While it's been a pretty strange year for the gaming industry as a whole, for PlayStation, 2022 has been bookended by absolute brilliance. By starting the year with Horizon Forbidden West and ending it with God of War Ragnarok, Sony managed to deliver two highly-anticipated sequels that have done well to surpass the standards set by their predecessors.
But it didn't stop there. In a year that's been almost overshadowed by the sheer presence of Elden Ring, Sony has been pushing out interesting and unique exclusives that might not be quite as console-defining as Aloy or Kratos' latest adventures, but do well to round out the current library. It's certainly been a great year for PlayStation gaming, and in between Sony has been setting the stage for what's to come in 2023.
As for this year though, Horizon Forbidden West kicked things off back in February, offering fans a sequel that leaned further into its open-world genre in every way. From richer and more varied sidequests that helped build out the new west coast US location, to more nuanced relationships, main campaign, and combat systems, Aloy's latest world-saving tale didn't disappoint.
March brought us another PS5 exclusive in the form of Gran Turismo 7, which although lauded for its superb graphics and attention to detail, ultimately had a pretty rocky start due to dire server issues that even locked players out of single-player races and its microtransaction economy. It was eventually addressed and rebalanced as part of an April patch, but it definitely soured the community's initial reaction toward the long-awaited title.
That same month also brought us the slightly more unusual Ghostwire: Tokyo, which had many of us wandering the streets of the Japanese capital hunting down spirits and cheeky tanuki. Although it doesn't quite live up to its full potential, its unique take on combat and horror lite elements made it quite a memorable experience – especially when it comes to just how good it looked on PS5.
Another neon-themed adventure that really did leave a (claw) mark on PlayStation fans though was Stray – the debut title from developer BlueTwelve Studio that let you play as a ginger tabby cat lost in a city of robots. For obvious – four-legged – reasons, it was a title that had been hyped for some time, and its attention to detail when it came to all things cat, combined with a wonderful story and city playground meant that it has gone on to get critical acclaim. It's even walked away with the Golden Joystick award for the Best PlayStation Game this year.
The Plus offering
Interestingly, it was also the title that really highlighted PlayStation's new three-tiered membership system for PlayStation Plus, as it was given away for free as part of the middle tier – PS Plus Extra. The entire new structure was revealed in March this year, but didn't start its staggered rollout properly until the Summer. Even now, it still feels like an overly complicated and convoluted answer to Xbox Game Pass, and also lacks the allure of day-one releases for first-party titles like Horizon Forbidden West to really compete with Microsoft's offering. Since Stray, although the PS Plus free game drops have been pretty solid, there haven't really been additional, more exclusive incentives to subscribe to anything beyond the basic tier.
That hasn't stopped PlayStation from having a stellar year though. We were also treated to added extras from Naughty Dog like Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection in January, which combined Uncharted 4 and Uncharted: Lost Legacy into a juicy catch-up bundle, and then later on a stunning remake in the Last of Us Part 1 in September.
But realistically, since Horizon Forbidden West it felt like the entire year was leading up to finding out what we'd experience with Kratos and Atreus' next adventure. Sony waited until July to reveal its November release date, but it was more than worth the wait. Not only does it, somehow, hold more emotional weight than the 2018 reboot, but its streamlined combat and brilliant cast of characters too meant it shot to the top of our best PS5 games list with no hesitation.
Purely on the strength of the PlayStation console exclusives this year, it's been one to remember – and that's without mentioning the stellar cross-platform releases that also rounded out the year, including Elden Ring, Marvel's Midnight Suns, and Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, just to name a few.
The year ahead
All goes to say, the second year of the PS5 has been pretty excellent, especially when you factor in the announcements and reveals of what's to come next year. New hardware with the pro-style DualSense Edge controller in January is followed up in February by the PSVR 2, albeit with a rather eye-watering price tag. There are quite a few interesting titles already lined up as upcoming PSVR 2 games – with Horizon: Call of the Mountain currently acting as headliner – but the current critique is that there's just not enough to justify the lofty price.
Hopefully, 2023 will also be the year where you can actually, easily, buy a PS5. Earlier this month, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan stated PS5 supply issues are “resolved”, and although that's not exactly translated to instant PS5 stock availability, it does bode well for a year of all-round celebration for PlayStation fans. With upcoming PS5 games including Forspoken, Marvel's Spider-Man 2, Street Fighter 6, Final Fantasy 16 and more, 2023 could be a year like none other as the industry finally regroups and emerges from pandemic complications.
Don't forget to check out our picks for the best PS5 games so far