2023 could be the year Xbox gamers have been waiting for. While 2022 had some great games, much of its potential was thinned out due to delays however 2022’s losses are 2023’s gains. This year looks stacked with potential we haven’t seen since the best stretches of the Xbox 360 generation. In our excitement, the members of the XboxEra staff have submitted our most anticipated games. Make sure to join our forums or comment underneath to let us know how your lists compare.
#15 – Lies Of P
Neowiz is a South Korean developer who’s been very popular in the Eastern parts of the world but until now, are relatively unknown among console gamers. That could all change with their first attempt at a Soulslike role-playing game and first ever console game. Lies of P is a dark retelling of Pinocchio but what caught our attention when the game was shown off at Gamescom was how much the visual aesthetics and atmosphere resembled one of last generations best games, Bloodbourne. Fortunately, Lies of P did more than just look the part as impressions for the gameplay from the show were positive leading it to win multiple awards. In addition to the traditional action-RPG elements, lying will be a big factor where your character, P, will get more “Humanity” when lying, which will influence the game’s outcome.
What excites us is that while few developers have truly recaptured the style and feel that FromSoftware has popularized within the Soulslike genre, early impressions from Neowiz’s new IP indicate Lies of P could be a viable player to improve that trend with its unique twist on dark fantasy when it launches in Game Pass this year.
#14 Resident Evil 4
Back in 2005, Capcom developed what many consider one of the greatest games ever made in Resident Evil 4. Memorable characters, incredible atmosphere, and best in class visuals made the game one people remembered long after they wrapped up the campaign. Even though RE4’s over the shoulder mechanic would lay the foundation for Xbox’s own Gears of War, the control scheme used back then hasn’t aged well which is a perfect excuse to remake one of gaming’s all-time greats.
Capcom’s 2019 remake of Resident Evil 2 remains one of the industries gold standards for freshening up an old classic which is why we’re excited about the potential that level of quality can be replicated. Excellent visuals, a modernized control scheme and additional story content are set to improve a game that looks to retain the identity of the original. Resident Evil fans have an excuse to visit the haunted Spanish village with Leon Kennedy at least one more time.
Replaced is a 2.5D sci-fi retro-futuristic action platformer where you play as an artificial intelligence trapped in a human body against its will during a dystopian alternative 1980’s. In addition to what sounds like a bad ass setting for a game, what really captured our attention was the trailer soundtrack and outstanding visual style which uses pixel art to combine 2D characters with dense 3D backgrounds.
The developers at Sad Cat studios say that they were inspired by games like Uncharted, Inside and Prince of Persia for the fluid, realistic, contextual traversal that prioritizes exploration while the Batman Arkham games influenced the combat with fluid attacks and counterattacks. The visuals got our attention however hearing that the game aims to be a 2D Arkham-like solidified our desire to get our hands on it when it launches into Game Pass.
#12 Like a Dragon: Ishin!
In recent years Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio has been gaining traction in the Xbox ecosystem due to the release of all their mainline Yakuza games into Game Pass. For new and old fans of the series, another spinoff is on its way very soon. This one is a remake of the 2014 PS4 game that was originally only released in Japan due to Sega’s belief that the setting, which takes place is the chaotic Bakumatsu phase in the mid 1800s, was not something that would appeal to Western gamers. Fortunately for Yakuza fans, recent success of games like Ghost of Tsushima and Nioh gave Sega a change of heart.
While this story is not connected to other Yakuza games, the reason to be excited if you’re a fan of the series is that the game will retain many of the characteristics that make the other games beloved such a mature and serious main storyline complimented by all the bizarre and silly substories you’ve come to expect. Additionally, the game is being moved from the Dragon engine to Unreal to improve its technical showing. What really grabs our attention though is that Ishin is considered to have the best battle system in the series with more focus on weapons than hand to hand combat and we can’t wait to validate the hype for ourselves very soon.
#11 Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
Team Ninja has long been loved for their high-quality action games and are notable to longtime Xbox gamers for their reimagining of Ninja Gaiden on the Original Xbox. Well before FromSoftware gained fame with their Dark Souls series, it was Team Ninja who were testing our reflexes and challenging gamers to “get gud” if they wanted to experience all the incredible environments and creative enemies the game had to offer. Last generation the Nioh series continued their high-quality action gameplay however much to the disappointment of Xbox gamers, it skipped their consoles.
Team Ninja looks to make an exciting return to the Xbox when they launch their newest IP, Wo Long soon. The primary reason we’re excited is that the two producers of Wo Long have combined track records that include Ninja Gaiden, Nioh, and Bloodbourne to their credits. This time the setting will be China’s Three Kingdoms period and the producers are promising a faster, more fluid, more agile game than Nioh while retaining its challenging skill based combat, RPG elements and depth. For fans of Team Ninja and FromSoftware games, there’s probably not a lot of selling that needs to take place due to the pedigree leading the game however newcomers intimidated by the proposed challenge can grab a friend to help you in co-op when the game launches in Game Pass this March.
