The past year was primed to deliver a number of highly anticipated video games. Then covid-related delays pushed a number of them into 2022. The result was a so-so year for gaming in 2021 and massive hype for the year ahead starting as early as January, historically a dormant month on the game-release calendar.
Though some titles expected to drop in 2022 still don’t have firm release dates, we’ve compiled the games we’re most excited to see and play in the coming year.
East meets West in “Elden Ring,” a collaboration between the creators of “Dark Souls” and “Game of Thrones.” An open-world, Souls-like experience seemed a bold and risky proposition, especially since From Software has never made a game that big. But the network test we participated in showed that the studio just might pull it off. The test showcased awe-inspiring sights and myriad paths to follow and get lost in. Considering the pedigree and quality of From Software’s previous titles, we may see 2022’s game of the year as early as February. — Gene Park
Release date: Feb. 25 for PC, Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, and PlayStation 4
I missed “Horizon Zero Dawn” when it first released, but after playing it during quarantine, it immediately kicked “Fallout New Vegas” off the No. 1 spot on my list of all-time favorite games (which is no coincidence — the lead writer on “New Vegas,” John Gonzalez, spearheaded the development of both “Horizon Zero Dawn” and its upcoming sequel). The first game ended on a cliffhanger and left some big questions unanswered, fueling the hype for its sequel, “Horizon Forbidden West.”
The follow-up continues the story of protagonist Aloy across a post-apocalyptic West Coast as she investigates a mysterious plague of red vines that’s killing local flora and fauna. Trailers so far have revealed several new features that promise to shake up combat and exploration. Players will be able to navigate (frankly gorgeous) underwater environments, swing around like Spider-Man during battle using the “Pullcaster,” a new wrist-mounted grappling hook, and glide down from high places. Several dilapidated versions of real-life landmarks make appearances, like San Francisco’s Lombard Street and the Golden Gate Bridge, as do massive new enemy robots like a hulking mammoth and snapping turtle. — Alyse Stanley
Release date: Feb. 18 for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4
This is the game the Pokémon franchise sorely needs. After a few lackluster generations of mainline game releases — releases that were iterative, uninspired and lacking any qualities that truly shook up the Pokémon formula — developer Game Freak finally relented and offered a tantalizing glimpse of a game longtime fans of the series have wanted all along.
“Pokémon Legends: Arceus” looks to be “Breath of the Wild” plus Pokémon, eschewing the typical eight gym format in favor of a sprawling open world you navigate by riding Pokémon. It takes place in the feudal Japan-inspired Hisui region, complete with lush vistas and new regional variants of old-time favorites like Hisuian Growlithe. Several other “Breath of the Wild”-inspired features also appear in this game, including a cooking and crafting system and customizable clothing.
While some fans might not be pleased with the game’s new system for catching Pokémon — apparently a combination of “Pokémon Go” and reflex-based dodging — the game represents the series’s efforts to evolve beyond a 25-year-old increasingly stale formula. — Jhaan Elker
Release date: Jan. 28 for Nintendo Switch
The sequel to ‘Breath of the Wild’
Who isn’t anticipating this game? Zelda fans have meticulously combed through every frame of both trailers Nintendo has released for the sequel (its actual title has yet to be announced) just to squeeze out every last drop of information.
The original “Breath of the Wild” is responsible for the Nintendo Switch’s launch-day success. With its simple beauty, the original open-world RPG had the power to turn nongamers into believers. People bought the console just to play that game.
The direct sequel appears to be set in a fractured version of the Hyrule that Link first explored, with parts of the map floating in the clouds above Hyrule Castle. Beyond that, all we have is speculation. Can Link time travel? Will fans be able to play as Zelda? Will there be any connection to past entries in the franchise? — Teddy Amenabar
Release date: 2022 for Nintendo Switch
When we last saw Kratos and Atreus in a bonus scene from 2018′s “God of War,” the father and son had returned to their home in the woods only to be roused by a Mjölnir-wielding Thor who was likely a bit ticked off that the duo had killed his sons. There is plenty to suggest things are about to kick off in the game’s Scandinavian setting: Kratos made enemies of Thor, Freya and likely the rest of the wrathful Norse gods by slaying Magni, Modi and Baldur, setting in motion the events of the prophesied Ragnarok. Now Kratos and Atreus are hoping to stave off the end of days by tracking down Tyr, the Norse God of War.
