Welcome, readers! As we wrap up the first month of the new year, it’s time for a Fantasy Gaming Update.
“What is ‘Fantasy Gaming’?” you may ask. If you missed our recent Weekend at Dave’s episode, here are the nuts and bolts:
- 2023 looks to be a standout year in gaming. With heavy hitters like Tears of the Kingdom and Starfield on the horizon, our editorial team thought it’d be fun to have a friendly little competition.
- Enter Fantasy Gaming. Inspired by fantasy football, Fantasy Gaming tasks our competitors with assembling a fantasy team of video games to compete for points.
- Scoring is simple: The higher a team’s aggregate Metacritic score, the better they do.
- Each team has six games, but only the top four are scored (to account for delays, whiffs, etc.).
And that’s about it!
Introducing the Teams
Participating in this year’s fantasy league is our rockstar editorial team, consisting of Amanda Tien, Sam Martinelli, and yours truly (David Silbert). We took turns drafting our teams back in December, and are excited to see how our teams perform once the dust settles!
Here’s a look at the teams:
Team Amanda (Tears of the Backlog)
- The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
- Hollow Knight: Silksong
- Dead Space Remake
- Baldur’s Gate 3
- Assassin’s Creed Mirage
Team David (2 Fast 2 Fantasy)
- Final Fantasy XVI
- Diablo IV
- Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
- Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
- Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
- The Last of Us Factions
Team Sam (A Hair Below Cromulent)
- Resident Evil 4 Remake
- Forza Motorsport
- Street Fighter VI
- Fire Emblem Engage
- Final Fantasy VII Rebirth
What’s New in January?
Fire Emblem Engage Releases to Solid Fanfare
Our first fantasy release of the year is a hotly anticipated one. Fire Emblem Engage follows up 2019’s highly acclaimed Three Houses (a game our team played, and largely loved, as part of our 2022 Summer Backlog challenge).
Fire Emblem Three Houses would have been hard to beat critically. It sits on Metacritic with an 89 score, and is widely considered one of the best Fire Emblems in recent memory. While reviews are still trickling in for Engage, the chorus has sung: The game is settling in at a more modest 82 Metacritic.
It’s a solid score. Not one that’ll blow long-time fans away, but solid. For Sam, who drafted the game with a 5th round pick, it’s a nice victory to kick off his fantasy journey, but one he’ll likely look to outdo in his quest for the crown.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Has… a Friggin’ Battle Pass?
Rocksteady’s upcoming Suicide Squad game raised eyebrows this month after a leaked screenshot showed a look at the game’s lobby screen… complete with a tab titled “Battle Pass.”
In hindsight, I should’ve guessed Kill the Justice League would be the latest AAA game to embrace microtransactions. Rocksteady’s been billing the game as a GaaS (Games as a Service) style co-op game for some time now, and the abysmal Gotham Knights was a pretty obvious ill omen.
Still, this one stings. I drafted this one with my 5th rounder, and whereas Sam has a shiny 82 to show for his efforts, I’m left feeling like Suicide Squad is going to totally bomb.
Kill the Justice League… more like “Kill My Anticipation” for this game.
Hollow Knight: Silksong Shows Signs of Life
Hollow Knight: Silksong is one of the most anticipated games of 2023, and deservedly so. The original game was a generation-defining Metroidvania that arguably surpassed the namesakes of the genre. Sharp design, tough bosses, engrossing world-building… Hollow Knight had it all.
Its sequel, Silksong, remains a tight-lipped secret, known only to the developers over at Team Cherry. It’s anyone’s guess whether or not Silksong releases in 2023… yet if a recent Xbox tweet is to be believed, there’s cause for hope.
I know, I know. I’m probably jinxing us here. But if Microsoft is doubling down on a Game Pass promise it made back at E3 2022, I’m willing to dream. Amanda, I hope I lose to you this year, if only to see Silksong stealth-drop and set the internet ablaze.
I’m willing to dream.
Microsoft Drops a Meaty Redfall Gameplay Trailer
The Xbox & Bethesda Dev Direct aired right at the tail-end of January, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the shiny Redfall showcase featured during the event.
Clocking in at nearly 12 minutes (I hate that game), the Redfall deep dive gave us our best look yet at Arkane’s newest IP. Featuring stealth-based combat, gorgeous New England scenery, and some slick-looking vampires, Redfall looks to be shaping up surprisingly nicely.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m still skeptical whether Microsoft can deliver with this game. Arkane’s never tackled an online co-op game before, and while Redfall’s gameplay certainly still has that Dishonored DNA, it remains to be seen whether this new venture will be a critical (or commercial) success.
Amanda drafted this one. Let’s hope it comes to play when it releases on May 2!
The Dead Space Remake Proves It’s Still Got It
To this day, 2008’s Dead Space remains one of gaming’s all-time goats. The survival-horror game, developed by the now-defunct Visercal Games, captivated audiences with its gorgeous aesthetic, tactile combat, and genuinely great scares. Its sequel, Dead Space 2, upped the ante in almost every way, and while Dead Space 3 ended up falling short of the mark, no one can contest the series’ greatness.
A remake of the original Dead Space releases tomorrow, and critics have spoken: It’s fabulous. The game sits at a confident 89 on Metacritic, giving Amanda her first game on the board—and a great one at that.
I’ll admit; I’m surprised the remake is doing so well. It’s been 15 years since the original Dead Space, and while the core vitals of that experience still hold up, I had my doubts whether EA Motive would be able to replicate the magic Visceral had created so many years ago.
Well, I was wrong. Hats off, Amanda. I’m watching you and Sam climb the leaderboards as I sit here wondering what could’ve been!
Who’s in the Lead?!
Here’s the Fantasy Gaming Leaderboard, as of this month’s update:
1. A Hair Below Cromulent (Team Sam)
– Total points: 82
– Average per game: 82
2. Tears of the Backlog (Team Amanda)
– Total points: 89
– Average per game: 89
2. 2 Fast 2 Fantasy (Team David)
– Total points: 0
– Average per game: n/a
The History of Fantasy Gaming
Fantasy Gaming is a feature we launched in 2018. Back then, we had a feature team of about 10 writers, each of whom drafted their own fantasy lineup. The experience was a ton of fun, but it was also exceptionally taxing for me (I wrote recaps then as well).
That league ended somewhat unceremoniously (for those curious, long-time Punished Backlog writer Kei Isobe won), but we’re looking to bring back the pizazz in 2023. With a leaner, meaner crew, we’re excited about the revival of our Fantasy Gaming series, and hope you are as well!
That’s that for this month, folks! Have thoughts, questions, or feedback about the format? Let us know in the comments below.