#10 STAR WARS Jedi: Survivor
Star Wars videogames seemed to be scuffling along last generation until one of the industry’s best developers, Respawn, revitalized them in 2019 with Jedi: Fallen Order. Star Wars is one of the most popular and iconic franchises in the world with a rich universe and passionate fanbases so when there’s a developer with Respawn’s talent that can combine the best of Star Wars and videogames, that’s exciting. When they get a chance to build upon their success, listen to feedback, and try to do even better, well that even more reason to have the game high on our most anticipated list.
Star Wars: Fallen Order was a mashup of Dark Souls and Uncharted with Metroidvania design elements. Due to going next gen only this time, we hope to see a lot of technical improvements in the sequel which should result in a smoother gameplay experience than what most experienced on consoles when it originally launched. In addition, Respawn is expanding the gameplay sandbox with new weapons and force powers. The next story, which takes place 5 years after the first game, promises to be darker and be bigger in galactic scale.
#9 Atomic Heart
Atomic Heart is a first-person action RPG developed by Mundfish. Set in an alternative universe, where the Soviet Union never collapsed and continued to develop advanced technology, players take on the role of a special agent sent to investigate a mysterious facility where strange and terrifying things are happening.
What has us excited is the sheer weird, unique, creepy aesthetic that gives us some of similar feelings to seeing Bioshock for the fist time. The gameplay demos we’ve seen seem to indicate a large amount of weaponry and powers that should create a dynamic number of ways to approach combat. Seeing this level of production values and clean visuals with such an interesting and original art style is something we aren’t taking for granted and we’ll get an opportunity to find out if it plays as good as it looks very soon when it launches into Game Pass in February.
#8 Armored Core: Fires of the Rubicon
There’s only a handful of developers in the gaming industry who mere presence is enough to garner excitement for whatever game they’re making the way FromSoftware has. This year we see the developer go back to their roots with a reboot of the Armored Core series. Armored Core is a third-person mech action game that was known for its high level of customization with a wide variety of weapons, parts and upgrades. In addition, the series generally retains FromSoftware’s signature high level of difficulty.
For Xbox gamers, there’s been a dearth of mech games since the Mech Assault series went dormant and who better to revive the genre than one of the best developers on the planet? Games like Elden Ring and Dark Souls are known for their high replayability due to the number of builds, diverse play styles, and numerous strategies you can take to overcome the games challenges. While Armored Core isn’t Soulslike in its design, many of those gameplay characteristics they’ve perfected should dovetail nicely into a modern mech game. The developers also promise that much like Sekiro, it will share the same essence of battle with aggression, speed change and action-oriented fighting. Regardless, it’s FromSoftware and with their track record, we’ll play whatever they release when it comes out this year.
#7 Alan Wake 2
Alan Wake is a cult favorite which fans have been clamoring for a sequel to for over a couple generations of consoles now. This year, we finally get our wish. The original Xbox 360 game was an action-adventure by Remedy Entertainment which followed a best-selling thriller novelist as he tries to uncover the mystery behind his wife’s disappearance during a vacation in the small town of Bright Falls. All this happens while the plot from his latest novel come to life.
We’re excited because it appears that this time Remedy is looking for fulfil their original vision and take everything from the first game to the next level with an open world and fully embrace the survival horror genre. That means this time resources will be scare making encounters more terrifying and forcing gamers to think our way through situations rather than shoot through them. This should add additional layers to an already atmospheric franchise as we continue to unfold the story of Alan Wake this year.
#6 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl
When the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R was released back in 2007, the game developed a following due to its immersive open-world, intense survival gameplay, and its intense atmosphere. The series is set in an alternate version of the present-day Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine, where a mysterious second Chernobyl disaster took place in 2006. As a result, the physical, chemical, and biological processes in the area were altered, spawning numerous nature-defying anomalies, artifacts, and mutants. The player takes the role of a “stalker” who explores the exclusion zone and its strange phenomena.
Despite being beloved for its unique style, the original game did fall short in many technical areas. What makes this version so exciting is that the same developers, GSC Game World, are looking to fulfill that original vision and ratchet up the immersion multiple notches utilizing Unreal Engine 5 for a more detailed open world. Xbox Gamers will have the opportunity to see if they can realize their vision when it comes to Game Pass later in the year.
