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.

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.

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.

Anthem flies in on February 22, 2019.

Spend your nights playing Days Gone

At first glance, it's easy to miss Days Gone, the new IP from Sony Interactive Entertainment. Open worlds? Post-apocalyptic landscapes? Hordes of zombies (in this case, the creatures are actually called Freakers, but c'mon) to fight and avoid? Yeah, we've seen it before. A few times.

Look closer. Days Gone may not be poised to radically change the open-world action game, but it's got plenty of small tweaks to the formula that should make it stand apart from games like Dead Rising, Dying Light, DayZ, and so many others. Aside from Alan Wake, the Pacific Northwest's rocky deserts and lush forests are woefully underused in video games. So are biker gangs, save for a pretty good Grand Theft Auto IV expansion pack and the abysmal Ride to Hell: Retribution.

Days Gone is not all new, of course. Like many games in this day and age, Days Gone has a crafting system. In terms of art design, it's got the same sense of ultra-realism as Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Witcher 3. Fast travel points will help you get across Days Gone's map a little faster. Still, those things are video game mainstays for a reason. They work. Sometimes, refinement works better than reinvention, and Days Gone looks all set to deliver a combination of the familiar and the new as we approach its long-awaited February 22, 2019 release date.

Metro: Exodus travels from the tunnels to the streets

If you missed Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, you've got until 2019 to catch up. Make sure that you do. The first two games based on Dmitry Glukhovsky's brutal post-apocalyptic novels might've been plagued by glitches and poor AI, but their strengths — the compelling combination of first-person shooting and stealth-based challenges, the well-realized survival elements, and the environments that simply ooze atmosphere — more than make up for a few weaknesses. Besides, Metro's story is great. You'll want to know what's happening before you see what Exodus has in store.

And you'll definitely want to pick up Metro: Exodus, at least if the game's pre-release materials are telling the truth. For one, you're no longer confined to the subway tunnels. With Exodus, the Metro series is going semi-open world with levels 10 times bigger than those found in Last Light. Every stage will offers hours worth of things to do — if you can manage to survive, of course. In Metro: Exodus, you'll need to carefully manage your supplies, craft your own weapons, and be very, very careful if you want to survive a full year in the Russian nuclear winter.

As per series tradition, radioactive mutants will return, but really, it's Metro's world that has us jazzed. A dynamic weather system and real-time day-to-night cycle look like they'll help make Metro: Exodus one of the most convincing post-apocalyptic settings of all time. It's everything you loved about Metro before. You'll just have more freedom to do what you want. A whole lot more.

Metro: Exodus arrives on February 22, 2019.

The Division 2's second shot at greatness

At launch, Ubisoft's The Division got some things right and many things wrong. Over time, however, it's evolved from a flawed but promising title into a fine multiplayer shooter. Hopefully, Ubisoft was taking notes. Tom Clancy's The Division 2 launches on March 15, 2019, and from all indications, it'll be bigger, better, and more polished than its predecessor in practically every way.

With the action moving from New York City to Washington DC, you and your fellow Division agents will take the fight to the Capitol steps and the ruins of Air Force One, shooting and looting your way through a burgeoning civil war. This time, you won't run out of things to do, either. Not only will The Division 2 bring back the tense player-versus-player Dark Zone, but this time around it's also got raids and free expansions, too. More specifics are still scarce, but Ubisoft clearly learned some lessons during The Division's first outing. For the sequel, it looks like second time really is the charm.

The Devil May Cry sequel you've been waiting for

And with that, Devil May Cry goes back to the basics. Unlike Ninja Theory's DmC: Devil May Cry, which rebooted everything, Devil May Cry 5 is a "true sequel" that follows the events of Devil May Cry 4, and there are a bunch of good reasons for fans of Capcom's hack n' slash adventure series to get excited.

