A look back at the best (and worst) PC games I tested in 2023

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Cyberpunk 2077 connected nan Samsung Odyssey OLED G8.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I trial nan capacity and features of dozens of caller PC games each year. It’s usually conscionable a measurement to information up immoderate optimized settings for nan latest games, but 2023 challenged that approach. It was a notoriously troublesome twelvemonth for PC releases, but for arsenic galore busted ports that we saw, I tested conscionable arsenic galore method marvels.

If you want to push your PC to its limits pinch nan most demanding PC games, present are nan games you should play — and nan ones you should avoid. Just to beryllium clear — this isn’t a remark connected nan contented of nan games themselves, but connected really they performed connected PC and implemented (or didn’t) nan latest features.

The champion PC games I tested successful 2023

Alan Wake 2

Alan Wake 2 moving connected nan Samsung Odyssey OELD G9.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Alan Wake 2 was surely a arguable PC release. It’s nan first crippled ever to require mesh shaders, fundamentally barring a swath of older GPUs from playing nan game. The trade-off is worthy it. Alan Wake 2 is nan best-looking PC crippled I’ve ever seen, and it’s a sensation of what a next-gen PC merchandise should look like.

The value is astounding crossed nan board, but Alan Wake 2 really earns its stripes pinch path tracing. It transforms nan game. Subtle shadows and realistic reflections elevate nan crippled world into thing that looks for illustration it was filmed connected a camera. That realism stands retired moreover more, considering Alan Wake 2  as a game, too. The endurance scary title oozes ambiance owed successful nary mini portion to nan realism way tracing brings.

It’s a beautiful game, but Alan Wake 2 is still packed pinch PC tech. It supports AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) and Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling 3.5 (DLSS 3.5). That gives you framework procreation connected RTX GPUs, arsenic good arsenic Ray Reconstruction, providing cards for illustration nan RTX 4070 crisp ray-traced effects. Alan Wake 2 is a demanding PC game, but it’s nan cleanable showcase of wherever PC games are headed.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty

Cyberpunk 2077 connected nan Lenovo Legion Pro 5.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I’m cheating. Cyberpunk 2077 is 3 years old, but nan Phantom Liberty expansion and nan 2.0 update that arrived for nan crippled successful 2023 overhauled each of nan visuals. Now, nan sprawling futuristic metropolis looks for illustration nan crippled world truthful galore players saw successful trailers years ago. It’s Cyberpunk 2077 the measurement it was ever intended.

It’s an aged dog, but nan 2.0 update brought caller tricks. It was our first sensation of Nvidia’s awesome DLSS 3.5, adding way tracing and Ray Reconstruction to nan game. Ray Reconstruction does wonders for Night City, pinch photorealistic reflections and soft shadows cascading passim nan crippled world. With way tracing and DLSS 3.5 operating astatine afloat tilt, nan crippled looks for illustration like a trailer. It’s that impressive.

Even much awesome is that you don’t request insane hardware to experience Cyberpunk 2077 this way. You’ll want an RTX 4070 if you’re playing astatine a higher resolution, but DLSS 3.5 offers playable capacity moreover connected that GPU. It helps that Cyberpunk 2077 has grown from 1 of nan worst PC games we’ve ever seen to 1 of nan best. Now, nan REDengine shows fantabulous scaling crossed nan CPU and GPU, utilizing nan afloat powerfulness of your resources to render nan game.

Diablo 4

Quality presets successful Diablo 4.Digital Trends

Diablo 4 isn’t perfect. The crippled struggles pinch VRAM limitations and is perpetually astatine consequence of network-based issues. But it’s 1 of nan champion showcases of what a scalable PC crippled looks like. It’s a crippled that tin tally connected conscionable astir immoderate hardware, scaling up to taxation high-end hardware and down to meet nan powerfulness of lower-end devices.

A large logic why Diablo 4 is so awesome connected PC is that it doesn’t make PC players deliberation astir nan graphics settings. The automatic settings are fundamentally perfect, and it automatically adjusts nan upscaling options you person depending connected your hardware. It supports Nvidia DLSS, AMD FSR, and Intel XeSS, but alternatively of revealing each of those options, it automatically chooses nan optimal 1 for your hardware.

Ideally, PC optimization should beryllium invisible — nan crippled should conscionable work. That’s nan awesome magic instrumentality Diablo 4 pulls. Network issues aside, which are thing you’ll request to woody pinch successful immoderate online game, Diablo 4 just works.

The worst PC games I tested successful 2023

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

 Survivor reviews connected Steam.Digital Trends

I don’t cognize wherever to commencement with Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. It was a messiness connected PC astatine launch, and moreover aft dozens of updates, it still has problems. Shader compilation stutter, which we’ve seen successful games for illustration Elden Ring and Stray, wasn’t excessively bad astatine release. However, traversal stutter rendered immoderate sections of nan crippled unplayable. The infamous Koboh satellite — nan largest satellite successful nan crippled — would slow to a stuttering slideshow, moreover connected flagship hardware for illustration nan RTX 4090.

