The Best Video Games of 2023 (2024)

The Best Video Games of 2023 (1)

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With how great a year 2022 was for gaming, it's insane that 2023 might just be the medium's best year of all time. Just a little under a year ago, we were still raving about Elden Ring and God of War: Ragnarok. This year, Nintendo said move over. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was the Breath of the Wild sequel everyone dreamed of and more. Xbox's Starfield let players experience the feeling of actually being in space, and we all lost countless hours of sleep in Diablo IV.

2023 didn't stop there. We saw another amazing sequel in Spider-Man 2, a new 2-D Mario game that made us feel like kids again, and multiple frog-based games such as Time on Frog Island, Shoulders of Giants, and A Frog's Tale. (If you let me play as a frog, our money is yours.) We also finished the year with two massive hits: Baldur's Gate 3 and Alan Wake II. But now that we've finished awarding our favorite games in the 2023 Esquire Gaming Awards, we've devoted some more precious screen time to clue you in on all of our most beloved titles of the year. Enjoy, gamers.—Josh Rosenberg

Alan Wake II

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Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, PC

Esquire's Game of the Year and a mind-bending horror experience, Alan Wake II took everything that made the original cult survival game great—and upped the ante for next-generation consoles. Alan Wake II follows two detectives as they attempt to solve ritualistic murders surrounding a dream-like dimension known as The Dark Place. It's almost a playing a Steven King novel.—J.R.

Spider-Man 2

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Platforms: PlayStation 5

Forget how awesome it feels to swing around the city as Spider-Man for a second: What's most impressive about Spider-Man 2 is how much of the comic book hero's history is packed into one game. Insomniac's sequel tells the best Spider-Man story we've seen in years. OK, now we can acknowledge that the swinging also feels great.—J.R.

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon

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Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, PC

It's safe to assume that a lot gamers didn't pick up Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon simply because of its complex title alone. But the custom-robot action title from the makers of Elden Ring is one of the fastest-paced and heart-attack-inducing games of the year. The boss fights are just as challenging as you'd want them to be, and the level of customization is vast, making it a blast to try out every combination.—J.R.

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Super Mario Bros. Wonder

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Platforms: Nintendo Switch

Nintendo threw a thousand strands of spaghetti at a wall for Super Mario Bros. Wonder and every little noodle stuck. Mario can become an elephant, the environment changes and moves around you, and the new art style perfectly complements this post-Mario Movie wave for Nintendo.J.R.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty

Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC

It's been unbelievable to watch Cyberpunk 2077 go from unplayable at launch to a celebrated sci-fi title just three years later. Now with Idris Elba on the cover for the Phantom Liberty expansion, Cyberpunk 2077 not only finally works, but it's loaded with even more content than before.—J.R.

Hellboy: Web of Wyrd

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Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC

Though some gamers left Hellboy: Web of Wyrd wanting more for the comic-book hero, fans of the series have enjoyed the art style's transition to a playable action rogue-like video game. Web of Wyrd also features the late Lance Reddick as Hellboy in one of his final voice acting roles.—J.R.

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Baldur's Gate 3

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Platforms: PlayStation 5, PC

A love letter to Dungeons & Dragons gameplay, Baldur's Gate 3 is the kind of game that proves that taking the time to make something you're proud of is worth the wait. Not only did it add turn-based combat to make gameplay more like the beloved table-top experience, but the roleplaying elements and flexible quest system has left players with hundreds of hours of enjoyable content.—J.R.

Bomb Rush Cyber Funk

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Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC

Fans of the cult-classic rollerskating game Jet Set Radio will find a world of nostalgia in Bob Rush Cyberfunk. The new title's similar art style and gameplay draws heavily from that era of 2000s SEGA titles, especially since its another fast-paced graffiti gang skater.—J.R.

Like a Dragon: Ishin!

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Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC

A remake of the Yakuza spinoff, Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin!, the Japan-only samurai action game was originally a launch title for the PlayStation 4 back in 2014. Like a Dragon: Ishin!, the official 2023 remake for a worldwide release, also comes with heavily improved graphics, enhanced combat, and two new songs for the karaoke mini-game.—J.R.

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Cocoon

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Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PC

One of the best puzzle-based games of the year, Cocoon features a beetle protagonist on an alien world who discovers a mysterious orb. Within that orb exists another world, and the game allows the player to hop in and out of the orb's world to complete various puzzles. Think Inception but with a Hollow Knight-esque art style. Plus, the whole thing can be completed in just around 3-4 hours.—J.R.

