Another year, another slew of games to push the backlog ever further away. While 2022 was certainly a light year for Xbox first party, it was still a good year overall as an Xbox owner. With access to more games than I could ever have enough time to play, the following are the games that really stood out to me throughout the year. Some of these picks will be obvious while others were titles that resonated with me for various reasons.
Without further ado, here are my Top Ten Games of 2022!
10. Death Stranding
Okay, I know how this looks. The first item in a top 10 list from an Xbox Era staff member is… Death Stranding? That walking simulator Sony released a few years ago? Just hear me out for a second. This game isn’t for everyone. Hell, I’d argue it isn’t for most people. It’s slow, it’s methodical, and the story is mostly just nonsense. But there was something about it that clicked with me (and not only because I work at a UPS Store.)
The gameplay is simple; you move things from one location to another. But it was that simplicity that kept me both engaged and immensely satisfied with finishing my deliveries. It could have been my headspace at the time of playing, or the music choice which resonated with me so well, but I found Death Stranding to be a welcome surprise.
9. Hardspace: Shipbreaker
Now this was one I certainly would never have predicted to make this list of mine. A simulation as much as a game, Hardspace has you tear down spaceships in a zero-g fully 3D play area. Similar to my choice above, this game was both relaxing yet also stress-inducing (as you only have 15 minutes until your shift ends.) The feeling of fully stripping out a ship and salvaging everything on board was gratifying each and every time. Even if it would take me several in-game days for just one job.
8. Nobody Saves the World
Starting off the year strong, Nobody Saves the World was a pleasant surprise. While I had enjoyed Guacamelee in the past, the game and its sequel never resonated strongly with me. This one, thankfully, was different. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down until I had done every possible thing. An amusing cast of characters, a story intriguing enough to keep me interested, and evolving gameplay that kept me on my toes, Nobody Saves the World was an easy choice for this list and a strong addition to Game Pass this year.
Funnily enough, I would have completely ignored this one if I hadn’t edited our video review for it. With a very retro art and design style, Infernax was a game that channelled the unforgiving nature of the past while still keeping things reasonable in its difficulty and boss design. Yes I did want to tear my hair out at certain points (mostly because I refused to change off of the “Classic” difficulty,) but I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a well-designed and well-paced adventure game.
6. Forza Horizon 5: Hot Wheels
Wait, DLCs count right? There isn’t too much to say here other than that Forza Horizon 5 is a damn good game and the Hot Wheels expansion helps fix one of my few complaints with the series. Mostly that they can feel a little directionless at times. This expansion has a much clearer path of progression, unlocking new cars and new races, and it’s something I hope they keep in mind for their next title.
If you’ve ever heard me speak about this game, you’d know I absolutely hated the combat. It felt awful, unfair, and unpolished. I was tempted several times to simply put the game on god-mode so I didn’t have to deal with it, but thankfully it gets more bearable once you have a few upgrades. So if I thought the combat was so terrible, what the heck is this game doing on this list? The answer is in the game’s world design, lore, use of the in-game manual, and The Mountain Door.
Seriously, opening that door was one of the coolest things I’ve done in a game in a very, very long time. If you want to take a crack at it, try to “cheat” as little as possible! It’s worth it.
4. Vampire Survivors
Simple, quick to play, well designed, and chock-full of that “just one more game” factor, there’s a reason Vampire Survivors keeps showing up on lists like this. Don’t be discouraged by the slow start or the terrible graphics. Give this game a fair shot and you won’t be disappointed.
While I didn’t find this game as addictive as Hades, the gameplay loop still satisfies and it can take a while to free yourself from wanting to keep playing. The birth of a genre has me thinking that this is only the start of similar titles releasing on Xbox.
3. God of War: Ragnarok
I very much enjoyed the fifty or so hours it took to 100% Ragnarok and that’s the reason it’s sitting at number three on this list. That being said; throughout the entire game, I couldn’t help but feel like wanting more. Not content, but more from its limited level design, more from its boss encounters, more from the story and just more from the game I loved back in 2018, God of War. Instead, it did several things worse while keeping many of the same flaws.
I could go on and on here and while I did have many complaints, God of War: Ragnarok is still a game full of fun combat, great characters, a decently strong story, and a large amount of level variety. It’s easily one of the best games I played this year. At least, when it would stop interrupting and let me actually play the damn thing.
2. Halo Infinite
Halo Infinite? “Wait,” you say, “this game came out last year! What’s the meaning of this?!” And while yes, the game itself released a year ago, it’s had a steady slew of updates since then that have added more multiplayer maps, Forge, and of course co-op to the campaign. While a lot of that was rocky (mostly in the time it took to release these updates), Halo Infinite remains one of the best shooters I’ve ever played and has easily the best feeling multiplayer in the series.
After having an absolute blast playing the campaign in co-op and enjoying so many of the amazing creations in Forge, it’s a wonder that Infinite didn’t place even higher for me. And the best part? It’s showing only signs of getting better.
1. Elden Ring
What more can I say here that hasn’t already been said? I absolutely love the Dark Souls games. Their atmosphere, their level and boss design, their art, all of it. On the flip side, massive open-world games do little to nothing for me. I actively avoid them when I can as they too often make me feel like I’m wasting my time. Enter Elden Ring, a game that mashes these two things together.
The verdict? I now realize it’s not that I don’t like open-world games, it’s that I need one as well designed and directed as Elden Ring to really get absorbed. Throw in some of the best Souls combat and design yet, and Elden Ring is a very, very, easy game of the year for me.