What to Expect from Xbox in 2023: The Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft’s fourth-generation Xbox systems, have already entered Year 3. Even though the first year of this generation’s games had a modest launch in the exclusive games category, the second half of the year brought the torrent that thirsty Xbox fans had been waiting years for.
It certainly felt like the Xbox’s lack of exclusive titles was finally resolved with Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite, Psychonauts 2, and Microsoft Flight Simulator [Editor’s note: whoops!]. You already know the narrative since you experienced it yourself, of course. 2022 as a whole was like a desert mirage—you believed you could see water in the distance but was it actually there?
Therefore, 2023 must deliver for Xbox gamers who have made such significant platform investments. Microsoft, a trillion-dollar enterprise, appears to have worn out the players’ patience. Fortunately, there are grounds for optimism.
Starfield Combat And Exploration
Starfield, the first brand-new IP from legendary game designer Todd Howard in decades and the first game he’s directed at all since Fallout 4 back in 2015, is where the talk about blockbuster exclusives for Xbox in 2023 begins and stops. In 2020, Howard made an attempt to call the shot by announcing a release date of 11/11/22, which is a full 18 months early.
That didn’t work out, but Starfield is now almost here, and with all due respect to Arkane’s Redfall (which we’ll discuss in a moment), Starfield is not only the most significant game to come out of Bethesda since Microsoft acquired the publisher for $7.5 billion two years ago; on paper, it is the kind of exclusive that encourages people to join the Xbox ecosystem.
The good news is that Starfield might be Skyrim in space, which is great news for the millions of Elder Scrolls fans who have been waiting over a decade for the sixth installment of that venerable series. There are also millions of gamers still playing the Starfield team’s own version of Skyrim.
However, Starfield will have to wait at least until the middle of the year. All signs point to the aforementioned Redfall being made available initially. It should lessen the pain of seeing Bethesda’s most recent two major releases – Arkane’s own delicious Deathloop and Tango Gameworks’ solidly strange Ghostwire: Tokyo – get released as PlayStation 5 exclusives as part of a deal Bethesda signed with Sony before the Microsoft acquisition.
The four-player vampire-hunting co-op first-person shooter looked downright delightful when we last saw it and got a giant info dump from co-creative director Harvey Thankfully, Ghostwire will join Xbox Game Pass when Ghostloop’s one-year period of PlayStation exclusive ends in March. Death loop is already available on Xbox Game Pass.
Warren Spector, a Hall of Fame game designer, describes Arkane’s games as immersive simulators. These games have consistently received greater critical praise than economic success. Given the vampires’ enduring popularity in popular culture, perhaps Redfall will be the studio’s game that ultimately fulfills both requirements.
Forza Motorsport, the long-running Xbox simulation racing game series’ next-gen-only revamp, is also anticipated in the first half of 2023. As fantastic as the original seven Motorsport entries have been, Horizon has undoubtedly improved over its five iterations to become the better Forza. It also has a broader appeal.
In order to once again set the bar higher than its boisterous sibling, Motorsport will need to delve deeply into its simulation-based past. The gameplay footage so far has been stunning, and developer Turn10 Studios has taken its time in completely reconstructing the game since Forza Motorsport 7 was published on Xbox One back in 2017.
Racing game lovers have excellent reason to be excited when this relaunch launches because the Forza Motorsport developers have never let them down.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has had a significant impact on the video game business, and two significant Xbox exclusives scheduled for release last year have been delayed to take into account the war literally approaching on producers’ front doors.
Of the games whose release dates have been impacted, the triple-A first-person shooter S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl from the Ukrainian firm GSC Game World is the most well-known. Hopefully, in 2023, the survival-horror shooter will be available on Xbox Game Pass, and when that happens, the entire gaming industry will be pulling for it to succeed.
The same can be said about the new studio Sad Cat Studios, which was forced to relocate owing to the invasion for the team’s safety. Resuming development, Replaced will presumably release as an Xbox exclusive in 2023. It was a noteworthy game when it made its debut at Xbox’s 2021 showcase event. It is a cyberpunk thriller with stunning 2.5D pixel visuals set in an alternate reality 1980s. Watch out for this one!
Xbox’s 2022 Showcase, which had just debuted, promised additional exclusives for 2023. Action-strategy game Minecraft Legends is likely to succeed with the casual audience but is not likely to appeal to core gamers. However, Microsoft’s attempted takeover of Activision-Blizzard is currently the most captivating grab-your-popcorn soap opera in recent memory and the largest move Xbox will make in 2023 and beyond.
The on-the-ground reality for Microsoft is that if the deal does go through, the company would suddenly bring Blizzard’s 2023 powerhouse sequel, Diablo 4, to Xbox Game Pass. This is happening as Sony and Microsoft alternately try hilariously to appear more meek and feeble than the other in front of the regulatory boards in an effort to push the deal forward or stop it completely.
While the Call of Duty exclusivity situation is a whole different problem, Xbox would benefit greatly if a new Diablo was included in Game Pass.
Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga
Even if you ignore the Activision-Blizzard conflict, Microsoft still has a handful of previously announced exclusives that might release in the second half of 2023. The most likely candidate of the group is Ninja Theory’s stunning psychological thriller Senua’s Saga: Hellblade, which is powered by Unreal Engine 5.
Since we haven’t even seen a gameplay trailer for Avowed, judging it is more difficult, but Obsidian has already produced one Xbox-exclusive game that received a perfect score, so Avowed might be just what Skyrim fans need to pass the time until The Elder Scrolls 6 arrives. Can it possibly arrive at the end of 2023? Possibly, although it might depend on where Starfield ends up in the schedule.
What to Expect from Xbox in 2023
In the end, 2023 has great promise for Xbox, but users of the console will likely feel a sense of urgency. Over the past few years, Microsoft has experienced a significant increase in the number of first-party studios in its stable, correcting a number of errors that accumulated throughout the Xbox One generation.
Although the players have been patient, Microsoft has already used up all of its remaining goodwill. In other words, it’s time to stop talking. Fortunately, all signs point to 2017 being the year, just like they were for the Chicago Cubs in 2016.