This past year has been a tough one for the games industry. Sales are down compared to during the pandemic, and gamers are going back out into the world rather than staying stuck in their homes. But there were also plenty of great games.
From grueling games that will test your will to playing to cozy games that’ll make you feel like you’re wrapped in your favorite blanket, 2022 gave us a wide array of titles for every type of player out there.
To that end, I’ve rounded up some of my own favorite games of the year. That’s not to say these are the best around. There are tons out there that are just as good, if not better, than those on this list. Nor is each game perfect, either. I’m looking at you “Pokémon Scarlet” and “Pokémon Violet.”
Still, these are the games, in no particular order, that I think are worth getting to know a little bit better the next time you’re in need of some time in front of your TV.
One of the biggest hits of 2022, and one that I’ve poured more hours into than I’d like to admit, FromSoftware’s “Elden Ring” is an expansive, punishing title that will test you time and again. Death is as much a part of this game as survival, and each time you go down is a chance to learn from your mistakes.
Yes, the first boss, Margit The Fell Omen, is a nightmare by early game standards, but beating him, or slipping past him by skirting the outside of v, is worth the struggle. And once you break out into the broader world of The Lands Between, you’ll be able to explore and grow at your own pace.
As for that optional fight with the boss Melania? It’s as hard as you’ve heard.
Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0
The second installment of Activision Blizzard’s smash hit online battle royale, “Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0” is every bit as frenetic and fun as 2020’s “Call of Duty: Warzone,” with plenty of welcome changes. From the new map, Al Mazrah, to the ability to carry more items and armor via the game’s backpack mechanic, “Warzone 2.0” is an upgrade in almost every way.
Vehicles are no longer immune from falls, and they’ll run out of gas if you try to drive them around the map all match instead of engaging with other players. Proximity voice chat adds a completely new layer to the game, letting you know when another player is nearby, and weapons feel far more balanced, so newcomers shouldn’t feel too overwhelmed.
Oh, and did I mention it’s free?
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
“Pokémon Legends: Arceus” brings some of the biggest changes to the legendary franchise in years. An open-world style “Pokémon” title that lets you wander the vast wilds of the Hisui region, capturing and battling pokémon as you have for years, but this time, you’ll be able to interact with them in new and exciting ways.
Sneak up on a wild pokémon and aim your pokéball just right, and you can snag it without having to put up a fight. Get too close, and you might scare off your target. See an Eevee in the weeds? Duck down and try to capture it with a special pokéball.
Even the fighting mechanics have changed, letting you swap between styles to add extra power or gain an extra turn. It’s not a perfect game, the open world areas pale in comparison to the open world in games like “The Legend of Zelda Breath of The Wild,” but the overall improvements it brings help make up for it.
Horizon: Forbidden West
“Horizon: Forbidden West” lets you jump back into the shoes of “Horizon: Zero Dawn’s” protagonist Aloy, as you traverse a post-apocalyptic version of the American West. You’ll craft your weapons and do battle with massive mechanical versions of long-extinct animals and dinosaurs, hoping to uncover the secrets of this game world.
But you can’t mention “Horizon: Forbidden West” without talking about how absolutely stunning this title looks. From the way vegetation sways in the breeze to the gorgeous look of decaying landmarks, this title is about as beautiful as games get. Play it on the PS5, and you’ll get improved graphics and high-dynamic range for a more vibrant experience.
Love cats? Love games? Then BlueTwelve Studio’s “Stray,” is for you. You play as a curious cat lost amidst a neon-drenched cyberpunk-style city populated by sentient robots and monsters. Your goal? To get back to your fellow feline friends.
It’s a wonderfully designed game that lets you explore the world as your own mischievous kitty would. You can knock items off shelves, waltz across computer keyboards, and, of course, scratch up carpets and furniture. And yes, there is a dedicated “meow” button.
Don’t expect a long drawn-out epic here. “Stray” is a tight game, but certainly a treat you’ll want to indulge in.
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
The latest entries in the mainline Pokémon series, “Pokémon Scarlet” and “Pokémon Violet” take a page from “Pokémon Legends: Arceus,” with an open world full of wild pokémon for you to capture and battle.
Unlike previous entries in the series, you’ll be able to move across the world at your own pace. Want to take on the local gym leaders? Go for it. Explore villages and fight the rotten Team Star? Your choice.
And, of course, you’ll come across a host of new pokémon and abilities, including a new function called terrastalization, which powers up your pokémon for stronger attacks and skills. But it’s also worth pointing out that “Scarlet” and “Violet” have their fair share of glitches, including instances where you can fall through the world. And there’s an unfortunate amount of slowdown. Hopefully Game Freak releases an update to sort out those issues.
Disney Dreamlight Valley
“Disney Dreamlight Valley” is the kind of game you can curl up on the couch and play throughout the cold winter months with a hot cocoa in hand and your four-legged companion warming your feet.
It’s best described as Disney’s take on Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” You’ll craft, collect items, explore, and build out your little slice of heaven, but instead of “Animal Crossing’s” Tom Nook and crew, you’ll spend your time hanging out with Belle, Scrooge, Mickey, and basically the entire Disney animated team.
This isn’t a high-stakes, life-or-death drama. This is the game you’ll want to play to relax and spend time with your favorite Disney pals from your childhood. And that’s something anyone can enjoy.
God of War Ragnarök
Kratos and his son Atreus are back to take on more Norse gods and valkyries “God of War Ragnarök.” The sequel to Sony’s stellar 2018 version of “God of War,” “Ragnarök” lets you travel across the nine realms as you wield the Leviathan Ax and Blades of Chaos, not to mention a variety of new skills and abilities.
You’ll face off against monsters in the kind of brutal battles and beatdowns only a “God of War” game can offer. And once you do all of that, you’ll still need to throw hands with the mighty Thor.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredder’s Revenge
The mean green fighting machines are back and in top form “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.” A classic beat-’em-up in the vein of the old school arcade and 90’s titles for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo, “Shredder’s Revenge” is the best Turtles game in years.
You can play as all four green heroes as well as Master Splinter and newscaster April O’Neil complete with power up moves, tag team attacks, and a dump truck load of pizza.
Throw in a host of references to both the classic “Turtles” games and movies, and you’ve got a throwback worthy of your time. Cowabunga!
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