It’s an Up Next so bountiful, so stocked with killer games, that the subs bench looks damn decent. No More Heroes III, Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, Star Trek Prodigy: Supernova and Let’s Sing ABBA, to name a few, DIDN’T make it onto our cut down, fourteen-strong squad of the most exciting games to be coming to Xbox during October 2022. If they’re not on the list, then what could possibly be on it, we hear you say? Well, read on…
There are few games that can manage as much controversy before they’re launched than Overwatch 2. Although Blizzard are getting something of a reputation for this with Diablo Immortal. You may be aware of rumblings about a lack of new features over the original Overwatch, a lack of graphical improvement, a reduction from 6-v-6 to 5-v-5 and a general wariness that Blizzard gonna Blizzard.
But the time for Reddit griping is over, as Overwatch 2 actually lands this month. In free-to-play form, no less. We get three new heroes, with Sojourn, Kiriko and Junker Queen joining the roster, Xbox Series X|S optimisation, more game modes and seasonal content rolling out every nine weeks. Time to make your own mind up.
Dragon Ball: The Breakers
We didn’t know a hell of a lot about Dragon Ball: The Breakers before sitting down for this Up Next. More than likely it would be a fighter, a Dynasty Warriors clone, maybe an action-RPG, right? Boy did we get THAT wrong. This is, and we kid you not, an asymmetrical action-survival game. We had to pull up a trailer, as we couldn’t wrap our head around it.
We’re still not completely convinced. This is a 1-v-7 setup, where one player grapples with the Raider, an evolving entity who starts out small before growing to become a world-ending threat. On the other side of the ring are the seven Survivors (no ‘Breakers’ confusingly), who look to hinder the Raider before they gather enough power, while hiding and generally surviving. Survivors can transform into props, escape in a pod, and hop on vehicles to try to evade these Goku-level threats.
It’s a million miles away from what we expected, but in a world of sequels and regurgitated remasters, we’ve got to celebrate it when it happens.
I couldn’t personally give two hoots about a new NHL game, but there’s a rabid community of players who absolutely do. So, in honour of the puck-enthusiasts, here’s what you’re getting in the 2023 iteration of NHL.
Women’s hockey hits the ice in HUT, and crossplay matchmaking arrives later on in the year (we can’t help questioning why EA’s promoting a game based on a feature that’s not there yet, but still). We’re quite fond of the nicely monikered Stumble Actions, which give you a last-gasp opportunity to turn your fall into a pass or shot. We imagine it’s like that moment when you trip in public, and try to turn it into a dance move or smooth point at a mate.
Other than that, NHL 23 is mostly spit and polish, with some new celebrations, animations and goalkeeper physics. Hopefully that’s enough for you hockeyites.
PGA TOUR 2K23
We’re getting some fond PS2 memories as PGA TOUR 2K23 (all in caps, to make golf more SHOUTY) splashes serial PGA-winner and sometime SUV-crasher Tiger Woods onto its cover. Next, we’ll be getting Ronaldinho back on our FIFA covers and John Madden back on our Madden games. Except we’ve done that last one already.
The additions seem bonkers. You can play as Michael Jordan, basketballer and part-time baseball player, because, well, someone is trying to eke every last pound out of their Michael Jordan exclusivity deal. You can compete against Tiger Woods in the PGA TOUR MyCAREER, like you were rivals in a Pokemon game. And there are improved clubhouses and clubhouse reports. Are you impressed yet? We’re genuinely not sure.
A Plague Tale: Requiem
The thinking person’s rat-based narrative adventure, A Plague Tale: Innocence, gets a sequel this month in the form of A Plague Tale: Requiem. It brings back siblings Amicia and Hugo, as they go on the hunt for a cure for Hugo’s blood disease. The problem is that the Inquisition and plague rats both want them for very different purposes, which means some third-person exploration and stealth.
If A Plague Tale: Innocence is anything to go by, we’re in for a beautiful and artful French adventure. Brush up on the first adventure – still doing the rounds on Game Pass – and be fully prepared for another tearjerker.
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed
Illfonic Games know their way around a film tie-in, with Friday the 13th and Predator: Hunting Grounds under their belt. Now they’re approaching an IP that we’re rather protective of: the hallowed Ghostbusters. As someone who loved the shonky but fun Ghostbusters: The Video Game, we have high hopes.
Dan Ackroyd’s here. Ernie Hudson’s here. Cooperative play is stuffed into the ghost trap of Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed. That’s a great start, and we’re hoping that they can keep on going. There’s even some asymmetrical stuff that October can’t seem to get enough of, with the opportunity to slime your friends as you play a ghost. Who you gonna call?
Please be good. Please be good.
It’s been seven years since Arkham Knight, which is more than enough time to get us hankering for a Warner Bros action-RPG that plunges us into Gotham. Batman is dead this time (yeah right – we know the superhero rules), which leaves the shaking down of criminals to Red Hood, Batgirl, Robin and Nightwing.
One or all of you is going to need to step up and take the mantle from dear departed Bruce. Gotham is an open world with detective-like mysteries to solve, as well as well-known villains to confront and take down. Beneath it all is the Court of Owls, a secret society that seems to be orchestrating the carnage.
New Tales from the Borderlands
The resurgence of older Telltale franchises keeps apace with the next in the Tales from the Borderlands series, cunningly titled New Tales from the Borderlands. Except, unusually, this one is coming from 2K Games, sidestepping Telltale Games completely.
