Attack of the Fanboy Staff’s Best Games of the Year 2022

by Diego Perez
AOTF-GOTY

After an eventful 12 months, it’s finally that time of the year. No, not the holidays! It’s GOTY season! Game of the year deliberations can be divisive and plenty of games can slip through the cracks and not receive proper representation in end-of-the-year roundups, which is why we wanted to give every Attack of the Fanboy writer a chance to shine a spotlight on their own personal games of the year. If you’re interested in our overall choice for the best game of 2022, then give our official AOTF GOTY 2022 article a read. If you want something with a more personal touch, though, these are the individual picks for game of the year from Attack of the Fanboy staff.

Cult of the Lamb

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Cult of the Lamb was my game of the year because the pairing of Cult Simulator/Community Management paired with the Dungeon Crawling Roguelike elements felt like a refreshing take on the genre. After loving the dark and bleak nature of games like Binding of Isaac, it’s been a while since I’ve wholeheartedly adored a game from the moment I saw the trailer. I poured hours into it without realizing it and fell in love with the characters and general design. Even though I felt frustrated at my cult losing faith more often than not, I took pride in building a following and not being afraid to put dissenters into stocks, and committing a casual sacrifice if needed. — Kara Phillips

Elden Ring

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Elden Ring has everything you want in a game and then some. The sense of exploration, the satisfaction of getting better at the challenge, and a complex combat system are all present in this beautiful open-world game. The RPG mechanic to create so many unique builds to fit your playstyle feels unbelievable here and adds to the longevity and creativity this title provides.

In an industry filled with games that feel repetitive and feature too many HUD markers, it was time for something unique to hit the shelves. It is rare to receive a game that pushes the boundaries of adventure in such an extraordinary way that players are forced to find out on their own what needs to be done and where to go next. Elden Ring took that risk and executed it flawlessly, creating an enormous sense of freedom.

I have never played a game that hooked me as much as FromSoftware’s latest title, and even after putting in 200 hours, I still find myself wanting more. Just like how Breath of the Wild moved the open-world genre forward, Elden Ring did it one better by taking the genre and claiming it as its own. It will be tough to beat what Elden Ring did so well, and I don’t think the gaming world will see anything like it for years, if not decades, to come. — Christian Bognar


Even in a year as stacked as 2022 was, there’s no way that Elden Ring isn’t my game of the year. Everyone knew From Software’s next title would be a hit, but I don’t think anybody expected it to resonate with as many people as it did. Not only does it have one of the most engaging open worlds ever created, but also one of the most satisfying combat systems that allows for unparalleled build freedom. It’s a game that’s just begging to be explored, and that exploration is always rewarded with sick weapons, dope boss fights, and stunning vistas. It’s one of the only games where I was already planning my second playthrough during the middle of my first. Even though I fell in love with several games this year — God of War Ragnarok, Pokemon Legends Arceus, and Splatoon 3 just to name a few — it would just feel wrong to give this to anything other than Elden Ring. This is the blueprint that designers will be following for the next decade. — Diego Perez


Elden Ring takes the GOTY in my eyes because it was a game that reeled in new audiences, reached mediums beyond gaming, and put Souls-like games on the map. After receiving so much high praise, the gaming community put their qualms aside about FromSoftware games and took the plunge.

Playing the game and discovering new things felt so great. No one had the same journey to becoming Elden Lord. Ten hours in, you can be traveling northward, defeating the bosses inhabiting Stormveil Castle. Those ten hours can look very different for other players, taking them eastward toward Caelid, or south to Castle Morne. What we all had in common in the community was sharing our triumphs over the seemingly impossible. There is no greater feeling than finally taking down that boss that has been killing you for the past hour. You learn, you grow, you adapt, and you push onward to greater depths.

The game gives you the bare minimum and encourages you to explore the unknown. Curious venturers meet many grueling deaths, but then obtain knowledge, riches, and better abilities to take on the greater threats ahead.

