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5 Games We Can’t Wait to Play This Fall

Photo-Illustration: Vulture/Splatoon 3 - Nintendo; God of War II - Sony Computer Entertainment; Overwatch 2 - Blizzard Entertainment; The Last of Us Part 1 - Sony Interactive Entertainment; The Callisto Protocol - Krafton Inc.

The beginning of 2022 was lousy with new game releases. A number of high-profile projects that were targeting the previous autumn were delayed into February and March, as COVID continued to wreak havoc on development itineraries. That led to a ridiculous bottleneck. We received Elden Ring, Horizon: Forbidden West, and a Destiny expansion within the same week. It was madness, and our backlogs have never fully recovered.

Thankfully, the second half of the year is giving us plenty of free time to catch up. There are still a number of games worth getting excited about before we tip into 2023, but a slew of delays have cleared the deck. There’s only one real megaton — featuring a notorious god of war — left on the docket, and the other new entries on this list include a hallowed remaster, a quasi-sequel, and a spiritual successor with massive cult appeal. The video game business is cyclical, and nothing could truly match the keening apogee of the great February glut, so it’s a testament to the sheer scale of the games business that we’ll all have plenty of stuff to play, even as the calendar goes dormant. Check out the list below.

The Last of Us Part One (PlayStation 5)

Photo: PlayStation/YouTube

The Last of Us tells one of the greatest stories in video games. You take control of Joel, a rough-around-the-edges Texan who is one of the dwindling few humans still alive during a viscerally unpleasant fungal-zombie armageddon. Joel has been hardened by the decades spent at the brink of the world, which is why he’s entrusted to escort a young girl named Ellie across the scarred remains of America. The two grow close, open up about their respective personal histories, which culminates in a sobering gut-punch of an ending. (If you don’t believe me, just ask HBO, which is currently prepping a Last of Us adaptation for 2023.) The Last of Us Part One is a remastered version of the game, optimized for the PS5. So, if you haven’t experienced the sojourn of Joel and Ellie for yourself, now is the perfect time to jump in. Out September 2.

Splatoon 3 (Nintendo Switch)

Photo: Nintendo

Splatoon is an unlikely success for Nintendo. After decades of exclusively developing sprightly Mario platformers, lucid Zelda adventures, and intrepid Metroid complexes, they radically pivoted genres in 2015 with an honest-to-god shooter. In Splatoon you play as a punky teenager armed with an arsenal of ink-based weaponry. Your goal isn’t to eliminate the other players (though you can do that), but to cover the majority of the map with your team’s hue of paint. This has made Splatoon an excellent entry point for gamers who’ve struggled with the uber-precise reflexes required in the gunplay of, say, Call of Duty or Counter-Strike — especially if you don’t like the idea of pulling a trigger on your friends. Splatoon 3 proudly carries that same tradition forward. Bring it home for the holidays, and you’ll be surprised at what your mother is capable of. Out September 9.

Overwatch 2 (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)

Photo: Blizzard Entertainment

The rollout of Overwatch 2 has been bizarre. Blizzard’s team-based shooter is a modern classic, and when the company announced a sequel in 2019, they promised that players of both the original and the newer game would be able to compete in the same multiplayer matches. That was already hard to conceptualize, and Blizzard further muddied the waters by making Overwatch 2 free-to-play — which seems to threaten the very definition of a sequel. (The marquee new addition, a cooperative mode where four friends band together against the sinister androids who color the game’s lore, won’t be out till 2023.) Regardless, when the October release date rolls around, we’re hoping that everyone catches Overwatch fever again. This is still one of the greatest multiplayer games ever made, and the summer of 2016 — when seemingly everyone on the planet was tearing it up on the matchmaking ladder — was a truly euphoric time. Out October 4.

God of War Ragnarök (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5)

Photo: Sony Computer Entertainment

The 2018 God of War reboot inserted a heartbroken Kratos into the tundra of Midgard, where his objective was not to topple a Pantheon or assassinate his fellow deities. No, the titular protagonist was just trying to bring his dead wife to her burial grounds without any trouble from the vexing forces of the celestials. It was a far cry from the blood-soaked viscera of the original trilogy, genuinely reckoning with the path of wreckage and pain Kratos left in his wake. The sequel promises to further untangle where he sits in this universe of interconnected gods of war. The last game ended with a very unhappy Thor knocking on his door; someday soon, Kratos will pay for his sins. Out November 9.

The Callisto Protocol (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)

Photo: Krafton Inc.

The Callisto Protocol development team is made up of people who worked on EA’s Dead Space series — which itself was a gristly, haunted love letter to abyssal space-horror fables that the Alien franchise pioneered. Dead Space was put on ice by EA in 2013, and The Callisto Protocol proudly carries its banner. The game casts us as an inmate on an interplanetary prison colony on the Jupiter moon Callisto, where something has gone very, very wrong. A horrifying intergalactic parasite is tearing through the flesh of our fellow prisoners, and players will do everything they can to get back home in one piece. The Callisto Protocol is not for the faint of heart, but for those who adore heavy machinery, esoteric mutilation, and the unfeeling insignificance of humankind, you’ll be right at home. Out December 2.

5 Games We Can’t Wait to Play This Fall