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A whole new year of new video games is officially on the horizon, even as we’re still trying to clear out last year’s list of must-play titles to make room for what’s ahead. The flip of the calendar inches players that much closer to a full baker’s dozen of hugely anticipated titles that have teased us from gameplay clips and trailers all through 2021 (and before), which means it’s time to take stock of all the gaming goodness that's in store over the next 12 months.
There are easily more than 13 games coming our way this year that deserve their own special shout-outs, so to keep this list consistent (and manageable), we’re following a couple of ground rules: First, each of these games represents a completely new standalone title — not a remaster, expansion, or port to be found among the lot. Second, each game on this list has been announced by its publisher to be releasing this year, though in some cases we haven’t yet been given a firm day and date.
But if it’s new, if it’s huge, and if it’s coming in 2022, we’ve definitely got you covered. No more playing around: Here, bookended in chronological order to highlight the stuff that’s coming soonest, are the 13 biggest games we can’t wait to get our hands on in the year ahead. And, of course, here’s to hoping we all find the time to play each and every one.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus (Jan. 28)
Pokémon is about to to open up in a whole new way — literally. For the first time, Nintendo is bringing Pikachu power into an unstructured open-world setting for a game that ditches random encounters in favor of go-anywhere exploration (and, of course, monster collecting). Set deep in the Pokémon past in the Hisui region (a historic predecessor to the Sinnoh region that long predates the events of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl), Pokémon Legends: Arceus is shaping up to be an action-RPG unlike any previous turn-based battle game in the series, and it’s coming to the Nintendo Switch on Jan. 28.
Horizon: Forbidden West (Feb. 18)
One of the year’s biggest games on any platform is also one of its earliest. Set to arrive next month, Horizon Forbidden West rides in on a wave of enormous anticipation as one of PlayStation’s premiere gaming franchises — something no one could’ve expected four years ago, when Guerrilla Games introduced the world to a then-unknown primitive survivalist named Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn. The apocalyptic sci-fi story that slowly unfolded over Zero Dawn’s journey into Aloy’s past (as well as the old world’s techno-driven destruction) remains one of the most unforgettable in all of gaming. Now that the big secret’s out in the open and Aloy knows her destiny, Horizon Forbidden West has the tall-necked task of making her second chapter live up to the epic narrative that players experienced the first time around. Horizon Forbidden West arrives on the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 on Feb. 18.
Elden Ring (Feb. 25)
Oh, Elden Ring. FromSoftware’s all-new IP might’ve languished in development purgatory for years before eager fans got their first glimpse of gameplay, but From has spent the past few months delivering clip after clip of staggeringly ambitious visuals and open-world gameplay to showcase its long-awaited AAA collaboration with Game of Thrones mastermind George R.R. Martin. With Martin responsible for crafting the game’s story setting and From’s Hidetaka Miyazaki evolving the addictive action-exploration formula he’s been refining in a lineup of stellar games dating all the way to 2009’s Demon’s Souls, Elden Ring promises to be bigger, weirder, and more beautiful than any game the studio has ever made. Rise, Tarnished — your date with destiny is set for Feb. 25, when Elden Ring arrives for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC.
Evil Dead: The Game (Feb. 2022)
Saber Interactive has been mostly quiet since showing off a deliciously demented slice of Evil Dead: The Game last year, but at last check, it still appeared to be on track for a February 2022 release. For fans who pine for more gory good times in the same Sam Raimi-created universe where Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams chainsaws his way to survival, it can’t come soon enough. Evil Dead: The Game features Campbell alongside more of his Ash vs Evil Dead costars, all of whom are lending their voices to reprise their roles from the TV series. When it does emerge from the darkness, Evil Dead: The Game will land on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Forspoken (March 24)
Square Enix is creating an all-new playground for its next action-RPG, a mythic alternative fantasy land so big that the only way to get anywhere is to warp across the open-world map like a magic-infused lightning bolt. Forspoken strands American-girl protagonist Frey Holland, sneakers still on her feet, in the strange and dangerous realm known as Athia, where she drops in just in time to get swept up in an epic conflict between the land’s super-powered opposing forces of good and evil. At least in Athia, she’s blessed with the gift of speed: Frey’s zippy parkour is a big part of Forspoken’s gameplay hook, and it’s zipping this way fast. Watch for Forspoken to arrive, complete with a story co-written by Gary Whitta and Amy Hennig, on March 24 for PlayStation 5 and PC.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands (March 25)
Forspoken will be exactly one day old when we’re faced with the choice of rolling the 20-sided die for Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. But this one’s a no-brainer for Borderlands fans (or fans of well-crafted, deviously silly FPS splatter comedy in general). Voiced by Ashly Burch (the same actor who voices Aloy in Sony's Horizon series), Tiny Tina has to be one of the top two or three most endearing characters, in a nails-on-chalkboard kind of way, in the hilariously overpopulated Borderlands universe. Like Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep, the awesome expansion to 2013’s Borderlands 2, this new game is her show to steal once again, with Tina presiding as the capriciously sadistic dungeon master over her lapsed-reality version of a tabletop RPG — one where you’re stuck inside its 3D-explorable world. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands debuts March 25 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC.
