Can you believe we’ve dished out fifteen (15) five-star reviews out in 2023? It’s testament to just how good the year has been that we keep reaching for the big five.
Using the wonder of mathematics, the likelihood, then, is that November will give us at least one five-out-of-five game. Which will it be? Bluey the Video Game is obviously in with a big shout, but will Persona 5 Tactica deliver another masterclass, or can we expect Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III to finally grasp hold of some critical acclaim?
There are no answers yet, of course, but there is a rogue element in the mix. Baldur’s Gate III is still due before the end of the year, but no date has been announced. Could it be making a November appearance?
Whatever, here are the 12 best new Xbox and Game Pass games we think you should be playing in November 2023.
Rollercoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe
Ah, we can almost smell the over-salted chips and the tang of vomit. It can only be Rollercoaster Tycoon Adventures, which finally comes to Xbox in November with a shiny new ‘Deluxe’ edition. This was a Switch-only title on release, but it’s finally going multi-platform, bringing its sandbox joys to all ages.
What that ‘Deluxe’ tag means is 80 new attractions and a selection of enhanced features, so that you can trap your punters in a variety of new deathtraps. The UI has been modernised, and the graphics made more suitable for an Xbox home. Time to see how many loops you can feasibly put into a rollercoaster.
Robocop: Rogue City
The award for ‘Game Receiving the Most Unexpected Buzz’ is Robocop: Rogue City. Normally these belated licensed games are terrible (Skull Island: Rise of Kong and Terminator: Resistance come to mind), but reviewers are looking at each other bemusedly, because Robocop: Rogue City is – whisper it – worth playing. How do you like them apples? Well, that’s what other people are saying. We’re going to trust our own eyes, ears and fingertips.
In true Robocop fashion, developers Teyon have dragged Peter Weller out of retirement and welded him into the chassis once again. This is a first-person shooter set in Old Detroit where, hilariously, you can hand out parking tickets. You can also shoot crims and solve crimes, but we just know we’re going to get hooked in that parking ticket loop.
The Talos Principle 2
Has it really been nine years? The original Talos Principle was a gem, an overlooked and under-played puzzle game that explored the nature of life while it massaged your brain. It paved the way for games like Maquette, and still holds up to this day.
Nine years of development should mean that The Talos Principle 2 is the one to nab that coveted five-stars, right? It’s yet another sprawling expanse of puzzles, where humanity is extinct and robots have made a home in the wreckage of their creators. There are puzzles, meta-puzzles and golden puzzles to solve across twelve different regions, so brush off your notebook and pen – you’re going to need them.
Football Manager 2024
Oh, it’s that time again, is it? The latest iteration of Football Manager 2024 arrives, ready to capitalise on the start of the football season. Armchair managers can now see if they can do an Ange with their favourite teams. Fancy hosting Champions League games at Kenilworth Road? Perhaps you can break Leicester’s Championship opening-game record? The sky is truly your oyster.
Our favourite addition, this time out? You can port your progress from Football Manager 2023 directly into 2024. Now that must have taken some coding. It means that your Lionel Messi regen can tear it up for Southampton FC, just as he did in your 2050 save in Football Manager 2023.
There’s the addition of the Meiji Yasuda Insurance Ltd J1, J2 and J3 leagues, personalised incentives in player contracts and advanced player animations, too.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name
Someday I will make the time to play the Yazuza and Like a Dragon games, but that day is getting further and further away as they keep releasing the sodding things. Luckily, we have a Richard Dobson in the house, who can reel off a potted history of each character if you ply him with enough drinks.
This time round in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, we’re spending time with Kazuma Kiryu, main character of much of the Yakuza series, who faked his death and abandoned the Kiryu name for the sake of his family. But we all know that’s not going to last, as a mysterious figure aims to drive him out of hiding.
It seems like Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio are most interested in up-rezzing the combat, as they bring two high-impact styles for you to try out. Try Yakuza Style or Agent Style (no Gangnam, natch) and switch between the two.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III
Ooh-rah, soldier. It’s time for the annual CODfest, as Sledgehammer Games and Treyarch combine to produce a true sequel to the record-breaking Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. You likely already know which side of the COD barbwire fence you’re on: you’re either eye-rolling at another game in the series, or you’ve got battle-paint on, and you’re already earmarking Warzone, the campaign or multiplayer for your kicks.
