My Top Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2022

The ten games I’m most excited about in 2022.

Last year we saw the effects of a multi-year pandemic delay many games into 2022, and create horrible shortages on new platforms and video cards.

Hopefully things improve this year. And the best way to stay optimistic is thinking of all the awesome video games soon to come!

Here are the top ten games I’m most excited about as of January 2022.

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Goodreads Review – Dune

Dune by Frank Herbert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading Dune for the first time over 50 years after its publication is a weird experience. On the one hand I can easily trace the evolution of its now classic storytelling components in so many modern stories. The slain king. The deposed prince. The hero’s journey. The evil rulers. The mind powers. The natives. The rebellion.

It’s the original (maybe?) white savior story, where Paul Atreides is forced to flee into the arms of the native population of Arrakis, the volatile desert planet. Paul is easily able to exploit their religion, becoming their messianic figure and leading them to a revolution over the entire planet.

Frank Herbert supposedly demonizes Paul’s actions and calls them into question. Maybe that’s true of the sequels, but in the original Paul is absolutely the protagonist who can do no wrong. Literally he succeeds at everything he does, whether he’s dueling hostile Fremen, leading armies across the desert, or finding love and marrying a princess. We’re supposed to root for him the entire time as he takes his vengeance against the invading Harkonnens, even when the climax includes a duel against a character whom he’s never even met before.

With little drama in Paul’s journey from deposed prince to leader of the native Fremen, the entire middle of the book drags. Thankfully Herbert crafts an intriguing sci-fi setting that’s as much medieval and alien as it is futuristic. Fighting with knives and shields, riding monstrously gigantic sand worms, and taking drugs to gain prophetic powers are all hallmarks of a fantasy series, not a science fiction one. The blending of the two genres is Dune‘s greatest success, and most recognizable in the Star Wars series.

But setting alone does not a great story make. Ultimately Dune lacks interesting characters, dramatic stakes, and exciting moments. Without the benefit of nostalgia, I can’t see Dune as anything other than an important foundation from which other stories improved upon.

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Goodreads Review – Skyward (Skyward, #1)

Skyward (Skyward, #1)Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Describing Skyward as YA Top Gun is far too reductive. Sanderson weaves an exciting, expertly paced story of survival on an alien planet. Humanity has been driven underground after crash landing, while their foes relentlessly attack from the air. Their air force is the only that that stands between them and total annihilation.

Skyward isn’t a grimdark war story, but neither does the author shy away from death and mental trauma among a class of teenage cadets. Our protagonist, Spensa, is immature and aggressive, the very definition of chip on her shoulder thanks to her father’s disgrace. Yet she shows real growth throughout the story, which thankfully evolves beyond the stereotypical “power of friendship” that these stories tend to lean on.

My only complaint is a certain character who is introduced about halfway through. The personality is a bit too jarring and off-putting, and I didn’t quite buy the relationship between them and Spensa.

Every other character is an absolute delight, however, from the gruff veteran teacher to the acerbic admiral who has it out for Spensa, and all her classmates. The ending actually answers a lot of the mysterious questions that surround the entire plot structure. Looking forward to reading the sequel!

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Goodreads Review – The Prey of Gods

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not too many books end in an apocalyptical scuffle between demigods, mythological creatures, and a near-future robot uprising. The Prey of Gods is an overwhelming story that blends coming of age demigods with a unique mythology involving spirit animals, all during a near-future South Africa full of helper robots nearing self-aware sentience.

To its benefit and detriment the story focuses on several interesting characters that begin awakening to their powers – including a monstrous and manipulative villain who’s already well-aware of her own. The POV of each chapter shuffles between these characters, and while I liked each character, I was less enthusiastic about their own little dramas and journeys they take before they finally get together. Like the diva Riya dealing with her crazy dad, or the cross-dressing politician Stoker dealing with his weird mom.

Because of all these individual adventures, the main plot takes forever to unfold, and we jump from 200 pages of side adventures into a huge climactic event that lasts the rest of the book, with our unlikely heroes joining forces in their own unique ways. I enjoyed Drayden’s breezy style, effortlessly bouncing between breathless romance, slasher-horror, and big action set-pieces, but too much of the book is character backstory, build-up, and side plots, and not enough main story.

