Okay, so we’ve already been over the so-so games coming in 2022 that we’re probably going to give a chance, but what about the games we actually can’t wait to play?
Well, in this second part of the feature, we’ll be exploring that very subject. It’s clear most of the games that would easily end up on this list have been pushed back to 2023. That said, between the precious few that (so far) are sticking to their 2022 guns, and the couple of your under-the-radar, sleeper hit contenders still to come, this year won’t actually end up being that dire when all is said and done.
As mentioned in the first part, this is obviously not an objective list; it only reflects my own picks. The two sets of games could easily be reversed if someone else was in charge, and it is admittedly easier to do this in our current 2022 than it would’ve been had even half of the games we thought we’d be playing actually arrived.
Anyway, onto the most-anticipated games of the rest of 2022, in release order.
Midnight Fight Express
Midnight Fight Express is one of those games that can sell me on it without really trying. It’s a modern brawler in a sense, where you go around town beating up goons. On its own, that would be enough, but it's the mesmerising flow of animations and how characters interact with their environment that fascinates me.
You can grab objects, beat people up with them. Or grab the people themselves, throw them into other people, or into walls and over desks. Yeah, it’s that kind of game. That fluidity makes for some really good GIFs, which these days can be all you really need to sell a game – just look at the cat game.
But all of that could just be for show, which is why I was ecstatic when I played the demo, because Midnight Fight Express plays as well as it looks in those fancy GIFs. It’s particularly easy to get into, with a number of difficulty options that shortens the time between button press to cool shit.
I’m all for demanding, systems-heavy brawlers – I’ve enjoyed my time with Sifu, for instance. But I also like to relax sometimes, even when beating virtual people up. I’d even say that the harder difficulties of the demo were a little too easy, but that’s something that will obviously evolve all the way to launch.
Sometimes it pays to have simple pleasures. Evil West is a third-person shooter about a cowboy who hunts vampires. He wears a gauntlet in his right hand, powered by lightning, which he uses to juggle and shock monsters.
He also carries some Wild West-era rifles, and so gameplay is a mix of stylish shooting, fanning the hammer, before smacking fools into walls, explosive barrels and environmental hazards conveniently placed all around you.
Evil West is the new game from Flying Wild Hog, who know a thing or two about making a satisfying shooter. From the few minutes of gameplay we got to see, Evil West looks to have a kind of an old-school approach to its level design. It seems you’ll be fighting enemies in enclosed, Doom-style arenas rather than running into them naturally in the world.
This is fine, of course. The only thing that really matters here is how long the combo of shooting, slow-motion and electrified gauntlet slams will remain fun, and whether the skill tree will offer meaningful upgrades and more inventive ways of utilising violence.
Look, it’s easy to dunk on the work of WB Games Montreal. It’s the red-headed stepchild of the WB family; the B team you task with a sequel or spin-off no one asked for in a gap year while your A team toils away making the next big thing.
But I actually liked Batman: Arkham Origins well enough. Sure, it wasn’t the best one of those, but it was a fun Batman action game, hid a decent twist to its story, and had the rare setting of a wintery Gotham, which was cool.
I’m willing to give Gotham Knights the benefit of the doubt, even if every time that game is shown it seems to be getting worse somehow. Graphics look alright, and the action is about on par with what we expect from those games, even if Batman combat is little long in the tooth at this point. But it doesn’t have a spark; something you can point to and count the days until you can do or see yourself.
And the framerate, why is it always dropping frames like crazy in those sanctioned, carefully edited gameplay clips? That does not bode well at all. And yet, I am still holding out hope that this is going to be a fine action game, even if it’s struggling to wow us right now.
Besides that, co-op tends to elevate our perception of a game’s quality, and Gotham Knights has that going for it.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
What would a year be without a new Call of Duty? I guess we’re going to find out in 2023. Yes, Call of Duty is a stale and often predictable franchise, but it’s also the most popular AAA shooter in the business.
I liked a lot of Modern Warfare 2019, even if it often frustrated me because of how closely it stuck to the formula, despite pushing forward and overhauling almost every other part of its make-up.
Modern Warfare 2 has the benefit of following up one of the most revolutionary Call of Duty games in history. There’s a lot Infinity Ward can change, and a lot it will stick to its guns on. The point is: it won't’ be as much of a risk as the first game was, which typically means – at the very least – we’re getting a more polished, expanded version of that game that’s more confident about which parts of it worked.
