As we prepare to stroll into 2024, I thought it’d be appropriate to look back on 2023’s year in gaming and pick out my top titles – and the games that disappointed me the most. It has been a busy year with phenomenal releases, but I’ll be upfront and stress that I didn’t get to play quite as many as I would have liked. From groundbreaking reveals to mass layoffs, 2023 has proven to be a tumultuous twelve months, but it’s time to put the year to bed and look ahead to what comes next.
So, without further ado – here are my top games of 2023.
The Best Games I Played in 2023
Let me know in the comments if there was a game this year that trumped everything else in your eyes.
Dead Island 2 (February 2023)
Dead Island 2 was a long, long time coming, arriving after a development window that lasted more than a decade. It had been passed from pillar to post and much of the community believed it would never surface – until it did. I’ve always been a passionate fan of any game that involves zombies, and given how much I loved the original Dead Island games, I almost immediately fell head over heels for Dead Island 2.
It became the first game I completed with a 100% rating in more than five years, and even then I couldn’t stop running around LA, slicing and dicing the bloodthirsty hordes of the undead. For me, Dead Island 2 was well worth the wait, and it was one of the best games I played this year by far.
Like Dead Island 2, I pursued 100% completion of Assassin’s Creed: Mirage. I’ve been an AC fan since the first title dropped on the Xbox 360, but even so, I’d never finished one in its entirety – until Mirage came along. This return to form for the franchise was perfect for me in every way. It was a small-form game that still boasted plenty of opportunities to explore, and it looked fantastic on screen.
It also helps that the acting in AC Mirage was sublime, the world-building was great, and even if the story was a little predictable, it was still a wonder to play. I was excited for Mirage from the moment it was announced, and that level of excitement was fully retained through my story with Basim.
Now, I’m aware that Escape from Tarkov is now seven years old, but it’s consistently sitting at the top of my most-played list, and in 2023, countless changes have been introduced to the game that have made it better than ever before, especially recently. This year, Escape from Tarkov has gone from strength to strength, and the developer has produced a spin-off multiplayer game called Escape from Tarkov Arena, and that too is fantastic.
It’s one of my top games of 2023 because it never ceases to be entertaining, intense, and so much fun to play with friends. For as long as Escape from Tarkov is kept online, it’ll likely sit at the top of my ranking year in, year out.
Here’s a controversial one – Redfall. When it was released, I was appalled at the condition it was in, much like everyone else. I dropped it and didn’t look back for several months until I decided to give it another chance. When I scooped it back up again in November, I found myself playing an entirely different game – one that I massively enjoyed. I found myself sinking dozens of hours into Redfall, eager to 100% it, secure every achievement, and unlock all the side content.
It’s not a resurgence quite on the scale of something like a Cyberpunk 2077, but Arkane Austin breathed fresh life into Redfall and turned it around into something much more than just ‘playable’.
I’d never played a Harry Potter game before I bought Hogwarts Legacy – I didn’t even know that much about the game itself before I started playing it. I was blown away by the scope of Hogwarts Legacy – the size of the world, the expansive story, and the depth of the magic-based combat. It was so authentic and at the same time unique, and I felt as though I was genuinely a part of the Wizarding World as I explored Hogwarts and the surrounding area.
It was a great way to kick off 2023, and alongside Dead Island 2, it made for a fantastic February.
Lords of the Fallen was a stunning title set deep in the macabre, and it was like nothing I’d ever played. I was never a fan of anything ‘Soulsborne’ because I don’t like games that offer an intense challenge, but Lords of the Fallen engaged me from the start and I fell in love with the world and its intense, rewarding combat. It was something new for me and I was happy I decided to give it a shot – but I don’t know if I’d go back to the genre, given how miserably I’ve failed in the past with the likes of Elden Ring and Dark Souls.
If you’re a fan of these more challenging games, don’t sleep on Lords of the Fallen.
I bought into Starfield’s hype and loved it when it came out, but that love quickly gave way to irritation and disappointment as the game’s flaws became too overpowering to keep me engaged. I finished it and never looked back.
Modern Warfare 3
I’ve always been a Call of Duty fan and was hugely excited for Modern Warfare 3, but the uber-short and pointless story combined with the overwhelming force of SBMM and too many cheaters (despite a rigorous anti-cheat) was just too much to bear.
The Day Before
I’d followed The Day Before since it first surfaced a couple of years ago, and then as the year wore on, I started tracking all the negativity around this game – but still held out hope that it’d materialise. Well, it did – and it proved to be one of the most monumental failures in gaming of all time.
I was so stoked to play Atomic Heart when it was released. It looked great in the trailers and the premise was unique and intriguing. I got a few hours in and fell out of love with it so fast, feeling let down by a weird difficulty curve and less freedom than I’d imagined.
Let me know in the comments what games you enjoyed – or hated – in 2023.