Not a huge surprise, as this one’s been anticipated for a while. Our pick for the best of last month is Bethesda’s epic Starfield.
Set a course for adventure
Following right from August’s lead, September of 2023 was a month that brought even more big name titles. That’s not a shock by any means, since the first ‘ber is usually loaded as we careen into the big holiday release calendar. This year though, was a little extra special.
Along with all of the usual stuff, there was a game that arrived that’s been eagerly awaited for years. And that, of course, was Starfield. Whether you’re Bethesda fan or hater, you have to admit that the sci-fi game has been a blockbuster since launch. Hitting both Xbox Series X|S and PC, it’s topped sales numbers for the month even with Game Pass availability. When you loop that into the equation, you get a game that had a whole lot of people playing.
Game of the Month Gold: Starfield
Release date: September 6th, 2023
Platforms: Xbox platforms (day one with Game Pass), PC
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
First announced back in 2018, Starfield has been in the oven for a while. Bethesda has allegedly been working on it for the better part of a decade, and has crafted one of the deepest sci-fi role-playing experiences maybe ever. Featuring plenty of action, Starfield sends players on a quest across known-space, hunting for arcane “artifacts” that hold a much deeper (and wildly cosmic) meaning than mere museum-pieces. That’s starting to get into spoilerriffic territory though, so we’d best stop there.
No secret though, is that Starfield is massive. While the game sports a story that can reportedly be completed in a little over 20 hours, its actual play time can be far in advance of that. That’s especially true for those who like to dig in and really explore.
There are a ton of visitable worlds included in Starfield’s universe, and plenty to do on each of them. So if you like your sci-fi with a wide scope, and games that you can play more or less how you like, with loads of action packed-in, this is one to check out.
However, that’s not to say that it doesn’t have its issues. This is a Bethesda game remember, so while it’s got lofty goals and comes through on seemingly most of them, it also suffers from some bugs. Just a little head’s up for those unaware.
Silver Game: Mortal Kombat 1
In any other month, NetherRealm’s latest fighting masterpiece might’ve grabbed Gold. The newest in the long-lived Mortal Kombat series, MK1 reinvents the Mortal Kombat universe in the wake of MK11’s close. That means Liu Kang is the god of fire, and has gone back to reshape events and the lives of its denizens from the dawn of time. His goal was to keep the peace, and prevent the horrors of the past from being rebirthed.
As you can imagine, that doesn’t quite work out, and what’s created is a soft-reboot for Mortal Kombat that keeps the overall flavor of the series. It’s a great jumping-on point for those who’ve perhaps long-since dipped out, and one that brings a totally new story with it. But while the tale is original, and not a retelling, it also happily riffs on past key events.
Mortal Kombat 1
Release date: September 14th, 2023
Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Switch (kinda)
Publisher: Warner Bros Games
Developer: NetherRealm Studios, Saber Interactive (Switch)
Arguably the best-playing MK in ages, Mortal Kombat 1 brings a new “Kameo” system that shakes up gameplay with (limited) tag team action. Players can tag in a Kameo fighter, who’ll pull off a move that can sway the momentum of the battle, and call on them when in dire straights to perform brutal tandem maneuvers that can end a fight on a dime.
Additionally the game just looks phenomenal. All-new looks abound for characters, to go along with new motivations and back-stories. Some of those make well-known kombatants into essentially brand-new ones, and may even have you choosing to main those who you’ve despised in the past. Unfortunately most of the voice work doesn’t match everything else. Also you obviously do still have to have an affinity for MK’s overall kombat-aesthetic. Yes it does have a bit of a different feel this time around, but Street Fighter this isn’t. MK has its own vibe and mechanics and it’s not about to completely eschew any of it.
That said, if you’re an MK vet, someone who’s looking to just get into the series, or one of those aforementioned lapsed followers, we imagine Mortal Kombat 1 has a pretty great chance to hitting the spot.
Bronze Game: It’s a tie for Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty and F-Zero 99
Here’s a fine how-do-you-do, as we see two games that couldn’t be more different tie for third place in September. As mentioned, those would be the big expansion pack (and essentially relaunch) for Cyberpunk 2077 and Nintendo’s new oddball multiplayer version of F-Zero.
Let’s briefly go over each.
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard all about Phantom Liberty. The final piece of content for CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, this new and massive DLC pack brings the original up to a kind of “1.5” edition that includes an expansive spy thriller. Phantom Liberty brings in the new Dogtown area and a deep storyline that goes along with it (complete with actors Keanu Reeves and Idris Elba).
Is this the game that fans through they were getting with the base Cyberpunk 2077? Yeah, it kind of looks like it might be.
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
Release date: September 25th, 2023
Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S
Publisher: CD Projekt Red
Developer: CD Projekt Red
Looks pretty slick, no? Phantom Liberty adds a large new area to Night City with Dogtown, and includes a bunch of new things to do, complete with a fresh catalog of quests, as players seek to save the New United States of America’s president. Shades of Escape from New York? Maybe, but that’s no insult, and Phantom Liberty kind of looks like that classic flick on steroids.
Just keep in mind that you can’t start this new adventure from the outset, and you will have to have at least a little of the base game under your belt before you dig in. But if you’ve played that, or started it and dropped out, this new cyber-mission might be just the thing to get you back into the groove.
And now for something completely different. Well, kind of. If you’re familiar with Nintendo’s “99” series of games, then you basically know what’s coming, with an F-Zero title that harkens back to the SNES original, but serves up massively multiplayer action.
Yes, it’s classic 16bit hover-racing as you like it, but with a whole heck of a lot more people playing. Is that even remotely enjoyable? Actually, it looks like not only that, but also a heck of a lot of fun.
Release date: September 14th, 2023
As you see there, F-Zero 99 isn’t just the classic SNES game with more players. It also gives players the chance to make use of new abilities like the skyway, but also adds in some cosmetic fun, with the chance to add new unlockable paint-jobs to cars.
While there isn’t too much more to this one, it’s with nothing that we’re talking about F-Zero here. If you love the iconic Nintendo series, then you’re well aware that it’s gotten next to no love since its heyday. There was a 3DS version, and that was about it, which continues to be puzzling since the title pops up seemingly every time there’s an article about Nintendo’s ‘lost gems’.
If you love it as much as we do, then F-Zero 99 might just be as close as any of us are gonna get to a new entry in the series for a while.