Microsoft’s fourth-generation Xbox consoles, the Xbox Series X and Series S, are now entering Year 3. And while Year 1 began with a soft launch in the exclusive games department, the second half of the first year of this generation delivered the deluge that parched Xbox fans have been waiting for years. From Forza Horizon 5 to Halo Infinite to Psychonauts 2 and Microsoft Flight Simulator, it felt like Xbox the exclusive games drought was finally over [Editor’s note: Whoops!]. Of course you now know the story because you lived it. The whole year of 2022 has been like a mirage in the desert: you thought you saw water in front of you, but was it really there? As such, 2023 simply has to offer Xbox gamers who have invested so much in the platform. Microsoft is a trillion dollar company that has seemingly exhausted the patience of its gamerbase. Fortunately, however, there are reasons for optimism.
Will X finally give it to you?
The conversation around blockbuster exclusives for Xbox in 2023 begins and ends with Starfield, famed game designer Todd Howard’s newest IP for decades, and the first game he’s made since Fallout 4 in 2015. Howard has tried to call his 2020 tour, promising a release date of 11/11/22 18 months early. It didn’t work out, but now Starfield is finally almost here, and with our apologies to Arkane’s Redfall (which we’ll get to in a bit), Starfield isn’t just the biggest game to release from Bethesda since Microsoft bought the publisher for 7.5 billion dollars two years ago, it’s, on paper, the kind of exclusivity that makes people want to buy into the Xbox ecosystem. And for the millions of gamers still enjoying Team Starfield’s Skyrim, there’s good news: Starfield just might be skyrim in spacewhich should be good news for millions of Elder Scrolls fans who have been waiting for more than a decade for the sixth installment in this venerable series.
But Starfield will have to wait until at least the middle of the year. Everything indicates that the aforementioned Redfall will be released first. The co-operative four-player vampire-hunting first-person shooter looked downright delicious last we saw and got it a giant dump of information from co-creative director Harvey Smith, and that should help ease the sting of watching Bethesda’s last two major releases – that of Arkane delectable Deathloop and Tango Gameworks solidly strange Ghostwire: Tokyo – released as a PlayStation 5 exclusive under a deal Bethesda signed with Sony before Microsoft acquired it. Fortunately, Deathloop is now on Xbox Game Pass, and Ghostwire should follow when its one-year PlayStation exclusivity window expires in March. Arkane has always made devilishly clever games – Warren Spector, Hall of Fame game designer call them immersive sims – which have tended to be more critically acclaimed than commercial hits. Given the continued success of vampires in pop culture, perhaps Redfall will finally be the game that ticks both boxes for the studio.
Forza Motorsport is also expected in the first half of 2023, the next-gen-only reboot of Xbox’s long-running simulation racing game series. As great as the first seven motorsport entries are, Horizon has become arguably the best Forza over its five iterations. It also has a wider appeal. So Motorsport will have to deepen its sim-based story to raise the bar above its noisy sibling again. What’s been shown so far has been stunning – not to mention that developer Turn10 Studios took a long time to rebuild the game from the ground up, like Forza Motorsport 7 released in 2017 on Xbox One. The developers of Forza Motorsport have never failed, so racing game fans have good reason to be excited when this reboot drops.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a huge impact on the video game industry, and two major Xbox exclusives slated for release last year have been pushed back to accommodate the encroachment of the war. on the literal doorstep of the developers. The Triple-A first-person shooter STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl, from Ukrainian studio GSC Game World, is the most high-profile of the games whose development timelines have been affected. Hopefully the survival horror shooter lands on Xbox Game Pass in 2023 and every time it does, the entire gaming community will root for its success.
The same can be said for startup studio Sad Cat Studios, which had to relocate for the team’s own safety due to the invasion. Work on Replaced has resumed and hopefully it will also ship in 2023 as an Xbox exclusive. It’s a cyberpunk thriller with gorgeous 2.5D pixel art set in an alternate reality of the 1980s, and it was a standout title when it debuted at the 2021 Xbox showcase event. Keep an eye out for this one. !