For one, the game stars Nero, Devil May Cry 4's lead, as well as Dante, the hero who kicked everything off, and a third character. For another, Nero now cruises around in a van, from which he runs a demon-hunting operation with help from a new mechanical hand. That's just plain cool. Best of all, though? Devil May Cry 5 is coming a lot sooner than expected. Capcom says that the game will arrive sometime before April 2019. That's less than a year away, so try to contain your excitement until then. It's not that long of a wait.

Fire Emblem: a game so nice they housed it thrice

It took a while, but Nintendo's long-lived strategy franchise has finally hit the mainstream. So, naturally, Nintendo decided to change everything. In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, attacks and magic spells are separate options. Your characters no longer fight alone. They're joined on the battlefield by hordes of anonymous grunts who take care of the enemy's own supply canon fodder while you handle the other side's big guns.

As for the story, well, it's hard to say. We know from Fire Emblem: Three Houses' E3 trailer that the game's map is split into three sections, which are likely the "houses" in the game's title. According to that trailer, you'll be able to explore various castles and towns in real time, and you can chat with the people you run across. Otherwise? Everything else is pretty much up in the air. Thankfully, there's still plenty of time to learn more: Fire Emblem: Three Houses doesn't launch until sometime during 2019's second quarter.

Pokémon switches things up

If the Pokémon Go-inspired Pokémon: Let's Go isn't doing it for you, don't worry. Nintendo has a fully-fledged and brand new Pokémon role-playing game in the works, and it's scheduled to arrive in the second half of 2019, right in time for holiday shopping. Unlike Pokémon: Let's Go, which is set in the first games' Kanto region, the next Pokémon game will be a "core" entry in the franchise. Typically, that means a new land to explore, and tons of new Pokémon to hunt down and collect. Game Freak, the company that birthed Pokémon, is handling development chores. The game will debut on the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo's popular handheld-console hybrid.

Other than that? Details are slim, and while we're probably going to learn more before the game comes out — a title, at least, would be nice — Nintendo doesn't really have to share anything else. We're talking about Pokémon. It's going to sell no matter what anyone says.

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. 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."

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.

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.

Take to the seas with Skull & Bones

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is one of the best Assassin's Creed games ever made thanks almost entirely to its pirate theme, which let Ubisoft's developers take Assassin Creed III's well-received ship sections and bring them to the next level. In fact, Black Flag's naval battles are so fun that Ubisoft decided to give them their own game. It's called Skull & Bones, and it looks great.

Want to hit the seas solo and build a pirate empire all by your lonesome? You can. Despite the focus on epic five-on-five sea fights during Skull & Bones' big reveal, the game will have a dedicated single-player campaign. Even better, the solo missions will be fully integrated with Skull & Bones' multiplayer content. Basically, Skull & Bones will have something for everyone, no matter whether or not their friends are online or how they like to play.

It'll also have a whole fleet of different ships and an arsenal full of weapons like cannons, mortars, and rockets to choose from. You'll be able to board other people's ships, conquer enemy territory, and scour the Indian Ocean for hidden treasure. All that, and Skull & Bones will constantly improve, too. Ubisoft Singapore says its been listening to fans since the game entered development, and plans to keep that back-and-forth going for as long as possible.

If you want to live out all of your swashbuckling dreams, and find Sea of Thieves just a little too cartoony? Skull & Bones is for you.

Shenmue III lives!

Ambition always comes at a price. Shenmue might've blown players away with its unparalleled level of detail, not to mention gameplay innovations like making quick time events a thing. It was also the most expensive game ever made, at least at that point in time. Shenmue II might be one of the best games of all time, but it didn't make a ton of cash, forcing the franchise into an early, if temporary, retirement.

Shenmue III seems to be following the same pattern. In 2015, the game's Kickstarter shattered records, raising $2 million in just over eight hours and ultimately winding up with $6.33 million in pledges. On the other hand, the main takeaway from Shenmue III's first trailer was that its characters look awfully stiff and unlifelike, and it's also been delayed twice. Series creator Yu Suzuki admitted that his vision for the game exceeded the resources available, and despite all of that crowdfunding, Suzuki and his team were forced to bring in a publisher to provide additional funds.

