The PCGamesN PC Gaming Awards 2022

The nights are quick, the Johns lengthy, and there’s nary a grey whale to be discovered north of Mexico. This will solely imply it’s the tip of the calendar yr. 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 12 months’s Eve and our Video games Of The 12 months tomorrow – however in the present day we pay tribute to 2022’s large landmarks by way of the PCGN Awards. We’ve acquired many acquainted classes the place sincerity is warranted, however since this passion is all about enjoyable, we’ve at all times believed we are able to’t do it justice with no few ‘alternative’ awards to rejoice the sillier moments.

Like an emotionally repressed household at Christmas, we begin with our extra honest reflections on the yr 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. Severely, if for nothing else, stick round for this yr’s thirst-trapping award. In our nook of the web not less than, Hades has so much to reply for.

Finest character

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

Because it seems, the perfect characters in video games in 2022 aren’t even human. We had a number of love for the cute kitty in Stray, who simply needed to reunite with their feline buddies. 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 perfect character we met in 2022 is none aside from pot-chad himself – Iron Fist Alexander from Elden Ring, among the finest open-world video games ever, not to mention simply 2022.

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

Nonetheless, issues take a flip after you free him as soon as once more, and he assists you in beating the Fireplace Large. 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 combating towards the perfect fighter within the land he is aware of: you. It is a bittersweet second as he shatters into items upon defeat. Nonetheless, he thanks you for the duel and reminds you that he needed this. Together 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

Finest Indie

Winner: Stray
Runner-up: Tunic

Whether or not we’re speaking about its heart-wrenching opening, quieter moments equally punctuated by despair and sweetness, or its tearjerker ending, Stray feels particular. Whereas a lot of the sport’s enchantment naturally lies in enjoying from the attitude of certainly one of our feline buddies, there’s way 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 possibly can’t assist however unravel it like a spool of wool. It’s backed by a fully banging soundtrack too.

Stray is in its factor when it lets you leap between the alleyways and rooftops of the walled metropolis at your leisure, undoubtedly making it among the finest indie video games on PC. There’s a lot to search 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. Regardless of the perpetually darkish circumstances each you and the residents discover yourselves in, there’s at all times 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, when 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 abilities to the check. Right here’s hoping that we are able to see extra small-scale initiatives like Stray, in order that extra indie video games like it might probably land on their ft. Purr-use our Stray evaluation for our opinion on this kitty’s journey.

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

Finest stage or facet quest

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

Large man, little horse. Want I say extra? Seems I truly do, and Elden Ring’s Starscourge Radahn boss battle and facet quest isn’t simply among the finest this yr, it’s all-timer.

It combines an excellent arrange: a competition devoted to a basic who simply desires to die, a plethora of AI from the open world, and among the finest boss fights in FromSoftware historical past. It’s the proper 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 with the ability to summon them suddenly to tackle a giant man even much less. Couple that with an interesting boss battle, and also you’ve acquired perfection.

Starscourge Radahn is on this record due to the way it exhibits FromSoftware continues to be keen to get bizarre, and push the boundaries with its boss fights. The bottleneck of Ornstein and Smough and the problem of the Anonymous King are joined by this boss due to how he’s arrange. The competition 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 number of the causes that our Elden Ring evaluation provides it that coveted 10/10.

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

Finest mod award

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

Everybody 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. Any person needed to do one thing, even when that one thing was composed utilizing the Supply engine equal of cocktail sticks, bubblegum, and duct tape.

However, you possibly can, 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 method that Bing could 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 various. If you wish to see what Half-Life 2 Episode 3 may seem like if in the future Valve stated “yeah, whatever, ship it,” that is the mod for you.

Alternatively, when 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 may be for you. It’s a restoration of all of the concepts id Software program deserted when making the primary draft of the FPS sport, reminiscent of its story-based strategy, recreated right into a single sport. It’s a improbable 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

Finest narrative

Winner: Return to Monkey Island
Runner-up: Plague Story 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 staff at Horrible 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 to date exterior of the field however by no means so nonsensical you’re left scratching your head for too lengthy. The story is ready 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.

Many 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. Level and click on adventures depend on the narrative as a result of with no 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

Finest ongoing sport

Winner: Genshin Impression
Runner-up: Closing Fantasy XIV

It’s honest to dislike points of Genshin Impression, however an space the place you possibly can’t fault the sport is its unimaginable content material cycle. Each six weeks, Mihoyo (Hoyoverse?) releases a considerable replace to Genshin Impression which usually options two new characters, a number of occasions, and a brand new location to discover. Prior to now yr alone, the map has expanded so as to add an underground mining system often known as The Chasm, and Sumeru, a panorama full of each forests and deserts. On high of that, the three.0 replace lastly launched a brand new factor referred to as Dendro which has inspired a number of experimentation with regards to forming groups.

After all, whenever you’re incomes the cash Mihoyo does from every banner sale, the devs have loads of assets to maintain the cycle going. The one different developer that constantly manages to pump up this quantity of content material all year long is Epic Video games with Fortnite. There are many publishers on the market incomes thousands and thousands via microtransactions that don’t use the cash to enhance the sport, nevertheless it’s clear simply how a lot effort and time goes into every Genshin Impression replace.

Every 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 whenever you need to add characters to your roster. Whereas there are legitimate considerations concerning the gacha system, when 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 keen to place the time in. Genshin Impression’s artistic fight system and forged of trendy 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 following replace to drop so you possibly can spend 1000’s of primogems on the newest character banner.

