Some games are meant to be played once, savored, and then shelved for the next one — not unlike a book or a movie. But many other games are meant to be played and replayed over a long period of time, offering wildly different experiences each time you sit down and boot them up. There were many ongoing games to pick from in 2022, a lot of which include live service elements like online multiplayer, microtransactions, and regular content updates — though not all are worth investing your time into.
Even though there are plenty of stinkers out there to avoid, there were also several ongoing games that kept our attention in 2022, ranging across several genres. From globe-trotting online roleplaying games to far simpler games you can play at a café bench, here are 10 games that set the bar for live service in 2022.
For a game so simple in concept, it’s pretty difficult to compact the sheer size and scope of Fortnite into a quick summary. At its core is a fast and frenetic third-person shooter that sits at the bleeding edge of Epic Games’ latest tech, where gameplay updates cleverly tie in new technical features introduced within the ever-evolving Unreal Engine. No game evolved more this year. Its Zero Build mode entirely revitalized the game, taking away an element that’s always created a tough skill gap for casual players. Its most recent Season 4 update continued that growth further, bringing several new updates including a strong visual bump. No matter when you jump into Fortnite, you’ll almost always be playing it at its peak these days.
Destiny 2 is one of the most popular looter-shooters around, and it’s more than earned its popularity — especially thanks to this year’s fantastic Witch Queen update. This free-to-play online shooter from developer Bungie (known for creating the Halo series) takes you to a futuristic version of Earth where interdimensional aliens are battling for conquest. There’s a lot of great lore here to explore, but the real draw is for people who love building up their characters with lots of interesting loot and equipment. Destiny 2 is all about its item-driven endgame, and you may find yourself in possession of some truly wild additions to your arsenal as you play through its narrative-driven campaign and group content, including quests and raids.
Final Fantasy 14 toes the line between telling a captivating story and hosting millions of players sharing their adventures online together at the same time. You can create your own Warrior of Light and embark on an adventure that spans 1,000 hours, but then you can run off to spend another 1,000 hours in the Golden Saucer while doing minigames and building up your wardrobe — or you can just hang out in Limsa Lominsa where the best parties are regularly held in the town square. Final Fantasy 14 merges the best of what makes MMORPGs great with the best of what makes Final Fantasy’s mainline single-player RPGs great, resulting in a heightened experience that’s still well worth the $15 monthly asking price. That was truer than ever coming off the game’s excellent Endwalker expansion, which only grew its appeal further in 2022.
No game quite captures the grandiosity of the big empty like No Man’s Sky. Now available on every major console plus PC, No Man’s Sky lets you take to the stars with your very own spaceship as you explore solar systems, discover rare items and anomalies, craft useful equipment, and build your own bases to your heart’s content. You can go roving across sand dunes with your friends via cross-platform online multiplayer, or you can become a traveling merchant who buys exotic goods at low prices and sells them in distant solar systems for a profit. The biggest appeal of No Man’s Sky is that if you see something, you can probably fly to it and check it out for yourself. This level of open-endedness, paired with a galaxy that spans 18-quintillion planets, ensures No Man’s Sky provides potentially limitless hours of enjoyment. That potential just keeps growing with more free updates that continued to terraform the game throughout 2022.
There’s a whole sea out there, and it’s full of booty — pirate booty, specifically. Available on Xbox and PC, Sea of Thieves lets you captain your own ship and sail off into the horizon in search of treasure and grog. There’s nothing else quite like it, and there’s plenty of fun to be had in just standing aboard your ship and watching the waves roll by. If you’re looking for a game that’s easy to approach with friends or family, but also has quite a bit of underlying depth to it, Sea of Thieves could easily occupy your time — especially because the developers at Rare kept knocking it out the park with updates this year.
If you’re a racing game enthusiast, you should definitely check out Forza Horizon 5, one of the finest examples of what video game racing can be. Set in a loving recreation of Mexico, Forza Horizon 5 immediately hands you the keys to a sports car and sends you flying through deserts and jungles and storms, but that’s just the beginning of the fun. As you progress, you can build up your car collection and tune out your rides. While it released last year, Playground Games kept the momentum going in 2022 with an excellent Hot Wheels update that brought more color to the racing game. Updates like that made it worth returning to its version of Mexico throughout the year.
If you’re looking for a great competitive game to play with your friends or random strangers, Overwatch 2 is a worthy (and highly popular) follow-up to the original — which was best known for inventing the hero shooter genre in 2016. While the first Overwatch was less accessible to the average player due to some of its design choices, the sequel has refined its mechanics to be far more approachable. For instance, teams are limited to 5v5, making Overwatch 2 a solid choice for those looking for a smooth competitive experience.
Taking the world by storm in 2022, Wordle is a digital take on the classic crossword puzzle, where a new five-letter word is selected each day and you’re given up to six tries to solve it. Though it’s much simpler than any of the other games on this list, it’s also the single most approachable game as it can be played on any web browser-capable device and only eats up a few minutes of your day at maximum. Wordle is the perfect little game to return to each day, no matter who you are or what your daily itinerary looks like.
Apex Legends combines the world of Titanfall with the sensibilities of Overwatch’s hero-oriented shooting, then dumps it all into a battle royale-style tournament for fame and fortune against up to 59 other contestants. You begin each round by selecting one of several Legends — mercenaries, basically — each of which comes with their own powerful special abilities. This premise makes for interesting tactical interplay that rarely gets boring, and that’s especially good for a game that’s free-to-play. This year, Apex Legends continued to experiment with game-changing updates that brought new characters and modes to the established battle royale formula. It also launched a successful mobile version, which earned it a nomination at this year’s Game Awards.
If you’ve ever wanted to explore an expansive, immersive anime world with a massive unfolding story to explore, the free-to-play Genshin Impact perseveres as an instant recommendation. Whether on a smartphone, in front of a PlayStation 5, or while sitting at your computer, you can experience the world of Teyvat at your leisure. Genshin Impact’s gacha systems may turn some players off, but their implementation into this genuinely enjoyable single-player adventure is largely one of the most innocuous we’ve seen — meaning you shouldn’t sleep on this one if you’re interested in going on an adventure any time soon.
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