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Up Next: The 11 games you should be playing on your Xbox in February 2023


The year is barely a month old and we’ve already had the equivalent of a big gaming cuddle from Microsoft and Xbox. Off the back of the Developer Direct, we’ve had the surprise packages of Goldeneye 007 and Hi-Fi RUSH, as well as the thankfully brilliant Dead Space remake. We even sidestepped Forspoken, which – by all accounts – is a good thing. 

Two of those three releases weren’t even on the calendar at the start of January, so we may as well pack up the Up Next malarkey entirely. If Xbox keep stealth-releasing games then we’re going to be left chasing their shadows, giving up, and then posting some coverage of the next PAW Patrol game instead. Will no one think of the games journalists? 

Luckily, the Xbox games that have actually, one-hundred percent been announced for release in February is still rather fabulous. Hogwart’s Legacy? Atomic Heart? Deliver Us Mars? Who needs surprises when you have nailed-on Xbox hits?

Deliver Us Mars

deliver us mars keyart

Cast your minds back to 2018, and the release of an unassuming little narrative title called Deliver Us the Moon. It had you castaway on the Moon like the proverbial Tom Hanks, gathering whatever vehicles, batteries and satellite arrays you could get your hands on, all in an effort to make the trip home. 

The presentation was a little on the bland side, but Deliver Us the Moon was a pocket winner, delivering all of the tension and isolation that you would expect from being left alone on Earth’s biggest satellite. Well, now’s your chance to pull off the same trick but on Mars, which we suppose is less Tom Hanks and more Matt Damon. 

This time round, in Deliver Us Mars, you’re not the damsel in distress: you’re the recovery crew, on a mission to find and determine the fate of some ARK colony ships that have been shipnapped by a mysterious faction called the Outward. Budgets have been increased, graphics look spangly, and Deliver Us Mars looks like it might be one giant leap for the series. 

Hogwarts Legacy

hogwarts legacy

Everyone and their mandrake has got an opinion on Hogwarts Legacy, the latest attempt to bring the Wizarding World to modern consoles. Whether you’re boycotting it because of the stuff that keeps tumbling out of Mrs Rowling’s mouth, or you’re writing fan fiction based on its characters, you can’t deny that it’s going to be something of an event. 

It’s difficult to recall a game in the Wizarding World IP that has this much promise however. You only have to spend a few minutes with the trailer to see that this one could be spectacularus. 

Hogwarts Legacy rewinds time back to the 1800s, as you experience what it’s like to be a student way before all that Voldemort nonsense. Discover magical beasts, craft potions, master spell crafting, kick elves, and generally put the RPG in Action RPG as you turn your student into one of the most powerful wizards in the land. Hopefully this will be more Prisoner of Azkaban than whatever has happened to the Fantastic Beasts films.

Wanted: Dead

wanted dead keyart

Things get a little less wholesome next. The clue’s in the name, but also in the pedigree: Wanted: Dead comes from the makers of Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive, neither of which are particularly known for their moments of quiet and heartwarming stories. Wanted: Dead is an unapologetically violent shooter that likes to have its cake and eat it, as it’s got a fully featured melee system too. 

Wanted: Dead puts you in the Zombie Unit, an elite Hong Kong agency dedicated to dispatching the undead. You’re Lt. Hannah Stone, a hard-boiled cop who’s probably got an alcohol dependency and one final day on the job. Story-wise, Wanted: Dead’s heavy on the cliches, but who cares when there’s so much combat and blood flowing onto the pavement?

Tales of Symphonia Remastered

tales of symphonia remastered

We’re getting whiplash from all the different gaming experiences that we’re getting in February. We’ve had movie tie-ins, melee-shooters, science-fiction walking simulators, and now we’re getting a JRPG remake. 

Tales of Symphonia is possibly the best regarded of all the Tales Of games. Released on the Nintendo Gamecube in 2003, at the tail-end of the console’s life, it’s a game that fetches a pretty penny on eBay, so a remaster is going to save us all a few bob. 

Using the patented Tales real-time combat, Tales of Symphonia Remastered is a more action-oriented slice of JRPG. It follows Lloyd Irving, as he and his friends try to save not one but two worlds, in a kind of interplanetary BOGOF. But what really matters is how much has been reworked, and this comes with a full graphical overhaul, gameplay improvements and eighty-hours of play. 

Wild Hearts

wild hearts

Beginning a very tenuous theme of heart-based games in February is Wild Hearts, the latest original from EA. Think Monster Hunter mixed with, well, more Monster Hunter and you’re pretty much there. Oh, okay, add in some hulking beasts that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Okami, and the eastern trappings of Sekiro, and you’re closer. 

Wild Hearts looks to be a big bet from EA Originals. It certainly looks lavish, with overgrown fauna stomping about glorious environments, as you aim for them to become the latest rug in your hub. Where Wild Hearts deviates from Monster Hunter, though, is an onus in creating technology, rather than scalping your trophies and wearing them as gear. There’s a significant crafting system and tech tree to ensure that your monster-hunting gear is very different from that of your friends.

