Elden Ring, Elden Ring, Elden Ring. It seemed like the only video game anyone was talking about after its Feb. 25 release.
FromSoftware’s vast, highly-challenging-but-deceptively-approachable fantasy adventure belongs on any list of 2022’s top games, and you can bet it’s listed below on ours. But there have been other blockbusters this year, along with an impressive lineup of indies, expansions, and beloved franchise mainstays that we ourselves are still talking about with our friends inside and outside of Mashable.
As the year reaches its midpoint, please join us for a look at all the new games that have dazzled us the most so far, whether or not they’re called Elden Ring.
1. Pokemon Legends: Arceus
Pokemon Legends: Arceus finally delivers on the promise of an immersive adventure that lets players feel like they live in the Pokemon universe. Game Freak’s latest takes players back in time to the familiar Hisui region from Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl (as well as recent remakes Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl), and places them at a flashpoint in Pokémon history: The creation of the world’s first Pokédex.
Stepping into the past moves the Pokémon franchise forward. Pokémon Legends: Arceus‘ focus on the majesty of Pokémon and the fun possibilities of having them around make it a unique and chill love letter to the Pokémon themselves, as well as the many, many people who grew up wanting an open-world game just like this one. Finally: A Pokémon game where you can spy on dancing Clefairys, sprint away from raging Onyx, toss Poké Balls at Togepi, and otherwise vibe with a Poké world that doesn’t expect us to be the very best, since no one ever was. — Alexis Nedd, Senior Entertainment Reporter
2. OlliOlli World
Welcome to Radlandia!
The 2D side-scrolling excellence of Roll7’s superb OlliOlli skateboarding series hits new heights in OlliOlli World. This third game delivers a more immersive experience up front, replacing the lo-fi pixelated look of its two predecessors with a hand-drawn art style and doing some work to flesh out a fictional (and perfectly named) world, Radlandia. There’s more of a story now, along with opportunities to tackle optional side quests, branching skate paths that take your custom-created skater into the background, and new ways to ride your board.
Fundamentally, though, this is still that classic OlliOlli experience. You skate your way through each environment with an eye toward clearing what are frequently trick-specific objectives. Do that well and you move on to the next area. Or fail and try again. Just like its predecessors, OlliOlli World is challenging in a welcoming sort of way. The new look and deeper world just make it harder to step away from now.
Where you can play: OlliOlli World is now available for PC, PlayStation, Switch, and Xbox hardware.
3. Elden Ring
Speaking of “challenging in a welcoming sort of way,” how about that Elden Ring, eh?? This strong, early contender for Game of the Year has scored tons of breathless headlines for its name recognition alone: George R.R. Martin, Mr. Game of Thrones himself, developed the story in collaboration with FromSoftware, the Japan-based studio behind the Dark Souls games. Going in, the expectation was for a grim and excessively punishing fantasy adventure.
It’s not quite that, though. Elden Ring definitely isn’t what I’d call a friendly game. It kills you frequently and remorselessly. That’s the whole point, really. From’s games push players toward technical excellence; you’re meant to master their melee-heavy combat through repetition and failure. But Elden is also the studio’s most approachable game to date. Between Ash Summons that give players a boost in any boss fight and a vast assortment of options for players who prefer to shore up their power before tackling the hard stuff, Elden Ring‘s captivating, mysterious world is easier for a wide range of players to take in than any other From release to date.
Where you can play: Elden Ring is now available for PC, PlayStation, and Xbox hardware.
Credit: Kitfox Games
Developed by Vermont-based indie Sundae Month and published by Kitfox Games (yup, the folks behind Boyfriend Dungeon) comes Pupperazzi, a game in which your rather pressing objective is to photograph all the dogs to earn widespread acclaim and personal validation on social media. Like a dog version of Pokémon Snap, your role as “pupperazzo” is to complete your Puppypedia by collecting snaps of various breeds in an array of poses and outfits, for no other good reason than…it’s fun. Remember fun?
Pupperazzi is a sweet, fun photography game that you probably won’t play for hours on end, but instead might drop by for a few snaps every now and again when you’re in need of a little joy. You might catch ’em all, you might not — it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that there’s a pack of cute dogs chasing you for more pats, so you’d better have enough film. — Shannon Connellan, UK Editor
5. Destiny 2: The Witch Queen
Destiny 2 is a special game and always has been, but it’s also a demanding and miles-deep “game-as-a-service” title whose biggest rewards have tended to require a heavy investment of time. The Witch Queen, a new expansion that landed on Feb. 22, tries to make the case that it can be special for everyone, whether or not you’re there to play for the long haul.
The Witch Queen revives for Destiny the idea of sending players through a gauntlet of narratively interconnected missions. That means you can go in, play through the eight expertly crafted levels, and be done, with no further investment required. The net result isn’t so much a shift for Destiny as it is a new way to tap into its magic. By putting the focus on a campaign experience, The Witch Queen very effectively reminds everyone who picks it up that, all other features aside, this is still one of the best-feeling FPS games you can play right now.
