Despite what many may have wanted, 2021 brought more of the same. New consoles are next to impossible to find, delays still hamper many highly anticipated titles, and industry executives push forward greedy practices over improving working conditions for employees. That last point is clearly demonstrated by recent news of NFTs being declared as the “future of video games” and the continued saga surrounding misconduct at Activision Blizzard.

While there is plenty of doom and gloom surrounding the video game industry nowadays, change can be made. We as a gaming community need to continue to hold companies responsible for their poor practices, support the developers telling their stories, and, most importantly, vote with our wallets. If a company is involved with a practice you deem exploitative or is doing little to address issues — cough Ubisoft cough — then you have the right to not support them. Challenge the bad apples, while championing the good in this industry.

There is plenty to love and look forward to when it comes to video games. Don’t let bad actors spoil the fun, especially when it comes to anticipating an upcoming game. However, with the current state of the world, be wary that some games may not hit their scheduled release.

With all that said, let’s take a look at the most anticipated games of 2022.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Despite the series’ continued sales success, there has been a lot of discontent with Pokémon in recent years. Be it cutting out the ability to “catch ‘em all” in the most recent releases to Game Freak’s struggles transitioning the series to consoles, the franchise can’t seem to catch a break. Fortunately, there is Pokémon Legends: Arceus to be a beacon of hope for those upset with the current direction of the mainline games.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus mixes the turn-based gameplay of the mainline games with the real-time interactions of an action-RPG and the environment of an open world game. Set in the Hisui region — the precursor to the Sinnoh region from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl — players set out to build the region’s first Pokédex. As players explore Hisui, they will observe Pokémon in their natural habitats, engage in real-time and turn-based fights with frenzied Alpha Pokémon, and ride Pokémon to traverse land, sea, and sky.

While rough around the edges — especially when it comes to graphics — Pokémon Legends: Arceus has a lot of potential. It could just be the evolution that the series desperately needs. Good thing there isn’t a long wait as it releases on January 28.

Horizon: Forbidden West

Many pegged Horizon: Forbidden West for a 2021 release. However, the continued effects of the pandemic caused the game to slip into early 2022.

Despite the delay, 2021 did give eager gamers a 14-minute glimpse at Forbidden West’s gameplay. During this gameplay trailer, Aloy searches the ruins of San Francisco to save Erend from a group of Raiders. While searching the ruins, Aloy has new way to traverse the environment, including more handholds for free climbing, a new grapple hook to zip around, and an energy glider to slow your descent while in the air. Outside of traversal, Guerilla Games is expanding Aloy’s combat capabilities — especially when it comes to close combat. For instance, Aloy can now charge her melee weapons for increased damage and access to special attacks.

While Horizon: Forbidden West takes full advantage of the PS5, it will also see release on PS4. So, come February 18 anybody can to experience Aloy’s new adventure, no matter which current generation of PlayStation you own.

Elden Ring

There is no game coming out in 2022 that is more anticipated than Elden Ring. Ever since its reveal, there has been an unhealthy amount of hype surrounding this collaboration between FromSoftware, the developer of Dark Souls, and George R.R. Martin, the writer of A Song of Ice and Fire.

Is it from the two sides going radio silent on the game for almost two years? Or is it people clamoring for another great fantasy story from George R.R. Martin after the final season of Game of Thrones disappointed everybody? Who knows? However, after about 20 minutes of gameplay and plenty of favorable impressions from the recent closed network test, we do know that the game is living up to the hype.

In simple terms, Elden Ring takes the formula of past Souls games and drops it into a seamless open world. As the Tarnished, players explore a massive fantasy world known as the Lands Between. While gameplay and dungeon design take liberally from past Souls titles, the freedom that an open world offers breathes new life into the familiar. Players can customize their character’s skills how they please, use multiple strategies to take out enemies, or even have enemies seek them out — and that’s just the tip of what Elden Ring has to offer.

Fortunately, the wait for the most anticipated game of 2022 will be over soon as Elden Ring releases for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, and PC on February 25.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Unless you are below the age of 10, it’s hard to fathom ever considering Nintendo’s adorable pink puffball starring in one of the most anticipated games of any year. Kirby games are just simple 2D side-scrollers made for children. Nobody is going to get excited for that.

