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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.

Total War: Three Kingdoms - May 23

Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of China's Four Great Classical Novels, may not be that well known in the West, but it's an awfully popular foundation for video games nonetheless. In the mid-'80s, Koei produced a NES-bound adaptation of the same name that spawned 12 sequels, plus a handful of spin-offs. Dynasty Warriors, the crowd-based hack n' slash title, recreates many of the book's most notable battles. The classic PlayStation JRPG Suikoden 2 is a loose adaptation of the book. So is Atlantica Online and many others.

In March, add Total War to that list. Creative Assembly's popular strategy series has already visited locations like ancient Rome, medieval Europe, feudal Japan, and Warhammer's grim 'n' gritty fantasy world. Why not China's Three Kingdoms era? Don't let the new setting concern you, though. Total War: Three Kingdoms will still combine macro-level turn-based strategy with smaller-scale real-time battles that let you control the action directly. It's still Total War, after all.

Total War: Three Kingdoms will pay tribute to its literary roots, however. In Three Kingdoms, characters have their own personalities, and if you want to be an effective leader, you'll need to manage their personal wants and needs in addition to their positions on the battlefield. "We can't do the period justice without characters being at the forefront of the game," lead designer Simon Mann says. "They're at the core of what makes this period so interesting."

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - June 18

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.

The Sinking City - June 27

The Sinking City isn't a reboot, a sequel, or an adaptation, but that doesn't mean that you're not familiar with its source material. Frogwares' moody adventure game relies heavily on the works of the Cthulhu-daddy himself, cosmic horror impresario H.P. Lovecraft.

Many games make that claim, of course, but The Sinking City's Lovecraftian influence is much more subtle than you'd expect. It comes through in the odd and unsettling city of Oakdale, which has been left partially underwater after a battle between all-powerful gods. It appears in the 1920s timeline, which echoes the era in which Lovecraft wrote his best-known works. It's the way that the game plays with mysteries and how it forces regular people, like you, to become supernatural investigators.

As you search for clues and try to unravel Oakdale's many secrets, you won't find any pre-defined waypoints or a quest log that tells you where to go next. All you've got is the evidence and your own intuition to guide you. It's all up to you. In The Sinking City, that means that how you solve cases affects their outcome, so get ready for surprises. This is a horror game. Things are going to get weird.

Super Mario Maker 2 - June 28

Despite the Wii U's lackluster sales, 2015's Super Mario Maker was a quiet revolution. There's an entire generation of players out there who were raised on Super Mario Bros. and its sequels. After 30 years, Nintendo let them make their own version, and it was amazing what fans came up with when Nintendo gave them access to all of the toys in the toy box.

Well, okay, not all of the toys. Super Mario Maker didn't have vertically-oriented levels, custom speeds and camera controls for auto-scrolling stages, desert or forest themes, or water in non-swimming stages. It didn't include traditional Super Mario standbys like multi-colored Yoshis or giant Banzai Bills. Much to fans' chagrin, the original Super Mario Maker didn't let you make slopes, which have been a series staple since 1989's Super Mario Bros. 3.

In hindsight, it looks like Nintendo needed to save something for the sequel, because Super Mario Maker 2 has all of those things and many, many more — and that's just what we saw in the first trailer. With a fresh user interface and all kinds of new goodies to play with, Super Mario Maker 2 could be Nintendo's biggest game of the year. After all, if Super Mario Maker proved one thing, it's that playing Mario games is fun but making them is even better.

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3 - The Black Order - July 19

Just like everyone else on the planet, you probably have Avengers fever. We don't blame you. Avengers: Endgame, the conclusion to Marvel's 22-film Infinity Saga, is on track to become the biggest film of all time, and it's hard to walk out of the theater without wondering what it'd be like to toss Captain America's shield, swing Thor's hammer, or fire Iron Man's repulsors.

That's what Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3 – The Black Order is for. Like the previous Ultimate Alliance games, The Black Order is both an action-RPG and a superhero love-fest that lets you play as 27 of your favorite Marvel characters. From the Avengers to the Guardians of the Galaxy to the X-Men to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse stars like Spider-Gwen and Miles Morales, all the big guns are here. Not only that, but as you put together four-player teams, you'll unlock special combos — like, say, Storm and Thor teaming up to create a thunder-powered cyclone — that are just as cool as anything you'll see on the big screen.

Ultimate Alliance 3's storyline should feel familiar to anyone who watched Infinity War or Endgame (The Black Order is the name of Thanos' personal strike squad), and it's developed by Team Ninja and published by Nintendo, who worked with Marvel specifically to ensure that Ultimate Alliance returned. If that all sounds too good to be true, we only have one reply: Avengers? Assemble.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood - July 26

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.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses - July 26

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 July 26.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening — July 2019

Between all of the remakes and a little something known as Breath of the Wild, Nintendo has showed the 3D Zelda games a lot of love. The 2D editions? Not so much. That's going to change this summer, however, when The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, Link's first portable adventure, gets an HD remake for the Switch.