It might look cute, but ‘Tunic’ is no kids’ game.
Credit: Tunic Team
The most basic elevator pitch for Tunic is all you really need to know: What if The Legend of Zelda, the original one, borrowed some ideas from Dark Souls?
Creator Andrew Shouldice’s adorably colorful adventure about a heroic sword-and-shield-wielding fox doesn’t hold your hand. It sets you loose in a world full of danger and hidden delights with little more than an encouraging nod. It’s up to you to figure out where to go and what to do. Tunic presents itself as an action game, but dive below the surface and you’ll see it for the meta puzzle box it actually is. Even the in-game manual has secrets to share.
Balanced firmly between the old and the new, Tunic‘s hi-fi design and lo-fi look combine to create an experience that’s like nothing else we’ve seen in a long, long time.
7. The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
The less you read about The Stanley Parable, the better off you’ll be when you eventually play. And you absolutely should play. This isn’t a game of skill; it’s a story. A story you can, and are in fact meant to, influence and experience in an assortment of ways. You’ll likely see the beginning, middle, and end in less than an hour, all told. But it’s not the only ending. Not by a longshot.
The original Stanley Parable from 2013 is a blissful interactive mindfuck, and Ultra Deluxe keeps that good thing going. It’s surprising and unexpected in all the best ways. You’re not going to win at this game, but also, maybe you will? The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is the kind of experience that makes you really sit back and consider what you even want to walk away with when you sit down to play a new video game. Best of all: Anyone who’s able to grasp the basics of first-person movement in a game can just pick up and play it.
8. Rogue Legacy 2
Characters that roll with the “vegan” trait will need to avoid turkey, a common healing item in “Rogue Legacy 2.”
Credit: Cellar Door Games
Rogue Legacy 2 is more of a great thing, first and foremost. Cellar Door Games’ 2013 original is a side-scrolling action-RPG that offers a unique twist on the roguelike subgenre: Each time you die and restart at the beginning with a new random level layout, you’re taking the role of your deceased predecessor’s descendant. Every fresh descendant comes with a unique lineup of gameplay-altering characteristics and genetic quirks like “far-sighted” (anything close to your character turns blurry) or “ADHD” (your character moves faster).
This sequel builds more on top of that, and the biggest additions are the ones that boost your connection to the long-term game. The pile of gold you amassed in your last life carries over into the next one, where you can buy castle upgrades that boost things like damage and hit points, and unlock new characters and vendors. But there’s also all manner of gear you can spend that hard-earned gold on, as well as unlockable abilities that stay with you across generations — but only if you can master the challenge tied to unlocking each one.
Rogue Legacy 2 is the best kind of sequel, delivering a follow-up that is sharper and deeper than its predecessor in every possible way.
9. Roller Champions
Roller Champions is the extreme sports love child of roller derby and basketball. It’s got the high-speed, full-contact pace of roller skating’s premiere sport mixed with the visceral thrill of sending an expertly thrown ball sailing through a raised hoop. It also won’t cost you a dime to play.
Ubisoft’s free-to-play sports game only dropped on May 25, so don’t fret if all of this is news to you. Its marquee mode is a 3v3 showdown between two teams of skaters all of whom are vying to score points by collecting the ball, doing at least one full circuit around the oval-shaped arena, and then tossing the ball through a hoop. The more circuits your team completes before sinking a shot, the more points you score for that shot. But carrying the ball makes you a target for the other team, so it’s a real risk/reward calculation.
Like the best competitive games, Roller Champions is simple to pick up and challenging to master. That, along with the colorful presentation (think Fortnite) and wildly diverse array of character creation options, makes this one hard to put down.
Where you can play: Roller Champions is now available for PC, PlayStation, and Xbox hardware.
10. Horizon Forbidden West
Stay away from these big, dumb robobirds until you’ve reached the late stages of your ‘Forbidden West’ adventure.
Credit: Guerrilla Games
It’s a shame that the Horizon series is so cursed.
Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the best reasons to own a PlayStation 4 and 2022’s follow-up, Horizon Forbidden West, makes a similarly strong case for the PS5. But when Zero Dawn‘s 2017 release fell only days before The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild arrived… oof. History repeated in 2022: Forbidden West was out on Feb. 18, and Elden Ring followed on Feb. 25. Oof.
It’s worth making time to play it. The performance capture alone is some of the best we’ve ever seen in any video game. But the evolution of Horizon’s bow-and-arrow-heavy gameplay is why you’ll have a hard time stepping away from the controller. The sequel’s larger and more impressive mechanical bestiary is a little bit Monster Hunter and a little bit Tomb Raider, but nothing in games right now rivals the heady thrill of taking down a T-Rex-like Thunderjaw.
3 crucial mistakes ‘Elden Ring’ newcomers should avoid to maximize the fun