Now that the year is winding down, it's an excellent time to play the best games of 2022. Despite a dry spell in the summer, 2022 wound up being a rock solid year for mainstream gaming, with plenty of long-awaited sequels and smart takes on classic franchises. From open-world RPGs, to historical adventures, to crossover fighting games, there really was something for everyone.
The Tom's Guide Staff sorted through dozens of games and voted on our favorites in order to determine the best games of the year. This time around, we've given awards in individual categories rather than as a straight list, so let us know how you like the new format. If you missed out on any of these games, now is the perfect time to play them — and on the off chance you've played every single one, stay tuned for our upcoming "games you might have missed in 2022" story.
Best action game: God of War Ragnarök
Platforms: PS4, PS5
God of War Ragnarök has an incredible narrative but it doesn’t forget that it’s an action game at its core. Combat sequences are every bit as engaging as the central story.
Variety and freedom are what ultimately make combat so satisfying. Armed with three main weapons, you can unleash some truly devastating attacks on enemies. And it’s all seamless too. For example, you can perform axe attacks on a single foe and quickly transition to the blades of chaos to deal with larger groups. A third weapon (which I won’t spoil here) also gives you more flexibility during battles. Combat is simply enjoyable. — Tony Polanco
Runners-up: Bayonetta 3, Sifu
Best adventure game: A Plague Tale: Requiem
Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S
A Plague Tale: Requiem is far from a lighthearted adventure game, but that’s to be expected when dealing with a pair of siblings trying to survive the French Inquisition. Especially when you add the hordes of hungry plague rats. A Plague Tale: Requiem’s harrowing narrative is supported by challenging puzzles and an intriguing combination of historical accuracy and high fantasy elements to create an adventure game that you can’t put down even if you may really want to walk away.
The story of Amicia and Hugo de Rune is neither smooth nor happy, and the supporting cast are a brilliant combination of relatable and despicable which is exactly what you want with a narrative adventure game. This one just so happens to be heart-wrenchingly bleak. — Madeline Ricchiuto
Runners-up: Pentiment, Stray
Best fighting game: Multiversus
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
I don’t typically care for party brawlers like Super Smash Bros but I found MultiVersus a solid game with an equally solid foundation. The game is more fun than it has any right to be.
So what makes this game work? The simple-to-learn but difficult-to-master gameplay makes it ideal for both novice and veteran players. It also features one of the most eclectic rosters. It's surreal seeing Batman fighting LeBron James or Arya Stark facing Scooby Doo. None of this should work, yet it somehow does. And perhaps most importantly, MultiVersus is an absolute blast to play with others — either locally or online. — Tony Polanco
Runners-up: King of Fighters 15, Rumbleverse
Best graphics: Horizon Forbidden West
Platforms: PS4, PS5
We’re in an odd spot in gaming where nearly all of the big releases of the past 12 months or so are cross-generation games, available on PS5 and Xbox One, as well as PS5 and Xbox Series X. While we’ve got some very good looking games, few felt like they were really pushing the latest console hardware; until Horizon Forbidden West arrived. Available on the PS4, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t play it on the PS5 and it looks incredible on Sony’s big machine.
In the 60 frames per second performance mode, Horizon Forbidden West looks great, with some incredible vistas swaddled in graphical effects like realistic volumetric fog, and great character animations. But if you can deal with 30 fps (and I think HFW is fine at this framerate), the game looks exceptional. Characters are covered in sharp 4K textures, while cliffsides look seriously craggy and tactile. And water looks good enough to gulp down, while snow feels almost crispy under your virtual feet. HFW arguably sets a standard for all PS5 games to aim for and exceed, and a game that’s a must have to showcase the PS5’s power.
Honorable mentions for graphics in 2022 go to God of War Ragnarök, which also looks incredible on the PS5 despite being a game that’s built on a PS4-era engine, and Pentiment, which shows that graphical fidelity can’t always trump excellent art style. — Roland Moore-Colyer
Runners-up: God of War Ragnarök, Pentiment
Best horror game: Scorn
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, PC
Scorn, an abstruse and grotesque adventure through a broken biomechanical world, prides itself on its suspense and horror lying in wait around every corner. Each level contains challenging puzzles and gripping combat encounters. The limited resources also add a foreboding sense of dread. The vague narrative can get frustrating at times, given that Scorn offers no lore, background, or even a hint as to what’s going on.
What makes Scorn our choice for the horror game of 2022 is that it goes beyond mere body horror. Yes, it’s disgusting at times, but it’s all to make some kind of commentary, one open to many kinds of interpretation. The suspense and dread we felt while playing it had no equal in recent memory. — Jordan Palmer
Runners-up: The Quarry, The Last of Us Part I
Best narrative: God of War Ragnarök
Like I said in my God of War Ragnarök review, the game’s overarching plot is compelling, but it’s the characters’ interpersonal relationships that hold it all together. It’s satisfying seeing how Kratos and Atreus have grown into a competent team, along with how each one deals with his respective destiny. The supporting cast, villains included, is no less intriguing.
