The most anticipated games of 2023 are a mix of role-playing games, shooters and returning heroes, and for the first time it feels like the best new games in 2023 will be spread across all the major consoles, including PS5, Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch.
My lis below covers the best new games coming this year. I begin with the most anticipated games for PS5 and then share my picks of the best new games on Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch. I've not included Sony's PSVR 2 here, but we have features on the best upcoming PSVR 2 games and a deep dive into the PSVR 2 hardware, including price, release date and everything you need to know.
If you're looking at these games and unsure which console to get in 2023, take a look at my comparison of PS5 vs Xbox Series X. If you're after a Nintendo Switch, take a look at our regularly updated Nintendo Switch deals tracker. Now, read on to discover the most anticipated games of 2023.
The most anticipated games of 2023: PS5
Marvel's Spider-Man 2 is Sony's big release for 2023 but it also represents a break from the last gen, as this is sequel is only coming to PlayStation 5. So, what do you get when you cross two Spider-Men with Venom and pipe that through one of the first-party developers which has had the best PS5-exclusive showings so far? One of the biggest releases of the year.
Of all PlayStation’s studios, Insomniac Games is perhaps the most comfortable working with the new hardware. Not only did Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales show how webby super-heroics could evolve on new-gen (while also supporting PS4), Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart remains one of the PS5's greatest showpieces.
While I've loved both the previous Spider-Man games, I’ve yet to see them team up properly. And what better villain to make sure the two are stretched to the limit than Venom? Clad in the black symbiote suit, he’s as dangerous as you’d expect. Though, just like in earlier games, Insomniac is putting its own twist on the character.
If bonus diaries in the first game are to be believed, the man in the ooze could be Peter’s pal, Harry Osborn, making for a complex dynamic. The original voice actor appears to not be returning, however. Venom himself is voiced by Tony Todd, well-known for performances as villains including DC big bads Zoom and Darkseid, as well as horror movies’ Candyman. You’re going to need two Spideys to be in with a chance.
What's important here is Marvel's Spider-Man 2 will be Sony's biggest franchise game to not also release on PlayStation 4, making it a system seller for PS5. Read my PS5 review to learn why after two years Sony's newest console impresses.
Final Fantasy 16 has been impressing in teased footage for a couple of years now, and you've got to admit, "The legacy of the crystals has shaped our history for long enough" is a banger of a line. But beyond going hard, it's also a statement of intent – Square Enix is switching things up for the 16th mainline entry in its premier RPG series.
Combat in Final Fantasy 16 is seeing the biggest changes, turn-based battles and even a traditional party being ditched in favour of an all-new battle system that takes big swings with character action – if you've played the recent Final Fantasy 7 Remake then you'll know what to expect, and a little more.
Ryota Suzuki, known for his work on the Devil May Cry series, is the Final Fantasy 16 combat director, and so comparisons to the Capcom game's fast-paced bust-ups are totally warranted. However, rather than enabling you to stylishly switch weapons on the fly, fighting in Final Fantasy 16 has a more magical twist.
Core to Final Fantasy 16's swords-and-sorcery vision are Eikons. These extremely powerful beings include the usual, summonable suspects of Ifrit, Phoenix, Shiva, and so on, though with an interesting narrative-forward twist. Each Eikon is tied to one poor, unfortunate human at a time. These humans, known as Dominants, can call upon the power of – or otherwise completely transform themselves into – that particular Eikon.
After a tragic event in his past, our protagonist Clive is able to wield the power of multiple Eikons in battle, and his quest involves him collecting more as he travels throughout the land of Valisthea. So far I’ve seen Clive dishing out aerial combos, hurling Eikonic elemental spells, and staggering enemies for even more juicy damage. Having only seen a few snatches of action, I'm already hungry for more of this new combat system’s smokin' sexy style.
Valisthea is split into six domains, some of which regard their Dominants as royalty, and some of which will simply execute any human capable of calling upon the dread power of an Eikon. Many of these realms also rely upon the giant obelisks known as Mothercrystals that score the land, though their life-sustaining magic is threatened by a ravenous infection known as the Blight. With scarcity already exacerbating pre-existing tensions, the fragile peace between the realms is utterly annihilated one fateful night when Ifrit picks a fight with Phoenix.
