Editorials

GamingTrend’s 2023 “Trendsetter” Awards!

Every year there are a ton of games that deserve recognition. This year might be the most packed ever. 2023 brought games from every genre to our attention, and this is the first time I remember recently where I could legitimately slot ten games in a category and find all of them worthy. We’ve got to keep to our standards, but the games below represent what GamingTrend considers “Trendsetters”, true triumphs in the video game industry.

Game Of The Year

  • Alan Wake 2
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
  • Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
  • Final Fantasy XVI
Baldur's Gate 3 Review - Natural 20 Critical Success - PC [Gaming Trend]

2023 has been an incredible year for gaming. Frankly, no matter what genre you love, there’s an embarrassment of riches this year. The biggest and best of them all, however, is Baldur’s Gate 3. The team at Larian Studios are masters at storytelling, and combined with a fresh approach to the Dungeons & Dragons world, Baldur’s Gate 3 is a game you could play five times and not have the same experience twice. Check out our PC review for all the ways we love this game, or check out our review of the game on PlayStation 5 for just more confirmation of how amazing Baldur’s Gate 3 is on consoles. This is a game we’ll be playing and talking about for years to come, but for now, Baldur’s Gate 3 is our 2023 Game of the Year.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Narrative

  • Alan Wake 2
  • Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
  • Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
  • Hogwarts Legacy

It feels impossible not to give this one to Alan Wake 2, even surrounded by phenomenal stories. The fact that Alan Wake 2 manages to onboard new players while delighting fans from thirteen years ago is a feat worth applauding. That’s not even taking into account that this is a dual narrative, which can be played in nearly any order, still makes sense, and masterfully meshes together. This is a once in a lifetime experience, and Remedy is the only team you could see repeating this in the future.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Multiplayer

  • Diablo IV
  • Remnant 2
  • Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Jackbox Party Pack 10
  • Street Fighter 6
Diablo IV 4-player Co-Op gameplay with level scaling on PC [Gaming Trend].mp4

Blizzard games haven’t had the smoothest of launches, but the one for Diablo IV was all but flawless. Four player cooperative action in a massive world full of monsters, loot, and a well-told story are just some of the highlights of Blizzard’s latest loot collection adventure. The game continues to grow with new seasons of content and fresh ways to play, with two additional confirmed expansions heading our way as well. Tough competition for great multiplayer this year, but our latest trip to hell was surprisingly smooth.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Art Direction

  • Alan Wake 2
  • Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Hi-Fi Rush
  • Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora
  • Super Mario Bros. Wonder

There’s only so much you can do with realism, and frankly more stylized art styles are often more appealing. Hi-Fi Rush is the epitome of this with it’s incredibly colorful, cartoon/anime visuals. It incorporates so many ideas from 2D art like onomatopoeia to emphasize attacks or ben-day dots to really make the game feel like a living comic-book. Hi-Fi Rush is an artistic marvel not only on the technical front, but also how the game remains visually readable at all times. Sometimes, style is substance.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Soundtrack

  • Alan Wake 2
  • Final Fantasy XVI
  • Hi-Fi Rush
  • Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
  • Tchia
Old Gods of Asgard - Herald of Darkness (Alan Wake 2 | Official Music Video)

What more is there to say than “Herald of Darkness”? I know it’s a standout, but Old Gods Of Asgard are incredible throughout with two other fantastic tracks. Beyond this, multiple chapter songs dance across genres, with outstanding compositions. The backing soundtrack is also harrowing and moving; Petri Alanko did some amazing work. Music is interwoven into this game’s makeup in a way we don’t see that often, and it’s magnificent to behold.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Performance

  • Ilkka Villi/Matthew Porretta as Alan Wake in Alan Wake 2
  • Melanie Liburd as Saga in Alan Wake 2
  • Graham Phillips as Harry Osborn in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
  • Ben Starr as Clive Rosfield in Final Fantasy XVI
  • Cameron Monaghan as Cal Kestis in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  • Caroline Faber as Lilith in Diablo IV

