8 video game trends to watch in 2022

Safe to say, it’s been a tough few years for the games industry. The simultaneous bottlenecks, working from home, and the general malaise that plagued us all severely affected development cycles, in turn causing painful manufacturing and shipping delays.

Fortunately, however, the still ongoing global pandemic hasn’t stopped game designers from innovating, exploring new ideas, and rejuvenating old ones. To that end, here are 8 video game trends to watch in 2022, as the recovery (hopefully) continues throughout the year.

A guild of Zelda-likes

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild 2

(Image credit: Nintendo)

When Zelda: Breath of the Wild arrived in 2017, it was not only very popular with critics and gamers, it also inspired a generation of designers to think about open world games in new and exciting ways. Gone are all those screen-hogging markers, item checklists and cascading objectives, all for pure exploration and discovery. This year, we are going to see the fruits of it. Not only is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 on its way, but Sonic Frontiers, Pokemon Legends: Arceus, and Elden Ring all borrow ideas from the Switch classic, as do smaller indie titles like Tunic and Xel. This will be the year the industry breaks with the Far Cry / Assassin’s Creed way of structuring open world games and into something much more, well … open.

Marvel's Midnight Suns

(Image credit: 2K Games)

Over the past decade, Arkham titles, followed by Insomniac’s Spider-Man, have defined the model of the superhero video game – a third-person action adventure with tons of body-fighting. to body. But this year we’re going to see the developers branch out from that model and do different things with some super powerful characters. Hence, Marvel’s Midnight Suns, a tactical RPG from the masters of the genre, Firaxis and Gotham Knights, which promises to bring RPG elements like loot and character progression to add depth. And of course, we get Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League from developer Arkham Rocksteady, which promises a much busier and extravagant escapade of violence with lots of fire, various selectable characters, and a four-player co-op mode. There will also be some retro-hued hero capers, in the form of TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, a side-scrolling beat’em up reminiscent of classic Konami arcade brawlers of the early ’90s. As the concept of the superhero game continues to open up, we’ll have even more drastic examples. Top of our wishlist? A Life Is Strange-style teenage angst adventure starring the Young Avengers.

The blockbusters of the second phase

Horizon forbidden to the west

(Image credit: Guerrilla Games)

While the first generation of great console titles tend to index to the possibilities of the new material, the second generation is really starting to nail it. This year, Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, God of War Ragnarok, and Starfield are likely to push physics, frame rates, and 4K visuals into new territory – but across the board we’ll see developers using them. benefits of their greater experience to explore trending effects like ray tracing and AI-enhanced animation in new and interesting ways.

Revenge of the restart

Saints Street

(Image credit: Volition)

In this troubling era of technological transition and global market uncertainty (thank you Covid), we’re going to see plenty of publishers playing it safe and sticking with beloved brands and experiences this year – hence: a ton of restarts. Dead Space, Saints Row, Advance Wars, and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time all return later this year, and we can expect more to follow. I think we’re going to see a lot more announcements from the original PlayStation era – titles like Vagrant Story, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, or Bushido Blade – that will appeal to nostalgic veterans and newcomers alike.


(Image credit: Epic Games)

Now that Facebook has decided that the metaverse is the future, we can expect to be inundated with games offering vast, massively multiplayer worlds with an emphasis on social interaction and shared events. Minecraft, Fortnite and Roblox have all led the way, but the expected arrival of new AR / XR headsets from Apple, Microsoft, Google and Meta, as well as the PlayStation VR 2, is likely to bring a new dimension (literally). to the concept.

The cute-ification of games

KK slider in Animal Crossing New Horizons

(Image credit: Nintendo)

With the ever-expanding audience for video games, developers are starting to experiment with new aesthetics, color palettes, and character types, attracting large communities. The gigantic success of Animal Crossing: New Horizons has shown that kawaii (the Japanese culture of cuteness) is no longer a niche – it is the main event. This year, we’ll see plenty of genre games using cute visuals, including the Bear and Breakfast management sim, the cyberpunk Stray adventure, the satirical RPG Goodbye Volcano High, and the Endling survival adventure. Nintendo has been telling us for years that you can make beautiful, shiny games without compromising on depth, detail or challenge, but now the message has finally passed.

Brand new, you are retro

Furious mad boy

(Image credit: Big Sugar)

Over the past decade, independent developers have taken a lot of inspiration from 1980s 2D pixel art, but in the future we’re going to see a lot more designers looking into the early 1990s era, with its visuals. Low resolution 3D and darker plus adult themes. Retro first-person shooters are so popular right now: we’ve seen Amid Evil, Dusk, and Cruelty Squad before, and on the way are the HR Giger-inspired Hellscreen and the fantastic hack-n-slasher Graven. In 2022 we will also have the apocalyptic RPG Broken Roads, the horror game based on FMV Ghosts and the platform game inspired by Mega Drive Berserk Boy. The future is, uh, 30 years ago?

Pull the blockchain

Star Atlas

(Image credit: Solana)

There has been a lot of reluctance against the idea of ​​NFTs, blockchains, and cryptocurrency transactions sneaking into mainstream video games (see GSC Game World’s descent on STALKER 2), but it will happen. This genre of ‘play to win’ is already transforming the mobile gaming industry, with crypto games like Axy Infinity and Reward Hunters generating billions of dollars in revenue. This year there will be many more, including Illuvium and Star Atlas. Desperate for new sources of income to replace the much-maligned loot boxes, EA, Ubisoft, and Square Enix have all announced plans to explore the possibilities of crypto mechanics. It’s likely we’ll see games that give players ownership of unique items such as skins, weapons, or characters, as well as titles that allow players to customize in-game items, which they can sell on. digital markets. It’ll be a way for gamers to make money with their hobby – and creativity – but as Roblox has shown, it’s the publishers who are likely to make the most of it.

Great in 2022

(Image credit: Avenir)

Throughout January, GamesRadar + explores the biggest games of the new year with exclusive interviews, hands-on impressions and in-depth editorials. To learn more, be sure to follow along with Great in 2022.

About Shelly Evans

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