“Halo Infinite.” “Deathloop.” “Far Cry 6.” “Metroid Dread.”
Last year was a banner year for gamers, who got treated to a host of terrific offerings, including a stunning “Halo” game and a surprising “Metroid” title. It’s a year that continued to establish the new consoles, the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5, while also showing just how special Xbox Game Pass can be.
But get this: 2022 might be even better. This new year promises a host of options with big-time potential, starting with some very impressive sequels and continuing with a few new IPs that will bring new ideas to the gaming market. And, assuming you can actually find them, this may be the year to pick up one of those new consoles to play some of the exclusives set to land on them in true 4K HDR glory.
Here are the games I’m most hyped for this year.
‘HORIZON: FORBIDDEN WEST’
“Horizon Zero Dawn,” released in 2017, was one of the finest open-world games of the last era, shining visually on the PlayStation 4 and delivering the immersive story of Aloy, a hunter in a world full of dinosaur-like machines that she could take over. “Forbidden West” follows up on that story five years later, and it promises to be a visual feast, thanks to the power and fidelity of the PlayStation 5. Watch for it in February.
Another February release, “Elden Ring” brings serious pedigree. It’s developed by From Software, which has given us the “Dark Souls” franchise and “Bloodborne,” so expect nuanced, challenging combat that keeps you on your toes. The story could push this game even farther; the “Elden Ring” team worked with the great George R.R. Martin, of “Game of Thrones” fame.
‘STRANGER IN PARADISE: FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN’
One of the highlights of March will be this title from Square Enix, which sits in the “Final Fantasy” family and continues to bring the franchise into the modern era. The most intriguing thing about “Stranger in Paradise” is its job system. Titles like “Final Fantasy Tactics,” and several early “Final Fantasy” games featured “job” systems as progression; here, that all gets an upgrade in a title that has a more action-style combat system. Count on a deep story too.
Here’s all you need to know about “Starfield”: It’s a new IP from a company that brought you the “Elder Scrolls” franchise and “Fallout,” and it’s been suggested that the game will be “Skyrim” in space. Bethesda is known for massive open worlds that permit plenty of freedom for the player to execute, and that promises to be terrific fun with the cosmos as your playground. “Starfield” lands in November, if all goes well.
There’s been no official word of when this Nintendo Switch title is landing, but there’s plenty of hope that it’ll come in 2022. When it does launch, it’ll see the return of a fast-paced actioner that features a unique protagonist: Witch Bayonetta battles with ultra-dangerous locks and guns in her stillettos, as well as a pair of duel-wielded guns. This has always been one of the fastest, most enjoyable beat-em-ups out there; expect no different if it lands this year.
‘MARVEL MIDNIGHT SUNS’
Another game expected in 2022 but without a release date, “Marvel Midnight Suns” puts everyone’s favorite superheroes into a unique world. Developed by the team behind “X-COM,” one of my favorite tactical turn-based strategy franchises of all-time, “Midnight Suns” promises to bring that tactical world into a Marvel Comics universe. That should be a blast, especially since this game also seems likely to merge “X-Men” characters with those from we know from the MCU for the first time in quite awhile.
It’s been too long since we had a “Batman Arkham” title. The three games in that franchise established Batman as a video game force, dropping him into an open-world Gotham that flawlessly captured the darkness and duality of Batman and his enemies. “Gotham Knights” should deliver that gameplay with a new cast (Robin, Nightwing, Red Hood and Batgirl). It’ll be interesting to watch the four new playable characters develop, and also to see how Rocksteady manages the relationships between three characters who once were Batman’s sidekick.