With millions of gamers across the world patiently waiting for the fat guy to sneak into their bedroom and unload his sacks, it means there’s little over a week left until 2023, so here’s a look at the games that have stuck with me throughout this year from the 150+ I’ve played.
No doubt many won’t agree with this list, opinions are always subjective, but if there’s a few games on the list you haven’t checked out, hopefully it gives you a little inspiration when searching the Xbox store to spend those gift vouchers.
Honorable Mention: Anvil Vaultbreaker.
Technically released in Dec 2021, Anvil Vaultbreaker is a great game that I’ve spent over 120 hours with early in 2022, If released a month later, it would be very close to the top of this list.
Only £20.99 (or free with Gamepass) it’s an under-rated gem, that I keep returning to and there’s not many games that have held my attention for this long.
10. TMNT Shredders Revenge
Shredders Revenge was a pleasant surprise that didn’t just offer a modern twist on side scrolling beat-em ups, but also remained loyal to the genre that was so popular in the 90’s.
Allowing up to 6 players to play co-operatively, a wide range of levels and enough variation and secret challenges to warrant replaying more than your average arcade game, TMNT Shredders Revenge thoroughly deserved it’s impressive 87% on OpenCritic.
Even for it’s recommended price of £22.49 it’s worth every penny, but Gamepass subscribers have had this since day 1, so if you’ve not played it yet, call a few friends, grab some pizza and prepare to yell cowabunga.
9. High on Life
Only recently released, High on Life finds its way into my top 10, because it feels so fresh and unique, rather than trying to make a game work differently, Squanch Games concentrated on presentation and humour and the result is a shooter that’s fun because of the story, script and locations and not just a new novelty mechanic.
as a shooter it doesn’t do much you haven’t seen before, but as a comedic interactive story, it’s a great day 1 addition to Gamepass.
High on Life is quite literally love or hate, there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground as you’ll see from it’s 69% on OpenCritic, I just find it shameful that reviews have been as low as 30% or as high as 80%, while the general gaming public seem to have much higher opinions and be far less biased than many reviews I’ve read.
8. Disney Dreamlight Valley
While many looked at Dreamlight Valley as a simple Animal Crossing clone, the nostalgia of meeting and working beside classic Disney characters gave a whole new dimension, elevating Dreamlight Valley to an impressive 81% on Opencritic. Slowly clearing the world of thorns and working through open questlines for various characters. I’ve spent over 80 hours working through the challenges, and while I’ve not been back to the valley in the last month or two, it’s certainly a game I’ll revisit in 2023.
Available for £24.99 or for free via Gamepass, it might be worth checking it out now, because when DLV transitions to a Free 2 Play title (expected next year) I have a feeling it’s only going to get more and more popular.
7. PowerWash Simulator
Having first seen PowerWash Simulator on PC in early-access, I was over the moon to see it arrive on Xbox earlier this year,
Forget guns, all out action or overcomplicated strategies, PowerWash Simulator was about the simple guilty pleasure of cleaning the grime from a variety of locations.
Slow, methodical, soothing and satisfying, it washed away over 85 hours as I completed the game and also returned to co-op part of my wife’s career too, there’s a wide variety of locations and a decent storyline attached for good measure.
Only £19.99 or available on Gamepass, it’s well worth checking out, with a respectable 74% on Opencritic, it’s one of the best Simulation games of the year.
6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
I’m far from a Call of Duty fan and have only currently spent about 50 hours on MW2 (which is already more than all COD titles combined over the last 5-6 years).
But MW2 just grabbed me this year, it feels more accessible, less reliant on the reactions of a gecko and more fun throughout.
It’s one of the few AAA games I will keep going back to, and I’m looking forward to more Multiplayer, completing the co-op and returning to the campaign in 2023.
Partly due to it’s steep price, and the acquisition saga it didn’t review amazingly well at 75% on Opencritic,
and no doubt Warzone 2.0 takes some of the limelight off one of the FPS games I’ve enjoyed most in 2022.
But if this acquisition goes through, I have a feeling we’ll see ALOT of gamers wishing they’d picked up MW2 much sooner, if it eventually ends up on Gamepass.
5. RimWorld : Console Edition
Rimworld is a strange game that many people just aren’t going to give a chance, it doesn’t look anywhere near as engaging as it is, and “Scenario generator” isn’t the best sales pitch in the industry.
But anyone looking for a deep, involving and often incredibly challenging strategy game won’t go wrong with RimWorld, as backed up by it’s impressive Opencritic score of 86% on PC.
It’s another game I hope eventually finds its way to Gamepass, because there’s no denying Rimworld deserves far more exposure than it’s received.
If you’re a fan of strategy games, then this is £35 very well spent.
4. Cult of the Lamb
Cult of the Lamb picked up plenty of traction and was getting mentioned all over social media, giving us a pleasant Suprise in the summer. Rather than obtaining followers and building a city, you build a cult and might occasionally sacrifice a few followers.
The combat wasn’t perfect, but there was a great mix of builder and dungeon crawler which last me over 30 hours before I eventually moved on.
for £20.99 it’s well worth considering, especially with an impressive 84% on Opencritic.
3. Arcade Paradise
Arcade Paradise was a game I was always optimistic about, but when it released all my prayers were answered, over 30 high quality arcade games bundled in to a business management (Arcade) simulator.
The 77% on Opencritic doesn’t even start to explain the 60+ hours I ploughed into my arcade, and with DLC arriving since, I still return occasionally to battle a few more high scores.
If you’re a fan of retro-inspired arcade compilations, Arcade Paradise is great value at £16.74.
2. Vampire Survivors
Vampire Survivors is a game you simply MUST PLAY!
It doesn’t matter how many times people tell you it’s fun, accessible and rewarding, or the amazing 88% on OpenCritic,
Until you’ve experienced the gameplay loop for yourself, you’ll always be deceived by the retro graphics and amazingly low £3.99 price tag.
But when you do eventually give it a shot, just remember you can say “just one more game” a lot in the 40-50 hours you’ll happily spend surviving.
1. Rainbow Six: Extraction
If I’m honest, I’d lost faith in Ubisoft, the Rainbow Six franchise I once loved had become the next big eSports shooter, and when all I wanted to do was co-op a terrorist hunt, Rainbow Six Siege was pushing more and more towards playing daily and mastering every map to stand a chance against invested PVP opponents.
When Extraction came along in January, it grabbed me by the grenades and didn’t let go until I’d spent well over 175 hours clearing one extraction zone after another.
Solid gunplay, fantastic graphics and one of the most enjoyable co-op experiences in many years.
I admit I haven’t played so much since the summer, but I’m planning on returning in the new year to catch up on anything I’ve missed.
Available for £44.99 (currently on sale for just over £20) its great value too, especially when it’s also available on Gamepass.
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