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Michael Bitton: Mike's Best Games of 2019

By Michael Bitton on December 19, 2019 | Columns | Comments

Mike's Best Games of 2019

2019’s been a pretty good year for gaming. There have been some real standouts for sure, but the highs don’t compare to what 2018 was for me. Still, there was a lot to love about gaming in 2019. These are some of my favorite games of the year.

Resident Evil 2

CAPCOM is back! Well, when it comes to anything but fighting games.  The studio has been on a tear lately and the remake of Resident Evil 2, my favorite game in the series, was a welcome surprise that delivered on all fronts. RE2make took me back to 1998, one of the best years in gaming,  with all the chills and thrills of the original game, some modern touches, and absolutely stunning visuals.

City of Heroes

Playing City of Heroes again has seemed like a dream that would simply never come to be and yet I just couldn’t let go of the idea. I’ve been looking for its DNA in most MMOs I play, particularly anything to do with superheroes, for some years now, but no game has managed to pull off what made CoH great. This year, the dream of playing the game again became reality when the game back to life through a variety of private servers. CoH’s dated visuals, archaic design decisions, and considerable power creep at endgame are still prevalent in the game today, but its unique combination of robust character and power customization, strong IP, and fun gameplay (even by 2019 standards) still hold up. It’s good to be home.

Griftlands

Slay the Spire blew my mind back in 2018 with the roguelite deck building game I never knew I wanted. Now, a year later Klei Entertainment’s Griftlands puts its own spin on the Slay the Spire formula and even though the game is still only in alpha it really grabbed me. The basic DNA of Slay the Spire is clearly there in Griftlands, but Klei’s added some significant layers to the mix to set itself apart. Each character follows a story path from day to day in addition to the sort of random events you can encounter throughout the map. Building relationships with characters you meet is important and the choices you make with these characters can come back to help or haunt you later.  Conflict can be dealt with through combat or negotiation, with separate decks governing each. And, of course, Klei Entertainment’s slick art style and presentation is as gorgeous as ever.

Civilization VI: Gathering Storm

Another year, another Civilization VI expansion and I couldn’t be happier. Firaxis is one of my favorite studios out there right now and the team working on Civ 6 has been absolutely killing it year after year with regular, meaningful patches and expansions that layer onto what is already an excellent foundation. This year’s expansion, Gathering Storm, added climate change, the world congress, new Future eras for tech and civics, and lots more.

Civ 6 got off to a bit of a rocky start, but it’s now the best game in the series as far as I’m concerned and I’m hoping Firaxis has yet another expansion in store for the game next year.

Borderlands 3

Gearbox's Borderlands series are, in my opinion, the best of the looter shooter genre. They're great solo or with a group, the humor is hit or miss but the games are full of colorful characters, and the loot is absolutely insane. The wait for the next entry in the series has been brutal, but we finally got Borderlands 3 this year and it's been mostly good. Combat is modernized and better than ever, character customization is deep with plenty of builds to experiment with, and the item hunt is decent, but could still use some work.

Where the game disappointed me was in its story. I don't normally play games like this for their story, but Gearbox really dropped the ball here with BL3. The villains are lame, the writing is terrible and the quests are mostly just OK. The story telling is oddly also a regression from The Pre-Sequel, the one game in the series that I generally dislike, as cast members barely interact with NPC characters or with each other when compared to TPS. I honestly hesitated to include the game on this list for these reasons, but every other aspect of the game shines through enough that BL3 is still one of my favorite gaming experiences this year.

Jedi Fallen Order

It’s a weird time to be a Star Wars fan. The Sequel Trilogy of films have been divisive for fans, but Disney’s been racking up some serious wins outside of the main films with Star Wars Rebels, The Mandalorian, a comeback for Battlefront II, and now Jedi Fallen Order. JFO is the best Star Wars game I’ve played in a long, long time and I would easily consider it my Game of the Year of 2019. The game seamlessly blends features from a number of different game series from Dark Souls to Metroid Prime and features a great Star Wars story to boot. There’s a lot to love about JFO and rumors that Respawn are already working on the sequel have me excited for more.

What are your favorite games of 2019? Share 'em with us in the comments below!

 

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site''s Community Manager.