An Introduction to 2022: The Video Game
Its been very difficult judge the quality of the upcoming instalments of these games because they can always be so varied. The last few, arguably since the 2019 edition, have been filled with heartache and happiness, drama and political intrigue and in all honesty, unexpected twists and turns aplenty. At the end of 2021, it was shaping up that 2022 would return to a more familiar narrative with more stability and an overall more upbeat tone given the previous instalments but the developers had other things in mind.
Character – How my playable character evolved across the game
My character is obviously the most consistent aspect of all of these games and it’s one that I should really take more care of and invest more in. That isn’t to say there hasn’t been character growth; there has been a lot of reskilling and respecing to create a new build (more on that in Progression) however the physical investment in my character (or lack of) suggests that it was more than the wisdom aspects of my characters that grew.
With the Guild change at the end of 2021 there was a lot to learn, and even more to master meaning that there has been a lot of character development in 2022. New skill trees were unlocked, including SEO, Content Creation and even additional training modules which serve to evolve my character from Chapter 1 to Chapter 12. I am incredibly proud of the development that the playable character saw as they embrace a lot of the challenges head on and progress accordingly for it. There is always more to be done though and this development doesn’t appear to slow down as the game wraps up before the sequel is released on 1st January.
Despite the ‘mental’ aspects seeing vast improvements through-out the game, the ‘physical’ aspects certainly suffered. There was improvement seen in the opening Chapters, especially driven by a humorous quest to ‘lose weight in order to have a steak bought for you in Chapter 6’ however the later part of the game is focused on smaller contained stories which, by the end, flew by. I think I have always said this but going into the sequel I will need to upskill these aspects more because otherwise my characters HP and energy level will drop to a stat that will make endgame activities that much harder.
Overall, the character development is a 7 out of 10. The great steps in developing new skills, solidifying existing ones and embracing these new challenges outweigh the lack of focus on the physical aspects of the character. However, this will also be an aspect to watch out for in the sequel.
World – Is the playable world in 2022 any different to 2021?
The developers have spent a lot of time over the last few years changing the face of the game-world and this doesn’t seem to be stopping through-out 2022 into 2023. The map is changing with snowy terrains becoming greener and drier areas becoming wetter, not to mention the political landscape they are building. Factions scheme and move against each other, causing devastation that is felt across the map. Even my character felt these changes in both the financial economy, where other players are ramping prices up for in game necessities such as electricity and food, and the physical effect where he was both wrapped up freezing cold while working and having to wonder if the dress code at his guild would accept nothing but swim shorts when the heat came. Although variety is the spice of life, when buying into these games you sort of hope for a little consistency in order to plan accordingly; as a lot of the other players were saying, this summer it was a different kind of heat.
Although its a bleak picture that 2022 has painted for the world, it hasn’t been without it’s moments. As mentioned, Chapter 6 saw my character and his extended party travel to Greece, the first time leaving what has been quite an isolated map for two years, which was a welcomed change of both surroundings and pace. Although travel to additional maps is looking limited into 2023, there is still the chance that more of these diversions within Chapters will happen. They serve a nice way to create some more memories, unlock some additional trophies and just break up the story arc which can get very draining without these distractions.
The world built for 2022 is currently a 4 out of 10. This isn’t to say that the world that the game is set in isn’t beautiful but more that the story and world that is being built by the players is a real downer at the moment. It is very difficult to get excited by the good when the bugs, glitches and general player behaviour is causing both the political world to cause such chaos while players also try to literally light the map on fire.
Progression – Was the main story as expected, how was the difficulty and what’s next?
The real reason we all play these games every year is the story and the beauty of these open world games is you can really try to make it your own. I know people who have spent the year building and growing their clans, others who have sought to explore the world while my character looked at building his standing and experience within his new Guild. For those of you not aware, my character took a somewhat drastic move in Chapter 12 of the 2021 game to shift gears, respec and essentially start over as a new class in this new Guild. Of the whole game, this has been, by far, the strongest aspect.