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Goodreads Review – Babylon’s Ashes (The Expanse #6)

Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More so than any other book in The Expanse series, Babylon’s Ashes is a direct sequel to the previous book, providing a satisfying climax to the Free Navy story line. If Nemesis Games was Empire Strikes Back, then Babylon’s Ashes is the Return of the Rocinante, as our crew gets a chance to fight back against Marcos.

Instead of focusing on four POV’s, as in previous books, Babylon’s Ashes seemingly has over a dozen, to its detriment. On the one hand we get to check in with folks like Avasarala, but do we really care about Prax, who has literally nothing to do (and was last seen in book 2), for at least 2 or 3 chapters?

Having too many POVs, many of them unnecessary, drags this book down to four stars. It’s also odd that the series has been fine completely forgetting about the protomolecule/alien plot for two whole books now, though ultimately the Free Navy plot is more compelling.

The real question is, do I stop reading this series, which does offer a satisfying conclusion at the end of this book. The next book represents a startling 28-year time jump to pick back up with the alien plot, and the TV series will end before that. For now, I’m satisfied leaving the crew here.

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My Top Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2021

The ten games I’m most excited about in 2021.

We’re all hoping for a better year in 2021. This will be our first full year with the next generation of consoles courtesy of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, with confirmed sequels like Horizon Forbidden West and Halo Infinite, and not-so-confirmed sequels like the next God of War, and the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Here are the top ten games I’m most excited about as of January 2021, including a few delayed games you may recognize from last year’s list.

And if you missed it, my Top Ten Games of 2020.

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Goodreads Review – Nemesis Games (The Expanse #5)

Nemesis Games (The Expanse, #5)Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Expanse made it to Book 5 before they finally had their Empire Strikes Back, both in tone and excellence.

Unlike the previous novels, Nemesis Games takes our heroic space-faring foursome and splits them up, with everyone getting their own PoV chapters. It’s like in a tabletop RPG campaign where we focus on individual characters and their own personal stories – except here the book deftly weaves these stories into the main plot as everyone becomes entwined in an apocalyptic event that sets up all new stakes, alliances, and warfare within the inner systems. And we witness it unfold from four different angles! It also finally brings fan-favorite past supporting characters like Bobbie Draper and Clarissa Mao in really cool ways.

My only complaint is that it doesn’t really conclude, instead serving up an intriguing springboard into a new main plot.

Nemesis Games is easily the best book of the entire series up to this point. I only hope the rest of the novels can keep up the momentum.

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Goodreads Review – Moon Rising (Wings of Fire #6)

Moon Rising (Wings of Fire #6)Moon Rising by Tui T. Sutherland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I respect the hell out of a fantasy series that’s as much about the world as the individual characters. The first five books in Wings of Fire told its own complete story of the Sandwing Succession. Moon Rising represents the first in the next series of books starring new characters, though most of our old favorites make frequent appearances.

Instead of fleeing the tyranny of dragon queens and fighting for their lives, this new group of dragonets must survive the drama of the new Jade Mountain Academy, a school opened by our original heroes to help bring the formerly warring dragon tribes together.

Moon is a unique Nightwing who actually does possess the legendary mind-reading powers of her tribe. The story is less action-packed and much more introspective, with Moon as a young-adult mutant or inhuman (from Marvel comics) viewing her powers as an ostracizing curse, and her mentor may or may not be a legendary dragon supervillain from ages past.

As much as I enjoyed her character and her supporting cast, including exuberant Kinkajou (first introduced in the third book) and likable friend Qibli (from the fifth book), the plot moves agonizing slow due to all the internal dialogue. A murder mystery helps shake things up, though the final revelation isn’t terribly shocking, and the end serves as more of a springboard to the next series than a satisfying conclusion to the story.

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My Top Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2020

There are video games releasing in 2020, and I know at least ten of them.

There’s still so much we don’t know about 2020 in the gaming world, but we do know it’s going to be huge, with both Sony and Microsoft launching new consoles this holiday. So many launch games have yet to be formerly announced, while big games releasing in the first half of the year have been in development for a very long time, including Cyberpunk 2077, The Last of Us Part 2, and the Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

As of mid-January 2020, here are my top ten most anticipated games of the year.

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