Games that are going to blow everyone away in 2019

No doubt about it: video games are bigger than ever. In 2017, the American game industry grew by a whopping 18%And thanks to popular devices like the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and pretty much every mobile phone on the planet, things aren't going to slow down any time soon. For gaming fans, 2018 should be great. With a number of high-profile titles slated to come out right before the turn of the decade, 2019 might be even better. These games might be a ways off, but don't let that stop you from getting excited. If even half of them deliver, 2019 is going to be one heck of a year.

Prepare your mind for Psychonauts 2

It's hard to describe what makes Psychonauts so special. It's not just the premise, which throws a bunch of psychic-powered kids into an otherwise normal summer camp, mixing up superpowered-shenanigans with all kinds of cartoony teen angst. It's not just the inventive levels, which use the environment itself to explore Psychonauts' quirky characters. It's not just Psychonauts' weird sense of humor, and it's certainly not the game's sales — these days, Psychonauts is a cult classic, but it absolutely bombed at release.

Psychonauts is all of that combined, and it's no wonder that fans have been clamoring for a sequel for a decade and a half. In 2019, they're finally getting one. Back in 2015, players hungry for more Psychonauts contributed almost four million dollars to help fund the long-awaited sequel, and if developer Double Fine follows through on its promises, it looks like Psychonauts 2 will be worth the wait.

As in the first game, you'll play through the game as Raz, the freshly-minted Psychonaut agent who uses abilities like telekinesis and pyrokinesis to solve puzzles and tackle platforming challenges. The summer camp is gone, but many of its occupants will return, including Raz's girlfriend Lili. You'll still be diving into the minds of various agents in order to unravel the mysteries hidden in their psyches, but you'll also learn more about Raz and his unique family. Obviously, the graphics will be better than in the last Psychonauts, and the 3D platforming is getting some much-needed tweaks, but all in all Psychonauts 2 is simply going to be more Psychonauts. That's great news, and it's about time.

No haste for Wasteland 3

It took 26 years for Wasteland, the late '80s role-playing game that inspired Fallout and its sequels, to get an official follow-up. Wasteland 3 is arriving a lot faster. Unlike modern Fallout titles, which combine role-playing games with a healthy dose of first-person shooting, Wasteland 3 takes place from a top-down perspective and features turn-based tactical combat. Don't let that scare you off. Every choice you make in Wasteland 3 matters, including how you position your troops and which weapons you use to battle your foes.

Thankfully, you won't be battling through Wasteland 3's apocalypse alone. As you work to strengthen your home base, both player-created characters and NPCs will help you gather supplies and fight off baddies. A brand new dialogue system, featuring writing from the team behind Torment: Tides of Numeria, promises to give you the deepest and most personalized Wasteland adventure yet. You can even play with a friend. Wasteland 3 comes with a complete multiplayer campaign in which you and a buddy lead separate squads on missions — but story choices still affect both teams, so make sure your travelling companion is trustworthy.

Meanwhile, Wasteland 3's setting is brand new. Instead of venturing through an arid, radioactive desert, Wasteland 3 plunges you into snow-covered, post-apocalyptic Colorado, where you're just as likely to freeze to death as meet your demise at the wrong end of a gun. Developer InXile's boss, Brian Fargo, plans on retiring once Wasteland 3 ships, ending an almost 40-year-long game industry career. 

"It seems like a good time to drop the mic," Fargo says, so get excited. From all indications, he's planning to go out with a bang.

We can't wait to play In the Valley of the Gods

In 2016, the newly founded development studio Campo Santo released Firewatch, an adventure game set in the Wyoming wilderness. As Henry, voiced by Mad Men's Rich Sommer, players trekked through the woods in order to solve a murder. Firewatch isn't just a great mystery story, though. Its voice acting is killer, and its art is so pretty that it's constantly being stolen by other businesses.

Can Campo Santo strike gold twice? In 2019, we'll find out. That isn't to say that In the Valley of the Gods is a Firewatch knock-off, of course. Instead of taking place in a quiet forest, In the Valley of the Gods' action unfolds in Egypt in the 1920s. Instead of investigating a potential conspiracy, you'll be tomb raiding, Indiana Jones-style, in search of hidden treasures…or, at the very least, a great movie. In the Valley of the Gods' official Steam page notes that you'll have a "an authentic 35mm film camera" that you'll use "to document the world and story around you."

But like Firewatch, In the Valley of the Gods really hinges on the relationship between its two protagonists. You play Rashida, a disgraced treasure hunter, and your companion is Zora, your former partner. There's some history there, and it's not good. As you explore, Zora will be right beside you, assisting you with puzzles and keeping you out of trouble. 

The dynamic relationship between Henry and his boss, Delilah, was the heart of Firewatch, but Rashida and Zora look like they might give Campo Santo's first duo a run for their money — and, unsurprisingly, the art design looks pretty nifty, too.

Digital skateboarding is coming back with Session

It's been a while since we've gotten a good skateboarding game. Yes, OlliOlli is great (and its sequel is even better), but technically speaking, it's also relatively simple. Players who want to grind out tricks in fully-realized 3D environments on modern machines are pretty much out of luck…and the less said about Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5, the better.

Developer Crea-ture Studios hopes to change that in 2019, when Session is scheduled to hit Windows PCs and the Xbox One. Taking its inspiration from Skate — creative director Marc-André Houde calls Session a "spiritual sequel" to Electronic Arts' well-regarded franchise — Session uses motion-captured skateboarding tricks and real-life physics to capture skateboarding in all of its glory. Session won't have a scoreboard, leaving you free to skate how you like. It will have a number of explorable, fully-interactive skate parks, an innovative control scheme (you control each foot individually using your controller's two analog sticks) that'll require you to maintain your balance while performing tricks, and a VHS-style camera that you can use to record and share your best tricks.

