2019 was a weird year for games. Some great stuff was released in the last 12 months, but there was also a lot of stuff released in 2019 that felt too broken or unfinished. There was also a feeling that this generation of consoles has hit its breaking point. A lot of games were almost unplayable on base consoles. This year really did feel like everyone, publishers, developers, etc, pushing these consoles one last year.
This was also a year of great variety. I feel like nearly every genre and platform got something worth playing this year. I bounced around more platforms in 2019 than I have in a long time. Some days my Xbox was on, some days my PC was where I played, sometimes I was on a PS4, other days my Switch. Even my PSVR headset and my phone got a ton of action this year.
So let’s not waste any more time and instead here are my top 10 games of 2019. This is in no particular order, until the very end where I list my ultimate favorite game of the year.
I know some were disappointed with the new installment in the modern Wolfenstein series. They didn’t like the always-online aspect, the co-op or the smaller size. But I had a blast with this game. I played it solo, yet I still enjoyed it. I honestly think I like it more than the last Wolfenstein game. The gameplay loop of exploring wonderfully detailed levels, leveling up my gear and taking on new side missions hooked me hard.
While the internet was obsessed with being a goose, I was much more interested in being a dangerous gorilla. Ape Out is visually stunning, but it also has one of the best soundtracks of 2019. The way gameplay and music mix together is perfect and makes this a great game to watch and play. It also feels sooo good. Hits feel hard and slams feel powerful.
Look, I fully understand and appreciate some of the criticisms people have with this game. But I also still love the mixture of loot and action that Borderlands 3 provides. And this time around the combat feels so much better, the game looks nicer and we get to explore totally new planets. My GF and I spent a lot of time in Borderlands 3 and I can’t wait to play more when the new DLC starts coming out.
I bought a Switch, not for ports or indie games, I have other consoles for that. I bought a Switch for games like Luigi’s Mansion 3. When Nintendo puts out something good, it’s GOOOOOOD. And Luigi’s Mansion 3 is real good. The game looks incredible and slamming ghosts might be the best video game mechanic of 2019. Also that music!
I hesitated to place this game on my list. In fact, I’ve removed it and replaced it three times in the process of writing this list. I seriously, no joke, hated the last hours of this game. It drags on and on and on. Yet I love building zip lines and roads. The feeling of crossing a large area of the map, barely making it over a mountain and then turning around and building ziplines all the way back is amazing. The way other players can help each other, leaving signs and building structures in the world, is so interesting and I hope more games do something similar.
Similar to Death Stranding, there are large parts of this game I hate. I enjoyed the narrative, all the Star Wars references and the worlds I got to visit. But I despise Soulsborne game design. I just hate it and this game is VERY much a Soulsborne inspired thing. But my love of Star Wars and the sense of exploration kept me going and I did beat the game on the second hardest difficulty. And that ending folks, wow.
Fallout: New Vegas is still one of my favorite games of all time. And while The Outer Worlds isn’t quite that game, it is close enough that I had a great time. Sure, the worlds feel a little too small, but the dialogue is well written and I love the companions.
Did you forget this game came out this year? Don’t feel bad. It barely came out this year, but it did. I loved this remake. It took the parts of the original I liked, the setting and story, and combined it with the stuff I love from RE4. And seeing how Resident Evil 4 is one of my favorite games of all time, making essentially Resident Evil 4, but with better visuals and combat, was always going to get me excited.
I’m a sucker for Gears of War, always have been and always will be. And Gears 5 felt like a big step forward for the series. Kait is a great character and I liked learning more about her and how she connects into the larger Gears universe. The more open-world segments of the campaign worked well and that ending choice was brutal. I honestly can’t believe they are going to, presumably, build two slightly different narratives for Gears 6. And I’m excited to see how it all works out.
And finally, my favorite game of the year is...
Some years it is hard to pick a favorite game. And then other years you play something that clicks with you so hard and so quickly that you fall in love with it and it instantly becomes your GOTY. For me, in 2019, that was Control.
I haven’t played a game like this in a long time. This is the kind of game where I start thinking about side stories I’d love to write or experience. The kind of game where I wring out all the content I possibly can and then keep playing. I loved finding new bits of text and lore. I would spend hours going over every file and document I found, piecing together this strange world.
It’s also a damn gorgeous game. I played on PS4 Pro, which has some performance issues and I still came away impressed. I’m honestly excited to play this game again on PC at some point. I can’t wait for Control DLC to start hitting too. Give me more Control, forever and forever.