First considered as only a fad just a decade ago, live-service titles continue to etch their names in video game history as growing digital ecosystems with ever-evolving mechanics and features. 2022 not only brought new games to the genre, but the year also established itself as one of the best yet for many that are several years old. Armed with everything from unforgettable crossover events to expansions that closed the book on gripping story arcs, there are five ongoing games that delivered content worthy of buying their seasonal passes and DLC.
5. Overwatch 2
- Developed by Blizzard Entertainment
Although it did not exactly have the smoothest of launches, Overwatch 2 has masterfully retooled and expanded on the foundation of the now-defunct original. Along with fitting hero balances, the arena shooter made the brave decision to make its modes 5v5 experiences, limiting teams to just one Tank Hero. This slight alteration has ultimately sped up the pace of play, providing more thrilling matches in all modes.
Of course, it would not be a true sequel without new Heroes, and Overwatch 2 certainly hasn’t skipped a beat when supplying fresh, quality characters. From Season 2 annihilator Ramattra to the axe-wielding Junker Queen, the latest faces to join the roster bring memorable abilities that shake up how teams go about their strategies. Players can also anticipate a new PvE component down the road, as a story mode with over a hundred missions is set to debut in 2023. In short, Overwatch 2 has done more than enough to make a respectable name for itself, making fans eager to see what awaits in the seasons to come.
4. Genshin Impact
- Developed by HoYoverse
Since taking the free-to-play realm by storm in late 2020, Genshin Impact has continued to prove it is more than just a temporary fix for MMORPG junkies. Along with reaching the milestone of amassing $3 billion in revenue, the anime-like title stuffed in an overwhelming nine major updates during the year that delivered new playable characters, lore-filled quests, and more locations. It even delved beyond its usual open-world offerings to launch Genius Invokation, a training card game mode that packs in just as much as a standalone title.
Genshin also became the clear must-play game of the summer with its Version 3.0 update introducing players to the region of Sumeru, chockfull of new desert and forest areas. If you lost track, the region makes up just a seventh of its expansive Teyvat world. So, newcomers are now all but guaranteed to spend upwards of a thousand hours seeing all of its lands, bosses, and unfolding plots.
3. Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0
- Developed by Infinity Ward and Raven Software
Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 is a shining example of how even the most doomed franchises can be revived and immensely improved. For most of the year, much of the original’s fanbase became fed up with Caldera’s graphical quality, an assortment of bugs, and pay-to-win cosmetics. Thankfully, its sequel has become the hard reset that players begged for and more. Warzone 2.0 breaks away from Call of Duty’s traditional arcade-y experience in order to become a true-to-life war simulator that no other battle royale has encapsulated.
This is apparent from its state-of-the-art shooting mechanics to a proximity chat feature that allows gunners to either make peace or intimidate opponents. Then, there’s its sandy Al Mazrah map, a gigantic region where each POI has its own distant landmarks and opportunities. As if that wasn’t enough, the DMZ mode lets players roam the map freely to complete an array of dangerous, sweat-inducing tasks against AI and other Operators. Those searching for a quality FPS that is entirely free surely cannot go wrong with Warzone 2.0.
2. Final Fantasy XIV
- Developed by Square Enix
The Endwalker expansion treated Final Fantasy XIV players well into the new year with the finale to the Hydaelyn and Zoriark arc as well as the introduction to new cities. It ultimately gave the perfect excuse to continue paying their monthly subscription, with little to no faults to reason otherwise. However, the MMO continued its hot streak far after by bringing more dungeons, activities, and the start of a new journey.
April’s Newfound Adventure patch marked the beginning of the Myths of the Realm series, allowing 24 characters to fight alongside each other in a new Alliance Raid. Meanwhile, its Cystaline Conflict mode enabled teams of five to duke it out in high-adrenaline arena battles. It then blew players’ expectations out of the water with the Buried Memory update, revealing the mainline story’s latest threat and even tossed in the relaxing Island Sanctuary location for those needing a break from the action. With Patch 6.3 lending additional quests and raids very soon, it is almost impossible to get tired of Final Fantasy XIV and its glowing list of innovative features.
- Developed by Epic Games
It felt as if there was never a day in 2022 when Fortnite didn’t have new content. It began the year entertaining players with its Spider-Man-themed Chapter 3 Season 1, and the months that followed brought a dramatic, lore-driven war, a summer festival, and even an infestation of goo that eventually destroyed the battle royale’s island. In between these events, players even saw a myriad of characters and items added from famed entertainment properties, such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Dragon Ball.
Fast forward to today, not many could have predicted the release and impact of its fourth chapter. It not only debuted with a colorful, medieval map; Chapter 4 sunk its teeth deep into Unreal Engine 5.1 to provide a massive graphical upgrade that brought new life into every structure, character, and patch of grass in sight. In short, Fortnite’s ability to push out groundbreaking content on a constant basis makes each leap out of the battle bus something to look forward to.