Around this time of year there is alot of discussion of what the GOTY is. I want to broaden the question to include not only games you played that were released this year, but also games that released in previous years that you are continuing to play or may have replayed.
What game have you had the most fun with this year?
Probably Death Stranding surprisingly. The core gameplay loop I found very satisfying. Its probably the closest I've felt in games to what its like in real life actually hiking and exploring uninhabited wilderness with no one around. Someone just needs to adapt those mechanics into a fantastical fantasy world and give me a walking stick and good story crumbs to follow and I'll be happy as a clam.
I think my favorite game I've played this year is Bayonetta 2, and while it is a blast, I'm not especially good at character-action games, so I can get frustrated sometimes. So...most fun?
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U, 2013). Wildly inventive, irrepressibly joyous, with what I consider the best soundtrack of any game in Nintendo's library period.
It's kind of cliche at this point, but Outer Wilds knocked me on my ass. And not just for the artsy, feelsy reasons (don't get me wrong. Also for those reasons). I also loved the puzzle solving and the exploration, and I actually like spaceship controls, even if I've slammed myself into a planet going 1km/second more times than I'd care to admit.
But I think in terms of just raw ass "fun" I'd probably say Devil May Cry 5. That's probably the best the series has been since 3, and might actually be better than 3. I really enjoyed the way they changed things up with V, though I hope that they eventually add DLC to let you play as Vergil.
Three Houses is my GOTY, but if we are talking just pure fun, I'd say DMCV. It takes everything learned from the character action genre and just perfects it to a T, and has what I believe to be a flawless combat system (Nero and Dante, strictly speaking). The campaign is a blast, the difficulty ramp from Normal through Dante Must Die kept me starting a new playthrough as soon as I finished the last, and I honestly could just spend hours trying out different combos in The Void.
I'm there day 1 if they decide to release a special edition. There's too many games I need to get to from now through next year, but I'd love to go back and play through it all over again.
From this year? Maybe Crackdown 3 which was just mindless, stress-free fun. Not the BEST game I played this year but it’s hard to think of Sekiro as “fun” when a lot of that game I spent kind of stressed out.
Not released this year I really got into Forza Horizon 4 this year with the purchase of my Xbox One X. I even started dabbling with manual shifting at one point - that game is just a heck of a lot of fun.
Pin the tail on the donkey. You just never know where that ass is going to be next!
Luigi's Mansion 3 is my actual answer; jabbing in every nook and cranny and seeing how the environments react to my curiosity is endlessly rewarding. I feel giddy wandering this darkly charming hotel and bumping into its ridiculous ghostly inhabitants so much, my heart skips beats regularly. It feels so alive and desperate to have its secrets uncovered, like a carefully created artifact or a thoughtful little puzzlebox. Its charm is stratospheric.
I don't know. I'm at the point in life where I have plenty of money to buy games but not enough time to actually play them, so I really spoiled myself with choices with buying a PS4 Pro in January, a $4,500 desktop over the summer, and a Switch in September with all three getting my attention somewhat equally. So it's a tossup between God of War 4, Mario Kart 8, Need for Speed Heat, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Astral Chain, and Devil May Cry 5.
Although with distance and time I've come to realize it's not actually very good, at the time I had a blast playing KH3. My hype over having closure and seeing teases of what's yet to come overrode the downgrade in story pacing, world design, and gameplay mechanics; as well as the lack of harder difficulty options at launch.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but Tetris 99.
My bedtime is generally always preceded by a few rounds of Tetris 99. I haven't even won a game yet! It's just the best representation into how I game now. With kids and a wife, I don't have much time to game (hence bedtime gaming). Tetris 99 just provides so many of the emotions gaming can provide crammed into a bite sized chunk. From the rhythmic, relaxing beginning moments of the round to the intense sweaty palms of the end, it has everything for me.
My graphics card died a month ago, as some of you will know, i was already messing around with upscaling old games through the excellent cores on Retroarch but suddenly old games had become my primary source of entertainment (and Spintires, thank you Spintires).
I played a variety of Dreamcast and PS1 games for a couple weeks, but replaying the original Medal of Honor made me realise something, it might be the first FPS i fell in love with, which means Medal of Honor is my Doom/Quake.
I always had a PC and i then fell in love with Half Life and Counter Strike a year later, but before that MOH was my jam.
