Annoying as it may be for those of us waiting for him to finish the “Game of Thrones” novels, the news that George R.R. Martin was involved in crafting the world for this vast open-world third-person perspective action role-player has gamers buzzing. It’s been the Most Anticipated Game at the Game Awards for the last two years. And the fact that Martin’s material has been worked on by the acclaimed Japanese game designer and director Hidetaka Miyazaki (“Bloodborne” and the “Souls” series) makes it an even more attractive prospect. The game is set in ‘The Lands Between,’ which — since the destruction of the titular ring and the scattering of its shards, aka the Great Runes — has been ruled over by the demigods, the children of Queen Marika the Eternal. Each possesses one of the Great Runes, which corrupts them even as it makes them powerful (so far, so Tolkein). You play as one of the Tarnished, an exile summoned back to the Lands Between after ‘the Shattering,’ who must find and recover all the Great Runes to reassemble the Elden Ring.
Miyazaki is famed for his games’ extremely challenging difficulty levels, so don’t expect this to be an easy journey. Players will have to build up their characters’ skills and magic abilities to stand any chance of overcoming all the demigods — but will also be able to summon many spirits, including those of defeated enemies, to help them on the way.
‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2’
The title still hasn’t been officially confirmed, but we will (reportedly) see the sequel to 2017’s excellent “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” this year on the Nintendo Switch. Its predecessor is widely regarded as the finest game yet made for the handheld console. Hidemaro Fujibayashi will once again direct the game, which will be set in the same world of Hyrule, (including the skies above it), but with a new story and different gameplay elements. Details have so far been kept tightly under wraps by the developers aside from a couple of trailers, but they have at least revealed the Link and Zelda will be flying high amongst the clouds — paragliding between floating cities — and exploring foreboding underground dungeons.
When the multi-award-winning Bethesda Game Studios (creators of “The Elder Scrolls” and “Fallout” series) announced that it has created its first new universe in 25 years, gamers were understandably wildly excited. The space-themed RPG is set in the year 2330, 20 years after two factions — the United Colonies and the Freestar Collective — engaged in the Colony War for control of The Settled Systems, located around 50 light years away from our Solar System. For now, a fragile peace has been achieved. The developers promise that players of this sci-fi epic can “create any character you want and explore with unparalleled freedom as you embark on an epic journey to answer humanity’s greatest mystery” as you traverse various star systems. Given Bethesda’s stellar track record, it’s hard to see this game being anything but a success.
‘Gran Turismo 7’
By the time this game’s released, it will have been almost five years since we had a new main installment in Sony’s racing sim series. Nevertheless, “Gran Turismo” remains the benchmark by which any driving game striving for realism is judged — it’s not the bestselling game franchise under the PlayStation brand for nothing. What we’ve seen of the game’s visuals are as breathtaking as you’d expect (this being the first installment for the PS5 and all) and the game will feature the return of the much-loved single-player campaign mode, the used-car dealership, and the tuning parts shop among other favorites from the series.
Indie developers Sloclap’s third-person action game looks incredible and promises players “intense hand-to-hand combat” as you guide a young Kung-Fu student on his path of vengeance against the five assassins who murdered his family. “You have got one day, and countless enemies on your way. For every mistake, time will be the price to pay,” according to the publisher’s blurb. What that last bit means is that when you’re fatally injured (which will happen a lot — the developers chose to make the gameplay extremely challenging with a steep learning curve), your magical talisman will revive you. But every time it does, you will age a specific number of years.
That might make it sound like you’ll need to rush in to every fight and keep hammering away at your numerous opponents before you get too old — but there’s a lot more to “Sifu” than simple button-mashing: Clever use of objects and your environment will be crucial to your quest and you can occasionally avoid fighting altogether with the correct use of dialogue. And ageing isn’t necessarily a bad thing here; you learn from your mistakes, and that wisdom brings greater mastery of your martial arts abilities.
Another open-world fantasy RPG, this one published by “Final Fantasy” developers Square Enix. In “Forspoken,” you play as a young New Yorker named Frey, who finds herself transported to Athia, a land under the control of the tyrannical Tantas. Frey is welcomed as a savior by the people of Athia, partly due to her newly acquired magical powers. Reluctantly, Frey realizes she must try and fulfill this role, and defeat the Tantas, if she is ever going to be able to get back home. Its director Takeshi Aramaki told gaming site Kotaku that “Forspoken” would focus on “terrain traversal speed and fluidity.”
‘Dune: Spice Wars’
It may be (it is) a blatant attempt to jump on the bandwagon of the success of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune (Part One),” which many critics considered among 2021’s best movies, but Shiro Games’ real-time strategy game should genuinely appeal to those who enjoy the political intrigue of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novels. The player’s goal is to take control of Arrakis — the harsh desert planet that is the universe’s only source of spice — a rare narcotic mineral that makes interstellar travel possible and is the most-valuable substance known to man and alien. To do so, you’ll need a combination of military might, money, and smarts. And probably a willingness to play dirty.
With Batman apparently dead, and Commissioner Gordon off the scene, Gotham City has become more dangerous than ever for its residents. So, B-list superheroes Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl and Red Hood team up in an attempt to save their city from the machinations of a sinister organization known as the Court of Owls, as well as other supervillains such as Mr. Freeze and The Penguin. Warner Bros’ recent Batman games have been consistently excellent, and even though the Caped Crusader isn’t the star here, hopes are still high. The drop-in multiplayer co-op feature — each character has different special abilities and fighting techniques — should help make up for the lack of a big-name superhero.