Bank accounts across the world, rejoice. 2023 has been a flurry of blockbuster game launches, but the rest of summer is looking mercifully quieter — meaning now is the time to catch up on all of the fantastic games that have already launched this year.
- READ MORE: The 8 best PC games you need to play in 2023
The peace and quiet won’t last long: the likes of Baldur’s Gate 3 and Starfield are already plotting to devour your free time later in the year, and you could spend a lifetime working through the phenomenal games that have launched in recent months. From long-awaited sequels to revisited classics and surprise hits, 2023 has already been an exceptional year for gaming — so join us in celebrating some of the best games we’ve spent the last few months immersed in.
Words: Andy Brown
It’s hard to label Cassette Beasts, but that’s what made Bytten Studio’s indie gem so compelling. In this gorgeous 2D open-world game, players wandered the world clearing dungeons, building relationships, and catching monsters to wield in combat. Was it influenced by Pokémon? Persona? Zelda? Arthurian legends? Who can say: by the time Cassette Beasts had you in its clutches, you couldn’t think of anything else for a long time.
For fans of: Pokémon Emerald, The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Company Of Heroes 3
Company Of Heroes 3 was a generous triple-helping for real-time strategy (RTS) fans. Returning to World War 2, developer Relic offered an impressive two campaigns — a mission-based journey through Africa and Total War-style sandbox across Italy — along with the bombastic multiplayer battles the series is known for. A phenomenal step forward for the series, it’s no surprise it landed a five-star review at NME.
For fans of: Total War, Men Of War: Assault Squad 2
Whose idea was it to make Dead Space scarier? When this survival horror remake launched in January, EA subjected a whole new generation of gamers to the USG Ishimura’s terrifying atmosphere. A complete upgrade over the original, this year’s Dead Space brought improved gore, guns, and — most importantly — scares to a game that was spooky enough. Leave off!
Announced in 2019, Diablo 4 proved to be worth the wait when it launched this summer. Whether you were a returning fan of Blizzard‘s isometric RPG series or this was your first time stepping into its gothic universe, Diablo 4 had so much to offer — though for all of its high-stakes story and scenery-chewing cinematics, its real draw was killing hordes of baddies and rifling through their pockets for sweet, sweet loot.
Final Fantasy 16
Final Fantasy 16 wore its Game Of Thrones inspirations on its sleeve: a rich medieval fantasy stuffed with intrigue, war, and the occasional hand getting lopped off. In tandem with its refined hack-and-slash swordplay, Earth-shaking Eikon battles, and all-around good boy Torgal, Square Enix managed to create one of the long-running series’ most memorable entries yet
Fire Emblem Engage
33 years after the first Fire Emblem hit consoles, Intelligent Systems and Nintendo launched Fire Emblem Engage, proving there’s no end in sight for their long-running strategy series. Iconic characters from across the Fire Emblem universe returned en masse to save yet another world, and with three decades of history crammed into one show-stopping Switch title, the results spoke for themselves.
Surprise! In January, Tango Gameworks unexpectedly launched Hi-Fi Rush: a rhythm-based action game where players bopped and bashed their way through a dystopian future to the tune of The Black Keys, Nine Inch Nails, and plenty more. Beats per minute took on a whole new meaning while fighting robots to The Prodigy, and Hi-Fi Rush‘s earworms lingered long after the game’s credits rolled.
Octopath Traveler 2
If you jumped into Octopath Traveler 2 when it launched in February, there’s a good chance you’re still picking your way through the world of Solistia. This sprawling RPG brought refinements to the turn-based combat and eight-protagonist formula that first made Octopath a hit with fans, while a gorgeous lighting system made Octopath Traveler 2 one of the best-looking games on the Nintendo Switch.
Resident Evil 4
While horror fans were still recovering from Dead Space, Capcom brought back another nail-biting classic with its Resident Evil 4 remake. Set in a spooky European village (not that one), Resident Evil 4 took original horror himbo Leon Kennedy on a trip to rescue the U.S. President’s daughter from cultists. A perfect blend of scares and action-packed thrills, Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 remake was a shot of botox for one of gaming’s finest.
For fans of: The Evil Within, Dead Space
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Not content to rest on the laurels of 2019’s Fallen Order, Respawn Entertainment returned to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. Picking up five years after Jedi Cal Kestis’ first adventure, Survivor offered a far darker glimpse of life under the Empire. Refined combat and a gripping story meant the force was strong with this sci-fi odyssey, even during the toughest of boss fights.
Street Fighter 6
Talk about a one-two punch: after a jaw-dropping reception to Resident Evil 4, Capcom returned in June to blow minds with Street Fighter 6. An all-out slugfest, Street Fighter 6 delivered a fantastic experience for hardcore fighting fans and fresh-faced newcomers alike. With slick fights, tons of customisation options and reams of style, Street Fighter 6 was a round-winning knockout.
On all fronts, Sunshine Shuffle was a creative joy: a narrative poker game about bank heists and the horrors of capitalism, parcelled up with cutesy Animal Crossing-style graphics. Hilarious, gripping, and at times quietly devastating, Sunshine Shuffle burned through its four-hour runtime like a getaway driver with a foul-mouthed capybara in the passenger seat.
For fans of: Poker Night At The Inventory, Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator
In yet another victory for remakes, Nightdive Studios’ eight-year development cycle paid off with a phenomenal remake of 1994’s System Shock. With a new lease of life, this groundbreaking sci-fi game looked fantastic for a whole new audience, while the story of a rogue AI turned villain felt painfully prescient in 2023 — Elon Musk, take notes.
The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom
The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom was a magical experience, and each minute passed in Hyrule was better than the last. This long-awaited Breath Of The Wild sequel exceeded its predecessor in every way, and reams of innovation cemented Link’s return as one of the greatest triumphs of Nintendo’s 133-year history.
Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun
A Doom-style shooter with charming retro graphics, Boltgun turned Warhammer 40K’s ultraviolence up to 11 by dropping players into the shoes of a hulking Space Marine. Relentlessly fast-paced, Boltgun was a gory blessing for anyone craving a good shooter this year, and proved that now more than ever, there’s never been a better time to be a Warhammer fan.