The Best Games Of 2022 (So Far)

The Best Games Of 2022 (So Far)
Gif: Sony / Nintendo / FromSoft / DrinkBox / Roll7 / Kotaku

It’s no exaggeration to say that, in terms of video games, 2022 is off to a banner start. The first three months of the year have been flush with the sort of marquee releases that tend to clog the holiday season, when year-end shopping sprees and awards shows are on everyone’s minds. It’s not even April and we already have close to a dozen games that easily qualify as some of the best of 2022.

What follows is a comprehensive list of those games, blockbusters and indie standouts alike, that have already left a meteoric impact on Kotaku’s collective tastes. But also, we get it: Your time is precious, and even if you spend every second of your free time playing, you’ll never be able to knock these all out before the next wave of must-play games comes out. To that end, we’ve included rough estimates of how long it would take you to complete each game, citing figures from the eternally helpful HowLongToBeat.

All right, that’s enough ado. Here, in no particular order, are the best games of 2022.

Horizon Forbidden West

Screenshot: Sony / KotakuScreenshot: Sony / Kotaku

Horizon Forbidden West is the pinnacle of so-called “map games.” Lest you get the wrong idea, that’s unequivocally a compliment and a selling point, even if you’re burnt out on the format. Nearly every point of interest in Horizon’s world — a post-apocalyptic rendition of the American west — is worth checking out, whether you end up finding a surprisingly complex tactical mini-game or the first mission in a riveting chain of side-quests. Then there’s the inventive combat system (based around futuristic bows and arrows) which pits you against some of gaming’s coolest cannon fodder (robots modelled after prehistoric beasts), all set against the backdrop of a truly a bonkers story anchored by an all-star cast (Lance Reddick, Angela Bassett, Ashly Burch). Also: You get a hang glider. Take that, BotW.

Playable On: PS4, PS5

Rough Average Playtime: 52 hours

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Screenshot: NintendoScreenshot: Nintendo

There’s never been a Pokémon game like Pokémon Legends: Arceus. It’s not quite an open world. Its story beats are nothing revolutionary. It’s not even in the running for prettiest game on the Nintendo Switch. But somehow it does capture the magic of seeing a fire dog, fencing bug, or whatever other weird creature stomping around on the horizon like no game before it. Pokémon roam mountains, valleys, and forests ready to destroy you, but also befriend you and show off their personality once you’ve mastered the game’s slick crafting economy and combat. Arceus is the best parts of Pokémon Snap and of the main series under one roof, transcending the limitations, which cast a shadow over so many of its predecessors, of adhering to rote tradition.

Playable On: Switch

Rough Average Playtime: 40 hours

Elden Ring

Screenshot: FromSoftScreenshot: FromSoft

Elden Ring is the culmination of the FromSoftware ethos established almost 30 years ago with the original King’s Field. But despite being the company’s biggest game to date, both in terms of scale and popularity, it also knows how to get out of its own way. While Souls newcomers may struggle with Elden Ring’s vague goals and overall challenge, every minor frustration serves to make its environmental storytelling and moments of triumph all the more compelling. Elden Ring is not a game that gently caresses your tired shoulders but one that latches onto your back like a demonic monkey, an obsession made all the more difficult to shake by its copious checkpoints and the ease with which it allows you to drop in for a quick adventure, and then jet. If you previously wanted to get into the Souls series but bounced off its lengthy dungeons and backtracking, Elden Ring may just be the FromSoftware game that finally gets you over that hump.

Playable On: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 77 hours

Nobody Saves the World

Screenshot: DrinkBoxScreenshot: DrinkBox

At its core, Nobody Saves the World is about making numbers go up. You play as a magician with shape-shifting powers. Initially, you can only transform into standard fantasy fare — think: guard, ranger — but the more XP you earn, the more forms you can morph into, eventually turning into a horse, a mermaid, a dragon, or a freakin’ zombie. Every form has its own set of abilities, but you can mix and match moves across all of them, and swap between up to eight forms on the fly. For those who love a min-max grind, the one in Nobody Saves the World is as compulsive as they come. The whole game is set to an earworm soundtrack by Jim Guthrie (known for scoring Below, Sword and Sworcery, and Indie Game: The Movie) that never gets old, perfect for a grind that doesn’t get old either.

Playable On: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 19 hours

Doki Doki Ragnarok

Screenshot: BrutalHackScreenshot: BrutalHack

A game about a Viking who dates villages (no, not villagers) sounds like it’s either going to be too goofy to be rewarding, or too creepy to be comfortable. And yet it is absolutely superb, a genuinely funny, sweetly progressive game about ransacking fields and burning down farms, all in the name of love and pillaging. What’s most crucial here is just how lovely it is. It’s a warm hug of a game, without any unwanted wandering hands. It’s also, we’re confident in saying, the only game in which you can get friend-zoned by a capital city. Doki Doki Ragnarok’s an absolute treat, from so far left of left field, with many big laughs on offer.

