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The best Xbox games of 2022


Xbox fans waded through complex waters in 2022, thanks to a range of wild circumstances. Video games that were meant to be flagship titles for the Xbox Series X and Series S – Starfield, Redfall – were ultimately delayed, leaving no major console exclusives to prop up the best Xbox games of the year. The attention of Microsoft was also split, with the vast majority of the year taken up with legal proceedings forced by its planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Even despite this, there were still many brilliant games that launched on Xbox in 2022.

From titles that sent us on quests for survival against vampire hordes, to sweeping open worlds filled with doom, death and magic, there was plenty of sparkling creativity on show. Whether players were roaming the Lands Between in Elden Ring, or solving medieval murders in Pentiment, there was always challenge and delight waiting around the corner in 2022.

These are our favourite Xbox games of the year, and all the wild adventures they sent us on.


Vampire Survivors

Image: Poncle

If you’ve played Vampire Survivors, you understand why Vampire Survivors is so compelling. If you haven’t played Vampire Survivors, then trust me – I know it looks like a bad Castlevania fan game, but just throw yourself in for 30 minutes, and you’ll get it.

Vampire Survivors has created a whole new genre, and that’s not something you can say about many games released in 2022. It’s a game that takes the idea of ‘bullet hell’ – a term for shoot-em-up games that involve dodging a ridiculous amount of projectiles – and applying it to your player character, which creates an incredibly satisfying power curve that you can experience in 10-minute runs. Start with a throwing knife. End with an indecipherable monsoon of blades, projectiles, and a devastating garlic aura.  

The game does all the hard work – attacking – for you. All you need to do is keep moving to avoid the creep of enemies, and keep the right distance to have your weapons stay effective. You’ll strategically build your loadout from a variety of different options (many of them secret combinations) as you mow down more and more enemies. Things get very intense, and the stakes get high very quickly as hundreds of enemies fill the screen. Being able to harness that insane amount of destruction, even for a small moment, is intoxicating.

We had the year of battle royales. We had the year of Among Us. Now we have the year of Vampire Survivors, and it absolutely deserves its place as one of the most iconic games of 2022. It’s on Xbox Game Pass. The mobile version is free. You have no excuse. – Edmond Tran


Elden Ring

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Image: FromSoftware

Nobody can deny the incredible impact Elden Ring has had on the year, even if March 2022 feels like it was actually several years ago. Devoted FromSoftware fans may argue otherwise, but the studio that created the Souls-like genre with Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls has seemingly perfected its approach with Elden Ring, and has been rewarded with a staggeringly huge uptake by a devout community of players, many of whom have never played a game like this before, and are now changed by it. 

Maybe it’s a much-advertised George R.R. Martin connection that got Elden Ring its newfound attention, with the Game of Thrones director adding some attractive flavour to the lore of the world. But it’s most certainly Elden Ring’s approach to its worldbuilding, the freedom-focussed, self-driven game structure, and challenging combat that kept people on-board, and talking about the game all year.

Read: Elden Ring Review – Stay a while, stay forever

The setting of The Lands Between is an absolutely vast and terrifying place, with new dangers everywhere you go. There are so many times where you see something that strikes fear into you – a towering behemoth, a horrifying beast, or another seemingly impossible challenge, and you’ll think ‘how on earth am I going to conquer this’?

But the advantage of an unrestricted open-world, one that Elden Ring cleverly uses to the fullest, is in your ability to follow your desire and curiosity, go at your own pace, and slowly find that confidence within you. Go somewhere with enemies that seem more manageable, level up your character, find new tools to help you, and build your own innate proficiency. Then, go back and overcome what was once a tough ask. Slowly but surely, across several dozen hours, you’ll feel yourself forging an intimate relationship with the land and its inhabitants, gradually finding yourself able to finally take a firm hold of every challenge within it. This world becomes yours.

The satisfaction that comes from eventually finding it in yourself to overcome such incredible odds has always been a key part of FromSoftware games. But what Elden Ring has done is make those odds feel so much greater, while giving you the capacity to do more to help yourself, at your own pace – which makes those eventual victories much sweeter. When you look back on how far you’ve come in Elden Ring, the feeling is sublime. – Edmond Tran


Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands

tiny tina's wonderlands best xbox games of 2022
Screenshot: GamesHub

Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep changed the Borderlands franchise in a major way, opening up its connection to the world of fantasy and inadvertently creating demand for multi-genre spin-offs that tell alternative Borderlands tales. After several years, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands arrived – and what a tremendous sight it was. In this wild and colourful fantasy adventure, fan-favourite character Tiny Tina returns to her roots, guiding a new batch of players through a Dungeons & Dragons-like romp. In odd narrative beats, players are sent through wild beanstalk forests, dragon-infested mountains, strange rocky paths, goblin tunnels, and more wild worlds – all with their own wacky, Borderlands-inspired twist.

