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  • One of my greatest misgivings about this generation has been the downfall of Call of Duty as a great and trusted annual multiplayer shooter. What once felt like an event gave way to something more akin to an annual monetization strategy. Microtransactions and expensive season passes joined forces to propel the series into extremely unfortunate territory, while the persistent push for future settings divided fans.

    This year's reboot of Modern Warfare loses everything that has made this generation of Call of Duty so unlikable. Instead Infinity Ward chose to make the single best Call of Duty game since at least the first Black Ops, released way back in 2010. This is Infinity Ward finally firing on all cylinders again, and the result is a game that just feels natural and player-friendly, two words that simply cannot be used to describe this series over the last several years.

  • I had an intense PUBG phase in early 2018, but all things fade away. Apex Legends resold me on the idea of battle royale with its fantastic map design, character abilities, and terrific gunplay. But being able to respawn back into the fight might be its greatest idea, giving everyone a chance to avoid the pointless frustration of dying early and having no choice but to quit and try again.

  • Resident Evil 2 has some truly frustrating moments, but this engine looks so incredible and it feels so great to play that I can't be mad at it forever. Playing through RE 2, with RE 7 being the only other game I had played, inspired me to finally check out the rest of the series this year. And now I'm hoping and praying Resident Evil 4 can get this treatment someday. It doesn't need it, but boy do I want to see it.

  • The world of Metro Exodus is beautiful in a very Fallout 3 kind of way. There's devastation all around and monsters lurking about, but people are still getting by as best they can. Exodus is incredibly compelling, so much so that, even as I struggled against the game's rickety movement and questionable combat, I still explored every nook and cranny for whatever I could find. I can't wait to play it again.

  • I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love a good epidemic. As a backdrop, anyway. A Plague Tale is a terrifyingly grim adventure through France's death by a one-two punch of rat disease and English inquisition. I adore its characters and the bonds they form as they stealth their way past swarms of rodents and halberds, never quite putting any distance between themselves and certain death.

  • I didn't grow up playing Mario. Super Mario Maker 2 is, in fact, my first real 2D Mario game, and I love it. I haven't spent as much time as I wish I was building levels, but truth be told I just don't have the Mario literacy to pull off anything worth playing. Seeing what other people have created is endless fun, and the recent addition of a Link powerup that gives you sword and bow abilities is just amazing. I can't wait to see what people do with that.

  • Void Bastards is such a cool game and it definitely has the greatest premise of 2019. A prison ship is stranded in space with thousands of prisoners on board, and the AI overseer decides the only course of action is to send them out one by one to scavenge what they can for the vessel. What follows is a ridiculous series of violent shenanigans and audacious gambles into deep space.

  • The combat and story of Death Stranding are both probably the worst of 2019, but everything else about playing the game was a top 10 experience for me this year. I genuinely, passionately enjoy the moment-to-moment gameplay of Death Stranding. Deliveries are satisfying to complete, and traversing the environment gives a terrific and physical sense of movement. Seeing the world populate with structures and signs left by other players strengthens the game's focus on community, both in its narrative and gameplay, without ever showing you another player. It's really cool. I just wish I didn't hate every time someone is talking in this game.

  • This is a weird one. There's virtually nothing about the actual playing of Sayonara Wild Hearts that resonates with me whatsoever. But it gets a spot here because the soundtrack has become one of my favorite albums. I listened to it obsessively this year.

  • When listing the 2019 games I had played this year, I was left with nine games I felt good about and two that I didn't. Initially I had resigned to just putting one of those two in the number 10 spot in order to preserve some kind of self-proposed release date sanctity, but truthfully I've been so impressed by Battlefield V lately that I just couldn't let one of those two games beat it out.

    And this shocks me. For the first year of its existence, Battlefield V was to me the most disappointing entry in series history. But now the game finally has a level of content and a sense of purpose that were both missing when it released last year. I can't wait to see what's next for Battlefield V, and I'm so happy about that.