Forza Motorsport

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Platforms: Xbox Series X|S

Technically the thirteenth entry in the Motorsport franchise, Forza Motorsport is being treated as a next-gen racing reboot to rival Sony's long-heralded Gran Turismo series. By comparison, both games run exceptionally well. Still, there's something about Forza's realistic ray-tracing and the feeling of weight the game is able to capture for its cars that makes Forza a worthy racing competitor.—J.R.

Starfield

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Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PC

Hyped as Skyrim in outer space, Starfield is Bethesda's long-awaited "space game." You can be a bounty hunter, a cargo hauler, a starship dogfighter, a planetary explorer, or truly anything else you set your mind to in this world. I chose to be an old man who smuggles goods for a criminal faction named The Crimson Fleet. I even bought a cool house to store all my stolen goods! Whatever life you want to lead in Starfield, it's up to you. Thank you, Todd Howard.J.R.

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Chants of Sennaar

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Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, Playstation 5

With the goal of ascending a large tower, the only way to advance in Chants of Sennaar is for players to speak with the locals and learn their language. Every new alphabet and symbol you receive is kept in your character's notebook, and deciphering the languages through context clues and interactive story elements is your key to the next floor. Outside of actual language-learning apps such as Duolingo, it's the most fun I've ever had with a puzzle-solving language game.J.R.

Citizen Sleeper: Purge

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Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, XBox Series X|S, Playstation 5

One of the most inventive text-driven role-playing games since Disco Elysium, last year's amazing Citizen Sleeper brought me back with a stellar round of free DLC content, ending with March 2023's Purge. Where the initial game saw my character searching for an escape plan from a Blade Runner-esque starship, Purge turned the tables and forced me to fight for the friends I (selfishly) left behind.—J.R.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet: The Teal Mask

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Platforms: Nintendo Switch

The Teal Mask DLC may not improve Pokémon Scarlet and Violet's various technical issues, but it does add an insane number of returning Pokémon to the latest entry in the celebrated Nintendo franchise. There's also a new half-matcha half-ghost Pokémon named Poltchageist. What's not to love?—J.R.

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Pikmin 4

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Platforms: Nintendo Switch

Though Pikmin 4 is not the most challenging entry in the franchise, it's certainly the best the game has ever looked. Pikmin 4 was clearly designed as a jumping-on point for a new generation of players, but I'm not knocking it! There are a bunch of late-game challenges for dedicated Pikmin masters. Plus, I'll never get tired of launching those cute little guys.—J.R.

We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie

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Platforms: Nintendo Switch

To me, Nothing is more nostalgic in the world of video games than Katamari. We Love Katamari may have debuted back in 2005, but this remastered version for the Nintendo Switch comes with updated graphics and five brand-new challenges dubbed the "Royal Reverie." If you're as romantic for rolling around a big katamari as I am, this is the throwback for you too.—J.R.

Pokemon Sleep

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Platform: Mobile

Half sleep tracker and half Pokémon collector, Pokémon Sleep follows Pokémon Go as the new thing I obsess over—and ultimately pick up—when I probably shouldn't be playing video games. Still, Pokémon Sleep demands very little of your time. It may even help fix those all-night gaming habits.—J.R.

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Street Fighter 6

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Platforms: PlayStation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox Series S|X, PC

Is this finally the modern-gen Street Fighter game we’ve been waiting for? Looks like…yes! At last, we have a brand-new Capcom fighter that boasts the style and thrill of classic Street Fighter titles—but without all the annoying microtransaction/DLC stuff of past entries. (I’m looking at you, Street Fighter 5.) That’s not to say there isn't a lot of content to look forward to with this one. Capcom is already rolling out new fighters, and we’re here for it. Haidouken!—Dom Nero

Homebody

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Platforms: PlayStation 4, Playstation 5, PC, Xbox Series S|X, Nintendo Switch

This indie horror game has flown a little under the radar since it dropped in June, but we absolutely love it. Think of it as the Skinamarink of horror games (if you’re familiar with that delightfully demented lo-fi film from earlier this year). It’s a throwback to the PS1-era graphics, with a legitimately haunting setup that calls to mind all the nightmares of your childhood… if you were, like me, a scaredy cat who played PS1 games as a kid.—D.N.

The Best Video Games of 2023 (2024)
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