As someone who works on a game-themed blog, it should be easy to remember what all I’m looking forward to this year. Yet, every year I find myself struggling to think up a proper list. I think part of it is the sheer number of games coming out at any given time; you can quickly get overwhelmed if you cover them frequently. The other part is that it’s kind of hard to get psyched these days. Big-budget gaming has gotten so shady that it’s become difficult to be genuinely optimistic about most releases. Heck, maybe I’m just getting older too. All that said, I do indeed have a list. If these all turn out good, then I think 2022 will at least be a decent year for gaming.
My friends and I stumbled upon the original Windjammers more or less by accident a few years ago, and we had an absolute blast with it. There was something about its retro-arcade style that made it both absolutely charming and totally hilarious! Needless to say, many inside jokes were formed around this game, but it must be said that Windjammers has extremely tight and addicting gameplay. Now, at last, Windjammers 2 is finally here. It’s done away with the arcade graphics in favor of a more comic book-esque art style, but it’s otherwise looking bigger and better. There are new characters, new arenas, and even new moves to play around with. They’ve even dialed up the hype-factor across the board! It may be one of the most minor releases of the year, but Windjammers 2 is probably the game I’m most excited for in 2022.
First, picture the Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake that came out a couple years ago. Next, replace Link with a cute little fox hero. Finally, give that fox a dodge roll and treasure-recovery mechanic and you’ve more or less got Tunic. There’s not a lot of new ground being broken here, but honestly I think that’s fine. We could use more top-down, Zelda-style adventure games (without the roguelike elements) and that’s basically what’s being delivered here. There’s actually a demo available on Xbox/PC right now, and it plays pretty well. So, this one should be a slam dunk for anyone who enjoys the classic, 2D-style Zelda games.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl
I’ll be completely honest here: I’ve never played any of the previous S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. They’re all older and exclusive to PC, so they were never really all that high on my “to play” list. However, the series has a great reputation for having solid adventure/survival gameplay in a vein similar to Fallout, though it might actually be closer to something like System Shock in practice. This next game, STALKER 2, is going to be on the Xbox, so it represents a chance to finally try the series for myself without having to rely on my now 7-year-old laptop computer. The developer got in some hot water recently due to some NFT shenanigans they were planning (and have since cancelled), but hopefully the game will still be good.
Atomic Heart (Currently MIA)
Alright, now we’re getting into the “probably not 2022, but here’s hoping” portion of the list. Atomic Heart was announced a few years ago, and it looks promising. Imagine a game like Prey (2016) or BioShock, but set in an alternate, retro-futuristic, abandoned Soviet city dedicated to scientific advancement. What’s more, your character is a sort of cybernetically-enhanced agent of the government tasked with going in and cleaning up the mess left behind by the scientists. The trailers have shown crazy weapons with special abilities, interesting powers, and indescribable abominations that need to be fought and destroyed. All in all, it’s a fantastic looking game, but we haven’t seen anything about it for a year now. So who knows when it’ll actually come out.
Metroid Prime 4 (Currently MIA)
I know this one is a long shot, but between last year’s surprise release of Metroid Dread and the large amount of time between updates on Metroid Prime 4, I’m kind of hopeful that Nintendo will hit us with another Metroid surprise this year. Maybe it’ll just be the long-rumored Metroid Prime collection for Switch (which would be awesome), but maybe they’ll finally have a release date for us. Nintendo has gotten into the habit of announcing games fairly close to their actual release, so there’s definitely a possibility.
I know this one is actually due out in November, but I just can’t get excited for it. As much as I used to love Bethesda Softworks and their games, I simply do not trust them to make something that’s actually good anymore. The studio spent years coasting on the fumes of Skyrim and only released two major games in the years since: the extremely mediocre Fallout 4 and the absolutely awful, broken, cash-grab that was Fallout 76. After all that, and STILL seeing no actual gameplay for Starfield, you’ll forgive me if I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to play this one.
I’m sure there’re plenty more games worth getting excited for coming out this year, but these are pretty much the only ones on my radar. Perhaps there are some surprises coming this year (there always are), so I’m sure I’ll wind up picking up more game than these. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. Happy 2022 everyone!
What games are you looking forward to this year? Got any surprise announcements that you’re hoping to see?
Image from Metroid Prime 4 “First Look” trailer.