The Best Games Of 2022 (2023)

2022 may have started off slow on the gaming front, with a raft of delays caused by the knock-on effects of a global pandemic – but as the year draws to a close, we’re left looking back on a host of stellar experiences. From ambitious spin-offs and much-anticipated sequels, to glitzy remakes and indie passion-projects, there’s been a bounty of must-play titles on PS5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, PC and beyond.

Best of all have been the surprises, the titles that crept up seemingly out of nowhere and dazzled all who were lucky enough to experience them. For every God Of War: Ragnarok, there was a Stray; for every Elden Ring an Immortality. As for where they all fall in Empire’s Games of the Year ranking though, read on—and don’t miss our list of the best movies of 2022 here.

The Best Games Of 2022 (1)

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Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC

More like an interactive season of American Horror Story than the type of interactive movie developer Supermassive typically excels at, The Quarry is arguably far too long. However, it’s also a fantastic distillation of classic horror movies, with brilliant performances from a cast of genre-favourite actors and plenty of branching choices that take the story in sometimes shocking directions. With enough branching pathways that you’ll want to play the whole gore-soaked story through at least twice to see as many grisly ends as possible, this is a trope-laden guilty pleasure from beginning to end.

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The Best Games Of 2022 (2)

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Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Square Enix’s PSP prequel to the original Final Fantasy VII gets a modern day glow-up to bring it in line – and into continuity – with Final Fantasy VII Remake. While some of the mechanics feel odd some 15 years on from its original release (especially the slot machine ‘DMW’ combat modifier), and its mission structure remains tailored for portable play, the roughest edges have been filed off and it all looks stunning. It’s the compelling story that makes it an all-timer though, not just in how it fills in the gaps of FF7’s complex timeline, explaining more of the backstory for iconic characters Cloud and Sephiroth, but in how it paints eager, optimistic protagonist Zack Fair not as the hero he aspires to be, but a useful tool for the evil Shinra corporation to crush its enemies with. A surprisingly morally complex tale, then and now.

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Platforms: PC

A reboot of the 1998 Chaos Gate, Daemonhunters serves up XCOM-style turn based strategy in the grimdark future of the Warhammer 40K universe. Controlling the Grey Knight faction of the franchise’s iconic space marines – think the A-Team in Hulkbuster armour – players hop around planets tackling pustulous outbreaks of the Plague God Nurgle. While the core gameplay and progression will be familiar to XCOM players, Daemonhunters ups the tension by having you balancethe needs and scheming personalities of your so-called allies, each decision impacting everything from tech research to experience gain and supplies. It’s a desperate juggling act that seems to doom you to fail, but with a satisfying array of abilities and the occasional cartoonishly violent execution of a Nurgler or Chaos Wizard, everything gels so well you won’t care.

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Platforms: PS5, PS4, PC, Switch

Your father is dead. The culprits, gone. Left in their wake is you – and a seething desire for revenge that lasts a lifetime. So begins a thousand Kung Fu films, but none quite like Sifu, Sloclap’s dazzlingly original twist on the genre. While the game deserves recognition for its exquisite combat system alone – one that benefits from impressively accurate motion-captured martial arts and brilliant animation to bring battles to life, with every strike landing with weight and meaning – it’s the clever twist on roguelike mechanics that elevates Sifu. With every death, you return older, stronger but with less health, hoping to avenge your father before you age to dust. Throw in a story that often subverts expectations of the form and this earns its place as a standout of the year.

(Video) BEST GAMES OF 2022
The Best Games Of 2022 (5)

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Platforms: Switch

Wii Sports was, if you’ll pardon the pun, a game changer – a collection of simple sporting simulations with such immediate cross-generation appeal that it saw Wii consoles being snapped up by grandparents and kids alike. Switch Sports picks up the baton of its predecessor, delivering a half-dozen activities – bowling, sword-fighting, tennis, badminton, football, and volleyball, and recently golf, added via DLC — but making them far more enjoyable thanks to the Switch’s significantly more accurate motion controls. While there’s now online multiplayer, this really shines when you’re playing in the same room as friends or family, making it one of the best party games in Nintendo’s catalogue.

