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Top 10 new Xbox and Game Pass games you should be playing on your Xbox in July 2023

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We’ve got our pasty-white knees out as we write the Up Next, which should give you an indication of why few games release in July. It’s just too damn sunny, and players are either on the beach or navigating hell in Diablo IV. Why release now, when you can hold your horses and unleash your games in the ‘holiday season’?

It would be a sad old Up Next covering the best Xbox and Game Pass games for July 2023 if everyone did. Luckily, there are some brave developers who flick their teeth to convention and release stuff anyway. Some of it is even on the big-budget side of things. Remnant II? F1 Manager 2023? Yeah, they just about count. 

GYLT

gylt screenshot
GYLT breaks out of Stadia

Ah, the Google Stadia. You burned so brightly for such a short space of time. On the service were precious few exclusives, and even fewer that were worth playing. But now they can emerge from the wreckage, staggering onto Xbox, just like GYLT.

A well-received and tidy-looking adventure game, GYLT has you playing Sally, a young girl from a town called Bethelwood. She has the rather rubbish-sounding special ability of turning her fears into reality. They manifest and torment her, which leads to some tense stealth moments and puzzles to solve. We’re just happy to see it run free and have success on other platforms. 

The Valiant

the valiant
Head off on a crusade with The Valiant

We’re not exactly overrun with real-time strategy games on the Xbox, so The Valiant comes as something of a surprise. Published by THQ Nordic, it’s a big budget take on the Crusades, as you play a 13th Century knight rampaging through the Middle East with your other crusaders.

Rather than pummel some religion into innocents, you are taking the more politically correct route of finding an ancient, magical artefact before enemies use it to destroy the world. The Rod of Aaron is its name, and you’re going to be scuffling in single-player scenarios, as well as multiplayer and co-operative battles, to get it back. Time for us to whip out the Xbox keyboard and mouse.  

Exoprimal

exoprimal
Fight dinos in Exoprimal

Robots! Dinosaurs! Magic time portals! 

Exoprimal sounds like it was blurted out by an over-excited nine-year-old. What if you could turn into a T-rex? What if dinosaurs poured out of portals like water from a tap? 

The thing is, we’re well on board. A squad-based PvP experience that shifts from Earth Defense Force-style shootery (albeit with dinosaurs swapping out the bugs) to full-on deathmatch situations? Hoo-rah, we can do that. A shooter from probably the most in-form studio of the moment, Capcom? We can do that too. 

Exoprimal looks like silly, overblown fun, and we’re never going to complain about that sort of thing. 

Remnant II

remnant ii
Will Remnant II become a cult hit?

Cult hit Remnant has never received the love and attention that it deserves. Could that be about to change? Remnant II is launching in July after a spate of well-received trailers, so perhaps now’s the time. 

If you want to feel the full Remnant II experience, you will probably want to find two friends. Together, you face waves of mythical creatures and slice them up with your choice of melee or weaponry. Designed for replayability, and with the gore dial stuck on 10 (giblets really clog machinery up), this could be a cathartic rush of mayhem. 

The Expanse: A Telltale Series

The expanse telltale series keyart

It’s good to have you back, Telltale. 

Ten years ago, they would serve up narrative adventures set in some of our favourite IPs, from The Walking Dead to Jurassic Park, and it would be great fun to guess which universe they would branch into next. But then they folded, and a vacuum of narrative games was left behind. 

Well, Telltale are back, and they’ve got their claws into The Expanse. James A Corey’s sci-fi universe is perfect for them, as it’s expansive (no s**t Sherlock), painted in thick shades of grey, and loaded with huge amounts of political intrigue. 

Who knows, The Expanse: A Telltale Series could be the start of a series that lasts longer than the one on TV. 

Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons

double dragon rise of the dragon keyart
double dragon rise of the dragon keyart

We didn’t have Double Dragon in the ‘unexpected series sequel’ sweepstakes. Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons arrives on the Xbox in July, and it’s time to party like it was 1987. 

