When it comes to gaming, 2022 truly was the year 2021 was supposed to be—which is to say all the unexpected delays of the last two pandemic-smothered years seem to finally be giving way to a slew of updates and new releases. Some of them were projects we’d been waiting on for goodness knows how long, while others were surprise hits that took the world by storm without warning. Yes, God of War: Ragnarok was as gargantuan as we imagined, but who’d have thought one of the biggest games of the year would be an indie sci-fi game about a cat? Or that Disney would make its own Animal Crossing? Or that Neon White would be that effortlessly cool?
Below are the top ten most popular gaming wikis of 2022, the places gamers went to catalog entire tomes worth of lore and walkthroughs. In a year that favored eccentric new properties Some of them are guaranteed to surprise you!
10. Grand Theft Auto
Video games make kids violent… is a sentence I bet you wish you never had to hear again. You can thank GTA for that one.
Rockstar’s tentpole franchise has yet to release a commercial flop since its debut in 1997 (we don’t talk about Grand Theft Auto Advance, no, no, no). Its latest installment, GTA V, is still getting next-gen console revamps nine years in, and its multiplayer companion GTA Online sees up to 150,000 players a day on Steam alone.
But its popularity doesn’t come from longevity alone. GTA boasts some of the most memorable, irreverent characters in gaming, an accolade coveted by so many of its competitors. Heck, it started the conversation about gleeful violence in video games. It sees the sheer depravity of its audience, hands them the keys, and says “go nuts.” In some ways, its densely-populated streets still make for a more compelling “sandbox” than so many modern open-world games with a lot of empty space and nothing to do in it. Even the best of them still owe a good deal of their success to the groundwork GTA laid. It’s no wonder the franchise that outraged moms and politicians everywhere over an innocent coffee date is still making our list today.
9. League of Legends
2021 brought us the shockingly good animated hit Arcane, and with it a whole influx of new fans of the League of Legends universe. That’s not to say it was hurting for an audience before, mind you–it was already boasting a whopping 126 million monthly players. Still, the show was able to dive into League’s lore with much more depth than a fast-paced thirty-minute match could ever achieve, and fans took to it with aplomb. Now, each character is more than just a strong aesthetic and an iconic moveset. Vi and Jinx aren’t two random champions fighting over zone control; they’ve been fully humanized, bringing all their relationship drama to every engagement.
With season 2 of Arcane on the horizon, we’ll get an opportunity to flesh out even more of the gigantic character roster–although with 162 playable champions, it’s unlikely we’ll get to spend time with all of them. Arcane or not, League continues to dominate the MOBA landscape and cement itself further as a cultural touchstone that even non-gamers recognize.
Speaking of cultural phenomena, our next property is quite possibly gaming’s biggest export to global culture itself. Gone are the days of Pokémon being any one thing. A sprawling multimedia empire of video games, TCGs, anime, manga, films, plushies, and whatever the fresh hell this is has turned it into one of the most nebulous and recognizable brands out there. But whatever it is now, it started as a couple of innocent Gameboy titles about children and legalized cockfighting.
We’ve come a long way from Pocket Monsters Red and Green. Now, twenty-six years after those games were released, Game Freak have brought Pokémon Scarlet and Violet to the Nintendo Switch, proving once and for all that they know their way around the color wheel. With each new generation comes a whole new cavalcade of Pokémon to capture and train, so it should come as no surprise that the wiki saw plenty of traffic in tandem with the recent games’ launch, especially after a little interregnum boost with Legends: Arceus at the start of the year. ScarVio takes a sort of middle ground between that game and the more traditional gameplay of other mainline titles, and while the launch was admittedly a bit buggy, the Paldea region is already an instant fan favorite.
The survival game genre has always been severely lacking in one thing: dinosaurs. ARK: Survival Evolved sought to remedy that glaring deficiency by building a whole game around them. Players can build towns and tame armies of prehistoric creatures to defend them. The game’s robust update schedule also gives gamers plenty to research and optimize, as many new creatures require specific strategies and resources to master.
But it’s not just dinosaurs players will need to contend with. Ice Age megafauna showed up in some of the beta releases, and the options have only gotten crazier from there. The game’s fifth and final paid DLC takes players aboard a giant spaceship to tame robotic horses, were-lemurs, and a lion/lionfish hybrid–so yeah, we’re pretty far afield of the real-world fossil record at this point.
Expansions and spin-offs abound, with even more to come in the franchise’s near future. The game’s sequel, ARK 2, is set to release in 2023, with Vin Diesel and Auli’i Cravalho set to star. An animated series has also been announced for HBO Max. It’ll feature such illustrious voice talent as Jeffery Wright, Michelle Yeoh, Gerard Butler, and David Tennant to help fill out the world of ARK.
