After a couple of quiet years, 2022 is set to be a time of spectacular video game releases. Pokemon Legends: Arceus just came out; Elden Ring will be here in a few weeks. Due to Covid-19 delays, a lot of games got pushed back in 2021, but now that drought is going to be followed by a flood—a tidal wave that includes one of the most anticipated games of this still-young decade: Horizon Forbidden West.
It’s hard to overstate the anticipation for this game. Critics loved its predecessor, Horizon Zero Dawn, when Guerrilla Games dropped it in 2017, and it remains a fan-favorite. Gamers, myself included, can’t wait to see Aloy again, to revisit familiar locales and experience entirely new ones, and to uncover more of the fascinating story behind the Horizon world. But until it comes out, everyone needs something to occupy their idle thumbs. My suggestion? Get weird.
There are several reasons for this. For starters, stepping out of one’s comfort zone is always good. Second, you have to play something. Finally, even if it sucks—all the better. Shutting it off will be easy once Horizon Forbidden West hits your console.
One of the big issues fans of action-adventure titles face is that these games require dozens of hours to complete. Starting a new one right before Horizon Forbidden West means having to choose between the two when the latter comes out. It also means that the former may get left behind, incomplete, in the process. It’s too easy to forget where you are in the story, or to straight-up forget the control scheme, and it’s a pain to get back into it. The same thing can happen with DLC. Bottom line: No one wants to spend 20 hours wrapping up a game when Horizon is just sitting there, waiting to be played.
That’s what makes this tense, anticipatory, in-between period the perfect opportunity to try something completely different. In my case, it’s Jurassic World: Evolution 2.
Unlike a lot of sims, which can take over your life with their meandering time-suck play style, Evolution 2 has quick campaigns wherein players clean up the mess caused by the events in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. There’s also a Chaos Theory mode that allows you to revisit scenarios from previous films and correct mistakes. (Hint: When you’re playing the Jurassic Park scenario, don’t be like John Hammond. Double-fence your raptors.) Nearly everything is short, sweet, and easy to put down when the next 30-hour adventure comes along. Plus, there are dinosaurs. Who doesn’t want that? They’re dinosaurs.
Regardless of what kind of games you like to play, and whether you’re excited about Horizon Forbidden West or not, this strategy works. Choosing a game that is outside your wheelhouse ensures that endless list of games you picked up on sale “just because” actually gets played. (There’s nothing more satisfying than clearing out that backlog, am I right?) But it also relieves any guilt you might have about putting down that game to play your new release. I cannot wait to play Horizon Forbidden West, but until it arrives, might I suggest you build a few dinosaur habitats and let your captives feed on some park guests? You’ll regret it a lot less than John Hammond did. Promise.
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