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Xbox is losing momentum as PS5 and Switch come out swinging

Sony is rolling out the big guns and timed exclusives, Nintendo has a stellar first-party release schedule, and Xbox has… Starfield in November.

Xbox ended 2021 on a real high. In fact, the entire second half of the year was strong – with Flight Simulator, Psychonauts 2, Forza Horizon 5, and Halo Infinite, all of course coming to Game Pass on day one alongside a number of excellent "gets" for the service (Back 4 Blood being a highlight). Forza and Halo were lauded as two of the best games of the year, putting Xbox in a superb position as we rolled into 2022. Then, nothing.

It's fair to say that people gaming primarily on Xbox haven't got a whole lot to look forward to at the moment.

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Redfall, an open-world co-op FPS from Arkane Austin, was revealed in June last year and given a broad "summer 2022" release window. While a new game from the team behind Prey and Dishonored is definitely something to be excited about, we haven't seen gameplay yet and given that release date slips are the norm these days, a release in Q4 seems more likely.

Starfield, the space RPG from Bethesda, is without a doubt the jewel in Xbox's rather small 2022 crown. A jewel that is practically bigger than the crown itself, such is the level of expectation on this, the first new IP RPG from the studio in an age. I'd be astonished if this misses its November 11 release date. although Microsoft has shown it can make the tough decisions if need be – just look at the year-long delay to Halo Infinite.

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That, my friends (or enemies if you are reading this about to post a nasty comment about how I hate Xbox and that I'm a Sony Pony), is it. Or at least it's it as far as known release go that are triple-A in nature. Of course, there are smaller titles coming, such as Crossfire X (out today, no less), and foxy Zelda-alike Tunic, but this article is about the big hitters. The headline makers. Deathloop will likely arrive on Xbox this year, on Game Pass, but in the world of video games, it's old news. Brilliant news, but old all the same.

Updated: 11/02/2022. OK, I forgot about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl. This has the potential to be great, but I'm very sceptical about its new December 8 release date. If pushed to choose if this was arriving this year or not, I'd go with it being delayed into 2023. If I'm proven wrong, I'll eat crow or whatever it is you must eat these days when you are wrong on the internet.

I could argue that we might see a new Forza this year, given we haven't had the sim branch of the series in a while, but we don't know. Maybe (and I feel a bit silly even writing this down) we'll get a surprise release of one of the many games Microsoft has announced: Fable, Perfect Dark, Avowed, Everwild, Hellblade 2, Contraband, State of Decay 3, that rumoured Gears collection. Again, we just don't know.

Not knowing isn't something PS5 and Switch owners need worry about, at least in the first half of the year. Sony is coming out with a barrage of big releases all in the first quarter of the year. First up is mega-hit in waiting, Horizon: Forbidden West on February 18, closely followed by Gran Turismo 7 on March 4, then Ghostwire: Tokyo (timed exclusive) on March 25. That's two huge games, and one very cool looking one, all before the end of March.

We know God of War Ragnarok is coming this year, too, and Forspoken is due on May 25 – which is a big game despite the game itself being a tad disappointing on recent previews. Add to that the smaller games, like Sifu (already out), Babylon’s Fall from Platinum Games due on March 3, and cat-lover paradise, Stray. Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection released in January, too, and while that was essentially a marginally better PS4 game, it was still somewhat exciting for PS5 owners.

Switch owners, too, have a bevy of treats to look forward to, with Nintendo rolling out plenty of titles in this week's February Nintendo Direct. We've just had the superb Pokemon Legends: Arceus, Kirby and the Forgotten Land and Triangle Strategy (best name ever?) arrive in March, April sees Advance Wars collection and Nintendo Switch Sports, June has the Fire Emblems Warriors spin-off and Mario Strikers, Splatoon 3 is due in the summer and will be massive, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is in September, and there's bound to be at least one of Breath of the Wild 2, Bayonetta 3, and Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope before the end of the year. It's looking great.

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So, Xbox, what have you got cooking? And can you tell the rest of us soonish, please? I've deliberately excluded mention of the Activision Blizzard acquisition as, in the short-term at least, it means nothing to consumers. That will change if it all goes through, but for now it's just a big game of wait and see.

While I will be playing Xbox a lot in the coming months, thanks to Game Pass and the endless stream of games it delivers, there's no denying that Sony and Nintendo are currently delivering more of what consumers generally crave: exclusives to justify that new console purchase.

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