The PCGamesN PC Gaming Awards 2022

The nights are brief, the Johns lengthy, and there’s nary a grey whale to be discovered north of Mexico. This can solely imply it’s the tip of the calendar 12 months. That, or lucha libre has branched out in unusual new instructions.

PCGamesN historically celebrates this time with a number of round-up articles – look out for our newswipe on New Year’s Eve and our Games Of The Year tomorrow – however right this moment we pay tribute to 2022’s massive landmarks by way of the PCGN Awards. We’ve bought many acquainted classes the place sincerity is warranted, however since this passion is all about enjoyable, we’ve all the time believed we are able to’t do it justice and not using a few ‘alternative’ awards to have fun the sillier moments.

Like an emotionally repressed household at Christmas, we begin with our extra honest reflections on the 12 months simply gone earlier than the discharge of lastly speaking about our emotions drags us down a rabbit gap of more and more lurid and weird confessions. Seriously, if for nothing else, stick round for this 12 months’s thirst-trapping award. In our nook of the web not less than, Hades has lots to reply for.

Elden Ring's Iron First Alexander stands next to the player character

Best character

Winner: Iron Fist Alexander from Elden Ring – finest character
Runner-up: The cat from Stray

As it seems, the very best characters in video games in 2022 aren’t even human. We had a whole lot of love for the lovely kitty in Stray, who simply wished to reunite with their feline pals. They remind us of our personal little furbabies, with our hearts melting because the cat lastly escapes the confines of its dystopian jail. Not all of us are cat folks, although, and we united over the truth that the very best character we met in 2022 is none aside from pot-chad himself – Iron Fist Alexander from Elden Ring, the most effective open-world video games ever, not to mention simply 2022.

When you first meet this portly porcelain pot, he’s gotten himself in a little bit of hassle. If you resolve to assist him, you quickly realise he’s one of many kindest souls within the land, turning into certainly one of your closest allies all through your journey throughout the Lands Between. He’s on the Radahn Festival, hoping to show himself in battle. He will be summoned that can assist you battle towards the now-corrupt Radahn, and he’s a dependable ally since he doesn’t bugger off as Patches does. You may even discover him within the aftermath of the battle, scooping up fallen warriors to buff himself.

However, issues take a flip after you free him as soon as once more, and he assists you in beating the Fire Giant. You’re quickly transported to Crumbling Farum Azula, the place he waits for you on a floating island. He feels that his time has come to show himself as a mighty warrior by preventing towards the very best fighter within the land he is aware of: you. This is a bittersweet second as he shatters into items upon defeat. However, he thanks you for the duel and reminds you that he wished this. With his dying breath, he proclaims that “the great Alexander lived as a warrior to his last”. We’ll miss you, pot-chad, and we dedicate this award to your kindness.

The main feline character in Stray stands proud and faces towards the camera against a neon background

Best Indie

Winner: Stray
Runner-up: Tunic

Whether we’re speaking about its heart-wrenching opening, quieter moments equally punctuated by despair and sweetness, or its tearjerker ending, Stray feels particular. While a lot of the sport’s attraction naturally lies in enjoying from the attitude of certainly one of our feline pals, there’s far more to it than that. BlueTwelve Studio has crafted a bleak and exquisite posthuman world to discover (and destroy, as cats do), with a thriller so engaging you may’t assist however unravel it like a spool of wool. It’s backed by a completely banging soundtrack too.

Stray is in its aspect when it means that you can leap between the alleyways and rooftops of the walled metropolis at your leisure, undoubtedly making it the most effective indie video games on PC. There’s a lot to seek out and uncover beneath your paws, be they cryptic clues to the whereabouts of mankind amidst this colony of robots with vibrant personalities or basking within the cityscape’s neon glow. Despite the perpetually darkish circumstances each you and the residents discover yourselves in, there’s all the time a heat nook so that you can curl up and snooze in (our favorite being the one subsequent to a musician).

You’ll want all 9 of your lives at your disposal, although, in case you’re to see Stray to the tip. Swarms of Zurks, assume Half-Life’s headcrabs that appear cuter however are simply as harmful, placing even seasoned gamers’ agility and puzzle-solving expertise to the take a look at. Here’s hoping that we are able to see extra small-scale tasks like Stray, in order that extra indie video games like it could land on their ft. Purr-use our Stray assessment for our opinion on this kitty’s journey.

Starscourge Radahn from Elden Ring holds their giant weapons high, ready to attack

Best stage or aspect quest

Winner: Starscourge Radahn boss battle – Elden Ring
Runner up: The Cathedral from Tunic

Big man, little horse. Need I say extra? Turns out I really do, and Elden Ring’s Starscourge Radahn boss battle and aspect quest isn’t simply the most effective this 12 months, it’s all-timer.