Hogwarts Legacy (2022)
Now we’re getting into the games that still haven’t been tagged with firm release dates, though they’re slated to land sometime in 2022. First announced in September of 2020, Warner Bros. and developer Avalanche Software have remained low-key on major updates about Hogwarts Legacy, which casts the magic Harry Potter spell over the new generation of gaming consoles in an open-world action-RPG adventure. What we do know, though, sounds like the perfect wish fulfillment for longtime Wizarding World fans: you’ll get to pick your Hogwarts House, enroll as an aspiring student mage, and traipse to the familiar far corners of the Potter-verse to test your magical mettle against the full menagerie of its Fantastic Beasts. Watch for Hogwarts Legacy on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum (2022)
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum aims to scratch the same next-gen franchise itch as Hogwarts Legacy — only this time, for fans of the Tolkien-verse. Said to precede the precious events of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Gollum is an action-adventure game that puts players behind the eyes and wounded pride of the protagonist formerly known as Sméagol. No one’s ever explored Middle-Earth before from Gollum’s point of view — which is kind of the point. The new game aims to tell “the story of Gollum from a perspective never witnessed before in any storytelling media,” according to developer Daedalic Entertainment — “all the while staying faithful to the legendary books of J.R.R. Tolkien.” The Lord of the Rings: Gollum comes creeping up later this year for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Gotham Knights (2022)
Already delayed once after first getting a seismic introduction at 2020’s DC FanDome, Gotham Knights remains on track, at last check, for a 2022 release. In a world bereft of a (seemingly deceased) Bruce Wayne, it’s up to the surviving members of the Bat-pack to squad up and take down crime in Gotham City in an open-world action RPG that puts a big emphasis on teamwork. Suffused with lore taken from DC’s super-secret Court of Owls criminal society, Gotham Knights lets you play as one of the members of its core quartet: Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin, or Red Hood, and it’s heading this year to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC.
Marvel's Midnight Suns (2022)
While we wait for Disney and Marvel’s first big move to bring the X-Men fully into the MCU fold, there’s no waiting when it comes to video games: Marvel’s Midnight Suns is taking the “assemble” approach to teaming up its hefty catalog of superheroes, and yes, that even includes Wolverine. A tactical RPG with turn-based combat inspired by developer Firaxis’ universally adored XCOM series, Midnight Suns lets you play as an all-new, fully-customizable hero known mysteriously as “The Hunter,” though the full playable lineup also includes the aforementioned Wolvie, alongside Marvel icons like Captain America, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Ghost Rider, Blade, and more. There’s no firm release date, but Marvel’s Midnight Suns is set to release this year for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League (2022)
This is the other AAA game title that DC’s been teasing since the big unveil two summers ago at DC FanDome. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League evolves the story already laid down in the Batman: Arkham series, though things have gotten seriously weird since developer Rocksteady’s last Arkham outing (2015’s Batman: Arkham Knight). With no Bruce Wayne in sight this time, the Suicide Squad will be tasked with holding at bay a demented, mind-controlled version of the Justice League while taking on the real enemy who’s behind it all — Brainiac, who’s figured out how to turn the forces of good against each other in a twisted bid to conquer the Earth. Just a normal day in the DC ‘hood, in other words, for Harley Quinn and company. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is set to launch later this year for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.
Starfield (Nov. 11)
We’re down to just a final pair of heavyweights, but sometimes it pays to save the biggest names for last. Starfield is the game that’s standing between Bethesda fans and future single-player entries in the Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchises, which is a fancy way of saying that Bethesda is taking its first newly-created, all-original gaming IP since The Elder Scrolls: Arena super-seriously. Built from the ground up as a science fiction-based take on the same vast, epic RPG formula that’s made household names out of Vault Boy and the Dragonborn, Starfield is set in a sprawling space territory known as The Settled Systems, a diverse colonized area spanning 50 light years (yep, that means hopping in a starship to go places) lying just beyond the Solar System. It’s also the first AAA Bethesda game that’ll be exclusive to the Microsoft ecosystem since the company’s big buyout of Bethesda in 2020. When it arrives on Nov. 11, Starfield will be available only on Xbox Series X/S and PC.
God of War Ragnarök (2022)
If any PlayStation character this year is gonna upstage Aloy, you know it’s going to be Kratos. Few games have come fresh out of the box as complete, as polished, and as epic in scope as Santa Monica Studio’s God of War, and Ragnarök looks to continue the Nordic-themed journey that its 2018 predecessor embarked on with Kratos and new character Atreus, his god-son-in-training heir apparent. If you’ve played God of War (and you should), you know there’s a huge late-game surprise that throws a wrinkle into the duo’s whole father-son dynamic, and that’s sure to be tested as Ragnarök pits Kratos and Atreus against a vengeful and menacing Thor, who shows up in Sony’s video game version looking far less jolly than his Chris Hemsworth-portrayed counterpart far away in the MCU. As the prophetic title suggests, this one’s all about the end of days — and as far as we’re concerned, the end can’t come soon enough. God of War Ragnarök doesn’t have a firm release date yet, but it’ll be launching this year as a PlayStation exclusive, getting a cross-gen release on both PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4.