The Best Year in Gaming: 2022

Last year’s stacked lineup of games for the Game Awards had us thinking: What was the best year in gaming? As part of our series on determining gaming’s best year, we’re putting together an article on each year, charting the major releases and developments of the year, and talking about both their impact and what made them great.

The Year: 2022

It’s 2022. Vaccines for COVID-19 continue to be rolled out worldwide, though the ongoing effects of the pandemic are still being felt. In-person events and gatherings are slow to recover, and a number of industries which were expected to recover in 2021 are still doing so in 2022.  On the gaming side of things, this is where we start to see a wave of games which were originally slated for release in 2021 show up, and those delayed releases would continue into 2023.

The Metaverse Tries to Sell us a Worse Version of Second Life

Facebook rebranded to Meta in October 2021 following a series of whistleblower leaks and widespread public scrutiny following the platform’s role in electoral politics and data collection. Following the announcement, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would be shifting its focus to the metaverse, a 3D visualization of its social platform with support for VR. In practice, this looked a lot like a newer, less advanced version of Second Life, Linden Lab’s 2003 virtual world. Meta had been working on its metaverse since 2019 with Horizon Worlds but was now spending billions of dollars attempting to build this awful realization of the future, as imagined by the past, and in early 2022 would announce major layoffs as a result of cratering profits. A year later, they’d pivot away from the metaverse and toward AI.

Microsoft Announces its Plans to Acquire Activision Blizzard for $69 Billion

Microsoft had already made waves by acquiring Bethesda in 2021, and followed up on that with one of the biggest acquisitions in gaming history, buying Activision Blizzard and with it, franchises which included Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Crash Bandicoot, Diablo, and Overwatch. What followed was a year-long process in which Sony attempted to block the acquisition at every step, and the proceedings led to the publication of a number of internal documents which gave the public an unprecedented look into the workings of the games industry. The acquisition would finally be completed in late 2023 after Microsoft passed its final regulatory hurdles, which included committing to a 10-year deal to keep the Call of Duty franchise on the PlayStation. 

Elden Ring

FromSoftware changed things up in 2022 by creating an open-world game and the result was Elden Ring, a massive third-person action adventure RPG. And it’s a masterpiece – a massive game with an incredibly interesting world full of interesting worldbuilding elements and secrets to find and obsess over. Elden Ring drops players into the role of a Tarnished, a warrior returned from death to travel the Lands Between in search of the means to repair the Elden Ring and become the next Elden Lord, a kind of god-king. What follows is a hundred plus hours of exploration, solid combat, fantastic dungeons, and atmospheric storytelling the likes of which you’ll be hard-pressed to find in another game.

The game’s not without its flaws – it’s got that trademark FromSoftware difficulty, though being open world helps blunt that a lot – and the back third or so loses a lot when it goes from being open world to more of a boss rush to the end. And while the game has a novel way of telling its story through contextual clues and item descriptions, there’s a real question as to whether that story is any good. But even with those flaws it’s hard to top the game’s biggest moments and the sheer sense of wonder you get the first time you step into the Lands Between. The Radahn fight is a particular highlight.

Jonathan Bernhardt: I only disagree in that I think the story in Elden Ring is both quite good and quite well-told, actually, and that’s incredibly painful to admit as someone who has been loudly hating on George R.R. Martin his entire adult life. You have to do a lot of work to figure out what’s “really” going on in the title, as with basically every FromSoftware game, but there’s a surprising amount of real superstructure beneath the surface this time as opposed to the supremely vibes-based approach that the Souls games all take, especially by the end. The game’s theme, which appears in the startup menu and is then reprised and rearranged in the final boss fights, is probably best in-category since, oh, Skyrim‘s iconic version of the Elder Scrolls theme? We’re excluding FF7 Remake’s Battle Theme because that’s just cheating.