The scene of this pivotal brawl is Clive's home, the Grand Duchy of Rosaria. His younger brother, Joshua, is Phoenix's dominant and, after an attempt on his life, the young lad has no option but to call upon the Eikon's flames. The mysterious second fire Eikon, Ifrit, soon makes a grand and devastating entrance. What happens after that ultimately sends Clive on a quest for revenge. Who Ifrit's Dominant (and therefore the target of Clive's ire) is exactly remains under wraps for now, but we have no doubt it's an eventual reveal that'll leave us reeling next year.
The most anticipated games of 2023: Nintendo Switch
The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom has been in development for five years and is a follow-up to the previous epic role-playing adventure, The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. It's one of the most anticipated games in recent years and could be the last major release fro this generation of Nintendo consoles.
The two key people behind Breath Of The Wild are back at the helm, with game director Hidemaro Fujibayashi and producer Eiji Aonuma revealing there are many ideas in Tears Of The Kingdom that we omitted from the previous game; you can now fly between floating islands high above the land of Hyrule, for example.
In true Nintendo fashion there are more questions than answers around Tears Of The Kingdom – the biggest being is it a sequel to Breath Of The Wild? For a time it was assumed it was, but there are also suggestions some content in this new game is set before the events of Breath Of The Wild.
Some things I do know: Link has a new glider to soar between sky-islands, Link's time-rewind ability will be more integral, the Hyrule landscape is different (old Hyrule or future Hyrule?) and there are two entwined serpents in the logo – again, more time travel is teased. If you don't already own a Nintendo Switch, this will be the game to make you buy one – read our Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch OLED feature.
Following the recent Nintendo Direct, below are the latest game announcements for Nintendo Switch, including Pikmin 4, TRON Identity and Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon.
The most anticipated games of 2023: Xbox Series X
Redfall is the latest game from Deathloop and Dishonored developer Arkane Studios and represents the first true Xbox Series X exclusive from this studio. The game is set in the fictional town of Redfall, Massachusetts in the United States and is home to all manner of weird and wonderful creatures – including a new take on vampires.
There's a lot of buzz around Redfall as it marks a new direction for Arkane and represents the start of Microsoft's new Xbox Series X games coming after the company invested heavily in studios a couple of years ago. Redfall is also Arkane's first multiplayer-focused game – it's an open-world four-player shooter. Players take control of one of four characters – Layla Ellison, Devinder Crousley, Remi de la Rosa, and Jacob Boyer – who all have unique abilities and powers.
Sounds a little familiar? The co-op shooter thing is standard these days and has been done well in recent years, with World War Z and Blood 4 Blood being great examples. Akane's knack for creating interesting maps and mission design could elevate Redfall, as will the fact you can play the game in single-player.
If you're keen on Redfall and are thinking of picking up a new console, read my Xbox Series X review. This game will also be free day one on Xbox Game Pass so you can play it on Xbox, PC and even Chromebook (if you have the new Acer Chromebook 516 GE).
Starfield is definitely coming in 2023 after many delays, but I'm still not sure when exactly. This is a huge game and marks Micrisoft's big system seller for this year; essentially Starfield is Xbox Series X's golden bullet to trump PS5 in 2023 and Microsoft really doesn't want to waste its release. With this in mind an October or November launch could be on the cards, or a March release with a GOTY edition and console bundles for this Holiday season.
So why is Starfield so hyped? This is Bethesda Game Studios next big release after The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and is destined to be one of gaming's greatest ever role-playing adventures – no pressure then.
Unlike Skyrim this game takes to the stars and has around 1,000 fully-formed planets to explore. As expected you can customise and develop everything in the game from our character to the spaceship, as well as guns and gadgets. Crafting will enable you to develop new tech.
Many of the gameplay ideas we love in Skyrim have been transitioned into this sci-fi setting; so we can pick locks, pick-pocket aliens for goodies, join factions, persuade other characters to join your band of merry travellers, and even build outposts and begin your takeover of the galaxy. Sounds incredible.
The art direction is unique too; it's a blend of the functional science of space with some of the elegance we'd expect from games inspired by classic sci-fi like Foundation. I love our ramshackle, used and handmade some of the spacecraft and character outfits.