Side quests have narratives that are just as engaging as the main plot. You get a greater appreciation for this game’s take on Norse mythology, as you gain insight into what motivates each character. Side quests may not be overly abundant, but they’re exceptionally crafted.
Overall, God of War Ragnarök is a masterclass in video game storytelling. I’d even venture to say its story rivals that of anything out of Hollywood. It’s really that good. — Tony Polanco
Runners-up: Pentiment, A Plague Tale: Requiem
Best ongoing game: Final Fantasy XIV
Platforms: PC, Mac, PS4, PS5
Final Fantasy XIV has survived a catastrophic launch, a complete overhaul, and three console generations to become the most widely played MMORPG in its class. The fourth expansion Endwalker released in late December 2021 to massive praise from critics and players alike.
Even after eight years of continuous live service, the rabid FFXIV player base continues to grow. Considering the game’s engaging narrative, varied job system, well-choreographed battles, supportive community and recent streamlining efforts to cut down on quest bloat, there are plenty of reasons to pick it up and keep playing until you too are telling everyone you know about the Free Trial which includes access to the award-winning expansion Heavensward. — Madeline Ricchiuto
Runners-up: Destiny 2, Genshin Impact
Best open-world game: Elden Ring
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
There’s a lot about Elden Ring that is deserving of praise, but it’s the game’s expansive and varied open world that really sets FromSoftware’s latest hard-as-nails action RPG apart. The legendary developer's previous Soulsborne games mostly funnel the player from point A to point B, but Elden Ring loosens the reins considerably. From the moment you step out into the starting area of Limgrave, practically the whole of The Lands Between is yours to explore — if you dare face the many brutal challenges that await you.
This sense of complete freedom can be a tad overwhelming at times but it also makes Elden Ring more accessible than any FromSoftware game to date. Get stuck on a tricky boss? Go explore in the opposite direction and see what you find. Not to mention, Elden Ring’s world is absolutely stuffed with worthwhile secrets and optional encounters that are just as satisfying as anything on the main trail. Not since Zelda: Breath of the World has an open-world game provided players with such a sense of discovery and adventure — Rory Mellon
Runners-up: Horizon Forbidden West, Dying Light 2
Best racing or sports game: Gran Turismo 7
Platforms: PS5, PS4
In the face of more arcade-like driving games like Forza Horizon 5, Gran Turismo 7 can look a bit poe-faced with its serious racing simulation. But a mode that lets you gather cars from various points in motoring history, as well as drive to the beat of music, really makes the game a lot of fun to drop in and out of. Yet, there’s also a lot of serious simulation and customization to dig into for serious pistonheads, making it hard to deny how good GT7 is, even if it doesn't break the driving game mold.
It also doesn’t hurt that Gran Turismo 7 looks amazing, with ray tracing throwing all manner of cascading light over the shiny paintwork of hot hatches and supercars. You’ll want a PS5 for this, as GT7 benefits massively from speedy loading times, 3D sound and DualSense controller feedback. If you’re after a great racing and driving simulation game, then Gran Turisomo 7 is the game to get this year. — Roland Moore-Colyer
Runners-up: Rollerdrome, OlliOlli World
Best RPG: Elden Ring
To me, Role Playing Games are all about leveling up my character either through rigorous battles or mundane level grinding. Finding better weapons, armor and other enhancements is also a draw. To that end, Elden Ring ticks all of these boxes and does so spectacularly.
A sense of progression is important in a game like Elden Ring given how often you’ll end up dying. Even if you don’t get far in a particular section, gaining even a single level or nabbing a slightly better piece of equipment can feel like a victory. Though Elden Ring can be long, you’ll never feel as if you’re time is wasted since you’re always making progress of some sort. That’s the hallmark of a great RPG. — Tony Polanco
Runners-up: Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Best shooter: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Call of Duty has always held a high position in the pantheon of excellent first-person shooters, but the re-imagining of the seminal Modern Warfare II really feels like something special. Not only does its arrival coincide with the launch of Call of Duty: Warzone 2 — one of the best free-to-play first-person-shooters out there right now — but it resurrects the characters and settings of Modern Warfare II for a new generation.
