2019 is promising to be a huge one for gaming with it likely being the final hurrah for this generation before we move onto the next one. Writing this in February, it’s clear to see how the year is going to shape up with long-awaited sequels and wholly new IP promising to deliver, so much so that we’re really spoilt for choice. There are even a bunch of games expected to come out this year with no definite release dates, so it could possibly turn out even better.
Rather than rushing to reel off our best new games of 2019 at the end of December, we’re doing things slightly differently. In 2017 we had an episodic format and in 2018 we had just one long ol’ list that we added to over time. This year, we’re going for something in the middle.
Here are our rules and criteria for picking our favourite games of 2019.
– The list will start off without a ranking and only feature games that we have reviewed. – When it reaches 25, no more can be added, meaning that some games will have to be cut. We had 57 last year, which was just a bit unruly. We will have running updates on changes at the bottom of the list. – Ports, single episodes, early access games, and remasters will not be considered. – Midway through December, we will start to rank the top 25 and finalise it before our annual break.
With that in mind, let’s get started on our countdown for the best games of 2019.
“Resident Evil 2 is, quite simply, one of the best remakes of all-time. Capcom have nailed their new vision of a classic just like they did back in 2002 by modernising a decades old game to feel like something completely fresh. Whether you want to take a trip down memory lane or are just experiencing the disconcerting decadence of the police station for the first time, Resident Evil 2 is the first essential purchase of 2019.”
Developer: Red Thread Games Publisher: Red Thread Games Platform(s): PC
“Draugen is impeccably designed, but it does feel very short. I will play through this game again, as there was parts of the story that I didn’t feel I understood, or didn’t find, but it was such an engrossing experience that I feel I’d like to return to Gravvik fairly soon. There’s Norway you won’t be engrossed in this beautifully crafted and well written Scandinavian mystery.”
“Ace Combat 7 is the first true Ace Combat game in 12 years, and despite some notable flaws, those flaws are the mark of a team trying new things while still retaining what fans love and what newcomers will be sure to embrace. No matter how hard it beats you down, it is impossible to stay mad at this game for very long.”
4. A Plague Tale: Innocence
Developer: Asobo Studio Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
“If you are looking for a rewarding single-player driven campaign, A Plague Tale: Innocence is the game for you. It’s not the longest game on the market, but that can be forgiven thanks to its tight gameplay mechanics and immersive backdrops. This game deserves your time and I honestly hope to see a sequel in the near future.”
Developer: No Code Publisher: Devolver Digital Platform(s): PC, PS4
“To Observation’s credit, it’s the first game to give us an experience anything close to the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Had this been a space station simulator devoid of a sci-fi thriller narrative, it would remain just as organically immersive within the role of an A.I. Its cinematic presentation creates the constant sense that you are watching a big budget sci-film unfold with a narrative that continually challenges the player by asking, ‘Are you actually in control?’ The technical leap between No Code’s previous title Stories Untold and Observation feels a million light years apart, while remaining steadfast in their commitment to storytelling.”
6. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II
Developer: Tindalos Interactive Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Platform(s): PC
“Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II is a very impressive game that improves upon almost all aspects of the first game. Were it not for the campaign plateauing in the back half and some overuse of mission types, it could have been the perfect strategy game. As it is, $40 will give you a great and expansive RTS with a surprisingly gripping storyline with developers Tindalos already promising some pretty interesting updates like co-op and even bigger engagements down the line.”
“Wargroove is a tactical gem. The strategy is deep and challenging, leaving little room for error while also feeling fair and balanced even in the worst situations. The story will leave you wishing for something with actual depth, but the gameplay more than makes up for those deficits with meaningful choices and beautiful design. At just 20 bucks, Wargroove offers more than enough to justify a purchase.”
8. Apex Legends
Developer: Respawn Entertainment Publisher: EA Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
“Even the most jaded of battle royale fans will find their interest rejuvenated by Apex Legends thanks to Respawn’s attention to detail, superior gunplay, and fantastic innovations, though the loot boxes and progression system certainly need addressing.”
9. River City Girls
Developer: WayForward Publisher: WayForward, Arc System Works Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1, NS
One of the original beat ‘em up franchises is back and it hasn’t felt this good to knuckle up in quite a while. As with the games that came before it, River City Girls is a brawler and RPG spliced together to create an amazing and silly adventure that provides a ton of fun.
Developer: Eastshade Studios Publisher: Eastshade Studios Platform(s): PC
“Eastshade may not appeal to everyone, but those looking for a gentle, magical exploration game may have found it. There are a number of ‘relax-em-ups’ on the market, but the odd flaw doesn’t stop Eastshade being one of the best available.”