As with Redfall, Starfield will be a day one release on Xbox Game Pass.
The most anticipated games of 2023: Multi-format
Cal Kestis is back in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, and he's not looking happy about it. While Star Wars Jedi was about Cal embracing his Jedi heritage and rebuilding the Order, Survivor’s tone seems to be centred on, well… survival.
Five years have passed since the events of Fallen Order, and Cal and his crew are under pressure after so much time hiding from the Empire. Activity will be similar to what we’re used to, although director Stig Asmussen has mentioned new combat stances, and environments that have been expanded and are "more vibrant than they’ve been in the past" when he spoke to our sister title, Play Magazine.
In the recent interview the director said also highlighted our the team is improving upon the first game. "The fast-travel is point to point, and the rideable creatures offer a way to quickly negotiate between points and explore what is in between."
The first game's design was mix of Dark Souls and Tomb Raider and his sequel looks to embrace the Soulsborne side a little more with its improvements to fast travel and using the PS5 and Xbox Series X SSDs to ramp up loading times.
Resident Evil 4 Remake is the latest game from yesteryear to get a full remake – not a remaster. Like the Resident Evil 2 and 3 Remakes this game is now running on Capcom's new RE Engine and features control and gameplay enhancements to bring it up to date – for example, the classic 'tank controls' are literally a thing of the past.
The action is frantic; Los Ganados, villagers infected with the horrifying Las Plagas parasite that renders them zombie-like while allowing them to retain a high degree of intelligence, aren’t difficult to dispatch at first, but they come thick and fast, dense groups pushing Leon to stay on the move.
The game opens with Leon lost in the woods. His police escort leaves him behind as he searches for the President’s kidnapped daughter, unsure where he even is. The visuals ramp up that sense of isolation from the off. The browns of the original game have been replaced with a more nuanced use of darkness and moonlight, and his gradual movement towards the dangerous settlement is one you can’t help taking a few steps at a time, nervously taking everything in by the light of the moon.
But when you do encounter Los Ganados, everything is heightened. Resident Evil 4 always delighted in sending hordes of creatures Leon’s way, but had to perform a few tricks to make the numbers work. Here, on entering that initial village where Los Ganados are all clumped together (and burning your police escort at the stake), you immediately feel swarmed by them, they’re so numerous.
The increase in pressure is balanced by Leon’s slicker movement. This remake continues to tread the fine line between making Leon feel like a competent action hero and yet also a man repeatedly pushed to his limits. The loop of tagging enemies before closing in with melee weapons is intact, but it’s much easier to pull off a fluid chain of moves. Los Ganados can collide with each other too, meaning it’s possible to send whole groups of them tumbling.
The biggest bad I've gone toe-to-toe with so far is Dr Salvador, the village’s resident healer… if you could heal wounds with a massive chainsaw. The sack-masked lad is something of an icon, his silhouetted form peeking out from between trees on the original game’s box art. He caps off the seemingly-endless siege at the start of the game by barging through the crowd of villagers to pursue Leon with chainsaw-fuelled anger.
The loud moments are louder than ever, but a fresh mode of interaction has been added to this remake, as Leon can crouch and sneak around enemies. Often violence is inevitable, but stealth can help him make his way past some smaller groups, or get a few sneaky kills in before a sequence begins (should his knife be durable enough). Not only is it handy for catching Los Ganados unaware, it allows you to bask in their comparative intelligence as they patrol and haunt halls.
This is a game that’s always bounced gleefully between extremes. And just as the action is a bit grim, it’s also still very funny, the action-movie quips (“Where’d everyone go, bingo?”) still present. But, just like the action, the cutscenes are beautifully streamlined. So far, the Codec-like videophone is out, replaced with more dynamic chatter in cutscenes, with the camera cutting between Leon and his handler, Hunnigan. But it doesn’t feel like something to worry about, and there are even new goofy action-hero lines to look forward to.
The original Resident Evil 4 was a cutting-edge, dynamic thrill ride packed with fear, and this remake is shaping up to feel just as impressive, maintaining that sense of innovation and taking it to a terrifying new level.
Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League has been in development for almost a decade. The new game from Batman Arkham developer Rocksteady Studios is finally releasing this year. So, what's the pitch?
