Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Readers' Top 20 of 2022

Readers vote for their favourite games of 2022, with Elden Ring and God Of War Ragnarök vying to be named game of the year.

Every year, at the end of January, we ask readers to vote for their three favourite games of the year, so we can compile a top 20 and compare it against our own list.

Most people agreed that 2022 had been a surprisingly good year but in the end there was zero doubt as to which was the best game. Elden Ring got three times more votes than the second placed God Of War and, as far as we’re concerned, that’s well deserved.

Readers’ Top 20 of 2022

Three good games
My top 3 games of 2022 were as follows:
3. Gran Turismo 7
The last Gran Turismo I played was 5, which I really didn’t get along with. I therefore held off getting 7 on launch but picked it up on Black Friday, as what I had seen looked good. It has not disappointed. The car handling and graphics are top notch and there is a mountain of content to enjoy.

2. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
When Arceus was first announced I wasn’t sure it would be a step in the right direction for the series but my fears were proven ill-founded once I played it. It was the breath of fresh air the Pokémon series needed and I hope to see its innovations carried into future games.

1. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
This was my most anticipated game from the moment it was revealed at E3 2019 and after nearly three years of waiting it had a lot to live up to in my mind. Thankfully it did! It is a love letter to Star Wars and I loved every moment of the 75 hours I put in to 100% completion.
Pigfish2 (PSN ID)

Process of elimination
Nominating my best game of 2022 was really easy:

1. Elden Ring by such a large margin there was no real competition, excellent game. A masterclass in constructing a world that I just enjoyed exploring, one that seemed to present something unique and captivating at every corner (until the bosses started repeating). Many will argue that Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is the true master in world design but I just enjoyed Elden Ring far more in every respect. If Tears Of The Kingdom can top it then we are in for a treat.

The second and third positions, however, are far more difficult to place. Particularly as the only other Game Award nominee I have played is Horizon Forbidden West and although good it was never going to make my top three as Tunic, Kirby And The Forgotten Land, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, and Immortality were all superior in my eyes.

Although even those four do not make my list either, as I hated the last puzzle in Tunic, Kirby relied too much on repeating bosses, Shredder’s Revenge did not have any lasting impact, and although I think everyone should play Immortality I simply did not enjoy it as much as GC.

As for the other four, I have little interest in Stray. I am sure it is decent, but I am not a cat person, so it is unlikely to resonate with me as much as it did with others. I liked the first Plague Tale and will probably like the second if I play, but it was never a game of the year contender. I feel fairly safe in having not played those two.

God Of War Ragnarök and Xenoblade Chronicles 3, however, I suspect both would make my top three if I had played them. Well, I do own both and have at least started Xenoblade Chronicles 3, but I have not played enough to comment on it beyond the initial impression that it will be better than 2 but weaker than the original (which is my favourite role-playing game of all time). I fully intended to play them at the end of last year, but I got distracted and it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge what distracted me…


2. Marvel Snap. There might be a bit of a novelty factor here, as the only competitive deck builders I have played before are Gwent and the physical game Star Realms, but it seems excellent to me. Very easy to play and a reasonable variety of tactics. It is really interesting when people set off chain reactions at the end, such as Odin retriggering actions or Hela summoning discarded cards that might themselves trigger additional actions. Although it is how the three zones in the centre alter/ruin your tactics which elevates it for me. The ‘cards cost more on turn 5’ one which really tends to scupper my most recent deck, despite being far more innocuous than some of the other more blatantly ruinous ones.

1. Vampire Survivors. The core gameplay is very simplistic, as all you do is avoid enemies, collect power-ups, and try to survivor as long as you can whilst the character automatically fire projectiles. This alone is fairly addictive but then you start unlocking things like new characters and discovering item combinations and things hidden in the levels and the truly addictive secondary/tertiary gameplay loops cement it as being the most addictive game I have played in years. One which I just had to keep playing until I had completed all the in-game challenges.

Flawed masterpiece
Here’s my picks in reverse order:

3. Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Stunning environments, endearing characters and an engaging combat system come together to make a great role-playing game. I was a little disappointed that the setting of the world was not on the back of a god, like the first one, but the sprawling landscapes are still just as gorgeous. I write this just before playing the final boss battle, so I’m hoping it’s going to be a good send off!

