With high profile releases like EA Motive’s Dead Space remake, Nintendo’s Breath of the Wild and the surprise hit Hi-Fi Rush, 2023 is already a strong contender for game of the year.
But there are plenty more releases to consider, including a Pokemon-riff, a day one Xbox Game Pass title and a stylish battle royale.
Blizzard’s Diablo series has long been one of the most popular ARPGs around thanks to the countless demons to slaughter, an infinite pool of loot to collect, and a wide range of classes. But the studio’s had a rough run of late, with high staff turnover, troubling accusations about working conditions and alleged pay gaps, and a lawsuit to contend with.
Diablo 4 is a chance to make it right. It’s also one of the only games that could truly compete with a blockbuster release like Bethesda’s sci-fi RPG Starfield or Nintendo’s Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, both of which are highly anticipated, multiplatform releases.
If the game launches well, doesn’t have any dastardly hidden plans for microtransactions (which Blizzard swears do not exist) and manages to maintain its popularity as time goes on, then it may very well be this year’s Game of the Year 2023. If not, it’ll be a close race with other titles in the same boat, including EA Motive’s Dead Space remake, another worthy contender. For more on what to expect from Diablo 4, check out our full preview here.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
After the success of EA Motive’s Dead Space remake and the near-universal acclaim for Street Fighter 6, 2023 looks to be another stellar year for gaming. In particular, the month of June has been exceptional so far, as both Metroid Prime: Remastered and Resident Evil 4 were released with overwhelming critical acclaim.
Next up is Team Ninja’s Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, a dark and gritty Soulslike set in the Three Kingdoms period of ancient China. A demo was recently released for players to get their hands on ahead of the game’s release. The demo was well received, with Martin particularly praising the malleable gameplay and comparing it to FromSoftware’s Sekiro.
Like Nioh and Sekiro, Wo Long appears to be a third-person action role-playing game with an open-world structure and combat based on Chinese martial arts. Players will customize their character’s appearance and choose a “phase” upon creation, which influences how the player will battle enemies. When close-range attacks are made, the player’s spirit gauge fills and allows them to unleash special combat moves and cast elemental spells.
Despite a few big flops (Redfall, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tears of the Kingdom), most new AAA releases have lived up to expectations or exceeded them. The likes of Metroid Prime Remastered, the Resident Evil 4 remake, and Street Fighter 6 have smashed into critics’ lists with near-universal acclaim.
Stealth-dropped after Microsoft’s Xbox showcase, Hi-Fi Rush feels like a seismic breath of fresh air amongst the usual fare of license bait and remakes. Developed by Tango Gameworks, which has games like The Evil Within and Ghostwire: Tokyo to its name, this rhythm-action game delivers the goods in a cartoony, robot-populated world.
Hi-Fi Rush is a delight to play, a relentless beat-driven romp that requires precise timing from players in order to score big points and damage. Even if players tap the buttons slightly off, it’s easy to see that this game was lovingly crafted, with everything from Chai’s footsteps to the Vandelay statues you beat up pulsing in time with the music. The game also boasts a dazzling cell-shaded aesthetic, with Ben-Day dots and thick linework giving it the feel of a Japanese comic book.
Resident Evil 4 (remake)
Like EA Motive’s Dead Space remake, Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 (remake) is a survival horror classic that was reimagined for the current generation. The remake boasts an updated story, visuals, characters, and gameplay while staying true to the original game’s legacy.
The most notable change comes in the form of Ashley Graham, who has been improved from a snotty-rude damsel to a tougher character who’s not afraid to save her savior Leon. The escorting sections of the original game were divisive, with some players deriding Ashley as a nuisance who needed to be constantly rescued. The remake’s revamp aims to make the escort missions feel more natural and less cumbersome.
Hi-Fi Rush is another worthy 2023 contender thanks to its quality single-player campaign and high-octane gameplay loop. Owned by Bethesda, underrated developer Tango Gameworks hasn’t found much success with its survival-horror games, but it proved that they could deliver a strong action title when given the chance with this high-energy rhythm-action game.
Dead Space (remake)
Anyone who’s played Dead Space will agree that it is a sci-fi horror classic. This remake by Motive Studio takes that legacy and builds upon it with jaw-dropping visual fidelity, suspenseful atmospheric audio, and gameplay improvements. It’s an experience that shouldn’t be missed by any survival horror fan.
Another big release that’s a contender for 2023 GOTY is Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, which is an outstanding single-player story from developer Respawn. This game follows maverick Jedi protagonist Cal Kestis as he fights against the Empire and tries to save the galaxy. It’s an excellent follow-up to KOTOR and delivers a stellar gaming experience.
It’s also worth mentioning that FromSoftware has a game in the running for this year as well, with their latest entry into the multi-awarded Dark Souls series. Whether or not this is a candidate for GOTY will depend on how well the game performs with both fans and critics, but it’s still a title to watch.