What Did You Love This Year?

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Dec 17, 2019

Filed under: Random 318 comments

My end-of-year writeup begins later this week. Once that’s going we’ll probably talk about all the games on my good / bad lists. But before we do that, I kinda wanted to read about what everyone else was into this year. The world of gaming is really big, and sometimes it’s good to step out of your particular sub-sub-subculture and try to see the big-ish picture. I know this blog is probably biased towards the stuff I’m into, but my readership is certainly going to have wider and more diverse tastes than I do.

So in the comments I’d like to hear:

  1. Your favorite game(s) this year? You don’t have to pick a single favorite. If you loved 5 games, go ahead and list all 5. If you didn’t love any, that’s fine too. (Although please leave a comment saying so.)
  2. What was your biggest disappointment this year? Like, what game did you expect to like, but didn’t?
  3. What are you most looking forward to in 2020?

Please don’t limit yourself to 2019 games! If you spent all year playing Daikatana, that’s fineI mean, for the purposes of this list anyway. I do kinda question your taste in games.. Go ahead and list that. I’m less curious what the publishers are doing and more curious about what people are into.

Also, feel free to mix it up between console / PC / mobile / big budget / indie / MMO / single-player. It’s all good.

 

Footnotes:

[1] I mean, for the purposes of this list anyway. I do kinda question your taste in games.



From The Archives:
 

318 thoughts on “What Did You Love This Year?

  1. Grimwear says:

    My favourite games this year:

    1) Sekiro. Took me awhile to swap from the Dark Souls dodging to the Sekiro parrying but once I figured it out it felt really good.
    2) Darkest Dungeon. Played it on and off for years. Put it away and agreed with pretty much everything Joseph Anderson said in his review but I recently came back and finally beat it. It seems the devs added a lot more catch up mechanics to help reduce grind if you get unlucky and have your team wipe.
    3) Total Warhammer 2. Not the best total war game ever but just having all the unique Warhammer races along with total war gameplay makes this my favourite total war game to date though I wish the sieges were better.
    4) Resident Evil 2 Remake. Own it on N64, never got around to playing it though. Played through the remake though and while it’s nothing amazing, it was honestly a much better experience than I was expecting and it makes me excited for RE3 remake.

    Games I didn’t like:

    1) They Are Billions. Really great survival mode gameplay but I was waiting for their much anticipated campaign mode. It was the worst rts/base building experience I’ve ever experienced. Made me hate the game to such a degree I’ve never gone back to it and probably never will. Their massive screw up still makes me angry now to type it just because of how stupid they had to be to make something like that. We have 25 years of successful rts games, learn from it.

    2) Dark Souls 3. Got around to playing a lot more DS3, particularly in higher new game+. The dlc bosses become a huge unfun chore of just damage sponges. Also the vertical level design is so horrid it made me think the DS2 B team came out of retirement to work on it.

    Game I wish I had gotten around to playing:

    1) Return of the Obra Dinn. I’ve been meaning to pick it up and play it since release. Still haven’t gotten around to it. Looks like an enthralling and unique experience that I can’t wait to see for myself.

    Games most excited for in 2020.

    1) Cyberpunk 2077. I mean obviously. After playing Witcher 3 I’m really excited to see what CD Projekt Red can cook up next. I’m not even big on cyberpunk but I’m excited for it.

    2) Total Warhammer 3. Not sure if it’s even slated for 2020 but Sega is so money hungry they’ll pump out something I’m sure and they have my number. More unique races? Yes please.

    3) Resident Evil 3 Remake. See above with RE2.

    Aside from that I’m honestly not sure what else it coming out in 2020. I don’t keep up on gaming news much anymore and mostly discover games have come out when they appear on the front of the Steam store.

    1. Lino says:

      They Are Billions. Really great survival mode gameplay but I was waiting for their much anticipated campaign mode. It was the worst rts/base building experience I’ve ever experienced. Made me hate the game to such a degree I’ve never gone back to it and probably never will. Their massive screw up still makes me angry now to type it just because of how stupid they had to be to make something like that. We have 25 years of successful rts games, learn from it.

      When it first came out, I loved watching gameplay of it on Twitch, and I followed the game for a couple of months. While zombies and steampunk aren’t a pairing we see all that often, I don’t think it’s all that hard to make a story out of it, and I don’t think it’s all that hard to create some decent scenarios to turn into an RTS campaign (I’ve seen fan-created Warcraft III maps that tell quite intricate stories; so a professional dev team could certainly cook up something worthwhile).

      So, if it wouldn’t infuriate you too much, I’m interested – how exactly could you screw up something so straightforward?

      1. Duoae says:

        I can’t answer for Grimwear but the actual missions are fine and simple – they alternate between squad-based management and wave-based settlement defence. You gain empire resources based on what you discover during the squad missions and you get tech tree points based on how well you do in the settlement defence missions which are then spent on your hero’s abilities (who can level up) and your society’s science/tech tree.

        However, there are “roadblocks” to advance through the game called swarms. Unfortunately, these are not balanced at all and will basically crush the unprepared when you encounter them. Oh, and fighting a swarm means using the empire resources you got on those squad-based missions. Also, the method of playing those swarm missions is completely different to how you play any settlement-based mission – you “buy” units and defences using those resources and do not produce units based on a base design you make.

        That wouldn’t be too bad but there’s really an optimal way to progress through the campaign which means that if you deviate from this (or maybe one other path) you’re going to fail a lot. When you fail a mission, you don’t get as many points for spending on the tech tree and hero as if you had beaten it first time. Of course, there are many mechanics available which are not explained which can cause you to lose points. e.g. on the squad missions, it’s easy to destroy items you want to discover to get points by mistake because there are certain environmental items that can explode.

        Anyway, people who know all these rules can rush through the tech tree to get a top-tier unit which basically makes the swarms very easy. But the game punishes players for not being experts in the game their first time through. You lose a mission? May as well restart the campaign because you’ll have fewer resources to actually fight the hard missions (swarms) which have a HUGE difficulty spike compared to anything else you face before you get to them.

        Also, IMO, most of the knowledge you get from playing the sandbox survival mode isn’t of much use to you in the campaign due to the above reasons.

      2. Grimwear says:

        So it’s been months since I last played so it’s possible they changed some aspects of what I hated but I’ll detail what I remember. Since you have watched some gameplay you know how Survival played out.

        So first things first. There’s no tutorial. For any new player the first thing they’re going to do is play campaign since they’ll wrongly assume that’s the major single player experience. The game is terrible at teaching you anything and they don’t have any tutorial missions. Heck many people died on the first level because they didn’t know you could build gates over railroad tracks. Couple that with the next aspect. You cannot save. In survival mode it makes sense since they don’t want you save scumming your way to victory but in campaign you have a “60 hour campaign across 48 missions” and you can’t ever make a save. Screw up? Have fun restarting from scratch. It also doesn’t help that because they make any of their “main” missions play out like survival you always waste the first 20 minutes doing the exact same thing. Build tents, build a lumber yard, more tents, food, etc while you get your economy going. Every. Time. Make a mistake and lose your colony? Time to restart and do that same 20 minutes over and over again.

        Now in survival you have access to every unit and building and you just build the needed structures to use them. In campaign you need to use your Empire points to unlock stuff in your tech tree. Really hate how slow it is at the start and want to rush farms? Well you screwed up because what you really needed for the next mission were soldiers, haha. O and too bad you can’t respec your tech tree so guess you’re out of luck. Saves? Why would we give you those?