Core to the game, the controls remain as tight as ever and its gunplay feels polished. Levels, which might have only had one path through them a decade ago, now present branching paths and reactive enemies. Sometimes stealth is the only way forward – but even then, you can still shoot your way out of some truly bleak situations. Even if you never enter the game’s vast online modes — and why wouldn’t you? — you’re still getting a full Modern Warfare experience that’s far more mature and refined than the version you might’ve played growing up. — Nick Pino
Runners-up: Splitgate, Splatoon 3
Best sound: God of War Ragnarök
Bad sound design stands out, while good sound design goes unnoticed. The highest compliment we can give God of War Ragnarök is that we almost never thought about the game's music, sound effects or voicework while we were playing. That's because every audio cue felt completely natural, and helped build the game's immersive, mythical setting. From the intense battle music to the clang of the Leviathan Axe on a distant metal surface, God of War Ragnarök's sound design creates a convincing fantasy world.
What really stands out in the game, however, is the best-in-class voice acting. Christopher Judge's Kratos embodies both the patient father and the angry demigod; Danielle Bisutti's Freya feels vengeful and compassionate in equal measure. But it's Richard Schiff as the enigmatic Odin who steals the show, with an unconventional take on the character that's unlike any villain we've seen in the series before. — Marshall Honorof
Runners-up: Elden Ring, Gran Turismo 7
Best strategy game: Marvel's Midnight Suns
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Marvel's Midnight Suns represents a type of comic book adaptation we've never seen before: half card-based strategy/RPG, and half social simulation. In this unconventional game, you'll create a customized avatar called The Hunter, and set off to explore the dark, occult side of the Marvel mythos. Alongside heroes such as Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Dr. Strange, Blade and Magik, the Hunter takes on fan-favorite villains, making tough tactical decisions and upgrading his or her skills along the way.
The card-based battles in Marvel's Midnight Suns are routinely difficult and satisfying, challenging players to think creatively with limited resources. However, you'll also spend a big chunk of your time at a magical mansion called the Abbey. Here, you'll build your relationships with various superheroes by watching movies with Nico Minoru, building new tech with Spider-Man and more. Midnight Suns is simply one of the best Marvel projects in recent memory. — Marshall Honorof
Runners-up: Total War: Warhammer 3, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
Best VR game: Moss: Book II
Platforms: Oculus Meta Quest 2, PC, PSVR, PSVR 2
The first Moss is a charming VR game that stars an adventurous mouse named Quill. And Moss: Book II is pretty much the exact same thing. But that’s not a criticism. The storybook aesthetic and well-considered virtual reality puzzles of the first game all return here, but the ways you can interact with the world as the omnipotent Reader have been greatly expanded. Plus, your rodent companion has a few new moves and weapons up his furry sleeves that add some much-needed variety to the mix.
There’s no denying that Moss: Book II is a fairly safe sequel, but its visual improvements draw you further into Quill’s world than ever before and many of its predecessor's rough edges have been sanded down. Unfortunately, the PSVR version is held back by the headset’s technical limitation, but we’re hoping the confirmed PSVR 2 port will improve the experience on PlayStation. — Rory Mellon
Runners-up: Among Us VR, Red Matter 2
Most anticipated game: Starfield
As bright of a year as 2022 was, we can’t help but think about the next year in games. Starfield, Bethesda’s first new IP in years, is finally coming in 2023 and it’s promising to be one the biggest releases of the year. While some have called it “Skyrim in space” (a phrase Bethesda’s Game Director Todd Howard doesn’t like), Starfield promises to be an open-world exploration of space wherein you can set your own pace. From the sounds of it, you’ll be able to pursue a lengthy main quest that will push you from planet to planet, however you can also derail that mission to explore the 100 systems and more than 1,000 planets in the game.
Simply hearing that there’s over one thousand planets to explore is exciting…and a little worrisome, too. This is something other games have attempted in the past, and after a much-hyped trailer failed to deliver on making those planets different (*cough* Spore and No Man’s Sky). Starfield, like our own galaxy, is still very much an unknown quantity — but it’s a place we’re very much looking forward to exploring for ourselves in the year(s) to come. — Nick Pino
Runners-up: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Spider-Man 2
Game of the Year: God of War Ragnarök
God of War Ragnarök had to live up to some lofty expectations. Not only is the latest game in a beloved series, but it’s also the sequel to one of the best games of the last console generation. Thankfully, God of War Ragnarök was just as good as we’d hoped, and then some. Between its tight gameplay, intriguing story, magnetic cast, gorgeous graphics and moving music, it’s the kind of gripping spectacle that we’ve come to expect from Sony’s Santa Monica Studio.
If you haven’t played it, God of War Ragnarök completes the story of Greek demigod Kratos’ saga in the Norselands. This time around, he and his son Atreus must stand against the cruel Norse gods, including the mighty Thor and the vengeful Freya. It’s the all-seeing Odin who steals the show, however, as one of the most memorable video game villains in recent memory. Throw in brutal combat, intricate level design and plenty of worthwhile side content, and God of War Ragnarök is, as our review stated, “worthy of the gods.” — Marshall Honorof
Runners-up: Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West