Still, if Shenmue III can meet its new 2019 release window, it's bound to be one of the most popular games of the year. It's been well over 15 years since fans last checked in on teen martial artist Ryo Hazuki and his quest for vengeance. It's time for an update.

Can't wait until 2019? We've got more good news: remastered versions of first two Shenmue games should hit in 2018, giving you just enough time to catch up on Shenmue's ongoing story — or, at the very least, refresh your memory. After all, it's been a while.

Surprise sequels are all the Rage, too

Nobody really asked for a sequel to Rage, id Software's 2011 shooter. Sure, Rage is a fine game, but it's awfully derivative. It's post-apocalyptic landscape looks like something straight out of Mad Max. The levels look nice, but don't offer much in the way of interactivity. The shooting is great, but in id's games, the shooting is always great, and Rage doesn't feel all that different from the studio's past titles like DOOM and Quake.

On the other hand, since Rage's debut, publisher Bethesda has been on something of a hot streak. Wolfenstein: The New Order breathed new life into id's original Nazi-killing simulator. DOOM, a reboot of id's breakout 3D shooter, was even better. 2017's Prey doesn't have a whole lot to do with the original, but if you like immersive sims, you're going to find an awful lot to like.

So, why not give Rage another shot? Rage 2 co-developer Avalanche Studios has proved it can handle digital mayhem just fine with its work on the Just Cause franchise, and Avalanche's Mad Max is surprisingly good (and woefully underrated). Further, Rage 2's Overdrive mechanic sounds a lot like DOOM's fantastic glory kill system, which rewarded players for being as aggressive and brutal as possible. The more of that, the better. Keep the pretty graphics, give it some variety, and add some individual quirks to the gameplay, and Rage 2 could end up being 2019's sleeper hit. We'll just have to wait and see.

Back to Raccoon City with Resident Evil 2

It's been a while since Resident Evil fans have been to Raccoon City and they're eager to go back — even with all of those zombies. On January 25, 2019, old friends Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield return to the city that made them famous in Resident Evil 2, a current-generation remake of one of the all-time best Resident Evil games.

Like before, Resident Evil 2 breaks the action into two separate but connected campaigns, but this isn't the same game that scared you silly back on the PS1. The frustrating and stiff tank controls are gone, replaced by a modern over-the-shoulder camera, and enemies are tougher than before. Additionally, while the original game's special effects were limited by the PlayStation 1's CPU, the new iteration uses modern technology to deliver some of the most realistic gore ever seen in a video game. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

Open your heart to Kingdom Hearts III

Yes, it's true. Kingdom Hearts III is coming. It even has a release date: January 25, 2019. That's a long time after Kingdom Hearts II — 4,786 days, in fact, although who's counting? — but Square Enix is doing everything it can to assure fans that it'll be worth the wait. Just look at those trailers.

Naturally, series stars Sora, Goofy, and Donald are all returning, as are some of the series' most beloved worlds, including Hercules' Greece and Pirates of the Caribbean's open seas. There's more than a little modern Disney in the game, too. The latest Kingdom Hearts adventure includes levels based on Frozen, Tangled, and Big Hero 6, as well as Pixar joints like Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. Kingdom Hearts III also features the final showdown between Sora and series big-bad Xehanort, as well as at least one big surprise. In short? This action-RPG has something for everyone.

In Crackdown 3, the gangs fight back

Crackdown 3 might've missed 2018, but February 22, 2019 isn't too far off. That's a good thing, too, because it's been way too long since a Crackdown game graced our Xbox consoles. As per series tradition, Crackdown 3 centers on a crime-infested city that's just begging for someone to step in and clean it up. That's your job. Crackdown 3 will see you toppling crime organizations by offing their leaders and dismantling their operations. If your character becomes more powerful in the process? Even better.

