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The Best Games Of 2019

2018 was a great year for games. Long-anticipated titles wowed audiences and clashed for the honorable title of game of the year. Although we won't be getting a new Red Dead Redemption or God of War in 2019, there are plenty of games that will make a considerable case for themselves come awards season. Really, the hardest part of 2019 will be finding time to play all these stellar games. The bigger they are, the harder it is to out down the controller, as it turns out.

Gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry. Developers are more determined than ever to make games that resonate with their audiences and provide experiences that warrant replays and convince gamers to play just one more round. Five more minutes can't hurt. Games featured on this list easily sucked us in for hours at a time, making reality seem a little dull when we finally walked away from the screen.

Resident Evil 2 was a monstrously good resurrection

Back in 1998, Resident Evil 2 was welcomed by horror fans and lauded by critics. It was scary, the graphic bloodshed and shuffling zombies frightening the heck out of players. The sequel superbly followed up the first game, continuing the story and deepening the terror of the T-virus. It's a good game, but the graphics, gameplay, and sound quality don't really hold up to today's standards. Capcom graciously gave modern audiences the chance to experience the abject horror of Resident Evil 2, releasing a remake in January of 2019. 

The new Resident Evil 2 is more than just a remake. The game has been resurrected with mechanics that meet the quality of life that modern players have, but in no way makes the game easier. Players control the camera this time around, which makes the jump scares all the more scarier. The audio is also new and improved: Lickers on the ceiling, Mr. X's stomping pursuit, and the bang of zombies against closed doors made playing with headphones a downright masochistic experience.

Although some of the story is rearranged and the mutant spiders have been exterminated, Capcom didn't abandon original details that made the game great. Leon and Claire don't have infinite backpack storage, forcing players to make life or death inventory decisions. Since the start, Resident Evil has defined the survival horror genre, and Resident Evil 2 is a celebration of puzzle-solving, persistent enemies, and that sweet '90s haircut of Leon's. Don't ever change.

NieR:Automata - Game of the YoRHa Edition might be our game of the year

NieR: Automata proved itself to be more than an RPG in 2017. It's everything you could want from a game: a massive world, hack-and-slash mechanics, weird jokes, and anime girls. What's not to love? Square Enix wanted to give players even more to love in 2019's NieR:Automata – Game of the YoRHa Edition. It's funny because YoRHa is humanity's very last outpost, and fantastic because it adds a well-received DLC and a ton of extras that ardent fans were clamoring for.

This is a good game to start with for players new to the series, too. The ever-evolving gameplay and combat keeps players entertained and challenged, but it's the expertly woven narrative at the core of this game that drives players ever forward on the post-apocalyptic earth. The original game was nominated for Best Narrative at 2017's Game of the Year Awards and won Best Score/Soundtrack. The music layers in emotion and depth worthy of an Oscar-nominated film. This doesn't even mention the details lavished into the character design, which almost justifies one of the weirdest achievements in gaming history. Seriously, it's amazing how creator Yoko Taro managed to make a game both absurd and heart-wrenching all at once. NieR: Automata – Game of the YoRHa Edition is worthy of awards, attention, and a playthrough from both those who loved 2017's hit and those who are entirely unfamiliar with the series.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice excelled at challenging gameplay

Take everything you love from Dark Souls and Bloodborne and throw it into Japan's bloody Sengoku period. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is doubly deadly in both its challenging gameplay and hard-won victories. Make no mistake: Sekiro is more than just a re-skinned Dark Souls. The world is a little more mystical than the very real historical period the game is based in, and takes full advantage of Japanese folklore in the crafting of the innumerable enemies that will you will fight, be killed by, and be killed by again.

You play as an undying, one-armed shinobi (ninja, for all you gaijin) known as "the one-armed wolf." Being a shinobi comes with increased mobility as never before seen in a Souls game. A suped-up prosthetic arm allows players to grapple onto roofs and spy on conversations, making stealth and exploration a big part of the experience. When sneakiness fails, the fights are intense. Players might feel like a kendo expert by the end of the game, because the sword fights are anything but hack and slash. Posture matters. Every blow matters. Although Sekiro lacks some of the RPG elements of other FromSoftware games, each decision that the player makes affects the whole of the world — die one too many times and you'll infect the world with a crippling disease. With an environment so real you can practically breathe it and a compelling story, Sekiro is one of our favorite games of 2019.

