This year sees no shortage of post-apocalyptic games, but light relief is available courtesy of Star Trek and a robot-loving cat, says Jacob Aron
The early weeks of the year are traditionally a slow time for video game releases, so I thought I would use this month’s column as a chance to look ahead to some of the titles I am looking forward to playing in 2022.
First up is Horizon Forbidden West, out in February. It is the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn, set in a post-apocalyptic future dominated by robot creatures that mimic everything from deer to Tyrannosaurus rex. The first game was all about uncovering the origin of the apocalypse while hunting down machines for parts, and I am intrigued to see where the story goes next.
Next, in April comes Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl, yet another post-apocalyptic sequel – but let’s be honest, video game developers are very keen on apocalypses. This one is set around the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine, in a world where a second explosion at the doomed nuclear power plant created strange and valuable artefacts, along with a bunch of zombies and other monsters. You play as a stalker, part of a group of people who are hunting down these artefacts while also trying to make it out alive.
For a more hopeful future, I have my eye on Star Trek: Resurgence, due in the first half of the year. It has been decades since we had a decent Star Trek video game, and with the franchise seeing a resurgence on TV, I’m hoping this new game will match up. You will play as two Starfleet officers aboard a Star Trek: The Next Generation-era ship and it looks to be a good mix of action and diplomacy, just as you would expect from Star Trek.
One of the biggest releases expected in November is Starfield, a new role-playing game from Bethesda, the developers of the Fallout and The Elder Scrolls series. These are immersive games with huge worlds to explore in a post-apocalyptic and fantasy setting respectively, and are some of the most popular titles around.
In Starfield, Bethesda has applied the same formula to a space exploration story set in the 24th century. It has described the game as a both a “Han Solo simulator” and “NASA-punk”, meaning that the spacecraft and other technologies depicted in Starfield can trace their roots to those in use today. I can see myself spending dozens of hours exploring the solar system. The only potential fly in the ointment is that Bethesda games are notoriously buggy at launch due to their sprawling complexity. Time will tell.
Another upcoming game, The Callisto Protocol, is also set in the 24th century, in a prison colony on Jupiter’s moon Callisto. An Alien-like creature is stalking the facility and you have to escape. Development is being led by Glen Schofield, co-creator of sci-fi horror series Dead Space, and this new title seems like a nice evolution of those previous games.
Finally, on a totally different tack, I am really looking forward to seeing more of Stray, due out in October. You play as a cat who befriends a flying drone while exploring a cyberpunk city populated by robots. Developer BlueTwelve Studio has revealed few details beyond that, but trailers released so far suggest that the game will present a cat’s-eye view of the world as it trots around solving puzzles, looking endearingly nonchalant about the whole thing.
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