The members of the Justice League have had the wool pulled over their eyes by Brainiac and as a result are feeling far from themselves. With Metropolis under siege, that leaves only one option: Task Force X.
Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark are the worst of a bad bunch at Arkham Asylum. Amanda Waller plucks them out of their imprisonment, fits each villain with a shocking collar and a cranial bomb, then sends them on an impossible mission. You can guess their hit list.
Beyond the heavy hitters I’ve seen so far – The Flash, Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman, to name just a few – the city is crawling with Brainiac’s own smaller-fry minions. Fortunately, each of the Suicide Squad has more than a few tricks up their sleeve for getting around Metropolis’ skyline and blasting away the horde.
Playable with either three big bad besties in co-op, or solo with AI controlled squad-mates, each antihero has a move set all their own. Few can keep up with Supes’ airborne dashes across the city, but that doesn’t mean the gang have to rely on their own two feet for getting around.
Deadshot is armed to the teeth and doesn’t go anywhere without his jetpack. In limited bursts, he can glide from rooftop to rooftop or boost up walls. Harley Quinn also enjoys her own fair share of gadgets, kitted out with a grappling hook and a helpful little drone that ensures she always has an anchor point within reach. Momentum is the name of the game as she swings from brawl to brawl. King Shark is comparatively low-tech, using brute force to hurl himself upwards before digging his fingers into whatever wall has the misfortune of being within reach. Then there’s Captain Boomerang, who always keeps things interesting, boosting off of ledges and homing in on his thrown boomerang in a way that makes him difficult to pin down.
All of these traversal options feed into combat for the level of absolute mayhem you’d expect. From taking potshots from up high as Deadshot to hurling the full force of your body weight into the fray as King Shark, each bad guy feels distinctly good to play. We can’t wait to get the gang together for this.
The real question remains, is this what fans of Rocksteady Studios and DC really want? The game looks like it will be a game as service hybrid, a little like Square Enix's lacklustre The Avengers. For a studio that made its name on perfecting single-player narrative adventures Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League feels like it could miss the mark. Time will tell.
Dead Island 2 was announced all the way back at E3 2014 with nothing more than a cinematic teaser before becoming stuck in development hell as it was shuffled from one studio to the next, no-one really expected Dead Island 2 to resurface. But it was re-revealed at Gamescom in 2022, and I've had a chance to get hands-on with its gripping combat and spoken to the developers at Dambuster Studios (who took over the troubled project about four years ago).
While Deep Silver's in-house team effectively started development from scratch, from the characters to the core tech, one crucial thing has remained from the original premise, and that is the setting of LA – or rather Hell-A, as iconic locations like Hollywood and Venice Beach are transformed into a nightmarish sandbox overrun by the undead. Yes, I'm aware Los Angeles isn't actually an island, unlike the previous game's fictional island of Banoi, but it was nonetheless something the team felt passionate about, which game director David Stenton says "fits very well within the franchise of a paradise gone to hell".
An open world game set in an LA populated with zombies invites comparisons with two other games: Grand Theft Auto V's Los Santos, which is as close to a fictional virtual LA as you can get; and the massive open world of Dying Light 2, whose developer Techland was behind the original Dead Island. However, don't expect a case of apocalyptic tourism as the Dambuster team has crafted something more focused.
"I wouldn't call it a pure open world," lead narrative designer Ayesha Khan clarifies. "As we were making the game we've chosen a rich and detailed world over a large one. It's definitely not a 1:1 representation. You're not going to be able to wander around LA [...] in our game and then get around LA in real life."
Instead, the city is divided into a series of districts that are unlocked during the campaign, each providing a warped picture-postcard depiction of the city's glamorous locations, as we see standing at Venice Beach looking over at the waves reflecting the moonlight. Ultimately, the setting is more of a "curated experience, intended to showcase and promote the combat."
That's also what separates Dead Island 2 from Dying Light 2. The latter places the emphasis on parkour, running and clambering away from the undead being crucial. Dead Island 2's more combative. "As opposed to running away from the fight, our intention is about the fight, revelling in the fight, and being at the forefront," says Khan. While I'm able to get hold of couple of firearms to pop a few zombie skulls from a safe distance, there’s clearly an emphasis on getting uncomfortably up close and personal to attack – my demo takes us into a rather claustrophobic neon-lit arcade where we're trapped and forced to take on waves of undead, hacking and slashing them in gleefully gruesome detail.