Playable On: PC

Rough Average Playtime: N/A

Wordle

Photo: Mike Kemp, Getty ImagesPhoto: Mike Kemp, Getty Images

You likely won’t have heard about Wordle. It’s an obscure little online puzzle game in which players must attempt to guess a five-letter word with Mastermind-like hints. What’s neat about it is there’s only one puzzle every day, so you can compete against any friends you’ve let in on this little secret. Maybe don’t tell too many people, though, because if this blows up you just know it could get spoiled. Something ridiculous might happen, like The New York Times deciding they want to own it, and then removing all the rude words. So check it out, it’s amazing, but maybe keep it under your hat for now.

Small print: Yeah, Wordle technically came out in 2021, but the world didn’t start freaking out over it ‘til this year. So it fits!

Playable On: Your web browser of choice

Rough Average Playtime: Lmao

Destiny 2: The Witch Queen

Screenshot: BungieScreenshot: Bungie

If you’ve written off Destiny in the past, it’s time to change that. Destiny 2: The Witch Queen features the best campaign the series has ever had, full of moments that go toe-to-toe with the likes of Doom Eternal and Halo Infinite, and some that even surpass them. It’s the kind of expansion that reminds you of what Bungie was before it became the engine behind one of the most successful (and demanding) live-service games in the modern era. The Witch Queen is a stunningly original take on gothic sci-fi from top to bottom with a story to match. Best of all, it lets you ignore as much of the MMORPG grind as you want to.

Playable On: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 13 hours

Far: Changing Tides

Screenshot: Okomotive / KotakuScreenshot: Okomotive / Kotaku

For a game about the end of the world, Far: Changing Tides is remarkably chill. You, as an unnamed protagonist, are tasked with traversing through the world of a waterlogged apocalypse. Your goal, simply, is to keep heading toward the right side of the screen, obstacles be damned. Far: Changing Tides ebbs and flows between quirky environmental puzzles and slower-paced sailing segments, in which you raise a mast to catch a breeze or jump up and down on an Industrial-age bellows to fire up an engine in a rhythmic sequence that veers on repetitive but ends up engaging enough to keep you rapt.

Playable On: PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 6 hours

Triangle Strategy

Screenshot: NintendoScreenshot: Nintendo

Triangle Strategy is an engrossing tactical role-playing game that makes the most out of its emotional Octopath Traveller roots. The story is comfort food for anyone who enjoys soap opera antics or a plot with actual politicking. Its unique party vote system also ensures that every path divergence feels meaningful. The pixel animations are among the best in recent games, and the map art takes full advantage of its Final Fantasy Tactics appearance. The tactical system is very simple to learn, but also difficult to master. Even longtime tactics fans will struggle with the maps that appear in the middle to late-game, but the AI is fair. As a bonus, Triangle Strategy is the type of game that’s easily replayed after a first run.

Playable On: Switch

Rough Average Playtime: 37 hours

Vampire Survivors

Screenshot: PoncleScreenshot: Poncle

By all rights, Vampire Survivors should not be as good as it is. It very clearly rips off Castlevania aesthetics; utilises a boring, blocky user interface suited more for mobile devices; and asks little of the player apart from walking through endless hordes of bats, zombies, and other assorted ghouls. And yet, Vampire Survivors may just be one of the greatest games of 2022 so far. Vampire Survivors’ power lies with its near-constant dopamine rush. It’s the perfect game to pull up during a boring work meeting or while waiting in lengthy Final Fantasy XIV queues. Few experiences in gaming today feel as satisfying as clearing the screen of baddies, opening a chest, and being showered with items and gold. Even better, Vampire Survivors doesn’t try to nickel and dime you with mobile-style monetisation, even though it would be the easiest thing in the world for its solo dev to do. That alone deserves some praise.

Playable On: PC

Rough Average Playtime: 11 hours

OlliOlli World

Screenshot: Roll7Screenshot: Roll7

Roll7’s OlliOlli World is a super-cute skateboarding platformer, but don’t let the vibrant colour palette and charming characters fool you. Like real-life skateboarding, this game is tough. It requires immense diligence and focus to pull off the many gravity-defying moves in the game’s extensive tricktionary. But even if you slam — and you’ll slam a lot — OlliOlli World is a joy to play, particularly because of its Adventure Time aesthetic, chill soundtrack, and simple controller scheme. It’s steezy as hell, and the multiple paths and challenges ensure you’ll keep coming back to land the highest scores and sickest tricks possible.

Playable On: PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Rough Average Playtime: 9 hours

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