        They also have you pick one of two characters to “play” in campaign but what it really means is that they don’t exist until you hit hero missions. These missions are boring and have no redeemable features. You enter the mission, kill all the zombies, then proceed to pixel hunt for the next 45 minutes to make sure you pick up all the intel. Why do you need it? Because getting them gets your Empire Points. And you need Empire Points to improve your skill tree and unlock basic features like other combatants or basic structures. It would be like if I played Starcraft 2 and couldn’t use any unit except for Zerglings until I put enough points in a tree. What’s that I really need hydralisks for the next mission but I put my points into Roaches? Guess I’m out of luck and need to restart not the mission but the ENTIRE CAMPAIGN. Seriously they turned their entire campaign into a trial and error fest where people had to constantly restart.

        My other problem (which I was told was actually wrong) was that there was no way once you knew you were losing to end your mission to retry. Someone on the discussion forums told me there was a button for it but I was done with the game by then so I never went back in to check. I played 57 hours of the game and never knew or was told about it. And I wasn’t the only one. This game is literally a slap in the face to player and doesn’t respect you or your time. It’s like the devs had never played an rts in their lives and only knew cursory knowledge about them so they just went off that. Upgrading is fun? Well lets just put every single building and unit behind the tech tree. That’s fun right? I’m sure player will love the first mission which is literally you just building tents, lumber yards, and huntsman cottages. So many huntsman cottages. The entire map filled with huntsman cottages because we won’t let you get any other food producers for god knows how long. O and even if you “win” the mission by killing all the zombies and surviving the wave you still lose because you didn’t reach the arbitrary population cap we put on the mission. Have fun restarting.

        1. Radkatsu says:

          I’ll never understand why they did this with hero missions. From what I’ve seen in Youtube videos and the like, that mode would’ve made for a fantastic squad-based RPG spin-off title, NOT a component to what is otherwise an RTS/survival game.

      3. Lino says:

        Wow, going by your and Douae’s descriptions, I’m really glad I passed on this one – and to think I even considered buying it when the campaign came out!

    2. Crimson Dragoon says:

      Total Warhammer 3. Not sure if it’s even slated for 2020 but Sega is so money hungry they’ll pump out something I’m sure and they have my number. More unique races? Yes please.

      That would be neat, but who would they include in a full sequel? I’m wracking my brain for major factions they haven’t done already with the 2 games and DLC, and the only ones that comes to mind are Demons and Ogres. They’ve also pretty much done the whole old world map already. I feel like the only way to expand is more DLC armies.

      I know a lot of the Old Fantasy fanbase looks down on Age of Sigmar, but I’d love to see a new game set in that line with the newer factions.

      1. Hector says:

        I think AoS is too generic. Its bland even by generic fantasy standards.

        1. CloverMan-88 says:

          Its also trying way to hard to be cool. Its such a grab bag of disparate ideas that have nothing in common and come out as a bad fan fiction to me.

      2. baud says:

        From outside the most recent editions, there are also the Chaos Dwarfs, which lives around the same area as the Ogres. And if Creative Assembly want to make a full World map, they’d have to deal with human nations that were barely covered in rulebooks (Ind, Cathay, Nippon, respectively Not-India, Not-China (complete with Great Wall) and Not-Japan); in those area there are also mentions of other types of beastman, based around other animals (snakes, monkeys, tigers…). CA would have to create a lot of original content for those nations. Perhaps they could have gave it a try with a Nippon DLC for TWW2, by placing it as an island West of the Naggaroth/Lustria continent.

      3. Grimwear says:

        If I’m remembering right when Total Warhammer was initially announced it was supposed to be 1 game with 2 expansions. Unfortunately Sega then decided to turn these expansions into full blown games with full game prices thus Total Warhammer 2. So TW3 is coming out at some point. I’m not sure which races are showing up, though I believe it does focus on demons and Ogre Kingdoms. There are many youtube videos of people theorizing what else will be thrown in like Nippon or Cathay.

      4. Kavonde says:

        The new DLC actually adds the ninja-rats and a little chunk of Not-India. Also, they came out with the Vampire Coast factions, which weren’t based on any existing tabletop army. My guess for Warhammer 3 would be Chaos Demons, Chaos Dwarfs, Ogre Kingdoms, and–invented mostly whole cloth–Cathay. (Maybe with Nippon and Not-India sharing basic units and mechanics, fleshed out over future DLCs.)

        I mean, considering how well Three Kingdoms seems to be doing, of course they’re going to do that. Giant Eastern-style dragons, man.

  2. Piflik says:

    Haven’t played many games this year, and even less that are from 2019.

    1: Sekiro. I always was a fan of FromSoftware’s ninja stealth game series Tenchu. This wasn’t really that, but it was a nice remix of the Dark Souls formula.
    2: Pathfinder Kingmaker. This is from late 2018, but I did a second run of the game this year. My first one was abandoned before it finished, due to many bugs, but most of them have been fixed since then. If you want 150+h if RPG (with a sadistic DM), here’s your fix.
    3: Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order (I may have missed some colons in the title). A good Star Wars game, but more importantly a non-exploitative EA game. Not entirely happy about them trying (and failing) to emulate Dark Souls combat, I wish it was more fluid.
    4: Children of Morta. A really nice Rogue-Lite starring a monster-hunting family. Beautiful pixel-art.
    5: Greedfall. Nice RPG, similar in gameplay to early Mass Effect.

    Dissapointment: Elite: Dangerous: Not a game from this year, but I tried it this year. I really like space games, but this was painful to install, painful to start and painful to play. I stopped playing after my first mission to kill a pirate, which failed the moment the pirate ship exploded (because system security decided to help and got the kill-shot).

    Games I’m looking forward to:
    1: Cyberpunk 2077: Duh.
    2: Vampire: Bloodlines 2: Really enjoyed the first one. And I am really happy they delayed it, so there is less overlap in the release windows of this and Cyberpunk
    3: Split Vendetta: First expansion to X4. It should have released in late 2019, but was delayed. X4 itself is an enjoyable space game, but a bit clunky (even compared to earlier games from the X-series). THe split always had my favourite ships in these games, so I am looking forward to playing it again.

    1. Steve C says:

      That was my exact experience with Elite: Dangerous too.

    2. tmtvl says:

      I’m just waiting for Boron ships to come to X4.

      …I remember saving princess Menelaus and having her become queen by AP. Weird how you can get attached to a character you never meet.

  3. swz says:

    It’s hard for me to decide on which games were best or worst, but I do have a few select categories in which some games stood out.

    Positive surprise: Sundered. I have no idea where I first found out about this game (it definitely wasn’t YT reviews, since those seem almost uniformely negative), but somehow it ended up on my wishlist on none other than the Uplay store, and then somehow it ended up on a hefty discount right when I was looking for something to play. People seem to really dislike the game, but I absolutely loved it. The movement and combat felt really responsive, there was always a clear sense of progression, the proc-generation of some levels was… ok, it had a great frenetic pace, it had really well put-together boss fights, and the art-style was wonderful. The story was cliche, but it was well told, and it went combined really well with the art-style.

    Negative surprise: Plague Tale: Innocence. It’s not a bad game, but while the art design, voice acting, world-building, and (for the most part) storytelling was pretty good, I really disliked the gameplay. It felt confusing and restrictive and I never really managed to get into the flow of things. While people usually criticise games that don’t have “enough” gameplay, I really feel that this game would have benefited from having less of it.