Apex Legends was a surprise and delight

No one saw Apex Legends coming. The game was dropped without any pomp and circumstance in February by Respawn Entertainment, but managed to quickly capture attention. A new battle royale from Titanfall devs out of nowhere? We were intrigued. And then we were thoroughly impressed. In an increasingly crowded genre that has been absolutely dominated by Fortnite, Apex Legends has made a name for itself.

The free-to-play shooter is frankly charming: the characters, known as Legends, are full of personality and interesting abilities to match. What is also refreshing is that these abilities don't define the characters, serving more as bonuses than playstyle-defining constrictions. Players can try out each and every Legend to see what works best for them without the anxiety of filling a certain role in the squad. Playing with others is where Apex Legends shines. For a game that might seem shallow and new, it's clear that a lot of time, attention, and detail was put into the functions that makes playing with a team fun rather than toxic. The ping system is intuitive rather than detached. Even without mics, teams can communicate and watch each other's backs. This is a game that can turn randos into ride-or-die partners.

The game garnered 50 million players in its first month, surprising and delighting us all. Apex Legends is much more than a Titanfall take on Fortnite. It is its own game, and a great one at that.

Devil May Cry 5 was smokin', sexy, and stylin'

Any adventure with Devil May Cry's Dante is ridiculous, and this one is ridiculously good. Capcom gave 2019 a double whammy of good games: players coming off the high of completing Resident Evil 2 could dive right into the equally well-rendered, monstrosity-populated world of Devil May Cry 5. Rather than conserving ammo and dodging zombies, players are encouraged to fly face-first into battle with oversized weapons and a thirst for bloodshed. The more violent the fight, the cooler the score. Being badass is what Devil May Cry 5 is all about, and badass it certainly is.  

It's also about answering questions fans of the series have been chewing over for a long time. And getting to know a Dante that's older, but nevertheless more flamboyant than ever. He's not even the star of the show. There are three different characters, including the mysterious V, who captured the hearts of Kylo Ren fans everywhere, and everyone's favorite bad boy Nero, to play as, each with their own unique style. Really, there is something for everyone in the game: big boss fights, cutscenes with Matrix-rivaling slow-mo, an all new exploration of the original lore, a kickass soundtrack, and dancing. By Dante. Dante dances. And eats pizza, as is required of him in any DMC game.

Mortal Kombat 11 was fantastic with a 'k'

A lot of players didn't buy Mortal Kombat 11 for the story. The series' infamously gory finishing moves and button mashing combat have kept the game relevant for decades and decades. However, there's a surprisingly well-executed story mode married to the gorgeous graphics waiting for players who boot up the game. The villain supreme of this title, Kronika, is meddling with time, meaning that fan favorite characters get to meet earlier, and less edgy, incarnations. In this way, Mortal Kombat 11 both celebrates its nostalgic past and utilizes cutting edge technology to show exactly what a cutting edge does to the human body. (Hint: it's not pretty.)

NetherRealm Studios still reserved its utmost effort for the fighting. The combat system has been enhanced so that duking it out is better and bloodier than ever before: speeds have been decreased in order to increase the stakes, you can use special techniques more frequently rather than holding back and conserving energy, and blocking means taking on more damage — you need to be on the offensive! These changes emphasize the no-holds-barred, close quarters combat with a 'k' that has carried the franchise into the 21st century.

Mortal Kombat 11 is so good that we're perhaps willing to forgive the exclusion of Ultra Instinct Shaggy. Perhaps.

F1 2019 quickly became the best racing game of 2019

It's genuinely difficult to tell the difference between a real life photograph from a Formula One race and a screenshot from the graphically outstanding F1 2019 game. The cars are slick, rendered with the utmost care by CodeMasters with details that are getting noticed and appreciated. Reviewers are saying that the latest installment in the series has it all, outpacing the 2018 version. 

The game does a fantastic job of painstakingly replicating the very real races. Players can actually hear their team talking to them, giving them useful advice as they speed around the track. Fans were elated to find that developers at last added the long-requested driver transfers feature, giving the most complete racing experience yet. After all, there's a lot more to F1 2019 than just getting behind the wheel and going fast. Players have important choices to make: what upgrades to pursue, what interviews to give, and where to focus on improving yourself. All this further lends itself to the admirable realism that CodeMasters put into what some are calling 2019's best racing game.

Super Mario Maker 2 is loaded with level-designing dazzle

What the Wii U did, the Switch does better. This has only been further proven with the well-received sequel to the beloved Super Mario Maker. Super Mario Maker 2 does everything fans loved about the predecessor, but with a few new fun additions. There's cat Mario, clear pipes, and creeping piranha plants to contend with upon brand new backgrounds. The sequel has added a great deal of features to help sadistic builders stump players, and new modes prove that Super Mario Maker 2 is a proper sequel as opposed to a simple port of the original. 

