Game of the Year 2023 – Best Xbox Game

Game of the Year 2023 Best Xbox

For far too long, Xbox gamers have had to say to themselves “Next year. Next year’s going to be the big one” as they hope for platform defining exclusives. It’s no secret that Microsoft’s expanding collection of game studios have struggled to produce over the last few years, but 2023 was a year that changed that in some ways.

So was 2023 the year that Xbox Series really arrived? Or are we still waiting for next year?

Game of the Year 2023 Best Xbox award

Hi-Fi Rush caught everyone by surprise, and not just because it was announced and released on the same day! It’s fair to say that the vibrant art style, attitude-laden characters and Saturday Morning cartoon vibes have more in keeping with Sega’s Dreamcast days, rather than Microsoft’s somewhat more rigid output. And yet, Tango Gameworks have produced one of the standout games of the year, capturing a liveliness and outstanding sense of fun that has left others in its wake.

Alongside the striking visuals, Hi-Fi Rush amalgamates the action combat of Devil May Cry with the rhythm action chops of Patapon, with players matching their inputs to the musical beats of the soundtrack. Extra damage and mayhem can be all yours as you play along with Nine Inch Nails or The Black Keys, and Tango Gameworks’ own contributions keep the adrenaline pumping when you’re not hammering through the licensed tracks. Hi-Fi Rush is easily one of the gaming highlights of 2023.

– Dom L

Forza Motorsport – Runner Up

Turn 10’s motorsports franchise used to be like clockwork, as every simcade Forza Motorsport tick was followed a year later by the tock of Forza Horizon’s open world arcade racing. But then there was the great long wait for their eighth mainline game, as Turn 10 raced down the road of live service gaming to make this an enduring racing platform.

Forza Motorsport gets the fundamentals right. The core driving and racing feel good, and there’s now a much better and more focused online racing system that’s on a par with Gran Turismo. The main twist is with the ‘CarPG’ levelling up of each car. I quite like it as a way to wrap up the single player, though it’s not universally loved and has an impact on pacing and the multiplayer, that’s for sure.

Good solid foundations and there’s plenty ways for Forza Motorsport to grow in the coming years – it’s already being updated on a monthly cadence with new tracks, career events, cars and more.

– Stefan L

Starfield – Runner Up

Skyrim in space is a hell of an elevator pitch, and that’s roughly what Starfield ended up being. There’s the familiar tone and feel of a Bethesda Game Studios RPG to this interstellar adventure, though shifted to come through a sci-fi lens instead of fantasy or a post-apocalyptic world. Married to much improved gun combat with space battles alongside, thousands of planets to explore, and that wonderful NASA-Punk aesthetic throughout, it’s a game with natural appeal.

Unfortunately something was lost in the translation to space-faring sci-fi. Barren planets with repetitive points of interest, gameplay frameworks that weren’t fully fleshed out, and narratives and design that are feeling dated in the face of Baldur’s Gate 3. Starfield is certainly an enjoyable game, but it’s also a sign that Bethesda need to take some big steps forward for The Elder Scrolls 6.

– Stefan L 

Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)

We’ve put exclusives and first party games to the fore for this award, but what games stood out amongst your best on Xbox this year?