This time, though, crime bosses won't take your assaults lying down. Thanks to Crackdown 3's dynamic "Gangs Bite Back" system, enemies will send out strike teams to take you out, or fortify besieged buildings to keep you at bay. As a result, everyone's time with Crackdown 3 will be different. We might all be playing the same game, but your version of New Providence will be yours and yours alone. Very cool.

A Dead or Alive your parents would approve of

For better or worse, Dead or Alive has a reputation for focusing more on scantily-clad babes than actual fighting. With Dead or Alive 6, that's changing. Developer Team Ninja promises that the latest iteration of its one-on-one brawler will be less about the jiggle and more about real anatomy. In Dead or Alive 6, characters will look like they've been through a real, harrowing battle — they'll even sweat and bruise — no matter how ridiculous their costumes are.

It'll be newcomer friendly, too. Even if you haven't playing a fighting game before, you should be able to pull off some cool moves by mashing buttons. Even better, you'll learn how the game works in the process. It's all about expanding the fighting game audience, Team Ninja says, and we're excited see if this new, inclusive approach pays off when Dead or Alive 6 arrives in March 2019.

Solving the mystery of Star Wars: Jedi -- Fallen Order

Here's what we know about Electronic Arts' next big Star Wars game: it's called Jedi: Fallen Order. It's in development at Respawn. It's set immediately after Star Wars: Episode III — The Revenge of the Sith, and deals with the fallout from Order 66, which forced the Clone Troopers to turn their guns on the Jedi. It's not the same title that Visceral Games was working on when the studio was shut down (that was handed off to EA Vancouver). It stars a Jedi Padawan, and it comes out holiday season 2019, just in time for Star Wars: Episode IX.

One brief behind-the-scenes video aside, that's it — and frankly, that's enough. Respawn has proved its chops with the criminally underrated Titanfall franchise, and if the studio devotes the same level of attention and innovation to Star Wars, then we're all in. Dust off your lightsaber and join us. You'll be glad you did.

Gears 5 hides a familiar franchise under a brand new name

The title might look a little different, but don't be fooled: Gears 5 is indeed the next entry in Microsoft's ultra-popular Gears of War series, and looks all set to deliver the same intense and violent third-person action that fans have come to know and love. The name isn't the only thing that's changing this time around, though. For the first time in series history, Gears 5 features a female protagonist. Good old Marcus Fenix is still around, of course (his kid will return, too), but Gears 5 is all about Kait Diaz, the former Outcast who made her debut in Gears of War 4.

Gears 5 isn't all about the future, though. It's got big ties to Gears' past, too. According to Microsoft, the game's plot with delve into the origins of the subterranean Locusts, resolving one of the franchise's longest-lasting mysteries. All that, plus new melee weapons and all the giant guns you can handle? Quite simply, we can't wait.

Samurai combat that's Nioh and dear to our hearts

Before Ghosts of Tsushima, before Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and a mere week before For Honor, Nioh brought feudal Japanese action to consoles around the world. In 2019, Team Ninja hopes to recapture its past glory with Nioh 2, which will return players to Japan for another dose of punishing, Dark Souls-style combat.

That's good news for fans of the first game, and if you liked Nioh, expect more of the same. Team Ninja doesn't expect the sequel to diverge much from the original blueprint. That's fine with us. There are a few small alterations coming, of course. Nioh 2 will ship with a fully-fledged character creator, meaning that, this time, the main character's looks and personality are in your hands. Deaths will be "more satisfying," whatever that means. Oh, it's also going to be hard. Creative director Tom Lee says, "This time around, the gloves are off," so, y'know. Watch out.

In Sekiro, you'll probably die more than twice

Dark Souls transformed From Software into a household name, but don't expect Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice to follow in those games' footsteps. For its ninja-heavy action game, From is doing something different. Oh, Sekiro will still be challenging, but this time combat will be based less on pattern recognition and more on experimentation. In Sekiro, there are multiple ways to take down foes. Stealth plays a major role, online interactions are gone, and you'll be able to resurrect your character on the fly.

