Our favourite RPS features from 2023

By admin Dec 31, 2023

It has once again fallen to me to pick out my favourite features, this time from 2023. This is a terrible task, because there are always a lot I like. I’ve tried to cut it down a bit from last year, for both our sakes, dear reader, and decided that previews don’t count (because as a format previews do a lot of the work for you, to be honest). Even reducing my task this way made it tough to whittle things down, and I’m sure I’ve missed some excellent articles and writers – and that I will be corrected in the comments!

Still, read on for a place to start if you want to look back at the year that was on RPS. We’ve got interviews, community nonsense, and even more interviews for you to enjoy here. I think in 2024 I’m going to advocate for more horseposting.

One dwarf in Dwarf Fortress, caught in a miasma and witnessing a lot of other dwarfs die, but feeling nothing in particular about it

Where does Dwarf Fortress stand after a decade defined by its own successors?

Sin, who writes our Scout Report supporter series and our strategy-gaming focused The Rally Point, is very good, and you should read all her articles, but I really enjoyed this, from the start of the year, assessing where Dwarf Fortress in its new context after its second release.

Isaac approaches a spooky-looking vent in the Dead Space remake.

Dead Space’s USG Ishimura is believable because it sucks

It was always a pleasure to edit Liam (RPS in peace)’s work whenever he wasn’t doing a video, and I loved his assessment of the Ishimura as a place that people lived and worked in rather than a video game level.

A blocky yet attractive female Sim from The Sims 1 stretches out in front of a (definitely not in-engine) glowing fire, with a similarly non-canonical bottle of wine and two glasses next to her.
Image credit: EA

Returning to The Sims 1 in 2023 is a weird challenge I fully recommend

Rebecca (likewise RPS in peace, likewise not often one to dip her toe in the sea of features) was a fellow Simmer, albeit much more immersed and smart than I am about playing the Sims, and though her planned set of articles on the series ended up being only one article long, as a look back at the first Sims game it’s a very good standalone piece.

Andreas talking to one of the townspeople in Pentiment

How Obsidian Entertainment resurrected dead fonts for Pentiment

Freelancer Chris Wallace’s interview with Josh Sawyer, on the animated Medieval fonts in Pentiment, is exactly the kind of interview I like. Break downs one specific cool thing about a game will never not be fascinating to me, and I’m glad RPS got to host this one.

A Steam Deck surrounded by confetti and a cupcake with a lit birthday candle.

“The community continues to blow our minds”: Valve talk the Steam Deck, one year on

Hardware editor James has done some great interviews inbetween reviewing and breaking handhelds, but he didn’t break the Steam Deck, and this particular interview – wherein some Valve heads (Valve-Os? Valve Nuts?) assess their new toy after a year – is a very good one.

A small pointy robot with a glowing blue eye

Inventory Space: Destiny 2 is an unparalleled FPS wrapped in a taxing MMO

Cheating a bit with a video, but Inventory Space was great while it lasted, and Destiny 2 is such a brilliant game to tackle. Live service games are basically second jobs to some people, and I really enjoyed the way Liam and Ed approached this.

A still from the Total War Warhammer 3 Immortal Empires trailer, showing a white bearded dwarf looking very angry and pointing over a table at someone off screen

The sets aren’t ready, and the actors have no eyes: making game trailers

Nic Rueben always sends me good, idiosyncratic ideas for features and I love seeing how the sausage gets made with things that you never even really think of as sausage – in this case, video game trailers, which turn out to be weird sausages indeed. See also: his roundtable interview on RPGs.

PC doujn game Make Friends, where you build a person's face using a dummy head, being shown at Tokyo Game Dungeon

Japanese PC doujin are keeping indie games creative at Tokyo Game Dungeon

Alicia Haddick did a few reports on parts of the Japanese dev scene for us and they’re all fascinating glimpses into what seems to be a unique and lovely community. If nothing else, calling your convention the Game Dungeon is a move I massively respect.

Chai and Korsica perform a synced special attack in Hi-Fi Rush.

Hi-Fi Rush feels great, even when you have no sense of rhythm

We did a bunch of Game Clubs this year, where we picked a gam to all have a go at and then live chat about, and Hi=Fi Rush was a popular one. Hayden (another RPS in peace) wrote a really nice example of analysing the extra touches in Hi-Fi Rush’s design that make it more accessible as a rhythm game, from a personal point of view.

The player in Jurassic Park Trespasser standing over the body of a velociraptor

The Jurassic Park: Trespasser team walked where no other developer dared, and paid for it

Jeremy Peel did a bunch of extremely good interviews for us this year and it was a struggle to pick just one – he interviewed Marc Laidlaw about writing Half-Life, for example, and, more recently, John Romero on Doom’s 30th anniversary. Ultimately I picked this piece on Jurassic Park: Trespasser because it offers a look at a fun oddity, and I love fun oddities!

Being attacked by a viper in a dungeon - a geometric collection of pink lines that kind of look like a big snake - in Akalabeth: World Of Doom, an 1979 RPG

The first CRPG is a min-maxing hell you can – and should – break

Similarly, Diana Croce’s piece on how and why to break Akalabeth/Ultima 0, Lord British’s first game and one of the very first RPGS, it’s fascinating and funny. Games and games media and the internet have a short memory, so I like pieces like this for remembering how things were.

