We are currently in the early stages of the Christmas window, the time when most of the biggest blockbuster releases of the year traditionally hit shelves and digital shop windows. This year’s Christmas window promises a ton of big releases that we’re all eagerly awaiting from franchises like Halo, Far Cry, and Metroid, but we can’t ignore the looming Leviathan of 2022.
The stage is ready
The next year seems to be carrying the momentum of that holiday season, giving players little time to recover from the relentless releases. Right outside the gates we have two hotly anticipated games – From Software’s collaboration with George RR Martin, Elden ring, and Game Freak’s most unique experiment with the mainline Pokémon franchise in decades. Pokémon Legends: Arceus – Start the same day in January. But if you think this is just a coincidence, look no further than February. In the shortest month of the year we have Dying Light 2 Stay human, Horizon Forbidden West, Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, Saints Row, The King of Fighters XV, and the extremely promising racket Sifu.
After those first few months, however, things slow down … at least in terms of games with hard release dates. Sure, you have the new addition to the long-running racing simulation series, Gran Turismo 7, the D&D meets Borderlands looter shooter, Tiny Tina’s wonderland, and the exciting retro strategy role-playing game, Triangle strategy, Strike in March, as well STALKER 2: The heart of Chernobyl Hitting in April, but after that, the solid release dates are few and far between. You know, apart from Bethesda’s next big title Star fieldthat for some reason already had a release date of November 11, 2022; I think this date might be a tribute to Bethesda’s most popular game, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which was released on November 11, 2011 – who knows? But the hits don’t stop at games that have fixed release dates.
Beyond the opening act
Most of the games that already have dates are undeniably strong hitters, but if you look at the list of games currently slated for a wider release window within 2022, you’ll find we’re just scratching the surface. If we just look at the Triple A titles, we have a ton of great games including The sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, God of war: Ragnarok, Redfall, Bayonetta 3, Splatoon 3, Marvel’s midnight suns, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, Mario + Rabbids Spark of Hope, Rainbow Six extraction, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, and many others. That doesn’t even include smaller (but equally exciting) titles reminiscent of beloved previous franchises like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and Metal snail tactics.
Sequels to popular games, including Two point campus, Salt and sacrifice, An epidemic story: Requiem, Company of Heroes III, Slime rancher 2, Blossom Tales 2: The Minotaur Prince, and Earth lock 2 are also on the program so that the players can look forward to them even more. In the meantime, The Callisto Protocol is supposed to pay homage to Dead Space while Eiyuden Chronicle: A Hundred Heroes will surely please fans of Suikoden. Those who are embedded in the comic world can look forward to a lot more than the aforementioned Midnight Suns, as DC also ensures heat with both WB Games Montréal Gotham Knights and Rocksteadys Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League planned for next year.
There’s no denying that there are some incredible games coming up in 2022, but before we get too carried away with the coronation ceremony, I think perspective is in order.
When I look at the long list of games currently slated for 2022, I think it dwarfs the last couple of years. But how would it compare to some of the best years ever? Many point to years like 1997 (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Final Fantasy VII, GoldenEye 007, Star Fox 64), 1998 (Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Half-Life, StarCraft, Banjo-Kazooie, Spyro the Dragon, Metal Gear ) to Solid, Resident Evil 2, Grand Theft Auto, Gran Turismo, Pokémon Red & Blue, Baldur’s Gate, Mario Party) or 2007 (Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Portal, BioShock, Super Mario Galaxy , Rock Band, Crysis, God of War II) as the greatest years in gaming history, but often overlooked are the later years in the 2010s.
For example, just a few years ago, in 2017, we got a new contender for the greatest years of all time when players were faced with an onslaught of great games, many of which are now among the greatest of all time. In that calendar year, which also included the launch of Nintendo Switch, players received Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, Persona 5, Nier: Automata, Fortnite, Resident Evil 7, Hollow Knight, Sonic Mania, Night in the Woods , Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, Splatoon 2, Injustice 2, Uncharted: Lost Legacy, Nioh, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Cuphead, Divinity: Original Sin II, Prey, What Remains of Edith Finch, Metroid: Samus Returns , Destiny 2, and a shocking number of other massive, critically acclaimed games.
Then, just a year later, the industry doubled its size in 2018, a year with Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Forza Horizon 4, Return of the Obra Dinn, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Frostpunk, Monster Hunter: World, Celeste, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Into the Breach and Dead Cells. But as great as 2017 and 2018 were, the earlier years that laid the foundation for series and genres that we still enjoy today will always have a head start when it comes to the best years of all time.
While the list of games coming in 2022 will mostly feature sequels and new series from established developers, gamers can expect plenty of new franchises to take hold in the next year as well. The trick with looking ahead is that we don’t know that it will be worth keeping an eye on many new franchises until we get closer to their release dates and learn more about them. Are we likely to get the first game in the next series that will compete with Grand Theft Auto in 2022? It’s unlikely. But it’s also entirely possible that we’re completely blind, and the game that we most clearly associate with 2022, when our future selves reminisce, isn’t even mentioned in this article.
Who knows if 2022 will have the same historical significance as 1997, 1998 or 2007, but with so many games capitalizing on past successes and continuing the formulas of previous games, there might be more likely good games out there than in all these years. This list also doesn’t take into account the number of surprise hits that might crop up that aren’t on our radar. After all, how many people could have imagined in 2014 that a crowdfunded indie darling like Undertale would burst onto the stage as one of the most popular games of 2015?
Not to mention that a lot of publishers have taken to shorter marketing cycles lately. For example, look at 2021; Little did we know games like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Metroid Dread, and Forza Horizon 5 even existed at the beginning of the year. How many such games will be announced in the summer of 2022, only to be launched in the following Christmas period? Will other games that do not currently have an official release window such as: Overwatch 2, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, and fable, finally get release dates in the next calendar year? As wild as 2022 already looks, it could be even more stacked.
Of course, as we’ve seen over the past two years, no game release date is guaranteed, especially as the pandemic continues to affect the way development studios work. Plus, any game, regardless of studio, pedigree, or franchise, could be a flop. However, with so many exciting games coming to our homes in the next 15 months, the biggest question is where do we find the money to buy all of these games and how do we find the time to play?
What does 2022 look like for you so far? Which releases are you most looking forward to? If everything that’s planned for 2022 goes as planned and is as good as expected, where would the year be among the best years ever? Stop in the comments below if you feel that compelled to do this. Otherwise have a nice day.
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