On the other hand, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice isn't going to be too different. As Souls creator and From president Hidetaka Miyazaki tells Polygon, From's approach hasn't changed that much. Sekiro just takes the mindset that spawned Dark Souls and Bloodborne and applies it to a new setting. Judging by Sekiro's E3 trailer, the game blends the old with the new, and we can't wait to try it for ourselves when the game arrives sometime in 2019.

From new colossus to young blood

What's better than helping BJ Blazkowicz kill Nazis? Doing it with a friend. Wolfenstein: Youngblood is the next chapter in Bethesda's rebooted Wolfenstein franchise and, from the looks of things, the Blazkowicz clan's fight against their German oppressors is getting crazier and crazier. In Youngblood, the Second American Civil War has been raging for years. Blazkowicz is missing, and it's up to his daughters, Jessica and Sophia, to find him, liberating Paris from Nazi control along the way.

Thankfully, you won't be taking on the Third Reich alone. Unlike the other Wolfenstein campaigns, which are solo affairs, Youngblood features multiplayer co-op. With each player taking control of a different Blazkowicz twin, you and a buddy will be able to mow down Nazis while exploring a weird, Nazi-fied version of 1980s Paris. If that's not a recipe for a fantastic evening, then we don't know what is. Load up and go get 'em.

Ori is back, and he's bringing some friends with him

You don't need cutting-edge 3D graphics to create a beautiful game. Just look at Ori and the Blind Forest. At this point, development of Moon Studios' sidescrolling Metroidvania started over seven years ago, and yet the game still looks better than almost anything else on the market, modern or otherwise.

Somehow, its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, looks even better. The game's overall sense of style is roughly the same, but Ori's moody natural environments and mysterious creatures are even more vivid and detailed than before, making the plucky little forest spirit's world feel more vibrant than ever. Ori's platforming elements seem to be just as tight and compelling as they were the first time around, too.

Oh, and did we mention that Ori has an adorable owl pal this time around, too? It's almost too charming to handle. We can't wait to see what other surprises Moon Studios has in store for Ori and the Will of the Wisps 2019 debut.

Remedy helps you lose Control

Between Max Payne, Alan Wake, and Quantum Break, Remedy Entertainment has a proven track record when it comes to creating successful new intellectual properties. In 2019, the studio is set to do it again with Control, a third-person shooter that combines supernatural threats, psychic powers, and surreal shapeshifting environments into something that's a little familiar, but mostly just weird.

Control should be an interesting change for pace for Remedy, too, given that the studio is focusing less on story — one of their big strengths — and more on the open-ended gameplay facilitated by hero Jesse Faden's various powers. E3 demos highlighted Jesse's push, levitation, and time-shifting abilities, as well as her stylish transforming gun. It's kind of like Alex Garland's Annihilation in video game form: we're not sure that Control makes any sense, and that just makes us all the more eager to get our hands on it.

Yoshi brings the arts, the crafts, and the heart

Mario's green pal will make a console appearance in 2018 — he's part of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's massive roster, as well as Super Mario Party and Mario Tennis Aces — but sadly, his solo adventure won't make the cut. That's a little surprising, given that Yoshi (or whatever the final title ends up being) was playable at E3 2017, but if it leads to a better game, it's going to be hard to complain.

It's also going to be hard to wait, because Yoshi looks freakin' adorable. See, Yoshi is set in a world where everything is handcrafted, meaning that each stage has two sides: the colorful exteriors, and the cardboard and paper cutouts that make everything work behind the scenes. As you play the game, you'll get to explore both. It's just as charming as it sounds. Of course, this is Yoshi we're talking about. Charming is just what the little dinosaur does.

Sink your teeth into Code Vein

The internet might've dubbed Code Vein, Bandai Namco's upcoming action role-playing game, as "anime Dark Souls," but so what? It's not like fans are getting more Dark Souls any time soon, and besides, "anime Dark Souls" sounds kind of awesome. At the very least, it's enough to earn the game a quick look.

