The Best Action Games Of 2022 According to Metacritic
The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.
There's something cathartic about diving into a solid action game at the end of the year, as inflicting some digital violence on the pixels in front of you can lead to a meditative form of stress relief. With 2022 having some stressful moments, action games were on hand to deliver some much-needed relaxation as fans burned through their aggression and mastered these titles.
Some of the year's biggest action games were well-deserving of the blockbuster descriptor given to them, with standout titles being Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West, and God of War Ragnarok. Whether you were exploring the realms of a blighted landscape or working to save all of Midgard from a Nordic apocalypse, the best action games of the year looked fantastic and felt even better to play.
Indie games also had plenty to offer, as a retro blast from the past in the shape of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge and Cult of the Lamb invited players to cleave their way through armies of enemies, while Sifu's distinct Kung-Fu combat made each fight end with broken faces and shattered bones.
We've gathered up the best of the best in action category below, according to data from GameSpot's sister site Metacritic, which you can read through below. Once again, the best action game of 2022 shouldn't be a surprise, as it has been a dominant force on several other lists this year so far.
Elden Ring has a deep RPG bend to its design, but in the moment-to-moment gameplay, it's pure action all the way. From Software's latest title has been a chart-topping blockbuster for the studio, thanks in part to the refined soulslike action and polished combat that helps drive home some of the most thrilling encounters in gaming history. From the now-iconic battle with Melania to the intense blows traded with Starscourge Radahn, Elden Ring's action is a spectacle of near-impeccable design and gripping gameplay.
God of War Ragnarok
God of War 2018's combat systems are a masterclass in satisfying brutality, but Ragnarok takes the thrilling action to the next level. Treating the 2018 game as a template, Ragnarok builds on those ideas with deeper combat mechanics, more variety, and deadlier weapons that turn every encounter into a savage tango of death. Walking a fine line between challenging and power fantasy, God of War Ragnarok delivers cataclysmic axe strikes and dazzling displays of strength in every battle.
Rogue Legacy 2
How do you even begin to live up to the legacy set by a game that helped revolutionize the roguelike genre back in 2013? The simple answer is that you don't, as Rogue Legacy 2 takes the ideas of its predecessor and doubles down on what works. That focus on being the best Rogue Legacy that it can be has worked wonders for the sequel, as each run in a dangerous dungeon is a thought-provoking learning experience. With more than a dozen classes, sharp gameplay, and rewarding combat to savor, Rogue Legacy 2 emphasizes fun over revolution, and the direction pays off brilliantly.
A speedrunner's delight, Neon White mixes fast-paced combat with limited ammo, acrobatic feats of skill, and bite-sized levels to incredible effect. Once it sinks its fangs into you, this devilish action game runs on pure one-more-turn energy as you memorize a stage, gun for the best time possible, and reset your run to shave precious seconds off of the clock. With its visual novel appeal being a charming tale of saints and sinners battling for a chance at redemption, this fast-paced game is pure heavenly fun.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course
Some of the best action is brilliant for being both straightforward and nail-biting, two elements that Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course mixes into a scrumptious outing. Improving on the original game with thoughtful tweaks and the inclusion of Ms. Chalice as a playable character, Cuphead's rush of challenging boss fights feel better than ever. That combination of dodging, blasting, and parrying attacks is a treat for your thumbs, and with an art direction that makes the game look like it was pulled from a 1930s cartoon--and somehow even more scrumptiously detailed than the base game--it's pretty easy on your eyes as well.
Horizon Forbidden West
In a distant future where humanity has been replaced by hostile machines at the top of the food chain, you can bet that survivors have learned a few tricks to stay ahead of the mechanical menaces. With Horizon Forbidden West, those tricks include an expanded combat system that focuses on exposing weak points on machines and delivering killer blows. The challenge here though is the sheer variety of aggressive automatons gunning for you, but a combination of hunting, gathering, and preparedness will transform you into an apex predator in this jam-packed sequel.
Cult of the Lamb
Two games form the core of Cult of the Lamb. On one side, you've got a chunky combination of micro-management and land development as you grow your heretical cult, and on the other side, a fun roguelite that hits the sweet spot for growth, violence, and a revolving arsenal. Cult of the Lamb emphasizes experimentation with its delightful inventory of melee and ranged weapons, with each slash and bludgeon of your tools delivering fatal blows and satisfying feedback.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection
Like the swashbuckling adventure films that it's inspired by, The Uncharted Collection is a two-fisted blast of fun set across a pair of PlayStation games that made their way to PC this year. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but what you will find is a blockbuster ride where bullets and hands regularly fly past you. Delivering some melee retaliation while dodging bullets and explosions looks better than ever on PC, creating a big-budget spectacle that's hard to beat.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge
A great game is eternally playable, and with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge, DotEmu's pseudo-sequel to a Konami classic is a shell-raising example of how to update retro experiences for modern audiences. If you had any muscle memory in your digits earned through countless hours at the arcade, Shredder's Revenge will make you feel right at home as you start busting some Foot Clan heads. It's the clever enhancements to that gameplay formula where this game shines, as the ability to augment attacks, dodge out of harm's way, and unleash pure co-op carnage makes for a fantastic blend of old and new ideas.
Tunic definitely looks like a love letter to The Legend of Zelda with its charming isometric viewpoint, hero clad in green, and dungeons to explore, but when it comes to combat, it's a sharp departure from Nintendo's heavyweight franchise. Having more in common with Dark Souls, Tunic's stamina-based action has you juggling meters and well-timed attacks while avoiding devastating counterattacks. That delicate mix of systems and ideas makes you consider each move more carefully, leading to every encounter having a delightful edge to it.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak
Unlike other action games which quickly throw you into the thick of things, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak wants you to be patient. This massive expansion promises more of the same content that made Monster Hunter Rise a runaway success, and that includes deliberately slow grinds as you pursue challenging beasts and find that perfect moment to strike. In the end that's what makes the feel of this DLC so noteworthy, as pulling off a perfect execution of ideas and preparation inside of intense hunts makes for some golden gaming moments.
The first two Bayonetta games were high-concept action titles that helped put developer Platinum Games on the map, and Bayonetta 3 takes those ideas and dials them up to 11. From agile anarchy against hordes of demons to unleashing Godzilla-sized monsters against extra-dimensional forces, Bayonetta 3 is a stylish power trip with stylish, slow-motion dodges and cataclysmic combos.
Bone-crunching martial arts set in a world where your next fight could be your last, Sifu regularly inflicts brutal violence on your protagonist and expects swift retribution as a response. A deep and layered combat system is at the heart of this tale of revenge, and once you master it, you'll feel like a one-man army of Hong Kong movie A-listers when you start dishing out fists and kicks in every deadly duel.
While Roll7 has earned plenty of praise for its skateboarding sequel OlliOlli World, it also ditched the board and laced up a pair of roller skates this year in Rollderdrome. Hitting the halfpipes and pulling off some gnarly tricks feels great, but whipping out a gun and firing a few rounds at the opposition helps you land with style and grace in this retro-futuristic world of blood-sports. With a plot that reads like it was taken straight from a 1970s B-movie, Rollerdrome feels great when you're pulling off slick moves with precision gunplay for the entertainment of the bloodthirsty masses around you.