It combines an excellent arrange: a pageant devoted to a normal who simply needs to die, a plethora of AI from the open world, and the most effective boss fights in FromSoftware historical past. It’s the right instance of a shock second, you don’t count on to see a number of NPCs milling about in a location the place you’ve already defeated a boss, and also you count on having the ability to summon them abruptly to tackle a giant man even much less. Couple that with an interesting boss battle, and also you’ve bought perfection.

Starscourge Radahn is on this listing due to the way it exhibits FromSoftware remains to be prepared to get bizarre, and push the boundaries with its boss fights. The bottleneck of Ornstein and Smough and the problem of the Nameless King are joined by this boss due to how he’s arrange. The pageant construct up and the way it folds in different mechanics, like summoning, make it one other certainly one of Elden Ring’s many surprises that may be encountered after over 100 hours, and that makes it particular. This, together with good ol’ Iron Fist Alexander, are simply a few of the causes that our Elden Ring assessment provides it that coveted 10/10.

Half-Life 2's Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance side-by-side

Best mod award

Winner: Half-Life 2 Episode 3 however rubbish
Runner-up: Doom: The Fall of Tei Tenga

Everyone admires Valve’s dedication to high quality, however fifteen years after Half-Life Episode 2, and there’s nonetheless no official phrase on the assorted cliffhangers concerning the Borealis, Aperture Science, and Gordon Freeman. Somebody needed to do one thing, even when that one thing was composed utilizing the Source engine equal of cocktail sticks, bubblegum, and duct tape.

Nevertheless, you may, now, in principle, play and full Half Life 2 Episode 3. It exists. It’s on the market. And it’s good. It’s good in the identical manner that Bing can be good if Google all of the sudden disappeared – if that is all there may be, you’ll take it, whereas wishing miserably for the higher different. If you wish to see what Half-Life 2 Episode 3 may appear to be if at some point Valve mentioned “yeah, whatever, ship it,” that is the mod for you.

Alternatively, in case you’ve ever performed Doom and thought it might do with a bit extra Half-Life within the narrative division, Doom: The Fall of Tei Tenga could be for you. It’s a restoration of all of the concepts id Software deserted when making the primary draft of the FPS sport, similar to its story-based method, recreated right into a single sport. It’s a unbelievable work of preservation, bringing an enchanting chunk of gaming historical past to vivid, playable life.

Return to Monkey Island sees Guybrush and Boybrush reminiscing around a campfire

Best narrative

Winner: Return to Monkey Island
Runner-up: Plague Tale Requiem

Reviving an adored sequence from the early ‘90s is no mean feat at the best of times, but to come anywhere close to how revered the original was is a nigh-on impossible task. If anyone can do it, however, it’s Ron Gilbert and his workforce at Terrible Toybox with 2022’s Monkey Island return – sorry, Return to Monkey Island.

And what a return it’s. The sequence is understood for its wit and Return to Monkey Island continues this in high kind, with hilarious dialogue and puzzle options which might be up to now outdoors of the field however by no means so nonsensical you’re left scratching your head for too lengthy. The story is about years on from the earlier instalments, with Guybrush Threepwood – the keen-eyed, bushy-tailed pirate protagonist – telling his son the story of the time he lastly uncovered the key of Monkey Island.

Most of the sport takes place throughout this flashback, however pivotal moments are damaged up by returning to Guybrush and Boybrush – sure, significantly – sitting on a park bench, with the younger pirate wannabe keenly asking questions. Point and click on adventures depend on the narrative as a result of and not using a compelling story, there’s nothing to maintain the participant coming again, and Return to Monkey Island smashes it out of the park like by no means earlier than.

Genshin Impact's sprawling world as seen from above

Best ongoing sport

Winner: Genshin Impact
Runner-up: Final Fantasy XIV

It’s honest to dislike features of Genshin Impact, however an space the place you may’t fault the sport is its unimaginable content material cycle. Every six weeks, Mihoyo (Hoyoverse?) releases a considerable replace to Genshin Impact which generally options two new characters, a number of occasions, and a brand new location to discover. In the previous 12 months alone, the map has expanded so as to add an underground mining system referred to as The Chasm, and Sumeru, a panorama crammed with each forests and deserts. On high of that, the three.0 replace lastly launched a brand new aspect known as Dendro which has inspired a whole lot of experimentation relating to forming groups.

Of course, while you’re incomes the cash Mihoyo does from every banner sale, the devs have loads of sources to maintain the cycle going. The solely different developer that persistently manages to pump up this quantity of content material all year long is Epic Games with Fortnite. There are loads of publishers on the market incomes hundreds of thousands by way of microtransactions that don’t use the cash to enhance the sport, but it surely’s clear simply how a lot effort and time goes into every Genshin Impact replace.

