With 2019 ending this week, it’s time to look at my favorite games of 2019. From action to strategy to stealth, my list is pretty diverse this year. Before counting down my five favorite games, I want to highlight an honorable mention.
World War Z – Mad Dog Games
I’ve wanted a sequel to Left 4 Dead 2 since 2009. Valve’s zombie shooter blended hectic action, stress-inducing encounters, and an emphasis on teamwork. While it doesn’t look like we’ll get that sequel any time soon (if at all), World War Z almost feels like a spiritual successor to that franchise. This third-person shooter takes place within the world introduced in the blockbuster film and features a horde of zombies that feel endless. It’s fast-paced, intense, and full of fantastic set-pieces that will thrill most gamers. With its inclusion on Xbox Game Pass, you should definitely play World War Z with a group of friends.
5: Resident Evil 2 – Capcom
Capcom is quickly becoming one of my favorite publishers again. I grew up playing Mega Man, Street Fighter, and Marvel Vs. Capcom. I always loved Resident Evil, but the franchise had a few rocky installments. All of that changed with the Resident Evil 2 remake. Capcom took a video game beloved by many and completely overhauled it. The visuals were stellar, the action was top-notch, and Mr. X provided some of the most anxiety-filled moments of the year. I can still hear the footsteps radiating throughout the Raccoon City police department. Stepping in the shoes of Leon and Claire again made me feel nostalgic, and if this game is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat when Resident Evil 3 launches in 2020.
4: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – From Software
The Souls genre is one of my favorites. There’s something awesome about fighting incredibly tough enemies, figuring out their movements, and striking when the moment is right. These games require a lot of skill, muscle memory, and they ask you to learn from your mistakes. Unlike other games developed by From Software, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice emphasized traversal, stealth, and an all-new posture system that made combat feel responsive, fluid, and rewarding. Every missed parry felt detrimental in battle, and many boss battles kept me on the edge of my seat. It’s a new IP that hit the ground running and never let players go until the credits rolled. For people who are nervous about jumping into a Souls game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is more accessible from a gameplay standpoint despite it being slightly more difficult. Those willing to give Sekiro a shot won’t regret it.
3: Slay The Spire – MegaCrit
Slay The Spire is a roguelike/card game from developer MegaCrit. I first played this stellar title when it hit Xbox Game Pass during the summer. Players can choose between The Ironclad (a warrior who excels in strength) The Silent (who specialized in poison) and The Defect (who uses magic) and help them climb the spire. Each floor of the spire can consist of a battle, shop, chest, elite enemy, or random encounter. Every run is unique and unpredictable. Beating the game with every character essentially “starts” the overall experience, which blew my mind. After 40+ hours, I’m still trying to unlock the true ending, and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. It’s the type of game that I only tried because of Xbox Game Pass, but I will gladly purchase on multiple consoles because I love it so much. Slay The Spire is a treat that fans of strategy and deck-building games will adore.
2: A Plague Tale: Innocence – Asobo Studio
My biggest fear is rats. I hate rats with a passion. I remember seeing this game behind closed doors at E3 2018 and squirming in my seat throughout the demo. Against my best judgment, I decided to pick up the stealth action title from Asobo Studio. Fortunately, I made the right decision because A Plague Tale: Innocence stunned me. Set in the 1300s during the plague, the game follows Amicia and Hugo, siblings who are on the run after a tragic event occurs at their estate. Equipped with a slingshot and various potions given to you by an alchemist, Amicia sneaks and fights her way through rat-infested towns, graveyards, libraries, and battlefields. The sound design is fantastic, the characters (especially Amicia) are top-notch, and the narrative is full of twists and turns. You think A Plague Tale: Innocence is going in one direction, and then it takes hard left turns. Do yourself a favor, and don’t sleep on A Plague Tale! I’m not over my fear of rats (and I think it might be worse after this), but I’m glad I took the leap and played this stellar game.
1: Control – Remedy Entertainment
Remedy Entertainment created an unforgettable experience with Control. It ticks off so many boxes that interest me. I love The Twilight Zone, and it has a similar sci-fi feel like that series. The powers Jesse unlocks make Control feel like the superhero game I’ve always wanted to play. The Metroidvania elements make exploration fun, the narrative is fresh, twisted, and engaging, but one particular easter egg left me screaming in joy. *SPOILER WARNING* Even if you haven’t played Control, you probably heard about the DLC coming in 2020. One Easter egg involved Alan Wake, the protagonist from another Remedy Entertainment game. The fact that these two titles might have something to do with each other excites me beyond belief. If Jesse Faden and the Bureau of Control have a direct connection and effect to the narrative in Alan Wake, this could shape up to be one of the best shared universes in the industry. Control also features the Ashtray Maze, my absolute favorite segment in any video game this year.
2019 featured some awesome video games on Xbox One. While I wished some first-party games would’ve made my list, I’m positive Microsoft will knock it out of the park in 2020. What are some of your favorite games of the year? Did some of my favorite games make your list? Leave a comment below.