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2023 has the unusual occurrence of multiple really standout expansions. While Phantom Liberty came alongside Cyberpunk 2077‘s 2.0 update to give it fresh life, Monolith Soft takes the award with its fantastic capstone to the Xenoblade Chronicles trilogy in Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed. Another masterclass in execution and presentation, Future Redeemed is an incredibly emotional treat acting as a highly satisfying coda to everything that has come before.
This achievement is perhaps made more impressive by the fact that it’s not even a sequel or epilogue, but a prequel to Xenoblade Chronicles 3 that, in testament to the planning, is only worth playing afterwards. In addition to building upon one of the best games this generation, Monolith Soft has managed to find a way to immensely and satisfyingly connect the full trilogy of massive, yet distinct, titles. Future Redeemed offers one final delight within a series that already offers so much.
Taking a departure from the main campaign for Cyberpunk 2077, Phantom Liberty offers players an incredibly engaging spy thriller. The subterfuge-based nature of the missions manages to both fit with the game’s nature while offering something fresh and a new set of memorable characters led by Idris Elda’s Solomon Reed. Phantom Liberty is streamlined and definitely packaged to make the most of Cyberpunk 2077′s strengths, making for a highly enjoyable a tight experience that has been the recipient of deserved acclaim.
The Pokémon series has long since moved away from releasing a “third version” with enhancements and additional content, such as Pokémon Emerald and Pokémon Platinum, in favor of DLC expansion packs. In 2023 Pokémon Scarlet and Violet saw the release of two parts of its DLC, The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero. Part 1 is titled The Teal Mask, which sees the player taking a school trip to the land of Kitakami while part 2, The Indigo Disk, has the player travel to the Blueberry Academy as an exchange student. Both parts of the DLC have several new things for players to do such as vast new areas to explore, returning Pokémon and several new ones to capture, challenging trainers to battle, and mini-games to play. While only part 2 connects somewhat to the base game’s plot, the story of both parts is interesting and engaging, especially in how it follows the development of the new character Kieran. The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero gives more of what fans of Scarlet and Violet enjoy about the games, including new characters and Pokémon to love.
by Alex Fuller and Cassandra Ramos