2023 was the year Armored Core broke out of the confines of its niche box and showed why so many people love it. Fires of Rubicon leverages years of top-notch work by FromSoftware to invite fans to try something different. And that something different is a mech game that has cinematic combat, a robust customization suite, and a story that is subtly told but interesting nonetheless. Most importantly, however, its kept what people love about From's titles intact and was challenging but satisfying. If you haven't played Armored Core before and want to know if it works for you, this is the one to try.
I am a fan of hitting buttons. A lot of buttons. And quickly. For that reason the fighting game genre is one of my favourites, with Street Fighter being the series I most gravitate towards. However, I will admit that Street Fighter V lost me with how plain it felt in its personality and systems. Street Fighter 6 is a complete 180, with the Drive system at the core of its mechanics being versatile and offering an element of creativity that is sure to give it longevity. On top of that, it's just got style and a memorable vibe--not to mention one of the weirdest campaigns in fighting game history. I am excited to continue playing SF6 for years to come.
3. Alan Wake II
2. Lies of P
It's easier to say "Lies of P is just a Bloodborne copy" than it is to actually make one. An entire genre of FromSoftware inspired games exists, but very few are able to capture the magic of the Souls games. Until now, I'd argue no one has managed that for Bloodborne, but Lies of P comes the closest to it. And it does so while adding its own unique elements, whether that's setting it in a world where there has been some sort of puppet revolt and you play as Pinnochio, or its designing an interesting upgrade system that makes a wild variety of weapons available to you. Lies of P also has that classic From loop of getting stomped, learning, and then overcoming that fans constantly year for. If it was easy to copy Bloodborne, everyone would be doing it.
Many have said this, but it is worth repeating: Baldur's Gate 3 is a dungeon master that doesn't say no. It is a game that, by its very nature, has limitations, but the player never feels like they're there and it is exceedingly rare to bump up against them. For many, this may be their first experience with D&D and the idea of crafting unique and memorable stories in imaginative worlds where you have a great deal of input in what happens. And what a first experience it is. Larian has crafted an RPG that will be remembered as one of the all-time greats. It's a game that invites you to unshackle your imagination and see how far you can push it, and it rarely breaks. I have been playing the role-playing Unbreakable Patches from Dark Souls 3, and the game has the mechanics to support it, which is pretty incredible. I suspect I'll play through this game multiple times, but weeks after its launch I'm still on my first run, and I am having the best time.