Do so, and you won't be disappointed. According to hands-on reports, Code Vein is very much what you'd expect it to be: a methodical and punishing hack-and-slash adventure in which you'll need to carefully time your attacks for maximum impact, unleash parries and dodges at just the right time, and manage your stamina meter so that you can do what you want to do when you need to do it. Sure, your characters wield comically large swords and sport spiky hairdos, but this is a Souls game in everything but name.

And that's fine! Code Vein has a few small tweaks that set it apart, of course: you can switch your character build any time during the game, AI-powered helpers will follow you into battle, and you can steal your foes' blood (or "ichor") to make your character stronger and to fuel Code Vein's magic attacks. Still, for the most part, you know what you're getting into when the recently delayed Code Vein launches in 2019, and you know what? We'll take it.

When is a Castlevania not a Castlevania? When it's Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Castlevania is having kind of a moment. Not only did the animated series based on the venerated video game series earn a second season, but there's been a flood of so-called Metroidvania games that owe a huge, huge debt to Castlevania, especially its seminal PlayStation outing Symphony of the Night. And yet, the video games themselves are nowhere to be seen. The last entry in the franchise, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 came out in 2014. Since then? Silence.

It doesn't matter. In 2019, former Castlevania designer Koji Igarashi — the man most commonly credited with taking Castlevania from good to great — will release Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a game that's a new Castlevania in everything but name. We're talking old-school Castlevania, too. Ritual of the Night has 3D graphics, but the game itself is strictly a side-scrolling affair in which Miriam, a former test subject for a group of villainous alchemists, must infiltrate a demonic castle in order to exterminate evil's forces.

Not that Ritual is a greatest hits collection, of course. It's got a brand new crafting system, a brand new cast of characters, and a "magi-crystal curse" that'll rob Miriam of her humanity if she's not careful. The only downside, really, is that the planned Vita port got the axe. Bloodstained may not have any Belmonts, but otherwise, this is the Castlevania revival you've been waiting for.

Spelunky 2. 'Nuff said.

Yes, we're getting a legitimate Spelunky sequel. That's all you really need to know. In 2008, Derek Yu's free, procedurally-generated platformer arrived and helped kick off the indie 2D platformer renaissance, making roguelikes (or, at the very least, roguelike-likes) into a major thing. Now, Yu, Mossmouth, and Blitworks want to give us more? All we have to say is: yes, please.

Spelunky 2 isn't just more of the same, although honestly, we'd be pretty okay if it was. It's got a new hero in Ana Spelunky, the daughter of the original's iconic lead. Levels will be split into two "layers," adding a third dimension to exploration (don't worry, though: all movement still takes place on a 2D plane). New liquid physics make transversing Spelunky 2's underground labyrinths more fun — and dangerous — before, and Yu promises that Spelunky 2's levels will feel more interconnected, interesting, and polished than before.

If you're a Spelunky veteran, Yu hopes that you'll be able to jump right in and pick up where you left off. Spelunky 2 should be more friendly for newcomers, too, although if you haven't played the original yet, you've still got some time before Spelunky 2's 2019 release rolls around. Like we said, the game is free. Why wouldn't you give it a shot?

Don't be fooled: Animal Crossing is on its way to the Switch

If you spend time on social media, there's no way you missed this: in September 2018, Nintendo held one of its online Nintendo Direct press events, which it closed with a small tease about Animal Crossing on the Switch. People got excited, but Nintendo was simply announcing that Isabelle, Animal Crossing's peppy town secretary, was joining Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Disappointing, right? Well, next, Nintendo played another video confirming that, no, wait, Animal Crossing is coming to the Switch after all. It was just as exhausting as it sounds.

Nintendo hasn't released any further details about the game, but we've got a pretty good guess as to how the next Animal Crossing is going to eat up all of your time. It's probably got lots of chores to do, like pulling weeds and making deliveries. You'll be able to get fruit (and cash) by shaking down trees, and spend your downtime fishing or hunting for insects, customizing your house, or making friends with your fellow villagers. There will probably be fossils to gather, concerts by the esteemed K. K. Slider to attend, and debts to pay to that wily raccoon, Tom Nook, too.