6. Elder Scrolls
Todd Howard will make sure his fantasy franchise stays relevant long after the collapse of civilization with the re-release of Skyrim on the Nuclear-Blasted Rock Series X. Even without the consistent ports of 2011’s evergreen title, the Elder Scrolls is jam-packed with as much lore as any other franchise out there. The fact that its first online multiplayer title, The Elder Scrolls Online, continues to release quality updates adding even more to its vast world is just the icing on the cake. ESO released four DLCs in its sprawling Legacy of the Bretons story arc this year, each replete with new dungeons and trials for players to complete in addition to a whole new game region called High Isle.
And ESO isn’t carrying the franchise by itself. A committed modding community makes sure Skyrim gets even more content every day–provided you’ve got the patience to futz with a decent mod manager–and even Morrowind can be fully remastered with a couple hundred mods.
The sixth mainline franchise entry was announced back in 2018 with absolutely no details given, and Bethesda is still geared up to ship Starfall next year, but Todd Howard himself has promised that TESVI will be their top priority after that. In the meantime, we’ll just be modding our mudcrabs to say rude stuff until it’s out.
Not content to only have a single entry on this list, our next item is Bethesda’s other open-world RPG franchise. Fallout 76 may not have exactly been the game players were expecting at launch, but it’s seen some major revamps since its rocky release, and its base has taken notice. It’s gained a reputation as a solid, quality MMO with plenty of content for players to enjoy.
The Fallout franchise is also branching into uncharted territory with a new live-action series on Prime Video, led by accomplished eyebrow-actor Walton Goggins. With all of that in addition to a modding community almost as sprawling as The Elder Scrolls has, there’s no shortage of ways to get your Rad-X shot of Fallout content.
Or, you know, you can always go start another New Vegas playthrough. We know you’ve been thinking about it.
4. Escape from Tarkov
The grittiest entry on the list is Escape from Tarkov, Battlestate Games’ high-stakes realistic shooter, which takes major cues from MMOs, survival games, and battle royales. The game pits players against the environment and each other in tense raids where any gear brought to the battle might be permanently lost if scavenged by the opposing team. It’s often compared to hardcore military simulation games like ARMA, with a sparse HUD, granular movement controls, and realistic ballistics physics (my new favorite tongue-twister). There’s even a hydration and energy system for players to monitor during the fray. Fans of extreme immersion can get their kicks from the game’s commitment to verisimilitude, while battle royale players can achieve a sense of progression—or loss, depending on how each match goes. Adrenaline junkies and sadists alike flock to the game where griefing isn’t just encouraged, it’s essential.
3. Genshin Impact
Truly that dark horse of 2020’s gaming landscape was Genshin Impact (aka What If Breath of the Wild But Genshin) boasts a huge open world with tons of traversal and combat options thanks to a gigantic roster of interchangeable characters. And man, do gamers have opinions about some of those characters. Not since Overwatch have we seen so many players latch onto certain characters in a game, whether over their aesthetic, their combat capabilities, or just plain simping. Developer miHoYo seems to know exactly what kind of lightning they’ve trapped in that particular bottle, holding character-specific in-game events to boost the chances of recruiting and upgrading characters. It’s clearly effective, as the game has grossed more than $4 billion in character revenue alone.
While it’s certainly not free from controversy, Genshin Impact has broken the mold in a lot of ways. “Free mobile MMORPG set in a reimagined China” doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of thing with international appeal, but 50 million monthly players would beg to differ.
Ah, Minecraft. Thirteen years after Mojang’s LEGO simulator hit the internet, it’s become the single best-selling video game of all time. It has 140 million monthly active players. It’s been ported to nearly every platform imaginable. It’s spawned spin-offs, films, books, tabletop games, and that pixelated foam sword your nephew likes to hit you in the shins with.
There’s something to be said about how a simple-looking game can provide countless hours of entertainment and creativity to gamers all over the world. Yes, comparisons to Lego are natural to make, but beyond the obvious blocky aesthetic, they also share a commitment to fostering ingenuity, community, and ludicrously elaborate constructions. Minecraft truly is one of the most versatile gaming experiences out there, filling all kinds of niches from a bona fide adventure story to an elaborate city sim. Now that it’s rolling in that sweet Microsoft money, it’s been able to churn out more content than ever, not to mention all the options offered by the game’s prodigious modding community. With well over a decade under its belt and no sign of stopping anytime soon, it seems Minecraft really is here to stay.
Once pitched as “Minecraft but sideways” to many an errant Discord channel looking for something new to play, Terraria has had over a decade to establish itself as so much more than just another clone in the sandbox genre. Technically, Terraria “concluded” with its “Journey’s End” update back in 2020, but that hasn’t stopped its community from digging even deeper into its procedurally-generated oblivion. It’s a game of intricate mechanics and limitless possibilities, and gamers have made great use of its wiki to grasp some of its inscrutable complexity.
Then, in 2021, the game won the Steam Labor of Love Award, inspiring the team at Redigit to release their aptly named “Labor of Love” update a year later. It introduced tons of new quality of life improvements, characters, terraforming tools, and much more. Now, a full two years after its supposed terminus, it’s Fandom’s most popular gaming wiki of 2022. Nothing 2-D about that!