Best RPGs of 2022

The greatest escapism 2022 has to offer.

by J.R. Waugh
Official Elden Ring cover image.
Image: FromSoftware

Gamers were spoiled with excellent RPGs throughout 2022, being perfectly able to immerse themselves in adventures across time, through dangerous realms, and with exhilarating combat. Some players might think RPGs are a fantasy affair with sword and sorcery but nothing else, and while many do embody that genre, there are endless possibilities such as those represented by this year’s greatest hits.

The games featured on our list here embody many different visions of what a great RPG is in the modern day. Some tap into nostalgia but with a twist, while others boldly push the boundaries of what RPGs are capable of accomplishing for the gaming zeitgeist. Some are graphically demanding, while others are perfectly optimized yet push the limits of what their styles represent. But if you’re seeking a good RPG and varying sources of escapism, look no further than here.

Attack of the Fanboy’s Roleplaying Game of the Year: Elden Ring

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Image: FromSoftware

Elden Ring is the year’s ultimate RPG as well as the greatest game of 2022, deservedly and undeniably. The game is a masterpiece of world and level design, bosses, combat, and lore distribution. It is the first open-world Soulsborne game by FromSoftware, and one of the finest open-world games ever made, running phenomenally stable and engaging the world with its gripping, challenging gameplay.

True to the Soulsborne formula, the game goes beyond simple action and leans hard into the RPG elements allowing you to pick your favorite or the most objectively strong builds. There has been no game that’s dominated the public sphere in 2022 even close to the level that Elden Ring achieved, and it was released early on, in February, speaking to its likely long-lasting influence. One of the greatest games ever made.

From Software upped the ante, surpassing even their best efforts that we saw with Sekiro Shadows Die Twice in terms of world building.  Elden Ring is an absolute must-play game for 2022, but set aside some time and some patience.

William Schwartz, Elden Ring Review for Attack of the Fanboy

Honorable Mentions for Best RPG of 2022

2022 was a great year for RPG experiences of varying size and style. If you either played Elden Ring and preferred something else, or acknowledge these other games as excellent in their own rights, here are some other key recommended titles to come from 2022.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

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Image: Monolith Soft

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a stellar JRPG in its own right and fantastically optimized for the Switch hardware. While other games have faltered in similar tasks, Xenoblade proved that developer Monolith Soft was up to the task, and they delivered. The game features exciting battles, incredible music from some key veteran game composers, and a story that’s sure to live in your heart rent-free for a long time after playing.

Entailed within Xenoblade Chronicles 3 are JRPG hallmarks including emotional gut punches in the narrative, plot twists, bold and unusual combat mechanics, and a wonderful, engaging cast of characters. It binds together the lore from previous games while posing intense philosophical questions. The game runs beautifully and serves as a potent reminder that there are other worthwhile Nintendo IPs that don’t involve pitting your captive-bred Pokemon in battle, traveling through green pipes, or saving Hyrule.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the strongest JRPG in the modern Nintendo catalog, and is among the greatest games on the Nintendo Switch, and can potentially stand the test of time when considered among other platforms and generations as well. It’s a complex, emotional journey, where you and the characters will confront challenging themes and philosophical ideas, and see them through to their respective cathartic conclusions.

J.R. Waugh, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Review for Attack of the Fanboy

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion

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Image: Square Enix

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was originally released on the PSP, but it was visually impressive even then. However, Reunion was a 2022 remaster of the game via Unreal Engine 4 that proved yet again that Square Enix handles remasters with a great deal of care and polish.

The increased platform options made available by this remaster, now extending to PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X|S, PC, and Nintendo Switch, are breathtaking. The quality of this RPG is also something that reminds players just how often Square Enix can maintain the standard of what makes a good JRPG.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is a perfect example of a remaster done right, as the game brings Zack’s story to a new generation of consoles in a way that both preserves the original’s experience and improves upon it in every way, thanks to the addition of a few new mechanics and features, as well it’s stunning overall presentation.

Franklin Bellone Borges, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion Review for Attack of the Fanboy

Live A Live

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Image: Square Enix

Not about to leave 2022 with just one good remaster, Square Enix also put out this insanely fun remake featuring the same HD-2D design present in 2018’s Octopath Traveler. Live A Live features 8 playable protagonists spread across different periods, with varying gameplay elements, themes, and stories in each, eventually intertwining their fates. The fact that this is the first time most of the world has gotten a chance to play this hidden gem makes this among the top RPGs in 2022 for its newfound availability.

While it is a remake of an old Super Famicom RPG that never left Japan, Live A Live is far from your traditional JRPG like Final Fantasy. It contains turn-based combat, but the flow and presentation feel very different from what one may expect. The music is also quite strong in this game, and the characters are varying levels of fun to play. The multiple endings may feel similar to other, more successful 16-bit era JRPGs, but the presentation and concept are unique, and the variations on the final boss are just awesome to behold.

While [Live A Live] has problems typical of many JRPGs, it also has iconic qualities – a subversive, resonant plot that overturns expectations of how a typical heroic journey progresses, and presents us with fallible protagonists who encounter and experience human loss in different ways. This is a refreshing take on a genre usually populated with idealistic heroes and ultimately happy endings, featuring a memorable battle system and killer soundtrack.

J.R. Waugh, Live A Live Review for Attack of the Fanboy

Harvestella

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Image: Square Enix

Yet another Square Enix title to grace this list, Harvestella is a life simulation RPG that still manages to be an audiovisual experience worth noting, whether on Switch or PC. The game pushes the JRPG subgenre forward, while still paying homages to industry-defining titles of the past. It looks and feels great to play, and its scenery is wonderfully displayed with expertly-lit scenes and well-designed textures.

Even though Harvestella doesn’t come without its caveats, bearing some flaws, it’s a highly worthwhile experience for any RPG fan.

Harvestella is a solid life simulation RPG, which has its farming system and intuitive mechanics as its biggest draws. While the presence of beautiful visuals, a flawless soundtrack, fluid overall mechanics, and a charismatic set of characters and narrative manages to set the game apart as one of the most charming, although not without its flaws, RPG experiences of the year.

Franklin Bellone Borges, Harvestella Review for Attack of the Fanboy

Cyberpunk 2077

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Image: CD Projekt RED

We know, Cyberpunk 2077 certainly had perhaps the highest-profile launch possible in 2020, but its true redemption and genuine embrace by the public was in 2022. The game received a much-needed Next-Gen upgrade allowing PS5 and Series X|S owners the chance to experience the PC version’s bells and whistles while squashing many of the bugs plaguing the game at launch. In many ways, it proved better than even our review had originally predicted once the issues were addressed.

The result? Players got to experience the incredible world of Night City designed by CD Projekt RED and its endless set of possibilities within. It didn’t hurt that the Netflix series Cyberpunk: Edgerunners helped blow this game up to even greater heights, a trend CDPR tapped into again with their incredible update of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, also released this year.

Cyberpunk 2077 will ultimately be optimized for every platform and the major bugs will likely be squashed, but it’s real problems will remain.  A lack of gameplay and systems that matter leave the game feeling uninspired, even if some of the conversations and characters in this world are the best we’ve seen in quite some time.

William Schwartz, Cyberpunk 2077 Review for Attack of the Fanboy