Each patch has sufficient story mode content material to maintain you busy all through the entire month, and there’s loads of alternatives to attain free primogems while you wish to add characters to your roster. While there are legitimate considerations in regards to the gacha system, in case you select to not spend any cash within the sport, Mihoyo provides gamers an opportunity to unlock characters on banners in the event that they’re prepared to place the time in. Genshin Impact’s artistic fight system and forged of fashionable characters can hook you in after just a few hours of enjoying, and earlier than you already know it, you’ll be ready for the subsequent replace to drop so you may spend 1000’s of primogems on the newest character banner.

Vampire Survivors gameplay with hordes of enemies approaching the player

Surprise of the 12 months

Winner: Vampire Survivors
Runner-up: Trombone Champ

Looking at Vampire Survivors, you may marvel what folks see in it. Even being thrown in for the primary time – a Castlevania-esque vampire hunter with an auto-firing whip slaying bats in a discipline – you’ll most likely question if this will presumably be the sport everybody was telling you that you simply ‘have to try.’ It isn’t a sport that makes a giant first impression; as a substitute, it’s a roguelite delight that step by step worms its manner beneath your pores and skin, endlessly teasing you with that subsequent improve, somewhat style of true energy, the promise of yet one more run.

Each of these runs brings one thing recent – one other character to strive, a weapon improve that turns your puny axe throws into a hoop of whirling scythes, and even complete new mechanics that utterly overhaul your strategic potential. While the auto-attack methods may at first make the sport look like it performs itself, really excelling at Vampire Survivors is all about cautious motion and positioning to optimise your weapons’ output and farm foes as quick as feasibly doable. This is made all of the extra satisfying due to its driving, old-school soundtrack; residing as much as Castlevania’s music isn’t any small feat, but it surely performs admirably.

Vampire Survivors masterfully blends idle video games and roguelikes to create one thing new and thrilling. It was a discount at its preliminary beef burger worth, however even with the price of entry raised for the complete launch you’d be onerous pressed to seek out one thing that provides extra bang to your buck in 2022. Our honourable point out goes to Trombone Champ, for turning every little thing from DragonForce solos to Prime Ministerial resignations into an much more pleasant mess.

The Saints lounge across a couch, chatting

Lawbreakers Legacy Award, introduced by Anthem

Winner: Saints Row
Runner-up: Dying Light 2: Stay Human

It was clear from the outset that Saints Row had an unimaginable process: rebooting a wildly irreverent open-world sport sequence that kicked off within the mid-2000s, sustaining the raucous comedy spirit however updating it for a contemporary viewers. While the fashionable Saints Row ticks a whole lot of the packing containers that would seem on a listing titled ‘cool things about Saints Row games,’ that by no means fairly comes collectively into something greater than a sport that oddly feels aged in an unfamiliar, lifeless new city.

Let’s be clear about one thing right here. Saints Row wasn’t a dud as a result of it’s ‘woke,’ no matter that tiresome time period is meant to imply right this moment. Try to think about Saints Row the Third popping out in 2022 – the humour, the references, and the gameplay itself would all really feel woefully dated, and Kanye West’s ‘Power’ kicking on as you parachute onto a skyscraper to shoot up a mafia pool social gathering wouldn’t be the identical in any respect.

The world has modified whereas the Saints have been away, and if something, Saints Row failed to alter sufficient to maintain tempo. There’s a quaintness to enjoying this 12 months’s Saints Row that’s at odds with its gestures at zoomer relatability. The outcome appears like a sport you’d see in a TV present, and not using a clear viewers of its personal.

Red Judge Incaustis holds a skull in a Hamlet-like way in Metal: Hellsinger

Best 7/10

Winner: Metal: Hellsinger

No matter what you hear, 7/10 is an efficient rating. 7/10s are good video games. And furthermore, the thesis behind our long-running ‘best 7/10’ award is {that a} 7/10 can typically be, if not precisely higher, then extra enjoyable than one burdened with the actual expectations of upper scores. Whether it’s an occasional bug that’s extra amusing than irritating, or a modesty of ambition that permits you to know you don’t need to method it with the identical form of terrified reverence that Red Dead Redemption 2 calls for, you may loosen up with 7/10. For 2022, PCGamesN provides that accolade to Metal: Hellsinger, the demonic FPS sport with a musical twist.

Troy Baker’s soothing southern drawl and a shocking metallic soundtrack alone are sufficient to place Metal: Hellsinger on this class’s high spot. The rhythm-game side actually units this sport aside although, encouraging you to deal harm on the beat to extend your hit streak – and thus your possibilities of survival – including to Metal: Hellsinger’s appeal, and making your darkish journey by way of hell extremely enjoyable.