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Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC

The latest Dead Spa- oops, sorry. The Callisto Protocol isn’t actually a Dead Space game, but it shares so much DNA that it’s often barely distinguishable. With its third-person over-the-shoulder view, its gruff protagonist with an in-unverse health display conveniently on the back of his neck, and undead monsters you can dissect with bullets – not to mention being co-created by Glen Schofield – the similarities are almost endless. Yet while this doesn’t exactly win awards for originality, stepping into the shoes of Jacob Lee as he breaks out of the intimidating Black Iron Prison – an isolated facility on Jupiter’s most inhospitable moon – while figuring out exactly why the dead are rising (and mutating) makes for one of the best horror experiences in years. With satisfyingly weighty melee combat, a fun selection of weapons and telekinetic powers to unlock, and some serious jump scares, this shows imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.

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The Best Games Of 2022 (7)

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Platform: Switch

Kirby eats a car – game of the year. OK, there’s a bit more to be excited about in the 3D debut of Nintendo’s inflatable puffball hero, but the fantastically daft new Mouthful Mode – allowing the Kirbster to fill his gob with various (comparatively) giant objects and use their properties to solve puzzles or defeat enemies – is top of the list. Like most Kirby games, Forgotten Land is a bit on the easy side, and its levels aren’t as big as something like Super Mario Odyssey, but it’s packed full of secrets that will keep even more experienced players digging around to unlock everything. A joyful, colourful, delightful return for the pink powerhouse.

The Best Games Of 2022 (8)

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Platforms:Xbox Series X, PS5, PC, Nintendo Switch (Cloud Only)

A game centred on suffering, death, and loss probably shouldn’t be as absorbing as entries in Asobo Studio’s medieval stealth series A Plague Tale have been, but here we are. Requiem picks up from the end of 2019’s Innocence, continuing siblings Amicia and Hugo’s desperate search for sanctuary in the midst of the Black Death. Admittedly, it might be easier if Hugo didn’t have a strange connection to the rats that bear the plague, bringing doom to wherever they settle, but it does provide an excellent backdrop for a blend of stealth action and environmental puzzle solving. With a deeper, more morally-conflicting tale than its predecessor, brilliant performances from its voice cast (in both English and the original French), and visuals that stun with both beauty and terror, A Plague Tale: Requiem is the cure for what ails you – if what ails you is a medical need for a thrilling single player adventure.

(Video) Top 10 Best Video Games of 2022

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The Best Games Of 2022 (9)

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Platforms: PC, Mac

It’s still annoying that this crossover of the Total War and Warhammer franchises hasn’t opted for the low-hanging fruit of calling itself “Total Warhammer” but that’s one of the only criticisms that can be levelled at this otherwise superlative fantasy real time strategy epic. With eight factions to choose from – drawn from Warhammers lore, but inspired by the real world historical factions Total War excels with – a campaign map twice the size of the last game’s, and numerous online multiplayer options, there’s a huge amount of material to keep players on the battlefield, bolstered by major decisions to be made between skirmishes that can affect the fate of whole realities. Whatever you choose, this trilogy capper fosters an incredible sense of power in the player – enough to kill gods and tame daemons, and you’ll get plenty of chances to do both here.

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Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC, Switch, Mac

A love-letter to classic 2D Zelda games, Tunic oozes charm from every frame. Guiding an adorable fox adventurer around a mysterious island, the game – a passion project for solo indie developer Andrew Shouldice – is a paragon of design, at once elegantly intuitive and maddeningly complex. It’s also evocative of a bygone era of gaming, with the scattered pages of a virtual instruction manual serving as key collectibles, uncovering them a requirement for solving some of Tunics most fiendish puzzles. Although it’s devoid of any traditional dialogue, the game weaves an engaging story too, one that will have you debating the meaning of key events for weeks after you put down the controller. A work of subtle genius.

