2023 was a year. But, if I have to elaborate on the type of year, it has been one of ups and downs. It pretty much started in a downturn…nope, sorry…a downward spiral. I, then, spent the rest of the year trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life while trying to stay above water.
Luckily, I had some amazing games to play to take my mind off. And with 2023 being a year of amazing games (although not amazing for the industry), I was luckily able to play a few of those titles, too. I played enough of them that I was able to make a list of the best ones and one I had the displeasure of playing.
Let’s get cracking!
10. MLB The Show 23
I may not look like it, but I enjoy sports video games. I’m not that big on watching sports on TV anymore, but I do like going to live events and I especially love playing them in video games.
One of the best sports games I played this year was Madden 23. Now, while it does have “23” in the title, these games usually come out the year before, so that gets kicked out. And in its stead is MLB The Show 23.
The MLB The Show series of games was born out of the PSP-only sports titled made by Sony. When the PSP was winding down, the series found its way to the PlayStation 3 and remained on Sony consoles until 2021.
Now that MLB The Show is multiplatform and available on Xbox Game Pass on day one, I take some time to play it every year. This year’s entry brought in the Negro Leagues where the dive into the greatest players in the league and what they went through. It was well designed and very thought out.
9. Sea of Stars
This was a game that I was looking for after playing Final Fantasy VII Remake. After realizing that I actually enjoy playing RPGs, I wanted to get more into turned based combat. This game made its way to Game Pass, so I hopped on (after finishing Starfield).
It was definitely a breath of fresh air. It was giving me the retro JRPG gameplay I was craving. Maybe a little too much.
Because it was on Game Pass, in order for me to play on my Steam Deck, I remoted into my Xbox to play. This can be an issue if my Xbox needs an update and doesn’t allow remote connections. I’m a very fickle person, so when immediately hit with a roadblock, I’ll do something else. That led me to Final Fantasy XIII which I played for to completion instead.
When I came back to Sea of Stars, I had no idea where I needed to go or what I was doing. Nor did I want to start back at the beginning. So, I just left it there.
Sea of Stars gave me what I was looking for, but it also reminded me there are better games with more accessibility and quality of life features out there.
Another game that came through Game Pass (you’ll notice a theme here), Exoprimal is a Capcom third-person dino shooter. You’re tasked to work with 4 other people to go against another team of 5 to eliminate waves of dinosaurs as quickly as you can.
There is a story in the game, but it’s told similar to how Titanfall did back in the day where it’s told through cutscenes in between multiplayer matches. Not enough to keep me in it.
It was well polished. It played and streamed very well and was a lot of fun when playing with others, but just wasn’t for me.
7. Dave the Diver
Dave the Diver was the talk of the town when it released. Reading posts on Mastodon or Instagram, seeing clips on TikTok, articles online. It was the Summer of Dave.
So, after working hard on an Uber day, I treated myself to the game. It plays very well on the Steam Deck which is where I played it mostly. The beginning parts of the game were the best for me. Diving to get fish to server at the restaurant was the best. I just wished that’s all it was.
They began adding more elements like trying to breed fish and grow produce for the restaurant. If I wanted to play Stardew Valley, I would have done that. But then, they add the main story bit. That was too much for me as I just wanted something mindless to play. Now I have to manage time between all these tasks. It took the fun out of the game at that point.
If they added just a fishing/restaurant mode without the farming and story, this would be an amazing game for me.
6. Star Wars Jedi Survivor
Okay! I’m a sucker for Star Wars content. If it is a digital medium, I’m there. Except for Star Wars Rebels. I know I can still watch it, but I feel like I got the gist with Ahsoka. But that’s not why we’re here.
Star Wars Jedi Survivor is a game that wants to be great, but the technology that went into it won’t let it. Trying to play this game on my PC shouldn’t be that big of an issue. But, for some reason, Respawn is having issues putting out PC ports with their Star Wars games. I heard they had a similar issue with Fallen Order.
The story was really good, but I wasn’t really paying much attention to it with all the issues I was having getting the game to run smoothly.
I think the game is on EA Play now, so I might check it out on my Xbox Series X to see how smooth it is on console.
5. Street Fighter 6
It’s the fighting game I played this year.
No, seriously. Capcom really put their foot in this game. There are a lot of cool things that are hidden around this game for those in the know about the history of Capcom fighters. All the modes I tried are really fun to play in as well.
