2022, the year we had more Prime Ministers than hot dinners, energy firms continued to make record profits as people struggled to afford their heating, and Messi finally got his World Cup. It’s maybe just my imagination but it seemes like a rather weak year in terms of new games, at least on Xbox. In saying that however, Xbox Game Pass continued to be a great investment for an eclectic mix of indie games and all the best Microsoft and EA releases (and the £1 renewal trick still works, so I’m locked in for another 3 years). So what’s been on my Xbox for the past year?
Despite the lack of new titles grabbing my interest (or perhaps because of it), I ended up spending loads of time on Destiny 2 thanks to the sublime Witch Queen expansion, and got through a couple of games that have been sitting unfinished on my backlog for a few years. Probably just as well this is a recap of what I’ve been playing, rather than a “top x” of the new releases in 2022 as I just haven’t played many of them. As well as catching up on some long overdue completions, after thoroughly enjoying the Day of the Tentacle remaster last year, I finally got round to playing the rest of the excellent Lucasarts remasters (Full Throttle and Grim Fandango), and didn’t start too many new games.
In terms of Xbox achievements, I had my best year since 2017 as seen on my TA #MyYearOnXbox summary. The kids are getting a bit older and I’ve been managing to balance my time a bit better meaning more time for gaming and other pursuits.
Of the games released in 2022 I really didn’t manage to explore many of them. Some thoughts on the ones I did, anyway…
Is listing an annual expansion for a 5-year-old game as a new release cheating? Who cares. My blog, my rules. As usual I spent a fair bit of time on Destiny 2 this year. The Witch Queen expansion added an excellent campaign as well as new capabilities such as weapon crafting and substantial reworks to various subclasses. Bungie really hit their stride in 2022 and although there have been complaints with the seasonal model and PvP balancing of late, the recently released Season of the Seraph has reinvigorated PvE gameplay yet again ahead of 2023’s big expansion, Lightfall.
One of the best bits through 2022 in Destiny 2 was the adddition of two raids to the game as well as a couple of new dungeons. While Vow of the Disciple leaned heavily into some fairly complex new mechanics relying on coded symbols which spawned all sorts of hilarious mishaps as people forgot the names of the symbols or which ones they’d seen and generally just lost the ability to count or retain basic information.
King’s Fall provided a different sort of challenge. Much simpler in terms of mechanics, it was more of a DPS-focus. I was the only member of our fireteam who had never played the original raid in D1 so it was brilliant experiencing it blind but also hearing the rest of the team reminisce about their experiences first time round. Bungie really managed to hit a nice balance between new content and nostalgia this past year, right down to Rasputin and Ana Bray (one of my favourite characters in Destiny 2) bringing back Mars in Season of the Seraph.
Being a live service title, there’s still a danger of burnout. I’ve been struggling to pick the game up lately having done a bit too much grinding through the last couple of seasons and events. I’d argue a lot of the negativity online is borne out of a similar level of burnout. People who have been grinding the game too much but refuse to take a break and play something else or go touch some grass. Still, this last year has shown yet again that there’s nothing out there quite like it.
Matchpoint: Tennis Championships came along at a time I was feeling a little uninspired and needed something laid back and simple. Maybe it was because Wimbledon was on, or perhaps just because it was released onto Game Pass, but I decided to give this a shot and was pleasantly surprised. While Matchpoint is lacking some polish and is a bit bare bones, there’s the core of a really good tennis game there. I was a big fan of Top Spin tennis on the original Xbox and Matchpoint definitely scratched that itch for a while over the summer.
Given I didn’t start a lot of new games last year, there are plenty of great-looking titles that I still haven’t played but am keen to check out.
While I’ve no doubt it’s an excellent game, I won’t be touching Elden Ring. I’m gaming to relax and for enjoyment and I’m not particularly great at hack and slash combat type games (I know it’s more involved than that), so this and other Souls games just seem like a recipe for frustration for me. Maybe at some point in future I’ll fancy the challenge but for now I’m keen to keep it fun!
Aside from the new releases I actually had a pretty varied 2022 in gaming terms. I went into my backlog and finished off Assassin’s Creed Origins, then got my teeth into AC Odyssey as well. I’ll finish playing AC Odyssey this year and get into Assassins Creed Valhalla once I’m done with that. I finally went back to and finished Mass Effect Andromeda after a good few years. Having played the Mass Effect Legendary Edition within the last 12 months or so it just highlighted how, despite it’s updated controls and combat, Andromeda was just missing something that was present in the original trilogy. I’m not sure whether that was the soul of the game or the characters and writing, but it just didn’t grab me in the same way at any point.
Over the summer I was away for a while with no Internet so I decided to pack the Series S and get into some single player content. I’d saved Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy for just such an occasion and it did not disappoint. An absolutely stellar 20 or so hours with excellent pacing, characters and world building, Guardians was a superb example of just how good a licenced game could be.
Round about the time Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II released (seriously, WTF with these names) I managed to pick up a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (the 2019 one) on the cheap. It had been a number of years since I played a CoD campaign, following Modern Warfare 3 where it reached a point when I felt like there was no player agency and I might as well be playing an on-rails shooter. Having seen footage of the Picadilly Circus level and “Clean House”, I was keen to give this one a go once the price was right. I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The campaign was up there with the best CoD campaigns. I enjoyed it so much I even decided to go back and finish it on Veteran, just to complete the full 1000G. While frustrating in parts it never felt unmanageable or unfair, unlike some previous CoDs (I remember nearly having a breakdown trying to complete the mission “Heat” on Veteran in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare).
As December rolled around I enjoyed dropping into a few different games to clear the challenges from TrueAchievements’ “12 Days of Christmas” challenge. This provides 12 days of tasks through which contestants have to unlock an increasing number of achievements (1 on day 1, 2 on day 2, and so on) meeting a variety of criteria (games in a particular genre, achievements starting with a particular letter, etc).
I also dipped back into Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Having been a fan of the series since the original on PC I’d tried a couple of times to get into this. I loved Human Revolution but struggled a bit to really enjoy Mankind Divided. I had another go at it though and found it more fun than I remembered. I’ve just finished the campaign at the time of writing, tick one more off the backlog!
And finally on a less serious note, I rounded off the year by finishing up Grim Fandango Remastered. It was every bit as darkly hilarious and charming as I remember from its original PC release. Lucasarts at their peak.
Looking ahead to 2023 and the many games to come there are plenty that I’m already really excited to play. I think I’m going to start a lot more games in the coming year, although I’ll maybe try to finish some off before these all hit.
And there we are. 2022 is done, we’re getting stuck right into 2023 and already half way through January. If you’re reading this, I’d love to hear what you played in 2022 and what you’re looking forward to playing in 2023.
I’m planning on getting back into tech stuff as well as just generally posting more frequently in 2023, so expect a mix of data, martech and gaming stuff throughout the year.