As mentioned before, this new Guild allowed me to really develop my character, unlocking new skills and ability trees and then allowing me freedom to choose how to grow. The other Guildmates are awesome and diverse, allowing for my character to start building these new, strong relationships that I can see persisting through the sequel and beyond. My character has been put outside of his comfort zone multiple times but in doing so my character has benefited from it. This is one element of 2022 that I am looking forward to continuing in 2023 as there are a lot of unanswered threads and mystery’s to unravel at this Guild. As such, the main story for my character was focused very much on establishing himself as part of the Guild and setting roots.
It hasn’t all been easy though and there has certainly been aspects that have contributed to making this a hard game. Learning new skills is always challenging so it has certainly been difficult but also rewarding. The change to the new Guild has meant that the monthly coins available through-out the year declined as my character started from the lower ranks again which then meant that, while the political elements of the World building squeezed the coin purses of players, it meant that my character too had to cut back. Fewer cosmetics were bought, and some of the additional services my character used to use were scaled back. There is an opportunity to improve this aspect in 2023 which is a good sign as the World in 2023 doesn’t show any signs on reducing it’s difficulty level.
Progression-wise, 2022 has earned a 8 out of 10. The new Guild have been welcoming, the development has been rewarding and the overall direction of the story arc is looking positive however external factors such as increased service costs and a reduce coin income has meant that there was a notable difficulty spike.
Side Quests – Has there been a lot to do asides from focusing on the main story?
Although the focus was on the new Guild, there were also notable mini-games that were made available and optional quests that were undertaken through-out the year which broke up any fatigue on the main story front.
There was the very entertaining optional quest that took my character to Greece in Chapter 6 which allowed my character and party to enjoy a different part of the map and a break from the main story. My character was able to enjoy lots of food and beer in the variety of taverns as well as the stunning views that the map offered. It was certainly a welcomed diversion, especially seeing as the last major side quest like that in this series of games was in the 2019 edition.
In terms of mini-games there are some incredible, notable additions including Elden Ring, God of War Ragnarok and Marvel Midnight Suns. They all offered incredible experiences that will likely earn their own reviews. There were also games like Overwatch 2 and Pokemon Scarlet that were highly anticipated but, arguably, failed to live up to these lofty expectations. Then main stay mini-games like Destiny 2 and Fortnite continued to entertain my character through-out the year. The mini-games that will be made available in the early Chapters of 2023 are also looking very exciting with a new Fire Emblem, Destiny Expansion and Hogwarts game.
Film wise there was a lot of expectations around the new Marvel films however 2022 failed to deliver on this front. Although enjoyable watches, Doctor Strange Multiverse of Madness and Thor Love and Thunder didn’t hit the mark so hopefully the 2023 slate recovers this loss in momentum. There were other, in game weekly features like House of the Dragon and Rings of Power which entertained with stories over the Chapters, while other stories like She-Hulk, again failed to attain the level myself or other players expected. There is a lot of hope for what 2023 holds on this front however with better writing, bug fixes and new stories to tell.
2022 offered a mixed bag on this front, earning a 7 out of 10. Although there were some incredible mini-games added to this game such as God of War, there were others that failed to reach their potential such as Pokémon. The Marvel films let this side of the game down however the slate of weekly features such as Rings of Power offered entertaining diversions through-out the story.
So how was 2022?
I’ve been playing this series of games for 31 years, starting back at the 1991 edition and I have to say that the last few in the series have been some of the more challenging. Not without it’s merits, 2022 has been a strange sequel from the poorly received 2021 as player behaviour across the map seems to further drive these games down a weird path. It is difficult to escape the impact the World story has on the individual players such as myself with increased service costs and the increasing ‘pay to win’ mechanics that seem to be emerging.
That being said, the new Guild has been a defining aspect of 2022, with great character development opportunities which brought my character back from stagnation and applied fresh skill trees to the character menu. This is one of the aspects I am really looking forward to playing in 2023. The mini-games too offered much in the way of distraction and although they were a mixed bag in terms of performance, they all entertained.
The character development has been notable but largely on the ‘mental’ side. The ‘physical’ development needs to become a focus in the sequel to avoid any character issues along the way. These ‘mental’ developments though with new skills and new relationships is hopefully going to propel my character into some interesting and exciting places in the next game.
Overall, this game has earned a 7 out of 10, with some clear improvements needed from my playstyle, the player community and the developers.