While malformed and incomplete, 2023’s release schedule is already looking pretty impressive full. In the first few months alone we’re getting highly anticipated titles like Forspoken, the Dead Space remake, Atomic Heart, Octopath Traveler 2 and Destiny 2: Lightfall. While I don’t necessarily care about those games, other people seem pretty jazzed about it. But hey, let’s take a look at the announced titles that I actually am looking forward to thus far.
I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the Harry Potter films or books, but even I can appreciate the atmosphere of the source material enough to want to play a game set in that universe. Considering Hogwarts Legacy is set around 100 years before the events of the film, I feel like I can get away with playing this game and not feel like a sucker for not being a diehard fan.
Based on the trailers, Hogwarts Legacy is visually impressive and certainly nails the feeling of kicking it in that old, wizardly castle that we all know and love. It also looks like its got a speedy and mechanically satisfying combat system coupled with some cool in-world RPG trappings, mostly surrounding making and learning new wizardly abilities by taking their respective classes, which to clarify all sounds pretty rad to me.
Outside of a trailer or two, I haven’t really kept up with much of the marketing blitz or promotional materials which has allowed me to live in blissful ignorance about whether or not Hogwarts Legacy is actually going to be the game for me. The one thing that does worry me and give me pause about actually buying the game surrounds J.K. Rowling being a miserable transphobe who monetarily benefits from my purchase, along with the fact that the lead designer has a history of being a shithead. I’ll wait and see how this one reviews when it eventually launches on February 10th, 2023, but I don’t know if I can justify a purchase.
On paper I really like the main conceit of the Monster Hunter franchise, but in practice I’ve found them to be clunky and unsatisfying to play. I know that I’m in the minority with those complaints but they’ve always been obstacles that have kept me from enjoying this wildly popular franchise. I’m hoping that the upcoming Wild Hearts can scratch that long unattended monster-hunting itch for me with what looks like much faster and more action-oriented combat.
The idea of teaming up with friends and setting out to hunt down some monstrous prey is extremely tantalizing as is, but Wild Hearts looks to blend in some light tower defense elements into the mix which if done well, could be a real game changer. In my mind I’m imagining a game that isn’t just about tracking creatures down, but also setting up traps and acting on what you’ve learned about said creature to use its natural instincts against it. I assume that’s something that happens in Monster Hunter, but I’ve never played long enough to know for sure. I also am well aware that this being a game about hunting legendary beasts, there might be less natural instinct to work against and more ancient magic or whatever.
If the combat and the tower defense mechanics actually deliver on their promise however, Wild Hearts might be the first monster hunting game I end up enjoy playing. Lastly, and this is a minor quibble, but if the menus in this game could be more straightforward and less of an Eldritch mystery that requires a damn cypher to decode, that would be huge for me. Wild Hearts is slated to release on February 16th, 2023, potentially becoming the second video game I end up buying in a six day period.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
While not perfect, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was one of the best pieces of Star Wars media I’ve consumed in the past few years and a fun game to boot. The characters were likeable, the gameplay was tough but satisfying, and the story, while underdeveloped, was still filled with interesting and surprising moments filled with nods to deeper Star Wars lore for the hardcore fans.
Hopefully Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will build upon its solid foundation, adding in more variety in both lightsaber and force power combat, the latter of which in my opinion should resemble the Stormtrooper flinging simulator that was Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Judging by preorder bonuses, it also looks to address the pitiful lack of customization options of the previous entry by offering more character skins that aren’t just color swaps of the tunic you’re wearing.
My only real fear here is that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor leans too much into its ‘souls-like’ or ‘masocore’ inspirations, tweaking the difficulty curve to be more inline with other games in the genre. Hopefully with it being a licensed game of one of the most popular franchises ever, the game will boast a wide variety of accessibility and difficulty options that’ll let even a casual like myself enjoy it. Guess I’ll find out when it releases on March 17th of 2023.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
I feel like I really shouldn’t have to explain why I’m excited for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom considering its predecessor is probably one of the greatest games of all time, but I’ll give it the ol’ college try.
I’ve never been a big Zelda guy, but Breath of the Wild was such a phenomenal experience that dropped you into a painterly version of Hyrule with the simple goal of ‘stop Ganon.” You could always look toward the castle to see wisps of his menace swirling around and encompassing it just begging for you to come and square off against the horrors within. But before you’d even attempt to tackle that, you could see seven other interesting places to explore, all of which led to several more.
Breath of the Wild represents the pinnacle of motivating the player to explore their surroundings and all I can hope for from a sequel is more of that. More places to see with more tools at my disposal to explore them. I’d also super love to not have to worry about weapon degradation anymore. I know that’s a common complaint and hot debate topic amongst fans, but for once I’d like to see Nintendo give a shit about their players and offer some accessibility options, specifically one that lets me use the Master Sword as much as I want without having to go through hell to do it. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom allegedly comes out on May 12th of 2023, but I won’t hold my breath.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that I’m a big fan of the Suicide Squad or anything, but I’ve certainly been won over by what little I’ve seen Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Granted, there hasn’t been a ton of gameplay or anything for me to reference, but I trust Rocksteady Studios’ ability to make compelling gameplay so much that I’d play a game solely about Calendar Man if they made it.
In Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, you play as one of 4 members of the Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, King Shark, or Captain Boomerang, as you square off against a Brainiac controlled Justice League that’s doing some real nasty shit. I don’t know too much more about it other than it’s cooperative, but will fill in computer controlled allies where you need them which will come in handy when you can’t find anyone to play as Captain Boomerang, a character I know nothing about aside from his dumb name.
I’m excited to play this game because I’m a big fan of the Arkham games and trust that Rocksteady is going to make something that’s fun to play. As long as they don’t add some boring but mandatory Batmobile-tank battles to Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League like some other Batman games, I think it’ll be a great time. They say it’ll be out on May 26th of 2023, but I’ve been lied to before.
Baldur’s Gate 3
This one’s interesting because I’ve already played Baldur’s Gate 3 back when it released into early access approximately 14 years ago and liked it despite its rough, buggy busted-ness. I made the conscious decision to not play it until its full release because every major update brought with it a wipe of save files and I didn’t want to deal with that, so I just put it back on the digital shelf so it could marinate longer.
But now Baldur’s Gate 3 has a projected release window for August of 2023, and once it does I’m fully anticipating losing a lot of hours of my life to what might become the best Dungeons & Dragons video game of all time, depending on who you ask. I for one have high hopes for Baldur’s Gate 3 because it represents the first real turn-based RPG I’ve ever really enjoyed, which is a colossal feat in itself.
The biggest thing for me about Baldur’s Gate 3 is that it’s using the 5th Edition rules, and since I’m fairly well-versed in those I’ve had a much easier time playing this genre of game without essentially having to learn two games at once. I just want a good way to play D&D without having to be a DM or even finding a group, and Baldur’s Gate 3 seems like it’ll fill that void for me.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
I really enjoyed both Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, so being excited for their inevitable sequel doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch. Insomniac Games already proved that they know how to make a mechanically sound Spider-Man game that can also deliver a compelling narrative, and that’s kind of all I want out of a sequel.
A lot of folks are clamoring for some sort of cooperative play between Miles and Peter, which would be cool for sure, but isn’t something that I need from Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. All I want from the sequel is a little more variety, both in terms of main story missions and side quests. Sprinkle in some new abilities and costumes, and you’ve got yourself a solid follow up to one of my favorite games of 2018.
But therein lies the exciting part, cause I don’t know what Insomniac could do outside of the things I’ve already listed in order to top themselves. I’m sure they’ve got something wonderful cooked up for players, but I’d sound stupid even attempting to predict what that could be. Sure I could theorize payoffs for the last game’s cliffhangers, but I’m more excited about what mechanical changes are implemented. I suppose I’ll find out at some point in 2023.
Mina the Hollower
For those unaware, Mina the Hollower is the next title from Yacht Club Games, makers of the tremendous Shovel Knight series. If Shovel Knight was their Mega-Man, then Mina the Hollower looks to be their Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, which an incredibly exciting concept to me.
Full transparency: I backed Mina the Hollower on Kickstarter because it not only looks dope as hell, but is being made by a studio I trust. What really sold me in its initial pitch was the core mechanic of digging through the earth as a quick means of transportation, hence the ‘Hollower.’ That coupled with the variety of weapons, enemies and zones in the world made it really easy to throw 20 or 30 dollars at this unfinished product.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m not really a Zelda guy, but as I’ve essentially screamed at the top of my lungs twice already, I think Yacht Club Games could be the ones to finally make that math work out for me. It doesn’t have a concrete release date just yet, but they’re aiming for 2023 at the moment, but something tells me that date wont stick.
Call it wishful thinking or misplaced optimism, but I really hope that Starfield is good. My feelings about Bethesda as a competent game maker aside, I would love for a good sci-fi RPG cause I haven’t had one of those since Mass Effect was set in the Milky Way. I guess The Outer Worlds was pretty good, but it didn’t really leave a lasting impression despite really enjoying it at the time.
What excites me about Starfield is the fact that it’s a fresh start in terms of lore. Despite enjoying some of the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I could not tell you much of anything about that world because of how dense the lore was. I can’t say for certain, but it definitely felt like I was missing a lot of context for the universe by not following the series since its inception. Starfield represents a chance to get in on the ground floor and have Bethesda introduce not just myself, but everyone to this new setting.
Aside from lore, I just hope that Starfield isn’t as buggy and busted as some of its predecessors, a thing that most fans seem to find endearing for some reason. I also wouldn’t mind if the shooting was good. I get that it’s an RPG first, but there has never been anything less satisfying to me than shooting a character in the head being met with them just losing slightly more health. I mention this because as a sci-fi game, I would expect Starfield to rely more on gunplay than Fallout did, which I would hope would result in weightier combat, but what do I know? Those and other questions are bound to be answered when it releases sometime in 2023.
This list could have been a dozen or so more entries long, but these are kind of the big ones that I could think of from where I’m at in 2022. I’m sure a bevy of things will be announced and released as the year progresses that I’ll be equally excited for. There’s also the possibility that something on this list will slip into 2024 which would be insane considering most of these games already have been delayed. But hey, I’m sure we’ll talk about that stuff as it comes up during the year.