God of War Ragnarok

Sony reinvented Kratos and the God of War formula with God of War (2018), introducing us to an older, more contemplative Kratos living in Midgard and struggling with the burden of parenthood after the death of his wife. 2022’s God of War: Ragnarok completes that story – and Kratos’ – by continuing his adventure with son Atreus through the titular mythological end. Ragnarok combines the previous game’s fantastic third-person combat with a wider collection of realms to visit and an incredible cast of top talent (Richard Schiff improbably makes for an incredible Odin). The result is one of the best stories in gaming, filled with incredible turns, heartfelt moments, great wit and humor, and outstanding acting and character animation. Ragnarok is arguably the best entry in the God of War series, managing to somehow be a much more personal story than prior games despite having a breadth no less epic.


There’s no mistaking the inspirations behind Isometricorp Games’ Tunic – it very clearly wants to be a Zelda game with Souls-like difficulty, storytelling, and death mechanics. And it succeeds at that promise and then some. It’s a wonderful little action adventure game with solid puzzles and an imaginative world and it’s at this point I have to mention the game’s manual. Over the course of the game you’ll collect pages from the game’s physical manual, brimming with notes, hints, and instructions for play and item use, all reminiscent of old Nintendo game manuals, but scribbled in a language you cannot understand. The manual is a wonderful touch but also plays a major role in the game’s story, and collecting pages is a delight. And while the game is, at times, insanely difficult, built-in accessibility settings ensure it never has to be more difficult than you want it to be, allowing players to choose whether they want to focus more on the puzzle-solving than the combat.

Avalon HIll Relaunches HeroQuest

After Hasbro bought Avalon Hill in 1997 they shunted the brand off to Wizards of the Coast before taking it back in 2020. During that time, Avalon Hill became the name under which Hasbro would publish new board games and update older ones. In September 2020 that would include a remake of HeroQuest, remastered for a modern audience and funded via Hasbro Pulse, the company’s crowdfunding program. The game finally released in 2022, featuring all new miniatures and furniture along with three new quests as part of the stretch goals for the Pulse campaign. HeroQuest (2022) is intended to be the same game as the original and largely is, though in the year since Hasbro have added on it it substantially, adding new quests, character classes, monsters, and publishing a mix of rare/limited expansions (such as The Frozen Horror) and all-new content like the Monk character and the Rise of the Dread Moon expansion. They’ve also added an app which makes it possible to play without a player taking on the role of Zargon, a welcome change for play with friends.


Sam Barlow’s follow-up to the excellent Her Story in 2015, Immortality on its surface tells the story of a series of three movies and the lead actress who starred in each and vanished. The player watches the story unfold through a series of pre production clips from each film, scanning the footage and examining elements to unlock new footage. And in the process, they uncover a much deeper story involving mysterious forces at work behind the scenes. It’s a truly unique game and one of the best games of 2022. If you missed it, you can find our review of Immortality here.


BlueTwelve’s Stray came out of nowhere in 2022 and is an adventure game in which you play as an adorable orange stray cat looking for a way to escape and reunite with its family after falling down a drain pipe. As the game progresses players will explore the ruined underbelly of a futuristic dome city populated by robots and all manner of dangerous parasites and aggressive bacteria. It’s a wonderfully charming game and while it’s not very long, it never overstays its welcome. 

Raven Guard Praetor
Raven Guard Praetor. Credit: NotThatHenryC

Horus Heresy Leaves 7th Edition Behind

The original Horus Heresy released in 2017 using a ruleset that was more or less seventh edition Warhammer 40k, but cleaned up a bit and improved by having marines on both sides of the battle and ditching formations. 2021’s update of the game really gave the game its own mechanical identity, updating those rules with new rules for walkers and every one of the Emperor’s legions. It’s a much-needed update to the original rules, adding more interactivity in the opponent’s turn through reactions and cleaning up the game’s universal special rules. It’s not without its warts, but the game has its charms as a kind of fantasy future historical.