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Platforms: PS5, PS4

Horizon Zero Dawn was such a massive creative and commercial success that returning to the post-apocalyptic, robot dinosaur-infested world of protagonist Aloy must have been a daunting prospect for developers Guerrilla Games. Thankfully, the team absolutely nailed it, building on everything that made the first game great and leveraging the power and hardware of PS5 to deliver a true evolution. Aloy’s latest adventure takes her through the ruined western territories of the former USA, delivering bigger environments than ever, introducing new aquatic sections to explore, and expanding on her abilities as a hunter in impressive new ways. Forbidden West is the kind of open world game that has so much to do, see, and check off that it’s a total time sink – but it’s such a stunning world, you’ll rarely want to leave.

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Platforms: Switch

If you’re not already a fan of Japanese RPGs, look past the anime-style visuals and treat yourself to one of the finest adventures of the year. A morally complex tale of imperialism and war, remembrance and death, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is set on a world where soldiers are spawned to order, living a decade at most, and existing only to contribute to an endless conflict. Yet when two squads from opposing factions are thrown together, their growing connection threatens to change the foundation of their entire society. Beyond the engrossing narrative and enjoyable characters, developer Monolith Soft also serves up one of the best real-time combat systems to grace a JRPG, offering plenty of customisation and nuance for players, plus a striking world to explore. Not just one of the games of the year, but arguably the best Xenoblade Chronicles to date.

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(Video) Top 10 WORST Games of 2022!
The Best Games Of 2022 (13)

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Platform: Switch

Honestly, these Mario and Rabbids crossovers shouldn’t be anywhere near as good as they are. The first entry, Kingdom Battle, was a pleasant surprise back in 2017, and five years later, Ubisoft proved its unlikely mash-up of tradesmen, troublemakers, and turn-based tactics wasn’t a fluke. While Mario, Luigi, Peach, and their Rabbid clones make a return, Sparks Of Hope mixes things up with new playable characters (including big, bad Bowser and new heroine Edge), more varied weapon loadouts to experiment with, and more elaborate worlds to explore between missions. It’s those main missions that really impress though, with freer movement around its fields of battle, and the eponymous Sparks offering a plethora of attributes to customise character abilities with. While it may be cute and comedic, strategy fans shouldn’t overlook this – it also proves itself one of the toughest and most challenging games of its genre.

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The Best Games Of 2022 (14)

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Platforms: PS5, PS4, PC

Look, kitty! OK, there’s a lot more to like about indie sensation Stray, but the fact that you’re playing as a cat – not an anthropomorphic cat-human hybrid, or a magical talking cat, just a regular ginger tabby – is a huge part of the appeal. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the nameless feline hero is the only hope of restoring freedom to a society of robots that have taken the place of the long-absent humans, trapped in a domed city meant to protect us from whatever befell the outside world. Part platformer, part exploration adventure, all beautiful, Stray dazzles with both its world design and its brilliant environmental storytelling, filled with areas that spark ideas over what really happened without laying it all out. Best of all, you can nuzzle robot friends and curl up for a purr-filled nap during quieter moments, making this the number one game of the year for cat fanciers.

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The Best Games Of 2022 (15)

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Platform: Switch

A spinoff taking players to the distant past of Pokémon Diamond and Pearls Sinnoh Region sounded like a weird idea when Pokémon Legends: Arceus was announced, but it proved to be the shot in the arm the franchise needed. More exploratory in nature, with the catching of Pokémon streamlined to a zippy, Pokémon GO-style throwing of Pokéballs, Arceus is a very different kind of Pokémon game – but with its vast open areas and a genuinely engaging story, it’s evolved the series as a whole. While Pokémon Scarlet and Violet were the signature, core Pokémon releases for 2022, their buggy launch meant this side story was the highlight of Pokémon fans’ year.