Elden Ring can be approached in any way you want. With only one way to truly “beat” the game, the adventure there is paved with several deaths and glorious stories of triumph to share. — Elliott Gatica

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Though I wouldn’t consider Elden Ring as my favorite game of all time, there are few titles I can think of that could boast the mantle of “Game of the Year” better than it. The sheer amount of content is staggering, from the vast open world to the variety of weapons and enemies you’ll come across. There are hundreds of players that love Elden Ring and still haven’t seen most of what the game can truly offer. No other game can compare to the sheer size of this title, and one can only hope that future games will try to build off of Elden Ring’s best aspects.

Sadly, there are some unfortunate sacrifices Elden Ring has made that harm it in the long run. The way enemies and bosses are designed quickly makes them feel like little more than filler. Unique bosses are given headache-inducing gimmicks, and paired bosses like the Valiant Gargoyles or Godskin Duo feel like a lazy attempt at increasing difficulty. Should a DLC expansion for this game be released, I would personally hope that the enemies and bosses are designed more in-line with those found in Dark Souls III or Bloodborne, especially the ones found in the DLC of those games.

Honorable mentions should also be given to Nintendo’s offerings. Kirby, Bayonetta, Xenoblade, and Legends: Arceus were all incredibly enjoyable. If it wasn’t for the mind-bending scale of Elden Ring, any of those games could be a top contender for GOTY. — Marc Magrini


Not being particularly fond of difficult games, I expected to spend a couple of hours with Elden Ring and inevitably quit out of frustration. Instead, I found one of my favorite games of all time.

Previous FromSoft titles, such as Dark Souls and Bloodborne, followed a mostly linear path, which could prove to be repetitious when faced with difficult fights. In Elden Ring, however, the freedom of the gorgeously crafted world allows you to tackle the game at your own pace. If a boss was too difficult, you can veer off the beaten path and discover a new area to explore or storyline to pursue — and all of it felt meaningful. A commodity scarcely found in modern open-world games, which tend to feel empty despite their size.

Every area in Elden Ring had a story to tell through its environment, and every reward earned throughout the game made my time feel well-spent, whether that was a tangible one or just the exhilarating feeling of defeating a challenging boss.

Every boss found throughout the game was impeccably designed artistically and mechanically, resulting in satisfying battles ending with a true sense of accomplishment. There were plenty of times that left my jaw agape with astonishment or wonder, such as the (in)famous second phase of Starscourge Radahn.

The multiplayer and sense of community was also phenomenal, I often found myself grinning at the messages other Tarnished left behind or thanking them for useful advice. My fondest memory involved teaching a stranger how to defeat the final boss of the game, standing back and supporting them as they improved with each attempt. Their reaction to the final blow is something that will stay with me for a long time to come. — Tom Cunliffe

God of War: Ragnarok

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Among all the surprises and exceptional titles of 2022, God of War Ragnarok set itself apart thanks to how personal it felt, as players get to meet a new cast of long-awaited and extremely compelling, not to mention ”human” characters, a feat which was only made possible thanks to the effort of the developing team and the commitment and performances of its actors, all while the game kept you in thanks to its beauty and exceptional presentation and mechanics.

If God of War managed to bring a new layer to Kratos, now as a father, Ragnarok pries open the Spartan’s fears, regrets, hopes, and despair, thus making him more vulnerable and compelling than ever, all while giving Atreus his space to grow both as a warrior and a character on his own right and making you feel connected to all of the supporting characters met along the way.

For me, as someone who is both a huge fan of the franchise as well as someone who grew up with a father that, although loving, had a hard time showing it, being able to fully witness the struggle faced by both Kratos and Atreus allowed me to, in a way, take a look at my own life and become better. — Franklin Bellone Borges


There were a lot of great games this year that deserve GOTY for different reasons, but my GOTY goes to God of War Ragnarok. In every way imaginable, God of War Ragnarok is fun, engaging, and captivating. While taking advantage of the outstanding combat developed in the first game, God of War Ragnarok introduces more player-driven choices, specifically with the armor and level design. The story seamlessly continues right where it left off and climbs to new heights by introducing new characters and weaving in more complex character decisions. It is easily the most technologically accessible game as well as the game with the most ambitious narrative that delivers key moments and themes that stick with you well after you put it down. The moment-to-moment gameplay is addicting, the side quests are industry refining, and the character arcs feature the best video game writing and performances to date. Instead of a complete 180, God of War Ragnarok sticks to what made God of War (2018) fantastic and successfully builds upon it. As I said, there are a lot of great games that came out this year that are all GOTY potential in different ways, but when it comes to delivering a video game with the best gameplay and story, it has to go to God of War Ragnarok. — Noah Nelson