Irritatou, an annoying Saitou, smiles directly into the camera as Mr. Saitou weeps in the background.

Mr. Saitou is a heartfelt commentary on the absurdities of business

Ed spends a lot of time reviewing and previewing, and actually a lot of my favourite work of his ends up being supporter posts (a reason to sign up, mayhap). This piece, about a short game about working culture in Japan, highlights both what I like about Ed’s writing and a cool game.

Diablo 4's costly horse next to screenshots from several other horse games on Steam
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

Here are 6 whole horse games you could buy for the same price as Diablo 4’s £6.39 horse armour

I am exactly one hundred percentiles sure that Katharine would prefer – and indeed may have been expecting – that I picked her huge GDC interview with Jake Solomon for this list, but this horse post is imaginative and silly, so in it goes. Sorry, I don’t make the rules (I do).

A big spaceship sat in a salvage dock in a Hardspace: Shipbreaker screenshot.

Hardspace: Shipbreaker and the joy of doing a boring spacejob perfectly

Some absolutely vintage Alice0 to find this year, and one of my favourites is this on Hardspace: Shipbreaker, and finding satisfaction in employment drudgery. Also by Alice0 this year: the start of a series on fictional games in TV shows, which is also great.

An image of the player's ship exploding in Starfield.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bethesda Game Studios

The Starfield no-planets run: Honey, I broke the Universe

Edwin arriving as our news editor was a real shot in the arm. This late-stage entry in his ‘no planets’ run of playing Starfield is excellent, as are his many other features (e.g. on Metacritic; Roadwarden; Amnesia; Indika). Just read everything Edwin posts, basically.

A cloaked warden with green glowing eyes holds up a torch in Gloomwood
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/New Blood Interactive

Indie gaming is on the verge of an immersive sim eruption

Rick Lane (who does our VR column Reality Bytes did a great multi-interview piece on the new boom in indie im-sims, which is no bad thing – both the boom, and the article.

Fishers getting ready to go out Ocean Fishing in Final Fantasy XIV
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Square Enix

Final Fantasy XIV’s huge fishing community make their own fun with spreadsheets and bootleg aquariums

Jai Singh Bains did a few pieces on Final Fantasy XIV for us this year. I like this fishing article in particular for diving (ho ho) into a very specific community project, and showcasing the love and collegiate spirit you can find in massive multiplayer games. Joyful and slightly weird: the perfect combination.

Red smoke rises in front of V in Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty.
Image credit: RPS/CD Projekt Red

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty’s combat is great – and best of all, often avoidable

Come home, Graham, nothing is forgiven.

The player faces off against the Headless boss in a misty cave in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/From Software

The Headless in Sekiro is the only boss that legimitately terrifies me

Ollie’s piece on The Headless fightin Sekiro was my favourite of our Halloweeny posts this year. I think this is at least partially because he spends so much of his time being just very good at games, so seeing him rattled by something feels like justice. I’m not proud of this, but it is what it is.

Featured promo player packs in the FIFA Ultimate Team store in EA Sports FC 24
Image credit: RPS/Electronic Arts

Meet the men hiding their FIFA Ultimate Team addiction from their families

This investigation into the addictive nature of FIFA packing, by Jamie Barton, is comprehensive and convincing, and is a strong contender for ‘best thing we published this year, tbh’.

A selection of various panels from the 1996 DOOM comic book, along with the cover, as illustrated by Tom Grindberg.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/GT Interactive/Marvel Comics

Doom At 30: The 1996 Doom comic book is an over-the-top masterwork

Jeremy hasn’t worked here long, but editing his article about the 90s Doom comic (as part of our Doom At 30 set of features) made me go “haha okay, this guy is cool”, which I think is probably the strongest endorsement I can give anyone about anything.

The player fires a shotgun at two zombiemen in Doom (1993)
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bethesda Softworks

Doom At 30: Does 1993’s Doom still hold up for a first-time player today?

Speaking of, Kiera (also quite new to the treehouse) wrote a piece on playing Doom for the first time, now, in 2023, and it’s utterly charming in a way articles using this premise rarely are.

Looking at a ducky in a bath in MyHouse.wad, the DOOM mod
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Veddge

Doom At 30: MyHouse.wad is an extraordinary mod that asks, “What if Doom was an ultra creepy horror game?”

Last doom post, I promise, but Saleh Karaman wrote a really good one about a WAD called MyHouse, which is sort of Doom meets House Of Leaves meets an ARG. Yet more fascinating community antics, good work video games.

A Hammerite church in Thief mod The Black Parade

The Black Parade is a Thief mod from a team including a dev at Arkane and an original Thief designer

Let’s close this out with another cool inteview piece that I couldn’t think of a good title for because my brain is mush. Thief is 25 years old, and this cool prequel expansion is a labour of love from modders at all levels of the dev ecosystem.

I think this is a pretty varied spread, but go ahead and share some of your favourite RPS features this year in the comments.

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