2019?

Twenty-nineteen? Two-thousand and nineteen? Are these real numbers?

Games I play in 2019 will go on this list! Plus a few I haven't started yet that are awaiting rankings. If I have the time and money to sneak in a couple more that aren't on the list right now I will.

(A fair number of smaller titles aren't in the Giant Bomb database yet and therefore aren't listed, such as Missed Messages and Sumatra: Fate of Yandi. When I play those and figure out a good placement for them I'll toss notes up here if they're still un-wiki'd.)

List items

  • Three Houses will probably hold somewhere in the top five barring something really unexpectedly disappointing happening, or another big rush of massive amazing games in 2019's back-half, like 2017 all over again.

    But I've fallen so hard for Fire Emblem these last couple years Three Houses feels like a lock. Rolling #GoldenDeer for my first run feels like absolutely the correct choice, too. My current Blue Lions run has its share of important details as well, even in the first half. I imagine the Eagles will have just as much to offer.

    It's rare that a game as large as Fire Emblem: Three Houses can drop and hold my attention for three, perhaps four separate playthroughs, but here I am in the middle of that with no intention of stopping any time soon. Remarkable.

    #FearTheDeer

  • Given my multiple-hundred-hour love affair with Yakuza games since Yakuza 0 blew the lid off the series for me in 2017/2018, there's probably no way in hell I wouldn't also dive deep into the Yakuza-adjacent Judgment this year, on day one, to near-100% completion, as always.

    Judgment is RGG Studios' best game since Yakuza 0 and a perfect start for a new spinoff franchise should Sega wish to go down that road. Like Yakuza 0, it's also a great onboarding point for new players, given its new protagonist, gameplay elements, and story themes.

    The decision to tell a detective story in Kamurocho opened a lot of fascinating new doors which wouldn't necessarily have made sense for Yakuza and its characters to walk though. Absolutely worth the effort.

  • This is a wild one. Wild enough to rocket into a Top 5 position after just a few hours. Whether or not it will hold, who knows - certainly I've had enough issues with just that first boss fight to impact the rankings slightly negatively if that remains a problem going forward.

    But there's been very little in 2019 as surreal, stylish, eerie, thought-provoking, or goosebumps-inducing as Control is from the very first minute and I don't see that stopping.

    Control is a better Alan Wake than Alan Wake, which I enjoyed. I'd rather play Control than deal with that last X-Files revival. This is probably Remedy's best game and I'm honestly not sure it's even close.

  • As much or more of a 2019 release than 2018, which only saw a single episode in that calendar year. Between this and Yakuza Kiwami 2 and possibly some other titles, sussing-out the GOTY picture is going to mean sorting through a lot of technicalities. That one layer of obfuscation alone might keep LiS2 from topping the list like its predecessor did with ease in 2015.

    I did eventually catch up. A lengthier release schedule (which is fine; let's not kill developers for the sake of getting new episodes out slightly faster) plus real life plus other games have routinely dominated a ton of time and conversation that may otherwise have gone to LiS2.

    The finale could change that, as a lot of folks appear to be waiting for the full season's release to jump in, but this probably also depends on whether or not the storytelling sticks the landing. So far? Episode 3 felt like it struck just the right tone, while Episode 4's wild left turn was perhaps not in its best interest. Road stories be like that sometimes.

  • Not to be confused with The Outer Wilds.

    Fallout New Vegas is probably still my favourite game in the Fallout series, despite its creaky old bones and face full of warts, so now that we've got The Outer Worlds (again, not to be confused with The Outer Wilds) and it's pretty much New Vegas in space with a ton of 2019 polish, yeah, of course I'd fall hard for it. Have you met me?

    The exact mixture turning out to include a lot more Mass Effect than expected in how its open world is segmented across a star system map and how its companion characters work is also really nice. If you wanted a Mass Effect with fewer Star Trek trappings and more Firefly, this is also that, and thankfully Outer Worlds' sense of humour is somewhat more Futurama than Borderlands. YMMV if that moves a needle for you.