Playing through it again this year has been a highlight.
MK11 and Slay The Spire left very strong impressions on me (despite how broken MK was at launch and sort of still is on the PC side) and keep me coming back.
And right at the last minute, a more obscure release really grabbed me: Paint The Town Red (that voxel bar fight game with the absurd gore) finally released its roguelike mode and it's a blast. Still needs work, but they turned a little toybox game into a legit video game-ass video game, and I've been having a great time with it.
Honorable mention to The 13th Doll, which does an amazing job of taking me back to the mid-90s and scratching an itch that VERY few games can reach anymore.
To be honest my passion for video games has waned a lot. Most of my gaming fun has been in the form of board games which is an ever expanding hobby of mine. I usually get to a board game event once a week or fortnight and that has generally been a blast.
That being said, my favourite, most fun, video game experiences in 2019 have been:
- Playing through Luigi's Mansion 3 with my two sons providing advice
- Starting up and playing The Witcher 3 again
- Playing Apex Legends with my mate when that initially launched (we both dropped off of it, but it was fun to start with)
- The sense of accomplishment from completing Sekiro
Well my playthrough of Dragon Quest XI carried over into 2019 and that games delightful. As far as proper new releases the new Samurai Shodown is really good. Even among the recent movement of simplifying new fighters Samsho really stands out in how severe that game is, but you also have some defensive tool at disposal too. Lots of fun, haven't touched it in couple months unfortunately, Iceborne has been owning me of late.
Probably The Sexy Brutale. How that story wrapped up and made it all work on multiple levels was quite impressive to me. The whole thing looked so outlandish & removed from reality that i didn't expect there to be a very relatable human story at the core of this thing. It also showed me that timer-based games don't necessarily have to feel like an obstacle to exploration. At the end of the game, each audio-event was accounted for and i genuinely felt like i squeezed all the story out of the game that i could get. The timer just asks you to set smaller objectives for yourself each loop. You still get to take all the time that you need for the game.
Funnily enough, when i saw the quicklook for that game i was not impressed at all. It looked like a slow & tedious adventure game. After beating it, i came back to that quicklook to see why i had that reaction and i think it must be because Alex was meticulously staring through keyholes before entering a room & making a point of following characters through the whole timeloop one at a time. This & the menacing red glow probably made me think that being in a room with others was something you should absolutely not make a habit of. Turns out that's not true. You just have to stay out of the rooms with people that you actually want to observe. I was rushing through all the rooms to get to the spot that i wanted to be in, and catching tidbits of various events that i would later puzzle together, which made it feel like i was going through that game at a nice pace.
One nagging point though: There was this puzzle that straight up doesn't make sense, and my solution where i replaced two records to annoy a guy was way more sensible, yet didn't work. All these puzzles are very rigid and have 1 way to solve them. It can lead to annoying situations where you know exactly how something should play out, but if you miss 1 element of the puzzle it will not go the way you want it to go.
Also a shoutout to Vagrant Story. While i'm not sure i'm on-board with the weapon crafting knowledge that game asks of you (Should i have a sharp weapon that works well against Human & Phantoms or should i go for a blunt weapon that's strong against beasts & dragons? Which groupings should i go for? How do i even make these choices when i don't know what kind of enemies i will face in the future? At which points in the game should i just disassemble all my weapons and make new weapons? What kind of grip is good?), there's some fantastic music in this. Also very cool how they are able to paint the enemies in shades of grey & set them up against eachother to make you wonder what the true enemy really is.
The Yakuza games. Just waiting for five to release so I can continue. There are older games in which I've already played and just like to go back to, but the Yakuza games are the old games that I never played before and started in 2019, and are consistently good. That said, they are (for better or worse) very samey throughout with minor details changed. It's, like many aspects of the game, humorous.
HITMAN 2 - As about as big of a fan as one can possibly be of HITMAN (2016), I felt like I was almost poised to bounce off of HITMAN 2. I thought it could only underwhelm me, and I assumed the switch to a non-episodic model would result in half-hearted maps due to time constraints. I was wrong and I couldn't be happier about that. For me, these games almost necessitate a deep dive because there's so many fun dialogue bits, random chaos, and easter egg-y stuff to enjoy. Having spent much of this year on said deep dive, I can say with some confidence that HITMAN 2 is a stronger overall game. There isn't a Marrakesh or a Colorado in HITMAN 2 that feels noticeably weaker than the others. All of the locations in HITMAN 2 (including the two DLC) are good to great.
