Most sites are going to do a traditional "Game of the Year List," where they break down the games in a myriad of categories, all culminating in a Game of the Year pick. While we definitely could have done something similar, one of the things that we all keep in mind is how incredibly subjective all of these lists are at their core. Rather than have a GOTY that may not reflect the whole of the MMORPG staff, I figured it would be more informative to have our editorial team decide what their game of the year was and explain why they felt that way. So here are our staff's picks for the Top Games of the Year 2019!
Ralph Whitmore - Code Vein
Code Vein was a great game. It's character creator was particularly memorable, having a ton of options and being able to make my character a walking neon light was definitely interesting. The story itself was incredibly captivating with some unexpected ties another game series. For me, Code Vein was worth putting in all nighters to play and it's the one game this year that release where I just could not put the controller down.
Chris Saxon - Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Going into Three Houses I’ll be honest, I was skeptical. Fire Emblem has been relatively the same over the past three releases. Starting in Awakening, Romance is now an option, so what could Three Houses possibly offer that the past three hasn’t?
Three Houses is an emotional rollercoaster. It takes your attachment to characters to a whole new level. Like all Fire Emblem games, Permanent Death means a lot, and one small mishap means your favorite character is gone, forever. However with Three Houses you’re put into a tough spot as a Professor, looking over students not only from your own class, but the entire school. While they aren’t directly under your care, you begin to build bonds with each character as if they were, making for very… interesting situations.
Needless to say, I’ve sunk many hours into the game well over the average “80 hours” to complete one house story arc. Three House is everything Fire Emblem you could ask for. It brings awesome tactical battles together with a romance system that goes beyond love and hate. I can honestly say that this is by far one of, if not my favorite Fire Emblem to date.
Steven Weber - Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
Superheroes have risen in popularity over the past decade, and yet, 2019 may be the crescendo of Marvel's 11 year ballad in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Accompanied by the rise in popularity of Marvels hero catalog was a spectacular return of the Marvel Ultimate Alliance franchise, which many gamers have been clamoring for even prior to the shutdown of Marvel Heroes Omega.
Many gamers were stunned to find that Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order was planned as a Nintendo Switch exclusive title. In many ways, I was disappointed to miss the opportunity to play with all of my friends who were left dejected and abandoned, hoping to one day fill the void once occupied by Marvel Heroes Omega. Still, my excitement was palpable and I couldn’t wait until a new Ultimate Alliance game was available.
Luckily, Team Ninja obliged back in July of this year, and the simplistic and satisfying ARPG graced my fingertips, bringing new and old characters into the fray and preying heavily on my nostalgia senses. It’s true that the skill trees were limited, the leveling system was a little too simplistic and the combat revolves around utilizing special abilities in quick succession, but Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order reminded me of something that I had forgotten after the demise of Marvel Heroes Omega. A game doesn’t have to inundate you with needless complexity for it to be fun. With infinity trials, ongoing DLC, and new characters that let me geek out in pure comic book nerd fashion, it’s a game that I happily return to when new content releases or I want to blow off steam.
Robin Baird - Oninaki
Imagine a world where reincarnation is real but also feeling grief over the passing of someone can prevent them from moving on to their next life. This concept is horrific to me because grief is core to the human experience, and suppressing it or not dealing with it properly can have some very real consequences. This is exactly the type of world Oninaki is set in, and Tokyo RPG Factory does a brilliant job of exploring this theme. They even managed to throw in a few curveballs and took the story in directions I didn’t expect, which isn’t something I experience very often.
Additionally, the combat is fun, versatile, and can be complex at times. I loved how each daemon had a different fighting style and combat felt completely different depending on which one I was using. While some fights were clearly geared towards use of specific daemons I didn’t have to use those to move on and I really appreciate that, though of course the fight would be more difficult.
Between the exciting combat and compelling story Oninaki is a game which has stayed with me ever since I played it and I couldn’t be happier with it.
Scott Jeslis - Dauntless
Monster hunting is a fun time, especially in a group setting with friends. While the act of “hunting” isn’t a task I like to do on my game machines every day there are times I do like to engage huge beasts. When I choose to do so I play the F2P Dauntless for a few reasons.
The biggest reason, and most monumental one, is that Phoenix Labs has accomplished something that has seemed to elude every other development studio. They’ve managed to implement true “cross-play/cross-progression” across four different gaming platforms! This includes PC, PS4, XBox One and recently Nintendo Switch.
This means you can play with your friends in a group, be guilded, etc. no matter which platform either of you is on. This also means if you’re already playing on another console or PC and you want to start playing on the Nintendo Switch, for example, there’s no need to start over. With it’s true cross-progression sub-system your progress carries over across all platforms you play on. I personally have a Dauntless account on all four systems… just because I can.
For me personally, this means I can play Dauntless on the go with my Nintendo Switch. Then, when I get back home, I can jump onto my large computer monitor and play from my PC, XBox One or PS4. And then to be able to play on my XBox One while grouping with my fellow writer and friend, Ralph Whitmore while he’s on PC, just felt like an amazing amount of freedom. And then to be able to all be in the same guild, just an incredible achievement.
