10 Best Gaming Surprises Of 2023

It's one thing to anticipate, it's another to be blown away entirely.

Max Payne Alex Casey Alan Wake
Epic Games

There's been a lot of really nasty or outright boring news in the gaming sphere in 2023. We've had what feels like more reports of layoffs across the industry than ever before, against the backdrop of companies trialling AI-generated content to essentially replace their workforce.

The big push during gaming's 2020 pandemic growth has hit a brick wall and games are underperforming, causing companies to make quite drastic decisions.

Amongst this, one of the other major news stories has been the Microsoft acquisition of Blizzard-Activision. Even those keenly subscribed to GamePass and awaiting their new exclusives must've been burned out by the constant presence of this legal back-and-forth over the buy-out in the news.

Thankfully, there have been a lot of good things in gaming this year. And, sometimes, the best things are the ones that catch you off guard.

Whether it's games that came out of nowhere, revivals of former favourites, or things that could've gone very wrong managing to pull out a win; it's always nice to have a pleasant surprise come our collective way. It's one thing when a franchise doesn't disappoint you but it's a whole other when something that wasn't even on your radar demands your attention.

10. Hi-Fi Rush's Shadow Drop

Max Payne Alex Casey Alan Wake
Tango Gameworks

Seeing a trailer for an awesome game you didn't know existed before and then being immediately told it's available is such an awesome feeling and a brilliant marketing tactic. There is, of course, tried and tested stats in slowly building hype, but there's also something to be said for "that thing you just saw? You can play it immediately" and, in Hi-Fi Rush's case, "for free".

Much has been said all year about the state of Xbox GamePass, which is Microsoft have been embroiled in court cases over their acquisition of Activision-Blizzard - a move designed to increase the worth of their subscription service. Largely, GamePass has been a library of quantity that means quality can get lost.

Hi-Fi Rush improved GamePass' value, if for just a moment, with it's stylish and satisfying rhythm combat and slick art style. It cut through the dirge of many modern release by being bright, colourful, joyful and, best of all, confident in all these things.

It was very much outside of the usual style of both Tango Gameworks and Xbox but it was a refreshing way to kick off the year. It just went to show that, in every way, doing something unexpected often pays off.

Posted On: 

The Red Mage of WhatCulture. Very long hair. She/they.