First of all, Kirby and the Forgotten Land isn’t a 2D side-scroller. It is the venerable character’s long-awaited transition into the third dimension. Although HAL Laboratory has been using 3D models for Kirby games ever since Kirby 64, Forgotten Land is the first time that players will get to control the denizen of Planet Popstar on a fully 3D adventure.

If you need even more convincing, just watch the announcement trailer. In it, Kirby explores an abandoned city, the desert, and a vast array of areas not usually found in this series. While the juxtaposition between the cutesy designs of Kirby and his enemies with the realistic setting of the titular Forgotten Land is quite striking, it is how Kirby’s tried-and-true copy abilities interacts with the new dimension that truly leaves an impression. From more diverse attacks as Sword Kirby to using the cutter blade to retrieve items as Cutter Kirby to being to roll around like a ball as Needle Kirby, each copy ability looks to be adjusting well to 3D.

However, who knows how long fans will need to wait as Kirby and the Forgotten Land is set for the nebulous release date of Spring 2022.

God of War Ragnarök

Even before God of War (2018) went on to receive universal praise and countless Game of the Year awards, Santa Monica Studios was planning a sequel to Kratos’ grand adventure as a dad. The former Greek God of War did certainly upset a lot of powerful people — mostly Norse gods — on his way to deliver his late wife’s ashes to Jotunheim.

Set a few years after the events of the previous game, God of War Ragnarök sees Kratos and Atreus doing their best to survive the freezing cold of Fimbulwinter. With his past knowledge, Kratos looks to avoid further conflict with the gods. However, Atreus’ curiosity and a vengeful Freya and Thor might throw a wrench into those plans.

Ever since the series’ first release on PS2, God of War has been a perennial system seller for the PlayStation brand. As such, Sony doesn’t need to do much to get people excited for a new entry in the series. Case in point, the company ended the final PS5 Showcase before the system’s launch with sub one minute teaser that showed nothing more than a logo, the words “Ragnarök is coming”, and a 2021 release date.

While the last part of that teaser is out of date now as the game has slipped to sometime in 2022, there are plenty of people that have already bought and will continue to buy a PS5 in anticipation of Ragnarök.

Hollow Knight: Silksong

Much like Elden Ring has been for AAA games, there is no indie game with such immense anticipation as Hollow Knight: Silksong. The hunger for more news on the game has reached the point that fans beg for an announcement at almost every video game event and their collective disappointment trends on Twitter each time it fails to appear.

So, what is Silksong? It is the sequel to the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Hollow Knight, a 2D action-adventure with beautiful animation and a gameplay loop similar to Dark Souls.

Silksong puts players in the shoes of Hornet, the rival to the Knight from the first game, as she explores Hallownest. Originally conceived as an expansion to the first game, Team Cherry decided to transition Silksong into a standalone title to better accommodate Hornet’s more agile playstyle.

No matter when it releases, Silksong looks to have the same high quality as its predecessor. Hopefully, we get some news before the end of 2022, or the rabid fanbase may just destroy the internet with their disappointment.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2

Another year, another holiday season without the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2. Fortunately, we actually got some new information on this highly anticipated title.

Saved for the very end of Nintendo’s E3 2021 Direct, Nintendo gave fans a one minute and 38 second trailer to whet their appetite. Although brief, the trailer contains so much new information that fans have been dissecting every single frame since mid-June.

Without diving into the minutiae of this trailer, Breath of the Wild 2 seems to be combining elements from Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. From the clips of Link free falling through the clouds and traversing floating islands, it looks like players will not be restricted to same Hyrule from the first game. Moreover, the backwards lyrics and design of Link’s corrupted hand invoke the aesthetic of the Twilight Realm.

Speaking of Link’s corrupted hand, it will play a pivotal role in the sequel. From the clip of Link thrusting his arm to use an enhanced form of Stasis, you can see it will take the place of the Sheikah Slate. However, another split-second clip shows Link’s hand in the form a flamethrower-like weapon. So, there could be a lot more to this corrupted hand than just replacing the Sheikah Slate.

There’s plenty to excited for when it comes to Breath of the Wild 2. Fingers crossed that it reaches store shelves by the end of 2022.

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