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The best video games of January 2022

The video game industry has kicked off 2022 with a bang. While Elden Ring was delayed beyond January 2022 and AAA shooter Rainbow Six Extraction was a stinker, plenty of fantastic games still came out in January.

From the most ambitious Pokémon game yet to an indie game that mastered the art of progression, there are five January 2022 games in particular that you should not miss out on.

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Pokémon Legends: Arceus

A Pokémon trainer flies under a bird Pokémon in Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

The Pokémon series is a popular franchise that often gets a lot of flack for not taking enough creative risks. Pokémon Legends: Arceus looks to change that with gameplay that resembles Monster Hunter more than classic Pokémon. Players slowly survey and catch Pokémon old and new around an ancient version of Diamond and Pearl’s Sinnoh region.

While Digital Trends didn’t love the visuals, we still had plenty of positive things to say about it in our review. “Pokémon Legends: Arceus takes a lot of experimental swings — and many of them are successful,” Digital Trends Gaming Editor Giovanni Colantonio writes. “The pivot to research-driven gameplay does a better job at rewarding players for every little thing they do. The quality of life changes it brings to the table are excellent across the board and feel like they’ll become standard in the series going forward.”

Players who have gotten tired of the Pokémon formula in recent years will undoubtedly find Pokémon Legends: Arceus a refreshing and engaging experience. It’s the best AAA game to release this month and the latest must-play for Switch owners.

Windjammers 2

Windjammers 2 key art where one character throws a disc at another.

Players looking to have some exhilarating arcade fun with friends can’t go wrong with Windjammers 2. This flashy sports game is a sequel to a 1994 NeoGeo arcade game where two players wildly throw a disc back-and-forth while trying to score points in their opponent’s goal.

While the gameplay hook is simple and the arenas are small, the variety of characters and special moves players have at their disposal mean that no two matches feel the same as the disc zigs, zags, and bounces all around the arena. This sequel’s fluid animation and online play give the classic experience a modern feel, and a close match can feel even more tense than Rainbow Six Extraction.

If your friend group enjoyed Knockout City, Windjammers 2 is a much more bite-sized but just as engaging take on a similar formula. Windjammers 2 is the best multiplayer game to release in January 2022 and worth downloading and trying if you have Xbox Game Pass.

Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem

Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem key art.

Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is the best shooter of January 2022. That comes as a surprise considering that this is a stand-alone expansion to the disappointing Serious Sam 4. While Serious Sam 4 from the series creators at Croteam was rife with technical problems and had terribly designed levels, Siberian Mayhem was made by the fans-turned-developers at Timelock Studio and fixed all of Serious Sam 4’s worst problems.

Most notably, the level and enemy encounter design are a lot more engaging. Instead of confusing maze-like arenas, Siberian Mayhem’s five stages are interactively designed, have fun set pieces, and encourage constant movement and combat. The story is a lost cause at this point as this is an interquel to a prequel of a prequel (Serious Sam lore is weird), but that doesn’t matter much as your character spouts cheesy one-liners while blasting through hordes of enemies. The game even features co-op play.

While it isn’t as revelatory as Sonic Mania, Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is yet another game that demonstrates how some series are better in the hands of fans than the developers who created them.

Expeditions: Rome

Expeditions: Rome offers turn-based strategy battle on a ship.

Expeditions: Rome is a meaty strategy RPG for history fans and hardcore PC gamers. Set during the height of the Roman empire, Expeditions: Rome follows a legatus (high-ranking Roman military officer) sent away from Rome after his family is betrayed and his father is murdered. The game features lengthy turn-based strategy battles where choosing the right gear, positioning, and moves for your characters is essential.

There’s a surprisingly detailed story between fights that features characters like Julius Caesar and is full of player choice. It certainly can get overwhelming, especially for those less familiar with the genre or Roman history. Still, this is a strategy game for fans of history that will keep you enthralled for dozens of hours.

