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Up Next: The 7 games you should be playing on your Xbox in January 2022


up next 7 xbox games jan 2021

Happy New Year! May it be nothing like the last two. We’re going to assume that 2022 is going to be a standout, breakout year and you can’t tell us otherwise.

It’s just going to start slowly, as January isn’t the most bountiful month we’ve ever had. January rarely brings us much, but this one seems even sparser than usual. There’s a Rainbow Six in the mix (that’s the title of your next game sorted, Ubisoft), but there’s not much else besides. Windjammers and Mushroom Wars sequels are about the peak of it. 

But humour us regardless. Kick back with your leftover mulled wine, and let us guide you through the bantamweight joys of the best games releasing on Xbox in January 2022.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction

rainbow six extraction

See, you can fit a AAA into January. JanuAAAry. Thanks to Ubisoft for giving us something to write about with their latest Rainbow Six, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction

Now, this one has split the Rainbow Six fanbase. On the cynical side, you have the traditionalists, who have been eager for a return to the simple days of Rainbow Six and Rainbow Six: Vegas. They’re disappointed with Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction’s determination to be a high-concept shooter; like Back 4 Blood but with gooey aliens. They’re also shaming Ubisoft for effectively putting out a DLC as a full price game. The guns and graphics are the same, they say.

On the more positive side, you have the people who hoo-rah at the opportunity to bring Rainbow Six’s precise gunplay and squad shooting to something extra wild. You serve in Rainbow Exogenous Analysis and Containment Team (REACT), who are tasked with jumping into alien-controlled areas of Earth to recover resources and operatives. Once a procedurally generated mission has been completed, you have the option to ‘extract’ or keep on going, with greater risk, difficulty and reward if you do so. 

Sounds like it has more ideas than the traditionalists give it credit for.



Talking about mindless action strapped to an incredibly good-looking chassis, we have Blackwind. Less a twin-stick shooter than it is a hack-and-slasher in the Diablo vein, this acts as a bit of wish fulfillment. You are a teen who has become locked into a giant Transformers-style mech, and aliens are invading the planet. It’s down to you, alone but extremely powerful, to hold them back. Oh, and you’re after your estranged father, too.

This fight for our planet is an excuse for some stupendous pyrotechnics and colourful explosions. A VFX artist clearly needs a raise after producing Blackwind. But we get a sense from the trailer that it will be a whole can of fun too, as there are wide varieties of enemies to fight and even a bit of exploration, as you don your mechanised jumping pants to climb ledges and leap onto platforms. 

We’re eager to see if this one is style over substance, or a fine meshing of the two.

Windjammers 2

windjammers 2

The name Windjammers may mean something to you. Released back in 1994 for the vastly expensive but well-loved Neo Geo system, it was a two-player competitive experience set on a court. You would lob frisbees at the goal, centred on the other player’s half of the court, with the hope that they couldn’t possibly return them. Think of it as a multiball, frisbee version of air hockey and you’re getting incredibly close. 

After being rereleased for the last gen of consoles, Windjammers has seen enough of a surge in popularity that Windjammers 2 can become a thing. This is a loving homage to the original, with hand-drawn 2D visuals, ten playable characters (including six from the original game), and EX moves for each of them, making them differently difficult to beat. 

Expect this to become a bit of an esports hit, much like the first did. By which, we mean it will be almost impossible to win a match online. 

Mushroom Wars 2

mushroom wars 2

On the topic of unexpected sequels, we give you Mushroom Wars 2. The first was a fine, well-respected little RTS, but now we have a sequel which brings more of the fun-gi that made the first so entertaining. 

The emphasis is definitely on ‘more’. There are four different tribes to master – Shrooms, Proteus Aliens, Shii’Mori Amazons, and Grim Necromancers – and single player campaigns for each. They all have wildly different abilities and hero characters, which will make them unique to play. 

But the emphasis is more on multiplayer. It comes tournament-ready, with a league system and ranked matches, as well as the capability to play simple custom games against friends. Up to three players can play in free-for-alls or team-based games. 

We’re about due for a fun RTS on console – Gears Tactics has been out for some time now – so we’re all for hopping on our toadstools for a bout or two of Mushroom Wars 2. 

The Anacrusis

the anacrusis

Now here’s a curveball that could go any which way. 

Take a setting that looks like it’s from the ‘60-’70s science fiction of Logan’s Run and Silent Running, then chuck in some Half Life. Yep, Half Life, as hordes of alien facehuggers start crashing through your spaceship on the hunt for human faces to snuggle up with. Now, add some four-player co-operative shooting that’s a bit more Left 4 Dead or World War Z, and you have the gender-blender of The Anacrusis. 

Yeah, we don’t know what to do with it either. But it’s got an engaged community already, who have been busy generating mods that are launching with the game. And it’s got a fancy AI ‘driver’ who is randomly placing enemies, ‘60s sci-fi weapons and perk boxes around the map to keep things interesting. 

Back 4 Blood mixed with Buck Rogers? Buck 4 Blood? Writes itself.

This one comes to Xbox in Game Preview form so there is plenty of opportunity for players to help shape the development curve.

Reverie Knights Tactics

reveries knights tactics header

After all that action, let’s dial it down a notch or two with some turn-based tactics. Reverie Knights Tactics arrives in January, and we wouldn’t normally consider it for this kind of list but a) we’re a bit starved of big releases and b) this one looks to be on the stunning side. It’s the comic book animations that have grabbed our attention, bringing some of the colour and cel-shading of Wintermoor Tactics Club but taking it into fantasy realms. 

There’s the promise of wild divergence, too. This is a story-driven game, where each death and choice leads you down a different path, encouraging multiple playthroughs. With a party of heroes that all have very different special attacks and capabilities, it may be worth mastering each one of them. 

There’s a Tolkien-esque story to back all of the fantasy hijinx. You are on an expedition to find Lennorien, the long lost elven city to save your loved ones, while fighting a goblin menace that has spread terror across the continent. One day, goblins will turn out to be the good guys. 

Ghostrunner: Project_Hel Expansion

ghostrunner project hel

I know, I know, we’re cheating with some DLC. But Ghostrunner deserves the attention. It’s blade-edged ballet is well worth playing, and – if there was ever a criticism – it was that the original offering was quite slight. So hey, we’re getting more content to alleviate the issue.

There’s a quirk to this one. In Project_Hel, you get to control one of the original game’s six bosses. Players control Hel, Ghostrunner’s second boss, as she fights new enemies and bosses. While Jack – the main character – was working his way up his up Dharma Tower, Hel is making her way down. Everything seems to be inverted in this new expansion pack. 

Originally envisioned as a modest piece of DLC, something has clearly clicked, as this is a substantial addition to the main game. Considering it has also seen a Holiday Pack launch in December, and a 4K upgrade at the tail-end of last year, now might be the time to get some Ghostrunning in.

So, there you have it: January 2022 and some of the finest Xbox games which are due to arrive in that month. A hangover in more ways than one. While it doesn’t have a host of games for you to get excited about, it does allow you to nurse those backlogs. We haven’t had a chance to finish Halo Infinite’s campaign and – you know what? – we might just take the opportunity. 

Don’t worry, February starts ramping things up. If all goes to plan, there is the small matter of Life is Strange Remastered Collection, Dying Light 2: Stay Human, Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, GRID Legends and something called Elden Ring? I don’t know: apparently some people are interested in that.

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