In other words, well, it's probably going to be Animal Crossing, with all that that entails. We may not know what the game's Switch's big hook is going to be, but Animal Crossing thrives on consistency. Besides, the status quo is charming.

Spook your Switch with Luigi's Mansion 3

The year of Luigi has long-since passed us by, but 2019 is shaping up to be a pretty big year for the lesser Mario brother all the same. Not only is his best platforming adventure, New Super Luigi U, getting a high-profile Switch re-release, but his flagship series, Luigi's Mansion, will get its first console installment since the GameCube era.

If you've somehow missed Luigi's Mansion and its various sequels and rereleases, here's the deal: Luigi's Mansion is basically Ghostbusters with Bill Murray swapped out for Nintendo's green-clad plumber, Boo instead of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and flashlights and vacuum cleaners replacing proton packs. As Luigi travels through his haunted abode, he'll need to clear the house of any lingering spooks, spirits, and ghosts. He'll also want to pick up any treasure he finds along the way, and if Luigi can free his big brother from the painting he's trapped in, too, so much the better.

Other than the fact that it's coming, Nintendo hasn't released too much information about Luigi's Mansion 3 so far, and we probably won't learn more until later in 2019. That's okay. For now, it's enough to know that one of the best Mario spin-off franchises is getting a new entry. Making Luigi a ghost hunter might seem strange at first, but oddly, it's actually a great fit. Once you play Luigi's Mansion 3, you'll see why.

Delve into Minecraft: Dungeons

Minecraft won't ever get a sequel. Quite frankly, it doesn't need one. Spin-offs, though? Keep 'em coming. In 2015, Mojang and Telltale Games teamed up to give the blocky sandbox title a plot — kind of, anyway — with Minecraft: Story Mode, an episodic narrative adventure, while in 2019 Minecraft is going old-school. Minecraft: Dungeons might look like another voxel-based building game, but it's really a retro-style dungeon crawler, complete with young men and fair maidens to rescue, waves of monsters to defeat, and plenty of loot to collect.

Mojang promises that Minecraft: Dungeons will be full of new content. Even if you're an experienced Minecraft player, Dungeons will introduce you to environments, mobs, and items that you've never seen before. Everything still has that good, voxel-y Minecraft flavor, though. As Mojang explains, Minecraft: Dungeons' combat system is the same one that Minecraft players have been enjoying for close to a decade. If you, like many others, prefer to play Minecraft with friends, you can do that here, too. Minecraft: Dungeons supports parties of up to four players, and will reward groups with bigger and better items that scale accordingly.

Even if retro-style dungeon crawlers aren't your thing, keep your fingers crossed that Minecraft: Dungeons delivers. Mojang says that the action-RPG is just the first of many Minecraft-themed titles in development, and we can't wait to see what shows up next.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite brings two unstoppable forces together

Combine J. K. Rowling's $25 billion Wizarding World franchise with the full weight of Niantic, Inc., the Google offshoot responsible for the augmented reality hit Pokémon Go, and what do you get? A solid candidate for 2019's most popular mobile game, that's what. Like Pokémon Go before it, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite brings fantasy into the real world via way of a smartphone app, allowing will-be spellcasters to track down creatures from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films, solve mysteries, hunt artifacts, and interact with their favorite Harry Potter characters.

In other words? Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is going to be huge. The last big Harry Potter mobile game, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery raised $55 million in a paltry three months despite complaints about the game's microtransaction-heavy game design. Pokémon Go, meanwhile, keeps chugging along. With recent additions like trainer-versus-trainer battles, it's better than it's ever been, and there's a reason why millions of players keep coming back for more.

Wizards Unite could be bigger than both. It's got the right theme and the right studio at the helm, and there's no reason why it should be anything less than an epic success. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is all set to cast its spell on smartphones in 2019, and if history is any indication, it'll be nigh inescapable. Get ready. This is going to be a big one.