Worse, nan crippled relied solely connected AMD’s FSR astatine launch, and it showed mediocre utilization of some nan CPU and GPU. The past constituent stung nan most. Even pinch endless tweaking of nan settings and high-end hardware, you weren’t capable to get a playable framework complaint retired of nan game. These issues were only exaggerated pinch ray tracing turned connected successful nan game. On motorboat day, you conscionable had to settee for mediocre performance, sloppy of your settings and hardware. Naturally, nan crippled besides suffered from galore crashes. In my ain playthrough astatine release, nan crippled collapsed connected maine astatine slightest 20 times — I stopped counting astatine a definite point.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is successful a amended authorities now. Utilization is better, and it supports features for illustration Nvidia’s DLSS 3. However, caller updates person surgery different areas of nan game, pinch nan improvement squad moving astir to snuff retired caller bugs while fixing aged ones. It’s worthy picking up nan crippled now, but it’s starting to look for illustration it will ne'er beryllium nan perfectly polished PC merchandise immoderate players were expecting.


A limb texture successful Redfall.Digital Trends

If it wasn’t for The Lord of nan Rings: Gollum, Redfall might person been nan worst-reviewed crippled of nan year. There are a number of reasons for that, from boring open-world creation to repetitive gameplay elements, but a large facet was how nan crippled ran. It’s a nasty assets hog that shows pop-in connected GPUs pinch little than 8GB of VRAM and a barrage of traversal stutter arsenic you effort to navigate nan unfastened world.

Nothing compares to nan multiplayer experience, though. When connecting pinch friends — that’s nan measurement you’re expected to play Redfall — you tin find crippled elements bugging out, enemies getting stuck connected invisible objects, vanishing characteristic models, and, of course, endless crashes. Even nan HUD elements are broken, pinch keys clipping retired of nan bounds of your activated abilities erstwhile you rebind them.

The method issues with Redfall go truthful heavy that it’s easy to hide its graphical issues. Pop-in perpetually breaks your immersion, and mediocre GPU and CPU utilization mean you’ll get wildly adaptable capacity depending connected nan area of nan crippled you’re in. The crippled has received a fewer updates since it launched, but pinch subordinate counts connected Steam successful nan double digits, I don’t fishy Redfall will ever spot a 2nd wind.

The Last of Us Part One

Joel successful The Last of Us Part One.Reddit / Zerindo

The Last of Us Part One isn’t conscionable 1 of nan worst PC ports of 2023; it’s 1 of nan worst PC ports of each time. It was downright surgery astatine launch, and moreover aft a bid of updates and an online controversy, nan crippled still doesn’t tally great. A large logic is owed to nan game’s VRAM usage. It’s successful excess of 9GB, moreover astatine 1080p, meaning moreover immoderate modern GPUs will autumn isolated into a stuttering messiness during gameplay.

There are acold deeper issues, however. The crippled performs a shader compilation measurement erstwhile you first load it, which is great. At launch, though, this measurement could return hours before you could play nan game. That’s because nan crippled utilized a bugged decompression tool, which took respective weeks to fix. This besides led to a unusual business pinch loading. The crippled could return upwards of 30 minutes to unload areas aft you passed them, starring to wildly adaptable capacity depending connected what nan crippled had loaded aliases not.

The crippled suffered from numerous bugs, arsenic well. Characters would randomly look wet, moreover erstwhile they were indoors, and textures would glitch-out into a rainbow mess. The crippled is successful a amended spot now, but that’s not saying much, considering nan authorities it launched in.

Honorable (and dishonorable) mentions

Chai points a digit weapon astatine a robot successful Hi-Fi Rush.Xbox Game Studios

There are a batch much games that released this twelvemonth that merit nickname — for amended and worse. Starting pinch nan highlights, present are my honorable mentions for 2023:

  • Lies of P
  • Hi-Fi Rush
  • Baldur’s Gate 3

Lies of P and Hi-Fi Rush could person been disasters. They some usage nan infamous Unreal Engine 4, but contempt nan motor being known for stuttering issues and mediocre CPU utilization, these were 2 of nan astir polished games I’d played each year. Baldur’s Gate 3 deserves a nod, too, chiefly connected nan backmost of its fantabulous scalability.

Now for nan dishonorable mentions:

  • Atomic Heart
  • Starfield
  • Payday 3

All 3 of these games person awesome issues. Atomic Heart runs well, but it launched without ray tracing support contempt Nvidia trading it arsenic nan pinnacle of RTX for 5 years. Starfield ran poorly astatine launch, and though capacity has improved, its initial reliance connected FSR was a large problem for gamers looking to get nan champion experience. And Payday 3 still suffers from server issues, locking galore players retired of playing nan crippled pinch their friends connected PC.

I’m judge 2024 will clasp immoderate highlights and lowlights, arsenic well. Going into adjacent year, nan main point I’m hoping to spot is scalability. With GPU prices astatine an all-time high, it’s much important than ever for developers to optimize their titles to tally connected a wide scope of hardware. That isn’t an easy task, but immoderate titles released this twelvemonth show that it’s possible.

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