Compared to recent years, 2022 may have been the most challenging to pin down my personal game of the year. On a cultural scale, I believe the honor undoubtedly goes to Elden Ring, whose game design will be studied to figure out just how exactly FromSoftware nailed it. It’s an open-world experience that’s defined by sheer gameplay. But I’m a sucker for story, and boy does God of War: Ragnarok deliver one hell of a narrative.  Feel free to mock the onslaught of “Dad Games” in modern video game storytelling all you want. But you can’t deny that Kratos, in all of his existence since 2005’s God of War, has earned his status as gaming’s ultimate Daddy.

Ragnarok subverts the player’s expectations at every turn, with perhaps the most notable being Odin’s introduction. Riding off 30 hours of buildup and 4 years of waiting, Odin’s calm, rational demeanor isn’t what anyone expected. But Richard Schiff’s portrayal is exactly what makes the main Norse antagonist that much more frightening. You never truly know where the Raven God truly stands, nor how he’ll inevitably lash out, but one thing’s clear: no matter how direct and “honest” Odin may seem, you don’t want to be on his bad side.

It’s these reinventions of mythological characters that Sony Santa Monica absolutely nails. The familiar always feels unfamiliar, and all the more satisfying as a result.  Sure, I have issues with Ragnarok — the pacing, bloated sequences, so many hidden loading screens — but at some point I became too invested to care. There’s one particular moment where Atreus and Kratos embrace one another, no dialogue spoken, just the unconditional love expressed on Kratos’s face. It’s unforgettable, and a true testament to the actors, writers, directors, engineers — the whole damn team — for delivering their vision. Pure magic. — Rob Sperduto

Horizon: Forbidden West

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My Personal Game of the Year is Horizon Forbidden West. When I started up the game, I was immediately enraptured by the breathtaking world that awaited me. As someone who played through the first Horizon installment, I was eagerly awaiting the release of the next title. It was everything that I could have wanted and more. Not only was it successful in my eyes in taking the story of Aloy to even further heights — but it also had a setting that was effective in diversifying key areas enough to make them unique.

The time that I was playing through Horizon Forbidden West was an extremely happy time for me this year, it meant a lot to me not just on a personal level but also in sharing those experiences with others. I will never get those moments back, but I know that they will live on in my memory forevermore with a glimpse of a future I’ve to reach. The gameplay of the experience was equally satisfying with me always wanting to return to fire that bow shot once more as I feel my Dualsense controller triggers echo with the fired shot of an arrow piercing a menacing machine in the wild.

There were plenty of games this year that captured my heart for a myriad of reasons but none have captured it more than Horizon Forbidden West. From the impressive lore hidden throughout to the engaging story and environment, there is truly something for everything in my eyes with this title. Become Aloy and go and seek your new future. — Gordon Bicker

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II

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Modern Warfare 2 is one of my favorites in 2022. Even though it has plenty of issues regarding the multiplayer side of the game, the campaign was awesome. It had tons of action-packed moments alongside a few of the best characters in the series. I’m really looking forward to what Modern Warfare 3 will bring to the table. — Carlos Hurtado

Neon White

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My game of the year pick has to be Neon White. The demo for the game really had me hooked before it was even fully released. There is not really a single aspect of the game that I don’t enjoy. Rerunning levels over and over again to shame off a few milliseconds from my time and have myself be the best out of all my friends that play the game. The funny and yet cringey writing always manages to get a laugh out of me. The story of the game was actually interesting and had me wanting to learn the full story and each of the side character’s backstories. To me, the game feels like Catherine but for FPS speed runners which is what puts it right up my alley. If I had to pick something negative about the game it would have to be the length. It can be quite short if you just look at the list of levels. If you don’t care about getting the highest ranking medal for a stage and just move on to the next one while skipping through the cutscenes, you could get through the game quite quickly. But why even bother playing a story-driven speed-running game if you are not going to care about the story or go for good times? — JT Isenhour


Neon White scratched an itch inside of my busy mind that I never would have expected to exist. With the absolute charm it exudes within its stylistic visuals, alongside a soundtrack that pounds and thumps the inner walls of the mind, Neon White is unlike anything else on the market. Standing in my mind above almost all other AAA releases this year, Neon White brings something new to the table, and something that will remain forever memorable within my head.