Read: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review – A tremendous tall tale

The whole journey is accompanied by a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, sharp dialogue, and genuinely hilarious performances from voice actors Ashly Burch, Andy Samberg, and Wanda Sykes. They all do a phenomenal job of bringing the tale to life, and punctuate each story mission with enjoyable banter that reshapes the world of the game. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is vast, over the top, and filled with personality, making it one of the best games for Xbox in 2022. – Leah J. Williams


Immortality

Image: Half Mermaid

One of the fantastic things about video games is the kind of powerful experience you get when you feel you’re in control – as an active participant, when you’re charting your own destiny, creating your own goals, putting together the pieces of the puzzle with your own volition. It’s one of the most gratifying things in the world. In the same respect, one of the most powerful things games can do is to suddenly rip all that power away from you. Make you feel utterly helpless. Uneasy. Afraid to keep going. That experience could apply to a game like Elden Ring this year. But for me, the more memorable and impactful example of this was Immortality.

Read: Immortality review – Picture perfect

A narrative mystery game from Sam Barlow (Her Story) and the team at Half Mermaid, Immortality asks you to be the first-hand protagonist. Your job is to sift through reels of raw camera footage, filmed for three separate movies that were never released, to find out what happened to missing actress Marissa Marcel.

And it’s so, so incredibly captivating. For long stretches you’re a voyeur, using your own initiative peeking behind the curtain of the creative process, and discovering intimate details about the people involved. Before the director calls ‘action’ and after he calls ‘cut’, you’ll discover subplots, motivations, relationships, and piece together several overarching, interconnected narratives. You’ll start putting the bigger picture together in your head, and feel like a genius detective the whole time. Well, almost.

At a certain point, Immortality will strike you with fear, shake your whole world, and make you afraid to go on. But it will also pique your morbid curiosity so severely, it will be impossible to resist seeing it through. You’ll stay up late, being sucked right into the lives of these characters in an intense parasocial relationship. You’ll explore and ponder themes of artmaking, exploitation, and the creative spirit. The performances from everyone involved are nuanced, multi-faceted, and completely enthralling. 

Immortality is vital, and utterly unforgettable. – Edmond Tran


Cult of the Lamb

devolver digital publisher
Image: Massive Monster

Cult of the Lamb combines so many great things about video games into a bloody, eldritch package. With elements of life and management simulators, as well as roguelike dungeon crawlers, there’s plenty to love here – including the titular Lamb, which guides the action as a scion of terrible beasts. While you can get stuck with an awful cult in the early stages, as animals eat their own poop and get sick, the further you travel down dark forest paths, the better your flock will become.

Read: Cult of the Lamb review – The flower of the flock

Eventually, they’ll stop eating their own poop and transform into the faithful herd you deserve, helping you farm religious points that aid your quest to defeat the old gods, and reclaim a piece of your long-dead soul. All of this, and plenty more, hides behind a whimsical and cute facade so well-designed by Melbourne’s Massive Monster. As a hybrid cultist simulator, it’s an absolute triumph. It gets its hooks in early, and has you praying at its altar for grim and delightful hours. – Leah J. Williams


Wayward Strand

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Image: Wayward Strand / Ghost Pattern

Wayward Strand transports you to an aged care ward in a floating hospital, set in a 70s coastal Australian town. You play Casey, a young girl brimming with curiosity as she spends three days helping her mum out by keeping the residents company. 

On the surface, Wayward Strand is a game where you get to know the residents and pepper them with a million questions about their lives. But dig a bit deeper, and listen a little harder as you wander the halls of the airship, and the game provides a wealth of commentary on past (and current) treatment and care of the elderly, as well as facing difficult topics like mortality. 

Read: Wayward Strand review – The clock keeps ticking

Residents talk about their rich lives, both before they ended up on the ship, as well as their time in aged care. Some patients are nonverbal, however through patience and earnest interest in them, you can learn about their rich interior worlds and past adventures. As the clock ticks on each day, you must decide who to talk to and how to spend your time. There’s plenty of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moments, and Wayward Strand warrants multiple playthroughs to experience everything it has to offer, from heartfelt and gut-wrenching moments, through to absurd and silly anecdotes from the vibrant cast of characters you encounter.

I cried, laughed, and sat quietly, taking it all in, all in the space of one playthrough of this game. For a rich story, and gorgeous art style to boot, this Australian-made gem is well worth playing. – Emily Spindler-Carruthers


Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

lego star wars skywalker saga
Image: TT Games / Traveller’s Tales

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is an irreverent, tongue-in-cheek ode to the entire Star Wars franchise – all nine main movies, and several of the spin-offs, too. If you’re looking for the best way to re-experience each film, told through a rather different lens, it’s hard to go past these wild, often slapstick adventures. While each tale is truncated and broken down into smaller parts, with some lore and more violent segments skipped for all-ages appeal, The Skywalker Saga still does a great job of exploring the many dense worlds of the beloved franchise.

Whether you’re lounging in the swamps of Dagobah or catching some riffs with the Cantina Band, there’s always plenty to enjoy along your path.

