Our Most Wanted Games of 2023 – #35 to #31

Most Wanted 2023 - STALKER 2, Octopath Traveler 2

A few days into our look at the games coming out in 2023, and our tastes remain as broad as ever. For this selection of five, we’ve co-op shooters, immersive sims, JRPGs of varying styles, and a retro revival genre mash-up. Let’s dive in!

35. STALKER 2 Heart of Chornobyl

XSX|S, PC | Q1/Q2 2023

STALKER 2 is a game that I’m looking forward to, not just because of the legacy of the game’s name, but because of the wider meaning of surviving, finishing and releasing a game despite developer GSC Game World’s home country of Ukraine being devastated by the despicable Russian invasion. Development was disrupted, but is back under way with some of the team having joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and the main development of the game relocating to the Czech Republic. Earlier this year the team shared a harrowing look at how everyday life has been shattered, and we can only admire their resilience in the face of such adversity.

It’s been 13 years since the last STALKER game, the grimly immersive first person shooters finding quite a following at the time thanks to a dynamic open world set within the remnants of Chornobyl’s Exclusion Zone. STALKER wowed back in 2007 with its bleak yet brilliant visuals and light RPG influences. From what we’ve seen STALKER 2 retains that tone, though with significantly more modern visuals and fluid gameplay.

We wouldn’t be surprised at all if STALKER 2 is delayed from the first half of 2023 to later in the year or even 2024.

34. Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key

PS5, PS4, NSW, PC | 24th February 2023

The Atelier Ryza saga continues, with our titular heroine happily living their lives on Kurken Island when a whole bunch of new islands suddenly appear nearby. Now she’s off on an adventure to save Kurken while also getting to the “roots of alchemy”, and getting to team up with characters old and new along the way.

Atelier Ryza 3 promises to take the world exploration even further than the last game – which was already a big step forward for the series – with the field now stitching maps together seamlessly, promising a “living” field. Add to that different keys that can be used to affect each part of the game, and there’s some intriguing new ideas for what feels like a trilogy ending game.

33. Octopath Traveler 2

PS5, PS4, NSW, PC | 24th February 2023

Square Enix has turned the HD-2D art style that the original Octopath Traveler to several different games now, but now they’re working on a full sequel to the game that started it all. It’s an engine and visual direction that has matured in the last five years, featuring more 3D effects alongside the stand-up pixel art characters, still slathered with lush bloom-filled lighting and a gorgeous tilt shift effect.

Octopath Traveler 2 will feature a similar form to the original, with eight short RPG stories, each following a distinct character – Throné, for example, is seeking her freedom, while Osvald is after revenge. You’ll be able to choose who you start playing with, and the order in which you tackle the tales and quests, also choosing who is in the leading party as you go.

It remains an interesting narrative concept, we just hope it feels a little more cohesive than the original with its story-telling.

32. Metal Slug Tactics

NSW, PC | 2023

Dotemu has carved out their niche in reviving classic video game series and genres, whether it’s Streets of Rage, TNMT or Windjammers. Now they’ve got Metal Slug Tactics on the way, with developer Lekir Studio taking the run and gun side-scrolling shooter and transforming it into a turn-based tactical game.

Combine that concept with a lovely pixel art style and animation, and we are very, very interested to play this in 2023!

31. Redfall

XSX|S, PC | Q1/Q2 2023

It still feels quite strange that the masters of the modern immersive sim have decided to turn their gaze to making a vampire co-op shooter, but that’s exactly what Arkane have done.

You’ve got four contrasting characters to choose and play between – no swapping between them after you’ve chosen, and no shared progression (sadly) – as you battle to survive the vampire-infested island town of Redfall, Massachusetts.

Redfall was previously expected to release in 2022, but alongside Starfield, was pushed back to 2023. As fans of co-op shooters, we’re looking forward to seeing more of this one, especially as it has a rather different tone to the regular contenders for Left 4 Dead’s tone.

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