    It's not without its problems. Go figure, we've got some clunky UI and inventory management, yet again, as if every new open world RPG adventure series is doomed to share these issues in all their debut releases. But these are rarely if ever dealbreakers; if Horizon Zero Dawn was my GOTY in 2017 with the same awkwardness, it ain't gonna prevent Outer Worlds from ranking high in 2019 either.

  • Brought To You By TheirStar. I'm always down to write some kind words, perhaps whilst chilling to some lo fi beats.

  • Honk.

    Everyone from all the games-related personalities you've ever heard of to Chrissy Teigen and Kyle MacLachlan has had something to say about Untitled Goose Game.

    All you really do is honk and mess with people with increasingly slapstick ways. The stealthy-puzzly actual game parts of the game itself doesn't even need to be amazing, really. Not when its trappings have already gone so far. It's a charming, novel splash of levity, perfectly timed for when everyone really needs it. The zeitgeist make sense.

    That said? Play it with a friend, or play it on a stream. Passing a controller back and forth, or bouncing ideas off a chat, adds a whole new dimension to the Untitled Goose Game experience. It's not quite a party game under these circumstances, but it gets closer than you might think.

  • This is my first Pokemon since I finished Yellow on a Gameboy emulator twenty years ago. So with that in mind, the previous six or seven (eight?) generations of iteration has flown completely under my radar. I have no context for what's supposedly busted or exceptional about Swish.

    It looks nice, has some minor to moderate performance issues in spots like the wild area, plays well otherwise, has a lot of charm and addictive customization options, but a lot of the usual Nintendo online weirdness that keeps some of these things from being as fun as they could've been.

    In the parlance of this website it's A Very Good One Of Those, but maybe not a great one. Again, I have no context for what a great Pokemon looks like, and Sword/Shield is the best one I've played pretty much by default.

    Unfortunately, like Mario Maker 2, it could have the legs problem. We'll see. Maybe when we finally get a date for Shin Megami Tensei V I'll play this again as an appetizer.

  • I haven't played the two previous modern Wolfensteins myself, but I've loved everything I've seen, and Youngblood in particular has pushed that fascination over the top. Here I am finally playing one, afterall.

    Youngblood may not rank terribly high for a number of reasons, but the Sisters Blazkowicz make every moment worth it. They alone will likely carry this game to an honourable mention if it falls out of the top ten, and should also appear on a bunch of Best Characters and Best Moments lists.

  • Sunless Sea was one of my favourite games the year it came out. 2015? 2016? These numbers don't feel real either. Get 'em outta here. But with that in mind, Sunless Skies is basically a better Sunless Sea, and in space, with trains! That's a lot. I'm all about all that.

    New content is also coming soon, be it free or not-free DLC, chances are I'll be there with bells on if I can find the time.

  • I still find terms like "walking simulator" reductive as hell. Perhaps we could simply start tossing more games into the immersive sim category? A Short Hike is doing some of the same things as those, just from a different perspective. You glide a lot more. There's flapping happening.

    This is a perfect chill exploration experience. Some very light questing and collection, mostly (all?) apparently optional. Anyone who has ever enjoyed simply existing within a space like those found in Animal Crossing would almost certainly be down for A Short Hike.

    It also has a very strong look, somewhere between a 3DS platformer and a remastered Sega Saturn classic, backed up admirably by an excellent soundtrack and general sound design.

  • This is one helluva freebie. I'll never spend actual money on it to unlock whatever these extra things are in the menu, but the base battle royale mode is just fine.

    Two excellent and unusual new takes on Tetris in as many years? Wild.

  • It's Mario Maker, it's got more Maker-y things, it's on a console people actually own and enjoy, it still has some of that trademark Nintendo online weirdness, but... it's Mario Maker! Not sure what else you'd want.

