This past year was a great time for gamers. Huge titles like Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West, God of War: Ragnarok, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet made 2022 one of the best years for gaming in recent memory.
And, incredibly enough, it doesn’t look like things are slowing down as we look ahead to 2023. Nintendo has another huge slate next year, with new entries in the Fire Emblem and Legend of Zelda series ready to blow our minds all over again. Third-party developers are making a splash, too, with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Street Fighter 6, and Final Fantasy XVI all landing throughout the first half of 2023.
Which games coming in the first six months of 2023 are we most excited about? From turn-based RPGs to rousing action games, we’re going to be spoiled for choices in the months to come. Let’s break them down and get acquainted with some of the best games coming your way this year.
Fire Emblem Engage – January 20
This year is getting off on the right foot with Fire Emblem Engage, the latest entry in Nintendo’s massively popular turn-based tactical RPG series. In Fire Emblem, players control an army of charismatic anime-styled soldiers, each with their own name and personality. Combat takes place on a grid-based map, and it’s deadly.
Players are encouraged to not make too many mistakes when crossing swords with enemies. If one of your characters falls in battle, that’s it–they’re gone forever. Their story ends there on the battlefield in a pool of blood, and they’ll never have another line of dialog in the story or make another connection with their fellow soldiers. That permadeath option makes Fire Emblem a pulse-pounding tactical game that will keep you looking for the best strategies to make short work of your enemies while protecting your precious allies.
Engage will allow players to summon the spirits of warriors from prior entries in the series. Each Fire Emblem game typically takes place in its own standalone continuity, so it’s rare to see popular characters from previous battles appear in future games. Engage launches exclusively on the Nintendo Switch on January 20, 2022.
Octopath Traveler 2 – February 24
Square Enix has a busy year ahead. In February, the long-awaited Octopath sequel is landing on Switch, PC, and PlayStation. The gorgeous 2D-HD style is back, and it looks better than ever in this updated title. Many fans were worried that Project Triangle Strategy would be the only “sequel” to the original Octopath Traveler, but, thankfully, Square had plans to create another entry in the well-received series.
Some fans were left a bit cold by the first few chapters of the original game. Despite having eight well-written protagonists, the game often felt lonely and isolated, because the characters barely interact with each other. They could each easily be off on their own solo adventures, as far as the player can tell, because they have few lines of dialog addressing each other.
Octopath 2 promises to remedy this by making the characters chattier from the get-go. Reviewers noted that by the end of the first game the party found a good conversational rhythm, but it’ll go a long way if this picks up a lot sooner in the sequel.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor – March 17
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was one of the biggest surprises of 2019. It was the first good Star Wars video game EA released under its ridiculous exclusivity deal with Lucasfilm, and was made all the sweeter by the complete lack of decent games set in the Galaxy Far, Far Away in the preceding decade.
The sequel, Survivor, will land on Xbox and PlayStation systems on March 17. It’ll follow protagonist Cal Kestis once more, and he’ll square off against new enemies who want to hunt the few surviving Jedi into extinction. It looks like he’ll have a new suite of Force powers to help him navigate the unforgiving galaxy as he looks for somewhere he can be safe.
With the Empire still running the show and the Inquisition always looking for Jedi, Cal has a long road ahead of him. Diehard Star Wars fans are worried that Cal might not survive the events of this game. After all, he never shows up in any of the movies, despite his mastery of the Force and his proficiency with a lightsaber. We’ll have to find out when the game launches in March!
Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection – April 14
Mega Man fans have been feasting lately, thanks to a series of excellent Legacy Collections from publisher Capcom. The latest entry in this celebrated compilation series, Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection, will group the excellent Battle Network series into one package on April 14.
The Game Boy Advance series started back in 2001 and reinvented Mega Man in an alternate reality. In Battle Network, Mega Man is an AI construct called a Navi who can explore the internet as though it were a real place. He battles against hostile computer viruses and enemy Navis using “chips,” which the player collects like cards in a trading card game.
The pseudo-turn-based combat is one-of-a-kind. Players can send “chips” to Mega Man at the start of each “turn,” but then freely control him on a three-by-six grid in a tense duel against opposing players or AI-controlled opponents. It’s a thrilling combat system that combines the best parts of card games and action games and helped make the Battle Network series a cult hit.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – May 12
The sequel to one of the best games ever released will land on the Switch on May 12. Officially titled Tears of the Kingdom, the game formerly known as “The Sequel to Breath of the Wild” will surely be one of the biggest game releases of the year. It might even be one of the biggest game releases of all time if it’s half the game that its predecessor was.
Breath of the Wild saw the Zelda series break from two decades of tradition and shake off the formula it had stuck to since at least The Ocarina of Time. Its wide-open, explorable world and nonlinear gameplay made it one of the most critically-acclaimed games ever made. To say the sequel has some pretty big shoes to fill is putting it lightly. And that’s before you consider how long the wait has been between Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom.
Some fans have grumbled about the long wait time between entries, pointing out that Tears looks like it’s reusing many assets from the original game. By the time the game launches, it’ll have been six years since BotW landed on store shelves. Soon, we’ll know whether it was worth the wait.
Street Fighter 6 – June 2
This summer is going to be a busy one for gamers. Street Fighter 6, the long-awaited follow-up to one of the most popular fighting game series, lands on Xbox and PlayStation systems on June 2. It’ll feature a huge cast of characters, both new and returning, and promises to bring Street Fighter to a new generation of fans.
Fan-favorite characters like Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li are returning to help ease veteran players into the new entry. Meanwhile, the newcomers look poised to give the old guard a run for their money. The highly stylish Manon, well-heeled JP, and the massively-muscular Marisa will join a star-studded lineup of Street Fighter’s fiercest combatants.
The game looks positively stunning from the trailers. It features gorgeous cel-shaded graphics, a bumping soundtrack, and some buttery-smooth animations. That level of visual polish is nothing new for the franchise, but it’s enough to get fighting game fans fired up for its early-summer release window.
Final Fantasy XVI – June 22
Remember how we said Square Enix was going to be busy this year? Final Fantasy XVI, the first new numbered entry in the series since 2015’s XV, lands on June 22. It’ll be a PlayStation exclusive, which many Xbox owners are understandably sad about. But one thing is making fans very excited–XVI looks like it’s taking the series back to its high fantasy roots.
Since Final Fantasy VII back in the PlayStation 1 days, the series has been steadily introducing more modern technology. The most recent numbered entry, XV, takes place in a world that looks almost like modern-day Earth, were it not for the giant dragons and gleaming knights who dot the landscape. The upcoming game, on the other hand, looks more in line with the more medieval fantasy settings from games like Final Fantasy IV and VI.
The trailers indicate that the game is going to be another visual knockout from Square, too. The recent Final Fantasy VII Remake pushed the PlayStation 4 to its graphical limits and looks downright stunning on the PlayStation 5. Final Fantasy XVI looks like it’s going to continue this trend, showcasing the power of Sony’s newest system by centering the action around massive, world-ending monsters like Ifrit, Bahamut, and Shiva.