I feel like it's almost fair to put HITMAN 2 up for some 2019 GOTY discussion, as it was basically impossible to play enough of it from Nov. 9-Dec. 31 2018 to really see enough of its depth, and that basically disqualified it from 2018 GOTY discussion. I've been playing the hell out of it ever since it came out, but even I didn't play enough of it in late 2018 to truly be able to speak well to all it has to offer. Now I can, and it's indeed terrific. It's worth noting that the game isn't quite as polished as its 2016 predecessor was. It's a bit buggier, has some less fluid animations, the cutscenes aren't fully animated, and the HDR implementation isn't as good (likely all related to constraints mentioned earlier with time and/or budget). However, none of this manages to detract from the overall game.
I've had a blast exploring all the maps, using fun/dumb new toys like muffins, snowballs, bananas, gold bars, starfish, exploding pens, etc. IO including 2016 in the game has meant some replay of those locations as well, and that remains fun. The game is worth as much time as you have to put into it, and it's paid for itself tenfold in terms of what I've gotten out of it. Not that 2019 hasn't had good games, but I don't feel like I missed out on much at all playing as much HITMAN 2 as I'd wanted to. I may well take some time in 2020 to give some games like Outer Wilds, Control, and Death Stranding a look, but my 2019 gaming was happily spent in IO's sandboxes for most of the year and I don't regret a second of it.
Honorable Mention: Forza Horizon 4 - I imagine many people consider these games iterative at this point, but man, there isn't much better when it comes to just a chill, fun time. Firing this game up and making some car/van/truck do sick jumps doesn't get old. The seasons in Horizon 4 make the environment feel "fresh" longer than in games past, and Britain makes for a fine playground. Forza Horizon 4 is also one of the best-looking games of the generation, and is a wonder to behold in 4K HDR.
Either DMC 5 or Fire Emblem. I think if we are only comparing DMC and Three Houses then DMC wins.
But honestly, the vast majority of this year has been FE colored. I've played through Three Houses twice, Awakening, Shadow Dragon, Path of Radiance, Binding Blade and I'm halfway through Radiant Dawn. And it's been an absolute blaaaaast.
I have no idea why, but Fire Emblem: Three Houses completely sunk its claws in me more than any game this year. I played a few of 2019 releases and I spent more time with this one and feel like it was the best game to come out. I will probably pick this up and play it periodically till the end of time.
As for the best non-2019 games of 2019 has to be playing Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami back to back. I played the original Yakuza way back on the PS2, and I finished 3 & 4 earlier in the decade during the PS3 era. They were fun but I didn’t particularly pay attention to anything so I just breezed through them. This time around I really sunk some time into these games and absorbed all of the craziness and got invested in the stories of each. I feel like both of those games are really about Nishkiyamas arc and just head my head spinning at how he changed. Really good stuff. It’s over the top and really cheesy sometimes but these games are crafted to make you care about the characters.
Ace Combat 7. The campaign had some bad and downright frustrating bits for sure but I keep coming back to it. It looks amazing and has a great soundtrack that gets me pumped every time. It's perfect for winding down at night. I can replay one of the mission and afterwards sit back and chill out while watching the replay, cycling the camera angles and just watching cool planes fly around.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled. They come out with a new Grand Prix every month; new track, racers, skins, karts, paints. I haven't been addicted to a game like this in years. They keep adding new modes and updating the way the game works, listening to the players; it's pretty amazing.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare I haven't had this much fun with a shooter, much less a CoD game in years. I was playing Death Stranding, which I enjoyed (and still am), but it's not exactly fun. This game is.
Untitled Goose Game - Played this game with my girlfriend (well, I played and she shouted out orders and suggestions) for about a week. It was hilarious and half the fun was failing over and over trying to figure out how advance.
Overall, I haven't been playing games as much as I used to. On the weekends I've been playing Rocket League, which is a shift from my normal gaming habits. I've never cared that much for multiplayer-only games, so finding myself enjoying RL as much as I have has been surprising to me. I'm not good in the least, but hopping on with some friends and occasionally nailing some ridiculous shot is satisfying.
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