2. Card Shark. If I was making my choice on innovation alone this would be the clear winner. The game seems to have been a bit overlooked in all the end of year lists but it was well reviewed at the time and rightly so. The graphics are novel and sumptuous, the setting of 18th century France is enticing and unique and the story is witty and intriguing. Most of all, the gameplay is great fun. I really felt like I was learning the skills to become a renowned card cheat. Card Shark embodies everything I love about games, offering a new experience in a different world that I could never have in real life. Well, not without being arrested anyway.

1. Elden Ring. An absolutely monumental game which I assume will deservedly steam roll this vote. The funny thing is it’s not even perfect, let alone FromSoftware’s best game. The difficulty could be uneven, the world is almost too big and there is a bit too much repetition, particularly of bosses. And yet the sheer craft on display at every level is mind boggling.

How on earth a medium sized company like FromSoftware can achieve such polished, refined work when a lot of the big companies can barely get their game running is miraculous. The sheer joy of conquering The Lands Between’s brutal menagerie of bosses is hard to beat. I still enjoy watching videos of my battles in awe of my victories. How I beat Malenia I’ll never know!
Ryan O’D

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Welcome surprises
1. GRID Legends
This is the most fun I’ve had with a racing game since DiRT 2 all the way back on Xbox 360. To me, the handling felt absolutely spot on when it comes to an arcade/sim experience, so every race felt an absolute joy to play. Each car felt unique to drive and felt nice and weighty, the sound design on the engines was very good too. As well as the core gameplay feeling fun, though, there was a huge variety in the event types and there was a really good selection of tracks where each of them felt good, if not great to drive around.

I admired the game for also doing a story mode, even if it was a little cheesy it was good to see a racing game try something new alongside its extensive career mode. It’s also been supported really well since release, by a few DLC packs which include more story instead of just new tracks and cars. My only complaint would be a pretty poor soundtrack, a licensed soundtrack would have been ideal.

2. Kirby And The Forgotten Land
This was my first Kirby game, and I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it. It provided me with a Nintendo experience I hadn’t had before, which feels unique amongst its other franchises. Sucking objects up was so much fun and Kirby felt great to control. It’s rare I ever go for 100% in a game but here I had so much fun I felt compelled to.

1. Evil West
This was my surprise of the year. I hadn’t even heard of the game until it came out and read/watched some reviews and it sounded quite appealing, so I gave it a go and wasn’t disappointed. It really does remind me of some of the AA games you would get in the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 generation, where the production values aren’t amazing but the gameplay is so much fun. I won’t deny it can get repetitive but I ultimately didn’t care as I thought the core gameplay mix of third person shooting with a hint of Doom and God Of War was an absolute blast, where I would really look forward to every combat encounter.

Honourable mentions: Shatter Remastered, Tinykin, and Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Kurt Lewin
Now playing: Dead Space remake (Xbox Series X) and Zelda: A Link To The Past (Switch)

Top Two
Top three games of 2022:

Without a doubt for me Bayonetta 3 has been the standout game. I played both previous entries and liked them enormously but perhaps didn’t gel with them as much as the third instalment. It’s absolute gold and a game I keep returning to, just trying to push those stats a little bit higher. Graphically (and let’s face it there is a lot of discussion on these points currently) it is superb. It isn’t photorealistic but it more than creates an atmosphere and a world where huge spirits fight over the buildings of major cities. An absolute classic.

I’ve found myself struggling to engage with the PlayStation 5 this year, Gran Turismo 7 is something I okay constantly and I have marched through Returnal on the basis it was on PS WhateverExtrasThingy.

Second game for me was I think Splatoon 3. Yes, I know it is more of the same, but I absolutely love it. You can keep your first person real-time war scenarios, my bucket of paint and roller are far more fun. And it’s sublime!

Third game… it’s a struggle! I seem to have been on a back catalogue run: Metroid Dread, Stardew Valley, both Spider-Mans, Returnal, Sushi Striker, and Unpacking. Whilst I’ve played Elden Ring it didn’t toll for me…. Horizon Forbidden West was okay and I don’t think you will accept the DLC on Mario Kart 8!

