It’s a somewhat polarising year for games. There doesn’t seem to be one particular golden children this year that’s picking up the win around the globe. Our pick for Best Game of 2019 is one that is loved but also hated by others. It’s a game that most likely won’t even appear on many’s Top 10 radars. But that’s great! There may not be a golden child this year, but there was plenty of great games and more than enough for a variety in our list, that’s for sure.
The following Top 10 list was compiled by Dylan Blight, Ashley Hobley, Ciaran Marchant and Nicholas Prior.
Battle of Bodenplatte is the latest entry in the Great Battles series for IL-2. This instalment focuses on Operation Bodenplatte, which was launched on 1 January 1945 and was an attempt by the Luftwaffe to cripple Allied air forces in the Low Countries during the Second World War. It was the last large-scale strategic offensive operation mounted by the Luftwaffe during the war.
What’s significant about the Bodenplatte entry to the series is that it’s its first departure from the Eastern Theatre of was and is focused on the Western Front. It adds to the sim the USAAF and the RAF as playable factions. It includes some long-awaited planes such as the Me.262, P-51D, Spitfire.IX, Hawker Tempest, FW-190 D9, P-38J and P-47D to name a few. It also adds a map encompassing Belgium, Netherlands and Western Germany. It adds significant graphical and technical upgrades to the series and has reinvigorated the multiplayer player base, as it has drawn in new and old players who were either not interested in or growing tired of Eastern Front plane-sets.
As always 1CGS has produced a phenomenal simulation and continues the lead the pack in consumer-friendly and accessible combat simulation on the market. I’m eagerly awaiting their next project IL-2 Battle of Normandy
– Nicholas Prior
I didn’t expect the auto battler genre to capture me like it did this year even though all the signs were there. A fun combination of strategy game and card game elements that is just passive enough that I can keep watching the obscene amount of content I consume daily and play successfully? Perfect.
With its collection of champions that I was passingly familiar with from League of Legends, the drafting rounds and your adorable avatar Little Legend who you need to move around to collect items and coins, Teamfight Tactics is at the top of the auto battler genre in my opinion. It doesn’t hurt that the matches tend to be quicker than others in the genre. This game may have even gotten me to play a couple of rounds of LoL…
(editors note: we will hold him to that)
– Ashley Hobley
Following a year that had been dominated by the battle royale behemoths Player Unknown Battlegrounds and Fortnite, no one expected Respawn to release a battle royale game that would have such an impact on the rest of the genre. Featuring a cast of characters that would make Overwatch proud, Apex Legends brought the strategy of a hero shooter to the battle royale landscape.
With a focus on teamwork coming from the forced 3-man teams, Respawn worked on a system that allowed players to communicate without the need for a mic or complicated communication systems. Respawn developed its intuitive one-button ping system that players could use to communicate. This ping system would shortly be incorporated naturally into battle royales as a staple from this point on. Apex Legends may not have been able to consistently hold its momentum throughout the course of the year, but Respawn is still providing fantastic support to its fan base and pushing the envelope with new characters and map changes.
– Ciaran Marchant
Kingdom Hearts 2 was released in 2005; in late 2008 I got my PS3 after talking myself into believing that Kingdom Hearts 3 would be released for it sometime in the near future. Over ten years later, on a completely new generation of PlayStation console I got to play the game I brought my PS3 for and although it was never going to live up to my wildest ambitions for the franchise it was still as special to me as any of the previous games.
Visiting Disney worlds have never felt as special as they do in Kingdom Hearts 3 thanks to its amazing visual quality that at times rivals the worlds of the films your visiting. The Tangled and Frozen worlds especially just shine on screen.
Combat was stepped up and now the additions of the rides make a wonderfully hectic mess to play with heartless exploding everywhere amongst spells, attacks and glitter attacks.
Where the heart of this game lies is in its final third where Sora, Donald, Goofy and friends come face-to-face with their foes for the final battle. It’s the calmative stories of 13 games and nearly 15 years of storytelling that makes Kingdom Hearts 3 the Avengers Endgame for video games this year.
– Dylan Blight
I gave one game a 10/10 all year, which was to Concrete Genie and it was well deserved. The team at Pixel Opus created a beautiful game that is stunning on the inside and out. The game eradiates warmth and it feels like a warm cuddle to say everything will be okay.
In my review for Concrete Genie I said:
Sometimes you just play a game that hits all the right notes for you and Concrete Genie has done that for me. I love this game, its characters, charm and the beautiful world that let me not just feel like an artist but become one. Concrete Genie has a warmth to it and I felt like the team at Pixel Opus put their hearts into this and the story and themes don’t come off forced, cheap, or playing the same old-tune we’ve heard before, but instead, real and honest. For all that, Concrete Genie is one of the year’s best games and a special gem every PS4 owner should play.
