Updated December 4, 2023 at 5:25 AM ET

2023 has been the most notable gaming year in recent memory. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom broke sales records, alongside blockbusters like Baldur's Gate 3, Marvel's Spider-Man 2, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Final Fantasy 16, Diablo 4, Street Fighter 6, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Resident Evil 4, Hogwarts Legacy and Dead Space.

It's also been a tumultuous year for the people who make games. SAG-AFTRA union actors authorized a strike against the industry's largest companies. Microsoft closed the deal to buy Activision Blizzard King for $69 billion — the biggest gaming acquisition in history. And as the year wound down, more than 6,000 game developers lost their jobs amid a wave of layoffs.

Throughout it all, NPR staff and contributors scrambled to review the year's unrelenting release schedule. Packed with modern spectacles, far-flung indies and revitalized classics, there's something for everyone on this list.


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