Atomic Heart

atomic heart

See! Told you there was another hearts-based game in February. Now we just need Square Enix to stealth launch a Kingdom Hearts game and the circle will be complete. 

Atomic Heart really came out of nowhere, didn’t it? But there’s no doubting that it looks very, very good indeed, and we can’t wait to give it a spin. It’s like a ramshackle Bioshock (stick that on your poster, Focus Entertainment), and it’s the compliment that we intend it to be. 

As the owner of the Polymer Glove, you’re able to dabble in telekinesis, freezing, electricity bolts and many other abilities. It’s lucky that you’ve got one, as the world is overrun by malevolent mechanical, technological and biological threats. But as the old saying goes, if it’s got a heart, you can kill it with your overpowered glove.

Blood Bowl 3

blood bowl 3 screenshot 1

Not a month goes by without something Games Workshoppy tumbling out from some publisher. What a job it must be in Games Workshop’s partnership department. 

This time round, it’s Blood Bowl 3. Developed by Cyanide, the studio who brought you Blood Bowl 2 and, um, Blood Bowl 1, it’s going to be a very exciting release to a very specific group of people. 

What makes this one notable is that Blood Bowl 3 adheres to the relatively new Second Edition ruleset for Blood Bowl. It’s the first of the games to do so, so those of you who are coming to the video game series off the back of the miniatures will feel immediately at home. For everyone else? Well, it’s more skaven, orcs, nurgles and dwarves beating seven shades out of each other while holding a football. Which has a certain appeal. 

Clash: Artifacts of Chaos

clash artifacts of chaos

Every month, we like to reserve some space for the surprise packages; the games that didn’t really register on our radar until we started putting together the Up Next list. Clash: Artifacts of Chaos is very much that game. We will be honest, we hadn’t heard of it until now, but we’ve watched a trailer or two and it’s shot up our ‘must play’ list faster than a surprise launch of Goldeneye 007.

Most of what makes Clash: Artifacts of Chaos look so promising is its art style. Like Borderlands left in a petri dish to overgrow for a few years, it takes a cel-shading style and twists it into grotesque shapes. 

You play Pseudo, a master of martial arts who’s drawn to a small creature by the music it plays. An unusual partnership develops as you bond with this ‘Boy’, and try to evade mercenaries who are either on your tail or the creature’s. What unravels is a deep fantasy story and some crunchy melee combat, as you move through the world of Zenozoik and try to figure out what the hell is going on. 

Scars Above

scars above

Maybe we’ve got Dead Space on the mind, as Scars Above is ringing all sorts of bells. You play Dr Kate Ward, a scientist and not a soldier, as she has to learn to fight after waking up in the middle of an alien infestation. She was originally sent to investigate The Metahedron, a hulking alien marker – sorry, superstructure – that may well be the cause of the hazardous goings-on. 

Scars Above comes from little-known outfit Mad Head Games, but what they’ve crafted is a gorgeous alien world that mostly wants to eat you. And eat you it will, as this is a game with the difficulty dial turned up to Returnal and Soulsborne levels. We can already tell we’re going to be rubbish at it. 

Like a Dragon: Ishin! 

like a dragon ishin

We can imagine our resident Yakuza fan, Richard Dobson, carefully restructuring his calendar. Like a Dragon: Ishin! is the second in Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s burgeoning Like a Dragon series, and this time it’s feudal. We’re reversing back in time for a history lesson delivered by the many favourite cast members of the Yakuza series and spin offs

It’s not where we would have taken the series, but we’re in the capable hands of Ueda, so we should probably stop complaining and enjoy the ride. Four combat styles are there to be mastered, as you move seamlessly from The Swordsman to The Gunman to The Wild Dancer and, finally, The Brawler. 

We’re wondering how Ueda and SEGA will manage to crowbar some arcade machines into a period piece.

Fashion Police Squad

fashion police squad

Finally, we end on the game that tickled us the most when we started investigating the list. Who knows whether it will be any good: all we know is that the premise alone had us reaching for our wallet. 

If you’re used to stepping out with socks in sandals, big shoulder pads or poorly tailored jackets, then watch out: the Fashion Police Squad have you in their sights. Armed with a Tailormade Sewing Machine and the Belt of Justice, they stalk the streets, shooting the shabby and gang-tackling the outmoded. 

This looks to be a hilarious spoof in 90’s shooter clothing. Imagine Duke Nukem with a determination to rid the world of pantsuits and you’re pretty much on the money.

And just like that, we come to the end of February’s finest Xbox games. At a lean twenty-eight days, you would have thought it would be lighter on good games than other months, but it really does have some belters. 

Will March follow the trend? Star Wars: Jedi Survivor, Resident Evil 4, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty and EA Sports PGA Tour imply that yes, yes it will. 2023’s going to be a cracker. 

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day spent with your black boxes, and you can be sure that we’ll be here next month. Until then, let us know which Xbox games you are most looking forward to playing through February 2023.

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