    Runners up in both of these categories are two Respawn games – first I played Fallen Order, and was somewhat disappointed: it’s an okay game, but combat felt floaty compared to soulslike games, the platforming felt floaty compared to something like Tomb Raider or Uncharted, the level design felt very artificially segmented and sort of hand-made to get you to lose time in order to pad out the play-time, and the game’s story felt a bit tired (which is a common problem for SW fiction within the main timeline, it’s all been rehashed to death). After that, I didn’t really have super-high expectations for Titanfall 2, but I really liked that one – the singleplayer campaign doesn’t outstay its welcome (I completed the game in 6 hours, compared to 30 in Fallen Order, and I got nowhere near 100%ing that game – I just don’t have much patience for games that feel the need to pad out their content in order to get to an arbitrary number of hours you can play), the platforming feels much better than in Fallen Order, the shooting was OK, and I felt that the pacing and rhythm between quiet time, regular shooting and mech shooting was absolutely brilliant.

  4. Lethal Guitar says:

    Favorite games, not really in any particular order:

    * Sekiro as well. I think I like it even more than the SoulsBorne series – I was always more into the combat and exploration, and less into the RPG elements, and Sekiro is much more focused on those first two.
    * Until Dawn. I’ve been wantint to play this for a while, but never got around to it until this year. Liked it a lot, great replay value and the plot twist was well done imo.
    * Dreamfall Chapters. Played through it with my girlfriend, it’s great for that kind of “couch coop”. We also got Dreamfall afterwards, but I think I prefer Chapters. I once tried to get into The Longest Journey, but it wasn’t really doing it for me.
    * Shadow Of the Tomb Raider. It’s on the edge of being a favorite, overall it now seems somewhat forgettable, but I did enjoy it quite a bit while playing.

    Disappointments:

    Horizon Zero Dawn. I really wanted to like it, I dig the setting, world, characters, and story, and the combat is fun, too, but I just have a huge open world fatigue at this point, and I can’t bring myself to keep playing it. I’m realizing more and more that I really prefer focused, linear experiences these days.

    Looking forward to: Not sure, I have enough of a backlog of games I’d like to finish first before I feel good about grabbing something new.

    1. DeadlyDark says:

      I played Chapters when they were releasing. I think it’s time to replay them

      I was and am a huge fan of The Longest Journey and Dreamfall. So Chapters were very anticipated by me. I kinda feel, that they needed at least one or two more chapters in the end, to explain things better

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        I was very disappointed by Chapters leaning into the Telltale formula of “You make Choices™! (But of course they don’t actually matter)”. When Kian got kidnapped by a bunch of people he had every reason to distrust, and told to work for them or die, I sensed that this would be my only opportunity to really make a choice, so I decided Kian would die rather than twisting his character into the pretzel necessary for this plot to continue. I got a game over and stopped playing, declaring that outcome canon. Kian’s stubborn zealotry may have doomed the world and ended my playthrough a quarter of the way in, but at least we chose that fate.

        1. DeadlyDark says:

          Yeah, it wasn’t a perfect game. Still, I guess it’s nice that the story has a conclusion now. It’d be far worse if Dreamfall cliffhanger was all we ever had. I guess.

        2. Liessa says:

          As a backer of Chapters on Kickstarter – in fact, I believe it was the first project I ever backed – I was furious when they took this approach. It ended up as pretty much the exact opposite of what was promised, i.e. a non-episodic game which would hearken back to the gameplay style of The Longest Journey. And predictably, it didn’t sell well, meaning we’ll probably never get the ‘proper’ TLJ sequel they were teasing during the campaign.

  5. Daimbert says:

    I didn’t play games that much this year, to my chagrin (I have a set of four categories where I want to make progress on catching up and finishing things, and video games is always at the bottom of the list). I’ve started playing “The Old Republic” again, and it’s generally enjoyable, especially on the “Casual” difficulty, which even lets me solo some of the flashpoints. The best thing about it, though, is the stories — the regular class and planet stories — that you can go through with various characters.

    Of new games, the best was probably “Knights of Pen and Paper”. The most disappointing was probably “Monster Prom” which, while cool, was a bit short for me, although the replay value is pretty good.

    I still have a long list of games to finish, but one of the problems with them is that I’m not really looking forward to any of them and so don’t get excited to play them. “Bloodlines 2” is probably the one that I’m the most interested in, but of my list it’s probably the games on those dedicated console things that map to old systems that I’m most anxious to play. This will probably change after New Year’s Day when I sit down and figure out my schedule and priorities for next year.

    1. DR134 says:

      Just wanted to second “Knights of Pen and Paper”.

      It was an impulse buy from a weekly Xbox sale and I quite enjoyed it. Has anyone played the second one?

      1. pdk1359 says:

        I’ve played both; I loved Knights of Pen & Paper (multiple play-throughs), but the second was… a fair sequel, if not as good as the first. Some of the jokes and references are more biting than funny and the story didn’t catch me the same way.
        I don’t regret buying it, but I’d recommend waiting for a sale.

        edit; missing a ‘t’ dangit

        1. DR134 says:

          That’s a little disappointing to hear, but thanks for letting me know!

    2. baud says:

      I’ve played TOR last year and I wasn’t engaged a lot with the stories, I think because of the way they are stretched across those big MMO maps: you don’t have to engage with the MMO content, since the progression is very fast now (I ended up overleveled by just doing the class stories), but it bring down everything. I had a lot more fun by doing flashpoints with random players. The player housing and having a ship are cool though.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Actually, I’m finding that I like the stories better with the faster progression, because I can just focus on them and the planetary stories instead of having to kill a bunch of things or do a bunch of sidequests — even if some of them were cool — just to be overleveled enough to make it through the game. I used to do a section of a planet in about three hours, and now I do an entire planet in about three hours, making playing them feasible.

  6. MikhailBorg says:

    – Your favorite game(s) this year?
    Beat Saber, without a doubt. This is the game for which VR was created. It’s lightsabers! It’s music! It’s exercise! It’s addictive! The mechanics are intuitive, the virtual world is completely immersive.. I just can’t stop playing.

    – What was your biggest disappointment this year? Like, what game did you expect to like, but didn’t?
    A Wild Catgirl Appears! I expected this visual novel to be funny and cute, but I stopped playing rather quickly. The characters and story bored me.

    – What are you most looking forward to in 2020?
    I’ll name three, all Kickstarters:
    The Pedestrian – A puzzle game based around street sign iconography
    Boyfriend Dungeon – A dungeon crawler where your weapons are also people you can romance for combat bonuses
    Firmament – A virtual-reality 21-century Myst, by the people responsible for Myst

    1. Sven says:

      Since you mention both Beat Saber and Firmament, have you played through Obduction in VR? I feel it’s pretty much the only real full-length VR puzzle game out there, and the world is amazing to behold in VR.

      1. MikhailBorg says:

        I had not heard of it! I’ll have to take a good look at it as soon as I can. Thanks for the tip!