There’s something old, something new, something borrowed, and something cool about Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons

The old: it’s the classic Billy and Jimmy brothers, punching crime in the face. The new: while the perspective is the same, the presentation has been given a thoroughly modern pixel-art makeover. The borrowed: very fashionably, this is a roguelike, meaning that you’re going to die, upgrade, and then get further than ever before. The cool?: there are thirteen characters to play and tag-team moments where you can clothesline your opponents together. 

F1 Manager 2023

f1 manager 2023 keyart
Which type of boss will you be?

Is there any stopping Verstappen and Red Bull? We’re in one of those ‘periods of dominance’ that Lewis Hamilton has taken to moaning about, and that’s debatably bad for the motorsport. But that’s music to the ears of this potential F1 Manager 2023 player, as it creates a Goliath for us to topple. They’re impossible to beat, you say? We’ll see about that. 

F1 Manager is in its second year – following on from F1 Manager 2022 – which means consolidation of what worked and didn’t work for Codies new franchise. What we like is that there are two ways of playing: you can stick closely to the 2023 season in Race Replay, which lets you emulate all of the conditions from the real-world races; or you can compete in an alternate take on the season. Consistent through both of them is the ability to play any of the ten constructors, and fiddle with a ridiculous number of options and parameters. 

Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition

rise of the triad ludicrous edition keyart
rise of the triad ludicrous edition keyart

We’ve got some good memories of playing Rise of the Triad: one of many shareware games to launch after the success of DOOM and Wolfenstein. More than anything, we remember its love for springboards, as we flew across the levels, shooting nazis from about a hundred feet in the air. 

It may not be spoken about in the same breath as Duke Nukem, DOOM or even Hexen, but it was silly, overblow fun, and made for a fun alternative to the big guns (BFGs, if you prefer). 

Well, we should be careful what we wish for, as Rise of the Triad is back in Ludicrous Edition. Overloaded with 4K resolution, all expansion packs, a mix of soundtracks and – best of all – a full-on level editor, it’s going to force us to remove our rose-tinted spectacles and actually play it. 

Expect a review as we confront our nostalgia. 

Mr. Run and Jump

mr run and jump
Mr. Run and Jump is a visual feast

Fast becoming one of our favourite publishers for – oddly – the second time in forty years, Atari is on a hell of a comeback. Revisiting seminal classics with their Recharged series, they’re also capturing the coin-op vibe with all-new titles like Mr. Run and Jump. 

Atari weren’t supremely well known for their platformers – they were more of an arcade and shooter outfit – so Mr. Run and Jump represents something of a risk. It’s a precision platformer, like a day-glo version of N+, where you and your dog navigate some obstacle-filled levels to find Power Gems. At the top-end of difficulty, it’s been made with speed-running in mind, but at the lower end there is a dynamic difficulty setting, where it can accommodate for your crappy skill levels. 

Everybody is welcome, as you jump and impale yourself (and your dog) on countless spikes. 

Venba

venba keyart
Venba could be the pick of the July bunch

We like to save a spot in the Up Next for the month’s gorgeous indie darling, and that spot has been taken by Venba. 

A narrative-infused cooking game (yep, sold already), it’s the tale of an Indian family moving to Canada in the 1980s. 

By cooking meals that fill their kitchen with aromatic memories of the country they left behind, Venba becomes a story of abandoning home comforts, and making a new world for the future. It’s also a family drama, as branching dialogue options frame the cooking. 

Venba is a game that we wish we could smell, as the dishes look sublime. Perhaps a peripheral of the future will help us out. 


But there’s more

There’s no denying that the list of best Xbox and Game Pass games for July is on the sparse side. August is traditionally not much better, but we cling onto a hope that something rises to the top. 

Candidates include Atlas Fallen, Madden NFL 24, Immortals of Aveum (if it ever stops being delayed) and Blasphemous 2. Oh, and there’s the small matter of a FromSoftware game, with Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon. A mech Elden Ring? Oh, sir, would you take our money?

For now, let us know what games you’ll be playing from our July 2023 list on your Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and through Game Pass. The comments are below. 

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