Read: Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga review – a galactic triumph

There’s just something so sweet about watching baby Anakin enthuse about his podracing, and watching his wild journey to villainhood play out amongst tiny, intricate Lego set-pieces. Each shines brightly, and lends itself to a fantastic and laugh-out-laud interpretation of the Star Wars universe. This is a sweet gem worthy of being considered one of the best Xbox games of 2022. – Leah J. Williams


Pentiment

Image: Obsidian Entertainment

It may not seem like it, but the 16th century Bavarian town of Tassing, as portrayed in Pentiment, is one of the most well-realised video game settings of 2022. As a narrative adventure game where you play a resident artist originally from elsewhere, the people you talk to, the way you treat them, and the meaningful choices you make will completely reshape the overall narrative and history of the town over a period of two decades. You leave deep marks on Tassing, and the town will leave deep marks on you, too.

Read: Pentiment review – Making history

On its face, Pentiment is a historial murder mystery with a striking medieval art style. But its heart is in the detailed, intimate moments you spend with the people of Tassing – breaking bread together, mediating their issues, and forging your own unique relationships with them. 

It’s also a game that makes you think deeply about how the way we live our own lives – how our relationships to our home and our neighbours can drastically change.Deep, complex, thoughtful, and not to mention beautiful, Pentiment will stay with you. It’s one of the most notable games and stories to grace 2022. – Edmond Tran


Return to Monkey Island

Return to Monkey Island review pc adventure game
Image: Terrible Toybox / Devolver Digital

In the era of constant series reboots and long-awaited sequels, it’s easy to be cynical when something long gone decides to suddenly return, especially when it hopes to address everything that happened an aeon ago.

But Return to Monkey Island, a direct sequel to the Monkey Island series as specifically envisioned by creator Ron Gilbert, follows up on the threads left in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991). Together with one of his original partners in crime, Dave Grossman, they created something great – and I don’t think anyone could have predicted how utterly brilliant this sequel would be.

Read: Return to Monkey Island Review – Sail away home

On the surface, it’s a great modern refinement of the point-and-click adventure game, and despite revisiting several of the iconic locales of the series, the strength of Return to Monkey Island is not that it’s a nostalgia trip. 

Narrative-wise, it’s poignant, reflective, and heartwarming, as protagonist Guybrush Threepwood looks back on life as he encounters characters both new and old. He’s a perfect foil for those who grew up on the series coming back into it, and the approach, the connections, and the loose ends that are tied feel simply perfect. For those who grew up on Monkey Island and Lucasarts adventure games, there’s no denying how powerful this  comedic adventure game is. – Edmond Tran


Marvel’s Midnight Suns

best xbox games 2022
Image: Firaxis Games / 2K Games

Marvel’s Midnight Suns was the biggest surprise of the year; a game that almost flew under the radar. Maybe it was because of Marvel fatigue, or a lack of interest in the ‘supernatural’ side of this expansive universe, but regardless of being the underdog, Marvel’s Midnight Suns managed to eclipse all expectations.

This hybrid team-building social simulator and top-tier strategy combat game has charm in spades. It’s a little bit weird at times – particularly when you’re lounging with your ultra-powered teammates in your swimmers – but its quirks are charming in every way.

Read: Marvel’s Midnight Suns review – Friendship triumphs over evil

Even if you’re not a fan of Marvel, the game’s sweeping narrative, brilliant and relatable character arcs, and engaging turn-based combat was quick to win us over. The talent at Firaxis shines through in every facet of this game, making it fascinating, wonderful, and one of the games for Xbox in 2022. – Leah J. Williams


Honourable Mentions

epic games holiday sale goat simulator 3
Image: Coffee Stain

In a year of great games, not everything made our top 10 list of the best Xbox games of the year – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other titles worth mentioning. First up, we’d love to give an honourable shout-out to Goat Simulator 3, a multi-platform title that’s great for Xbox. In this wacky sim game, freedom is at your fingertips, and that freedom usually involves being a wicked pest in all the best ways. The antics you can get up to in this sandbox are delightfully fun, and well worth experiencing firsthand.

Next up is OlliOlli World, a pleasant and charming skateboarding simulator that couches sick tricks and complex mechanics in a wild story about becoming a literal skate god. It’s a game that oozes cool, and we loved spending time perfecting every flip, hop, and jump in this world in 2022.

Finally, let’s hear it for Overwatch 2, a reinvention of the classic shooter with some well-designed twists, and a very welcome battle pass. With loot boxes firmly in the rearview, Overwatch 2 was able to overcome some major bugbears from the original game this year, forging a path forward as a solid and engaging experience, freely available for everyone. We look forward to seeing this game grow in 2023 and beyond. – Leah J. Williams


How does GamesHub pick its Game of the Year categories?

GamesHub’s Game of the Year picks are selected collectively by tenured staff. Each member puts together a ranked personal list of their favourite games released in 2022, and titles are given a score according to their rank, with 10 being the highest, and 1 being the lowest. The scores are collated, and the games are resorted in rank by their collective score, with staff members then deliberating over individual placements and adjusting where necessary, before locking in the final list.


For more on the best games of 2022, explore the rest of our game of the year coverage:

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