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Best RPG of 2022

Best RPG of 2022 - Article

by Lee Mehr , posted on 17 January 2023 / 2,713 Views

While a few genres in 2022 were somewhat lacking, RPG was the opposite; in fact, two of our finalists show last year’s impressive spread of reputable releases.  Beyond their consistency, they also impressed with their quality, and shared this special stat with the Best Puzzle Game of 2022 award: eight entries made it past the preliminary round’s eligibility threshold.  All except one of them were made in Japan, and that exception is still emulating the spirit of SNES JRPGs.  Finally, together they hold the highest average VGChartz review score of any shortlist we’ve done to date.

Enough with listing off fun stats!  Let’s see our finalists.

   

The Shortlist:

   

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

   

Chained Echoes

   

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

  

Elden Ring

    

   

    

   

The Runner-Up:

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

To quote Miles Gregory’s review: "I've never been as invested in a lengthy RPG as I have this one, and I'm more than willing to start a second 100+ hour playthrough immediately."  One keyword you’ll hear when discussing Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is “culmination.”  Monolift Soft began this series over a decade ago and the team’s tireless work to reiterate and tweak has led to the best entry in the series (according to a healthy amount of fans).  Almost any other year it’d seem like a shoe-in for the gold medal.

    

    

   

The Winner:

Elden Ring

2022 wasn’t just any other year though.  Hidetaka Miyazaki & co. weren’t satisfied to continue beating the ever-loving shit out of players through an interconnected/semi-linear hub; no, they were being beckoned to do their trademark on a grander scale.  It’s a similar type of stepping stone as Demon's Souls was to Dark Souls: the guts of before remain intact (variety of role-playing builds, combat structure, etc.) but feel reshaped by the shift in world design.  Similar to how Breath of the Wild reconsidered the action/adventure genre with newfound freedom, so too does Elden Ring as an RPG.


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26 Comments
Runa216 (on 18 January 2023)

Elden Ring for me, but Chained Echoes is a woefully underrated game. Y'all need to play it.

  • +4
Kakadu18 (on 17 January 2023)

Expected result. Nice to see Chained Echoes in the shortlist. It's gotten a lot of high praise.

  • +4
UnderwaterFunktown (on 17 January 2023)

I expect the same outcome for GOTY

  • +4
2zosteven (on 17 January 2023)

tough choice between Eldin Ring and Xenoblade 3, both great games

  • +4
Kakadu18 2zosteven (on 17 January 2023)

Elden, not Eldin

  • -3
Arfen (on 17 January 2023)

I'm agree with @Jumpin.

For me Elden ring is more an action adventure. Of course it has RPG elements as many other games but the core experience is more aproximated to an adventure. Otherway you could say Assassins Creed Valhalla is also an RPG and it isn't.

The medieval fantasy of Elden ring makes easy to tag it as an RPG but you can see the game is nearest to adventure standards.

A strong storytelling and a deep interaction with other characters are pillars on a game to say it is an RPG. Elden ring lacks on story, It has a lot of lore but not a story as a RPG needs.

Even if you check the Game profile in this site you can see it is describesd as an ACTION ADVENTURE so its confusing to see it now in this category.

  • +1
coolbeans Arfen (on 17 January 2023)

I'd contend there's a stronger case for roping in AC Origins, Odyssey, & Valhalla as ARPGs (primarily) than for Elden Ring to get the boot. Even if its story is tougher to gauge, ER's gameplay template follows the flexible characters stat builds and whatnot that've been common in 3D RPGs.

  • +1
Ka-pi96 Arfen (on 18 January 2023)

"A strong storytelling and a deep interaction with other characters are pillars on a game to say it is an RPG"

I'd strongly disagree with that. Building up your character/s and fighting are all that's really needed for an RPG. The story is optional. If all you did was fight random enemies and level up your characters it would still be an RPG, probably not a good one, but an RPG nonetheless.

  • +2
LivncA_Dis3 (on 19 January 2023)

Elden Ring easily takes the cake no questions asked!

  • 0
shikamaru317 (on 17 January 2023)

From this shortlist I have only played Pokemon Legends, it is good but not exactly amazing. Elden Ring will never be for me because I tried some Souls-likes in the past and just couldn't get into them due to the degree of difficulty. I want to play Xenoblade 3 (and the earlier Xenoblade games) at some point, but Nintendo's pricing strategy makes that a tough sell for me due to my limited gaming budget. Best RPG I personally played from last year so far was Tiny Tina's Wonderlands.

  • 0
coolbeans shikamaru317 (on 17 January 2023)

Trying to namedrop Tiny Tina's whenever you can. ;)

  • +3
method114 shikamaru317 (on 17 January 2023)

You should give Elden Ring a try. It's by far the easiest Souls games from, from soft I've ever played. You can summon spirits in the fights now to make things much easier.

  • 0
Jumpin (on 17 January 2023)

RPG of the year won by a game that’s arguably not even an RPG.

  • -5
MTZehvor Jumpin (on 17 January 2023)

I don't think there's any reasonable argument that Elden Ring isn't an RPG. Customizable protagonist, creating your own build with a heavy focus on stat investment and gear choices, a variety of discoverable quests out in the world, and it even takes place in a "traditional" RPG fantasy setting.