#5 The Last Case of Benedict Fox
The Last Case of Benedict Fox is an action adventure, side scrolling Metroidvania by Plot Twist in which you solve a young couple’s grisly murder and disappearance of their child. The developers promise it will test your wit with its maze-like location and environmental puzzles. The game has a strong focus on tactical gameplay with access to many weapons and powers granted by a demon companion.
The reason we’re excited for this is one is that it oozes style. With 20th century classic noir fiction, hand drawn Tim Burtenesque art, a jazzy soundtrack, and a Lovecraftian vibe, we cannot wait to explore all the environments, meet all the creatures, and unfold this dark story when it hits Game Pass in the Spring of this year.
#4 Forza Motorsport
Turn 10 Studios’ Forza Motorsport has been one of Xbox’s most consistent exclusives that has been enjoyed by folks from around the world since its first release on the original Xbox console. Iterations had improved on some of the elements of the ‘simucade’ formula however some fans felt the series had stagnated overall more recently.
This upcoming reboot is an exciting evolution as Turn 10 went back into the shop for their longest development cycle ever to rework the game engine for a better simulation experience, improved customization, dynamic time of day, a new and improved lighting system, in game ray tracing, and a lot more. Ditching previous generation consoles appears to have allowed Turn 10 to have the opportunity to claim superiority in the genre once again when they release their best looking, playing and sounding racing game ever onto Game Pass this year.
#3 Diablo IV
Blizzard’s Diablo makes its long-awaited return with the fourth installment of the critically acclaimed series this June after over a decade since its last release. This hack and slash action RPG has long been one of the industries gold standards for loot collecting, character progression and high replayability.
This time, what has many fans excited is in addition to modernizing and evolving things people already love about Diablo, the franchise is also turning back to its roots at the same time. Diablo IV goes open world, with stunning visuals, and environments that are very distinct in their style. The open world will put a greater emphasis on player choice, with more branching paths and a multitude of ways to approach objectives. A persistent world will enable players to see it change based on their actions. All these evolutions are complimented by Diablo going back to its darker, grittier roots with heavier, more deliberate action while bringing back some of the game’s original classes. The best of the classics meets significant technical advancements forward and we can’t wait to see how it all comes together this summer.
Arkane is a beloved studio due to their reputation for creating immersive and engaging first-person action games that give players a high degree of player choice. Providing players the freedom to approach situations in a variety of ways through stealth, combat, abilities and use of the environment deepens the immersion and connection to the world and leads to levels of environmental storytelling that few other developers can replicate. The immersive sim genre this represents doesn’t receive much support from AAA studios these days since it’s a hard gameplay loop to sell without gamers experiencing it for themselves.
We’re excited that in May when Arkane launches into Game Pass on Day One for the first time ever, millions of players worldwide will have the opportunity to experience what its like to experiment in one of their worlds as old fans drag in new ones through co-op. Redfall will merge the immersive sim elements of dynamic gameplay that people have come to know them for with more popularized game characteristics such as an open world and looter progression systems. Time of day, weapons, build choice, and multiple groups of enemies who aren’t all on the same side will keep the engagements dynamic which should break up the monotony that many open worlds currently experience. Bringing together a niche genre like immersive sim with more mainstream open world looters hasn’t been done before however we have the confidence Arkane has the talent to pull this off and break through to the masses this Spring.
At the top of our list comes what could be the biggest game Microsoft has published since the original Halo trilogy. From a developer who’s sold over 100 million copies between Elder Scrolls and Fallout, and who’s single player games still reside on the most played charts after many years, comes Bethesda Softworks first new IP in 25 years. Bethesda evolves from open world to open universe as they temporarily leave behind exploring a single Fantasy or Post-Apocalyptic globe to exploring 1000s of planets as gamers are tasked to discover “what’s out there” in this hard sci-fi setting.
Bethesda games are beloved because they offer expansive, immersive and rich open worlds filled with interesting characters, a vast number of quests and storylines, and deep character progression that allows gamers to create builds and approach the open world sandbox in so many ways, that most gamers won’t have the same experience. What has us excited is that in addition to Starfield being a true next gen game with the developers most ambitious engine upgrade since Oblivion, Bethesda will re-embrace their heritage with m
ore classic RPG elements such as what was present in Skyrim opposed to the more straightforward game design of Fallout 4. That means your choices matter, the world will evolve and react to what you do, creating limitless branching possibilities in your single player experience. 250,000 lines of dialog is double Fallout 4 and four times Skyrim indicating there will be a lot more narrative and character driven content than in previous games. Skryim still sits high on the most played charts for both Xbox and PC gamers due to mod community who improve and experiment with the sandbox over the years so 1000 planets means that modders can go crazy. If Starfield hits the way we think it will when it launches onto Game Pass this year, it’ll not only be a massive moment for the Xbox in 2023, it’ll also resonate and enrich gaming for years to come.