Final Fantasy games having a brooding main character isn’t exactly news. A Final Fantasy game having a likable but brooding main character? Now that’s a surprise! Ben Starr gives his best grumpy impression as Clive Rosfield, but a great supporting cast helps him deliver one of the best protagonists in the storied series.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Indie

  • Sea of Stars
  • A Space for the Unbound
  • Dredge
  • Humanity
  • Viewfinder
Sea of Stars Gameplay - PC [GamingTrend]

It’s nearly impossible to find time to play all of the amazing indie games that hit in 2023, and each brings their own unique spin on familiar mechanics, or delivers something entirely unique we’ve never seen before. Either way, they provide something that even the biggest and best games of the year couldn’t pull off with a budget ten times the size. Sea of Stars may not do a lot new in terms of RPGs, but the story is impossibly good, with memorable characters with genuine attachment. I actually cared about Garl, Serai, and B’st. I wanted to unravel the mysteries of Resh’an, and I wanted to know more about Serai’s world. It’s rare for a game to touch me emotionally, but Sea of Stars is a magical adventure from start to finish – I dare you to roll the credits without crying at least once.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Remake/Remaster

  • Resident Evil 4 Remake
  • Dead Space Remake
  • Sherlock Holmes The Awakened
  • Metroid Prime Remastered
  • Super Mario RPG

With amazing originals and sequels coming through in 2023, you might have missed one of the best years in remakes yet. Resident Evil 4 Remake stands a head above here, with a truly masterful recreation. Not only have the right things been tweaked, but Capcom even made Ashley a good part of RE4. That’s a winner in its own right. On top of that, being able to play the game all the way through in VR? It’s just hard to get any better than Resident Evil 4 Remake, the game that keeps on giving.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best VR

  • Horizon Call Of The Mountain
  • Gran Turismo 7 VR
  • Asgard’s Wrath II
  • 7th Guest VR
  • Arizona Sunshine 2
  • Vertigo 2

Frankly, it’s near impossible to narrow down this list to just the games you see here. Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR, Vertigo 2, Ghosts of Tabor, Dungeons of Eternity, Breachers, Red Matter 2, Resident Evil 4 VR, Resident Evil Village’s VR mode, Vampire the Masquerade and more could have easily made the list. It’s been an impossibly good year for virtual reality. Many of these are platform agnostic, and the few that are not represent the very best the new platforms have to offer…so far! As we know, the games at the beginning and end of a new headset’s lifecycle couldn’t be further from one another, so this list just keeps getting better. Asgard’s Wrath II is over 60 hours of some of the best platforming, combat, and RPG mechanics we’ve seen in VR, making it our VR GOTY for 2023 in a very crowded field. Seriously – buy ’em all!

Buy it now!

Best Live Service

  • Valorant
  • Fortnite
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Elder Scrolls Online
  • Honkai: Star Rail
Final Fantasy XIV Patch 6.2 Buried Memory Playthrough - PC [Gaming Trend]

2023 hasn’t been Final Fantasy XIV’s best year, but it’s still the game I want to keep coming back to over and over. There have been some standout things like the amazing Myths of the Realm raid series that keep me enamored with the world and its characters, even while the main story struggles a bit. Of course, the most appealing part of XIV is the community. We continue to meet some great people through this game, and I’m sure we’ll meet more over the coming year.

Latest update review | Try it now!