This is the 20th anniversary of the series – plus it’s the year that the Activision-Blizzard / Microsoft merger finally goes through – so there’s reason to celebrate. All 16 launch maps from the original Modern Warfare 2 have been included in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, while 12 other favourites and newbies will become available soon after launch.
Persona 5 Tactica
Persona is taking a leaf out of Final Fantasy’s book this month, as their global hit franchise moves into turn-based strategy. Much like Final Fantasy Tactics before it, Persona 5 Tactics shrinks its favourite characters down and dumps them into battlegrounds full of enemies.
We’re mostly excited to get a day-one Persona release on Xbox. Hopefully that’s a sign of good things to come. But there’s also a thrill to be had from seeing our favourite Persona 5 characters in an X-Com-like adventure, with their personas meting out damage in a very different (turn-based) style. It also looks slick AF – something we should expect from the Persona franchise.
Bluey: The Videogame
In kids’ TV terms, Bluey is the GOAT. If you’ve got kids of a certain age, there is a very good chance you will know what we’re talking about. Every dad aspires to be Bandit, the father of the family (I’m still working on it), and the theme tune wraps around our brain like clingfilm. Oh yeah, and it’s a complete joy to watch, even when the crotch-goblins aren’t about.
From screenshots and write-ups, Bluey: The Videogame looks like it’s getting the My Friend Peppa Pig treatment, as you can explore Bluey’s world – and the favourite locations from the TV series – in beautiful 2.5D style. This is the cartoon series come to life, and we couldn’t be more stoked, Sheila.
EA Sports WRC
Ooh, get you, WRC. Not only is it getting that EA Sports prefix, but it’s getting the Forza number reset too. Not only that, it’s the first to be developed by the Codemasters team who, we need not remind you, were behind Dirt Rally. Oh, and it’s got the FIA World Rally Championship licence.
Which is all to say that EA Sports WRC means business. It’s the biggest WRC game by a couple of hectares: there’s cross-play across all platforms, a new dynamic handling system, a series of races that mirrors the real world in real-time, and there’s a Builder Mode for creating your own liveries. Sounds like the renaming was justified.
Jagged Alliance 3
Another game that’s been generating some internet buzz is Jagged Alliance. Very much a B-list series up to this point, Jagged Alliance has built up a passionate but small community of strategy enthusiasts. But, by all accounts, Jagged Alliance 3 might be the moment that it crosses over into the mainstream .
It’s been getting 9 out of 10s all over the shop on PC, but there’s a significant bridge to cross: can it play well on console? We don’t all have mice and keyboards plugged into our Xboxes. But if Haemimont Games can pull it off, we might have your next favourite strategy war game.
If you’re one of those people who – shock horror – likes to watch people play games rather than, you know, play them yourselves, then you might have come across Teardown. This open-world voxel game has done a bit of a Red Faction and made its sandbox fully destructible. That world has then been applied to a heisting game, where you’re given full creative freedom in how you pull off the task. Blow everything up? Drive a digger straight through it? Drill carefully into specific sections? It’s up to you how you tear it all down. Ah, it’s like N64’s Blast Corps never went away.
The sheer scale and ludicrousness of that destruction has made Teardown a bit of a Twitch staple on PC. And now we get to explore its joys, as we pull an anti-Minecraft and blast the voxels into smithereens rather than stack them up.
We like to cherry-pick one indie that’s got the potential to knock all these sequels and franchises into a cocked hat, and this time it’s The Invincible. This is as close as we’re going to get to 2001: A Space Odyssey in a video game format, as the lyricism, beauty and pretension of that film is very much present here (and we mean it in a good way).
The story follows an astrobiologist named Yasna, who travels with her crew to the unexplored planet of Regis III. But things don’t go to plan – it would be no fun if they did – and you’re soon racing to find the remainder of your crew while uncovering cosmic phenomena. This looks beautiful, the game that we very much wished Deliver Us Mars might have been, and it’s got the potential to be November’s best – as long as Baldur’s Gate III doesn’t turn up.
But there’s more
Tradition states that December is the quiet month, as publishers avoid it for fear of being too late for Christmas. Granny has to find the game in Tesco, after all. But while there’s a notable lack of new Xbox games next month (at least compared to those just gone by), there’s still something to be excited about. Pop back in a month’s time to find out more about Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, SteamWorld Build and Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader.
Until then, enjoy November’s slate. We’ve got our pre-order of Bluey: The Videogame ready. What are you going to be playing first?