Press Start to Play: 2023’s Most Anticipated Video Games
LAST YEAR SAW A SLEW of massive games, from blockbuster sequels like God of War: Ragnarök and Horizon: Forbidden West, to delightful indies like Tunic and Stray, and even a once-in-a-generation behemoth in the form of Game of the Year list topper, Elden Ring. It was a stellar year for gaming, but with a formidable lineup of hotly anticipated games ahead, this year looks like no slouch.
In fact, 2023 looks like it could be one of the banner years in gaming that people will look back on, wondering how so many titles could hit back-to-back (to back!). Right out the gate, there’s a new Fire Emblem (Fire Emblem Engage, released Jan. 20), and this week alone sees the launch of both a brand-new action-RPG with publisher Square Enix’s Forspoken and a remake of horror classic with developer Motive Studio’s Dead Space. High-profile sequels like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Dead Island 2 lay the groundwork for a busy spring before summer arrives with JRPG juggernaut Final Fantasy XVI and esports-ready Street Fighter 6 bringing their respective franchises fully into the modern era. That’s before even mentioning the first mainline Diablo game since 2012, or Hades II – the follow up to one of the most beloved indies of the last decade — going into early access. Oh, and there’s a next generation PlayStation VR to boot.
Suffice it to say, it’s a good time to be a gamer. On top of everything above, here are five titles we can’t wait to see in 2023.
This story is part of Gaming Levels Up, a special section that celebrates the proliferation of video games throughout our entire culture. A version also appears in the Jan. 2023 issue of the magazine.
‘The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’
A rare direct sequel for Zelda, this follow-up to 2017’s masterful Breath of the Wild takes to the open skies after a mysterious cataclysm upends the world of Hyrule. Given that its predecessor is routinely name-dropped as one of the greatest games of all time, there’s plenty of expectations for this release from fans and industry insiders alike. Knowing how long in the tooth the Nintendo Switch hardware has become, it’s entirely possible that this could be a swan song for the big N’s wildly successful hybrid console.
Nintendo has been playing it close to the chest with details — even more so than usual — with the setting, gameplay, and even basic plot still a total mystery. But fans should never count Nintendo out. Reinventing the legend is their forte and this is shoe-in for the biggest game of the year on hype alone.
‘Resident Evil 4’
After countless rereleases, you’d think fans would be sick of Resident Evil 4, but Capcom has reanimated the influential title like an unkillable zombie once more. To be fair, they’ve earned some clout, having released not just two excellent modern remakes with Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3, but consistently weaving brand new entries like Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and Resident Evil Village into the series, bookending the franchise with pristine entries both old and new. Horror game remakes are all the rage right now, with everything from Dead Space to the beloved title Silent Hill 2 returning from the grave, but Capcom set the blueprint.
The game follows fan favorite Leon Kennedy on a mission to save the president’s daughter from a rural village in Spain besieged by cult members, hellacious creatures, and chainsaw wielding psychopaths. With a reimagined story and new controls, even series veterans will find themselves howling in shock well into the night.
‘Hollow Knight: Silksong’
When it was first released in 2017, Team Cherry’s Hollow Knight introduced players to one of the most visually lush 2D worlds in recent memory. Instantly lauded as one of the very best examples of the “metroidvania” subgenre (a portmanteau of Metroid and Castlevania describing games inspired by both), Hollow Knight would go on to become of the most famous indie titles of the generation. This sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, was announced in 2019 but after a series of delays and general feeling of withholding, details are still mum.
Here’s what we do know: the game follows Hornet, princess-protector of Hallownest and a major non-playable character from the first game, and looks to follow similar design to the original, with a highly detailed illustrated world come to life through dozens of hours of traversal, exploration, and white knuckle combat. This is the little indie with well-earned AAA clout.
‘Marvel’s Spider-Man 2’
After years of languishing in the shadow of Rocksteady’s Arkham series of Batman games, Marvel finally managed to pull things together on the video game front with 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-man, developed by one of Sony’s most reliable in-house studios, Insomniac. Leaning into similar combat to the Arkham games, with endless combos and furious pacing, but paired with lush open-world and surprisingly emotional story, the game gave modern Spider-man movies a run for their money. That game’s pseudo sequel, Miles Morales, let players control a very different web head with the Harlem-based hero, but expanded on both the storytelling and gameplay in meaningful ways.
Now, both protagonists come together to face the one Spidey villain that even non-comic readers can recognize offhand: the hulking symbiote Venom. Expect another emotionally riveting journey into the Marvel mythos, with some of the most exhilarating (and time sucking) movement in all of gaming.
Developed by Bethesda Game Studios, shepherds of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, Starfield is one of those games that has been in development for so long with so much mystery surrounding it that it’s practically the stuff of legends. Coming from the studio that has defined (and redefined) the standards of first-person RPGs and open-world exploration, there’s a lot to live up to. It’s also uncharted territory for the devs who — despite having created massive, engaging worlds in both science fiction and fantasy — have set the bar high by promising over one thousand planets to explore with a colossal number of player choices at your fingertips.
It’s touted as “Skyrim in space,” and frankly, that’s enough of an elevator pitch to have an entire industry enraptured. Hopefully, anyone who plans to pick this one up has their backlog cleared out because there will be little time for anything else once players shoot to the stars.