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10 great video games to keep you busy this summer (if not all year)

2023 is shaping up to be one of the best years in video game history.

There are some years in video game history that have become legendary due to the number of beloved and groundbreaking games that were released within them. 1998 was a big one. 2004 was another. And at the current pace, we’ll need to put 2023 pretty high on the list.

Mourn for your wallets, because the number of worthwhile titles released just in the first half of this year is staggering. Here are 10 recent releases that are worth your time and money, including one that has quickly become this writer’s favorite game of all time.

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Diablo IV

No matter how many times it feels like we defeat the forces of hell, they just keep coming back. It’s been more than a decade since the last Diablo game, but it feels like the series hasn’t missed a beat. In this action role-playing game, you’ll make a character from a class of your choosing (a barbarian, a sorcerer, a druid, etc.) to take on increasingly difficult armies of demons, picking up new equipment and abilities along the way to help you feel more powerful each time you play.

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Diablo IV is a great game to play casually with friends (or while listening to a podcast or audiobook). Once you know what you’re doing, it’s just mindless enough to allow you to shoot the breeze with buddies while you also shoot crossbow bolts into undead skeletons. Whether you play online, with a friend on the couch, or alone, there are good times to be had in one of Blizzard Entertainment’s best games in a long time.

Available on PC, Xbox and PlayStation.

An image from the video game "Diablo IV."(Activision Blizzard)

Disney Speedstorm

You probably know that Jack Sparrow is a shockingly good pirate. Did you know he’s also a pretty decent racecar driver?


The quickest and easiest way to describe Disney Speedstorm is to say, “It’s like Mario Kart but with Disney characters.” The game gives you a sizable roster of racers from Disney’s wide range of classics, including Mickey Mouse, Hercules, Buzz Lightyear and more, all racing on tracks inspired by your favorite movies.

The developers plan on greatly expanding the game soon with new characters and tracks and will eventually make it free to play. If you want to play it now, you’ll have to fork over some money for “founders” pack that comes with a handful of characters unlocked from the start (ranging from three to six racers, depending on how much you spend).

Available on PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.


Final Fantasy XVI

Don’t worry: You can ignore the 16 in this game’s title. While the Final Fantasy series has been going strong since the days of the original Nintendo, every mainline game stands on its own with a unique world, story and cast of characters.

Each game in the series also reinvents itself at least a little bit, which is particularly striking in the case of Final Fantasy XVI. This latest entry is more action heavy and “mature” than its predecessors, feeling less like Lord of the Rings and more like Game of Thrones. How so? Well, for starters, there are probably more f-bombs in the first hour of this game than in the entirety of all 15 games that came before it.

The continued shift away from the classic turn-based gameplay will likely divide some fans, but when you’re knee-deep into this epic story of warring kingdoms, giant magical creatures called Eikons and crystals that give people magic abilities, you’ll realize that this is still a Final Fantasy game through and through. The action is solid, and the storytelling and presentation are some of the best the series has seen to date.


Available on PlayStation 5.

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe

For such a malleable character, Kirby sure is consistent. The puffy pink Nintendo mascot stars in many of the best family-friendly games for the Nintendo Switch, with the latest being a charming remaster of an adventure first released on the Nintendo Wii.


In Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe, you and up to three friends team up to make your way through colorful 2D platforming levels, fighting enemies and finding secrets along the way. Kirby’s signature copy ability takes center stage, allowing you to steal an enemy’s abilities throughout your journey.

Whether you’re playing the main attraction or spending hours with a variety of included mini-games, there’s fun here to be had for gamers of all ages.

Available on Nintendo Switch.


The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

I could fill an entire newspaper writing about how much I love different aspects of the latest game in the legendary Zelda series. I could talk about the fairytale-like story that feels like you’re playing through a Studio Ghibli movie. I could rave about the pitch-perfect soundtrack, or the wonderful visuals that look great despite the aging hardware of the Nintendo Switch. I could wax poetic about ingenious puzzles, wonderful world-building or the impressive sense of freedom. Or I could just tell you that after spending more than 100 hours with the game, I still want to go back for more.

I’ll limit myself to telling you one cool thing you’ll spend a lot of time doing: Your adventure will force you to use a handful of magical abilities, the best being the ultrahand. This allows you to pick up a ton of objects in the world (from sticks to logs to fans to rockets) and fuse them together, using seemingly limitless creativity to solve puzzles and even win combat scenarios. If you need to cross a chasm, you could just build a very long bridge using logs — or you could engineer a complex rocket-propelled glider complete with a flamethrower on the front. There are few limits beyond your own creativity.