Now, shoot us, but Tales from the Borderlands was the best game to pass out of Telltale Games (Clementine, we apologise, but you get pipped to that post), so we’re more than a little hot under the collar about the prospect of a second run, no matter who makes it.
It’s a five-part tale delivered in one vault-sized adventure. You get to play as three different protagonists, hopping between their viewpoints like a space-based Pulp Fiction. There’s altruistic scientist Anu, her streetwise brother Octavio, and the frogurt-slinging Fran. We’re taken with the prospect of a board-game approach to combat called Vaultlanders, which should shake up the usual narrative branching. Excited doesn’t come close to it.
Possibly the most unexpectedly beautiful of the games in October 2022 is LEGO Bricktales.
Coming from developer ClockStone rather than the usual Travellers Tales who brought us this year’s LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, it’s a smaller, more painstakingly created game.
Through five dioramas, you are looking to find objects that could help to reinvigorate your grandfather’s derelict fairground. At your side is a cute robot sidekick, and you’re constantly coming across obstacles – a sheer cliff face, a vast crevasse – that requires you to piece together some limited LEGO pieces to navigate them.
Of all the LEGO games, LEGO Bricktales feels the most like you’re actually piecing together and intelligently using actual LEGO pieces. We’re eager to see if it’s just as magical with an Xbox controller in our hands.
Persona 5 Royal
We don’t get a huge amount of Persona love on the Xbox, so we rub our hands with inordinate glee whenever we actually do get something. But this isn’t any old something: this is an Xbox port of possibly the best in the series, Persona 5 – something we thought would be destined to remain a PlayStation title.
As with most Persona games, Persona 5 Royal centres on a motley collection of schoolchildren as they harness manifestations of their psyche called Personas. They live a dual life, with one half spent in Tokyo, within the Shujin Academy where lessons have to be completed and friendships nurtured, and the other half spent in the Metaverse, where everyone’s thoughts and feelings are given flesh. It’s here that the Personas get wheeled out for handy JRPG combat.
Is this the start of a wonderful relationship between the Persona games and the Xbox? We can only hope so.
We’re back to October 2022’s favourite word: asymmetrical. But rather than Dragon Ball: Breakers’ survival, or Ghostbusters: Spirit Unleashed’s take on Left 4 Dead gameplay, we have an asymmetrical game that is more interested in betrayal.
If you’ve played Among Us or lost some friends in Werewolves party games, then you will know what you’re in for. At the start of each game of Eville, you are given a role, and that role is hidden from the other players – and twelve can play at a time here. There is a chance that you will be made a Conspirator, and this is where things get fun. Your aim is to murder the other players horribly, but to do so without the eyes of the other players on you. When it comes to daytime, they have to point fingers at whomever they think is the killer.
Die and you can haunt the Conspirators as a ghost. And being one of the good guys doesn’t necessarily need to be boring. You can lay traps and generally make life as hard as possible for the betrayer. Trust is going to be in short supply.
Not since Xbox 360’s Dante’s Inferno have we come across a game that nails the phrase ‘disgustingly beautiful’. Scorn is an astonishingly good-looking game – everyone should park themselves in front of its trailer and watch through the gaps in their fingers – but it’s also one that will have you heaving into sickbags. It’s equal parts Dead Space, Dante and H.R. Giger, and we are genuinely not sure if we want to play it. We do. Or we don’t. Maybe we do.
At its gruesome, throbbing heart, this is a first-person survival game. But instead of the usual shotguns and pistols, you are jamming biological elements into your body to construct weapons in a hideous, Cronenberg-like fashion. You’ve not lived until you’ve fired fragments of your bones out of arm-stumps.
STAR OCEAN: THE DIVINE FORCE
Square Enix? We hand over to our resident expert once more – take it away Richard Dobson.
With the series having laid dormant on Xbox since 2009, a new Star Ocean game has been long overdue. Star Ocean: The Divine Force will be the sixth mainline entry in the series.
The Star Ocean series is a sci-fi RPG offering, and The Divine Force is no exception. It promises high-speed action battles, dual protagonists and a richer explanation. Players will once again be able to alter the course of the main narrative as they control Raymond and Laeticia. Their stories will be their paths crashing together and along with other allies they will need to travel the universe for answers. But don’t worry if you haven’t played a Star Ocean game before, there will be enough here to delight veterans and newcomers alike as the series celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II
Another year, another Call of Duty, money pouring out of its every orifice (we’ve been watching too much of that Scorn trailer). This time round, it’s a return to the Modern Warfare moniker that’s done pretty darn well for Activision-Blizzard in the past with Modern Warfare II. It can only be an improvement on the much-maligned Vanguard.
As with most Call of Duties, the emphasis is on muchness in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II: there’s just so much to do. A full-blown single-player campaign has you fighting alongside Task Force 141; co-op mode Special Ops has leveled up to be narrative-focused and full of missions; multiplayer combat is as fast-paced as ever, with opportunities to play solo or in a team; and weeks and weeks of content are due to roll out over the months that follow.
It has felt, at times, like every game under the sun was being delayed into 2023. But just one look at October’s line-up of Xbox game releases, and we’re confident that any more games would have been lost in the shuffle. It’s that packed.
November promises to be just as good, if not better. Skull and Bones, Sonic Frontiers, Goat Simulator 3, Football Manager 2023 and Just Dance 2023 are just the tip of a November iceberg. Some duvet days are approaching.
For now, all the best, and we’ll see you when November begins to approach.