Who is winning the Game of the Year race so far? –

We’re now halfway through the calendar year, which means it will be about five months before Geoff Keighley takes the stage in Los Angeles as part of an event that brings together the video game industry’s best and brightest talent for an evening of awards ceremonies and celebrations. With The Game Awards set for December, we decided to take a look at which games we think will be tapped for a chance at the elusive Game of the Year vote, out of the vast collection of incredible games that have already made their debut in 2023.

We’ve picked ten games that we think have a chance to win the coveted prize, and have divided them into three categories; dark horse, outside chance, and favorites to win. To see where we placed each of the “best” games of the year so far, check out our list below.

Who is winning the Game of the Year race so far?

Outsider

Hogwarts Legacy

Hogwarts Legacy was a huge commercial success and a hugely entertaining game in its own right. But unlike some of the other games on this list, it doesn’t quite contain the gameplay depth or extra objectives and options to make it compete with this year’s true titans. That said, the way Avalanche sacrificed magic spells and presented Hogwarts Castle, the town of Hogwarts and the surrounding countryside is more than enough for Hogwarts Legacy to make the cut in this list.

Dead space

There is a real trend with this year’s potential GOTYs, as many are remakes of former beloved titles. That’s exactly why Dead Space falls into the dark horse category, because it loses points for originality, even if the game itself is a wonderful show of what a modern survival horror game can be. It is atmospheric, claustrophobic, terrifying and a great representation of the original experience from the late 2000s, and for all those reasons Motive deserves to be celebrated for this title.

Street Fighter 6

It’s not a perfect game, but Capcom has put Street Fighter back on the map with this installment in the series. Street Fighter 6 is different from all the Street Fighters that came before it, thanks to the addition of a JRPG-like story mode that has been a bit inconsistent among fans. But one thing that is clear is that aside from the World Tour elements, this is a very competent and well-built fighting game, one that will be a favorite to win the Best Fighting award and possibly even more if voters feel generous.

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Resident Evil 4

Yes, it’s another remake. And yes, like Dead Space, we’re going to knock Resident Evil 4 over a few times for its lack of originality. But if it weren’t for these areas, we’d be singing from the rooftops about this game. While it may be less of a survival horror game and more of an action title, Capcom has proven why so many look to RE4 as the best in the beloved series, as the combination of exciting combat, great storylines, witty one-liners, creative and terrifying enemies and bosses, and more, all come together to create an unforgettable experience.

Outsider

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

The general consensus with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is that this was a game that had a few annoying bugs and issues that weren’t really special. Respawn has become one of the best at storytelling in A Galaxy Far, Far Away, and it shows again in this sequel. The storyline, the exciting gameplay, the exploration, the progression, the extra objectives, the characters, they all come together to make one of the best Star Wars titles we’ve ever seen, and an excellent contender to slip in and grab a GOTY nomination or potential win.

HiFi Rush

The biggest surprise launch of the year so far also has a chance to surprise us again by the end of 2023. Not only was Hi-Fi Rush a shock when it launched in January, coming out of nowhere, but it also turned out to be a very good game. With refreshing visuals, fun battles to the beat of Tango Gameworks’ vibrant world, the few hours we got to spend in Hi-Fi Rush proved that not every game needs to be a 50-hour open-world romp to win over gamers, nor does it even need a lengthy marketing campaign to stand out among its peers.

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Diablo IV

Blizzard really needed a win, and that’s exactly what they got with Diablo IV. This action-RPG put the California team back in the spotlight and proved why they were (for so long) considered a gold standard developer. Diablo IV’s enhanced story elements, great character and world design, huge variety in buildcrafting and gameplay, and overall experience is so excellent that we can see it sneaking its way in and taking a chance on the GOTY award.

Our favorites to win

Metroid Prime Remastered

In the world of remakes and remasters, it can feel like quite a few companies are just out to make a quick buck with a visual overhaul of their most famous titles. Then, however, you get games like Metroid Prime Remastered, which take the already exceptional experience of the original to a whole new level. There’s a terrible chance that this game will fall slightly out of favor later in the year due to recency bias, but this phenomenal shooter is one we’ll remember in 2023 and beyond, and hopefully translate into some GOTY awards later on.

The legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

While we’ve seen more than a few overhyped disappointments over the past few years, there was one that surely would have left fans doubting anything if it had gone wrong The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Fortunately, we live in the reality where Nintendo knocked it out of the park, where the physics engine is something that amazes even industry veterans, and the world manages to be even more engaging than that of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. There is a lot of hype about this game, even as time passes from its release, but this is one of those rare occasions where the hype is met. Truly a standout hit in a year that has been full of it. We can’t imagine Tears of the Kingdom going without awards later this year.

Final Fantasy XVI

It may be the most recent of the bunch, but it is by far the least deserving of inclusion on this list. Square Enix has tried to really rewrite the book on what a Final Fantasy game is with this title, and has done so with such high production that Final Fantasy XVI sometimes feels more like a movie than a game. The story, the graphics, the theme, the gameplay, the accessibility, it’s all masterfully conceived, even if it doesn’t reflect what we’ve come to expect from the long-running Japanese series over the years.

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