We made it to April. Take a deep breath, and exhale; don’t you feel a little better now? The first three months of 2022 have been relentless. Barely a week has passed without some new Game of the Year contender vying for your time, money, and attention. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to an opportunity to get caught up and rest my weary fingers.
From the release of Pokemon Legends: Arceus on January 28 through to Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands on March 25, no fewer than 15 games have launched that will invariably be a part of GOTY considerations by year’s end. Not that you’d necessarily recognize that at first glance. Such is the suffocating effect of Elden Ring, which has left the likes of Far: Changing Tides, Norco, OlliOlli World, and Sifu gasping for air – with Dying Light 2, Gran Turismo 7, and Horizon Forbidden West right there alongside them.
So let’s take a minute to see where we’re at and work out a game plan for April.
Who’s to blame?
It would be easy to blame Monster Hunter: World for all of this. When Capcom launched its action-RPG on Jan 26, 2018, it quickly became the fastest-selling Monster Hunter of all-time, the top-selling game in the US for the months of January and February, and the fourth best-selling game in the publisher’s history. It was a great game that benefited from a relatively open schedule. If ever there was a test case for the success that can be gained by avoiding the autumn release window, swerving the dominance of annualized franchises like Call of Duty and NBA 2K, it was this. Naturally, other publishers were watching closely. Arguably, too closely.
And then there’s the pandemic, upending production schedules in a way that we will never truly understand or appreciate. Nor should we overlook a desire on the part of publishers to get new releases out before the end of the fiscal year, which could explain why Square Enix opted to launch Babylon’s Fall, Triangle Strategy, and Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin within two weeks of one another, at a time where even the biggest AAA games are struggling for attention.
Hell, it’s probably a little of all three.
Live service carnage
The carnage of 2022 was only furthered by the live-service games of this world, which have once again shown that they have no allegiance to the state of the release calendar or the desperate cries of weary players. While so much of the conversation has been dominated by Elden Ring these past few weeks, we’ve also seen massive updates and expansions to the likes of Apex Legends, Destiny 2, Grand Theft Auto Online, Warzone, and others.
It’s forced me to confront my playing habits. Because what do I realistically value more? The opportunity to be part of the ground-swell of excitement around new games that have been sat atop my wishlist for years, or the desire to stay up-to-date on my most-played games of any given year? I don’t know about you, but I have some serious catching up to do with my rotation of multiplayer games and some friends to apologize to for missing out on our regularly scheduled play sessions.
I’m treating April as an opportunity to get caught up and properly sink my teeth into a few games that got lost amongst the noise then. I’m going to go back to Destiny 2 for The Witch Queen, I’m finally going to guide Aloy on a journey across the Forbidden West, and I’m probably going to properly explore Night City now that Cyberpunk 2077 has returned to the land of the living. Then again, could that bandwidth be better spent – and I mean that literally, given the install size on some of these patches – on something like Shredders, Tunic, and the other stealth Game Pass releases from across these past four months? Clearly, I still have some things to figure out.
And I’ll need to figure them out quickly too, because it’s not like April is devoid of new releases entirely. There’s Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga launching April 8, Chernobylite is finally coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X on April 21, while Nintendo Switch Sports is set to land on April 29. I’m also feeling the pull of The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe, because who can resist one of 2013’s best games reemerging in 2022 with a visual overhaul and a monstrous amount of new content.
Time to play
This is arguably the best time to be a player in the modern era, something we’ll properly appreciate and recognize once the smoke has cleared on a chaotic three months. The problem is, when so many new games are vying for your attention, with so many overlapping communities bursting at the seams with excitement, it can be hard to know if you’re focusing your energies in the right place.
We live in an attention economy. We only have so much attention to spare – it’s a resource that is as sparsely distributed as time and money. The last three months haven’t felt all that respectful of any of the three, but that’s why I’m looking forward to a quiet period to decompress and refocus.
And so we’re into April. There’s a mountain of new games to slowly chew through and live service games to fall back in love with… then again, I’ll probably spend the next three months wandering the Lands Between and wondering where all my time has gone. You know how it is.