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2022 is eating 2021 alive to become a monster year for PC gaming

Elden Ring
(Image credit: FromSoftware)

It's been a spotty couple of years for PC gaming. Don't get me wrong, we've had plenty of great games to play and talk about, but there's no ignoring the big holes the Covid-19 pandemic has punched into the usual routine. Any optimism or curiosity during E3 this year was dogged by the worry that no matter what games were revealed or how great they looked, they'd be years away, million-dollar logos ripped straight from the pitch doc. 

But while E3 was an odd one—the digital format is total chaos—it also primed 2022 to be one of the best years in PC gaming ever.

In 2022 we're getting new games from beloved studios, sequels to all-time PC classics, and the indie scene is growing more incalculably large and surprising than ever. Every genre that's been declared dead at some point is gonna be alive and well in 2022, a big slate of live service games will still be kicking ass, the PC will have multiple Crysis-tier graphics pushers, and games will be more affordable and accessible than ever. And now Valve's putting out a damn portable computer at a low price. 

2021 might be lacking, but 2022 is picking up the slack. 

Big games of 2022

The most exciting new PC games of 2022

Some of 2022's biggest releases are from studios making a long-awaited return. If all you play are The Big Games, 2022 is still looking stacked. 

2019's Sekiro was an excellent action game, but it's been five years since FromSoftware's last proper RPG. Elden Ring is finally coming, delivering with a mythos built by George R.R. Martin, FromSoftware's biggest world yet, and some major added depth to character progression. This isn't just the culmination of FromSoftware's signature RPG and dungeon design, but the natural progression of a heritage of dungeon-crawling on PC, from Rogue to Ultima Underworld and now, hopefully, Elden Ring. 

Stalker 2 is real. Call of Pripyat released in 2009, so it's been 11 years since we saw GSC Studios' unforgiving nuclear sandbox. While those older games poked at strong ideas, the technology and design never quite lived up to them. Stalker 2 is a proper sequel with new tech and seemingly bigger ambitions. While the debut trailer was tightly scripted, it definitely has us excited for another adventure with supernatural terrors propped up by modern tech in an open world that doesn't care about us. And campfire singalongs. Let's just hope it doesn't lose character under all that shine. 

It's been six years since Fallout 4 and Starfield has a lot to prove, but it already gets points for being Bethesda's first new setting since picking up the Fallout mantle back in 2008. We're tempering our expectations, but Starfield's been in the cooker for a while, and, love 'em or hate 'em, Bethesda RPGs have an incredible shelf life. Thanks to PC modders we're still living in Skyrim's world. Maybe the torch will be passed properly next November. 

Redfall is a double-whammy for PC players. It's a cooperative multiplayer game from Arkane, a studio that put out some of our favorite games ever in the Dishonored series. This is a team that knows how to smash systems together to interesting results, whether it's freezing time to make a guard kick their bud in the face or feeding an entire regiment to rats. Redfall is also leading a second wave of Left 4 Dead-likes, but with vampires. We'd still take a L4D3, but I'm glad its absence led to this timeline. 

Kerbal Space Program 2 has a tough act to follow. How do you do better than one of the best and most pure PC games ever made? Tough to say. So far, the answer is better learning tools and more stuff to build, but in multiplayer—we're making entire colonies now. If Private Division can make the additions match the quality and depth of everything in the original, KSP2's gonna be incredible. We hope.

Company of Heroes 3 (Image credit: Sega)

Company of Heroes 3 is the return of one of the best RTS series ever. Fraser's in-depth preview and chat with the developers at Relic detail a campaign mode in the shape of Total War, with a bigger turn-based tactical map that transitions into more traditional RTS skirmishes. One of the most interesting additions is tactical pause, letting you issue commands with the action at a standstill. God bless the RTS. 

Baldur's Gate 3 is already a big hit in Steam Early Access, with Act 1 playable in its entirety, but Larian's holding onto the rest until it's all ready for 1.0. The early word is that Larian's quick to respond to feedback, with new classes, combat changes, and fixes rolling in pretty regularly. If the writing, potential for clever solutions (and chaos), and combat hold up, we're thinking Baldur's Gate 3 will be worth the wait.  