  7. Sarfa says:

    My top game this year would be Final Fantasy XIV- I really enjoyed it’s latest expansion which came out in the summer. Treating that expansion as a stand alone JRPG (which it’s about the length of) it’s one of the best entries of the Final Fantasy series, but if you’re looking at this post for recomendations, maybe wait until February? Patch 5.2 (or potentially later) is looking at adjusting the earlier part of the games story so that getting to the best bits is less of a slog.
    A close second would be The Outer Worlds- I know a lot of folk are dissapointed with it but it’s exactly what I thought it would be, the sort of RPG that just doesn’t get made anymore. I would say it’s more like Fallout 1 than New Vegas in a lot of respects (especially the “quite short playthrough length, but emphasis on replayability”- it’s one of the few games I’ve played where I was surprised at how different a second playthrough can be).
    Earlier in the year I played Octopath Traveler, which is a great retro JRPG (but with some cool new ideas), if you like that sort of thing. If you’re not a fan of that genre though you’re unlikely to enjoy it much.
    As someone who enjoyed the original Life is Strange (but didn’t like Before the Storm very much) Life is Strange 2 was… odd. It’s not a fun game- in fact there are bits of it that are downright unpleasant to play through, but it’s still really good. It’s very political though (much more so than the first one was), so if you’re the sort to get annoyed at politics in video games you should avoid this one.

    I can’t think of anything I played this year that really dissapointed me.

    For next year the game I’m looking forward to most is Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2. Cyberpunk is a close second. I’m quietly optimistic about Wasteland 3.

    1. Scerro says:

      FFXIV Patch 5.3 contains the rework of ARR quests, and is slated for probably late July, early August. I’m holding off recommending the game to brand new players until that hits. Otherwise if you’re HW or higher already, it’s super high on my recommendation list.

      5.2 will just be the new raid tier, plus maybe an EX trial?

      1. Sarfa says:

        Latest live letter had them saying that 5.2 would include “additional new game+ chapters”. New Game+ already covers just about everything except A Realm Reborn, so unless some of the rework is coming there I’m not sure what these chapters are going to cover. But as I said “5.2 (or potentially later)”.
        Personally, the moment I’d recomend new players coming in is when the 2.1-2.55 main story quests get reworked- I thought the base game was fine, it was those patches that were a real test of endurance!

        5.2 is a lot more than that. Raid Tier and a new trial have been confirmed- as well as EX and a third higher difficulty mode of that trial. Lots of stuff for gatherers and crafters, new relic quests (and relic type things for crafters), a new beast tribe as well (focussed on gathering and maybe crafting) and other things.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          Is the coming rework just about the quests? I found the early game in FF14 to be the dullest possible sort of “spam your one or two attacks forever” hotbar combat, and the couple people I talked to told me pretty much “Yeah, the early game sucks and it’s going to be like that until you hit 30 or 40.” I keep hearing good things about FF, but I couldn’t make myself grind long enough to get to the good part, and I’d love to take another look if the leveling curve/skill variety gets improved.

          1. Sarfa says:

            It is just the quests. The jobs really are designed to drip feed you those abilities at a regular pace until you hit level 80, while also not having too many abilities at level 80. A lot of jobs are downright hectic when they hit max level- if they had more buttons earlier they’d be impossible to play for a lot of people. I already have trouble with soem of the faster jobs.
            Having said that, while they are only reworking the quests, that is with a goal of making that part of the story quicker. They’re trying to make “catching up” quicker essentially. So while the actual gameplay of being low level is unlikely to change much, the amount of time you spend at that sort of level may be quite a bit shorter.

          2. Scerro says:

            Yep, if you’re an MMO vet you have to treat level 1-50 as an extended tutorial. At level 50 you have a basic kit, but 50-80 will get you a full kit that gives you a class that’s as complex or more than anything in WoW.

            I’m waiting to recommend the game until they clean up the quests in the patches and hopefully cut out a bit of the grind.

            At worst picking up a MSQ skip to past level 50 isn’t that bad. Reading a quick recap in text will get you to know what you need to – https://landofodd.net/ffxiv-arr-story-summary/

  8. Kathryn says:

    Umm. I have less and less time for games lately (besides work and kids, for some reason, I’ve recently become impatient with, almost even unable to bear, activities that use up a lot of time with nothing concrete to show for it afterward. I don’t know if this is just the result of getting older or what. My job shifted from the most hands-on it’s been in 16 years (climbing around in a vehicle installing and testing cables) to the least hands-on (the lab is 1000 miles away and I’ve never even seen 90% of the hardware and also this is a software job where nothing but 1s and 0s is produced), so maybe that’s a factor).

    Anyway, assuming sudoku doesn’t count, the only game I really spent time with this year was FFXV. I’m a completionist, so I caught every fish, repaired every car, found every lost hunter, completed every hunt, and finished off the Menace Beneath Lucis quest. The only thing I haven’t done is the optional boss Melusine. I like FFXV and will likely play it again someday…if I can justify the time spent.

    1. Kathryn says:

      I remembered that I did also spend a little time with the Eschalon and the Avadon games this year, and also, I fired up the SNES emulator for a little Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country. I don’t think I played anything new this year, though.

    2. Nimrandir says:

      I still need to get back to FFXV. I got it alongside Fallout 4 for Christmas a couple of years back, and, well . . . I chose poorly.

      1. Chad Miller says:

        Eh, it might depend on how much you care about the story, what DLC you have, and whether “so bad it’s good” is an acceptable result for you. You can feel the development hell in that game.

  9. Jackie says:

    Favorite games of the year would be Tangle Tower, Dragon Quest 4, and Borderlands 2 for the eighth year in a row. For biggest disappointment, it’s hard to decide between Kingdom Hearts 3 and Borderlands 3, but probably the latter. For upcoming stuff, I guess it would be Final Fantasy 7, but even then, only with cautious optimism.

  10. Lino says:

    This post is probably going to be novel-sized, but I want to make it clear that I feel no remorse – Shamus has brought this upon himself!

    1. Your favorite game(s) this year? You don’t have to pick a single favorite. If you loved 5 games, go ahead and list all 5. If you didn’t love any, that’s fine too. (Although please leave a comment saying so.)

    I’ll have to get back home to see what I’ve played, but out of the games I can remember, I had the best time with Devil May Cry 5 and Brawl Stars.

    – I wasn’t at all surprised that I liked DMC 5. I’ve played all DMC games apart from the first two through 5, and to me they have the best fighting system I’ve ever experienced (next only to the criminally underrated Blade of Darkness). I liked the gameplay, the fighting, and the continued tradition of the developers communicating with me through these games.*

    – While DMC 5 was a game I fully expected to love, Brawl Stars was a huge surprise for me. It has all the red flags I usually avoid like the plague – it’s a competitive, team-based, free to play mobile game that has a Battle Royale mode.
    Yet I’ve played it almost every day for the past year. So, for the past month or so, I’ve been asking myself – why?
    The main reason I can think of is that Brawl Stars is the epitome of the term “easy to learn, hard to master”. The game has dead simple controls and mechanics, yet it’s fun as hell, extremely tactical, and it has unbelievable game feel. It also has a lead designer that used to work for Blizzard. The game has over 30 vibrant characters (or “brawlers”, as they’re called) each of which has different mechanics, strengths, and weaknesses – some are really easy to pick up, while others have a very high skill ceiling.
    As far as business model goes, it’s a “pay to save time” type of deal – you can play without paying anything, and upgrading brawlers takes some time even if you use real money, but I’ve never felt that I’ve been killed just because my numbers weren’t high enough – even when I lose, I always feel like I could have won if I had played better (indeed, there are some people that have done challenges where they’ve advanced all their brawlers to the highest possible rank without upgrading them even once).
    The game has a lot of game modes, and even though most of them are team-based (usually 3v3), I’ve had absolutely no problems playing solo.
    However, if you plan on giving it a try (I strongly suggest you do :)), just bear in mind that you can get what you want eventually, and that grinding for something specific is the best way to suck all the fun out of the game – Brawl Stars is best when you’re playing with a variety of brawlers in as many different game modes as you can.

