Rory Galvin looks ahead at this year’s upcoming games: good and bad
This year is shaping up to be a really interesting one for games. A lot of the biggest releases seem to either be sequels, remakes, or based on existing licences - which means it will either be great, or greatly disappointing. There’s only so much you can talk about, so this list will only be covering the heavy hitters as well as some personal favourites. For better or for worse, this is what’s coming out in 2023.
Forspoken should be out by the time you are reading this article - a game that has had a huge marketing push, but is otherwise not looking good. After a chance to play the game through a demo released recently (something you rarely see these days,) a lot of the response has been quite negative, and for good reason. The graphics are okay, but are hurt by harsh, almost blinding lighting and washed out colours. The gameplay and story are what truly damage the experience. From my playing, I found it to be quite clunky and unfun to hit the sponge-like enemies, awkwardly having to pause to swap my loadouts. The story looks quite generic, with quips so frequent and annoying the developers added an option to make them show up less. Overall, I’m not expecting much.
Dead Space is the true game to be excited about for January. Yes, it’s a remake, but the footage released of it looks incredible - and the developers are adding segments cut from the original back into this entry. The first Dead Space is my favourite survival horror game, and while it’s very much playable today (I played it on PC not too long ago,) a remake could make things even better. I’m looking forward to visiting the USG Ishimura again.
More of a remaster - Like a Dragon: Ishin is a game I never thought would be released here. Previously called Yakuza Ishin by fans, it was a Japanese exclusive released in 2014, so anyone who knows about it has been asking for the game to be localised since. Like other Yakuza games, it’s a wacky open-world action brawler, with this one taking place in Edo period Japan. The more niche nature of it was the reason for the delay, but with the series being extremely popular here now, this release is a no-brainer. If you haven’t played any of the Yakuza/Like a Dragon games before, you have some excellent titles waiting for you.
For a controversial release, Hogwarts Legacy is probably at the top of that list. Not only is the Harry Potter franchise tarnished by the behaviour of its creator J.K. Rowling, but the lead designer, Troy Leavitt, ended up also being a far right YouTuber who defended the infamous GamerGate movement. If you don’t know what that is, keep it that way, it’ll keep you sane. Beyond any murkiness with the creators behind it, the game looks interesting, but has a lot of potential to disappoint. While exploring Hogwarts sounds great, the gameplay and story surrounding it doesn’t look satisfying, and surprisingly little of the actual content has been shown. Also, the last-gen versions have all been delayed as the developers prioritise the current generation, which is a telltale sign that this game will have a rocky launch.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is the follow-up to 2019’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, a souls-like action adventure that immediately became a hit. Respawn Entertainment rarely misses: Fallen Order was a personal favourite from that year despite how buggy a state it launched in. Any story in the expanded universe of Star Wars is always interesting, so seeing a continuation of Cal Kestis’ story is definitely exciting. As long as they make improvements to some of the maze-like level design from the previous entry (and launch it with fewer bugs), Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is sure to be a thrilling adventure through space.
As far as remakes go, Resident Evil 4 has extremely high expectations from the public. The original game is lauded as one of the best survival horror games - if not one of the best games in general, it’s a tall order for anything to match that. This release aims to modernise the controls that were revolutionary for the time alongside a few other changes. Capcom has had a great track record with their remakes (except for possibly Resident Evil 3), so fans shouldn’t be worried. It seems like the biggest thing that could divide fans is more of a horror focus being established - so a darker presentation might put off lovers of the original.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a direct sequel to 2017’s Breath of the Wild, and like Resident Evil 4, it’s considered to be one of the best games ever made. So, for a sequel, it looks like not much will be changed. It still takes place in Hyrule, we still play as Link, and that’s all Nintendo will give away. Trailers have shown hints of new gameplay features and added aspects to the open world, all of which looks like an expansion on to what made the first game so amazing. It may not feel like a full sequel, but this will probably end up being game of the year for a lot of people.
Final Fantasy XVI has had a lot of excitement surrounding it, but in such a huge year for releases, it can feel like it’s in the background somewhat. It looks like it’s doing quite a lot differently in comparison to other titles in the long running franchise; there’s more of a mediaeval setting, it has a pretty dark presentation, and it’s further going into the slasher combat established in Final Fantasy XV. This might put off fans already annoyed from previous changes to the formula, but with names like Naoki Yoshida and much of the staff of the only MMO to rival World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, it has to be good.
Finally, the sequel to Insomniac’s Spider-Man may not have a concrete date yet, but it has been confirmed that it will be released before 2023 ends. Spider-Man took the world by storm on PS4 and quickly grew to be one of Sony’s best selling exclusives. The Miles Morales game may have felt like a DLC, but it laid the foundation for what I’m sure will be something everyone will want to play. The tease of Venom being a main villain is exciting, and the thought alone of playing as both Spider-Men with or without co-op is great. Spider-Man 2 won’t be bad, but let’s hope it expands a little beyond the island of Manhattan, as we would be treading on all-too familiar ground otherwise.
That’s only the highlights. Indies like Bomb Rush Cyberfunk and Hades 2 are sure to delight, plus long-awaited games like Starfield, Dead Island 2 and even Diablo IV should be on their way - for better or for worse. Virtual reality should get a bump as well with the launch of the PlayStation VR2 and the games that are coming alongside that. It’s a great year if you’re an optimist, but with so many sequels and remakes - it’s hard to say how 2023 will end up