Vampire Survivors

Rocco Gest: I thought Elden Ring was my Game of the Year, but I realized after some introspection that Elden Ring wasn’t the game of the year in my heart. Enter Vampire Survivors, a crazy, bullet hell, rogue-like by indie developers poncle (they stylize their name with a lowercase “p”). I had the most fun playing this game when I simply had nothing else to do. I only put 52 hours into the game, but it really feels like I’ve spent thousands of hours playing.This game scratched an itch I had no idea I had. Every time I played I fulfilled a power fantasy I didn’t know I needed. I love this game.

The main conceit of the game is that it’s a “reverse bullet hell” where you are shooting all of the bullets and the enemies are just flowing in from the edges of the screen trying to touch you to kill you. Every run lasts thirty minutes (there is a timer at the top of the screen), and to get through these thirty minutes the game gives you a variety of weapons that all shoot different projectiles or act in different ways. These weapons combo with passive items that you pick up in order to make stronger weapons when upgraded fully. After the weapon transforms into it’s stronger variety the game gets crazy. It goes from just a bunch of bullets firing from your character and some lightning bolts to a spinning ring of lasers and lightning explosions that zap the whole screen. The game puts so many objects on screen that it begins to slow itself down in every aspect. The timer slows down. I’ve had the last five minutes of a run last fifteen minutes because I bastardized the screen with projectiles and lasers.

Jonathan Bernhardt: A game so powerful it created a new genre, which a single-person developer title hadn’t done since…it’s not Tetris, is it? Might be back around then, though.



Jonathan Bernhardt: There is a righteousness to a game made by a singular obsessive, and calling Pentiment that kind of erases the work of everyone on it not named Josh Sawyer, so we’re not going to do that — the work of Hannah Kennedy (art director) and Cathy Nicholas (animation director) was crucial, as was music by Alkemie and Lingua Ignota. But there’s still a righteousness to a game so singularly conceived from the stuff one person is interested in, and Sawyer is really interested in what would become Germany in the middle ages. The Holy Roman Empire is a great grounds for a murder mystery, and the great twist on this game is that it isn’t just a murder mystery — it’s mostly a game about living with violence, and learning to live with yourself. If you want to inhabit a place and a time across the years a man can live, Pentiment is the game for it. It is one of the greatest games when it comes to creating situation. Whenever you’re there in a moment that you’re focused on, hit the button that lets you see the page. The page is the illuminated manuscript. It will have a cat on it with a strange cannon strapped to its back, or a weird rabbit that kind of looks like a rat. As you progress through the game, meeting people and making them a part of your Andreas’s life, you will see stranger things in the margins. The game is about the murder and the mystery, and the way that the township of Tassing adjusts to the things that happen above and beyond that focus.

You always need a guy who goes Har har har!

Chained Echoes

Jonathan Bernhardt: Speaking about the righteousness of a singular obsessive, this game was essentially made by one Matthias Linda — and he’s played every single Square Enix RPG from the NES era through the late PlayStation 2 era at the very least. The game opens with a Chrono Trigger homage, then an FF8 homage, then a Xenogears homage, then — we’re not outside of the first prologue, mind you. The boys hit the toys and we snap to a princess and her snarly manservant, and the game just runs out from there. Chained Echoes is a name that actually makes sense once you get ten hours into its run time but until then you’re playing a title that sounds like Kingdom Hearts DLC and, instead of being that, is serving you the best stuff front to finish from every game you played — here, you are currently 35 years old — when you were gaining your sealegs with Japanese RPGs. Everything about this title is the way JRPGs should be. The battle schema is tight, with an Overdrive system that forces you to play inside of its parameters, and the advancement systems are pulled from the greatest games in this tradition, from Final Fantasy 12 to Final Fantasy 9 to Chrono Cross to the three titles mentioned before. Especially Xenogears. You know that thing about how you’d pilot your mech in combat in Xenogears? You will be piloting your ‘Sky Armor’ in combat.

