Another year is here, and with it the promise of hundreds of new games. The promises are a bit vague in 2022 though, as the ongoing pandemic and various other factors have knocked many release dates severely out of whack. This year, I’ve compiled a list of the ten games I’m most looking forward to. They’re presented in approximate order of expected release, but it’s an inexact science given how many of these projects have no confirmed dates attached to them. They’re a varied bunch, ranging across a few genres and taking in both blockbusters and indie dark horses. We’ll see how many of these actually manage to make it out during 2022, and how many - if any - make it onto my games of the year list come December.
Expected 8 February
Developed and published by Sloclap
Capturing the flow and dynamism of martial arts is a difficult thing to do in a game, which may explain why so few developers have seriously attempted it. French studio Sloclap have relevant experience, having released their debut game Absolver back in 2017. Sifu is a more grounded take on mano-a-mano combat, set in contemporary China. The most novel aspect of it is that the player character ages over time; an older fighter is more skilled, but also has less health. The multiplayer component of Absolver has been ditched this time, but a similar art style has been retained. This game could establish Sloclap as the wizened masters of hand-to-hand fighting games when it comes out on PC, PS4 and PS5. Xbox owners will obviously have to pick a fight somewhere else.
Expected March 31
Developed by WolfEye Studios, published by Devolver Digital
A new Western-themed game is always a cause for celebration, even if it isn’t likely to be as great as my 2020 game of the year Desperados III. Weird West is receiving an outsized amount of attention because it is the first game developed by WolfEye Studios, founded by Raphaël Colantonio - formerly of Arkane Studios. It's an action role-playing game, which seems to emphasise a lot of player choice and which adds supernatural elements to the standard Old West template. It runs on Unreal Engine 4, and is set to come out all guns blazing on PC, PS4 and Xbox One at the end of March. WolfEye are a small indie outfit, but they could yet make an impact if Weird West fulfils its potential.
Songs of Conquest
Expected Q2 2022 (early access)
Developed by Lavapotion, published by Coffee Stain Publishing
Some games wear their influence very obviously on their sleeve, but few do it quite as obviously as Songs of Conquest. The first game by new Swedish outfit Lavapotion, the game is a clear tribute to the Heroes of Might and Magic series, particularly the cult third entry. The key question will surely be how the Swedes manage to modernise the combination of overworld adventuring and turn-based combat; the particular formula they are reviving feels very dated today. The signs look good however, especially because of the game’s very pretty pixel art and the addition of a height element to the fantasy battlefields. The target audience for Songs of Conquest is not huge, and as you would imagine the game is exclusive to PC but it could become a cult favourite, just as Heroes of Might and Magic III did over 20 years ago.
Expected 11 November
Developed by Bethesda Game Studios, published by Bethesda Softworks
It’s been a decidedly mixed few years for developer-publisher giants Bethesda. They have had major successes like Doom Eternal, but also embarrassing misfires like Fallout 76. If it seems like they’re reliant on a handful of aging series, it’s because they are: amazingly, they haven’t put out something with a new “intellectual property” (to use a dire industry term) for a massive 25 years. That is set to change late this year, with sci-fi RPG Starfield which has the potential to be one of the blockbusters of 2022 and if Bethesda get it right, a cash-cow for years to come. What really matters is how the devs manage to make the game seem like something more than just “Skyrim in space”. PC and Xbox Series X and S owners will hopefully find out in November, but in space no-one will hear PlayStation fans scream.
Company of Heroes 3
Expected Q4 2022
Developed by Relic Entertainment, published by Sega
It has been a long wait for a sequel to Company of Heroes 2, which came out in 2013 - so long ago that World War II could have been replayed almost twice over in the meantime. Major real-time strategy games are as rare as hen’s teeth these days, so this new game from Relic is something to look forward to. The team shipped another big RTS sequel, Age of Empires IV, in 2021 so hopefully they are firing on all cylinders. The most tantalising thing about Company of Heroes 3 is the setting - the campaigns in Italy and North Africa should seem much more fresh than yet another trudge around Normandy or Stalingrad. Relic have a proven track record and are employing the fifth version of their own Essence Engine. Armchair generals on the PC can hopefully expect the game to cap off their year.
