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Wednesday February 21, 2024
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Game of the Year Awards 2023

Reflecting on the best games from the past year

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2023 was a huge year for gaming. The number of quality games released was off the charts, but there was also a lot of change, big financial deals, and developers losing their jobs, all combining for an industry now worth over $184bn. And among all that, we keep chugging along here at New Game Network, reaching an incredible 15 year milestone!

RPG gamers had a great year. Bethesda launched Starfield, their first new IP in decades. Muggles across the world got to become wizards in Hogwarts Legacy. Patient fans of Cyberpunk 2077 only had to wait three years, and several patches, for Phantom Liberty, the game's first - and reportedly only - expansion. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom took players back to Hyrule, with new areas above and below the surface. Blizzard brought back their huge demon-slaying action RPG franchise with Diablo 4. And Larian rolled the dice with Baldur's Gate 3, pulling it out of early access to the delight of D&D fans everywhere.

Action gamers also had their share of fun. Two big remakes, Dead Space (2023) and Resident Evil 4 (2023), brought some classic gameplay into the modern era. Lightsaber battles grew in scope with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. Hi-Fi RUSH literally came out of nowhere and rocked people's socks off with its insane musical slickness. Remedy finally got the chance to return to Bright Falls with Alan Wake 2. Ubisoft decided to reduce scale with their latest Assassin's Creed game, Mirage. And many gamers got their chance to play as two web-slingers in Marvel's Spider-man 2, in a year where Sony put out a new slimmer version of the PlayStation 5.

Those that like their games more cerebral found joy with both Strategy and Puzzle games. Company of Heroes 3 finally released, 10 years after the highly rated second entry. Fans of Xenomorphs got to command a squad of traumatized Marines in Aliens: Dark Descent. Triumph Studios went back to might and magic with another fantasy epic, Age of Wonders 4. The puzzler Cocoon offered a unique world-within-world mind-bender. And Croteam once again proved they're better at puzzle games than shooters with a philosophical sequel, The Talos Principle 2.

In business, Microsoft completed the largest video game acquisition in history with their purchase of Activision, along with all their blockbuster franchises. But it also had its upcoming hardware revisions of Xbox leaked, while elsewhere Insomniac Games hack revealed a lot of unannounced plans, and U.S. military secrets appeared on Discord. Bungie's Destiny 2 suffered a downturn and many employees were cut in the chaos. Telltale's troubled history continued with more layoffs and The Wolf Among Us 2 might be in limbo again. Epic had to resize its workforce to survive, despite the continued success of Fortnite and its antitrust legal case victory over Google. Even Mimimi Productions, the small team behind three excellent stealth-strategy games, shut down, citing poor work-life balance. There were unfortunately countless more examples of developers who found themselves adrift, but hopefully 2024 is better for the faces behind the games.

So it was a big year - a tumultuous time for developers, and one of the best for gamers in recent memory. There were so many amazing titles that offered something for everybody. Read on as we narrow down the best in the year that was and reveal our Game of the Year for 2023.

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