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The Best Games Of 2022 (16)

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Platforms: Xbox, PS5, PC

Take a host of niche Marvel characters and events from a mid-1990s comics imprint, throw in some big name Avengers, a bunch of playing cards, and toss them in a tumbler marked “spooky” and you get… one of the best games of the year? Developer Firaxis has definitely engaged in some strange alchemy here, because Midnight Suns dramatically exceeds its trappings as simply “Marvel XCOM”. Beyond a fantastic blend of turn-based strategic gameplay, incorporating card-based deck-building to manage super-powered attacks, players are treated to brilliantly-written character interactions, and a new hero base to explore that immediately feels worthy of a place in the atlas of the Marvel Universe. A new high-water mark for both superhero and strategy video games.

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(Video) Top 10 Games of 2022: Mike, Zee, Tom, and the People!
The Best Games Of 2022 (17)

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Platform: PS5

Yes, it’s a remake of the 2013 original, but The Last of Us remains a masterpiece, whatever year it’s released in – and the key part is that this is a remake, rather than a mere remaster, built from the ground up to take advantage of the PS5’s power. With Part I, developer Naughty Dog overhauls its fungal apocalypse to bring it into line with 2020’s Part II, offering far greater visual fidelity, stunning environments, and deeply disturbing use of 3D audio. Best of all though is an expansive library of accessibility features that make the game approachable to differently-abled players would previously would have found it difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy. The definitive edition of a stone cold classic.

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The Best Games Of 2022 (18)

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Platforms: PS5, PS4

The Dad of War’s return felt long overdue, but the concluding chapter to Kratos’ battle through the Nordic winterlands proved worth the wait. Picking up from 2018’s first instalment, Ragnarok sees Kratos and his son, Atreus, seeking out the Norse god of war, Tyr, while facing off with incarnations of Thor and Odin that definitely wouldn’t go down well with the MCU. While the game’s mechanics hit that sweet spot of expanding on, but not outright replacing, those of the previous entry — runic magic to enhance Kratos’ weapons, improved special attacks, and more varied ways to explore outside of battle, just to scratch the surface — it’s the maturity of the narrative that most impresses. As Ragnarok weaves a story of familial bonds and a father struggling to let go, it’s hard to even remember the cartoonishly violent roots of the franchise. Taken with its predecessor, Ragnarok is a modern epic worthy of Homer (the poet, not Simpson).

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The Best Games Of 2022 (19)

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Platforms: Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC

Positioning the player as editor of three lost movies – each perfectly recreating the periods and tones of the genres they’re homaging, and all fully acted by a cast deserving of great things going forwards – Immortality initially consists of simply matching jump cuts to piece the films together. Eventually, you’ll notice something isn’t right though, that something other is bleeding through, almost infecting the footage, and Immortality evolves into a dark and sinister experience as you try to piece together the central mystery: whatever happened to the films’ leading actress, Marissa Marcel? Captivating and unsettling from start to finish, this spectacular ode to cinema from visionary developer Sam Barlow was one of the best surprises of the year – and none more Empire.

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The Best Games Of 2022 (20)

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Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC

It was always going to be Elden Ring topping this list, wasn’t it? FromSoftware’s open world approach to its own Dark Souls formula elevated the genre as a whole to dizzying new heights. The freedom to explore beckons players to uncover the innumerable secrets scattered around the mysterious Lands Between, while its combat system feels materially different with every single character build. That same open world also makes the notoriously difficult “Soulslike” genre more accessible to newcomers or cautious players though, introducing summonable, AI-controlled spirit allies, while allowing the flexibility to run off and explore somewhere else if any particular area proves too challenging — all without sacrificing the brutal challenge beloved by longtime fans. Stunning to behold, glorious to play, and all-consuming in scope, Elden Ring has rightly become a bona fide phenomenon. It was clearly the best game of 2022 even when it launched back in February, and the months since have cemented it as a stone-etched gaming milestone. A masterwork of modern entertainment.

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(Video) The Best, Worst & Blandest of 2022 (Zero Punctuation)

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