    2. What was your biggest disappointment this year? Like, what game did you expect to like, but didn’t?

    As far as disappointment goes, I had a lot of games that I was excited for, but just didn’t click for me. Among these are Metro: Exodus and Outward. I don’t know why, but I got bored of them a bit after the tutorial started. However, the most inexplicable example of this was Greedfall. I was so excited for it – a story-based RPG from a developer who said their inspiration was the early Bioware games, set in a time period we almost never get to see in video games? Yes, please!
    But for some reason, I just can’t bring myself to play past the first couple of quests on the new continent.
    I really don’t know why this is – maybe it’s because of the fact that I try to spend less time on the computer – after spending 8 hours of sitting on a desk, staring at a computer at work, I’d really like my entertainment not to involve sitting on a desk and staring at a computer.

    What are you most looking forward to in 2020?

    Playing all the damn games I didn’t have time for this year! Or the last year. Seriously, I’ve got dozens of games in my library, and on my “List of Games I’m Interested in” that I’m probably set for the foreseeable future (and the unforeseeable one, for that matter!).
    Although there are still quite a few titles I’m looking forward to in 2020 – Cyberpunk looks good, and so do Naraka: Bladepoint, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and the sequel to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
    Although, at the rate things are going, I don’t know when I’ll have the time to play any of them :/

    * It all started when I first played DMC 4 in 8th grade. On the day before I got DMC 4, I broke my right arm (on the day before Summer Break, no less!). So, I thought I could console myself by playing the game. I remapped all the controls to be closer to WASD, and said to myself “Time for some escapism from the fact that my arm is broken!”. Literally the first scene of the game is of Nero running towards the camera with his right arm in a cast!!! Now, you might think that’s a coincidence, and sure enough – it might be. BUT!!! DMC 5 is divided into chapters, and each chapter starts with a black screen that displays the date and time (similar e.g. spy movies). The first scene takes place on May 16th. Do you know what else happens on the May 16th? MY BIRTHDAY!!!!! Coincidence?!?! I think NOT!!!!!!

  11. DeMeessias says:

    I’ve mostly stopped gaming on pc, and am now only using my Switch, so that is reflected in my titles.

    Top games, in no particular order:
    *Mario Maker 2: It is amazing to see what some people are able to pull off with a level editor, even without stuff like scripting etc. My own levels are pretty crap in comparison, unfortunately…
    *Return of the Obra Dinn: Amazing puzzle game with a unique concept that seems like it should’ve been thought of ages ago
    *Baba is You: Another great puzzle game, with an equally “cant believe no-one thought of this sooner” setup.
    *Resident Evil 4: One of the few hit games that were originally released on GameCube that I hadn’t played yet. I got the Switch port this year. I was expecting a game that was good for its time, but I was not expecting it to actually hold up this well. The gunplay is great and the game was nice and varied.
    *Subsurface Circular: Very short game by Mike Bithell. Play lasts less than two hours. The game uses this time to set up for a very interesting moral choice. The fact that the game doesn’t last long after that means that the choice can be a lot more philosophically interesting than video game choices usually get to be.

    Disappointments:
    Cadence of Hyrule: I am a big zelda fan, and liked crypt of the necrodancer so I was expecting to really love this, but for some reason the combination didn’t really work for me. The things I like most in zelda (big dungeons, cool towns) weren’t really in there, and the necrodancer combat system was not really improved for me with all of the items (which I didn’t really end up using).
    Fire Emblem, three Houses: This is my second fire emblem game (i’ve played radiant dawn before). In the time since that one, they simplified the combat, while upping the focus on character interactions. The characters were great, but combat became way too easy and boring. A lot of missions are procedurally generated as well, using the same few maps as baseline, which made the game feel like a big grind to go through at the end. My playthrough ran 65 hours, of which I would’ve preferred skipping all of the actual gameplay during the last 35 hours.

    Looking forward to:
    The Outer Worlds port coming to Switch. I’ve heard people were not blown away with this game, but I am definitely looking forward to playing a nice 1st person RPG.
    Animal Crossing: Looking forward to playing this and also introducing my girlfriend to this franchise, as I think she will really dig it.
    Silksong: Hollow Knight was absolutely great, so I am looking forward to the sequel.

    1. Kathryn says:

      I can never let a reference to Animal Crossing go without linking to Chewbot’s Let’s Play (link is in my name). I never played AC myself, but my cousins did (they even visited each other’s towns), and I was rooming with one of them at the time, so I saw a decent amount of it, and “The Terrible Secret of Animal Crossing” is now my head-canon.

      1. DeMeessias says:

        Thanks for the link! I vaguely remember reading this story long ago, but I can’t remember a lot of it. I think I’ll give it another read :)

    2. Lino says:

      Silksong is coming out in 2020? Hell yeah! I totally forgot about it! I am so hyped!

  12. Mico Selva says:

    My gaming highlights of the year:

    1. Disco Elysium (2019) – RPG unlike any other I have played (and I have played a lot of them) and a better spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment than Tides of Numenera. A true breeze of fresh air in the genre.
    2. Ghost of a Tale (2018) – a stealth/adventure where you play as Tilo the mouse minstrel. I expected to like this game based on its premise and graphical design, but it surprised me with its charm and writing quality.
    3. The Curse of the Pharaohs (2018) – 2nd DLC to Assassin’s Creed: Origins. While the main game and 1st DLC were “just ok” and “more of the same”, Curse of the Pharaohs really resonated with me with its addition of supernatural elements and ability to visit Egyptian afterlife.

    My disappointments:

    1. Thimbleweed Park (2017) – I liked it 80% of the way, but the last act and ending were like a punch in the face. I do not want to spoil the game for anyone, so I will refrain from specifics, but I was really disappointed with how they decided to conclude the story.
    2. Torment: Tides of Numenera (2017) – this is a good game, but not as good as it could and should have been, given its budget and development time. I enjoyed (though not loved) it, but in the end it is just an inferior clone of Planescape: Torment, and does nothing great on its own. Still, a decent game with a good sci-fantasy story.
    3. SUPERHOT (2016) – I finally got to play it and… I just don’t get why it is so well-regarded. The game is very simple and short, with primitive (sorry “stylized”) graphics and almost no sound effects, only a few weapons and one enemy type. The meta-story did not grab me either. Not for me I guess.

    Looking forward to:

    1. Cyberpunk 2077 – I am really looking forward to exploring Night City and submerging myself in its conflicts.
    2. Psychonauts 2 – the original turned out to be one of my favourites of all time, so the mere fact we are getting a second one makes me excited.
    3. Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 – has all the chances of building on the strengths of the first game while avoiding its mistakes, hopefully it delivers.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      I echo your feelings about Thimbleweed Park. As much as I absolutely loved everything up until the final act, the ending was so terrible I just don’t know if I’ll ever play the game again.

      To note, without spoiling anything in case anyone hasn’t played it: this isn’t a case like Mass Effect 3, where the ending was just mishandled, lazy and a complete lie regarding what they had promised. This was simply a deliberate writing choice that I felt was absolutely poor. The entire game has an obsession with the certain kind of storytelling used here, but this was just too much.

