It feels like 2022 is nearly over but it was only yesterday that we were eagerly anticipating our most-anticipated titles, many of which are now past their prime. While 2023 is sure to deliver even more incredible experiences, we can’t move on before looking back at what defined this last year in gaming. From in-game clothing styles to the world of virtual sports, let’s take a walk down memory lane through the year that was 2022.
2022, the year that made cats humanity’s best friend
Cats are no strangers to video games, whether they’re cuddling up to our gaming machines for warmth or exploring in-game post-apocalyptic landscapes. This year saw cats take center stage in various titles, such as Annapurna and BlueTwelve’s Stray, a game about a cat that gets wrapped up in saving the world from a material-eating parasite. Released was the feline-led feature Klonoa Phantomasy Reverie series. The highly-anticipated collection remade 2.5D sidescrolling classics has been reintroduced back to the world of its plucky protagonist.
Ghostwire Tokyo, Sonic Frontiers and Persona 5 Royal were all graced by cats. And who can forget everyone’s favorite cult shopkeeper kitty, Forneus from Cult of Lamb? Each of these titles gives players a cat companion to help out along the way of the hero’s journey or offers players complete control of a kitten looking to save the world. Whether it’s Big the Cat helping Sonic learn to fish, Morgana teaching Joker the way of the Phantom Thief, or Ghostwire’s Nekomata handing out side-missions, it seems the cat has become humanity’s new best friend and, at times, our would-be savior.
2022 was the year everyone had a chance to play
This year, there was a lot of emphasis on accessibility and inclusion. Games like God of War: Ragnarök and The Last of Us Part I included features that add to Santa Monica and Naughty Dog’s past accomplishments in this area. These titles include audio cues and cinematic audio descriptions, audio-cues, auto-platforming, navigational aid, high contrast mode, audio cues, and many other options. Horizon Forbidden West gave players unique difficulty-changing options like having Aloy automatically sprint, heal, and deploy her Shieldwing. Adjustable settings like these help open games to wider audiences than ever before so that more players can get the chance to experience some of this year’s most captivating adventures.
2022, The Year that Propelled Sports Beyond Reality
Windjammers 2 was released back in January and brought extremes and otherworldly style into the world of virtual games. This hyper-real frisbee game challenges players with crazy obstacles and other bizarre venues. It is a one-on-one sport that tests reactions, coordination, and wits.
This release launched a series that was only possible in the virtual realm: OlliOlli World is a 2D cartoony skateboarding game; Cursed to Golf is a roguelike game of golf set in purgatory and pits you against death; and Rollerdrome is a bloodsport where you have to perform skate tricks while fighting robotic enemies. If you’ve ever thought sports were too restricted by reality then 2022 is your year.
2022 was the year we made major changes to our battle royale arsenals
With some new twists, the battle royale genre’s popularity remained unaffected. The Fall Guys was not only released on PlayStation 5, but also other games joined the fray to challenge the traditional royale formula. Deathverse: Let it Die goes in the wildest directions you could expect from a sequel to Let it Die. This game gives a gruesome death game the feel of a slapstick game show. Rumbleverse is a fighting game combination that combines wrestling cliches with battle royale gameplay in one action-packed package. And there’s also Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0, which adds many twists to the genre. There are often three safe zones within the circle that can be accessed during a collapse. This is an alternative to the traditional shrinking circle. Matches end with the three surviving teams armed to their teeth. Not to mention the additions of helicopters, boats and other vehicles. Epic used Unreal Engine 5’s power to give Fortnite, the battle royale juggernaut, a huge visual boost. You don’t have to be averse to the genre, so now is the perfect time.
2022: The year we can all fight together our fears with friends
2022 was a significant year for horror. With the introduction of asymmetrical terror, you can now face your fears in games. Dead by Daylight pushed the genre all year, even though they had already conquered the new frontier. They were followed by some amazing additions.
Evil Dead: The Game is the highlight. This movie combines what makes this subgenre so special and why it has such a strong following. Complex character growth mechanics, genuine scares, and laughs alike make up the experience of what it’s like to play a single match. And the film franchise in which it’s set is undoubtedly the perfect place for all its over-the-top competitive carnage to take place.
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed: Back 4 Blood and Resident Evil Re: Verse are just a few examples of the diverse and innovative entries to this new genre. All that’s left now is to pick which flavor you like the most. Want to pick up Ash William’s iconic Boomstick and chainsaw hand? Are you looking to cross the streams and kick ghostbutt?
2022, the Year Lands Between gave us a break
Videogames offer a way to escape reality and travel to another world, and to experience things we only can dream about. What happens when we can take a moment to appreciate the beauty and wonder of these realities? This notion was brought up in many of the biggest titles of the year, including Elden Ring.
FromSoftware’s latest epic threw us into the large open world of The Lands Between and gave us full reign over what to do and when to do it. We were able to enjoy the moment and not be distracted by the many deaths. The downtime gave us ample time to reflect on this enthralling journey through these deadly landscapes. Although death was inevitable, this world would continue to amaze us with its stunning scenery and beautiful landscapes. Even when a dragon came to burn you alive, at least it flambéed you against a majestic backdrop of natural beauty, right?
We saw the freedom to roam represented in games throughout the year, like Sonic Frontiers, Stray, Horizon Forbidden West, and God of War: Ragnarök. Each game takes place in a dangerous, vast world where you can lose yourself completely. And despite the dangers that continuously cross your path, you’re always given the chance to appreciate the beauty those are set in. This is a welcome invitation to appreciate the passion and hard work that developers put into creating these amazing worlds.
2022 was the year of family supremacy
Family ties weaved their way into many of gaming’s biggest experiences this year. Whether those ties were from blood, fate, or love, plenty of titles showed that there’s no better way to tackle life than with those who will always be there with you. Take a look at Hugo and Amicia from A Plague Tale. These siblings persevered despite all odds to support and accomplish their goals. Without the other, they wouldn’t have the strength to be who they needed to become by the game’s emotional conclusion.
This dynamic’s power also made its way into other games this season. God of War: Ragnarök saw Kratos growing as a father thanks to his son, the Phantom Thieves took on the world as a found family of misfits in Persona 5: Royal and Joel overcame his trauma through his journey with Ellie in The Last of Us Part I. And who can forget the turtle family taking down Shredder’s army once more in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge? In 2022, family easily proved to be one of gaming’s best power-ups.
Have you seen any other examples of 2022 gaming trends?
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