Given the foreshadowing at the end of that game, which revealed a mural in the mountain halls of Jotunnheim that seemingly shows Kratos dead in Atreus’s arms, the stakes figure to be pretty high for the upcoming installment of the God of War franchise. — Mike Hume
Release date: 2022 for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4
The game adaptation for “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is one of the first video games I ever remember beating. I was 10 years old, at home on the family computer. I clicked and typed my way past Fluffy, the three-headed dog, around that dreaded chess set and on toward the Mirror of Erised — all while banging my head to Linkin Park’s “Meteora.”
So, that’s just to say: I’ve been keeping tabs on “Hogwarts Legacy,” an open-world role-playing game from Warner Bros. Games and Avalanche Software, the studio behind “Disney Infinity.” With just one cinematic trailer that’s more than a year old, there’s very little to say about the game. We do know “Hogwarts Legacy” will be set in the late 1800s, before the wizarding world knew of “you-know-who” or his predecessor, the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. The site for “Hogwarts Legacy” says players will be able to craft potions, learn spell casting and master something called “Ancient Magic.”
Last March, Bloomberg reported that “Hogwarts Legacy” will allow players to create transgender characters — a direct challenge to series creator J.K. Rowling who, in 2019, tweeted in support of a woman who lost her job over her anti-trans social media posts. Players will be able to independently select their characters, voice and appearances, according to the report. It’s not clear whether all the customization options will be available once the game releases. — Teddy Amenabar
Release date: 2022 for PC, Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4
There are just not enough games that approach the balletic intricacies of hand-to-hand combat seriously, outside of a handful of brawlers and boxing games. “Sifu” by Sloclap may just be the answer, with your hero dodging and weaving punches and kicks, and — like Jackie Chan — using the environment to his advantage. A preview build we played was a bit rough in performance, but the fundamentals are there. This’ll be a must-play for anyone who craves brawler combat that looks like your favorite martial arts movies. — Gene Park
Release date: Feb. 8 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and PC
In a June interview with The Washington Post, Bethesda Managing Director Ashley Cheng billed the upcoming sci-fi space game as “the Han Solo simulator,” allowing players to “get in a ship, explore the galaxy [and] do fun stuff.” That’s pretty much all anyone needed to hear to further hype the already anticipated game.
Players join a space exploration outfit, customizing their character backgrounds and making decisions that will affect how the game’s story unfolds. While soaring through the far reaches of the cosmos, presumably players will encounter other forms of life … but hopefully not bugs.
“Starfield” represents Bethesda’s first new IP in 25 years. “It’s like ‘Skyrim’ in space,” Bethesda Game Studios Executive Producer Todd Howard has said of the role-playing game. — Mike Hume
Release date: Nov. 11 for PC, Xbox Series X and Series S
Announced at E3 this past June, “Redfall,” an upcoming, vampire-themed co-op FPS game, generated a bit of buzz during Microsoft’s showcase. The game from Arkane Studios, the developer behind “Dishonored,” “Prey” and the 2021 hit “Deathloop,” showed off a lengthy cinematic that featured a diverse cast of vampire hunters using customizable weapons to take down their bloodsucking foes.
Not only are gamers geeked about the game because of Arkane’s pedigree, but, along with “Starfield,” this is scheduled to be an Xbox/PC exclusive when it launches this summer. Compared to Sony, Microsoft has lacked standout exclusives in recent years. Can “Redfall” fill that bill? We’re eager to find out. — Mike Hume
Release date: 2022 for PC, Xbox Series X and Series S