I think smaller tighter games is the way forward!
Currently playing: Splatoon 3, Gran Turismo 7, and Bayonetta 3

Every choice matters
Excellent games coverage in 2022, cheers.

3. Horizon Forbidden West – A natural progression from Zero Dawn, did not change things up too much, may not get away with it for the inevitable third game… graphics are stunning.

2. A Plague Tale: Requiem – I loved the story and characters. Acting was excellent. The vistas of France were visually spectacular.

1. As Dusk Falls – My favourite of the year. Story brilliant and consequences of your actions seemed to be broad and far ranging. When I finished, I looked up what could have been and was surprised certain characters could have ended up on very different paths. Impressive storytelling.

I haven’t played God Of War Ragnarök or Elden Ring so do my choices really matter!?

A good year
My top three for 2022 are:

3. Moss: Book 2. How do you follow the sheer joy and charm of the original? By taking everything from the first game and making it bigger, better, and more involved. The level designs were great, and it again made the most of being in VR, showing what a real difference the immersion can make. Also, Quill remains the most adorable hero in gaming. If you haven’t played either Moss game and are getting a PlayStation VR2, get them – you won’t be disappointed.

2. God Of War Ragnarök. Although it lacks some of its predecessor’s originality, it’s still an excellent action game, with satisfying combat and lots to do. Maybe a bit too much to do really, as a shorter run time would probably have made it even better. Where it truly shines, though, is in its characters and their ongoing development arcs. Kratos and Atreus’ relationship remains one of the best pieces of characterisation in gaming.

1. Elden Ring. In a great year for gaming, this was the standout game. It took everything that FromSoftware has done with its previous games and refined it. The combat was excellent, the enemies were suitably disturbing and balanced, and the varied open world served a real purpose. While it’s probably not From’s best game (that’s Sekiro) it’s still hard to see how they could improve it. It’ll be fun, sort of, to see them try though!

2022 really was a great year for gaming and probably the best since the high watermark of 2017. Like all the best years there were far more games I could have picked than the three above. There was a nice mix of original games, excellent indies, and worthy sequels to deserving games. There was even time for a redemption story. When Cyberpunk 2077 becomes anything other than a laughing you know it’s been a good year.
andy_ b720 (PSN ID)

Close competition
2022 ended up being a pretty good year for games in the end, with more than one pushing for top spot for me, but here are my top three:

1. God Of War Ragnarök
2. Gran Turismo 7
3. Horizon Forbidden West

Honourable mentions also go to Stray, Gotham Knights (I enjoyed it), Cyberpunk 2077 (PlayStation 5 version if it counts), and Sonic Frontiers.

One time investment
3. Sonic Frontiers
I’ve mostly always loved Sonic, and I’m even one of the very select few who loved Sonic Adventure (and even Sonic Heroes). But even my interest dwindled around Sonic And The Secret Rings. Apart from the partly successful Sonic Colours and Sonic Mania, no other Sonic game has gripped me until Sonic Frontiers. It’s not perfect, but it felt like one huge rollercoaster ride and was the most fun I’ve had with a game in 2022. Finally, the first time in over a decade I’m looking forward to the future of Sonic.

2. Xenoblade Chronicles 3
The first thing I think of when it comes to the Xenoblade Chronicles series is them having the best soundtracks in all of gaming (highlights include Leftherian Archipelago and Mechanical Rhythm) and Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is shaping up to be up there too. It’s such a joy that the game matches up to the spectacular soundtrack in every way. What an adventurous, addictive, charming game this is.

Whilst this third instalment did not reinvent the wheel, it expanded on the concept, refined the battle system, and maximised every ounce of the aging Nintendo Switch’s hardware (as the developers are helping develop Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom, I’m sure the same will be the case for that game too). I look forward to the next DLC updates and fingers crossed there’s a fourth instalment even bigger and better on the Switch 2.

1. Elden Ring
Elden Ring will likely be my first and last game I play in the series, Elden Ring is also my game of the year. The dissonance from the previous sentence is the greatest compliment I can give it. It’s oppressive atmosphere, heavy thought-provoking combat, and both serene and macabre environments make this the clear best game of the year. I just don’t think I can invest my soul for another 100+ hours into another game in the series, not just because of the time investment, but the game was regularly creeping into my everyday life and dreams.

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

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