This was an interesting gaming year for me. I don’t know if there’s a single game on this list that I would consider a new all-time favorite. It very much feels like a year in transition (for everyone but Nintendo) as we get ready for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
I don’t mean to sound so down on 2019. I still played a lot of games that I really liked. I might even say that I loved some of them. There are so many of these games, in fact, that I am able to put them together in a convenient list of 10.
Link’s Awakening is an all-time great, and Nintendo did right by this Game Boy masterpiece with this remake. While I love the diorama-like visuals, I appreciate how faithful the rest of experience remains to the original. My only complaint concerns the inconsistent framerate.
Ah, Kingdom Hearts III. In many ways, it’s a mess. But it’s a beautiful one. The story is irredeemable nonsense at this point, but the action is flashy and satisfying, the music soars, and I’ll never get over having an epic RPG experience with Donald Duck and Goofy in my party.
I love Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, and it’s thrilling that The Outer Worlds is in their mold. It’s an FPS-RPG that’s more about the role-playing and less about the shooting, and I enjoy its sci-fi, capitalism-gone-mad world.
7. Apex Legends
I played a good amount of Fortnite last year, but I thought I got rid of the battle royale itch. Apex Legnds brought me back in with its character-based gameplay, fast-paced action, and satisfying guns. It’s now by far my favorite of the battle royale games.
This feels like a weird pick, since World of Warcraft Classic is basically a rerelease of game from 2004. But this experience feels fresh, and I spent more time in this MMO revival than any other game this year. It’s great to have one of these games emphasize teamwork and hardcore role-playing game mechanics again.
I’ve been starving for a great single-play Star Wars experience, and Jedi: Fallen Order answered the call. It’s characters are some of the strongest I’ve seen added to the Star Wars canon in years, and I love the Metroid Prime-esque focus on exploration and discovering new abilities.
I’m not usually a fan on including remasters on lists like these, but I never played Tales of Vesperia until this Definitive Edition dropped this year. It’s now one of my favorite JRPGs ever thanks to its strong characters and intricate action-based battle system.
I’ve always thought that Luigi’s Mansion was a fine series. Luigi’s Mansion 3, however, over-delivers and elevates the franchise to Nintendo’s top tier. This is one of the most clever and charming games I’ve ever seen. The animation work alone is beyond anything Nintendo has ever released.
Shovel Knight has been the sidescroller gift that keeps on giving throughout the decade. This new campaign is action-platformer bliss, playing like a Wario Land game with an extra emphasis on bouncing and momentum. It also has its own card game that is just as fun as the rest of it.
Fire Emblem is the only RPG I’ve ever beaten that I immediately replayed again. The strategy-based combat is top-notch, but it’s really the characters and the way the game blends the war stuff with your experience as a school teacher that impressed me. It’s also nuts how different the game becomes based on your earliest choices, which is why I was so eager to play it again.