There’s talk of a reimagined Ground War, and rumours about a Tarkov-lite extraction royale mode. There’s even going to be a whole new Warzone that might actually play like BR and not like COD multiplayer in a big map.
All of these ideas are exciting, likely more now than they’re ever going to be when I finally get my hands on the game, such has been my experience with Call of Duty. Which is why some of that hype was deflated when I watched that single-player gameplay trailer.
It looked visually about as good as Modern Warfare 2019. Animations remain sublime, and sound is as punchy as you want it. But gameplay looked so Xbox 360 era, dated in every way but its presentation. More than that, it signalled a shift in tone and direction from the 2019 game.
Say what you will about gamifying its conflicts, but the reboot had a character that stood out from most other Call of Duty games. Modern Warfare 2, at least from what we’ve seen so far, looks like Call of Duty: The Call of Duty.
I remain hopeful that Infinity Ward has a few tricks up its sleeve for multiplayer, which is ultimately what’s going to become the focus long-term. Because it’s going to be a real bummer if the sequel to Modern Warfare 2019 ends up being an okay shooter that’s only interesting because of its lineage.
God of War Ragnarok
This is it, everyone. The one game I can’t wait to play more than anything else coming out between now and the end of this year. If every one of the games on this list got delayed and I just got God of War Ragnarok, I’ll be happy.
Against seemingly all odds, Sony Santa Monica stuck to the plan and announced a November release date, making it easily the biggest game this fall.
I played all God of War games, except the handheld ones, and I’ve liked them all. I finished the reboot twice, once on PS4 and another time when the game came to PC. I want to see where the story goes, but I am a little less excited about the gameplay.
For one, we have no idea how different or similar Ragnarok’s structure is going to be compared to the 2018 game. Sony only released a few precious minutes of gameplay, and it looks like the camera is as close to Kratos’ back as it was in the reboot. This was my main issue with the mechanics of that game, and I do hope this can at least be lessened by enemy design or movement abilities.
I am, of course, willing to get past that and focus on the narrative, especially as I’m expecting a 60fps framerate on PS5. That’s not to say I won’t have fun with the combat, I just wish there’s enough new there.
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide
Fatshark has proven time and again that it does one thing very well, and that is to make satisfying (usually melee-based) first-person co-op games. To be annoyingly reductive: what if Left 4 Dead but melee?
The two Vermintide games are proof of that, and their longevity years after launch without much of the modern progression trappings is a testament to how replayable these games continue to be. A third Vermintide would have been enough for me to go all in, but Fatshark pivoted to something a little different.
The team decided to set its new game thousands of years into the future of Warhammer, which means: guns. Melee weapons are still in use, of course, and a lot of the gameplay shown so far typically has a mix of melee and ranged combat, but firearms are your main tool this time around.
Making satisfying shooting mechanics is hard. If you’re an asshole like me with a specific sense about the particulars of the genre, you’re going to have opinions about every little thing.
I can only judge what I played, however, and I have yet to play Darktide. But, from everything I’ve seen, it looks like a solid sequel that pushes things forward a great deal for Fatshark. Even if it was just a melee game in a different setting, I’d still be down.
The only problem is that I was looking forward to playing Darktide in September, but it’s just been delayed to the end of November, which means it will be forced to share the month with several other heavy-hitters. Still, it’s late enough that you’ll probably be done with God of War and the like by then.
The Callisto Protocol
Tell me you’re going to delay your game without telling me you’re going to delay your game. If there’s one thing a first/second week of December release date for a triple-A game communicates, it’s a strong indication that it’s probably not going to make it out this year.
This isn’t actually a comment about the quality of The Callisto Protocol. What little gameplay we’ve seen looks fantastic; a true spiritual successor to Dead Space. But there’s not a lot to go on here. We don’t know whether the game will lean more toward action or survival horror, for instance. There’s a lot Striking Distance hasn’t said about the game’s structure, or, really, about its mechanics.
There’s plenty of time from now until December for most of our questions to be answered, and there’s still a chance The Callisto Protocol will be released on December 2. And be a good, polished game.
But I’m willing to bet it will be pushed back.
Feel free to draw your own conclusions about the games yet to come in 2022 that you're excited about, and maybe come up with your own list, with the help of our super friendly 2022 game release dates.