraordinary team of developers that brought us the largely superb Batman: Arkham games.

I would have been plenty happy with a more straightforward Suicide Squad game as well, one that pitted familiar DC villains like Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang and King Shark against bigger, badder DC villains. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League however delivers the kind of insane hook that I wouldn’t have originally speculated upon, but now that it’s a reality, it just seems like a match made in Heaven. Like its title suggests, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League pits those four aforementioned DC villains against the most powerful and celebrated superheroes of the DC Universe, after almost all of them are seemingly brainwashed by Superman villain, Brainiac.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League aims to be a, “Genre-bending” action-adventure game with shooter elements, further expanding the Batman: Arkham universe with a dramatic gameplay shift that can be enjoyed both solo or in up to four-player co-op. For a DC fan like me, that sounds like the perfect recipe for a lighter, more comedic spin on the Batman: Arkham foundation, one that should hopefully only get better when I bring my friends along for the ride!

 

#4 – A Plague Tale: Requiem

Platform(s): PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch
Genre: Stealth Action-Adventure
Release Date: TBA 2022

WHY: If you didn’t play A Plague Tale: Innocence back in 2019 (or its even better next-gen ports in 2021), you seriously missed out! A Plague Tale: Innocence is exactly the kind of game that we need more of, being a high-quality cinematic action-adventure game with an emotionally-charged storyline, a cool hook, and no aftermarket nonsense dragging it down. A Plague Tale: Requiem appears to be maintaining this direction, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about that.

A Plague Tale: Requiem recently got a gameplay reveal at The Game Awards last month, and sure enough, it looks like the perfect sequel to a criminally underrated game. Despite ultimately escaping their homeland, Amicia and Hugo once again find themselves, ahem, plagued by Hugo’s rat-controlling powers in this follow-up, powers that will now seemingly be expanded further within new landscapes, and new stealth-themed challenges.

The sustained dark, brutal tone of A Plague Tale: Requiem remains impressive to behold, while continuing to promise a welcome focus on narrative that’s further refined by challenging, but engaging gameplay. Better still is that the Xbox and PC builds of A Plague Tale: Requiem are being hosted on Xbox Game Pass right from launch this year, even if we don’t currently have a more specific launch window beyond 2022. Despite that, I’m thrilled that A Plague Tale’s marriage between supernatural horror and gloomy history is being expanded upon with a second game this year, hopefully cementing Asobo Studio’s standout IP as a recurring franchise for the Focus Home Interactive catalogue.

 

#3 – God of War: Ragnarok

Platform(s): PS5, PS4
Genre: Action-Adventure
Release Date: TBA 2022

WHY: What more really needs to be said about God of War: Ragnarok? It’s the sequel to what was easily one of 2018’s overall best games. That 2018 revival also serves as one of the best PS4 console exclusives of all time, one that, fittingly enough, is expanding to PC later this month.

God of War: Ragnarok aims to deliver a climax to the two-part storyline that began with 2018’s original God of War revival, one featuring a now-adolescent Atreus, and an even more weary, but still dangerous Kratos. With the threat of Ragnarok looming over the two lead characters, God of War: Ragnarok thus pits Kratos and Atreus against several Norse gods, alongside even more deadly challenges that are heavily inspired by Norse mythology.

Sony has only shown snippets from God of War: Ragnarok so far, but, unsurprisingly, the game looks like an even better experience than the already excellent God of War 2018. It’s also nice that developer, Sony Santa Monica doesn’t appear to want to drag this new Norse saga’s storyline out, instead wrapping it up with a second game, rather than forcing an expected third game for an unnecessary ‘trilogy’. This demonstrates a welcome commitment to maintaining the integrity of the God of War experience, rather than Sony simply forcing an excuse to make easy money with another hot PlayStation console exclusive. God of War has more than earned my attention and my loyalty in the years since its inception in 2005, and I trust that the series’ sky-high standards are only going to be elevated further with God of War: Ragnarok!

