2023 was a banner year for video games, with "Hogwarts Legacy" exciting everyone from private to a few sergeants major while your brigade or division commander continued to play "Snake" on their phones. (If you're in the Navy or Coast Guard, then those terms are seaman, command master chief and, I guess, skipper? The Navy is truly baffling to me. Also, why do you all have six uniforms?)
But where 2023 had "Tears of the Kingdom," "Baldur's Gate 3" and "Diablo IV," the upcoming year has a slightly smaller, but still exciting, feast. For the role-playing game, or RPG, fans that most of the titles so far pandered to, there are games such as "Dragon's Dogma 2" and "Final Fantasy VII Rebirth." For action fans, "Star Wars Outlaws" and "Destiny 2: The Final Shape." And horror fans like yours truly can look forward to Mefloquine nightmares and "Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2."
Here are some of the best games that you can nab for use in the field, in the barracks or in berthing this year. (Berthing? The Navy, at least when you commit to jargon that sounds like it came from a fantasy novel, you really commit.)
"Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League" lets you kill Superman, the Green Lantern, Flash and the rest of the Justice League and still be the hero. The third-person shooter follows the story of the criminal misfits after a supervillain takes over the minds of all the famous heroes. So now, their villainous adversaries have to save the day -- by killing them. Embrace the mayhem in February 2024.
"Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2" is one of the longest-anticipated titles on this list. After it missed a 2020 scheduled release, it changed developers once and release dates a few times. Still, the new trailers and release art look great. The game will be the first time that video-game players get to play as a senior vampire in the World of Darkness universe. Look for it in fall 2024.
"Final Fantasy VII Rebirth" represents the next installment of the Final Fantasy VII reimagined trilogy, coming in after 2020's "Final Fantasy VII Remake." It's a standalone title, but the story might not make much sense to folks who didn't play the original game or the first remake in the trilogy. Honestly, "Final Fantasy" stories are often confusing for people who have played all of them. But they're also epic, and "VII" has always been a fan favorite. The PlayStation 5 exclusive comes in February 2024.
"Skull and Bones" comes in February after literally more than 10 years since it was initially announced. The two closed betas last year revealed an interesting naval massively multiplayer online role-playing game, or MMORPG, where players can customize ships way more than you might expect. Ships can be snipers, close-assault, rammers, floating tanks and more. Don't expect much naval realism, but you and your friends can slice through the waters and enemy ships with ease. Cross your fingers that it finally releases in February 2024 for PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X.
"Dragon's Dogma 2" is yet another sequel. The original game built a huge following, and the production team incorporated a lot of fan feedback to make the new game even better. The action RPG allows you to be marked by a dragon and then hunt it down while navigating a war between two nations. It should be on your PS5, Xbox Series X/S or Windows in March 2024.
"Rise of the Ronin" allows you to step into the shoes of a masterless samurai at the end of the Edo period, just before Japan became an empire in 1868 in the real world. The open-world RPG features swordplay, early firearms and Japanese leaders fighting over the emerging Western influence at the time. The creators have a lot of experience in ninja and samurai games. It's slated for a PS5 release in March 2024.
"Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2" promises to be a tight, horror-filled adventure through Norse mythology that mixes monsters, hell and psychosis. It's photorealistic and takes massive advantage of the new Xbox consoles. The developers used the newer Unreal Engine 5, allowing for amazing visuals, a wide selection of gameplay options and more. But the game is expected to be about eight hours long. That's perfect for older folks such as this author, but it might be disappointing for folks more used to "Assassin's Creed Valhalla," where a normal run through the Norse world takes 45 hours or more. It's a PC and Xbox exclusive coming in May 2024.
"S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl" comes fairly late in the year, slated for September. The fourth game in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, it was delayed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine as the developmental team had to move to Prague, and some members joined the Ukrainian armed forces. The first-person shooter and survival horror game is based in a fictional version of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone where monsters now roam. Can you make it there? The Russians couldn't. PC and Xbox Series X in September.
"Frostpunk 2" is slated for the first half of the year and will call on the player to lead a metropolis through the apocalyptic, blizzard-choked planet Earth. The new game promises a much larger society with new, internal factions, making your job as steward in the icy wastes challenging in new ways. Coming to PC this year.
"The Wolf Among Us 2," another long-delayed game, comes from Telltale Games. Like other games from the developer, it sees the player make timely plot choices in what is billed as an interactive graphic adventure. The studio is best known for its "The Walking Dead" series, but "The Wolf Among Us 2" sees the player return to Fabletown to investigate murder and other crimes in a noir-style, fairy-tale world hidden within New York City. It's slated for PC, PS4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X this year.
"Star Wars Outlaws" comes from Ubisoft, of "Assassin's Creed" fame, and promises a third-person experience set in the Star Wars universe between "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" with combat, stealth, vehicles and branching dialogue. It's a typical Ubisoft sandbox game, but with the player controlling a Star Wars outlaw through locals like Tatooine. Expect this one on PS5, Xbox S and X, and Windows in late 2024. And always shoot first.
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