Crea-ture also promises that Session will change over time as its team gathers analytics data and adjusts levels accordingly, and that the whole thing will be dripping with a heavy '90s vibe, honoring what Crea-ture calls "the golden era of skateboarding." Best of all, you don't have to wait until next year to give Session a try. While the game's Kickstarter campaign is over, the free demo is still available as of this writing. Things will probably change quite a bit before Session's official launch, but if you're really hankering for some extreme sports action, you can get some right this second. Nothing's stopping you.

Cyberpunk 2077 should be an RPG worth waiting for

CD Projekt Red hasn't actually said when Cyberpunk 2077, the studio's highly anticipated role-playing game, is going to come out, but 2019 seems like a pretty safe bet. The government grant CD Projekt Red received to develop the game requires a June 2019 release date, and — so far — no extension has been filed.

In fact, CD Projekt Red hasn't said a whole lot about Cyberpunk 2077, period. We know that the game has been in development since at least 2012 and that it's a spin-off of Cyberpunk 2020, a pen-and-paper role-playing game. We know it's set in a sprawling and wide-open metropolis called Night City and its characters will speak multiple languages. If you want to know what everyone is saying, you'll either need to buy in-game translator implants, or load up on language courses at the local community college. Players will be able to experience other characters' memories using something called a "Braindance," and there'll be a Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer mode in addition to the single-player storyline.

Cyberpunk 2077 is supposed to be a number of orders of magnitude bigger than the developer's last game, The Witcher 3, but should also be just as densely packed with stories to experience, characters to meet, and things to do. That's a big undertaking, which is probably why over 400 people are currently working on the game. Cyberpunk 2077 sounds incredibly ambitious, but as The Witcher 3 proves, CD Projekt Red knows what it's doing. It's hard to follow up one of the greatest games of all time, but if any studio can do it, it's CD Projekt Red. Don't worry. They've got things under control.

BioWare's last stand: Anthem

When it comes to Anthem, there's some good news, and there's some bad news. On the plus side, after Mass Effect: Andromeda failed to wow critics or players, BioWare is going all-in on its upcoming Destiny-like shooter. On the other, that means the game has been delayed until 2019, and BioWare's got a lot riding on it. Rumors suggest that if Anthem doesn't deliver, BioWare as we know it may cease to exist.

That's a lot of pressure, especially for a studio best known for role-playing games, not loot-based shooters. Still, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic. Anthem will pit players, known as Freelancers, against giant both monsters and also "world-altering" natural threats like so-called Shaper Storms. Players' super-suits, also called Javelins, will be upgradable, and come in a number of different styles that dictate characters' classes. Drew Karpyshyn, who wrote Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the first two Mass Effect games, will pen the story.

There's room for a good multiplayer shared-world shooter, too, given that The Division lost most of its players shortly after launch and that Destiny 2 is suffering from its own set of problems. Anthem is far from a sure thing, but BioWare is committed to the franchise long-term, and despite some recent disappointments they've delivered the goods before. Cross your fingers, and hope for the best.

Lights out with The Blackout Club

You know what's more fun than getting scared? Getting scared with friends. At least, that's the thinking behind The Blackout Club,a four-player co-op adventure that's part Stranger Things, part Goonies, and, if the developers at Question execute their vision correctly, entirely terrifying.

As members of the Blackout Club, you and up to three buddies play teenagers tasked with proving the existence of a city-wide conspiracy. That's easier said than done. Not only are there dark, Lovecraftian forces at work, but many of the town's disbelieving adults happen to be enemy sleeper agents. You'll need to capture evidence of the supernatural infestation in progress, while weighing the consequences of how you get that done. Shooting a possessed adult with a crossbow, for example, might solve your immediate problems, but it'll also get you in hot water with the cops.

Don't expect The Blackout Club to deliver the same thrills each time, either. Horror thrives on surprise, after all, and repetition is boring. The Blackout Club's missions are procedurally generated and change based on how many players are involved. In addition, the more you investigate, the more powerful your characters become — and the deeper the mystery gets. Oh, and by the way, you can't actually see The Blackout Club's villain without closing your eyes, which leaves you exposed to other attacks — so make sure you're playing with people you trust. You never know what kind of terrors will come crawling out of the dark.

Feel the power in The Surge 2

If you've got a Souls-shaped hole in your heart following The Ringed City, the last piece of content released for the series-ending Dark Souls 3, hold on — relief is on the the way. When it comes to third-person melee combat, anyone who spent some time in Lordran will feel right at home with The Surge 2.

That's not to say that The Surge 2 is a straight-up rip-off, though. Like its predecessor, The Surge 2 has a few unique tricks up its sleeve. By gathering weapons, drones, and other add-ons, you'll be able to outfit your mech-clad warrior with all kinds of different abilities, including buffs and debuffs, healing powers, or fancy finishing moves. If Dark Souls wasn't quite tactical enough for you, The Surge 2 also reintroduces the first game's "limb targeting system," which lets you focus your attacks on specific body parts — leaving the undamaged remains around for you to pick up and add to your arsenal.

The Surge was a pleasant surprise when it hit in 2017, and while it didn't necessarily crack the mainstream, it's got its fair share of fans. From the looks of things, developer Deck13 is doubling down on everything that made the first game great, while introducing players to a "brand new environment" that's darker and more dangerous than ever before. No, we're probably not getting any more Souls, but don't worry. With The Surge 2, the series' legacy lives on.