11. Metro Exodus
Developer: 4A Games Publisher: Deep Silver Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
“The conclusion to Artyom’s journey has the best gameplay and most compelling story of the series, on top of incredible visual and audio presentation. It retains the series’ simplistic stealth system and falters with control, writing and dialogue issues, but even so, Metro Exodus is an odyssey worth undertaking.”
12. Ape Out
Developer: Gabe Cuzillo, Bennet Foddy, Matt Boch Publisher: Devolver Digital Platform(s): PC, NS
“Multiplayer and loading screens aside, Devil May Cry 5 is exactly what it was meant to be and more. With a great plot, beautiful visuals, and near perfect gameplay, Capcom delivers possibly the best Devil May Cry to date.”
“Age of Wonders: Planetfall is a successful venture into the realm of sci-fi for this veteran 4X strategy series. Its greatest strengths are player choice, customization, variance and replayability, which all leads to meaningful tactical and strategic decision-making.”
15. Gears 5
Developer: The Coalition Publisher: Xbox Game Studios Platform(s): PC, XB1
Gears 5 is a beautiful balancing act of new and old, and it manages to offer the franchise’s trademark action and gore while telling a compelling story that sets up the future of the series in a big way.
“Sekiro is a tremendously fun and difficult game — everything from the combat to the world itself is crafted in a masterful way. Even after spending around 40 hours to beat it, I still want to come back for more in the coming weeks.”
“Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain shakes up the series at its core, and still manages to be a decidedly great EDF game. Character creation and the PA-Gear fit right in and offer a newfound sense of personalization and freedom, while the grim presentation and heightened difficulty will keep you engaged throughout. It’s a real gem.”
Untitled Goose Game is simply a damned delight to play. Although short, it is a hoot from start to finish and easily one of the most fun games you will play this year. You’ll definitely want to give this a goosey gander.
“With daily challenges and a tonne of modifiers to offer additional longevity, RAD might leave you mad, but it certainly isn’t bad. For my money, it could — and should — become one of 2019’s greatest sleeper hits.”
21. Katana Zero
Developer: Askiisoft Publisher: Devolver Digital Platform(s): PC, NS
“It’s a game that, from the outside, skeptics could dismiss as ‘just another neon pixelated action game,’ which the indie space certainly has an abundance of. But Katana ZERO’s almost unprecedented level of polish, lightning-fast gameplay, and thought-provoking story make it one of the year’s best indie games.”
“Mortal Kombat 11, as a total package, has pretty much everything you could ask for from a fighting game: great graphics, amazing core gameplay, an in-depth tutorial, plenty of content, a healthy online offering and a dose of originality to boot. Unfortunately, some of those modes and features haven’t properly been utilised yet, but here’s hoping things will change very soon.”
23. Days Gone
Developer: SIE Bend Publisher: SIE Platform(s): PS4
“Perhaps I expected too much of Days Gone as a PS4 exclusive based on Sony’s recent history, but this imperfect game still has a lot to offer. With a seriously dense amount of content, an evolving protagonist, and a stunning spectacle or two on offer, don’t let Days Gone go by.”
24. Total War: Three Kingdoms
Developer: Creative Assembly Publisher: Sega Platform(s): PC
“Total War: Three Kingdoms is a fantastic game. For the first time since Shogun 2, we have a Total War game that fires on all cylinders. Everything from the revamped diplomacy to the way that the campaign intertwines myth and legend into the historical backdrop feels fresh and incredibly fun to play. Three Kingdoms lets you relive and retell your own Romance story, and if that’s not a key selling point, I’m not sure what is.”
25. Super Mario Maker 2
Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Platform(s): NS
“The current lack of Amiibo Support and one or two needed improvements to the online modes mean it isn’t “perfect”, but Super Mario Maker 2 is the ultimate package for both casual and dedicated Mario fans. Absolutely brilliant.”
UPDATE 12/02/2019: Apex Legends, Kingdom Hearts 3, and Eastshade added. UPDATE 23/02/2019: Metro Exodus added. UPDATE 28/02/2019: Ape Out added. UPDATE 10/03/2019: DMC 5, Toejam added. UPDATE 29/03/19: Don’t Escape, Div 2, Sekiro added. UPDATE 31/05/19: many new games added, but we have had to drop FutureGrind in favour of Draugen, At the Gates for Plague Tale, and Unruly Heroes for Observation to keep it to 25. UPDATE 31/05/19: Untitled Goose Game, Gears 5, River City Girls, Rad, Planetfall, Super Mario Maker 2 enter, Weedcraft Inc., Don’t Escape, Kingdom Hearts 3, Heaven’s Vault, Toejam & Earl, Mordhau drop out.