The buckets of blood as you smash away decayed faces, sever limbs, and cut into rotting flesh like a butcher tenderising a slab of meat rivals any '80s gorefest, thanks to the game's FLESH system (standing for Fully Locational Evisceration Simulator for Humanoids), which procedurally maps out every horrid detail depending on the weapon you're using and which body part you hit. There are even different effects depending on the elements involved, so zapping zombies will electrocute them, cooking their organs from the inside, while acid will melt away their skin and flesh.
While our demo is set quite far into the campaign, making our encounters surprisingly challenging as we grapple with the combat systems, it does mean a lot of skills have already been unlocked for us to play with, to give us a better idea of Dead Island 2’s sandbox nature. It goes deeper than the surface-level violence. In addition to attacking with melee and ranged weapons, we have a range of abilities, from defensive ones like dodging and blocking to more aggressive styles such as a flying kick or ground pound that sends out a shockwave for crowd control. More importantly, you can actually modify and swap these around as you see fit.
It’s all part of the game's skill deck, where every ability upgrade is presented as a skill card that changes or modifies an ability, so a button for dodging can become one for blocking instead, while cards can grant perks like recovering health when performing a specific kind of kill. All this might have you thinking nervously of an element of randomness but we’re assured that this isn’t secretly a deckbuilder.
"The reason it's a deck is because you can customise it completely on the fly," Stenton explains. "It's really about customising your deck at any moment in time. The combat setup and the sandbox is very varied from location to location, and we've got a huge array of different zombie types with different attributes and tactical consequences. So it's really important."
It still requires pausing to go into the menu to swap cards that you unlock over the course of the game, but it's a refreshing alternative to having your build locked in place or having to return to a home base or checkpoint. Khan says you can essentially re-spec even in midair, and by the time you're on the ground you can have completely new skills to adapt to the next threat.
So there's plenty of potential for customisation. Even so, there's enough to distinguish each of the six playable characters, some of whom will have their own unique skill cards, though I'm told you're not locked into a set playstyle for any of them. Their voices and personalities will distinguish them from each other the most, so you can expect they will react to situations and the story itself very differently.
Street Fighter 6 has something for everyone, and in a way that respects the series' core pillars. Almost every aspect of Street Fighter 6 has been designed to make things easier to get into than ever, and it's something that long-time veterans will benefit from just as much as new players, though it is the fresh-faced who may be the most thankful for it.
Just as FIFA has well-known voices nattering away to comment on play-by-plays, so too does Street Fighter 6 – a genre first. Actual commentators from fighting game tournaments are here (speaking English and Japanese), and while commentary is primarily there to add colour and solidify the game's status as an esport, throughout my many hours of beta play it's also the most immediate addition that nudges me to play better.
It's more subtle than a voice in your ear throwing shade. As the commentators highlight phases of play in a match, mention the state of Street Fighter 6's various meters, or celebrate a clutch reaction you made (that you might not have been sure about), it helps you identify the rhythm of competitive play. There's a natural cadence to a well-executed round of combat that might not be immediately obvious to those who think it's all about mashing, and the commentary can be just enough to help you recognise those elements of call-and-response. Of course, you can turn it all off, but it's far from a gimmick when you're getting used to how the new game plays.
In my hours with the game, I expected to give the Modern controls a quick go before returning to the tried-and-true six-button Classic layout. But, once again, these simpler controls are far from what you might expect. They're not just a slapdash easy mode, they've got a depth of their own.
Modern controls remove the ability to dictate whether your fighter uses a punch or a kick; buttons are context-based light, medium, and heavy attacks. Meanwhile, adjusting directional input puts different special moves at your fingertips.
It's a far cry from the very mixed attempts other, older fighters have tried (sometimes having, for instance, one auto-combo on a single button). What's important here is that every tool is translated to Modern controls in a way that's easy to understand, meaning it genuinely helps you develop your abilities. It makes you think about what moves you should pull off and when, rather than getting hung up on flubbing the execution. Plus, thanks to some tweaks to how it operates, both control schemes can come out about even, and feel competitively balanced.