Plus, there's a new story mode. Princess Peach's castle needs to be rebuilt, and by completing various levels, builders can earn the coin required to return the Mushroom Kingdom castle to all its former splendor. There are over 100 levels of this story mode to love or rage quit. The new game also makes it so that you don't have to suffer alone: multiplayer mode allows for up to four players to scrambled through the most demanding of levels. Showing off everything we love about Nintendo, the game is a prospective level designer's dream and a completionist's worst nightmare (in a good way, of course.)

Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers flips the script on the tired "light vs dark" plot

Yes, Final Fantasy 14 is still impressing us all, years after the online game was branded as a lost cause. The game continues to prove that it came back from the abyss with well received expansions that make the world, well, more expansive. Shadowbringers transports players into Norvrandt, where they have the chance to start anew in this untouched land. 

In an engrossing story told through practically poetic prose, Shadowbringers switches things up by tasking you, the hero, to take out the light that plagues the land. Light bad, shadow good in this twisty, turn-y plot. Reviewers are calling this tragic tale a masterpiece, the crown jewel of the game thus far. Fans have said that this is the perfect moment to jump into the game and thoroughly enjoy the Shadowbringer story and the hauntingly beautiful music that accompanies it. For those who have been longtime players, two new races and jobs shake things up alongside other fresh new content. Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers is an utter success, proving that the game was destined for greatness despite its inauspicious start.

Tetris Effect is the ASMR version of the classic game

How do you make the world's best selling video game even better? Tetris Effect deftly answers this question through a masterful execution that is deeply, deeply satisfying. This might sound like hyperbole, but for real — there's something intensely pleasant about Tetris Effect. It takes the simple, familiar concept of the age-old game of Tetris and applies a user interface that feels like a massage or an ASMR video. The game demands your full attention as you stack blocks against a shifting, hypnotic video that changes alongside the soft, unobtrusive music. Small effects like the shaking of the screen or the glow of matched blocks makes winning feel almost tactile. 

The game is named not after the extra special effects thrown in, but because it's almost as if players have been transported into a different plane. Tetris Effect tries to mimic this in 30+ stages that "take players on a wondrous, emotional journey through the universe." Sign us up for that trippy, trippy trip through space, please.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the best at what it does

Haven't heard from your friends lately? It's probably because they're wrapped up in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Everything from the game's story, to the characters, to the gameplay has proven to be dangerously engrossing and utterly charming. Although Fire Emblem has made a name for itself as one of the best turn-based strategy franchises, Three Houses has also attracted players with romance-able characters and a seriously strong narrative. The battles are only half of the story. 

The Garreg Mach Monastery, the player's home base, is fun to explore and covered in cats, which you unfortunately can't pet, but there are plenty of students to get acquainted with and tutor into their best selves. This is where players can flex their skill as a master tactician and create the perfect army for the troubling times to come. There's so much to do, see, and decide that players can sink dozens of hours into just getting to know their favorite characters. An utterly rewarding experience from start to finish, it's no wonder that Fire Emblem: Three Houses has gained the favor and respect of both veteran fans and newcomers alike.

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is a beautiful battle for cool-headed players

Are you cool enough to take on the New World and all the beasts that wait within? Iceborne, the long-awaited expansion to Capcom's 2018 hit Monster Hunter World, has finally arrived, and with it, players are treated to an unprecedented challenge. In a good way, of course. The all new, lovingly designed beasts of Hoarfrost Reach are powerful enough that players should expect their fights to last around a half hour, each minute intense and rewarding. If fighting isn't your favorite part of Monster Hunter, then there are plenty of weapons, a new narrative, and sparkling environments to marvel at. 

Taking place after the game's main campaign, there's a huge new tundra to explore, with this map being bigger than all the others. There's a hot springs too, serving as the gathering hub, if you're into half-naked NPCs. Palicos are newly buffed with gadgets that allow them to revive Hunters after fainting, so although the expansion is more brutal than ever, it deftly avoids frustrating players. Hunt down the ecosystem-destroying Old Everwyrm and enjoy every super cool second of gameplay in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is back and better than ever

This 1993 GameBoy title has gotten a serious graphical overhaul but remains true enough to the original that The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is giving players a lovely rush of nostalgia. Even those who never played the original find the game charming, since it harks back to a simpler time. Link's Awakening looks like a land of toys brought to life, adorable and bright, filled with unexpected interactions. Fans have thoroughly enjoyed the callbacks to the greater Nintendo universe — yes, that's a Chomp Chain coming after you — and the unique narrative that propels players through the game's many inventive dungeons. 