    2. GargamelLenoir says:

      I keep trying to get into Numenara, and I keep getting booted out of it. There is no reason to do anything else than an intelligence build, and the few combats I get into are like pulling teeth. Very disappointing. The art is AMAZING though.

    3. Lino says:

      2. Ghost of a Tale (2018) – a stealth/adventure where you play as Tilo the mouse minstrel. I expected to like this game based on its premise and graphical design, but it surprised me with its charm and writing quality.

      This was one of the biggest surprises for me last year. But the high quality made sense after I read that the dude who made it used to be an animator at Dreamworks. But it’s still an extremely impressive achievement for a solo project!

      I’m also really excited for Psychonauts 2.

    4. Duoae says:

      I think SuperHot was one of those games which came out at exactly the right time. I thought it was okay and I enjoyed playing it but I think it knew how to milk its meme-ness to the perfect degree.

    5. Chuk says:

      Oh that sucks — I’m enjoying Thimbleweed Park so far (not sure how far I am but it’s probably less than 80%).

  13. Asdasd says:

    1. The game I played most this year, as per the previous five years, was Dota 2 by quite a distance. I’m still adjusting to the recent patch which changed so much the game is effectively now Dota 3.

    2. I lost about 70 hours to Shin Megami Tensei 4, which is a hugely interesting and thought-provoking game saddled with an awful lot of tedious combat.

    3. Conversely, I spent about 7 hours playing Into the Breach, which offered some of the most interesting tactical combat I’ve played in any year. Pound for pound these were easily the 7 best hours I spent gaming in 2019. Once I finished the campaign once I had to stop playing for fear that repetition would dilute my impression of it.

    4. When Destiny 2 launched on Steam I rounded up some buddies to give it the ol’ college try. It was better than expected – I was expecting to be aggravated by the nonsensical story and underexplained systems, and while those fears weren’t unfounded, the moment to moment shooting is great and the world design is nothing short of awesome.

    5. Over on the Switch, my big highlight of the year was Astral Chain. It’s a game that takes of lot of care with its world, which in many ways is implied rather than wholly realised – a map-mopping wanksplat of an open worlder this is not. But it gave a strong sense of place and context to the action, which as you’d expect of a Platinum game was extraordinarily good.

    My disappointment of the year was World of Warcraft. I got dragged back into it by my group to play some Classic, and from there into Retail when after a few weeks they got bored of the former. The comparison did not flatter 2019’s WoW: I was appalled by how little progress had been made in fifteen years by this genre ‘giant’ that was already lacking features compared to its contemporaries on release. If anything, it’s gone backwards. It is nothing short of offensive how little the game now attempts, much less manages, to give players anything to engage with – just an endless hundred-hours long litany of go here, click this, loot, return, repeat, with the most execrable RPG combat in any game this side of Telengard. At least Classic, in making the experience of levelling dangerous, has something to keep the player awake at the keyboard. WoW was the only game this year that made me angry.

    1. Lino says:

      I’m still adjusting to the recent patch which changed so much the game is effectively now Dota 3.

      I stopped playing Dota 2 about the time they added Legion Commander, but I continued casually following the game (especially during Majors and TI). For a couple of years I stopped, but a month or two before the new patch I started following my favourite streamers again and watching pro matches whenever they’re on Twitch.
      I really like how neutral items have totally changed the game, but looking at some Steam Charts, I’m seeing a decline in the number of concurrent players. Does that mean that people don’t like the new changes? What are your impressions as someone who’s played the game for years?

      1. Asdasd says:

        Well, you’re asking a multi-million dollar question there! I think there are too many factors to enumerate in a post of polite length, but I think the biggest problem is one that all games have – it gets progressively harder over time to replenish your player base by attracting new players as old ones drift away.

        This isn’t unique to Dota, and arguably it’s a testament to the quality of the game that it attracted such a large base and bled it so slowly, but a reluctance on Valve’s part to market as aggressively as their competitors (or at all) means the only thing bringing people to the game is word of mouth, and there you’re working against a headwind of popular perception that the game is impossible to get into (it isn’t, but it isn’t exactly easy, either.) It doesn’t have much by way of ‘meta’ progression systems, or ‘daily quest’ style bribes to keep people coming back every day either – something I personally appreciate, but that I’d guess is bad for long-term engagement.

        Without new players the audience will age over time – Dota is a game that requires a fair bit of commitment; even taking a break for a week will dull your skills – and older gamers start to acquire things like careers and families that compete for their time. Funnily enough this seems to make it a more attractive game to watch rather than play for many – I think there was a study going around recently that suggested Dota has the highest ratio of viewership hours to player hours out of any major title.

        With specific regards to the patch itself, it’s had a bit of a rocky launch – there’s already been five balance patches since 7.23 dropped, what, two weeks ago? I think it’s fair to say this reflects a general disgruntlement among the player base. I thought people would mostly dislike the neutral item drops and the perception that the game was less deterministic and skill based, but really, the greater backlash was over the outposts – two new capture point objectives that reward the controlling team with XP at an interval.

        It’s one more thing to think about in an already complicated game, and as the XP rewards were so significant players have had to think of and fight over them more or less constantly, creating a prevailingly negative opinion that the game is becoming a ‘hero brawler’ instead of a strategic affair.

        I have some sympathy to this viewpoint, and Valve have obviously been listening, as the Outposts have been subject to a lot of attention in the balance patches. Whether or not this has had a significant affect on the player numbers is difficult to say, but as you note, the patch certainly doesn’t seem to have been the shot in the arm that Valve would have been hoping for. My suspicion is that, short of installing virtual K-pop bands at the top of the charts everywhere in the world to promote your game, or being so popular that you have major film studios coming to you on their knees begging for publicity tie-in content, power laws dictate that player figures are only likely to travel one way this far into your game’s life cycle, no matter what you do.

        1. Lino says:

          Yeah, it’s very difficult to get new players into a game with a long legacy like Dota’s. using Artifact to get people excited about the universe was a really good idea. Too bad they were so caught up in designing that game’s economy that they forgot to actually make a fun game to go with it…
          For what it’s worth, the main reason I stopped playing Dota was the huge time commitment it required. E.g. if I have to go out in half an hour, I literally don’t know if I have time for one more game.
          Dropping the game also had to do with the fact that I like playing a lot of different games, and I felt like in order to have fun, I needed to play Dota all the time, because when you’re bad, you really feel it – you can feel you’re not reacting properly, or positioning your hero in the proper way, and the multitude of little and big things that distinguished a 2800 MMR scrub like me from the 5000-6000 MMR gods who seemed to be playing an entirely different game from me.
          But as a viewer, I really like how much faster and more dynamic the game has become in the past couple of years. Long gone are the days of Chinese Dota where I’ve watched (or tried not to fall asleep to) games where 25-30 minutes in, no towers had been taken and the score was 0-0. I also love the way shrines have helped make everyone on the team more mobile, and able to join fights more easily.
          When it comes to outposts, however, I’m not 100% sure. One of the things I used to love about watching Dota was that a huge fight could break out anywhere on the map at any minute.
          Maybe it could be in a lane, around a carry who’s a bit too cocky, or deep in enemy territory where the supports are trying to ward or set up a gank, and the unique terrain of each location would shape how the fight played out.
          Now, however, I’ve come to know each outpost’s layout by heart, just by virtue of the dozens (although it feels like thousands) of fights I’ve seen happen around them. The worst part is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s the early-, mid-, or late-game – outpost control is always important!
          I’m obviously no expert, but I feel this problem could be solved if they just didn’t allow you to TP to them. It would make it harder to react to the enemy taking your outpost, and it could move the eventual fight up or down the lane, or in the jungle.
          Shrines allow for a lot of mobility around the map, and with the mobility outposts allow, half the time I feel like I’m watching Battlerite rather than Dota…
          But despite all this, games are still very exciting to watch – I usually love rooting for the underdog, and the new level cap, items, and talents make comebacks even more likely than before.
          The only other time I remember seeing so many comebacks was during the days of the “Rubber Band” patch with the difference that seeing a comeback actually feels exciting rather than cheap.
          I just hope they keep the game fun to play as well as fun to watch, because if there isn’t anybody playing, there soon won’t be anybody watching as well :/

