Now that current-gen consoles and PC parts are a little easier to find, it’s a great time to be a gamer. This past year we’ve seen dozens of new games, peripherals and services, and a handful of them have stood out above the rest. From open-world games that breathed fresh life into the genre, to headsets that could last hundreds of hours on a single charge, the last year has brought us some truly impressive gaming tech.
We’ve sifted through all the reviews we’ve written over the past year to determine which products merit a spot in this year’s Tom’s Guide Awards. If you haven’t played these games yet, now is the time — and if you’re in the market for a new gaming system or peripheral, the ones listed here merit serious consideration. When you want to immerse yourself in a digital adventure, here are some award-winning ways to do it.
And check out all the winners of the Tom’s Guide Awards 2022.
Best Gaming Innovation
Best Gaming Innovation: Steam Deck
The Steam Deck is the handheld that many have long been asking for. Valve’s little miracle is powerful enough to play some of the most demanding PC games available on the Steam platform. And since Steam Deck is effectively a small computer, you can modify it to play games not available on Steam.
The Steam Deck is quite light and comfortable to play. In addition to standard face buttons, analog sticks and a d-pad, the handheld also has four buttons on the back and two small touchpads beneath the analog sticks. The latter allows you to play games that require a mouse, which is something the touchscreen also serves. All of the buttons are programmable.
While the Steam Deck isn’t a full-blown gaming PC, it can run most titles at a fairly consistent 30 frames per second. Games look great on the vibrant 7-inch LCD, including everything from massive titles like Doom Eternal to smaller games like TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge.
At the time of this writing, there are still many games that aren’t optimized or flat out can’t run on the system. But future updates should make the machine even better. As things stand, the Steam Deck is the finest handheld out there and should pave the way for exciting new iterations in the future. It’s pushing handheld gaming forward.
Best console: PS5
The PS5 debuted in 2020, but consoles grow and change over time. In 2021 and 2022, the PS5 came into its own, hosting multiplatform hits, such as Elden Ring and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as semi-exclusive titles, such as Ghostwire: Tokyo and Horizon Forbidden West. With its excellent library, rapid load times and innovative DualSense controller, the PS5 continues to deliver refined console gaming for both hardcore and casual players alike. There’s also a lot to look forward to over the next few months, including God of War: Ragnarök and The Last of Us Part I. While PS5 restocks are still tough to win, it’s a little easier than it used to be, which is good news for gamers everywhere.
Best game: Elden Ring
Gamers expected Elden Ring to be good. It comes courtesy of acclaimed director Hidetaka Miyazaki and beloved developer FromSoftware, with story contributions from celebrated author George R.R. Martin. And yet, the game somehow exceeded its high expectations. Elden Ring is an ultra-difficult open-world RPG, with tons of ways to customize your character and secrets hidden around every corner. Unlike most open-world games, Elden Ring doesn’t provide much guidance, instead letting you simply explore and discover things at your own pace. And there are a ton of things to discover, from a variety of detailed quests, to an eerie, atmospheric story. Games this good don’t come around too often.
Best PS5 game
Best PS5 game: Deathloop
To be scrupulously fair, Deathloop isn’t a PS5 exclusive, as you can also get it on the PC. Even so, the PS5 is the place to play it, due to subtle DualSense haptics and a bit more technical stability. However you experience it, though, Deathloop is well worth your time — particularly since “time” is at the center of the experience. You play as Colt: a man with amnesia who finds himself stranded on the mysterious Cold War-era Blackreef Island. He, and everyone else on Blackreef, are stuck in a time loop, and Colt is determined to break it. With open-ended action and stealth gameplay and plenty of ways to customize your playstyle, Deathloop is a must play.
Best Xbox Series X game
Best Xbox Series X game: Forza Horizon 5
The Xbox Series X/S has had a huge influx of great games over the past year, including Halo Infinite and Microsoft Flight Simulator. But in terms of sheer scope and polish, it’s hard to top Forza Horizon 5. This open-world racer takes place in Mexico, where you can explore sandy beaches, rugged mountains, ancient ruins, thriving cities and everything in-between. With tons of races to run, cars to collect and challenges to complete, Forza Horizon 5 is an enormous game where every activity feels worthwhile. Between the gorgeous graphics and huge world map, it’s an immersive title, too, particularly if you play with friends — up to 12 players in a single session.
Best PC game
Best PC game: Age of Empires IV
Age of Empires IV has been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait. Taking the franchise back to the medieval times, AoE4 lets you choose one of history’s great civilizations, then guide them from the Dark Ages through the cusp of the Gunpowder era. From the longbowmen of the English, to the artillery of the French, to the cavalry archers of the Mongols, to the elephants of the Delhi Sultanate, each civilization has something unique to offer, but the competitive gameplay feels beautifully balanced. Be sure to also try the detailed Campaign mode, which includes 4K documentary footage about real medieval warfare.