The thing that’s so great about it is less the mechanics and more the vibe. That’s not a great selling point, I know. Vibes are purely personal and, when it comes to nostalgic JRPGs, they kind of depend on time served. I dunno man. Do you get a big smile on your face when you walk into the battlefield, boutiquely rendered, and there’s an enemy attacking you called a Boxfly, and he’s a cartoon fly with big frowny eyebrows, two noodle arms hanging below him, and those arms end in boxing gloves? Do you go “I knew it!” when you walk into his aggro radius and those noodle arms come up and those boxing gloves, bigger than the cartoon fly’s body, start punching you for 2 damage, ten times? Are these the jokes you like? Do you want to hang out with a smart princess, a stupid valet, an untrustworthy revolutionary, a sultry thief, and a bard that’s secretly Gandalf? Do you want to get angry about how badly all of them are treated by the way the world works? Get in on Chained Echoes.

Horizon Forbidden West

The Horizon series might be the unluckiest in gaming – the first game (Horizon Zero Dawn) released in 2017 around the same time as Breath of the Wild and the sequel, Horizon Forbidden West, released within a few weeks of Elden Ring, ensuring neither game would get the attention it rightly deserved. Which is a shame, because Horizon Forbidden West is a great game, improving on the gameplay of the original in most ways while building on the compelling world and story laid out in that game. It’s one of 2022’s best games but mostly flew under the radar. 

Jonathan Bernhardt: I have nothing else to add, except this run of luck continued into the future and Horizon Forbidden West‘s PC port released against Dragon’s Dogma II, which also ate its lunch.

Marvel Snap

Leaving Blizzard after ten years working on Hearthstone, Ben Brode and Hamilton Chu (plus a few others) left to start Second Dinner, a new studio whose debut game would be Marvel Snap, a digital card game based on the Marvel universe. Marvel Snap is a free-to-play card game that’s easy to get into – it has some of the best onboarding ever designed – and has shorter matches (about two to three minutes per game) and solid progression that make it easy to keep going. It’s a brilliant game and easy to play whether you’re looking to climb the ladder and collect everything or just get in the occasional game. 

Neon White

Neon White is a fast, action-and-platforming-heavy first person shooter which teaches to the joy of speedrunning. You play the role of Neon White, one of several killers pulled from hell and tasked with killing demons who are running around in heaven. Levels are large and airy, and you’ll run around making absurd jumps and bouncing between targets as you take them out and complete levels. Then you’ll do it again, attempting to do it faster and better. You don’t have to, but you’ll want to – Neon White incentivizes trying levels over and improving in a way that few games accomplish, and it’s surprisingly easy to get caught up in collecting the game’s medals and trying for better and better times and scores.

The Quarry

The follow-up to Supermassive’s 2015 hit Until Dawn, The Quarry takes the premise of the playable movie a step further, really leaning into the aesthetic as it tells the story of a group of teenage camp counselors who arrive at camp early to find themselves beset by werewolves. What follows is a fun teen slasher filled with interesting decisions, quicktime events, and branching paths. It’s an improvement on Until Dawn in most respects and the game’s multiplayer mode is a blast, especially if you’re playing in eighties throwback mode.

Why It Was the Best Year in Gaming

One of the most interesting things about writing up 2022 is how easy it was to build a best of list that didn’t involve any sequels (God of War Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West being the big exceptions here because we felt we had to include them) – there were so many great new games in the list, with a number of surprisingly ambitious games, such as Pentiment, Tunic, Chained Echoes, and Immortality within that list we can point to. And on the triple A side it’s hard to top Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarok, which both delivered incredible experiences. If there’s a knock against 2022 it’s that as a year it was a bit weaker for board game and tabletop releases, but I”m a big enough fan of HeroQuest (and I’ve so far bought all the new sets and expansions for it), that I’ll go to bat for it there as well.

This article is part of a larger series on the best year in gaming. For more years, click this link. Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at