×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

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.

Death Stranding - Nov. 8

We may not know exactly what Death Stranding is all about, but we do know when it's coming. Hideo Kojima's long-awaited follow-up to Metal Gear Solid 5 — and the first game that the famous designer has made since Konami gave him the boot — arrives this November. That's more surprising than any plot twist that Kojima has in store. Death Stranding was announced all the way back at E3 2016, and outside of a few extended trailers, we've seen very little of it. The best guesses seemed to indicate that it would be coming in 2020 at the earliest.

Surprise! Not only is Death Stranding coming this year, but it looks just as delightfully bizarre as we'd hoped. It stars The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus as Sam Porter Bridges, who lives in a world where people have built "walls" that keep them separate from other people, who goes to an alternate dimension when he dies, and who travels around with a baby strapped to his chest. Margaret Qualley, Nicolas Winding Refn, Guillermo del Toro, and Léa Seydoux are there, too, as is a lot of Hannibal and Rogue One star Mads Mikkelsen.

The official synopsis describes Death Stranding as "a completely new type of action game" in which "you will attempt to bridge the divides in society, and in doing create new bonds or 'Strands' with other players around the globe," whatever that means. Even Death Stranding's collector's edition is weird. You want a life-size replica of a baby in a pod? For $200, it's yours.

Star Wars: Jedi - Fallen Order - Nov. 15

A month before Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker puts the tale of Anakin Skywalker's family to bed for good(?), a new Jedi takes center stage. Padawan Cal Kestis managed to escape death when Palpatine executed Order 66, but now he's on the run from the newly formed Galactic Empire, and it's up to you to guide him — and his adorable droid, BD-1 — to safety.

Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order's plot has the potential to be a lot of fun, especially with established characters like The Clone Wars' and Rogue One's Saw Guerrera playing major roles. What you really should be excited about, though, is Fallen Order's lightsaber combat. This isn't a Force Unleashed-style power fantasy. You're going to need to unleash each and every parry, thrust, block, and dodge yourself, and with perfect timing. If you don't? Cal is poo-doo.

In other words, all of those cool moves that Cam did during Fallen Order's pre-E3 livestream? They take practice. Fallen Order is openly inspired by Dark Souls, and while we don't expect fights to be quite as exacting as in FromSoftware's RPG, Cal's journey will be anything but easy when it begins this November.

Pokémon Sword and Shield - Nov. 15

Okay, we'll admit it: we expected Pokémon Sword and Shield, the first mainline Pokémon game to launch on consoles instead of handheld devices, to shake up things up a little bit more. Judging by the games' reveal trailer, however, this is going to be a pretty traditional affair. You'll still be rooting through tall grass, where Pokémon attack via random encounters. You're still challenging fellow trainers and journeying from gym to gym on your way to mastering the Elite Four.

On the other hand, they say that if it's not broke, you shouldn't fix it, and there's a reason why the Pokémon formula has persisted for over two decades: it's really, really fun. Besides, with their cell-shaded graphics, Pokémon Sword and Shield looks absolutely gorgeous, and its new London-inspired region, Galar, is unlike any other place Pokémon trainers have explored yet (aside from real-life London in Pokémon Go, of course).

Still, Pokémon lives and dies by its pocket monsters. Thankfully, Sword and Shield delivers. The internet is already full of fan art of Sword and Shield's three starters — the chimp-like Grookey, the firey Scorbunny, and the timid water lizard Sobble — all of whom look great in full-on HD. Pokémon Sword and Shield might not reinvent the franchise, but maybe that's okay. After all, it is awfully cute.

Shenmue 3 - Nov. 19

If you're worried that Ryu Hazuki has changed since the last time we saw him, put your fears to rest. Despite the long delays and smaller budget, Shenmue 3 looks like a worthy successor to the Shenmue name. As before, Shenmue 3 is a detailed simulation of everyday life. You're either going to love it, or it's going to drive you crazy.

While open-world games have become a lot more user-friendly in the past 17 years, Shenmue 3 remains charmingly indifferent. NPCs still have their own schedules, which you'll need to contend with in order to progress. You'll spend most of your time playing minigames disguised as menial tasks (yes, the forklifts are back). Ryu doesn't move quickly, and some tasks unfold in real-time. Like doing real chores, it's slow and tedious. That's the point.

Shenmue 3 does have a few game-like concessions, like forcing Ryu to eat in order to keep his stamina up, but those are designed to make things feel more realistic, not less. Shenmue 3 isn't going to be for everyone, but if the original's laid-back pace is your jam, you're going to find a lot to like here.

Phoenix Point - Dec. 3

Do you like X-Com? You should. Julian Gollop's alien-infested tactical strategy game might be showing its age — it was 1994 when UFO: Enemy Unknown, aka X-COM: UFO Defense, first invaded home PCs — but it's still one of the most interesting and tense titles out there, and it's inspired everything from the recent (and also excellent) XCOM reboot to a little something called Fallout.

So when Gollop announced that he was making Phoenix Point, a game that blends "turn-based tactics and world-based strategy in a fight against a terrifying, alien menace," you better believe that we started paying attention.In Phoenix Point, you've got squad-based tactical battles, a world map full of strategic options and challenges, a mix of hand-crafted and procedurally generated missions, soldiers that you can customize to your heart's content, upgrade trees to master, and so on. At first glance, Phoenix Point is like an X-COM greatest hits package. That's hard to say no to.

Just don't expect it to be easy. Unlike the recent XCOM games, Phoenix Point combines a fully simulated ballistics system with destructible environments. That means when your soldier's bullets miss — and they will — chaos ensues. You can aim your shots carefully (in fact, you can even target specific limbs, Fallout-style), but if they miss the mark, they might take out nearby civilians or stray gas tanks. It makes Phoenix Point a tense and exciting experience — as if fighting off hordes of mutating aliens wasn't stressful enough all on its own.

Super Meat Boy Forever - TBD

Almost a ten years ago, Super Meat Boy arrived on PCs and Xbox Live and single-handedly launched the super-tough indie platformer revolution. Did you enjoy Fenix Furia, The End is Nigh, or 2018 game of the year contender Celeste? Without Super Meat Boy, you wouldn't have played any of 'em.

Now, almost a decade after Meat Boy and Bandage Girl stole platformer fans' hearts (when they weren't busy making players snap their controllers in half, anyway), the dynamic duo is back. The evil Dr. Fetus has stolen their child, Nugget, and it's up to Meat Boy, Bandage Girl, and you to get him back. Your tried and true Super Meat Boy tricks won't work here, though: in Super Meat Boy Forever, every level is generated on the fly from predefined "chunks," and will scale to match your performance. The better you do, the harder Forever gets. Great.

Super Meat Boy Forever has been in development for a long time, and it's gone through a number of changes in that time. Meat Boy co-creator Edmund McMillen has moved on to other things, and the game transformed from an infinite runner into something more traditional over its lengthy gestation period. From the looks of things, it's time well-spent. Super Meat Boy Forever might only use two buttons, but it still controls better than almost any other platformer out there. Welcome back, little guy. We've missed you.

In the Valley of the Gods - TBD

In 2016, the newly founded development studio Campo Santo released Firewatch, an adventure game set in the Wyoming wilderness. 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. 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 game apparently looks so good that it drew the attention of no less than Valve Software. In April 2018, Valve acquired Campo Santo. That makes In the Valley of the Gods a potentially much bigger enterprise. Hopefully, the game will still release in 2019, and not on "Valve time."