It’s been a pretty bruising year to work in the games industry. Thousands of developers have lost their jobs as development outfits and publishers wrestle with struggling post-pandemic conditions, corporate greed, or the fact that their hot new game has launched and failed to find an audience.
Back in February, I wrote that the AAA games industry was doomed, but I can’t claim to have predicted how much this has sucked. Studios working on incredible games have been decimated, and genuine friends and long-term colleagues have lost their jobs. It sucks. There’s no way to put a spin on it or try to polish things up, but it feels important to acknowledge that while some fantastic games have been released this year, there’s been a brutal human cost that’s hard to ignore despite the relative quality of releases.
After all, if the price of even the best video game is that a single person gets driven out of the industry by burnout relating to poor working practices, it’s not worth it.
So, despite the TechRadar Gaming team putting a list of games here for you to check out, please don’t come away thinking that this has been a great year for video games. While the releases have been stellar - our number one game of the year is the best game that I’ve played in a decade - the human element to the industry, the part that actually makes these exceptional games? It’s hurting, and it doesn’t look like things are going to get better any time soon.
So, look. The games here are all-timers, and absolutely worth your time. But if you enjoy these games, now is a good opportunity to remember that they’re made by actual human beings and demand better from the people who make them.
I wish this was a cheerier introduction too, but the doom and gloom is done now. Back the developers you love and games you enjoy, and please enjoy the games the team enjoyed the most.
- Jake Tucker, Editor-In-Chief, TechRadar Gaming
List voted on by: Cat Bussell, Catherine Lewis, Dashiell Wood, Demi Williams, Elie Gould, Jake Green, Jake Tucker, Kara Phillips, Rhys Wood, Rob Dwiar
1. Baldur’s Gate 3
Baldur’s Gate 3 is an awe-inspiring fantasy role-playing game (RPG) that you can make entirely your own. Larian Studios’ fantasy epic is transformative, taking traditional RPG elements like branching narratives, captivating companion characters, and thoughtful combat systems and refining them to near perfection. Every inch of the game is busting with forethought and attention to detail which goes above and beyond. Characters respond to your actions with engrossing, motion-captured dialogue while the title’s deep, fluid, and accessible turn-based combat ensures that battles never become stale.
Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: Larian Studios
Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S
At a time when Dungeons & Dragons has never been more popular, Baldur’s Gate 3 struck while the iron was hot, allowing players to explore the fantastical world of Faerûn their way, all while surrounded by a cast of charming, soulful characters who grow and change alongside your own protagonist. The rich companion quests laid out by Larian Studios’ writers are gut-wrenchingly emotional, offering powerful stories that confront difficult themes with deft writing and striking deliveries. However, even in its most serious moments, the RPG never forgets its playfulness. Want to defeat the Dread Vampire Lord by punting him off a cliff? The game will not only let you, it’ll encourage you, all with a wry twinkle in its eyes and enthusiasm from narrator Amelia Tyler. This is the beautiful duality of Baldur’s Gate 3, and what makes it our Game of the Year.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Still, within moments of starting with Tears of the Kingdom, the game offers you an opportunity to revisit the enchanting world of The Legend of Zelda and unravel some of the secrets the series has tucked away for years.
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Although it draws a lot of inspiration and the majority of its setting from Breath of the Wild, Tears of the Kingdom layers on several new elements, and it offers up an unforgettable experience. It’s not the same game, at all, with a multitude of new features being added to build atop the previous game’s foundation, such as Zonai technology to help encourage your creative side, and the introduction of both sky islands and the depths, adding new dimensions for you to explore.
The story you unravel as you collect the dragon tears around Hyrule is an emotional retelling and even those who haven’t adventured alongside Link before will fall hard for the universe here. If the question was simply 'How do you follow a solid-gold release like Breath of the Wild?' then Nintendo’s response is a simple, emphatic: like this.
3. Alan Wake 2
2023 has been a fantastic year for horror games, but even among a host of top-notch horror games, Alan Wake 2 has managed to stand head and shoulders above the rest, becoming something much more.
Returning to the quiet town of Bright Falls, you play as both Alan Wake as he attempts to escape The Dark Place and Saga Anderson, an FBI agent tasked with solving some gruesome and mysterious cult murders. Alan and Sage’s stories intertwine as they both get swept up in a narrative beyond all imagination.