Other reasons to love the game are it’s “Hunt Pass” system which is like “seasons”. You work on achievements and associated points to open up non-P2W items like cosmetics, dyes, custom flares and such.
Phoenix Labs hasn’t stopped adding new activities and such to the game. They’ve already announced mobile support targeted for 2020 which would bring the number of platforms supported to six (Android and iOS)! Beyond that I’m excited to see to what level they take Dauntless to in the coming year!
Seth - Cadence of Hyrule
Zelda games have come in various different forms over the years, but this one stands out for all the right reasons. A crossover from Crypt of the Necrodancer, this Zelda spinoff is set in the similar realms, but plays as a fun and exciting new adventure. The rhythmic gameplay highlights the stellar soundtrack Cadence of Hyrule has, and the visuals are vibrant and reminiscent of older Zelda games. This game also brought a nice difficulty challenge to it, which made it feel even sweeter finishing this game off. Overall, this game was a big surprise to 2019, and a crossover very well done.
Kevin C "Xevrin" - Remnant: From the Ashes
A complete surprise for me and very enjoyable. The world setting is really interesting and I found the gameplay challenging. It is also a game which is only better when played with a couple of friends. I am looking forward to more storyline and hopefully they will continue to expand on the different worlds over time.
Garrick Durham-Raley - Borderlands 3
It’s been over 7 years since the last numbered Borderlands title hit store shelves. So when Borderlands 3 was officially unveiled at PAX in Boston earlier this year, I lost my mind. Even more so by the fact that my birthday coincided with its release date. To me, Borderlands 2 was the pinnacle of Looter-Shooters as a genre, with franchises such as Destiny and The Division taking those concepts and making something new. I wanted Borderlands 3 to return to the roots of what a looter-shooter could be, and I was not disappointed by what Gearbox Software delivered.
Although some may criticize Borderlands 3 for remaining much the same as its predecessors, I think Gearbox has perfected what a looter shooter can be. Sometimes, I don’t want to play online, so I am personally thankful that there is no always-online component required to play Borderlands 3. That said, hopping into someone else’s game is seamless - and I believe that level-scaling should be incorporated into more games, much like how Elder Scrolls Online has. The humor can be crass, but not uncharacteristically so - that’s part of what made me love Borderlands to begin with. And the overall tone of the game is darker than it's ever been. For me, I plan on continuing to play Borderlands 3 for the next several years - and that’s a testament to both the replayability and sheer amount of content packed inside!
Poorna Shankar - Metro Exodus/Control
I’m going to be slightly unorthodox and nominate two games I believe to be the most impactful in 2019. Ray tracing was introduced in 2018 to consumer graphics with the RTX line of cards from Nvidia. Since then, ray tracing has seen higher adoption in its first year than DirectX 12 did in its first year. Long held as the holy grail of real-time computer graphics, ray tracing’s impact simply cannot be downplayed, overlooked, nor ignored in the slightest. Want proof of this impact? Both the upcoming Xbox Project Scarlett and PS5 will include hardware-level ray tracing. And nothing is more mainstream than consoles.
Metro Exodus and Control took this new technology and applied it with such brilliance that it fundamentally changed the way these games played. The use of ray tracing as global illumination in Metro Exodus had an immediate impact on the entire atmosphere of the game. Control took it a step further by being the first game to implement multiple forms of ray tracing to drive home the gameplay, atmosphere, environments, and overall futuristic brutalism. Make no mistake, ray tracing is here. And it’s these early game we’ll look back on to thank for being the pioneers.
Joseph Bradford - Control
At first I didn’t quite think I liked Control. It was weird, quirky, and I was playing it on console where it felt sluggish. However, the more I got into the action-adventure story from Remedy, the more I enjoyed the title. The twists, turns and outrageously stellar gameplay kept me gripped as I, well, took Control of Jesse, bending the world to my will. The powers Jesse finds herself endowed with made me feel powerful, and it was thrilling to see them in action every single time. Throwing an enemy at a wall on a whim, being able to levitate above the battlefield and slam down with ferocity - I felt like I owned each battlefield.
Combine the incredibly tight gameplay with an expertly told thriller in the vein of Twin Peaks and Control will keep you at the edge of your seat as you explore what’s happening at the FIB. It’s definitely worth playing on either Console or PC, but PC is a real treat. It’s the first game that truly felt transformed with Ray Tracing, the fully traced images providing so much extra detail that when I turned it off it felt like stepping back a console generation. Since its release there hasn't been a day that has gone by where I haven't thought of Control in some way, and like Quantum Break before it, Remedy's latest game is one I'll continue to revisit time and time again.
So what are your games of the year? Which game gripped you, kept you saying "One more turn," or one you just could not wait to get through your day in order to come home, turn on your system and start playing? Let us know in the comments and as always, thanks so much for reading!