So why solely 7/10? Sure, Metal Hellsinger is a good sport with sensible mechanics and a novel really feel, but it surely nonetheless doesn’t belong with the likes of Stray and Elden Ring. The gameplay itself is fairly fundamental, barely altering from stage to stage. The bosses get tougher, however even that doesn’t really feel clean due to a few steep, mid-level issue spikes. Following the story of Unknown – informed by Troy Baker as speaking cranium Paz – supplies a false sense of accomplishment to maintain you going by way of the repetitive ranges, and there’s a level of replayability with international leaderboards after each Hell, but it surely’s simply not sufficient. That mentioned, Metal: Hellsinger is a superbly satisfying sport for a short while, however might have been an eight or 9 if the story have been developed extra by way of gameplay than a easy narration, and if the Hells and the creatures that dwell inside them have been extra different. As a enjoyable, visually-appealing, rhythm-FPS for followers of metallic music although, Metal: Hellsinger is price a playthrough, and is completely positioned as 2022’s finest 7/10. Dive into our Metal: Hellsinger assessment for extra.

PCGamesN Awards 2022: Hunter Gernham from Bloodborne sits, downcast, in his wheelchair, reflecting our mood as we contemplate the fact that Bloodborne still isn't on PC

The ‘You’re Still Not Bloodborne’ Award for finest PlayStation unique that truly got here to PC

Winner: God of War 2018
Runner up: The Last Of Us Part I

Don’t get us flawed: after a long time of platform holders utilizing their IP as a foremost promoting level, we PC avid gamers are thrilled that the true console unique is an more and more uncommon sight. Xbox now treats Windows as an extension of itself, and many of the newest Sony exclusives – usually of a uncommon high quality that proved key to the PlayStation 4’s success – have come our manner. In 2022 alone, we’ve had God of War 2018, The Last Of Us Part I, Marvel’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales, Persona 5 Royal, and Uncharted 4 by way of the Legacy of Thieves Collection.

But to cite Mr Burns considering his birthday presents, although they embody a fist-sized diamond, genie lamp, and unicorn, we received’t get what we actually need.

God of War 2018 is a unbelievable sport and The Last Of Us – within the unbiased opinion of Craig Mazin, who’s directing and can revenue from its TV adaptation – has the “open and shut” biggest story ever informed in videogames. But they’re nonetheless solely the very best PlayStation exclusives that aren’t Bloodborne.

Gotham Knights' Batgirl stares at the player with glowing eyes

Close however no potato award

Runner up: Gotham Knights

Stepping out from the shadow of the Arkham sequence was all the time going to be a herculean process for Gotham Knights; in spite of everything, it’s a Batman sport that kills off the caped crusader within the first couple of minutes. Developer Warner Bros Montreal will get lots proper, with a narrative worthy of its predecessors and a delectably sassy Alfred performing because the glue that binds the Bat household by way of their grief. Unfortunately, the superhero sport additionally proves that larger isn’t all the time higher.

We see the biggest Gotham so far, however even the Batcomputer isn’t immune to border fee stutters when zipping by way of town. It’s chock full of recent RPG mechanics that try so as to add a Diablo-like flavour, however incomes new tiered gear feels nearly meaningless when the subsequent set’s simply across the nook. And there are extra collectables than you may shake a stick at – Batarangs, graffiti avenue artwork areas, and landmarks – however the paltry rewards for finishing every set make you are feeling extra cheated than the final. I imply, come on, even fundamental gliding expertise you begin with in earlier entries are locked behind a gratuitous talent tree. Check out our Gotham Knights assessment for extra.

Scorn player grasps at something protruding from their undercarriage

The Hades Legacy Award for Achievements in Thirst Trapping

Winner: Scorn
Runner-up: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 close-ups

Big, lengthy bones. Glistening curves. Soft, fleshy orifices which you could repeatedly enter. Ignore all of the blood, cartilage and uncovered muscle tissue, and in some ways, Scorn turns into a protracted, totally interactive allegory for sexual activity. It’s complicated, irritating, you’ll most likely have to verify on-line for what you’re meant to do, and on the finish of it you are feeling prefer it each went on too lengthy however was additionally, one way or the other, too brief.

‘Playable sex’ is the dream of many a sport participant and sport designer alike, and Scorn, in its personal immensely grotesque and unremittingly bleak manner, delivers on that dream. The complete sport is a bewildering mess of components and fluids, and if somebody walked in when you have been in the course of it, you’d most likely wrestle to clarify your self. Scorn stars. ScornHub. Hardcore Scornography. The alternatives for puns are limitless. It’s not the sexiest sport, however mirroring lots of people’s – particularly formative – congressional experiences, it could be the sport that’s probably the most sex-like.

To a lesser extent, the assorted shut ups of Valeria in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 are an admirable runner-up in 2022. It begins with that interrogation scene, the place she’s leaning proper into Soap’s face. After that, CoD by no means misses an opportunity to have leer at Valeria, one thing to which the following social media cult, simping for Valeria, will testify.

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