    If Mario Maker 2 keeps dropping throughout the year, I don't feel like that's an indictment on the game, really, but rather a case of bad timing, plus much of the energy around the original Maker being a difficult flash of lightning to recapture.

    It doesn't help much that we've had so few content updates since launch, which the original Mario Maker had new tidbits heaped upon it at a rapid clip.

  • If the original Rebel Galaxy was a brilliant-if-limited proof of concept, Outlaw is looking like the cream of that crop.

    I will definitely miss flying around in big boy capital ships and all the cool broadside positioning that entails, but in exchange we're getting something that could be the best take on Privateer in literal decades, so I'm down for that, too.

  • Who let the apes out? Who? Who, who?

  • Possibly the middle ground between PUBG and Fortnite I've been looking for all this time, and they may have got there simply by adding Overwatch elements. Since Overwatch and I still get along really well I'd call this a win - unless I get in there and decide I hate it for some reason. "Jokes on you it's actually Battleborn!"

    A solo mode would be nice, even with all the super smart comms systems Apex has for squads. (Squad.)

  • One of a few fairly big-name fighters to put their "core" experience up for free with the rest DLC piecemeal, so not-coincidentally this is also the first Dead or Alive game I've played since the original.

    I doubt very much I'll end up putting actual dollars into this, certainly not if Soul Calibur 6 ever goes on sale (spoiler alert: it did, and it's great) so I suppose I'd better get fond of Hitomi or just stop.

  • Anything taking swings at Stardew Valley is writing a very big cheque, and honestly, just looking at its big heads and cartoon polygon architecture isn't doing it many favours for me.

    If I can get over those personal differences I have with Portia's aesthetic choices long enough to bury myself in its loop, we're golden, another hundred hours of my life could easily be lost and it'll shoot up somewhere in the Top 10 for sure. But can I make that climb?

  • I am very bad at World Next Door's VERY particular blend of match-3 puzzling and action RPG combat, and who knows if I'll ever get better at it, but most everything else going on here is pretty charming and quite nice to look at.

    If the game-ier parts finally click or the rest gets even better, I could see this moving up slightly, but there's also a good chance 2019's back-half will knock World Next Door out of the main ten through no fault of its own.

    ...or, some fault of its own, perhaps. That match-3/action RPG combination is maybe something you don't see very often for a reason. Rather than tuning the difficulty of this system, a "take no damage" toggle was added to the options menu, which speaks volumes.

  • 3-on-3 pond-style hockey, sometimes even on a pond. Handling is a bit wonky, but of course I've been saying that about most hockey games since NHL '94. Gamepad support with stick controls on R3 would be rad. For all I know that's been added already and I just haven't noticed yet.

  • A perfectly cromulent Early Access free-to-play Battle Royale (stop me if you've heard this one before) with a cool theme, pun intended, but unless it's already made a dent in the bigger names in this genre and I haven't noticed I wouldn't bet a whole lot of money on its ongoing health no matter which megacorp has the bankroll.

  • Speculative. FTL + Dune, Foundation, and Battlestar Galactica, suggests at the very least a potent mix of influences. If the storytelling chops and there and the game part holds up its end of the bargain this could be a real contender.

  • Speculative. Part of the reason why I loved Tacoma so much was all the wild and terrifying near-future worldbuilding going on around the edges. I feel like Neo Cab kind of represents some of that, like maybe this was happening on the ground while all the Tacoma stuff was happening up in orbit.

  • Speculative. I was never an Advance Wars guy, or an early Fire Emblem guy until fairly recently, or even a guy who owned a GBA at any point, but I see all those boxes being checked and I like what those boxes mean.

    Confession: I regret buying this on Steam instead of Switch.

  • Speculative. I can't actually remember what this is, but free is free, and it looks nice.

  • Speculative. Chill out, pick up some litter. It's good for the planet and good for the soul. Also, another freebie.