We didn’t get a traditional E3 this year, but we did have a jamboree of awkward video conferences from the games industry’s biggest platform holders and publishers, and that felt very much the same. Summer Game Fest 2022 saw a ton of reveals – really, we’ve weighed them all – and updates on some of the most anticipated upcoming titles like Starfield, Redwall, and, um, The Last Of Us Again.
But what about the games conspicuous in their absence? The Half-Life 3s, the Agents, the titles held together by folklore, nondescript reveal trailers from the pre-Covid age and enigmatic tweets?
I’ve assembled the biggest no-shows, to my mind, and then given myself license to wildly speculate why they may not have appeared at Summer Game Fest 2022.
Vampire – The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2
This one’s already getting a touch of the Duke Nukem Forevers about it. Sequel to a beloved classic game, albeit a nocturnal Source Engine RPG with immersive sim elements in this case, beset by all kinds of developer departures and perpetually slipping release dates.
Development was handed over from Hardsuit Labs to a different studio by publisher Paradox in early 2021, and since then it’s all gone darker than a Nosferatu’s pocket at midnight. We don’t even know who the new studio working on Bloodlines 2 is, or whether all the original work was scrapped as some reports have claimed. Summer Game Fest would have been a great time to assuage fears if the game was in a fit state to be shown, so it speaks volumes that the name wasn’t mentioned.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2
On an entirely brighter note, even though the second chunk of Square Enix’s vast FF7 remake wasn’t on show last week, a substantial update’s coming very soon – Square’s streaming a 10-minute presentation on June 16th. Final Fantasy games haven’t always arrived like Swiss trains so one could be forgiven for thinking the worst when a big instalment like this skips the virtual showfloors, but I think its absence at Summer Game Fest probably has more to do with creating some breathing room for the PR beat to land.
Playground Games, purveyors of Forza Horizon, were entrusted to bring back Peter Molyneux’s uniquely charismatic RPG series to the modern audience as of the game’s 2020 announcement. Since then we’ve been left with only hope, imagination, and the sound of that chap in the pub from the first game saying “How much will you wager?” over and over again in our heads.
Its no-show at Summer Game Fest 2022 probably has much more to do with the game’s announcement happening far in advance of release than any development dramas, so let’s not start making effigies for the bonfire quite yet. It’s probably fine.
My goodness, it really was pretty close to perfect, wasn’t it? The improbably named Jo Dark, using cunning, subterfuge and gadgetry where James Bond only used pistol rounds and phoned-in quips. A conspiracy theorist’s dream universe, where every second building housed aliens, covert ops, or corporate supervillains. What a game.
Anyway there’s a remake coming out and other than the fact it’s being made by The Initiative, I don’t know anything about it and nor does anybody else. Summer Game Fest 2022 didn’t help at all. Makes you wonder what the point of even having a Summer Game Fest was, doesn’t it?
Return to Monkey Island
Made by original developer alumni including Ron Gilbert himself, Terrible Toybox’s Return to Monkey Island was announced earlier in 2022 with an atmospheric, if not action-packed, trailer in which a skeleton in pirate clobber plays a few mournful violin notes on a dock. Realistically that’s all any of us need, but it still would have been exciting to see Guybrush and co back up on the big conference screens to show us more about Return’s creative vision.
It’s still slated for a 2022 release date, and like the majority of games on this list, I don’t think its non-appearance is any cause for alarm but rather a sign of a PR strategy diverging from the pack.
“Don’t go breakin’ my heart”
“I couldn’t if–” BOOOOOOOOOM
Aside from its extremely evocative name, Atomic Heart has plenty more going for it including a Bioshock-like visual style, an alt-history Cold War 1955 setting, and Mick Gordon attached to the game as a composer.
Unfortunately, being a game from a Russian developer in 2022, featuring a Cold War theme, it’s as easy to market to the West as expired pilchard paste slathered over broken glass. Further to Atomic Heart’s misfortune, there have been a few tales of extremely troubled development since its announcement back in 2018, including widespread layoffs at developer Mundfish, incompetency and the project being rolled back to pre-production stage and starting over, resulting in a downgrade on what’s been shown publicly so far.
Not massively surprising that it didn’t feature in Summer Game Fest 2022, on balance. But even with that enormously heavy political and developmental baggage in tow, what Atomic Heart did show was really promising. Talented, hardworking (anti-war) creators exist in countries whose leaders have gone to war too, so I really do hope to see Atomic Heart emerge at its full potential one day.
Obsidian’s bid for Skyrim-like first-person RPG territory was expected to release in 2022 until recently, but its absence from the Xbox conference this year suggests parent company Microsoft’s shuffling it back down the release schedule a bit.
That’s fine if so – we can wait. We’ve got Pillars of Eternity I & II to fall back on and explore the world of Eora, where Avowed also takes place, in the meantime.
The Elder Scrolls 6
If I know only one thing about The Elder Scrolls 6 – and I do – it’s its name. Beyond that I’m speculating, along with every other games site, YouTuber, Skyrim fan and RPG enthusiast on the planet. It was a long shot, an appearance at the 2022 Summer Game Fest where Starfield was obviously Bethesda’s priority. But I couldn’t help but dream.