2023 has arguably been one of the best years for video games, especially in the RPG genre, as there have been many standouts. To do housekeeping first, these seven are not necessarily ranked “best to worst” per se. Here are the seven best RPGs that came out this year.
Baldur’s Gate 3
After a total of three years in Early Access, Larian Studio’s highly anticipated threequel to the 90’s CRPG franchise, Baldur’s Gate III released officially on August 3rd and quickly became one of the best video games to have come out this year, boasting an impressive 96 on review aggregate site, Metacritic.
Baldur’s Gate III is truly an accomplishment, especially considering that Larian Studio is both the developer and publisher, so they did not receive the financial backing of a publisher. The amount of care put into everything, from the variety of combat options (much like Larian’s other RPGs, such as Divinity Original Sin 2), character development, outstanding writing, and VA makes Baldur’s Gate III one of the best RPGs of the year, and perhaps the decade.
Final Fantasy XVI
Final Fantasy XVI has quickly become one of the best in the franchise, especially in the modern era. While it did away with a more “open world” aspect of XV, the latest entry opted for a more streamlined, “open-zone” approach. Final Fantasy XVI combines a beautiful, mature, and dramatic “High Fantasy” medieval setting with a Final Fantasy flair.
One of the best aspects of Final Fantasy XVI is the giant kaiju-esque fights with Final Fantasy summons, referred to as “Ikons.” The music, composed by Masayoshi Soken, is top-notch. It’s hard not to get goosebumps when the traditional victory fanfare music kicks in after a hard and grueling boss fight. We here at Strangely Awesome gave the game an 8 in our Final Fantasy XVI review.
Hogwarts Legacy by Avalanche Studios quickly became the best-selling game of 2023 and scored well, averaging an 84 on Metacritic. Hogwarts Legacy is arguably the best game to live the life of a wizard, as the wizarding world is freely explorable, and has several callbacks and easter eggs to the movies.
Hogwarts Legacy’s combat is tight and responsive, and the characters are all well-developed. There is a variety of collectibles to find throughout your adventures, including many different wands. demiguise statues, and much more.
Octopath Traveler 2
The Octopath Traveler franchise began in 2018 and is regarded as one of the greatest modern JRPGs. Octopath Traveler II was released in February and improved on the original in several aspects, including story and character development while keeping the HD-2D turn-based style of the original.
Octopath Traveller II allows you to play with eight characters, all with their backgrounds and different Job systems (such as an Apothecary, a Merchant, and a Hunter), giving them a variety of weapons and skills. Each character has an ability that can be used in and out of combat. Partitio, for example, can use his merchant skill, “Purchase” which allows him to buy items from many of the NPCs, instead of relying solely on a shop. the individual stories of the playable characters in Octopath Traveller culminate in a satisfying ending.
Sea of Stars
Sea of Stars by Sabotage Studios, the developer behind The Messenger is a love letter to classic pixel turn-based RPGs such as Chrono Trigger. Our two protagonists, Zale and Valere represent the Winter and Summer solstices and follow their respective deities. The “Children of the Solstice” are tasked with destroying an entity known as “Dwellers.”
This charming RPG features environmental puzzles, a traditional turn-based battle system, and a beautiful score by legendary composer Yasunori Mitsuda, who is responsible for the music in Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross.
Bethesda made headlines after being acquired by Xbox in 2021, and thus, all eyes were on Starfield, the studio’s first new IP in 20 years. Starfield garnered a respectable 83 on Metacritic and sold over 10 million copies as of October.
The main questline in Starfield is arguably Bethesda Studio’s best, filled with mystery, intrigue, and twists and turns. Starfield’s gunplay is another highlight, as the atmosphere of a specific planet can alter how a gun fires.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom dominated the industry upon its release in May, becoming the fastest-selling Nintendo Switch game. The latest entry in the franchise has earned universal praise, matching Baldur’s Gate at a 96 on Metacritic. Tears of the Kingdom has more similarities to Baldur’s Gate III than its reviews since both games give you freedom in choice.
While Baldur’s Gate’s variety is in the number of narrative paths you can take, Tears of the Kingdom, on the other hand, is one giant playground in which you can use abilities to craft your way to complete a variety of environmental puzzles and shrines almost however you want.
With so many releases in 2023, there are many other great RPG games. Which Roleplaying games would you consider to be the best of 2023? Let us know, and check back for more “Best of” articles.
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