Vampire Survivors gameplay with hordes of enemies approaching the player

Shock of the yr

Winner: Vampire Survivors
Runner-up: Trombone Champ

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 subject – 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 method beneath your pores and skin, endlessly teasing you with that subsequent improve, a little bit style of true energy, the promise of yet one more run.

Every 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. Whereas the auto-attack programs may at first make the sport seem to be 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 attainable. That is made all of the extra satisfying because of its driving, old-school soundtrack; residing as much as Castlevania’s music is not any small feat, nevertheless it performs admirably.

Vampire Survivors masterfully blends idle video games and roguelikes to create one thing new and thrilling. It was a cut price at its preliminary beef burger value, however even with the price of entry raised for the complete launch you’d be onerous pressed to search out one thing that provides extra bang on your buck in 2022. Our honourable point out goes to Trombone Champ, for turning the whole lot 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 Mild 2: Keep Human

It was clear from the outset that Saints Row had an not possible job: 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. Whereas the fashionable Saints Row ticks a number of the bins that would seem on an inventory 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 in the present day. Attempt 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 celebration 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 vary sufficient to maintain tempo. There’s a quaintness to enjoying this yr’s Saints Row that’s at odds with its gestures at zoomer relatability. The end result looks like a sport you’d see in a TV present, with no clear viewers of its personal.

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

Finest 7/10

Winner: Steel: Hellsinger

It doesn’t matter what you hear, 7/10 is an effective 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 generally be, if not precisely higher, then extra enjoyable than one burdened with the actual expectations of upper scores. Whether or not it’s an occasional bug that’s extra amusing than irritating, or a modesty of ambition that permits you to know you don’t must strategy it with the identical sort of terrified reverence that Pink Lifeless Redemption 2 calls for, you possibly can chill out with 7/10. For 2022, PCGamesN provides that accolade to Steel: Hellsinger, the demonic FPS sport with a musical twist.

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

So why solely 7/10? Certain, Steel Hellsinger is a superb sport with good mechanics and a novel really feel, nevertheless it 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 easy because of a few steep, mid-level problem spikes. Following the story of Unknown – informed by Troy Baker as speaking cranium Paz – supplies a false sense of accomplishment to maintain you going via the repetitive ranges, and there’s a level of replayability with world leaderboards after each Hell, nevertheless it’s simply not sufficient. That stated, Steel: Hellsinger is a superbly pleasurable sport for a short while, however might have been an eight or 9 if the story had been developed extra via gameplay than a easy narration, and if the Hells and the creatures that dwell inside them had been extra assorted. As a enjoyable, visually-appealing, rhythm-FPS for followers of steel music although, Steel: Hellsinger is price a playthrough, and is completely positioned as 2022’s finest 7/10. Dive into our Steel: Hellsinger evaluation 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 Nonetheless Not Bloodborne’ Award for finest PlayStation unique that truly got here to PC

Winner: God of Struggle 2018
Runner up: The Final Of Us Half I

Don’t get us flawed: after many years of platform holders utilizing their IP as a essential promoting level, we PC avid gamers are thrilled that the true console unique is an more and more uncommon sight. Xbox now treats Home 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 method. In 2022 alone, we’ve had God of Struggle 2018, The Final Of Us Half I, Marvel’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales, Persona 5 Royal, and Uncharted 4 by way of the Legacy of Thieves Assortment.

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

God of Struggle 2018 is a improbable sport and The Final 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. However they’re nonetheless solely the perfect PlayStation exclusives that aren’t Bloodborne.

Gotham Knights' Batgirl stares at the player with glowing eyes

Shut however no potato award

Runner up: Gotham Knights

Stepping out from the shadow of the Arkham sequence was at all times going to be a herculean job for Gotham Knights; in any case, it’s a Batman sport that kills off the caped crusader within the first couple of minutes. Developer Warner Bros Montreal will get so much proper, with a narrative worthy of its predecessors and a delectably sassy Alfred appearing because the glue that binds the Bat household via their grief. Sadly, the superhero sport additionally proves that larger isn’t at all times higher.

We see the most important Gotham to this point, however even the Batcomputer isn’t immune to border price stutters when zipping via 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 virtually meaningless when the following set’s simply across the nook. And there are extra collectables than you possibly can shake a stick at – Batarangs, graffiti road artwork areas, and landmarks – however the paltry rewards for finishing every set make you’re feeling extra cheated than the final. I imply, come on, even fundamental gliding abilities you begin with in earlier entries are locked behind a gratuitous ability tree. Try our Gotham Knights evaluation for extra.

Scorn player grasps at something protruding from their undercarriage

The Hades Legacy Award for Achievements in Thirst Trapping

Winner: Scorn
Runner-up: Name of Responsibility: Trendy Warfare 2 close-ups

Large, lengthy bones. Glistening curves. Comfortable, fleshy orifices 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 examine on-line for what you’re meant to do, and on the finish of it you’re feeling prefer it each went on too lengthy however was additionally, by some means, too quick.

‘Playable sex’ is the dream of many a sport participant and sport designer alike, and Scorn, in its personal immensely grotesque and unremittingly bleak method, delivers on that dream. The entire sport is a bewildering mess of components and fluids, and if somebody walked in when you had been in the course of it, you’d most likely battle 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 may be the sport that’s probably the most sex-like.

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

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