Genre boundaries are always fuzzy, so there's some elements where ER doesn't seem like a traditional RPG (story probably being the most notable), but on the whole it checks far more boxes on the RPG list than it doesn't.

  • +3
Jumpin MTZehvor (on 17 January 2023)

The elements you’ve described largely describe elements of most wrestling games from the last 23 years more than they do traditional RPGs. The reason we don’t classify them as RPGs is because they’re best described as wrestling games. Elden Ring is best described as an action adventure with RPG elements, but it doesn’t much resemble an RPG in its experience—certainly not the best example of an RPG.

  • +1
MTZehvor Jumpin (on 17 January 2023)

I can't say I've seen many wrestling games set in a medieval/fantasy open world with an emphasis on quest discovery and exploration, but perhaps I'm just looking in the wrong places.

Even if those do exist, though, I don't think it would preclude ER from being an RPG; as you've noted, games can have elements of multiple genres within them. When it comes time to pick a genre to place them in for awards, though, I think it boils down into which category the game leans into the strongest. And ER's gameplay is (pretty undeniably imo) leaning very heavily into being an RPG. I'm not sure what your idea of a "traditional" RPG is, but at least imo any game that focuses itself so much on providing the player with a myriad of options to create a unique build, choosing stats to focus on leveling, obtaining gear that fits best with your intended design, and sets it all in a primarily single player game with an overarching main quest surrounded by various optional side quests, is about as RPG as you can get without having a bunch of teenagers killing god at the end.

  • -1
Jumpin MTZehvor (on 18 January 2023)

A medieval setting is not a mark of whether a game is an RPG or not. There are plenty of medieval games that aren’t RPGs, and plenty of RPGs in sci-fi or modern settings. Having a unique build isn’t an RPG element, either. Quest objectives have existed in other genres long before they entered RPGs, and even in RPGs they’re mostly in casual games with RPG elements on mobile. Obtaining gear is common in shooting games and action adventures. You’ve described a hack n slash or action adventure, not an RPG.

You haven’t even mentioned anything about story, character interaction, character development. Nothing about towns. These are inarguably the most important elements of a great RPG and have mostly been around since the very earliest proto-RPGs where a lot of the story was delivered in a side-book because there wasn’t enough space on the disk to integrate it into the game. When people pick their favourite RPGs, usually the element they weigh most heavily is story. While not all games with stories are RPGs, having a great narrative and story is an essential element of a great RPG—this is why RPGs like Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Final Fantasy 7, Suikoden 2, Witcher 3 have all reached legendary status.

  • 0
MTZehvor Jumpin (on 18 January 2023)

I'd dispute those elements as the primary defining features of RPGs, but even if we were to accept those...

I'll grant that quests, fantasy settings, gear/leveling, and other elements I've mentioned are prevalent in other genres, but if that's the standard we're using I'd note that story, character interaction/development, and...the existence of "towns"... are also prevalent in genres besides RPGs as well. Horizon, The Last of Us, Ghost of Tsushima, and Death Stranding all have a heavy emphasis on story and character development, and include friendly "towns" that you can visit, and yet I don't think any would commonly be viewed as an RPG. If the mere presence of a feature in another genre negates it as a defining feature of RPGs (which seems to be your argument), then we'd have to similarly exclude story, character development, and..."towns"...as defining features as well. In other words, you'd be left with nothing by which to define the genre.

I think you're being too narrow with your idea of what is and isn't an RPG by trying to hone in on two or three hard and fast rules that all RPGs must abide by, when genre boundaries are really a lot fuzzier than that. There is no single characteristic that indisputably defines an RPG, or any genre, really. It's a collection of commonly held traits, and between a leveling system, a focus on creating a unique build, and the other things I've mentioned, ER has far more similarities with the "average RPG" than it does differences.

  • -1
Leynos Jumpin (on 17 January 2023)

Every souls game is an RPG.

  • +4
Hynad Jumpin (on 17 January 2023)

The way the game works is much closer to a digital representation of D&D than any other from the list, so your comment misses the mark quite a bit.

  • -2
Ka-pi96 Hynad (on 18 January 2023)

Something doesn't have to be like D&D to be an RPG though.

  • 0
Hynad Ka-pi96 (on 18 January 2023)

Indeed.

  • -2
MTZehvor Hynad (on 18 January 2023)

Well, given that DND is itself very often run as a "role playing game," I don't think that makes my argument less valid or somehow miss the mark. If anything, I'd argue it strengthens my argument; if ER shares similarities with something that is very often run as an RPG, then it's most likely an RPG (even if said comparison game is usually conducted over a table rather than a screen).

  • 0
Hynad MTZehvor (on 18 January 2023)

I was replying to Jumpin…

  • -1
MTZehvor Hynad (on 18 January 2023)

Ah, my apologies then. The notification said this comment was in response to mine.

  • 0
coolbeans MTZehvor (on 18 January 2023)

I think the phrasing is more like "someone commented to a post you commented on" in your notification. There's a slight difference. Plus, you can see who the response is directed to right next to your username.

  • 0