A new year means a new calendar packed full of anticipated titles, and the first quarter of 2022 is shaping up to be even bigger than previous years. Which Q1 game releases have us most excited?
As the pandemic continues to complicate game development and many teams across the industry adapt to work-from-home practices, there aren’t many scheduled release dates beyond the first quarter at this point. Rather than announcing releases prematurely and then delaying them, many studios are keeping tight-lipped instead of making promises beyond March.
But in the meantime, while we wait for dates for promised 2022 launches like the Breath of the Wild sequel and God of War: Ragnarok, there are plenty of Q1 game releases worth their weight in hype. Here are the things we’re most excited about between now and the end of March:
5. Gran Turismo 7 (March 4)
The PlayStation’s signature racing series and all-around graphical powerhouse is quietly poised to make its debut on next-gen hardware in March. There have only been a couple of titles specifically designed for the PS5 so far, and it will be interesting to see how director Kazunori Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital will put the new console through its paces. Racing fans need not fret if they haven’t obtained the new console yet, however, as Gran Turismo 7 will also arrive on PS4.
Beyond expanding the PS5’s library of exclusives and bringing back a pedigreed series, Gran Turismo 7 sounds like it’s encapsulating some of the best features of previous games, making it one of our most anticipated Q1 game releases. Porsche is also excited, as they’ll be debuting a new concept vehicle exclusively in the game.
4. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin (March 18)
You’ve seen the memes, but behind them stands an intriguing new mashup: the first Souls-like game set in the realms of Final Fantasy. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is a new spin-off developed by Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja, which will return to the original NES game’s world and lore. Its protagonist, Jack, seems doomed to become Garland, the first boss in Final Fantasy history, so it should be an ironic and bittersweet journey as we watch him try to become a Warrior of Light.
Having played the game’s second demo, I’m intrigued to see if Square Enix’s edgy new darling can pull off a Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and apply the Souls-like formula to an unlikely franchise.
3. Pokémon Legends: Arceus (January 28)
Speaking of long-running franchises trying new genres, Game Freak is taking their flagship towards an open world with Pokémon Legends: Arceus at the end of the month. After the perhaps too-faithful Diamond & Pearl remakes, this new title feels more like either the next “main game” in the Pokémon franchise, or a very big tech demo. Either way, it’s the most change the series has seen in years, being set in the ancient past of the Sinnoh region where Pokéballs are steam-powered.
While we’ve seen some drastic new (old?) variants of existing Pokémon and details on Hisuan society, but the titular legendary—you know, Arceus, the supposed almighty creator of the Pokémon world—has been all but absent from footage so far, and we barely have any idea how it will fit into the equation. It seems like we’ve seen little past the tip of the iceberg here, making it one of our most anticipated Q1 game releases.
2. Horizon: Forbidden West (February 18)
Sony’s machines will be graced with another returning exclusive franchise before spring arrives. Aloy returns in Horizon: Forbidden West, the sequel to a serious GOTY 2017 contender. Her journey will take her to drastically different new landscapes across post-apocalyptic 31st-century America, encountering new varieties of foes and exploring underwater locales.
Can Guerilla Games truly cement Horizon as a franchise with this sequel? We’ll find out in just a few weeks.
1. Elden Ring (February 25)
Winter will be very kind to Souls fans. The once-mythical collaboration between Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki and A Song of Ice & Fire writer George R.R. Martin finally received a launch date last year, but due to an eleventh hour delay, it will now fall at the end of February. To quote our hands-on preview: “I can already tell Elden Ring will be a special release, masterfully blending in the tight and linear game design found in the Souls series with an open world full of meaningful content that doesn’t feel repetitive or mechanical.”
With Martin having contributed the background lore for the game, FromSoftware has created a more open-world experience than previous games, and could be poised to deliver the grandest yet most accessible Souls outing yet. The creators’ pedigree, as well as the extensive expansions to the formula behind the Golden Joystick Award’s Ultimate Game of All Time, make Elden Ring the most anticipated of Q1 game releases in our book.
If this first quarter is any indication, gamers will be eating very, very well this year. Stay tuned to CGMagazine for news and reviews of these tentpole titles, as well as updates on the next big hype contenders that will follow later in 2022.