The Best Video Game Sequels of 2022
2022 brought a number of new IPs into the limelight, many of which we’re hoping will have exciting futures going forward- but of course, there was no shortage of new instalments in established franchises either. Sequels aren’t often as exciting as new IPs inherently tend to be, but they do have the advantage of being able to build on existing foundations to deliver increasingly better experiences, and thankfully, there were several such games over the last 12 months. Here, we’re going to talk about the ones that stood out to us the most.
GOD OF WAR RAGNAROK
To call God of War Ragnarok one of the most highly anticipated releases in recent memory would be a massive understatement, but incredibly enough, it managed to live up to expectations. With its incredible combat and consistently engaging exploration, the game builds upon its predecessor’s gameplay core in excellent ways, while the story does an excellent job of widening the series’ scope even further, while simultaneously bringing the Norse saga to a close and setting up exciting things for the future.
A PLAGUE TALE: REQUIEM
Asobo Studio delivered the textbook definition of a AA darling with A Plague Tale: Innocence in 2019, and this year, its sequel confidently stepped up to the plate and, once again, knocked the ball out of the park. From its excellent stealth mechanics to a captivating story with some incredible characters, A Plague Tale: Requiem one-ups in predecessor in nearly every way possible. In spite of being developed by a relatively smaller team, it’s also one of the best-looking games we’ve played so far on current-gen hardware.
SHADOW WARRIOR 3
Shadow Warrior 3 didn’t exactly set anyone’s world on fire when it launched this year, and sure enough, the game did have some deficiencies that make that easy to understand. For those invested in the series though, it was a great time. Not only did it drop the cumbersome loot mechanics of its predecessor to instead focus on a much leaner and more adrenaline-fueled combat loop, it also made things significantly more interesting with much more enjoyable and dynamic traversal mechanics. For fans of the genre, there’s plenty to like here.
We waited for this game for a long, long time, and the fact that most of that time saw nothing but radio silence from PlatinumGames and Nintendo only made that wait more torturous. Thankfully, Bayonetta 3 turned out to be yet another excellent action title. All of the series’ hallmark characteristics are on full display here, from its stylish and mechanically dense combat to that ridiculous sense of scale we all know and love, and all of it has been cranked up to 11. It may not touch the heights of Bayonetta 2, but quite often, it comes pretty damn close.
Splatoon 3 is a textbook example of an iterative sequel, but really, that’s all it ever needed to be, thanks to how strong the series’ core formula is. The gameplay loop of battling a team for supremacy in a competition of who can cover more of the map in their paint of choice has been an incredible one since the original Splatoon came out, and it continues to be just as fun in Splatoon 3, thanks in no small part to the many refinements it makes to the formula. Add to that a solid single player campaign, and you get a damn good sequel.
HORIZON FORBIDDEN WEST
Horizon Forbidden West does almost everything we could have wanted a sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn to do. It’s bigger and better in nearly every way- the many excellently designed machines that roam its massive and gorgeous world are an absolute joy to take on in combat, the progress mechanics have been significantly improved, and no matter where you go in the world, there’s always something fun to do (not to mention the fact that the game looks absolutely gorgeous). It might not take too many risks, but when a game is as good at what it’s trying to do as Horizon Forbidden West is, it doesn’t really need to take much risks.
XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 3
Xenoblade Chronicles as a franchise has got plenty of fuel left in the tank. While the third game mainly settles into a familiar groove, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 also manages to do its own thing. Sure, in terms of combat and world design, it’s very much an iteration, but the way it manages to deliver a great gameplay loop simply cannot be praised enough.
RETURN TO MONKEY ISLAND
When old and beloved media franchises return from long hiatuses, too often they go in too hard on nostalgia, and in doing so, these comebacks end up failing to stand on their own legs. Return to Monkey Island sidesteps that problem expertly. Oh, there’s no shortage of nostalgia mining here, but typically enough for the series, Return to Monkey Island does that in incredibly hilarious and meta ways. Its story is amazing from start to finish, the writing is sharp as a razor, the puzzles are an absolute blast, and there’s a ton of quality-of-life improvements that modernize the experience in key ways. Now this is what you call a triumphant return.
DYING LIGHT 2 STAY HUMAN
Techland had made it abundantly clear that it had every intention to go bigger and better with Dying Light 2 Stay Human, and it’s safe to say that the game doesn’t disappoint (for the most part). It’s still a little rough around the edges and has plenty of room for improvement, but at the same time, it also concocts an excellent gameplay loop focused on parkour and slick first person combat. The day and night cycle is also put to excellent use, and exploring the massive open world always feels rife with danger. Like its predecessor, Dying Light 2 Stay Human is very much a diamond in the rough.
ROGUE LEGACY 2
The wait for Rogue Legacy 2 may have been a very long one, but most fans of the original were confident that their patience would be rewarded- which, of course, turned out to be correct. We’ve had no shortage of excellent roguelike titles in recent years, but Rogue Legacy 2 surely ranks as one of the very best in that batch. Addictive progression mechanics, pixel-perfect platforming and combat, incredible boss fights, finetuned difficulty, impressive and flexible build variety- all of this and more, Rogue Legacy 2 delivers in spades.
MARIO + RABBIDS SPARKS OF HOPE
Unlike many sequels that decide to play things safe (like some in this very list), Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope boldly decided to make the decision to shake up a winning formula. It was a gamble that paid off, because incredibly enough, it’s an even better and much more full featured experience than its predecessor. The new and improved combat system feels much more dynamic, there’s a significantly expanded focus on exploration, there’s a vast array of characters to use in combat, each more fun than the last, and the deeper RPG mechanics make progression feel rewarding throughout the experience. One-upping Kingdom Battle was no easy task, but Sparks of Hope does just that, and with great confidence.
SNIPER ELITE 5
Sniper Elite has always been a classic example of a niche, double AA franchise, but bit by bit, it’s gained quite a bit of traction with fans. Sniper Elite 5 takes all the improvements the series has made over the course of several years, hones them to a polish, and packages them all together in a solid, incredibly enjoyable military stealth game that genre fans are guaranteed to love. With vast maps, emergent stealth mechanics, a focus on player agency, and more, Sniper Elite 5 delivers a solid stealth experience in an industry that’s been starved for them.
Sonic fans don’t like hearing this, but the series’ 3D efforts over the last decade or so have been irrefutably disappointing. As the next big main 3D Sonic game, and one that promises to radically reinvent the franchise, Sonic Frontiers had a lot riding on it- and for the most part, it delivers. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Sonic game if it didn’t have some baffling design decisions and frustrating issues, but Sonic Frontiers manages to overcome those with an excellent core structure and inherently fun gameplay. More than anything else, it lays down a promising foundation for the future that the series will hopefully build on much better than it has done in the past.
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