Both control schemes have access to the Drive system, a new Street Fighter 6 meter that allows for great push-and-pull moves that enable great clashes for control. Whether that's the EX-like Overdrive moves to power up your specials, the Drive Impact that can push through an enemy’s barrage should they start to overreach, or the Drive Parry that allows you build meter back up by deflecting attacks (perform it perfectly for a big boost), Street Fighter 6 is constantly encouraging dynamic back-and-forths.
But if Modern controls are still a bit much, there's a third option with Dynamic controls, which are geared around accessibility. Using AI assistance to figure out contextually what moves a fighter should make next, this is a setup that means button-mashing results in the right moves for the right situation. Sure, it's not balanced in the same way Classic and Modern have been designed to be able to go head-to-head, but it's not meant to be – this is an extra, neat option to allow anyone to play if they want to.
Online, you can take part in these tussles using your custom character to explore the Battle Hub, littered with arcade cabinets. Yet, while the fights are the core of Street Fighter 6, it's not all your custom character will be doing. The World Tour is the series' most ambitious story mode yet.
While Capcom is still keeping a lot of it under wraps, we do know you'll explore an open world Metro City, taking on challengers to get stronger and, most importantly, meeting the cast of fighters in order to train under them. These moves don't just help you get tougher, but can be used to explore new corners of the world, like using a spinning kick to cross a large gap. No matter how you want to play, Street Fighter 6 has an answer for you – so it's time to take it to the streets.
Assassin's Creed Mirage is going back to the fundamentals of the series, and is the best way to move forward. That's the approach Ubisoft's taking for Assassin's Creed Mirage; the next entry in the 15-year-old series sees the open world RPG approach ditched in favour of something more familiar to fans of the classics, while incorporating the best bits of all of its predecessors.
While smaller in scale as a result, Mirage still has plenty of potential to excite. Its densely-built Baghdad is a sandbox playground to explore, and one with greater fidelity than the cities we’ve explored in the series to date.
Despite the old-school approach being taken, Mirage has a direct link to the recent Assassin's Creed Valhalla, as the central character is Basim Ibn Ishaq, many years before he met Eivor and introduced them to the Hidden Ones and their role as an assassin.
This is a coming-of-age story that follows Basim from his humble beginnings as a street thief right the way through to becoming a master assassin under the mentorship of Roshan. At the same time, he's grappling with mysterious visions and a darkness within, a mirror of Eivor's experience.
Rising through the ranks means becoming one of the best assassins there ever was, and Basim has the goods to pull it off. Parkour has been enhanced, offering a quick and detailed way of picking routes across Baghdad's many districts. Fan-favourite moves like corner swings are returning, and we'll get some new ones too, like a pole vault that allows Basim to cross gaps without breaking stride.
The city is densely populated, which you'll be able to use to your advantage as you get one over on the many patrolling guards, who now have a more nuanced detection system. Plenty of Hidden One tools will help upon detection, or can be set up in key locations as traps so you can own the space in which you operate – all smoke bombs and dazzling seat-of-your-pants escapes. Should Basim really need to get his robes dirty, Assassin's Focus allows him to slow time down to a crawl and line up a chain of strikes, felling groups of enemies in a row.
You can't always rely on combat to get yourself out of sticky situations, though. Being stealthy is the way to go if you want to feel like a true master assassin. That's where Enkidu, Basim's eagle companion, comes in – it's able to mark enemy locations. But watch out, as anti-air soldiers could shoot your pal down, meaning you'll need to smartly trade off between controlling Basim on the ground and Enkidu in the air to pick your way through challenging compounds.
It all sounds like a stunning refinement of everything I've come to love about Assassin's Creed over the years, and a marvellous bridge towards a future that promises to further reinvent the action-stealth sandbox series.
Tekken 8 is being designed around 'aggression', this has been illustrated with the reveal series favourite Nina Williams is coming back to the series and will use weapons alongside martial arts attacks.
