2023 is shaping up to be an exciting year in video games, and no small part of that is the technical advancements the new year brings. Unreal Engine 5, complicated ray tracing, and features like DLSS 3 promise to push graphical quality to places they’ve never gone before — assuming you have one of the best graphics cards to keep up.
There are a lot of games I’m excited to play this year, but even more that I’m excited to look at and test. If you want to push your gaming PC to its limits, here are the most demanding games you should look forward to over the next year.
Dead Space is a known quantity. Sure, the game is nearly 15 years old, but it’s not broken or tough to play on modern systems. The 2023 Dead Space remake is a technical endeavor, and it looks like a mighty impressive one. The Ishimura has been completely rebuilt for next-gen platforms. Critically, the game not releasing on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
PC can go higher than even current-gen consoles, but without the restriction of last-gen machines, developer Motive Studio is able to push higher visual fidelity. Based on the system requirements, the game isn’t the most demanding 2023 release I’ve seen — it calls for an Nvidia RTX 2070 and Intel Core i5-11600K — but it’s definitely among the most visually impressive.
Returnal looks great on the PS5, but it’s aiming much higher on PC. You’ll need an Nvidia GTX 1060 and Intel Core i5-6400 to run the game. That doesn’t sound too bad, but those specs are for running the game at 720p with the Low graphics preset. If you want to jump up to 1080p with High graphics, you’ll need an RTX 2070 Super and Intel Core i7-8700, and for 4K? An RTX 3080 at minimum.
For all those high specs, the RAM requirements are what took me back. At higher resolutions, Returnal calls for 32GB of RAM — the first game I’ve ever seen call for that much. Thankfully, Sony has confirmed the game will support Nvidia Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) and AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), so you can boost your frame rate a bit if your CPU or GPU falls outside the requirements.
Atomic Heart looks impossible. From the gameplay we’ve seen, the world is incredibly detailed and washed in ray-traced lighting. Nvidia actually showed off Atomic Heart as a tech demo four years ago, just a few months after Nvidia introduced real-time ray tracing, and the developer has continued to build on the tech since then.
The system requirements don’t call for much, but I’m hesitant to believe them. Atomic Heart‘s ray-traced reflections and particles are sure to bring even high-end systems to their knees. The fact that the game supports Nvidia’s DLSS 3 lends some credibility to how demanding Atomic Heart could be, even for monster GPUs like the RTX 4090.
Resident Evil 4 Remake
The last several Resident Evil releases have used Capcom’s remarkable RE Engine, and Resident Evil 4 Remake isn’t any different. What’s exciting about this release is that it’s the first Resident Evil game that isn’t releasing on last-gen consoles, allowing the RE Engine to go much further than we’ve ever seen it before.
We’ve seen a lot of gameplay from Resident Evil 4 Remake, and it already looks leagues ahead of the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. The system requirements aren’t crazy, but that’s more of a testament to the highly scalable RE Engine than anything else — with ray tracing and high resolutions, Resident Evil 4 Remake is sure to be demanding.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Short of Fortnite, we haven’t seen any proper games take advantage of Unreal Engine 5 yet. Depending on how release dates shake out, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League will be among the first UE5 games released, leveraging features like Lumen and Nanite to provide realistic lighting and high-resolution textures.
There’s some history here, too. Developer Rocksteady also put out Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, both of which were demanding benchmark titles when they were released. Let’s just hope that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League doesn’t repeat the infamous stuttering of Arkham Knight.
Microsoft’s Forza titles have always been a bedrock of impressive graphics tech, and Forza Motorsport ushers in a new era for the franchise. Ray tracing during races is the big addition, but Forza Motorsport is promising much more — fully dynamic time of day with cascading shadows, 3D-scanned environments, and even details like track temperature affecting the grip of your tires bring Forza to places it has never gone before.
I use Forza Horizon 5 in our CPU and GPU reviews, and that’s because it’s still a highly demanding game with a lot of graphical detail and simulations. Forza Motorsport looks like it will build on that, and similar to other games on this list, it’s the first in the franchise to release exclusively on next-gen consoles.
Perhaps the biggest question mark on this list is Witchfire. We know basically nothing about this game so far, apart from the fact that it’s releasing in 2023 and comes from developer The Astronauts, best known for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Nvidia also confirmed the game will support DLSS 3 for graphics cards like the RTX 4080.
The gameplay looks insane, though. Scenes are filled with dense particle effects, complex environments, and fluid lighting, and if the final game looks the same, it’ll be demanding on most PCs. We don’t know much now, but this is definitely one to keep an eye on in 2023.