It’s not for everyone, but PC gamers who love deep, nuanced strategy games and classic computer RPGs like Baldur’s Gate will find a lot to love in Logic Artists’ and THQ Nordic’s latest.

Nobody Saves the World

Players can change into 17 different forms in Nobody Saves the World.

If there’s one game you play this month, make it Nobody Saves the World. This indie game from Guacamelee and Severed developer Drinkbox Studios is one of the most charming games I’ve played in a long time and a master class in keeping the player engaged. While games such as Rainbow Six Extraction draw out XP-rewarding missions like a mobile game, Nobody Saves the World takes that formula and overwhelms the player with things to do.

You can change into 17 different forms, and each form has its own ranking, special moves, and challenges to complete to level up. There’s a big world and several dungeons for players to explore, and players can swap passive and active abilities between forms at a whim. There’s always something you can do or progress on in Nobody Saves the World, so it never gets boring.

Combine that with witty writing, a gorgeous art style, and combat that’s simple but satisfying, and Nobody Saves the World is a game that’s hard to put down once you pick it up. It’s the best game of January 2022 and a must-play on Xbox Game Pass.

Editors' Recommendations

If you love game history, you need to try Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration
atari 50 impressions nintendo switch logo

Video game collections are becoming more common these days as companies look back on their past. That’s great for game preservation, but collections like Super Mario 3D All-Stars can ultimately feel underwhelming when the end product is little more than a simple port. Atari’s classic lineup of games is no stranger to this treatment; you can play an Atari 2600 game collection on pretty much any platform you desire. Due to the overwhelming amount of Atari collections out there, Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration might not seem like a compelling release at first.
That’s why it’s more of a surprise that it sets a new standard for this kind of game collection.
Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration Trailer
In practice, Atari 50 feels like a museum exhibit-turned-video game. It made me feel like I was walking through the Smithsonian’s The Art of Video Games exhibit for the first time, except everything is about Atari's 50-year history. Not only does Atari 50 contain everything from Pong to some of the weirdest titles the Atari Jaguar had to offer, but it embellishes those games with trivia, scans of game-related material from the time, and video interviews with people connected to them. Anyone who loves gaming history owes it to themselves to check out Atari 50.
Eclipsing other collections
Digital Eclipse has been bringing old games to new platforms for years -- it made Atari game collections for the original PlayStation. Over time, it has slowly put more effort into its approach, moving beyond mere emulation. Earlier this year, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection included the Turtle’s Lair, which had boxes, manuals, ads, catalogs, comics, TV show clips, and development document. Atari 50 takes that one step further by transforming similar content into exhibit-like Interactive Timelines.
From its title screen, you can immediately access almost all of Atari 50’s 100-plus game lineup. The real draw, though, is choosing one of five Interactive Timelines recounting Atari’s 50-year history. Arcade Origins focuses on the founding of Atari, its earliest success, weird prototypes, and classic arcade games that were released from 1971 to 1984. “Birth of the Console” is about the creation, hits, and triumphs of the Atari 2600, while “High and Lows” discusses the video game crash of 1983 and how the Atari 5200 and 7800 fared during it.
The context art is created in and the legacy it leaves behind are as important as the art itself ...

Meanwhile, “The Dawn of PCs” recounts Atari’s efforts in the PC space from the Atari 400 and 800 in 1979 until the rare Atari Falcon’s release in 1992. Finally, “The 1990s and Beyond” covers everything else, emphasizing the Atari Lynx handheld and 32-bit Atari Jaguar home console. Games will pop up as players navigate these timelines, and you can play them at the press of a button. As is always the case with Digital Eclipse collections, the emulation is smooth, and players can access various visual filters and even the instruction manuals when pausing.
On top of that, almost every game included has some piece of trivia, scanned development document or ad, preserved commercial, or relevant interview to check out. Notable former Atari developers like Pong creator Al Alcorn and programmer Tod Frye frequently appear in these videos, but other prominent industry figures like Double Fine’s Tim Schafer and former Epic Games dev Cliff Bleszinski show up to offer their thoughts. The context art is created in and the legacy it leaves behind are as important as the art itself, so it’s incredible to see Digital Eclipse’s effort to include all this supplemental information.

