My family are big fans of Ubisoft's perennial Just Dance franchise. We've been playing for four or five years, and while we can rely on the game to entertain large groups at family holiday gatherings, we also have learned not to expect any big changes from year to year. Let's face it, as fun as it is, Ubisoft has been cranking out essentially the same Just Dance game for years now, updating the visuals and dances, but maintaining the same game structure we all know and love.
But this year we are seeing some changes. Ubisoft this week announced at its Ubisoft Forward event that the new Just Dance 2023 is moving forward from the tried and true, adding some new features while maintaining its core gameplay so your nine-year-old cousin should still be able to pick it up and play it when they are over for Thanksgiving.
The biggest change is the addition of Online Multiplayer. Though Just Dance has gotten a lot of milage out of the fun feature that allows players to dance simultaneously to the same song with players all around the world and see where they rank in a giant field (and I hope that feature is still around, because it is crazy fun), this is the first time that the franchise has allowed for play with specific friends.
On player will act as host, connecting with up to five friends, who can then vote on songs and communicate via emote "stickers". Online Multiplayer will support cross-play, so if you are on PlayStation and your buddy is on Stadia, you should be just fine. (Side note: Ubisoft does cross-play better than anyone else in the gaming space. Just sayin').
The artwork and UI have also been refreshed, giving Just Dance 2023 a new look in its menu system. Ubisoft has also added a new algorithm to suggest songs you might enjoy, and revamped the progression system to get away from the beloved (but somewhat tired) bubble-gum machine interface. The new dancer cards are much more modern and lively, allowing players to create their own online avatar.
Perhaps most importantly, Just Dance will provide free updates with new game modes, songs, and seasons, which is huge. My family always subscribed to the Just Dance service for a month or two following the arrival of each new game, but then we would fall off, as we are pretty familiar with the full backlog. Having new stuff coming instead of digging into the old stash will be a very welcome change.
There are only so many ways to change Just Dance while keep it feeling like Just Dance. With 80 million copies of Just Dance sold, there is no doubt that this franchise still has a lot of life in it. Keeping the core gameplay is important, but fans also look for some change over the years. It is refreshing to see that Ubisoft is moving the franchise forward this year, giving longtime fans some changes to the standard game that feel a bit more modern.
Just Dance 2023 is launching on November 22 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox platforms. A Stadia release has been announced as available at a later date.