10. Apex Legends
PUBG will always be my battle royale of choice, but Apex Legends managed to pull me away for a solid 40 hours. PUBG encounters are drawn out, often taking place over long distances. Encounters in Apex are fast and rely on twitch like reflexes. This combined with the unique character abilities provided something truly different in the battle royale genre. It’s not my favourite flavour of battle royale, but it’s pretty good.
Division 2 doesn’t drastically deviate from the first game. I couldn’t even tell you what happens as part of the story, but the guns are fun to shoot and there’s a lot of loot. Those two things kept me coming back for many hours. Where Division 2 did improve on its predecessor is with the repeatable activities and endgame loop. As soon as you finish the story you’re introduced to a new faction, new activities and a new way to scale the difficulty so you always have a loot ladder to climb.
I bought a GTX 2080 Ti for this game so it’s a bummer that I don’t like Control more. From the start, Control sets up that some pretty weird shit is going on, but the relative non-reaction from Jesse and the characters you meet left me feeling apathetic to the whole thing. There are cool moments and characters (with Dr. Darling being a standout) but the goalposts were set so wide Control could tell me anything and I’d nod along. However, I’d like to nominate the Ashtray Maze for best moment or sequence.
The Mortal Kombat 11 story mode was some of the most fun I’ve had this year. It could have potentially been my game of the year, but everything outside of the story mode was the opposite of fun. Maybe NetherRealm has changed them by now, but at launch, the towers were incredibly frustrating. The modifiers were some of the most annoying game mechanics I’ve encountered in recent memory. The incredibly aggressive Krypt costs just made this worse as you had to grind towers endlessly to make any real progress. In the end, I just let my AI fighter do the work as I played another game on my PC. Mortal Kombat 11 is the best clicker of 2019.
On paper, Untitled Goose Game shouldn’t have held my interest longer than 10 minutes. You’re a goose, you mess with people, I get it. But there’s something about controlling that mischievous goose that is endlessly entertaining to me. The challenges provided a framework for more goose shenanigans. Some of my favourite moments were when I went off the track and made my own little goose narratives. I won't spoil the ending but that final challenge? Poetry.
Much in the same way I’m a sucker for loot games, I’m a sucker for metroidvania types. What Bloodstained has in spades is an overwhelming sense of style, from a weapon that’s a straight-up lightsaber that you can throw like a boomerang, to an enemy playing a ripping guitar solo as you murder them. Bloodstained also has a vast amount of powers, weapons and armour that make exploring the map rewarding and worth your time. The only bummer is when you have to kill those cat demons. They’re just chilling, man.
So you got an Mk.1 miner mining impure iron producing 60 iron ore a minute, but turning that iron ore into iron ingots takes two smelters as they can only produce 30 iron ingots a minute. So you split the conveyor belt line in half and to optimise the line. Then you merge the conveyor belts and feed that line into your constructor so it can produce the maximum 30 iron plates a minute. Why? I honestly couldn’t tell you but Satisfactory is the perfect name for this game.
I like Star Wars best when it has nothing to do with the movies. I don’t care about the Skywalkers. The best character in Star Wars is the universe itself. Turns out being able to jump from planet to planet collecting ponchos as I go is all I wanted from a Star Wars game in 2019. Admittedly, Fallen Order is a bit too homogeneous at times. The Dark Souls-like “bonfires” add little that a regular checkpoint wouldn’t. The main character is likable enough, but I’ve also forgotten his name, which isn't exactly a good sign. You collect ponchos and lightsaber parts, but they are purely cosmetic, making exploration unfulfilling. However, if the ponchos had stats… well, I’d wear a lot more ponchos.
The Outer Worlds isn’t anything new. It’s a sci-fi themed first-person RPG made by the Fallout: New Vegas people. It’s One of Those, but like, a really good One of Those. Maybe I’d forgotten what it was like to play one of these that isn't riddled with bugs, but The Outer Worlds hit right. It does a lot well, but the writing is especially superb. I talked to a merchant wearing a big moon hat for seven minutes just about his big moon hat. Humour is traditionally hard in video games but Outer Worlds is the funniest game I’ve played in years.
1. Outer Wilds
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, no game has done exploration and discovery better than Outer Wilds. The feeling of revelation you had time and time again never wore out its welcome. Every discovery felt monumental, re-contextualizing everything that came before it. Outer Wilds also has one of the best video game endings in recent memory. Helped along by the truly moving music I was left with a mix of feelings. On one hand emptiness, the other fulfillment. It beautifully encapsulates the journey you’ve been on. Outer Wilds is a game you want to share with others so you can relive that sense of discovery for the first time. Game of the year.