          1. Asdasd says:

            I think a certain amount of it is just change aversion/the need to get used to a new style of play. Shrines and talents were also controversial on their introduction, but now it’s hard to imagine Dota without them. Shrines needed a lot of work to get right though – having five in the base was not a good idea! – so it’s not necessarily as simple a story as that new = improved and the player base is just being reactionary.

            As an active player I agree with you on the frustrations of Dota taking (and needing) so much time. The reason I was able to play as many non-Dota games as I did this year is that my regular queuing partner had his first child (absolute fiend that he is, he’s still getting a game in here and there in the evenings!)

            Even if I don’t play it forever, I hope Dota sticks around for many years to come. I honestly think if you are even slightly aware of what’s going on, it’s among the most enjoyable esports – perhaps sports period – to watch. The perspective makes games easy to follow, the action is as strategic and exciting as it gets, and the scene has generated a just astonishing number of talented and likeable personalities.

            1. Lino says:

              Definitely – I also hope it sticks around for long, an I’m always happy to see it in the top 3 games on Twitch. After the new patch, I see it quite often as the most watched game on there. Usually, this happens only during Majors and TI – now it happens with smaller tournaments (occasionally even if there aren’t any tournaments on).
              The only annoying part right now is that I constantly need to look up what the new items do, but it’s why I always keep a separate tab with the wiki open :D

    2. baud says:

      For Into The Breach, I’d say that the various robot squads makes subsequent playthrough different enough that I don’t think it would get stale, at least for the first ones.

      1. ColinAmadan says:

        Like FTL before it, that was part of the design strategy, that in-game achievements would unlock ever more ways to approach the game and keep the play fresh.

        I’ve logged a lot of hours on both games.
        Great indie studio, I love the way they bounce off each other, and try to perfect the “I make games I want to play” model.

  14. Groboclown says:

    My top games for this year:

    * Cultist Simulator. I have sunk so many hours into this game, both on PC and mobile. I find that the game mechanics of the simple card game with timers has a very interesting way of revealing a story.
    * The Long Dark. It’s still getting updates, and still good. There’s just something addictive to its gameplay loop of the long silent moments and the never ending dread of what’s around the corner. The new story mode is great, too, but to me it still doesn’t beat the sandbox mode.
    * Dicey Dungeons. It’s not nearly as addictive as the others, but still a fun little game. Great for a small diversion while waiting on code to compile.

  15. Higher_Peanut says:

    Top games of the year:

    Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. It was what it needed to be for me to enjoy it. SOTN fused with Aria of Sorrow.

    Amid Evil + Dusk: Old styled shooters made a comeback recently. It’s nice to see new content in a genre so dead for so long. Especially ones without procedural generation. Amid Evil has great visuals and I love the fact the default starting weapon isn’t immediately useless.

    Whatever old games I’ve been emulating S/NES, that sort of thing. Some are great, some are terrible. It’s fun seeing what games and mechanics made it and what didn’t. Also a bunch of old pinball games. The real thing is annoying to play, only found locally in bars and at $2 a pop would drain cash quick.

    Disappointments:

    RE 2 Remake: It got a whole lot of good press and honestly was pretty good. I just can’t stand nemesis. He’s not really threatening. He’s big, slow and you can bait out his attacks, but becomes a recurring annoyance. The “searching” AI is set to force encounters if you haven’t had one and it adds a tedious interruption to exploration and puzzles.

    Painkiller (the first one): I remember it being pretty OK so went back to complete it. It did not hold up at all. Most enemies are melee with long windups and you can outrun all of them so they pose no threat. Anything that does can be 2 shot with the shotgun or circle strafed and will never hit you. Giant arenas where the distance limit of your weapons becomes obvious as projectiles vanish or explode mid flight, not that the enemy AI can see you at that distance.

    Looking forward? Given the industry I tend to not ever look forward to anything until it’s out. Trailers and early access are usually poor indicators of quality.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      How the hell did you manage to fight against Nemesis in Resident Evil 2 when he won’t show up until 3? Man, poor Mr. X must be supremely annoyed that Nemmy came to steal his thunder.

      1. Higher_Peanut says:

        Whoops. I am obviously not up on my RE lore.

      2. Nimrandir says:

        Listen, Nemesis just got lost coming back over from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Do you have any idea how confusing snapbacks can be to a zombie?

    2. Shamus says:

      How did I miss Amid Evil? I played Dusk, but I didn’t know Amid Evil existed until your comment.

      Man, it’s hard to keep up.

      1. Lino says:

        It’s really good. I liked it a lot more than Dusk.

  16. Christoph says:

    top picks 2019
    Deep Rock Galactic. The combat is fun and engaging, the visual style is good, the characters are funny and play very differently. Combined with the procedural caves and different mission types this is easily one of my favourite coop shooters ever.
    Slay the Spire. Normally I am not into card playing games, this one hits the right spot between complexity and ease of use.
    Risk of Rain 2. Even better than its predecessor, challenging and fun combat, kill monsters, get loot, survive.
    Oxygen not Included. This one has been in early access long before I bought it. Complex and enganging. Failing has never been so interesting.
    Gris. Not only a game but a work of art. Easily the best visual storytelling in a long time.

    played this year but released earlier
    Ori and the Blind Forest. One of the most beautiful platformers I ever played.
    Primordia, it has been a long time since my last point and click adventure, pretty standard but enganging scifi story and funny characters.

    Since I watch a few gameplay videos for games before I buy them I know what to expect. There have been games where I lost interest faster than expected, but even among those there have been no disappointments.

    1. Lino says:

      Thank you for reminding me of Primordia! It had such amazing atmosphere and worldbuilding that I remember it fondly to this day. My favourite thing to do in that game was to go to the main city (I forget what it’s called) and just talk to all the random robots that walked by – there were so many of them, each of them was unique, and your imagination could run wild thinking of why that particular robot looked the way that it did or why it said the things that it said…

  17. BlueBlazeSpear says:

    In a sense, it’s odd that I consider myself to be a gamer because I buy so few games in any given year. I bought maybe one game this year? Then got a few as gifts for various holidays. But if I like a game, I’ll play it to a ridiculous degree.

    With that said, my favorites this year have been Greedfall and The Outer Worlds. There seems to be a theme there with them being 40-ish hour RPG games that didn’t have big publishers stepping in and ruining them in some way. Neither game is flawless, but during each of them, there were moments when I was like, “Oh, right – this is why I like to play video games.”