Most Accessible

  • Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
  • Hi-Fi Rush
  • Street Fighter 6
  • Forza Motorsport (2023)
  • Dead Space Remake

While more is yet to come, the initial offering of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 in the way of accessibility is fantastic. Sony is often at the forefront of accessibility, and spinning your webs has never been simpler. I’m thrilled to see things like game speed, narration, and high contrast options all working together to allow even more people to enjoy one of the best games of the year. To be fair, every game nominated deserves an award for making experiences that more people can play, but Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 goes the extra mile and continues to do so in updates.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Action

  • Hi-Fi Rush
  • Armored Core VI Fires of Rubicon
  • Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
  • Star Wars: Jedi Survivor
  • Aliens: Dark Descent
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor - First 36 Minutes of Gameplay in Stunning 4K on PC [Gaming Trend]

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was a special game to me when it arrived on the scene back in 2019. It’s almost impossible to think a sequel came through in three and a half years, but here we are enjoying the galaxy far, far away. Cal Kestis’ journey is thrilling and enchanting, with a performance from Cameron Monaghan that just begs for an appearance in live action. With expansive vistas and phenomenal locations to visit, along with spectacular ways to explore them and new intricacies to the combat, Jedi: Survivor is an action-packed thrill ride.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Action/Adventure

  • Alan Wake 2
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
  • Lies of P
  • Hogwarts Legacy

“Magical adventure” is frequently thrown around, but in the case of Hogwarts Legacy, it’s actually true! Set long before the adventures of “the boy who lived”, Legacy gives the player a chance to join the titular school as a fifth year student, discovering the magic, both literal and figurative, of The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Built with an impossible level of care for the source material and established worldbuilding, but with enough power to allow the player to make their own adventure, Hogwarts Legacy is pure magic in every sense of the word. A world of magic awaits you – revelio!

Our review | Buy it now!

Best RPG

  • Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Final Fantasy XVI
  • Starfield
  • Sea of Stars
  • Octopath Traveler II

Was there any other choice this year for best RPG of 2023? Frankly, nobody else stood a chance. Baldur’s Gate 3 represents the hard work of an incredibly talented team of technical wizards finding the line between the technical minutiae of Dungeons & Dragons with the storytelling that Larian Studios has been delivering for decades. Sven and the team delivered a game that nobody, not even mega-behemoth Starfield could stand against.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Fighting/Sports/Racing

  • Forza Motorsport (2023)
  • Gran Turismo 7 VR
  • Wild Card Football
  • Street Fighter 6
  • Mortal Kombat 1
Disney Illusion Island Review, Street Fighter 6 AMAZING World Tour & More | Gaming Trend Podcast

There’s really nothing like going toe to toe with an equally skilled opponent in a fighting game, and Street Fighter 6 does everything possible to allow newbies and veterans to make chin music together. Every character feels better than ever, and the tutorials are incredibly comprehensive so you can get to fighting real opponents with as little friction as possible. With robust online and offline modes, SF6 represents a new era in fighting games.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Family

  • Super Mario Wonder
  • Wild Card Football
  • Sonic SuperStars
  • Disney Illusion Island
  • Crash Team Rumble

Finding that fine line between a game aimed at kids and a game where adults are just playing along is hard. Disney Illusion Island not only does exactly that, it makes it fun for everyone. With an art style that matches their newest Disneyland / DisneyWorld ride, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Illusion Island offers a challenge for adults, but a recovery system that lets you respawn at convenient and frequent mailboxes, meaning the whole family is never far from the fun.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Strategy/Simulation

  • Fire Emblem Engage
  • Pikmin 4
  • Pharaoh: A New Era
  • Company of Heroes 3
  • The Pale Beyond
  • Aliens: Dark Descent

Fire Emblem has a history of being on the forefront of the strategy genre. With the major success of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the team had to find a way to meld the newer fans of the franchise with the older fans. Engage allowed new players to learn about the history and lore of the Fire Emblem catalog and allows them to meet iconic characters like Marth, Roy, etc. Meanwhile, bringing the series back to a more “Fire Emblem” gameplay setup with world maps and specific class and character abilities. With all of the amazing characters to meet and team-up with, I spent hours in Engage and expect to spend more as time goes on.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best PlayStation Game

  • Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
  • Final Fantasy XVI
  • Eternights
  • Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores
Marvel's Spider-Man 2 Review - Spectacular, Sensational, and Amazing

