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Best Action RPG
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2022 was flooded with many great action RPGs, but Xenoblade Chronicles 3 stood out from the rest. With an experience likely to run past the 100-hour mark for many, it needed to be sharp, responsive, and engrossing. Luckily, it was all of that. Taking control of just one of six characters on screen sounds like a tactical nightmare, but the way they synergize with one another works fantastically. The positional Break, Topple, Daze system is back and is only one of many features brought in and kept things fresh up to the bombastic final boss fight. The class system gives players the freedom to play around with whatever combinations they want, keeping it feeling fresh throughout as it constantly encourages players to try out different characters and roles in the tank, healer, and damage dealer groups.
Exploring the world of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is an absolute treat and the easiest the series has had so far. There are many hidden points and diversions to take, which makes exploration both challenging and fun, but maps clearly locate destinations and the game readily helps get players back on track when they want. Combining its fantastic gameplay with another incredible narrative and a stunning audiovisual atmosphere, Monolith Soft has spectacularly built on its previous work and brought in new ideas to make Xenoblade Chronicles 3 a truly magnificent title.
Elden Ring takes the acclaimed Souls-like formula to the next level. While most elements seem to be common ground that veterans of the genre will be familiar with, the game manages to turn them into something big and superb. The extraordinary battle system is well-balanced, allowing players to defeat enemies using their preferred fighting style, with a wide variety of character customization. The open world is a feature that raised concerns at first, but exploring every region and finding world bosses, secret dungeons, and powerful items turned out to be a delight. The fast-travel option allows players to move immediately from one place to another, and still players routinely spent around 100 hours with the game, challenging foes who never cross the line of becoming unfairly frustrating. Elden Ring is an outstanding game that sets the new bar for the next generation of Souls-like games.
Sometimes the best approach to a sequel is to not fix what ain’t broken, which is definitely the case with Horizon Forbidden West. Guerrilla Games already had an amazing action combat system; what Forbidden West adds is plenty of excitement with its large enemy encounters. With new weapons at Aloy’s disposal and mechanical parts flying off of enemies, punching robodinosaurs has never felt so damn satisfying. It is no surprise that Horizon Forbidden West is one our favorites action RPGs of the year.
by Jervon Perkins, Luis Mauricio, and Sam Wachter