Tears of the Kingdom isn’t just one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch or one of the best games in the Zelda series. It’s one of the best video games of all time, full stop.


Available on Nintendo Switch.

The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story

Even if you’ve never played (or heard of) League of Legends, its developers want you to be invested in its world. And if they keep the bar high with games like The Mageseeker, they just might pull it off.


You might be acquainted with this world via the hit Netflix series Arcane (which is worth watching for all fantasy fans, whether they like video games or not), but prior knowledge isn’t necessary here. The Mageseeker presents a world where magic users are oppressed, hunted down in the name of peace and justice whether or not they’ve committed any crime. Your character, Sylas, has broken free from captivity and uses the chains that once bound him as a conduit for magical attacks.

The fast-paced gameplay has a retro look and is easy enough to pick up while still providing a good challenge for anyone looking to lead a magical rebellion.

Available on PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.


Resident Evil 4

When the original version of Resident Evil 4 came out in 2005, it was quickly acknowledged as a masterpiece in the survival horror genre of games. It still serves as a blueprint for imitators nearly 20 years later. But it’s been re-released and remastered so many times that when a remake was announced, many people asked, “Why?”

Well, it turns out that when a very talented team sets out to redo a classic, they somehow make it even better.

Obviously, the game looks much better than it ever has, especially when played on a new console like the PlayStation 5, but every aspect of the experience has been improved, even if only slightly. And if you feel like you know the original Resident Evil 4 like the back of your hand? Don’t get too overconfident. Enemy encounters may not always go the way you expect.


Available on PC, Xbox X|S and PlayStation.

An image from the video game "Resident Evil 4."(Capcom)

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

You would be forgiven for being burnt out on Star Wars media over the last few years (no matter how good the Andor show might be). But if you’re feeling even a small itch to hop back in, this is a good place to do it.


A direct sequel to 2019′s Jedi: Fallen Order, this game puts you back in the shoes of Cal Kestis, a young Jedi who escaped the purge of Order 66, taking place after the prequel movies but before the adventures of Luke Skywalker. You’ll use a varied and entertaining array of lightsaber skills and Force abilities to take on enemies big and small, exploring areas of the Star Wars galaxy not seen in the movies. Notably, this game also weaves in some lore from the ancient “High Republic” era that Disney has been exploring with recent novels.

As long as you’re not sick of Jedi stories, this is one of the better pieces of Star Wars media from the past decade or so.

Available on PC, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.


Street Fighter 6

Modern fighting games can be fascinating, but they can also be intimidating. Back in the days of Street Fighter II, it felt like just about anybody could walk up to an arcade machine and have a good time. If you’re like me, you worry that this genre isn’t as welcoming to newcomers as it used to be.

Leave it to this classic series to put those fears to rest. Street Fighter 6 goes a long way to help new and returning players get on their feet, and perhaps most important, it packs enough stuff into the game to keep you busy even if you decide to never challenge another human to a fight.

While experts can hop in quick with classic controls, others can try out a new “modern controls” setup that makes it much easier to pull off combos and special moves even if you start off just mashing buttons. A new story mode, called World Tour, goes even further by slowly introducing concepts and move sets to you over time. Before long, you’ll be brawling with the best of them.


Available now on PC, Xbox and PlayStation.

System Shock

In the early 1990s, System Shock was revolutionary, giving players a sense of freedom and choice that was practically unheard of at the time. It was an early 3D cyberpunk game that helped pioneer a lot of complex gameplay systems that are still being built on today. Notably, it also introduced the world to an AI villain that has become iconic in the years since.


It took the developers at Nightdive Studios nearly a decade the crack the code for how to remake this classic for a modern audience, and for the most part they’ve succeeded. A new, more guided difficulty setting will ease new players into the game with an experience more akin to a modern 2023 first-person shooter. If you’re a fan of the original or just want a more challenging experience that won’t hold your hand, a more “classic” setting is available that feels more like the old game with a fresh coat of paint.

It’s still got some rough edges that might turn casual players away. For example, the controller support could use some work and hopefully will be updated before the game comes to consoles. Also, some of the gameplay mechanics feel locked in the past. But in terms of modernizing a beloved game that’s nearly 30 years old, this new System Shock pulls off an impressive feat.

Available on PC.