It is once again time for the P2 crew to dish out those big awards at the end of an eventful year. As always the team can’t come to any sort of mutual agreement so we just let them pic their favourites to save the arguing. First up, 2022’s Biggest Surprise
The P2 Awards 2022 - Biggest Surprise
Shaun Nicholls - Elden Ring
I was never the sort of person to get into a souls-like game. I had tried them before and they had kicked my ass and so I just didn’t bother, until Elden Ring drew me in. Now there were a lot of other people in the same boat as I, as evidenced by the sales numbers of Elden Ring compared to previous FromSoftware games, and indeed as I stumbled my way through the Lands Between I would exchange both tips and information with friends that were also new to the genre. I don’t know if it was the freedom to build a character the way you wanted and along with the freedom to go somewhere else if a particular area was too challenging but I stuck it out and saw the end credits, something I never thought I would do in a game like this.
Jess Zammit - Kirby and the Forgotten Land
The surprise isn’t really in the fact that Nintendo made a good game, obviously, because when it comes to their long-standing IP they know how to put in the work (mostly). But the surprise is in just how much I enjoyed a game which, let’s be real – I expected to just make a lot of jokes about, and then promptly forget the existence of. Instead, what I got was something that brought me endless joy in a time when a lot of the games releasing were about despair or disasters, and when I needed some brightness in my life the most. Kirby’s first 3D adventure had him wearing adorable hats, taking much needed naps, and then ending with a weird twist that I’m pretty sure nobody saw coming – and it was all such a fun ride. And of course, Mouthful Mode was equally disturbing and joyous, and isn’t that what we all want from a game?
Matt Hewson - WWE 2K22
I’d given up on getting an enjoyable WWE game ever again after the abysmal effort that was WWE 2K20 and I am sure I am not the only one. It was so bad that 2K finally convinced Vince that giving the developers more than 9 months to make a game would actually be “best for business” and the results show. WWE 2K22 is by no means a perfect game and there is still a lot of room for improvement, but it is enjoyable. It captures the soap opera of professional wrestling well and the gameplay is both simple to pick up but with plenty of depth. So much so I have found myself coming back to it over the year for a spot of grappling action between reviews. It has me excited for the franchise’s future and I can tell you there isn’t a bigger surprise than that.
Sarah Ellen - Tiny Tina's Wonderlands
I have felt very burnt out on the Borderlands franchise and Borderlands 3 did not entice me at all, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Wonderlands in comparison based on such small changes to the formula. Its desire to help you truly create your own identity in the story is a step in a positive direction, and was further complemented by an upbeat narrative even if the humour is showing a little bit of its age.
Stephen del Prado - Xenoblade Chronicles 3
I’ll gladly admit that when Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was coming in hot and fast earlier this year, I had a few doubts. While the second game was solid, it didn’t hit the lofty heights of the first title for me in a number of ways and the performance on the Switch was less than impressive. What Monolith Soft managed to pull off with Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a triumph and should be more widely lauded than it was. A reformed JRPG apologist turned naysayer, XBC3 had quite a lot of work to do to turn me around on a genre that increasingly alienates me as I get older, yet here I am still bashing away at it months later while so many of its brethren barely get a look-in these days. It’s always an amazing feeling to go in with low expectations and have them shattered in a good way, so bravo to everyone involved in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 for making this cynic somewhat less cynical.
Rob Caporetto - Vampire Survivors
There’s something for games that deliver near-unlimited chaos on screen, something Vampire Survivors does every so well. I wasn’t expecting much when I first heard about it but seeing a friend run through it on a stream was enough to pique my interest and curiosity. The result was something that truly surprised me. It might not offer much depth, as its long-term play is about learning how to trigger various secrets to unlock characters, weapons, upgrades and more.
That’s not an issue though – as the moment-to-moment mechanics are all about learning how best to control those epic crowds of enemies you’ll encounter. I feel this is truly unique amongst the indie crowd, at least until we started seeing plenty of games that have presented their own spins on the formula in the time since Vampire Survivors exploded into Early Access.
I shouldn’t have been surprised that I’d be surprised at how great Vampire Survivors is. There’s a lot it does so well, and watching it push PCs to the edge with how many sprites it throws about. Truly epic. If not for all the right reasons.
Paul James - Two Point Campus
I’ve selected Two Point Campus not because I was pessimistic about the game, nor was I thinking little of it going into the final release. Everything said that it should hit the right chords for me, but it devoured my time and interest like few games have done this year. Two Point Campus has so much to do, so many ingrained challenges, and obstacles to successful completion of those challenges – It really hits on all of the right notes to keep players engaged for days, weeks, and months at a time – it did that to me, and I suspect it’ll have me back in its claws again before too long.