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No Man’s Sky 4.0’s difficulty options make the space game feel new again
No Man's Sky warp drive

You’d think space was the final frontier, but 2016’s spacefaring exploration sim No Man’s Sky seems to keep finding new ways to expand and improve its eye-watering collection of features. What began as a quiet trek through a galaxy comprised of over 18 quintillion lonely planets is now a far more comprehensive game with a more sophisticated suite of gameplay options, including frontier towns to run, outlaw space systems to smuggle goods through, multiplayer missions to complete alongside your friends, and a fully-fledged story campaign to follow at your own leisurely pace.

It’s also recently been updated to its fourth major iteration as of October 7. That’s when developer Hello Games unleashed the 4.0 update, also known as the Waypoint update, coinciding with the long-awaited Nintendo Switch release. As a result of the 4.0 update, long-term No Man’s Sky fans were once again treated to an impressive array of improvements, including boosts to visual fidelity, better legibility within menus, and a noteworthy overhaul to inventory management that also left some players momentarily disheartened.

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I can’t wait to go back to Street Fighter 6’s excellent Battle Hub
street fighter 6 battle hub preview arcade cabinet

Fighting games live or die on their online communities. Of course, basic functions like rollback netcode and cross-play are essential to a healthy fighting game, but Street Fighter 6 goes further by creating an online hub that celebrates the series and gives players somewhere to hang out between matches. Call it a metaverse if you must, but in reality, the Battle Hub is one-third of the Street Fighter 6 package and will likely be home to the communities and tournaments that ensure people will play the game for years to come.
It was also the focus of the Closed Beta for Street Fighter 6 this past weekend, which gave me a second chance to go hands-on with the game after falling in love with it at Summer Game Fest Play Days. The core 1-v-1 fights are still a joy to play and the beta’s new characters -- Juri, Kimberly, Guile, and Ken -- all come with the exciting combos and flashy animations. But really, I came away impressed with the groundwork Capcom is laying for Battle Hub and its implications for World Tour mode.
What’s the hubbub about?
The Battle Hub is one of three options players can choose right from the main menu of Street Fighter 6, and when selected, it tasks players with creating a character avatar that will represent them. I didn’t spend too much time with these options, but they seemed quite in-depth for those who enjoy a detailed character creator. After creating a blue-haired and face-tattooed fighter, I was thrust into the Battle Hub’s futuristic arcade.

Multiplayer hubs as a replacement for simple menus aren't a new concept for fighting games (Bandai Namco games like Dragon Ball FighterZ have done this for a while). Still, for Capcom’s first attempt at one, the Battle Hub is full of personality and things to do. Its stark blue colors, a plethora of screens, and many gameplay cabinets make it feel like the high-tech arcade Capcom wants it to be.
As soon as I entered, I could walk around, emote, and perform classic Street Fighter moves the Hadoken with button presses. I was also near two kiosks. At one, I could register and view tournaments and Street Fighter 6 events, although none were available for me during this Closed Beta. The other one was the Hub Goods Shop, where I could buy clothes and other gear to customize my character further with the currency I accrued while playing.
The other kiosks on the main level weren’t available in this Closed Beta outside a screen that showed which player in our server was performing the best. I then headed toward the arcade cabinets, most of which form a circle around the center of the Battle Hub. One person has to sit on each side to initiate a Street Fighter 6 match. While it’s a bit annoying to sit and wait for someone to play with you, I could always find an opponent if I looked around at every cabinet. Hopefully, the final game will have an option to get into fights slightly faster for those who want to simply jump into it.

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