Wednesday, January 31, 2024

2023 in Games

I am not a gamer, though I obviously had too much time on my hand.  The last time I played many games was on the PS2 with Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.

I also only have a Linux desktop, no console or Windows PC. Because of an upgraded graphics card and support in Steam and Heroic Game Launcher, a lot of the games nowadays are playable. Since I haven't played in 20 years, I also was able to play some older games, which easily run on limited hardware. 

I probably should say something about my setup: Fedora Linux, AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, 32 GB RAM, AMD Radeon RX 6600, 2560×1440 screen.

What I like most about games is the graphics, environment and story. I tend to play on the easiest mode to not get frustrated. 

I also gravitate towards open world games, so there is a lot to explore. Furthermore, I prefer stealth games, avoid lots of fighting and especially hate boss fights.

Stray gameplay screenshot
In 2022, I only played a bit of Stray, which already blew me away. I did get stuck at some point and finished it in 2023.  

There are basically two types of games in this list.
True open world games, where you can free roam, maybe do side quests or random stuff. Good examples are Red Dead Redemption II, Ghost Recon and the Assassin's Creed games. 
And games which have a straight story, with some open world elements, but they feel more like an interactive film than living in a world. The Uncharted and Tomb Raider series are in that camp.

RDR2 gameplay screenshot
The best game of all of these is Red Dead Redemption. The story, the world, and the attention to detail are very difficult to beat. This is also one of the games I come back to. Not to further complete the game, but to just live in the world and chill a bit. 

Ghost Recon Wildlands gameplay screenshot
The other game I still play is Ghost Recon Wildlands. It also has a very nice world, and you can just jump in and conquer some random base or do one of the side missions. The challenge for me is always to do it as stealthy as possible.

The following is a very short review of the games / series from my perspective. They are roughly in the order I played or finished them.  

I also have my Steam Year in Review 2023. Steam measures the times wrong because I often pause the game and leave it on, or it doesn't register when I leave a game. It is handy for getting additional information about the games.

By the way, I bought most of these games on sale for €10 or less.

I usually played the newest game or best reviewed game in a series first. This makes it confusing for you and for me. 

Grand Theft Auto V

The first game I went for because of my history with GTA SA. 

It did blow me away when I played it, but in retrospect it doesn't look that good. I also didn't like the focus on just driving and shooting random people. 

Switching between the main characters was interesting up to a point.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider gameplay screenshot
The original Tomb Raider game on the PS2 was quite fun, but this is so much better. I love the story line, the new Lara, and the atmosphere of the different locations. 

This is mostly a linear game, with a bit of action and some annoying boss levels. 

In retrospect, I should have played all three games in the series in order. They are very similar.

Batman Arkham City

The best reviewed game of the three Batman Arkham games, and I tend to agree. 

This one really made me feel like Batman, travelling along the roofs of the city, fighting with the bad guys, and using detective skill. It is an open world with a mostly linear story.


I started this in 2022, but got stuck on a hectic level. I mostly like the look and moving around as a cat. It is pretty linear, and there are some annoying stressful levels. 

Red Dead Redemption II

RDR2 gameplay screenshot
As I mentioned before, this is the best game of all the ones I played so far. It really has everything, a very emotional story, beautiful scenery and atmosphere, a massive open world, and many things and side quests to discover. And I don't even like cowboy stuff! 

The fantastic thing is the attention to detail. You can check out this playlist for a small subset. 

That's why I am still going back sometimes to just chill, hunt, or watch sunsets.

Uncharted Legacy Collection 

These are two games, both with a fun story. It is basically Tomb Raider with different protagonists. Good fun, pretty fast to play through.

Ghost Recon Wildlands 

With Tomb Raider and Uncharted, I got a bit of a taste of stealth. While I don't like the big action shoot-outs, the sneaking into a camp and taking people out one by one is quite fun.

Wildlands does this really well. The world is also massive and full of people, enemies, and civilians.  The story is not especially exciting, except for some twists towards the end.

It also looks pretty, there are wholly unique landscapes in different areas. You can adapt your approaches to your playing style and preferences.

Ghost Recon Breakpoint

This is the follow-up of Wildlands, and it just isn't that good. 

Firstly, you will have to buy a DLC to be able to play most of the game.  

And the world is just not as exciting. It plays in the near future, with many drones and magic weapons.  There are not many civilians, which makes the game feel empty.  

It is annoying because the graphics have improved and there were some improvements to the stealth functionality.  

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Once you start looking for stealth games, you will end up with the Assassin's Creed series. 

Odyssey looks beautiful, it made me want to book a holiday in Greece. This might have been the biggest world I played in. I finished the story, and there were large parts I didn't even travel in. The story is fun, meeting historical people is interesting, there are quite a few of side quests, the big crowd fights work well, and stealth is relatively good.

The annoying things are the boss fights, some sea fights, and sometimes gaining experience points or materials is a bit of a grind.

Assassin's Creed Origins

Very similar to Odyssey, but playing in Ancient Egypt. The stealth mechanics are a bit better, and you don't have to rely on open fights so much.

Watchdogs Legion

When I watched some gameplay on YouTube, I found the constant overlay a bit annoying. It does start making sense once you play it. 

For me, the best thing was playing in London.  It is a compact London in the near future, but has some recognisable things. The story is OK. 

The special thing is that you can recruit anyone in London to your gang and then play as their character.

Batman Arkham Asylum 

I haven't finished this. It's OK.

Watchdogs 2

Because this plays in a version of San Francisco, it reminded me too much of GTA.

They make a lot of fun of nerds and hacker stereotypes, which works for me.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Same as the other one.

Tomb Raider

Same, same.

Assassin's Creed Mirage

Assassin's Creed Mirage Screenshot
The newest game in the series. This focuses much more on stealth. Whenever you get into a big fight, you will probably die. The world is much smaller, busier, and beautiful. 

This isn't on Steam. I used the Heroic Game Launcher to buy it. It works well, even on my hardware.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate

I got this for free. I haven't finished it. Playing in a past London is fun, but even just after two missions it felt repetitive. 

Batman Arkham Knight

Too much bat-mobile. Not much fun.

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