2023 is a couple of months old, and we’re already seeing some themes appearing. Game Pass has been slaying it, delivering some of the most talked about Xbox games of the year, including Atomic Heart and Hi-Fi Rush. And remakes, for all that they are maligned, are still pulling in headlines and big bags of cash.
March is only adding to those two themes. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, MLB The Show 23 and Valheim are the latest heavyweights entering the Game Pass ring, and they’re more than justifying the subscription fee. And we’re getting our remake on with Resident Evil 4, which is looking every bit as respectful and spangly as Dead Space. Long may these patterns continue.
But what Xbox and Game Pass games should you be playing through March 2023? Well, these 13 should be on your list…
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
Our resident reviewer Paul Renshaw has been banging on about how good this action-RPG is going to be.
Basically Team Ninja’s riposte to the games of FromSoftware, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty could be this year’s Elden Ring. Better still, it’s only going to cost you the price of an Ultimate Game Pass subscription to find out.
It takes Team Ninja’s trademark Ninja Gaiden flowing combat and martial arts, and transplants them to a chaotic hellscape where you’re hunted by a kind of tarantula-dragon. Stuff of nightmares, it is.
Clash: Artifacts of Chaos
We see you, Clash: Artifacts of Chaos. You were in last month’s Up Next, because you stealthily – and not unnoticed – delayed a few weeks into March. So you get two Up Next mentions. We clearly like you.
A new game set in the Zeno Clash series (underrated bea t’em ups on the Xbox 360), this is a truly astonishing-looking adventure in a bizarro alien landscape. It has you playing as the fighter Pseudo, a battle-hardened Slender Man, as you protect ‘The Boy’, who seems to be wanted by every beast in the world of Zenozoic.
This one very much has the potential to be the sleeper hit of March.
FATAL FRAME: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse
Back in 2008, FATAL FRAME: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse was the first FATAL FRAME to land on a Nintendo console. It was a minor Wii hit, and fifteen years later we’re getting an Xbox version which somehow adapts all of the motion controls that made the original so unusual.
It’s the harrowing tale of five women who escape the lair of a serial killer, only to find that – ten years later – they are all being killed again. So, two of the victims return to the sanatorium on the island where they were taken, to find out what’s up. You can probably guess that it’s not a joyful reunion.
The first of our many sporting franchises this month comes in the form of WWE 2K23. Fronted by John Cena. It’s a bit of a victory lap for the champ, as it’s twenty years since he first graced the ring. You’ll be playing through some of his career highlights, interspersed with interview segments.
But for many people, WWE 2K23 is about the suplexes, the rumbles, and the sweaty pants. There’s more ways than ever to play WWE 2K23, including the FUT-style MyFaction, new Wargames (4v4 wrestling matches played next to each other in giant steel cages) and the career mode MyRise. We smell what 2K have been cooking, and it’s pretty good.
EA SPORTS PGA TOUR
There’s more sportsball this month, with the return of a pillar franchise EA SPORTS PGA TOUR. Ditching poor Rory McIlroy, and with Tiger Woods well in the rear-view mirror, EA have partnered with PGA to deliver thirty of their courses in glorious 4K.
It being EA Sports, there’s a lot of nonsense capitalised nouns to tempt you. Shot Types gives you more ways of thwacking a ball around an elaborate garden. Using ShotLink and Trackman data, the Pure Strike system gives you the most realistic tee-shots that you can imagine. And we will admit to knowing very little about what any of those mean.
Resident Evil 4
Now we’re talking. Capcom mean business with their remake of the seminal 2005 hit, as can be seen in their determination not to call it ‘Resident Evil 4 Remake’, ‘Resident Evil 4 Intergrade Revjunenathon’ or anything similar.
This is Resident Evil 4, risen as a completely new beast, with next-gen graphics, a completely reimagined storyline, and modern controls.
MLB The Show 23
Batter up, as MLB The Show 23 is here. Last year’s MLB The Show 22 was one of the best in the series, so expectations are high for this year’s iteration.