Wildcard 2022 games

Wildcard 2022 PC game releases

Nevermind all the games that we're eyeballing closely that could swing one way or the other. We'll be mad if the Avatar game is good, we've already established that, but everything here could blow our socks off. Is it likely? 

Nah, but if there's even just one great game among them, it'll be on top of a year that's already stacked. We hope they're all good, of course. 

Delayed into 2022

PC games delayed into 2022 

The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on game development at large is most evident in the steady cadence of delays of games into 2022. A year just isn't long enough to smoothly transition into a remote development model and with some studios now transitioning back into hybrid remote and office models, the slowdown of development is ongoing. Game development is a tricky, unpredictable thing even when things are going smoothly, so expect plenty more delays before the end of 2021. Here's what's going back under until 2022 so far:  

Late 2021 games

Late 2021 releases we're hopefully still playing well into 2022 

Since time is a construct, we have to acknowledge that when 2022 begins, the games that came out in the tail end of 2021 do not simply disappear forever. These games will hopefully be part of the conversation for most of 2022, vying for as many free nights as anything coming out next year. 

2022 indies

Gorgeous games from small teams landing in 2022 

I'm not ignoring the endless stream of new games announced over the E3 weekend. Almost everything I saw looked like the kinda thing that we would've treasured as an indie gem 15 years ago. But here's a few that managed to stand out anyway. 

Somerville comes from a studio headed up by a former Playdead cofounder, makers of Limbo and Inside, if it wasn't already clear from the look. This 2.5D family drama moves through gorgeous panoramas depicting an alien apocalypse—and yeah, we're guessing the dog dies. 

Replaced melds old forms with the new, featuring pixelated sprites lit and overlaid with a dreamy, psychedelic array of modern lighting and post-processing effects. Suitable for a game about an AI downloaded into a person. 

More 2022 indies we're excited about:

2022 hopefuls

Exciting games without a date, but a potential 2022 release

Darkest Dungeon 2 is entering early access in 2021, so 2022 for version 1.0 doesn't feel impossible. Throw a follow-up to one of our favorite tactical roguelikes ever into the mix for 2022, sure. 

I could be wrong, but Hollow Knight: Silksong feels like a sure thing for 2022. I played it two years ago at E3, so we must be nearing the finish line, right? 

Gloomwood is a systems-driven stealth action game that looks like it'll easily withstand a couple dozen playthroughs, just to see if our mad ideas work out. It's not confirmed for 2022, but we wouldn't be surprised if it came out in 2021 either.

Diablo 4 in 2022 is optimistic, but possible. Blizzard time doesn't make sense. 

Worst case (or best case), Path of Exile 2 might beat Blizzard at its own game. The ARPG sequel looks gorgeous and looks on track for a 2022 release. 

OK so Atomic Heart exists. We saw another trailer at this year's Xbox Showcase. It can't stay in purgatory for much longer. Let's settle on 2022. I'll shoulder the disappointment if we're wrong. 

More 2022 hopefuls: 

Live service games

Live service games still (hopefully) kickin ass

Final Fantasy 14's Endwalker will have been freshly released, so we'll no doubt see some patches adding more raids, cool clothes, and hopefully story quests that allude to what's next for one of the best MMOs of all time. 

Sea of Thieves is still kicking, and kicking pretty hard. A damn Captain Jack Sparrow expansion is coming. Forza Horizon 5's heading to Mexico this fall, too, and hopefully giving us reasons to stay for a long time. 

Regularly updated games we wish good health in 2022: 

  • WoW / WoW Classic
  • Genshin Impact
  • Destiny 2
  • Hearthstone
  • League of Legends
  • Dota 2
  • GTA 5
  • Red Dead 2
  • Rust
  • Stardew Valley
  • Warframe
  • Rocket League
  • Dead by Daylight
  • Hunt: Showdown
  • New World

Steam Deck

2022 is the year of Steam Deck

Valve is making a handheld gaming PC. The Steam Deck outpaces your PS4s and Xbox Ones for a little extra size and weight than a Nintendo Switch. Its Proton based Linux OS can run most of the games in your Steam Library, and it's fairly affordable, with the lowest tier model just $50 more than the OLED Switch. Best of all, it's literally a damn computer. You can hook it up to displays, keyboards, mice, use whatever gamepad you like, any headphones, install Windows, install emulators—once again, it's a computer. 