The performance is really good, too. The fact that this game was Steam Deck verified from the jump was amazing. However, fighting at 30 FPS isn’t the way I’d like to play the game. So, if playing on the Deck, I recommend staying away from the World Tour mode.
4. The Finals
Of all the free-to-play shooters out there, The Finals has been one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had. The game is bright and colorful. It makes you forget that its premise is essentially a entertainment vehicle glorifying death and murder for a sweet, sweet payday.
Outside of that, the game’s performance is top notch. Playing with @kevikev and @merge_conflict, I barely had an issue. There was a small hitch when we started the game, but nothing after that. Running it while streaming was no problem at all.
The only gripe I have with the game is that it currently doesn’t run on the Steam Deck. But that’s mostly all multiplayer games. Somehow Apex Legends figured it out.
3. Forza Motorsport
Finally, a reason to own an Xbox Series X or a high-end PC. Forza Motorsport was built from the ground up for the Series X to show what was possible on the system.
While all the cars I’d want to drive weren’t represented (I just wanna drive my 2021 Hyundai Sonata in a game), there were plenty of vehicles to choose from. The career mode they have is something I’ve wanted in a racing sim. I haven’t really played a proper Forza Motorsport game, but Gran Turismo’s was always confusing to me. Having races just laid out like back in the old days was a welcome return.
The “CarPG” aspect of the game is really fun, too. It kept me engaged for quite a bit. I started playing it off and on ever since I did the hands on and way more once I finished Starfield.
The last time I played, there were still some PC stuff I wish they fixed, but still getting 4K60 on Xbox Series X is plenty for me.
2. Fire Emblem Engage
That’s right! A Nintendo game is on the list and it’s up there (if you don’t look at how I ordered the list).
I had been looking forward to Engage as soon as they announced it. It took some time getting access to it thanks to weird issues with how Gamestop handled digital codes. But when I got it, you can see the effects. For three months, my Switch usage was WAY UP and my Steam Deck usage was WAY DOWN. At one point, I didn’t think I was coming back to the Deck. Then the game ended.
Fire Emblem Engage was a really good game and brought in a lot of characters from previous titles. It really did make me want to play the older titles and also had me excited for Advanced Wars (which I wasn’t able to get). It did get me to finish Wargroove. Eventually, I’ll get to Wargroove 2.
I don’t know how, but Bethesda made a believer out of me. As much as I was playing RPGs before this game came out, Starfield made me realize that I love RPGs. Cyberpunk, The Witcher, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, none of these made me feel the way Starfield did.
The story was engaging, the adventures were fun, the characters were charming. While it didn’t have me playing the game again like Cyberpunk did, I think about it constantly. One day, I’ll be back to take on the story again.
From a technical aspect, the shipping product was pretty solid. While streaming it was a bit of a struggle, playing it was a pleasant experience. However, the story was so good, I didn’t mind playing at 30 FPS on Xbox (natively and through my Steam Deck). There was the “Bethesda Jank” but it wasn’t enough to dissuade me from playing.
I truly loved this game and this is why it’s the best game I played that released in 2023!
Now, I can’t leave here without mentioning this. It’s very rare that I play games that I despise. I’d like to say that I know what I like and when I stick to it, I’m never disappointed. I got burned when I passed on Metal Gear Rising when people panned it at launch to realize that game is an absolute bop! I regretted buying Killzone: Shadow Fall because everyone praised it. It looked pretty, but it played like trash to me.
This is why I’m glad I didn’t choose this game and would have passed on it. The game is even on Game Pass and I wouldn’t have wasted my bandwidth downloading it if left to my own devices. But I was convinced to give Redfall a try. A move I instantly regretted.
When previews were coming out the day before release, there were people just dogging the game. But, because I’ve seen this before, I chose to ignore the noise and try it for myself on release. They were right. Nothing about the game was good.
But that was me playing on my own. Maybe, just maybe, it’s one of those games that’s better with friends. I was mistaken. We stuck with that game for as long as we could. But the bugs, the terrible AI and the terrible performance on PC was enough to stop us.
Wrap it up, B!
And that’s it. That’s 10 of the best games I played that came out in 2023. There were a lot of fun games that I did play. Steam, Xbox, and Nintendo reminded me of that. But only 15 games were played from 2023 and these are the 10 that made the cut.
What about you? What were your top titles of 2023?
Hit me up on Mastodon or comment below!