It has tough competition in Final Fantasy XVI, but Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a perfect superhero game. The combat and movement systems have been expanded upon in the best possible ways, the map is bigger and better, and the stories told will have you on the edge of your seat and tearing up. Plus, VENOM. This is the standard for superhero games from here on out.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Xbox Game

  • Hi-Fi Rush
  • Starfield
  • Forza Motorsport (2023)
  • Party Animals

Hi-Fi Rush feels like a brand new direction for Xbox, and is an incredible game in its own right. This rhythm action game has it all, a rocking soundtrack, a wide variety of foes to battle, cool moves to learn, and of course some light platforming. It’s so fun it had me hooked for… well, almost an entire year after release. While Xbox is mostly known for realistic games, here’s hoping they have more Hi-Fi Rushes up their sleeves.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Nintendo Game

  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
  • Pikmin 4
  • Fire Emblem Engage
  • Metroid Prime Remastered
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review — Whispers on the wind - Switch [Gaming Trend]

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom took a Hyrule we were already familiar with and made it feel brand new again. The powers Link’s new arm offers grant some unprecedented freedom and allow you to build anything from bridges to motorcycles to giant flying death robots. It’s not what you’re doing in Tears of the Kingdom that’s impressive, but the many, many ways in which you can accomplish your goals.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Gear

  • SteelSeries Alias and Alias Pro streaming mics
  • Turtle Beach Stealth Pro headset
  • DualSense Edge controller
  • Between 3ANC Noise Canceling earbuds
  • Sneak Hydrate
  • Sony Pulse Explore wireless earbuds

Noise canceling headphones aren’t all that unusual, but noise canceling earbuds are enough to make me sit forward in my seat. How good are they? How about strong enough to completely silence my lawnmower? Beyond those impressive capabilities, the Between team provides an excellent control app, mind-blowingly good audio quality, jaw-rattling bass, and a rich sound range. These are some of the best audio devices on the market. In a field of incredibly strong competitors, Between 3ANC somehow stands strong above them all – they’re that good.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Furniture

  • FlexiSpot Comhar Q8 Standing Desk
  • FlexiSpot E7 Pro Standing Desk
  • FlexiSpot C7 Ergonomic Chair
  • Mavix M7 Gaming Chair
Flexispot E7 Pro Standing Desk Unboxing and Review [Gaming Trend]

This may look like the FlexiSpot category, but frankly that team has made huge strides in their existing standing desk tech, as well as taking steps into a number of new categories like gaming chairs, adjustable beds and power recliners, and even sectional sofas! Their E7 and Comhar lead the pack, but the additional flexibility of the E7 Pro blew us away. I made a ridiculous request for a desk that spans almost the width of an entire wall and sure enough, it’s here and my new work surface, with space enough for three monitors, my PC, Steam Deck, keyboard, mouse, and leftover space to do it all again! The new and quieter lift legs are not only stronger, but move faster and can lift even more – over 440 pounds. Adding in fresh cable management, and a ton of excellent optional accessories, they are clearly not resting on their laurels.

Our review | Buy it now!

Best Hardware

  • PlayStation VR2
  • Meta Quest 3
  • GeForce RTX 4070
  • GeForce RTX 4060 TI

It’s hard to believe how much of a quantum leap we’ve had in the hardware spaces this year. We’ve seen excellent leaps in affordable GPU hardware, and we’ve seen a huge leap in the VR space. There’s no denying the affordability or the pure potential of augmented reality with the Meta Quest 3, but the graphical fidelity, foveated rendering, and eye tracking tech in the PlayStation VR2 is a blend of the very best in virtual reality hardware on the PC, but with the magic of Sony’s DualSense technology and a single cable to set it up this time around. The results in games like Horizon: Call of the Mountain or Gran Turismo 7’s VR mode are nothing less than astounding.

Our review | Buy it now!

Congratulations to all the games both nominated for and winning our Trendsetter designation!

Lead Video Game Editor | [email protected]

David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.

Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief | [email protected]

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.

Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.

Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 27 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).

David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.

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