The First Half of 2023 is the Best Six Months of Gaming I’ve Experienced



By: Jason Siu


4 min read

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Final Fantasy XVI Review Gallery

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Most years, we’re lucky if we get a handful of games that are talked about for more than a few months. It’s very rare that we’ll get multiple titles in a single year that are truly genre-defining experiences, or games that set a new bar, whether in terms of storytelling or graphics, gameplay or music. For many gamers, 2004 is considered the best and most important in video game history with numerous critically acclaimed releases:

  • Half-Life 2
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  • Halo 2
  • Unreal Tournament 2004
  • World of Warcraft
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
  • Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
  • The Sims 2
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
  • Metroid: Zero Mission
  • Dragon Quest VIII
  • Pikmin 2
  • Viewtiful Joe
  • Counter-Strike: Source
  • Gran Turismo 4
  • Far Cry
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2
  • Metroid Prime 2

That’s not even the full list, that’s just some of the games that are worth mentioning. But for some people, like me, World of Warcraft overshadowed the entire year. Yes, it released in November 2004, but many had access to the betas earlier in the year. There was also a huge variety of console games to enjoy and broadly speaking, every gamer around the world probably looks fondly back at 2004.

But that’s nearly 20 years ago and there’s an entirely new generation of gamers since then. There are people who are gaming today who weren’t even alive when World of Warcraft first launched. If we look at more recent years, I’d say 2017 was very notable:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • Divinity: Original Sin II
  • Persona 5
  • Undertale
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
  • Tales of Berseria
  • Nioh
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Hollow Knight
  • NieR: Automata
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood
  • Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
  • Splatoon 2
  • Dragon Quest XI
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • StarCraft: Remastered
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
  • Destiny 2
  • Forza Motorsport 7
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War
  • Gran Turismo Sport
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2

In fact, 2017 is personally my favorite year of gaming (for now) due to how many titles were released that completely captivated my attention. A few of those games are on my list of the best games I’ve ever played. But as someone who has grown up playing video game since the late 1980s, the first half of 2023 is the best six months of gaming I’ve experienced yet, and I don’t think it’ll ever be surpassed in my lifetime just because of how all the stars aligned this year.

Final Fantasy XVI Review Gallery

As I mentioned in my Final Fantasy XVI review, Final Fantasy is my favorite gaming franchise and we all know mainline games don’t come every couple years like they used to during the original PlayStation era. I spent much of my childhood playing Street Fighter II and all its different versions on the SNES and at the arcade, and Street Fighter 6 is clearly the best entry in the series. And then there’s a Diablo sequel, a franchise I have spent thousands of hours in, and even though I’m not a huge fan of Diablo IV, I still enjoyed my experience through the campaign and, well, it’s still a new Diablo game! Finally, we also got The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom in May, a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, one of my favorite games of all time.

Just from May through June, I was fortunate enough to play through four sequels to my favorite franchises in all of gaming. It was a wide variety of experiences too. Before May, I also enjoyed Hogwarts Legacy, Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, the PC release of LIVE A LIVE, and even two great DLCs, one of which was a lengthy experience for one of my favorite games of all time, Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed and Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores. While I haven’t had a chance to finish it, I have put a few hours into Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and plan on going back to it once I am done getting the platinum trophy in Final Fantasy XVI.

Personally, the first half of 2023 has been absolutely wild. If a new Doom game had been released, I would have had sequels to all of my beloved franchises. If we were still following Final Fantasy XIV’s original schedule, a new expansion would have released later this year — but now that will be coming in 2024, along with Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth.

But there are still six months to go in 2023 and plenty of games I’m excited to play. For the remainder of this year, I have plans to play Pikmin 4, Remnant II, The Expanse: A Telltale Series, Armored Core VI Fires of Rubicon, Sea of Stars, Starfield, Mortal Kombat 1, Alan Wake 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Cities: Skylines II, Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Volume 1, Persona 5 Tactica, Super Mario RPG, and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. That’s a heavy list for the remaining six months, although a few of them may not make the cut depending on how they review. I also have my eyes on Immortals of Aveum, Baten Kaitos I & II HD Remaster, and Baldur’s Gate 3. I’m guessing there might even be a surprise or two on PC, as seems to be the case each year.

It’s quite possible when the calendar shuts on 2023, it might go down in history as one of the best years of gaming, if not the best. The industry has had an impressive start to the year, and I can’t wait to experience the rest of this year’s games. One thing is for sure: The Game Awards 2023 is going to be an exciting show!

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With over 20 years of online publishing experience, Jason Siu is currently the Content Director at VerticalScope and used to spend most of his time writing about cars. His work can be seen on websites such as AutoGuide, EV Pulse, FlatSixes, Tire Authority, and more. As the former co-founder of and West Coast Editor of Modified Magazine, he has also authored two books for CarTech Books. In his spare time, he founded FullCleared to indulge in his passion for writing about games. Although Jason is a variety gamer, he generally prefers RPGs.

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