Who will step up to fill the Starfield-sized black hole at the end of this year?

Who will step up to fill the Starfield-sized black hole at the end of this year?


Starfield is delayed to 2023, and whether you really thought that it would launch on time or are not surprised at all, the end of this year is now a big black hole. Starfield's delay has shaken our confidence in the other big games that we've been expecting to arrive by the end of this year. Will other big launches fall into the gravity well of such a major delay, taking the opportunity to announce their own?

It's the middle of May, which means we're all nervously side-eyeing the season formerly known as E3, wondering what the summer showcase schedule will bring. Who will turn up with apologies and delays and who will surprise us by rolling out a long-awaited holiday release date?

Who could step up to fill the void?

Atomic Heart (Image credit: Mundfish)

Atomic Heart 

Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: Atomic Heart has been “coming this year” off and on since 2018. The retro-futuristic singleplayer shooter about a KGB agent fighting wild machines has been tough to pin down over the years, but every time it shows up with a new gameplay video it looks slick as hell. This year it's claiming a “#######ber” 2022 release date and you know what? I believe it.

Avowed 

Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: The other big first-person open worlder from an RPG studio acquired by Microsoft. Obsidian Entertainment gave us a pre-rendered trailer for this spinoff of Pillars of Eternity back in 2019, and since then, things have been pretty quiet. There is nothing to suggest that Avowed will actually release this year—we have seen even less of it than Starfield—but maybe we can will it into existence through positive thinking. 

Nightingale 

Christopher Livingston, Features Producer: The ex-BioWare devs over at Inflexion Games are cooking up a shared-world survival game set in a fantastical alt-history Victorian era: Nightingale. There are alpha and beta tests planned before an early access release toward the end of 2022, which could be big for gamers looking to get lost in a new co-op survival experience. If Inflexion manages to stick to its schedule, the absence of Starfield could convince players to give up the idea of spaceships and robots and get them to pick up some gas lamps and bowler hats instead.  

Hollow Knight: Silksong 

Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: [Summer Game Fest Twitch chat]
Me: [chanting] Silksong, Silksong—
Other viewers: Silksong, SilkSONG
Geoff Keighley: [white knuckling microphone] SILKSONG! SILKSONG! SILKSONG!
Save us, Team Cherry.

Skull & Bones 

Andy Chalk, NA News Lead: That's right, I'm calling it. Skull & Bones, the game that just a few months ago Ubisoft had to remind us still exists, will make it for the 2022 holiday season. The multiplayer pirate game has been floundering beneath the waves for the better part of a decade, but a call recently went out for testers, gameplay footage has leaked, and Ubisoft said earlier this year that really, truly, and for sure this time, it will be out sometime in the company's current fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2023. Come hell or high water, I think Ubisoft is going to get that sucker out the door before the end of the calendar year: It needs a big release to buoy the company's flagging fortunes, especially with all the rumors of buyout sharks circling. With Starfield delayed, the path to the top (or at least meaningful levels of attention) is suddenly a lot clearer. It's an opportunity Ubisoft can't afford to miss. 

Who else might get delayed?

Ark 2 (Image credit: Studio Wildcard)

Ark 2 

Chris Livingston, Features Producer: Studio Wildcard isn't shy when it comes to early access: Ark was notoriously a huge mess when it first arrived, and Atlas was somehow in even worse shape. But Ark 2 (which hasn't yet announced a release date beyond “2022”) has some star power attached to it in the form of Vin Diesel, who isn't just acting in it but also serving as Studio Wildcard's “President of Creative Convergence,” whatever the heck that is. That could mean the studio will aim to release a more complete game than it has in the past, so I wouldn't be completely shocked if the dino survival sequel gets nudged into 2023. 

Stalker 2 

Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: Stalker 2 was first announced in 2010, and you think it's going to come out this year, during an ongoing pandemic and a war in developer GSC Game World's home country of Ukraine? I know it was already delayed from April to December, but it's hard to imagine the developers being focused on making Stalker 2 right now. They've said development will continue, but for now they have bigger things on their minds.  

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 

Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: Bloodlines 2 has not had an easy time of things. It was originally supposed to release in 2020, then late 2020, then 2021, and now there's no year at all. On top of that, former developer Hardsuit Labs got canned and Paradox Interactive hasn't actually said which studio has been put in charge of getting it over the finish line. Bloodlines 2 hasn't committed to launching this year, but even if it does…no it won't. 

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