Developer: Remedy Games
Publisher: Epic Games Publishing
Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S
But as Alan Wake played with light, Alan Wake 2 plays with perceptions and is both brighter and darker than the usual horror fare. Confining it to just one genre can feel reductive: It masters the suspenseful fear and adrenaline-junkie thrills of survival horror while also messing with your mind and perceived reality and delivering incredibly engaging problem-solving tasks. It also provides one of, if not the most, exciting stories we’ve seen in a horror game, thanks to a twisting narrative, interlinking situations, and excellent execution.
Alan Wake 2 is, without a doubt, the best horror game of this year. All credit should go to Remedy Games because while it might have taken a while for Alan Wake to get the sequel it deserved, it’s finally here.
4. Resident Evil 4 (Remake)
Capcom hit bingo with its brilliant remake of an all-time gem, bringing the pioneering survival-horror classic back in all of its campy glory. Thanks to the power of current-generation hardware, Resident Evil 4’s parasite-ridden Spanish village has never looked better and it’s a joy to revisit as a result.
Protagonist Leon Kennedy remains an incredible action hero too. His goofy one-liners haven’t aged a day and provide just the right amount of levity between the more serious scares. Memorable combat sections, like that frantic first fight with the infected villagers, are elevated by wholly reworked combat that finally eschews the infamously clunky tank controls in favor of effortlessly slick cinematic action.
Platforms: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, iOS, MacOS
But, for every meticulously recreated set piece and beautifully remastered locale, we also appreciate the moments where the remake deviates from the script. Characters are given more interesting backstories which is a pleasant surprise for lore aficionados. Events unfold in fresh and exciting ways, with slight subversions like the more major role of Luis littered throughout to keep even the most experienced fans on edge.
The campaign is just part of the story, however, as the beloved Mercenaries side mode returns bursting with new features. We spent hours suplexing the (infected) elderly while chasing high scores - a fantastic way to unwind after such a tense campaign.
5. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
In a game that’s just a beacon of fun and joy in 2023, the greatest joys of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 are the traversal, the story, and the combat.
The traversal in the game is just ridiculously enjoyable, and some of the best in games this year, period. Building on what made the spidey-swinging great in the first two games, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 adds Web Wings to the mix enabling you to take your swinging and turn it into smooth and free-flowing gliding. When extra dynamics to movement like wind tunnels and slingshots are thrown in it becomes unparalleled levels of fun to combine an array of air trickery and moves to get about New York City.
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
The story is full of heart and makes for the perfect dual Spider-Men adventure while offering all the drama a Venom arc fans of the webbed hero could ever ask for in a game, and the combat is even smoother, more stylish, and bombastic than ever before. Offering slick, punchy, and satisfyingly comic-booky encounters to biff, bash, and bosh bad guys through, there’s also a host of exciting new powers and tools that spice it up superbly.
All in all, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a brilliant game, and an excellent sequel, managing to balance the offer of its own iterations and features with that of retaining what makes the series at its core so, so good. What a joy to have in 2023.
6. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
An ambitious Metroidvania that builds on its predecessor in new and interesting ways, there’s a strong argument that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is not just the best modern Star Wars game, but one of the best games to use the license full stop. That’s the argument I’m making here, anyway.
While it's predecessor Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order often pitched you against huge creatures and tasked you with using your lightsaber like a baseball bat, combat here against stormtroopers and repurposed battle droids always feels lethal, with limbs and parts being bloodlessly chopped off as you fly through combat.
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
A deep story, vivid planets to explore and an all-time boss fight that sees you teleporting around a gargantuan killing machine are all just extra strings to Survivor’s already stringy bow. This is a love letter to Star Wars fans, but a cracking action adventure for everyone else, too.
7. Final Fantasy 16
Final Fantasy 16 is an incredible evolution of the beloved Square Enix RPG franchise, with a gripping narrative and a frantic-yet-satisfying real-time combat system that puts more focus on action than any other game in the series has before.
Playing as the broody and mysterious Clive Rosfield (voiced spectacularly by Ben Starr), battles see you deftly dodging oncoming attacks while delivering a string of blows to foes to build up combos. Players are also able to customize Clive’s playstyle by swapping and changing his Eikons (godlike powers) for a variety of powerful attacks and abilities. If you want to see Clive’s journey through, mastering all of these elements is key, and regardless of whether you’re fighting a tough enemy or a weak grunt, successfully pulling off a Precision Dodge and walloping an adversary with a strong thwack never gets old.