The Steam Deck sounds like a nice way to decouple our bloated PC game libraries from our desks, and one hell of an entry point for new PC gamers. We don't see it killing the Switch, but there's potential for the Deck to become an essential way to play. Hard to say, but we got our reservations in, ready to ride this ship towards a new horizon (or the bottom of the ocean). 

FPS abundance

It could be a golden age for competitive shooters

If you don't see competitive shooters in the list above, it's because they get their own special breakout. 2022 has the potential to be a year in which Halo (Infinite and the MCC), Call of Duty, Apex Legends, CS:GO, Fortnite, Battlefield 2042, Valorant, Rainbow Six Siege, and Ubisoft's recently announced XDefiant are alive, well, fun, and all on the damn computer. And a lot of them are or will be free-to-play.  

Read the previous two sentences to me in 2010 and I would've laughed and told you to please get out of my dorm room. I distinctly remember thinking free-to-play would never catch on, or that big studios would never adopt it. Eating my words. If you own a computer, you can just play some of the best shooters ever made for free. Wild.

Movies & TV

The trickle of game movie and TV adaptations could waterfall in 2022

A couple years ago, videogame adaptations were rare and almost always awful. Now, they're abundant and a little easier to watch on the whole. 2022 is when the rubber truly hits the road. We're not only getting some long awaited film adaptations, but we'll be a few seasons deep into some great TV adaptations of our favorite games. 

Here's a look at all the big-budget cutscenes hitting theaters and streaming services in 2022. Movies and shows listed as TBA don't have confirmed 2022 release windows, but have potential to make the cut. Sony properties are included to relate the total bulk here, but also for their potential to show on PC eventually. 

The Witcher's second season hits very late 2021, December 17, so we expect it to color the early months of 2022. The first season kicked ass and garnered a massive audience, so we're looking to the second season for more grunting, great swordplay, and cool CG monsters. It's preceded by the release of an anime prequel movie, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf in August. 

Resident Evil is having a moment. Resident Evil Village was critically acclaimed and sold well. Netflix's CG Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness wasn't great, but hit the top 10 most popular shows on the service after its release. Later this year we're getting a Resident Evil movie reboot with Welcome to Raccoon City. And Netflix's new live-action Resident Evil series will probably round things out in 2022. Lance Riddick as Wesker? Into it. 

The star-laden Borderlands movie is scheduled for 2022, and the stills we've seen during production paints it as a faithful adaptation, visually at least. Director Eli Roth is heading up the production, with big names behind familiar characters, like Jamie Lee Curtis as Tannis and Kevin Hart as Roland. Jack Black as Claptrap. Jack Black as Claptrap.

More upcoming movies:

  • Uncharted movie - February 18, 2022
  • Sonic 2 - April 8, 2022
  • Tomb Raider: Obsidian - TBA
  • The Division movie - TBA
  • Rabbids movie - TBA

More upcoming TV shows

  • The Last of Us - TBA
  • Castlevania S5 - TBA
  • Splinter Cell - TBA
  • Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix - TBA
  • PUBG - TBA

And more

Game Pass is such a good value you kinda have to subscribe. For $10 a month you can play every Yakuza game. Bethesda's entire catalogue, including Starfield on day one. The entire Halo series is there (sans 5 on PC), along with Psychonauts 2, everything Obsidian makes from here on, and plenty more. 27 upcoming games will hit the service the day they release. It may not stay a great value forever with inevitable price hikes, and we've yet to see how it works out for smaller developers in the long run, but there's no denying Game Pass is something you shouldn't pass on, for now at least.  

The Epic Game Store will still probably be handing out free PC games. Epic really wants to establish itself as a go-to marketplace for PC gaming and will keep throwing candy outta the float to make the EGS a thing. 