Best Switch game
Best Switch game: Metroid Dread
Nintendo announced Metroid Dread just a few months before the game came out, but the wait felt much longer. That’s because Metroid Dread is the first new 2D Metroid game since Metroid Fusion in 2002. After 19 long years, fans expected a lot from Metroid Dread — and the game fully delivered. Samus Aran’s latest adventure is a dark, mysterious, moody affair with tight gameplay and an intriguing, minimalist story. The best thing about Metroid Dread, though, is that it doesn’t hold your hand, letting you explore the hostile Planet ZDR and discover its secrets at your own pace. We can only hope that the next Metroid game doesn’t take another two decades to make.
Best game subscription service
Best game subscription service: Xbox Game Pass
Xbox Game Pass has been around for a while; in fact, it earned our award for “Best Innovation” in 2021. And yet, the service continues to improve each year. Last time around, Xbox Game Pass offered hundreds of downloadable and streaming games on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Android, iOS and Web browsers. Now, you can also stream games to consoles, letting you instantly try any title that piques your interest. What’s impressive about Xbox Game Pass is its steady growth, from a limited game-download service to an all-encompassing ecosystem. Xbox Game Pass is essentially a glimpse into the future of gaming: any game you want, on any screen you own, from anywhere with an Internet connection.
Best gaming monitor
Best gaming monitor: Sony Inzone M9
Sony is a new contender in the gaming monitor arena, but it’s already scored a knockout with the Sony Inzone M9. This display is ideal for either PC or PS5, with 4K resolution, a 144 Hz refresh rate, a bright screen and a rich color palette. At 27 inches, the Inzone M9 fits easily on most desks, and with both DisplayPort and HDMI 2.1 connections, this best gaming monitor works beautifully with just about any system you care to connect. What helps set the Inzone M9 apart from similar monitors is its striking design, with a black-and-white chassis and an unconventional angled stand. At $899, it’s not even that expensive, as 4K gaming monitors go.
Best VR headset
The Meta Quest 2, aka Oculus Quest 2, has been out for two years. But like any good gaming platform, it’s grown and changed in the intervening period. The game library is much better, for one thing, including hits such as Resident Evil 4 VR and I Expect You to Die 2. From a UI perspective, the Meta Quest 2 now offers a much more intuitive home screen and more robust parental controls than before. However, the best parts of the Meta Quest 2 are the same as they’ve always been: powerful components, a compact design and intuitive controls. If you have an affinity for VR and don’t object to creating a Facebook account, the Meta Quest 2 is an easy recommendation.
Best gaming keyboard
Best gaming keyboard: Corsair K70 RGB Pro
Corsair’s line of K70 keyboards have generally been some of the best gaming peripherals on the market ever since they debuted back in 2013. Since then, Corsair has tweaked and refined the K70’s design, eventually culminating in this year’s Corsair K70 RGB Pro. Like its predecessors, the K70 RGB Pro is a nearly flawless device, with best-in-class Cherry MX key switches, an elegant design, gorgeous RGB lighting and robust software. There’s even an innovative Tournament Mode, which makes the device ready for competitive multiplayer matches at the touch of a button. This is arguably as good as gaming keyboards get — until we get the next K70 iteration, anyway.
Best gaming mouse
Best gaming mouse: Corsair Sabre RGB Pro Wireless
The Corsair Sabre RGB Pro Wireless demonstrates that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to create an award-winning product. At first glance, the Sabre RGB Pro Wireless is about as simple as a gaming mouse can get. It has a plain black chassis, an ergonomic grip, an RGB Corsair logo on the palm rest and a few extra buttons. But what sets the Sabre RGB Pro Wireless apart from the competition is just how well it works. The device weighs only 2.8 ounces, and lasts up to 60 hours on a charge, depending on your lighting options. It also works beautifully with just about any game genre. The Sabre RGB Pro doesn’t look fancy, but it delivers a whole lot of performance.
Best gaming headset
Best gaming headset: HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless
Wireless gaming headsets offer many advantages over their corded counterparts, but they also suffer from a huge disadvantage: constant recharging. Most wireless gaming headsets last for 20-40 hours, and those weekly recharges can get grating after a while. Enter the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless: a headset that can last up to 300 hours on a single charge. We were skeptical of HyperX’s claim when we first evaluated the product, but after our weeklong review window, the battery was still nowhere near drained. Like most other HyperX headsets, the Cloud Alpha Wireless also fits well and sounds great, which are the two most important qualities that a gaming headset can offer.