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The 5 Best Video Games of 2023

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This year was an incredible one for video games, with plenty of choices for just about every taste and preference. Nintendo, best known for family-friendly classics, managed to astonish us over and over again, and old favorites made surprising returns. With so many options, picking the five best games was difficult for us—but we went ahead and did it anyway.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Rated E; Nintendo Switch

On paper, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom sounds like a simple upgrade: Take 2017’s smash hit Breath of the Wild, add vehicle building and item mixing, and set players loose. But Nintendo achieved so much with Tears of the Kingdom that we’re not sure how it’ll expand the series from here. Breath of the Wild was a triumph that rebuilt the Zelda series with a modern, open-world design and brand-new traversal and combat mechanics for a level of player freedom that the series had never seen before. Tears of the Kingdom built on that foundation with two new, massive zones, allowing you to explore Hyrule’s skies as well as catacombs under the map’s surface. The amount of space that you can venture across is overwhelming, but the game gives you new building abilities that you can use to craft (hopefully) functioning vehicles such as hot-air balloons, motorcycles, and wagons. You can also fuse items into weapons with unusual effects and special abilities, tow Koroks around, and construct just about any contraption you can think of. Tears of the Kingdom pulled us in with its epic, time-traveling story, but we stayed to earn our Hylian degrees in mechanical engineering.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Rated T; PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S

A sequel to 2019’s hit Star Wars Jedi: Fallen OrderStar Wars Jedi: Survivor manages to eclipse the original in just about every way. Set five years after the original (and around the same time as the Disney+ show Obi-Wan Kenobi), Jedi Survivor takes the exploration and action of Fallen Order and expands it in every direction for a graphically stunning showpiece for the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. Survivor is the rare sequel that starts you off with every ability from the prior game and adds from there, which helps it create new puzzle and combat experiences to complement what the previous game built. It has great characters, an interesting story, and a huge world (galaxy?) to explore, making it an expansive, amazing Star Wars experience.

Baldur’s Gate 3

Rated M; PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S

If you’ve been craving an epic fantasy adventure where you can save the realms, find legendary treasures and villains, woo your companions, and, well, roll around as a big block of cheese for a while, your hopes and dreams have been answered. Baldur’s Gate 3, which continues the PC RPG series based on the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms setting, generated years of buzz during an extended period of early access. Its launch in September proved that the anticipation was justified: Baldur’s Gate 3 is a huge game with an enormous amount of freedom and possibilities, along with an epic story and plenty of interesting characters to meet (and romance), plus co-op play. It’s rare to see a game like Baldur’s Gate 3, one that feels big and ambitious and unconstrained by focus groups or safe decision making, even if its complicated rules and often high difficulty mean that it isn’t for everyone.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Rated E; Nintendo Switch

It’s been more than a decade since we’ve seen a genuinely new take on the classic, two-dimensional Super Mario Bros. formula, but Nintendo made it worth the wait. Super Mario Bros. Wonder adds online play to the four-player formula it established with New Super Mario Bros. back on the Wii. It also adds absolute pandemonium to the mix by moving the setting to the bizarre and unstable Flower Kingdom, where chaos seeds completely change the levels you’re playing in and the characters you’re controlling. Nintendo has been on a hot streak this year, but Super Mario Bros. Wonder still stands apart. It’s weird, relentlessly inventive, and often laugh-out-loud funny, making for one of the best games of 2023 and on the Switch in general.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Rated T; PlayStation 5

The original Spider-Man reboot in 2018 was one of the best superhero games ever, and this year’s sequel doesn’t disappoint. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 once again provides the unrivaled opportunity to live in Spider-Man’s shoes. But this time, you get to be both Peter Parker and Miles Morales as Spider-Man, swapping between the two characters to utilize their distinct fighting powers and abilities to protect the city from new dangers. The open-world rendition of New York City in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 expands beyond the borders of the first game, inviting players to explore Brooklyn and Queens in addition to its already-beautiful portrayal of Manhattan. This is the rare open-world game where fast travel feels pointless because web-slinging and wall-crawling across the city feels so satisfying, and the combat is fluid, bombastic, and badass.

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