Shadow Warrior 3
Developed by Flying Wild Hog, published by Devolver Digital
Amazingly, the Polish studio Flying Wild Hog has no less than four games expected to come out in 2022. While Evil West looks promising, my most anticipated is tongue-in-cheek, sword-in-hand shooter sequel Shadow Warrior 3. Since 2016, the Hogs have made the series their own and are continuing to radically re-work the formula with the third entry. Some of the more unwise design elements of Shadow Warrior 2 are being put to the sword, such as the overbearing weapon stats and the semi-procedural generation of levels, which made the last game feel a bit soulless at times. More surprisingly, the devs have also scrapped multiplayer and have chosen to focus on a leaner, meaner single-player experience. The game has been delayed a lot, most recently in October 2021, but players on PC, PS4 and Xbox One can look forward to the return of the Wang at an unspecified point in 2022.
Ion Fury: Aftershock
Developed by Voidpoint, published by 3D Realms
Another project which has been much-delayed is Ion Fury: Aftershock. This expansion to the 2019 retro-style shooter seemed almost to have been forgotten about at one point, but is apparently still on track for sometime this year. Given that it has been such a long time since the main game came out, Aftershock may need to be quite special in order to get players back on board. The new levels do look promising though, as does the chance to drive vehicles for the first time. Developers Voidpoint did miraculous things with the Build engine with Ion Fury, and may yet work that same magic again. What they and publishers 3D Realms must do, though, is avoid sparking any new pointless controversies - something that dogged them multiple times in 2019.
Expected 2022 (?)
Developed by Mekworx, published by Hyperstrange
Continuing the retro-style shooter anticipation is Supplice, which I last wrote about when I played its demo back in October 2021. These days, the Doom engine is proving to be the powerhouse behind a growing number of old school FPS games and of those, this one is arguably the most promising. The various personalities involved have a tremendous track record, and on the basis of that demo Mekworx have a good chance of standing out from the crowd. I still have concerns about how hard to navigate the demo levels were, and Supplice also faces the same risk as many other games of its type - the risk of seeming overly similar to Doom. Based on the most recent update, the game may not come out this year but I’m looking forward to it so much I’ll include it anyway. Call it manifesting.
SiN Reloaded and Kingpin Reloaded
Developed by Nightdive Studios and Slipgate Ironworks, published by 3D Realms
3D Realms and friends seem to have had a bit of trouble with these projects. The remasters of SiN and Kingpin seem to have taken forever, and there still isn’t a firm release date for either of them. A lot of the classic shooters from yesteryear have now been remastered or remade, and so attention has turned to some that are, frankly, not as classic. Both using the Quake II engine and released in 1998 and 1999 respectively, SiN and Kingpin were never incredible games but a fresh coat of paint may yet make all the difference. If nothing else, these remasters should prove to be worthwhile historical projects, shining a new light on some of the games which followed Half-Life and could not match up to it.
Developed and published by Mundfish
Russian games have a somewhat dubious reputation but Atomic Heart could be a bit of a dark horse for this year. Developed by the new studio Mundfish, the game is a first-person action RPG which is set in a strange, alternate Soviet Union in 1955. Running on Unreal Engine 4 and taking advantage of tech like Nvidia’s brilliant DLSS, it has the potential to look very good indeed. There is a great deal we don’t know about the game, and it has been the subject of some rumours of problems and discord behind the scenes, but the trailers have shown some definite promise and not just in the technical department. There is no established street date for the game, but it is coming out on all the platforms - PC, PS4 and PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X and S.
Release dates for games are tricksy things in general, and especially so in 2022. Hopefully the bulk of the games on this list will make it out into the world over the next 12 months. If they do, you should be able to expect reviews by myself or my colleagues at Entertainium.