There's a new Heat System that sits below each fighter's health bar that fills as you battle, and you'll be able to tap into it to unleash new Heat Engagers and Heat Burst abilities. The former puts the character into a new powerful state that unlocks a new set of attacks – and can even include enhanced guard breaks. When an opponent goes into this rage state all you can do is block and counter.
The Heat System is designed to encourage players to always attack and go on the offensive, with linked combos enabling you to be in a state of constant pressure. There's a sense Tekken 8 is following in step with series like Guilty Gear to put aggressive, over-the-top attacks ahead of the subtle attack and defence of older games in the Tekken series.
What's not in doubt is how spectacular Tekken 8 looks. After a couple of years of being teased with Unreal Engine 5 demos the first games to be made using this new tech are coming through, and Tekken 8 doesn't disappoint. Every piece of gameplay footage is a barrage of effects and smooth animation, performed at speed, and it could be this new tech that has influenced Tekken 8's new blusterous gameplay.
Wild Hearts wears its Monster Hunter influences on its armour-clad sleeve. The usual monster-hunting suspects are all here: getting a little help from your friends in online multiplayer; kitting out your hunter in a killer fit; and giant piggies that'll send you running all the way home. The twist this time is found in the tech at your disposal.
Developed by Dynasty Warriors studio Omega Force, sticking beasts with the pointy end is always an option – though there’s more to combat here than mashing like mad and mowing down droves of foes. You're armed with magical gadgets known as karakuri, and every brush with a big beastie requires strategic use of this arsenal if you want to live to tell the tale.
Just for a start, karakuri offer traversal options such as ziplines and gliders that spin like sycamore seeds falling through the air. You'll need all these toys to help you find your mark. Once you've located your quarry, be they a shouty fire monkey, a giant boar with an explosive temper, or an oversized rat who can make trees spontaneously uproot the battlefield, your little gadgets give you plenty more options.
For instance, you could take a defensive approach, spawning a wall to take the brunt of a powerful strike, but karakuri can just as easily give you a leg up in combat – sometimes literally. Beyond rapidly constructing platforms and launchpads you can use to lob yourself from, karakuri can also take the form of traps like catapults and even something incendiary as a little treat.
These are only some of the tools on offer to you. And if you do want to keep things classic and stick 'em with the pointy end? Beyond the usual suspects of swords and bows, a surprisingly sharp umbrella is an enticing option. Besides keeping the rain (and blood) off you, it's certainly a sight to see it parry anything this wild world can throw at you.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is developer Team Ninja’s next release and builds on its combat mechanics and ideas laid down in previous Soulsborne Nioh, and to an extent the classic Ninja Gaiden.
Set in 184 CE, Wo Long riffs off the Chinese epic Romance Of The Three Kingdoms. It's well-trodden ground for publisher Koei Tecmo, but a new direction for Team Ninja. If you're familiar with the heroes of the mythologised era of Chinese history, you will recognise some of Wo Long's major players. Some of them will team up to fight alongside your custom character (created in Team Ninja's usual in-depth fashion); others you'll butt heads with. This is a time of war, after all, and one that demons revel in, powering up soldiers and stalking the battlefields.
The setup is similar to Nioh's, despite the action taking place over 1,000 years earlier, but Wo Long is more than a Chinese reskin. Even the presentation of the demons is different here, with the developers working consciously to reflect the differences in the Chinese depictions of legendary creatures, and how the concept of qi differs from some Japanese interpretations.
This comes across in how you explore levels and fight, with the absence of a stamina meter being the most immediately obvious difference. Instead, clashes fill you with positive and negative qi, the spirit meter tracking it like a pendulum (neutral is in the middle), allowing you to flow attacks together when you build enough momentum. So too can they empower you to summon guardian spirits or blast out magic.
What’s important is staying on top of your flow, and faster attacks with your weapons build on that, enabling you to counter almost constantly (a bit like in Sekiro), meaning you can keep going. Extra mobility also allows you to mantle up vertical spaces in the wide (yet distinct) levels. Exploring even powers you up, preparing you to go toe-to-toe with the (naturally) demonic bosses.
Some of this article first appeared in Play Magazine issue 22. You can subscribe to the print edition, digital version, or save even more with the print/digital bundle – whatever you choose, you’ll be receiving an unprecedented trove of dedicated PlayStation coverage every month.