More recently, Xbox’s 2022 showcase promised more exclusives in 2023. Minecraft Legends is an action-strategy game that should appeal well to the casual crowd, but it’s unlikely to move the needle for fans. core players. Instead, the biggest move Xbox is making in both 2023 and beyond — and right now the most compelling soap opera of recent times — is Microsoft’s attempted acquisition of Activision-Blizzard. As Sony and Microsoft take hilarious turns trying to appear softer and weaker than the other in front of regulators in an effort to push the deal forward or shut it down altogether, the reality on the ground for Microsoft is , if the deal goes through, the company would suddenly bring Blizzard’s 2023 powerhouse sequel, Diablo 4, to Xbox Game Pass. The Call of Duty exclusivity situation is another matter altogether, but getting a new Diablo on Game Pass would be a huge win for Xbox.
Even if you put aside the Activision-Blizzard drama, Microsoft still has a number of exclusives that have already been announced and could land in the second half of 2023. The magnificent Unreal Engine 5-powered psychological thriller Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 from renowned developer Ninja Theory seems like the most likely candidate of the lot. Avowed is harder to assess, as we haven’t even seen a gameplay trailer yet, but Obsidian has already delivered. a game 10/10 as an Xbox exclusive, and Avowed could be the perfect way to satiate Skyrim fans while the wait for The Elder Scrolls 6 continues. Could it sneak in late 2023? Perhaps, though it may depend on where in the timeline Starfield ends up landing.
Perfect Dark, Fable, The Outer Worlds 2, Contraband, and Gears 6 all seem unlikely to sneak past the end of Xbox Series X’s third year, but hopefully we’ll at least see something tangible from each of them. ‘them. More concretely, it is not impossible that one or more of State of Decay 3, Indiana Jones and Everwild land on your console sooner than expected. The bottom line, though, is that it’s high time for Microsoft to deliver blockbuster exclusives to its fans.
All of these games will come with $70 price tags, as Microsoft has finally joined most other major publishers in the industry at increase the price of their games from $60. Luckily, many Xbox gamers won’t really feel the pinch, as all of these first-party games launch directly into Xbox Game Pass, the monthly price of which is (for now) unchanged.
Materials and services
On that note, Xbox Game Pass has been so successful it’s now a meme, which is probably the best case scenario Microsoft could have hoped for when it launched the service in 2017. The fact is, However, that meme isn’t lying: Xbox Game Pass truly is the best gaming deal, and 2023 should deliver not only the first wave of overdue first-party exclusives, but continued third-party value as well. While no official announcement has yet been made, it’s reasonable to expect MLB The Show 23 to return to the service on launch day. So will indie darling Hollow Knight: Silksong, Vin Diesel vehicle Ark 2, promising souls like Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn, intriguing farming sim Lightyear Frontier, whimsical platformer The Last Case of Benedict Fox. and Ravenlok, a quirky action-adventure. And that is exactly what is expected in the first half of the new year. Others inevitably arrive.
Meanwhile, Xbox Cloud Gaming continues to quietly evolve and integrate into the Xbox ecosystem via Game Pass, there are Xbox Series S deals to be had, and oh yes, you can now actually find and buy an Xbox Series X in many stores without much hassle. And once you have the console in your hands, you can now order a custom Xbox Elite controller in the Xbox Design Lab, further personalizing your Xbox experience.
Ultimately, 2023 is a year of serious promise for Xbox, but it comes with an understandable sense of urgency from Xbox owners. Microsoft has seen its stable of first-party studios grow tremendously over the past few years, rectifying a series of mistakes that got worse over the Xbox One generation. Players have been patient, but at this point Microsoft has used up all the goodwill it has left. In short, it’s time to stand up or shut up. Fortunately, everything indicates that, like the Chicago Cubs 2016, this will finally be the year.
Ryan McCaffrey is IGN’s Preview Editor and host of IGN’s weekly Xbox show, Unblocked Podcastas well as our monthly interview show, IGN unfiltered. He’s a guy from North Jersey, so it’s “Taylor ham”, not “pork roll”. Chat with him on Twitter at @DMC_Ryan.