The P2 Awards 2023 – Best AAA

The P2 Awards 2023 - Best AAA

It is that time of year folks, the time when the P2 crew sit down around a fire, roasting chestnuts, drinking a nice beverage before arguing excessively about the best games of the year. There is no doubt that 2023 had some absolute bangers to share with players and here, the P2 team have listed their favourites. The final award for 2023 is now here, the best AAA titles according to the team. 

Paul James - Final Fantasy XVI

Look, it’s fairly well documented that I’m a gigantic Final Fantasy fan, and so Final Fantasy XVI always had an edge over the other game’s of 2023, but, with that said, the game was also taking some bold strides against the tides of the franchises long history, and that left me anxious. Well, thankfully, Final Fantasy XVI, no matter whether you call it an RPG, or an Action-Adventure game, is amazing. The tale of Clive Rosfield is an extraordinary one, Ben Starr’s realisation of the character is equally as excellent, the gameplay is kinetic brilliance, the world-building is superb and the cinematography will melt your eyes. Final Fantasy XVI is absolutely my favourite game of 2023, amongst some seriously stiff competition.

Jess Zammit - The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

This is a terrible year to be choosing a game of the year. Every single game decided to release this year, and it was frankly rude of them not to co-ordinate. The year has been so stacked that games that would have been huge contenders for me in other years like Spiderman 2 and Jedi: Survivor are games I haven’t even had a chance to touch yet. But despite all of that, the winner has always been clear to me. It’s Zelda. It’s always been Zelda. Tears of the Kingdom was a true feat of game design, and watching people do things in this game that even after spending more than 130 hours playing it I couldn’t have imagined were possible was an absolute joy. It felt new and exciting while still managing to feel more like a Zelda game than its predecessor, and for that, I am truly grateful. It’s an incredible game, and more than deserving of game of the year. I’d also like to give an honourable mention to Forspoken, a game that has gone largely unrecognised and was met with a lukewarm response by critics and fans, but that I hold in high regard for the way it presents and celebrates femininity in all its different forms. It’s still Zelda’s year though. 

Matt Hewson - Alan Wake 2

Remedy are, in my mind, gods of game development. I even enjoy their misses (hey Quantum Break, I still love ya) and Control was a previous winner of this very award from me. All that said, nothing prepared me for Alan Wake 2. It is part mystery, part horror, part action and part musical and frankly there is nothing on the planet quite like it. 

Not only did the gameplay really hit home, but the technical achievement of the game is something that I don’t think enough people have talked about. It is the first game that has made me truly think that the “next-gen” is finally here. 

I finished this game a couple of months ago now and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I went and bought The Old Gods of Asgard on Vinyl and my desktop wallpaper is of Alan and Saga. AW2 is my life now and frankly, I am not overstating when I say it is one of the best games I have ever played, if not the best (time will tell on that score.)

Stephen del Prado - The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

This is somewhat of a default answer because I have yet to play Baldur’s Gate 3 and Alan Wake 2, both titles I think would likely pip TotK for me were they available in retail at release. The game I wish Breath of the Wild had been, Tears of the Kingdom refined many aspects of its beloved predecessor to deliver an experience that may not be as novel but is far improved. Where Nintendo takes the series next is anyone’s guess, but TotK is easily the best Zelda sequel since Majora’s Mask and I’m here for it.

Sarah Ellen - Balder's Gate 3

There is not a single thing I can say here that would even come close to Neil Newbon singing about a goose-vampire stealing sandwiches.

(except to say that a goose-vampire stealing sandwiches is the best analogy of what a D&D video game should be.)

Shaun Nicholls - Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Taking everything that worked in the first instalment, Respawn Entertainment have combined it with bigger maps, more areas to explore and new combat styles to master. Survivor continues the story of Kal Cestus, Mirren and BD-1 five years after Fallen Order. Not only does Cal have to contend with the forces of the Galactic Empire but a remnant of the Jedi Order of the High Republic. While I admit I didn’t finish absolutely everything, there is plenty of content outside of the story to keep players engaged, challenged and entertained. Now I just have to wait for the next game in the series. 

Rob Caporetto - The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

On the AAA level, 2023 has seen a large number of top-tier releases, and of all of them, the one which so happens to be my pick is Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

I’m probably in the minority here, but I never really appreciated Breath of the Wild on release – as I commented on an episode of the Pixelcast, being only able to play it in Handheld mode at the time meant I wasn’t able to appreciate the vastness of Hyrule the way it was meant to be.

Skip forward to 2023 and this time, I’m in a position to enjoy Tears of the Kingdom on the big screen, and honestly? Making the trip to Hyrule has felt far more special as a result.

Whether it’s from just having even more of it to explore thanks to the sky and underground regions, but also the fun of contraption building for solving puzzles. Seeing the results of other players making mecha and flyable contraptions was jaw-dropping, even if most of my time was spent making far simpler machines.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom manages to build upon the epic nature of Breath of the Wild, and in the process blew my mind on what the Switch is capable of, all without melting down in the process.

Tim Henderson - Pikmin 4

My notes on what could make Pikmin 3 better were very, very short. Mostly, the last day of play could be better executed. The designers of Pikmin 4, though – those guys had notes and then some. In a year where both Zelda and Mario got stellar entries, I still have to give my nod to Nintendo’s little franchise that could. Pikmin 4 is amazing. It fully leans into the more relaxed mood that has long been Pikmin’s main appeal, eschewing any semblance of time pressure altogether to instead allow players to explore and plan at whatever pace they are comfortable.

And what exploration! The sense of discovery and progress here could make the best Metroidvania games blush, and additions that I was initially trepid about such as (essentially) a dog to ride around and free camera control? I can’t imagine playing a new Pikmin without them! It also looks gorgeous (albeit at the cost of some visual sharpness) and manages to include an absolute mountain of content without feeling overstuffed! The only thing that could improve this would be some free DLC wherein you have to have the critters help you return some gifts to Santa’s crashed sleigh.

Jason Hawkins - Balder's Gate 3

I mean, it’s Baldur’s Gate 3, innit? Truth be told, a lot of AAA games don’t make me go wowsers in my trousers, but BG3 is different. I played through it once solo, I played through it with my friends, I played through it again solo, then started a new playthrough with my friends. Add in that it was a pretty functional experience at launch, and you’re already worlds ahead of how I feel most game releases are nowadays. This is an RPG that spread like wildfire, in the way that most games don’t enter the zeitgeist. This game has set a new bar for RPG quality, in voicework, acting and writing. Baldur’s Gate 3 sure is a hell of a game.

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