If you haven't played Link's Awakening, or if it's been a while — and given that the game first arrived on the Game Boy back in 1993, we wouldn't blame you — you really should check this one out. Not only is Link's Awakening just as deep and compelling as its 16-bit cousin, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but it's the weirdest Zelda game ever made (and yes, that includes Majora's Mask). Taking a number of cues from Twin Peaks, Link's Awakening drops Hyrule's legendary hero into a surreal dreamscape where he fights to hatch a giant egg, and where even the friendly townsfolk hide dark secrets.

The Switch-exclusive Link's Awakening plays up this tension with an art style that can only be described as adorable without shying away from any of the original's eccentricity, including some truly baffling Super Mario Bros. cameos. The combo of traditional Zelda gameplay and the odd atmosphere makes Link's Awakening one of Link's most memorable adventures, and we can't wait to get stranded on Koholint Island all over again this July.

Shenmue III - Aug. 27

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 Aug. 27 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.

Borderlands 3 - September 13

When Borderlands arrived in 2009, the mere idea of an open-world loot-driven shooter felt fresh and new — but that was before we had Destiny, The Division, Anthem, Warframe, and so many others. In this day and age, Borderlands 3 is going to have to work a little harder to remind us what makes the series special. Well, it looks like Gearbox Software has figured out the solution: give players more, more, more.

We don't just mean more guns, although Borderlands 3 has over one billion of those. Borderlands 3 also has more skills to unlock — three per character, this time around — making for a much wider variety of builds. There are more ways to move around, including some Apex Legends-style crouch-slides. Instead of confining the action to the planet Pandora, Borderlands' traditional home base, Borderlands 3 will give you a spaceship and let you explore a bunch of different worlds, each one of which is full of treasures to find.

There are also more collectibles to track down — if you want to build Borderlands' ultra-annoying mascot Claptrap a girlfriend, you'd better start hunting — an improved multiplayer system, and, well, more. As long as Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford can stay out of his own way, Borderlands 3 could very well vault to the top of the shlooter pile. Step aside, everyone: the king is back.

Phoenix Point - September 2019

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.

Pokémon Sword and Shield — Late 2019

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.

Star Wars: Jedi - Fallen Order - Holiday 2019

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 – 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.

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.

Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda - TBD

Getting one The Legend of Zelda game a year is a treat. Getting two is practically unheard of — and yet, in 2019, we're getting exactly that. Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda might not be a traditional Zelda adventure like the upcoming Link's Awakening remake, but don't count it out. Crypt of the NecroDancer, a roguelike, rhythm-based dungeon-crawler, is one of the best music-based games of the past decade, and The Legend of Zelda is all about the music.

As in Crypt of the NecroDancer, you can't do anything in Cadence of Hyrule without moving to the beat of the soundtrack. Want to move Link, Zelda, or NecroDancer hero Cadence from place to place, swing their weapons, or cast one of their spells? You'd better have rhythm. With 25 tracks plucked from the past 30-plus years of The Legend of Zelda history, an art style that recalls The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and more Easter eggs than you can shake a Wind Waker at, Cadence of Hyrule should be a treat for Zelda fans everywhere. While you wait, feel free to go check out Crypt of the NecroDancer, too. Trust us. It's worth it.

The Outer Worlds - TBD

Obsidian Entertainment knows role-playing games. Over the course of its 15-year history, the studio founded by former Black Isle developers (the people who made Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, and Fallout 2) has cranked out one critically-acclaimed RPG after another. South Park: The Stick of Truth? Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II — The Sith Lords? Pillars of Eternity? Freakin' Fallout: New Vegas? All Obsidian joints.

However, while there are a few exceptions, most of Obsidian's output has been based on existing franchises, not original properties. That's one reason why The Outer Worlds, Obsidian's big 2019 release, is so exciting. As revealed at The Game Awards 2018, The Outer Worlds is a new series that takes place on a distant planet on the edge of corporation-controlled space. Players will be able to fight their way across the planet, scoring loot Borderlands-style along the way, but fisticuffs aren't the only option. As per Obsidian tradition, branching dialogue trees and non-lethal skills provide alternate means for resolving conflicts.

Oh, and by the way, The Outer Worlds is directed by Fallout creators Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, and looks like it shares that series' special mix of goofy satire and dark, character-driven pathos, as well as a similarly quirky cast of characters. That's enough to make The Outer Worlds a can't miss for RPG fans, so let's hope that August release date holds up. The Outer Worlds looks like the perfect place to spend our summer vacation.

Cyberpunk 2077 - TBD

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.

Gears 5 - TBD

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.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps - TBD

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.

Psychonauts 2 - TBD

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 $4 million 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.

Wasteland 3 - TBD

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.

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."

The Surge 2 - TBD

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.

Nioh 2 - TBD

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.

Control - TBD

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.

Code Vein - TBD

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.

Spelunky 2 - TBD

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?

Animal Crossing - TBD

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.

Luigi's Mansion 3 - TBD

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.

Minecraft: Dungeons - TBD

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 - TBD

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.