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The 7 biggest surprises of Summer Game Fest 2022

From a stand-alone ‘Last of Us’ multiplayer game to the return of playable demos, the June video game conference offered some surprises for hard-core gamers.

The 7 biggest surprises of Summer Game Fest 2022

With E3 once again taking the year off, Summer Game Fest—hosted by Geoff Keighley, creator of the Game Awards—has emerged as the epicenter of video game announcements for 2022. And this year’s show certainly packed a lot in.

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Over the course of two hours, Keighley unveiled and gave updates on more than 35 titles, priming the pump for gamers for the coming months. The games spanned all platforms and were a mix of big budget (like Stormgate, a real-time strategy title from Frost Giant Studios, made up of former Blizzard employees) to indie games (like American Arcadia).

And, as you’d expect with any June games conference, there were some surprises—but they weren’t limited to the games being shown. Here’s a look at the buzzworthy moments of the presentation:

Keigh3 will take on E3 in 2023

The biggest surprise, in many ways, came at the very end of the presentation, when Keighley announced that next year’s Summer Game Fest will be both a digital and in-person event held in June. That would put it in direct competition with E3, the grandfather of video game trade shows.

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The Entertainment Software Association, which hosts E3, didn’t address the possible conflict, only reiterating its vow that E3 would return next year as well.

“We’re excited about coming back in 2023 with both a digital and an in-person event,” a spokesperson said. “As much as we love these digital events, and as much as they reach people and we want that global reach, we also know that there’s a really strong desire for people to convene—to be able to connect in person and see each other and talk about what makes games great.

[Photo: Sony Interactive Entertainment]

Neil Druckmann has a new game in the works

The developer behind The Last of Us and Uncharted was on hand to discuss a remake of the original Last of Us for the PlayStation 5 and the upcoming HBO series based on the postapocalyptic game. He offered a mild surprise when he announced that Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, who voiced Joel and Ellie in the games, are a notable part of the show, but in unannounced roles. (Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey star as Joel and Ellie.)

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But what really made many gamers’ ears perk up was his quiet confirmation that he is, indeed, working on a new game at Naughty Dog. He stopped short, however, of giving any details on whether it’s a sequel to an existing game or a new franchise.

A stand-alone ‘Last of Us’ multiplayer game is coming

Druckmann’s other big piece of news was unveiling the concept art for the previously announced multiplayer component of The Last of Us. The game, he said, will launch as a stand-alone title, with a new cast of characters set in a new location (seemingly San Francisco, based on the art). Apparently Naughty Dog is putting a lot of energy into the title, as Druckman said the multiplayer game is “as big as any of our single-player games we’ve ever done, and in some ways bigger.”

30 years later, ‘Flashback’ is getting a sequel

It’s been 30 years since Flashback, a cinematic science fiction platform game, made its debut. Many of today’s players have either never heard of it or long forgotten it. But French developer Microids (who made the Syberia series) showed off a makeover of the original game, dubbed Flashback 2, emphasizing the cyberpunk Prince of Persia vibes. It’s due out this winter.

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Playable demos are back—for a couple of games, anyway 

One of the frustrating parts of digital video game shows is that generally no one is able to get their hands on playable demos of the titles on display. (And we’ve all learned by now that a flashy trailer doesn’t mean a good game.)

A pair of titles discussed at Summer Game Fest have playable elements available right now, though, which give amped-up players something to explore. Saints Row Boss Factory will let you create your character ahead of the game’s launch this August. And Metal Hellsinger will let you test out the unique rhythm-based first-person shooter that is overflowing with heavy-metal thrashing.

Both demos are available on PlayStation, Xbox, and Steam. 

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The Rock made a baffling appearance

Sure, Dwayne Johnson is a get for any program. And he’s been a part of the gaming industry since the debut of the original Xbox (and most recently as a character skin in Fortnite). But that doesn’t explain why he appeared shirtless to pimp an energy drink and tout his upcoming film Black Adam. It was a nonsensical diatribe that deflated the show’s energy.

The ‘Goat Simulator 3’ trailer threw the audience for a loop 

This one fooled us. Keighley set it up as the trailer for a game we’d been waiting to hear about for a long while. And the early footage in the trailer was a virtual clone of the first trailer for Dead Island 2 from 2014. But all of a sudden, it took a very, very odd (and funny) turn. Does it sell the game? No telling, but it certainly has us more interested. 

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About the author

Chris Morris is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience. Learn more at chrismorrisjournalist.com.

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