Even though the dungeon-building feature, the Chamber Dungeon, has fallen flat for many, the game has made up for this failure with its intensely fun, almost tactile gameplay. Swinging the Master Sword has never been so satisfying. Link's Awakening has gotten some much-needed quality of life updates that make the game a seamless experience as Link quests for musical instruments in order to wake the dreaming Wind Fish at the top of the island's mountain. Yes, Link's Awakening is exactly as weirdly wonderful as it sounds.

Luigi's Mansion 3 is a spooky good time

Luigi's Mansion 3 was released just in time for Halloween, celebrating all the things that go bump in the night. In this new addition to the beloved series, Luigi is once again facing his fears in a spooky old hotel, armed with only a vacuum and the encouragement of Doctor Egad as he looks for his missing friends. The Poltergust G-00 is equipped with the usual mechanics of a Luigi's Mansion title, but has some notable upgrades. Ghost hunters can not only dust-bust mischievous specters; they can also slam them onto the ground for additional damage. 

The gameplay is tactile and fun, set in a detailed world covered in cobwebs and secrets. Puzzle solving has a whole new layer with the addition of Gooigi, a greener, gooier version of Luigi who is impervious to spikes and iron bars. The ghouls are more ghastly than ever, but as always, Nintendo keeps it pleasantly PG. Luigi's Mansion 3 is spooky, fun, and sometimes spine-tingling, but never scary. All this, and a fascinating story to boot, makes Luigi's Mansion 3 one of our favorite games this year.

The Outer Worlds is so much more than "Skyrim in space"

The Outer Worlds was undeniably one of 2019's best games. The space faring RPG was short, sweet, and included many of the elements players loved about Fallout: New Vegas, Obsidian's beloved foray into Bethesda's iconic franchise. The Outer Worlds put you in charge of your own destiny, letting you make choices both small and large that ultimately decide your fate. The game also boasts a host of memorable NPCs you can recruit as loyal crew members. Who wouldn't want a giant janitor bot to be their buddy? 

Beyond its charming, well-written dialogue, even the more quiet moments in The Outer Worlds are stunning. You're out in space, on alien planets, and the bizarre flora and fauna perfectly reflect this setting. Quite fairly, critics have called the game "Skyrim in space" for the freedom it gives players to explore, make questionable choices, and beat the life out of enemies with the aid of unique weapons. That said, The Outer Worlds is an entirely original adventure that has left players hungry for more. Thankfully, you only have to wait until 2020 to experience the first The Outer Worlds DLC.

Control is weird (in a good way)

Control is a bizarre yet strangely compelling game. It's like fine art: you aren't sure what you're dealing with at first, but the more you look at it the more you find you like it. Remedy's supernatural adventure puts you in the shoes of Jesse Faden who infiltrates the Federal Bureau of Control. Anything but average, this ever changing office building is a character in itself. Jesse makes her way through this shape-shifting monolith, taking on enemies and meeting NPCs who are, like the building, rather strange. 

All this oddness is brilliantly written, making it worth reading each fax and file you find. Jesse has psionic powers, making fightig just as fun as the more mundane activities. Think of her as X-Men's Jean Grey, but with more ... control. Jesse doesn't just throw concrete and chairs around, either. She is equipped with a service weapon, a shapeshifting gun that talks to her. Like we said, it's a weird game, but one that more than deserved its multiple nominations and Art Direction win at The Game Awards.

Death Stranding takes us to a brave new world of gaming

Ah, Death Stranding. This game has inspired both rave reviews and angry rants from critics. Hideo Kojima's latest creation definitely isn't for everyone, but those willing to try out this strange new "strand" genre will find a game worth experiencing. Even the title's detractors can't deny that its beautiful. The graphics are top notch, rendering a misty apocalypse that is a treat to traverse as Sam Porter Bridges, a lone delivery man who isn't all that lonely thanks to the strand system. This pseudo-online system lets you see traces of other players — other Sams — out there in the wide world. 

Even if players riff on the strange dialogue, it is delivered through the incredible performances of experienced actors who are giving this game their all. There are countless cut scenes, yes, but each one is cinematic to the max. Mads Mikkelsen, Troy Baker, Margaret Qualley, and Norman Reedus each embody their roles beautifully, with Mikkelsen taking home the award for Best Performance at The Game Awards. Death Stranding is almost more movie than game, but that doesn't make it unworthy of its place on this list of best games of 2019.