2021’s Game Of The Year Has Arrived: Next-Gen Cricket

2021’s Game Of The Year Has Arrived: Next-Gen Cricket
Image: Big Ant Studios

Ah, now this is the kind of next-gen gaming experience I’ve been looking for.

It’s been a few years since we’ve had any major cricket releases out of Melbourne studio Big Ant, who are the really the only developers left these days trying to replicate reverse swing for PC and consoles. The studio’s been working on the successor to Cricket 19 for the last few years, and early Thursday morning the company announced Cricket 22 would launch on November 25, with the series’ long-running nets demo to be released mid-October.

Switch fans are included too, although as was the case with Cricket 19, their version will come a little later in January 2022.

Along with a boost to loading times — one of the game’s biggest pain points, especially on the Switch where matches could take a full minute to start — Cricket 22 will be updating the bowling and fielding controls (batting remains the same, however). More of a NBA 2K/FIFA-style story has been added to the career mode, complete with press conferences and injuries. The tutorials have been overhauled as well to provide a better on-boarding experience for new timers, or those who might need a refresher on the controls.

“Cricket fans will be able to enjoy Australia’s Big Bash T20 competition, the hugely innovative The Hundred in England, the tropical party of the CPL in the Caribbean, and take to the international field of battle with fully-licensed teams from Australia, England, The West Indies, New Zealand and Ireland,” Big Ant announced.

Cricket 22 will also feature real-time ray tracing, although there wasn’t specifics provided on how extensive those options are across platforms, or whether there would be non ray-traced performance modes on consoles. The women’s game is fully replicated in Cricket 22, as it was in Cricket 19, and Big Ant has included an all-women commentary team for the first time. It’s provided by the excellent Alison Mitchell and Mel Jones, although the men’s game will also feature commentary from Ian Healy, Michael Atherton and David Gower. Mitchell and Jones are some of the best commentators going around in either form of cricket right now, but Atherton and Gower are also a serious upgrade from previous Cricket titles, with the pair having provided rare, good performances in video game sports commentary going back to the Brian Lara Cricket days.

In a nice touch, last-gen console owners will be given free upgrades to the PS5/Xbox Series X edition of Cricket 22. And amusingly, the way the studio decided to announce most of this in their trailer? By hiring Bajo, known, uh, “cricket enthusiast”.

There’s also a set of still shots showing off more of the graphical upgrades from Cricket 19, if that’s your thing. The new addition here that stands out is the gym: it’s an area that’s not featured in any of the previous Cricket or Don Bradman games, so presumably it’s a new feature of training, the career story mode, or both.

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Cricket 22 will launch for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S & X on November 25, with the Switch version launching January 2022. For those playing on PC — especially those who enjoy modding their own stadiums, teams and players into the game — it’ll be sold through Steam once more, although the Steam page isn’t live just yet.

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