With the one year anniversary of the Xbox Series X and S consoles, the Xbox brand’s 20th anniversary, the release of the best-in-class Forza Horizon 5 AND the launch of the ridiculously fun Halo Infinite, Microsoft had a lot to celebrate towards the end of 2021. Phil Spencer and his friends won’t be keen on taking the balloons down and ending the party, however, and with a full 2022 ahead of us, it’s easy to see why they’d want to keep the celebration going. Here’s what to expect from Microsoft and its host, Xbox Game Studios, over the next 12 months.
Xbox has games
One way to keep the momentum going is to focus on what gave Microsoft such a strong end in 2021 – great games. And an element of the 2022 plan will be continued support for these great games from 2021 onwards.
Halo is back and arguably better than ever, but the most exciting thing about Infinite is that it’s only just beginning. There’s so much more to come from Halo developer 343 in 2022, including the highly anticipated addition of co-op to the campaign, as well as the fan-favorite Forge mode. The multiplayer is of course updated regularly, be it new maps, modes or other improvements to the Battle Pass progression system, which so far has been the only real mark against his name.
Forza Horizon 5 saw over 10 million players around Playground’s stunning portrayal of Mexico within a week of launch. The studio has a great track record of delivering a steady stream of high quality DLC for previous Horizons so we can definitely expect to see some of them in the months ahead.
Then there’s Bethesda, the small indie company that Microsoft bought for $ 7.5 billion in March 2021. Two Bethesda exclusives for Xbox are currently slated for 2022, Redfall and Starfield. The former is an open world co-op vampire shooter from Arcane that will seek to replicate the critical recognition it received for the 2021 game contender Deathloop. A departure from the studio’s traditional single-player campaign that focused on the past, Redfall will be a new challenge for Arcane The Studio.
Starfield is the first new series from Bethesda Games Studios in 25 years. An expansive odyssey that director Todd Howard himself described as “Skyrim in Space”. Currently slated for release on November 11th, 2022, we know very little about what we’re going to be doing at Starfield, and that’s part of what makes it so exciting. Howard annoyed us by exploring the great unknown, offering unprecedented freedom, and even calling it “the greatest epic sci-fi thing you can imagine.” If Starfield lives up to whatever it could be, Xbox may have its largest exclusive to date in its hands.
Back in the world of Forza, we might see the return of his older, more sensible brother in 2022. Unveiled at the 2020 Xbox Games Showcase, a soft reboot of Forza Motorsport from Turn 10 Studios could be ready to start on the grid towards the end of next year. Developed from the ground up for the X and S series consoles, it’s sure to be a feast for the eyes when the in-engine trailer is something.
As for other things that look stunning; Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, Ninja Theory’s successor to the critically acclaimed Senua’s Sacrifice, seems to take full advantage of Epic’s Unreal Engine 5. With the gameplay shown recently at The Game Awards, the signs are encouraging that development is progressing well. Another game we hope to play in 2022, but at this point we don’t know yet.
Let’s get to some of the games that we’ll be surprised when they appear not falling over the next 12 months. Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl is currently scheduled for April 28th. First in a series of four games to be released on consoles, Stalker 2 will bring a legion of loyal fans to the cult original. While this post-apocalyptic survival FPS might not have a minute to laugh about, it is sure to be one of the more tense games coming out in 2022 and another opportunity for Series X to flex their powerful tech muscles.
If you haven’t gotten enough of the first-person survival horror by just existing in the past few years, then Xbox is really there for you. Scorn, a biopunk adventure inspired by HR Giger, battles stalkers for the prize for the grimmest game. If it sounds like a nice outing enjoying the macabre and playing as a skinless humanoid fighting creepy creatures on an alien planet, then I have the perfect game for you. Originally scheduled for 2021, delays forced it into October 2022.
With a free-to-play Counter-Strike style multiplayer developed by Korean developers Smilegate and a single player campaign designed by Max Payne and Control developers Remedy from Finland, CrossfireX has a one-of-a-kind continental character. If the Finns can bring in some of their unique storytelling talent here, it could be a surprise hit for Xbox when it comes out in February.
When Rare doesn’t spend time constantly improving Sea of ââThieves and adding unexpected goodies, Everwild is busy making. A uniquely stunning looking offering that is still largely shrouded in mystery. Unveiled a good 2 years ago, maybe 2022 is the time when we can take a closer look at the secrets of Everwild and maybe even play them. With rumors going on that it has been difficult to develop and a more likely release in 2023, we’re holding our breath for now.
It doesn’t all have to work on such a large scale, however. After Xbox spearheaded the indie gaming boom at the height of the Summer of Arcade in the early 2000s, Xbox hasn’t had as many indie exclusives recently as its competitors. However, 2022 could well see a return to this dynamic.
Somerville is an upcoming mystery platformer from the new Jumpship studio, created by former Playdead co-founder Dino Patti. With plenty of pedigree from working on indie classics like Limbo and Inside, Somerville promises something similar. Tunic is an adorable looking adventure in which you play as a fox on a magical quest. Unsurprisingly, many Legend of Zelda comparisons are drawn, not least because both heroes wear green outfits, hold swords, and solve puzzles. Then there is âNobody will save the worldâ from the traditional PlayStation-oriented Drinkbox Studios. A top-down dungeon crawler with all the charm and character you would expect from the folks behind the guacamelee! Games.
ALL of these games will find their way to Xbox Game Pass as well, arguably the best deal for gaming at the moment, and these are all just the exclusive Xbox consoles coming next year. A hodgepodge of great-looking third-party games, including Elden Ring, Dying Light 2, Suicide Squad, and Gotham Knights, to name a few, is expected in 2022. Plus, maybe even the Series X version of Cyberpunk 2077 will make it.
Hardware & Services
Of course, to play some of these games you must be in possession of either an Xbox Series X or S. Something that hasn’t been easy since these consoles launched. Console bottlenecks are not a new thing in the gaming industry, especially so soon after a new generation started, but this time around, they have been harder than ever to come by. Of course, component bottlenecks and the ever-evolving pandemic have presented unprecedented challenges – let’s hope that from here it will only get easier on all points.
However, for those who are still waiting to get their hands on the new generation, xCloud is here to save the day. Xbox Cloud Gaming enables PC, phone, and tablet users to get a taste of the Xbox action without actually having to own a console. Recently added as a service to every Game Pass Ultimate subscription, it really means you can play all of the previously mentioned games without even owning a console in 2022. It will be fascinating to see how cloud gaming plays out over the next 12 months, but with Xbox Cloud Gaming it really feels like the future is already here.
However, one thing that we won’t see much of Xbox anytime soon is immersion in the murky sea of ââNFTs. In a recent interview with Axios, Phil Spencer described Non-Fungible Tokens in games as something that “feels more exploitative than entertainment.” While big publishers like Ubisoft and EA are definitely going in that direction, it’s safe to say that we won’t see Master Chief NFTs in the Xbox Store in 2022.
With tons of great looking games on the way and so many audience friendly services continuing to bloom, 2022 is emerging as a great time to be an Xbox gamer. Additionally, the future looks bright for Xbox and their stable full of impressive studios. On the horizon are Fable, Avowed, The Outer Worlds 2, State of Decay 3, Perfect Dark, Indiana Jones, and The Elder Scrolls 6 should hit out next year, but the promise to see more of them is exciting enough. And that’s maybe the best part about being an Xbox gamer right now – it just doesn’t look like this excitement is going to end anytime soon.
Simon Cardy doesn’t think he could look forward to Starfield any more. Come and tell us all about your favorite moons on Twitter @CardySimon.