Alongside some stellar voice acting that brings these characters to life in a multitude of ways, the general gameplay feels beyond polished. A speed runner’s dream lies within the walls of Heaven, and Neon White is an absolute treat that deserves all of the recognition in the world. — Shaun Cichacki

Pentiment

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My personal Game of the Year is Pentiment, a murder mystery game by Obsidian Entertainment and Xbox Studios. The game’s branching dialogue system was exceptionally well done, and your choices truly matter. Your choices influence how the murder is solved, the fate of the entire cast over the entire period, and your character. No two playthroughs will be the same, and Pentiment does an excellent job showing how a choices matter game should be done. Pentiment’s visual UI, musical score, and overall gameplay were also fantastic. What could have been a simple visual novel or text-based game, but these additional elements elevated Pentiment to Game of the Year status. The game consumed me until I completed it one hundred percent, which took me multiple playthroughs. My multiple playthroughs were different every time, and I didn’t feel frustrated or bored with it. I was just invested with every playthrough as the last. For example, I thought about the story, my choices, and what could have been when I was lying in bed at night. I grew to love the characters and was very attached to them. I can’t remember the last time a game made me feel like this, if ever, which is why it is my choice for Game of the Year. — Matthew Mitchell

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

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Pokemon Violet is my very first Pokemon game. To some people, this probably sounds pretty odd. After all, Pokemon is such a huge title, but back then, I had never thought about touching the game. It’s not because I don’t like Pokemon, but because growing up, my family couldn’t afford a console, let alone the game. I spent almost my whole life missing out on Pokemon games… until Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. When it was released, I decided to give this game a try as an adult. At first, honestly, I didn’t really think much about it. The character customization was great, and the starters were adorable. However, as I progressed throughout the game, I started to understand why the Pokemon titles are so loved by many people. I started getting attached to my first starter Pokemon, having fun completing my Pokedex, and that’s not even the best part. The best part is going on an adventure in an open world and getting immersed in the story. It’s genuinely eye-opening for someone who has never experienced Pokemon before. This is the first game where I don’t just mindlessly skip the dialogue due to how interesting the story is. I won’t spoil the ending, but as my first Pokemon game, it almost left me in tears. I was reminded that finally, in my adulthood, I can somehow experience the lost childhood experience that everyone else went through back then. This game has quickly earned a place in my heart. — Michelle Cornelia

Stray

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Truth be told, it’s tough to choose one amongst so many options. Personally, Call of Duty Modern Warfare II and Stray were the two titles that caught my eye this year. The OG Modern Warfare II has always remained a favorite because of the gripping storyline that it had to offer. The new Modern Warfare II isn’t any different. It’s got a wonderful storyline, really amazing graphics, and John “Soap” McTavish! Speaking of Stray, this is probably the first title I’ve played as a cat. I mean we’ve all played as all sorts of characters, but this one is played completely from the perspective of a cat, and that’s something that is unique. Both deserve the GOTY award in my opinion. But if I had to choose one, it’d be Stray, because of its unique approach. — Amitesh Dhar

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

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Image via Monolith Soft

This game hit me like a ton of bricks, with the emotional weight of its story, fantastic world design, and world-class JRPG music. It’s no wonder, either, with creative contributors from all-time greats like Chrono Trigger at the helm of the game’s music.

The game hits you hard and fast with dreadful visions of war and a clear call to action, quickly drawing you in with engrossing visuals and a genre-blending musical score. So much of my love for the game is for the characters and the creative, diverse use of music in the overworld as well as a plot device.

The optimization for the Switch is breathtaking, it’s the best JRPG on the system, and it brings me back to my days as a gawky tween/teenager discovering the amazing storytelling potential of video games. While I admit Elden Ring is objectively the strongest game of the year, with Ragnarok to follow, XC3 has my heart. — J.R. Waugh

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