The entire GamesBeat crew got together to pick the top 10 best games of 2019. You can hear that discussion for yourself in a special episode of the GamesBeat Decides podcast right here:
But if you don’t have 2 hours to listen to us jabber, here are our top 10 best games of 2019. Oh, and check out our look back at the decade and the games that defined it as well.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the latest action adventure from developer From Software. It follows in the tradition of From’s beloved Dark Souls, but it has a sword-combat system that is even more intense and demanding.
Auto Chess was a breakout new genre in 2019 thanks to a Steam Workshop mod for Dota 2. But Riot’s Teamfight Tactics was the big winner thanks to the huge number of League of Legends players finding the cooperative tactical experience in League’s launcher. Teamfight Tactics has players building up an army of units with the goal of developing synergies to outlast enemies. The battles then play out automatically. It’s easy to learn and difficult to master.
Disco Elysium is a classic-style role-playing game, which is a way of saying that it looks and feels like something you would have played on a computer 20ish years ago. It’s on this list, however, because of its sharp writing and intricate world building as well as its smart systems that all turn every action into a skill check that reveals deeper truths about the characters and its world.
Nintendo Switch has already had a ton of top-tier releases, and Luigi’s Mansion 3 deserves a place among those games. It isn’t relentless or action-packed, but it is pleasant and good at what it’s trying to do. As in previous Luigi’s Mansion games, Mario’s younger brother has a vacuum, and Hoovering up objects is consistently fun and satisfying. And the game amplifies all of those interactions with some of the most expressive animations you’ll ever see.
Total War: Three Kingdoms takes Creative Assembly’s real-time battle simulator to a familiar Chinese setting, where it excels. The skirmish gameplay is the best it has ever been with hero characters that keep things interesting. And then Creative Assembly ties the missions together with an overarching strategy layer that is nearly as good.
5. Outer Wilds
Outer Wilds is a physics playground that re-creates a multi-planet solar system that runs on a 22-minute loop that almost always ends in tragedy. It is not, however, merely a playground. Instead, its worlds are hiding story threads that, as you begin pulling on them, unravel an ancient mystery that is impressive and touching. But you won’t solve it by getting better stats or equipment. Instead, the only pickup in Outer Wilds is knowledge. That makes the adventure feel more personal and all the more moving.
Slay the Spire is a deck-building role-playing adventure where you try to get as far as possible on a single run. And that may sound unappealing, but developer Mega Crit deftly mixed the various elements to pull out their best aspects. You always want to see what the next card is going to do. And even when you lose, you want to see if you can get further based on what you learned.
3. Apex Legends
Going into 2019, it was easy to assume that market had no more room for a massive new battle royale shooter. Then publisher Electronic Arts and Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment surprise launched Apex Legends in February. Like other battle royales, this is a last-team standing shootout, but it mixes up the formula with hero characters similar to Overwatch or Rainbow Six: Siege. That, on top of the excellent mobility of the characters, made many players choose Apex Legends over Fortnite or PUBG.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is one of the best Star Wars games ever and one of the 2019’s true standouts. It weaves aspects of games like Metroid Prime, Dark Souls, and Uncharted together with solid Star Wars characters and stories. And the result is a cohesive and compelling adventure that is entertaining from its opening moments through to its climactic end.
1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses — Game of the Year
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is GamesBeat’s Game of the Year.
Nintendo’s long-running tactical role-playing series won over the GamesBeat team with charming characters and storytelling as well as solid tactical gameplay puzzles. As the name implies, the game is about three houses that run various countries or kingdoms across a cramped continent.
Players can choose to lead the students of one of the three houses as their professor. And that decision makes every action and choice feel more meaningful in the game. One player may do something that ends up hurting or even killing a character that is core to the experience of other players. And it also ensures that the story is deep and complex with multiple perspectives on every conflict. If you want, you can even replay the campaign multiple times to get all of those various points of view.
And then developer Intelligent Systems did a lot to improve the strategy combat. While Three Houses’ normal mode is a touch too easy, playing on hard is challenging and rewarding. And even when it gets too difficult, Three Houses introduces a limited rewind feature. This enables you to learn a level or experiment without having to deal with too harsh a punishment. It acknowledge how people play these games: often with permadeath on but also restarting battles the second a character died.
This made it easier than ever to sink 60 hours-to-90 hours into the game and build a connection to its wonderful characters.