This is a must-play PlayStation 4 colouring book that you can finish in one afternoon and feel better about life afterwards.
– Dylan Blight
Although set in the same universe and timeline as the original game, Life is Strange 2 puts you in control of a brand new character, this time though, without any powers.
After their father is shot down by a Police Officer on his own lawn and the event triggers a power inside ten-year-old Daniel he didn’t know he had, his old brother Sean takes them on the run fearing what would happen to Daniel. Instead of having control of the growing powers inside Daniel you simply have the choice you can make as his big brother and how you can shape his Morales and humanity in a world that is constantly kicking them down.
Life is Strange 2 isn’t subtle with its themes at all which focuses heavily on prejudice in America, but maybe it’s not the time for subtle and instead for brash action and loud voices. In a world where many developers are afraid to mention any political or social commentary in their games, the team at Dontnod proudly have something to say and it’s a stranger journey for it.
– Dylan Blight
How can something that almost feels nostalgic, feel so fresh? Obsidian Entertainment took us back to the golden age of action RPGs with The Outer Worlds. By creating a new setting, filled with ruling corporations, larger than life characters and a wide assortment of decisions to be made, Obsidian has been able to empower the player to make their own path through the Halcyon system. With classic RPG systems such as lockpicking, hacking and dialogue trees being optimised to make the gameplay flow seamlessly, the player’s skill choices feel more important.
In a world filled with 40+ hour epics, The Outer Worlds uses these enhancements and decisions to make a memorable 20-hour experience that does not overstay its welcome, making players look forward to their next intergalactic adventure into the Halcyon System.
– Ciaran Marchant
Disco Elysium is possibly one of the greatest and most special games I have ever played. It’s an isometric RPG like ones of old. The biggest difference is that almost everything done in the game is dialogue-based. With that being the case, the whole experience rides or dies on the writing and the writing in this game is phenomenal.
You take the part of a detective, who wakes up with one of the worst hangovers in recorded history, with absolutely no idea of who you are or what you were doing and the story unfolds from there. The beauty of this game is the sheer variety of types of character you can play as and each ‘skill’ has its own personality and acts as a pseudo-NPC.
The experience unabashedly tackles everything from the political spectrum, social inequality, racism and mental health, to name a few. The artwork is quite unique and beautiful and the soundtrack is to die for, I’m still thinking about that amazing score. The world is so richly detailed that I just wanted to continue exploring and learning more about its history.
In my opinion, this game stands head shoulders above every game this year and is in serious contention for one of the best I’ve ever had the opportunity to experience. I still think about this game and probably will for a very long time. ZA/UM has absolutely hit it out of the park in their first outing. They have earnt a supporter for life and I eagerly await the next experience they create.
– Nicholas Prior
When it came to feeling like a superhero or a Jedi, Control’s telekenetic abilities made me feel more like either than any other game that released in 2019. Floating across gaps and blasting enemies from above; pulling cement block and throwing them into enemies only to land and start shooting your supernatural weapon like a shotgun in their faces. It’s unrivaled combat this year that makes you feel bad-ass.
Control is also a crazy acid-trip into a world of monsters and sci-fi horrors. In my review earlier in the year I said:
Like all good episodes of The X-Files or The Twilight Zone, there is a fantastic mystery at the centre of Control, a game that seems inspired by both the weekly adventures of Scully and Mulder and the tone of The Twilight Zone. Remedy Entertainment are definitely fans of serials, just look at their last work, Quantum Break, and horror as well (see Alan Wake), and now they combine many of these past inspirations into the deep, intriguing and mysterious world of Control.
In the months since writing that, I have used The X-Files and Twilight Zone comparisons to anyone when trying to sell them on the game. But what Remedy creates with Control is ultimately an utterly original concept and world with the year’s most stunning art direction and a story that rewards the player the more they dig in.
– Dylan Blight
No game has stuck with me as much in 2019 as Death Stranding.
In my review for Death Stranding I said:
Death Stranding is a unique, weird and unprecedented game that I can’t get out of my head. It’s a testament to new ideas and the rare freedom Kojima Productions was bequeathed from Sony and I hope they continue to support new ideas, no matter how crazy a game about delivering packages may sound on paper.
The part about not being able to get it out of my head stands true over a month since finishing the game. Death Stranding was easily the game from 2019 that hit me the hardest and I just melded with. I loved playing it, I loved experiencing it, I love reading about others’ experiences with the game.
Death Stranding managed to tell a very sci-fi story with a heart that hit me hard at the end. It also gave me the multiplayer experience that many talked about getting from Journey. I was emotionally invested in helping my fellow players in rebuilding the world and I felt joy in giving.
No game in 2019 was as unique, wonderfully weird and special as Death Stranding was and if it’s a sign of things to come from Kojima Productions it’s a great one.
– Dylan Blight