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
All of this is brought to life with stunning, heavily detailed visuals, and topped off with a jaw-dropping soundtrack composed by Masayoshi Soken. Whether you’re a series veteran or a first-time Final Fantasy player, Final Fantasy 16 is a captivating adventure that’s well worth any RPG lover’s time.
8. Lies of P
FromSoftware may have ditched its soulsborne formula this year in favor of Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon, but a number of developers have taken up the soulslike mantle in its stead. For me, the standout soulslike this year has to be Lies of P, with its inspired take on The Adventures of Pinocchio proving to be surprisingly bleak, elegant, and entirely captivating.
Lies of P’s absorbingly nightmarish setting is then aided by its fast-paced and responsive combat, immersive level design, and genuinely effective storytelling. The protagonist’s ability to mix and match weapon blades and hilts is an innovative addition to the soulslike format, and your need to be expertly precise with dodges and parries makes for an exhilarating challenge from start to finish.
Developer: Neowiz Games, Round8 Studio
Publisher: Neowiz Games
Platforms: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
For my money, Lies of P has set a new standard for non-FromSoftware soulslikes. Developers Neowiz and Round8 Studio have seriously impressed here with memorable locations, terrifying boss fights, and a moreish New Game Plus cycle that’s kept me coming back for more long after I rolled credits on the game for the first time. And with the promise of DLC and a full sequel on the horizon, I can’t wait to see what’s next in store.
When I first played Viewfinder I made an amazed cooing sound I hadn’t heard from myself since I played the original Portal. Photography-based puzzle-’em-up Viewfinder might have passed you by, but it’s worth digging up now - right now, even - just to see the magic for yourself.
Basically, images within Viewfinder’s world can be grafted into the scenery itself: a picture of a bridge can be slapped down to produce an actual bridge, a child’s crudely drawn rendition of a house can be turned into an actual abode, and a picture of a set of stairs can be put into a photocopier to create an endless staircase, even as the quality degrades from repeated copying.
Developer: Sad Owl Studios
Publisher: Thunderful Publishing
Platforms: PC, PS5, PS4
Deep into the game you get a camera, allowing you to take photos of whatever you want, and then things get really wild. Viewfinder’s story might be a bit of a clunker, but the sheer intelligence behind the puzzle-solving makes it a must-play, and probably the best hidden gem of the year.
10. Assassin’s Creed Mirage
Taking the series back to its stealth action beginnings, Assassin’s Creed Mirage was a triumphant return of everything that makes the Assassin’s Creed games fantastic.
Stripping away the modern-day segments, overly long and meandering skill and ability trees, and sprawling open-world maps of previous entries, and instead focusing on a smaller, more contained setting and story was a well-thought-out and welcome move, serving to remind us all of what makes the series so great.
Developer: Ubisoft Bordeaux
Platforms: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
At the core of this was Mirage’s success in making us feel like an assassin again; the parkour was its smoothest in years, the stealth action was tense and satisfying, and the assassinations, fueled by a refined and effective tool kit, were incredibly satisfying to execute. Embedding those assassinations into Basim’s gripping story and through the gathering of evidence and cracking cases, building toward setpiece investigations and assassinations only served to heighten the impact of this successful return to the series’ roots.
Mirage came at the ideal time for the series with even the most ardent fans starting to tire of the massive, open-world RPG direction of travel. But by showing that dialing it back, refining, and having a laser focus on what makes Assassin’s Creed games really great, Mirage is now one of the best in the series and has earned its place on our Game of the Year list.
If you're looking to see how these games stack up across their platforms' libraries, then check out our guides to the best PS5 games, best PS4 games, best Nintendo Switch games, best Xbox Series X games, best Xbox One games, and best PC games.
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Jake Tucker is the editor in chief of TechRadar Gaming and has worked at sites like NME, MCV, Trusted Reviews and many more. He collects vinyl, likes first-person shooters and turn-based tactics titles, but hates writing bios. Jake currently lives in London, and is bouncing around the city trying to eat at all of the nice restaurants.