For the third year running, we get the pleasure of a day one launch on Game Pass, which is nice. Even more fascinating is the addition of Storylines: A New Game Experience, which is an interactive documentary-like experience. It rewinds back to a time when the Negro Leagues were a thing. Charting the careers of Jackie Robinson, Buck O’Neil and others, it’s an important document of an under-exposed part of baseball history.
Fishing and tentacles? What’s not to love? A wee secret for you: DREDGE is the game we’re most excited about playing this month, as the Lovecraft-meets-Fishing-Sim-World premise has our gills in a flap.
It’s a single-player adventure from Team17 and Black Salt Games as you play a fisherman in a remote town, hoping to gather enough catches to survive and upgrade his boat. But that gets complicated, as the catches become increasingly outlandish, as something is in the water that wishes to remain there.
Needless to say, madness, tentacles, body horror and unlikely fish fingers all ensue.
Iris and the Giant
A well-loved indie darling on the Switch and PC, where it’s resided for a few years now, Iris and the Giant is finally making its move onto the Xbox.
It’s not wholly easy to describe: imagine Alice in Wonderland, but the fantasy world is slightly more giant-oriented. Iris is the Alice in this scenario, and she’s lost in a game that’s part CCG, part RPG and one-hundred percent roguelike. Yeah, we know the maths doesn’t work.
This colourful lane-based battler has a lot of fans, and we can’t wait to grapple with a few giants of our own.
Caverns of Mars: Recharged
We like what the new Atari is doing. Taking a revisionist approach to their back catalogue, they have been sprucing up old games under the Recharged banner. And rather than stripmine their legacy, it’s built on it. Each of the games has found new takes and some cracking gameplay.
Next up on the list is Caverns of Mars, a 1981 classic that’s been spruced to next generation standards. We never played the original, but the Recharged version has you careening around confined tunnels like a Solar Jetman with thruster issues.
Pong: Recharged next?
DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos
Family-friendly fare comes in the form of DC’s Justice League: Cosmic Chaos. The entire Justice League are at your fingertips in an open-world, two-player split-screen adventure that pits the superhero team against Mr. Mxyzptlk, a powerful prankster from the 5th Dimension. Knowing him from the comics, it’s going to lead to some surreal, world-twisting levels.
We’re here for the costume changes. Levels unlock a wide variety of outfits for your three heroes – Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman – and the history of the characters has been well and truly plumbed to find the most outlandish deep takes from their comic past. Scuba Batman from the original TV series? Yes please.
Figment 2: Creed Valley
We’ve only just emerged from the emotional ending of the first Figment game, ragged from its revelations, and now we’re being tossed into a second game with Dusty and Piper.
Figment 2: Creed Valley sees the healed mind from the end of the game overrun by Nightmares once more. The Moral Compass has been shattered, as right and wrong have gone haywire. As the mind’s courage, Dusty and Piper must solve puzzles, bypass more farting and trumpeting plants, and explore the mindspace in an attempt to reforge the Moral Compass.
If Figment 2: Creed Valley is anything like the first game, we can expect a beautiful adventure with some world-spanning puzzles. If we’re not emotionally bruised from the last one.
It’s 2021 all over again, as the sleeper hit of that year, Valheim, makes a slightly belated appearance on Xbox. But we will forgive the tardiness, as we’re getting it as part of the Game Pass subscription.
If you haven’t played it before, it’s an action-survival game that has you and some friends trying to build a camp in some hazardous biomes. As you hold back the darkness and gain a foothold, you can use it as a basecamp to explore further biomes, travelling deeper into Valheim. It’s a tense but collaborative survival experience, and there’s every chance that it will gain a strong following, just as it did on PC through Steam a few years ago.
As if our backlogs weren’t backlogged enough, we have at least a half dozen games on the Up Next list for March that we can’t wait to play. Perhaps time might dilate over the Easter period, so we can play more Xbox games in a shorter space of time? It’s unlikely, but we can hope.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, April is making the problem worse. Minecraft Legends, Dead Island 2 and Star Wars: Jedi Survivor are just the tip of the Xbox release iceberg, and we’re heading straight for it. Just make sure to push Leo off the door and wear something warm.