The weird, retro FPS movement will be in full swing with a whole catalog of New Blood- (Amid Evil, Dusk, Ultrakill, Gloomwood, Fallen Aces) and 3D Realms- (Ion Fury, Graven) published shooters out, with a few expansions on the way. Cruelty Squad (our highest review score of the year so far), Golden Light, and Post Void headline a strong first wave of strange shooters, as if in direct response. It feels like every era of FPS is alive and well on the PC simultaneously, with new ideas sprouting from everywhere in between.  

More PlayStation games on PC! Another thing I never thought I'd hear, but we're already two deep in Horizon: Zero Dawn and Days Gone, with Uncharted 4 on PC leaked via a Sony investor presentation. Nathan Drake on PC is like Nintendo casually dropping a sanctioned Super Mario Sunshine port. We'll always be a little behind the PlayStation console releases, but the dam is breaking. Now give us the Demon's Souls remaster for christ's sake. 

Graphics are getting goooooood. Forza Horizon 5's amazing lighting and photogrammetry makes it one of the best looking games we've ever seen. Escape from Tarkov looks better with every update. Battlefield 2042 doubles the player count to 128, increases the map size, and throws in wild map-changing events. Stalker 2—well, just look at it

Ray-tracing support is spreading quickly too, with AI-assisted optimization features like DLSS juicing framerates, making the most ludicrous graphics settings feasible for less capable cards. We'll still be feeling the GPU shortage in 2022, though, a glaring caveat among all this excitement.  

There are more games that don't involve kicking, punching, or shooting than ever. We love a violent game as much as anyone, but the potential for game design is so much bigger than its action movie origins. The Wholesome Games Showcase is a convenient window into everything else games can do, from making an album in LA with your friends to running a tea house. 

PC gaming's 'dead' genres are accounted for. If Age of Empires 4 stands up, we'll be playing it well into 2021. Company of Heroes 3 only reaffirms the RTS is here to stay. Strangeland and Backbone are repping adventure games, and even FMV are still alive and well. So well that we're getting a horror FMV game from the creators of one of the best horror movies of the last few years. We don't see these genres dying anytime soon.

Cyberpunk 2077 continues the healing process. It's not the game we thought nearly a decade of development would produce, but at least it's not a buggy mess anymore. CD Projekt Red is says its still committed to supporting Cyberpunk 2077 too, and with more updates, free DLC, and expansions on the way, it's possible we'll see disappointing RPG perform a complete 180 in 2022. Cybernetic fingers crossed. 

We're beginning a slow recovery from the GPU drought. The GPU supply problems exacerbated by crypto miners and eBay resellers will ease up soon, according to a PC gaming hardware report from noted analyst firm, Jon Peddie Research. We're not in the homestretch yet, thought. Manufactures are predicted to aim their resources toward higher end GPUs, out of range of most our budgets, to ensure those cards sell for a nice profit. It'll be a minute yet before that supply hits mid- and low-range supply, but we're taking it as a sign of hope.

It's simple math

OK, so I don't know what math is. Doesn't matter. Previous benchmarks for PC gaming's best years were largely defined by the usual slate of dozen or so good to great games coming out from big studios. 2015 had Metal Gear Solid 5, The Witcher 3, Kerbal Space Program, and GTA 5. 1993 had Doom, Day of the Tentacle, X-Wing, Sam and Max hit the Road, and The 7th Guest. But 2022's release calendar readily dwarfs them all, and that's without taking surprises social phenoms like Among Us and Fall Guys into account.

PC gaming is going to be so good in 2022 that I think it'll be difficult to recognize in the moment. If everything kicks ass, then nothing does, you know? With seemingly infinite games spilling out of the computer, we're living in an age of PC gaming where nearly everyone's specific tastes in nearly every sub-sub-subgenre are being met, as long as you know where to look. 2022 is going to be a busy one. 

And we'll do our best to curate and celebrate, to pull out and neatly frame the games you would've otherwise missed in all the noise. Can't wait. 

James Davenport

James is stuck in an endless loop, playing the Dark Souls games on repeat until Elden Ring and Silksong set him free. He's a truffle pig for indie horror and weird FPS games too, seeking out games that actively hurt to play. Otherwise he's wandering Austin, identifying mushrooms and doodling grackles.