 

#2 – Horizon: Forbidden West

Platform(s): PS5, PS4
Genre: Action-RPG
Release Date: February 18th, 2022

WHY: This was formerly my top pick for my most anticipated game of 2021, and, go figure, it was eventually delayed out of the year. Suffering a similar fate as the previously listed God of War: Ragnarok, Horizon: Forbidden West thus settled more comfortably into 2022, and fortunately, we don’t have much longer to wait for it now.

I’ve already mentioned during my previous most anticipated games list why Horizon: Forbidden West is a game I’m eager to meet with great excitement. After its delay out of 2021, it’s only shown more promising footage that continues to tease it as one of this year’s top PlayStation exclusives as well. That’s certainly saying a lot in a year that also includes God of War: Ragnarok! While both of these games will still be accessible to PS4 owners too, I’m especially looking forward to the souped-up PS5 build of Horizon: Forbidden West, which will take players to more dangerous new Western regions in the post-apocalyptic United States.

With a major focus in this sequel surrounding underwater exploration as well, Horizon: Forbidden West appears as if it’s going to dwarf its predecessor in terms of scale and ambition, and that’s no small feat! I’m very excited to see what kind of new machine threats await Aloy on her latest journey, and how I may be able to adapt to them with more regions to explore, and more spoils to earn than ever before!

 

#1 – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 [Working Title]

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Action-Adventure
Release Date: TBA 2022

WHY: My most anticipated game of 2022 is very predictable, and will probably be many people’s pick for this year’s most anticipated game, but that’s for good reason. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild set a huge new standard for action-adventure games back in 2017, bringing the Legend of Zelda franchise to a true open-world setting for the first time, while also bringing the series back to its roots in a way that married the open-ended, freeform style of the original Legend of Zelda game for NES with cutting-edge modern sensibilities. This resulted in an excellent, highly innovative upgraded formula that naturally inspired a slew of imitators, from Ubisoft’s Immortals Fenyx Rising to miHoYo’s Genshin Impact.

The still-untitled sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will no doubt continue to be a testament to the staggering amount of creativity that fueled its 2017 predecessor. Like 2010’s Super Mario Galaxy 2, this game ostensibly exists because the development team behind the original The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild just had way too many great ideas to squeeze into one game, thus inspiring them to make a second game just for the shelved mechanics. On top of bringing in new elements related to the sky, echoing memories of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s sequel also promises many more surprises, surprises that will no doubt be gradually trickled out as the year goes on.

Much like God of War: Ragnarok and Horizon: Forbidden West, there just isn’t much else to say about this hotly anticipated Nintendo Switch exclusive, because its innate hype factor is just so self-evident. This game will no doubt be one of the best, most exciting games to grace the Nintendo Switch in 2022, as well as one that further improves what’s already one of the best Legend of Zelda games of all time, while hopefully making its foundation even better. Considering that I’ve voraciously gobbled up every Legend of Zelda game since childhood, you can imagine that I’m incredibly excited for this upcoming Breath of the Wild follow-up, one that easily stands as my most anticipated video game of 2022 overall!

 

Just like this year’s upcoming sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there are way too many promising games planned for release in 2022 for just one top ten list. I could make a ton of honourable mentions to follow the aforementioned Stray, including Bayonetta 3, Dying Light 2 Stay Human, Forspoken, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, Gotham Knights, the Dead Space remake, Hogwarts Legacy, Ghostwire: Tokyo, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, Oxenfree II: Lost Signals, Redfall, Marvel’s Midnight Suns, Sonic Frontiers, Star Ocean: The Divine Force and Star Trek: Resurgence. We’ll definitely have no shortage of exciting video games to look forward to this year, and regardless of your platforms and genres of choice, there will no doubt be something for you!

Which games are you most looking forward to this year? Do you agree with my picks? Did I miss anything? As usual, your comments are welcome below. For now though, here’s to another exciting year for gaming, one that continues to elevate creativity and innovation with new narratives, new challenges and new technical milestones!

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