    The one gaming experience that I didn’t enjoy this year was Fallout 76. I didn’t even intend to get the game, but I got it as a Christmas gift last year. I’ve generally been a huge fan of the Fallout franchise, but this game seemed to be everything that I didn’t want from the franchise. I don’t like playing online with strangers and this game was a constant reminder of why: I don’t know that I had a single good encounter with another player. Maybe it was just my bad luck or whatever, but it got to a point where I was constantly watching the map and if it seemed like another player was getting close, I’d fast travel away. I’m guessing that’s not what the game designers had in mind for their player interaction. I didn’t care for the trend-chasing, bolted-on survival mechanics either. I’m not completely against survival mechanics – I really liked them in Kingdom Come: Deliverance where they made sense. I just didn’t like it here: It was just persistent enough to be annoying, but not weighty enough to make it worth having. My favorite part of Fallout 4 was the settlement building (peace to the people who thought it was the worst thing to ever happen to Fallout) and that mechanic was severely stripped back and frustratingly limited in FO76. It was the one thing that could’ve kept me playing the game, but it felt too much like a chore that didn’t really pay back.

    As for what I’m looking forward to in 2020, I’m pretty sure that the only correct answer is Cyberpunk 2077. But I have a dilemma there. These days, I’m strictly a console gamer. This game comes out in April. The new console generation doesn’t come out until late Fall. I’m pretty sure that the only viable way to play this game from April to November will be on PC. I can only assume that it will look like hot garbage, run like hot garbage, or do both on the current console generation. Honestly, I wish that CDPR would’ve waited for the next console generation because there will probably be compromises in all versions of the game that were made to run it on the current console hardware. In any case, I probably won’t be playing it until way after its release date, but I hope still sometime in 2020.

    1. Hector says:

      It may run just fine. The demo, for instance, seems to be running on a good but not wild desktop. Basic 1440p level.

    2. Liessa says:

      I’ve just started Greedfall, but am very much enjoying it so far. It’s interesting to compare it with Dragon Age: Inquisition, which I recently tried for the first time with a free month of Origin Access. That game was released 5 years ago by an AAA studio, yet Greedfall not only looks but runs better – like, ridiculously better – and seems far more stable. I was getting some really ridiculous bugs with DA:I, like having the new region refuse to load properly when I tried to travel through the world map (and then overwriting my fucking autosave so I lost about 10 minutes of gameplay. Luckily I’m an unrepentant savescummer, or it could have been far worse.) Not sure what causes that, but either way I’ve uninstalled DA:I and will be devoting most of my time to Greedfall from now on.

  18. John says:

    What a long year it’s been. Frankly, I played a lot of the games that I always play this year, so I’ll limit my remarks to games that I acquired in 2019.

    First, Battletech. I loved Battletech. I couldn’t say how much I actually played, as I got the game from GOG and I’m not using a client to track my playing time, but it was a lot. I played all the way through to just before the end of the campaign, lost my save, and decided to start all over again. So I did. It was great. For some reason, however, I can’t bring myself to start that final mission. I’m not sure why. It could be that I haven’t got all the mechs I want yet, but that sounds like an excuse. My saved game has been sitting there on my hard drive for months, taunting me. It’s awful.

    Second, Crusader Kings 2, now with expansions. The people who say that Crusader Kings 2 isn’t a complete game without all the expansions or that you need all of the expansions to have the intended experience are very, very wrong. It’s perfectly possible to to get dozens of hours of fun out of just the base game. I know, because I did. That said, the expansions are mostly pretty neat, and thanks to a Humble Bundle this year I was able to grab them all for next to nothing. I played a couple of Merchant Republic campaigns, which were somewhat less fun than I had hoped, but my campaign as a Yemeni sheikh (and now the Badshah of Abysinnia) has been a delight, even when it looked like things were going horribly wrong for the Hashid dynasty.

    Third, SteamWorld Heist. Our missing friend Daemian Lucifer was a tireless evangelist for this game. (The game models and tracks the path of every bullet fired, which is a serious thing for Daemian.) I often disagreed with Daemian, but he was 100% right in this case. SteamWorld Heist is a bite-sized tactics delight. It’s like a side-scrolling platformer version of XCOM starring adorable steampunk robots in space. The individual levels are short and you can finish the campaign in about 12 to 15 hours.

    Finally, LucasArts’ Outlaws, the finest cowboy themed FPS of 1997. Outlaws was probably my biggest disappointment this year. (I feel worse about Battletech but in that case I’m disappointed in myself, not disappointed in the game.) Years and years ago, I played the demo and loved it dearly. It had everything I wanted from an FPS at the time. Intelligible, navigable, recognizable levels! Human enemies that died after being hit by a small, plausible number of bullets! (Keep in mind that my points of reference at the time were the incomprehensible maze-like levels and robust monsters of Doom and possibly Quake.) The full version of the game did live up to my memories in some ways. For example, enemies really were just about as vulnerable to bullets as I remembered. The starting revolver was a perfectly viable weapon, even on the final level. (It may have helped that I was playing on the lowest difficulty level.) Some of the levels lived up to my expectations too; the second level more or less was the demo, as it turns out, and some of the others were just as good.

    But some of the level design in Outlaws was just monstrous, especially the sawmill level. What kind of lunatic would build a sawmill like that? How could the employees get around? Do they all know about the secret switches? Are they too constantly jumping into and out of the log flumes? How do the logs avoid getting stuck in the narrow, twisty, fast-flowing passages? What on earth is powering these elevators anyway? The canyon/cave level, the iron mine level, and the cliff-dwelling level were also very annoying. I resorted to a walkthrough and I don’t feel even a little bad about it.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      Hey. I’m a Steamworld Heist cultist too. I keep recommending the game to Shamus in the vain attempt he reads my incessant comments about it and finally considers it.

      I wouldn’t call it a “platformer”, though. I get the feeling saying that is what keeps Shamus away. The game is not a platformer at all. It’s 2D, yes, and looks like a platformer from screenshots, but it controls just like an X-Com, with grid-like movements. There’s no platforming skills required.

      1. John says:

        That’s so, but, gosh, it sure does look like a platformer. I mean, there are platforms everywhere. And, frankly, the idea of a turn-based platformer–which is what, in some respects, SteamWorld Heist is–makes me smile. Nevertheless, I apologize for my imprecise use of language. I was trying to keep my description of the game to a single sentence and I never meant to harm your efforts to trick Shamus into playing it.

        Good luck with that, by the way. For whatever reason–maybe it’s personal preference, maybe it’s blog-content considerations–and with the possible exception of XCOM, Shamus doesn’t seem too keen on tactics games.

        1. shoeboxjeddy says:

          Yeah, Heist is all about careful aim and precise cover shooting. Describing it as “platformer” sets the expectations in the COMPLETELY wrong zip code.

    2. baud says:

      I had some fun with Steamworld Heist, but I wasn’t really a fan of the mix between player skill (aiming) + XCOM-style combat with randomness. Perhaps because I wasn’t very good at the aiming side of things. Also I wasn’t a fan of the randomly generated levels. The art is great though.

      1. John says:

        The randomly generated levels are not especially random. I don’t think that level layout makes a big difference in level difficulty. The neat thing about manual aim is that if you miss your shot it’s your fault and not the game’s fault the way it would be in games with random chance to hit. It saves the developers from all the complaints they’d otherwise get from people who get bent out of shape when they miss 95% shots 5% of the time.

    3. Charnel Mouse says:

      Yeah, the sawmill level in Outlaws is horrendous. I didn’t use a walkthrough, and was stuck there for several hours. I still enjoyed the gameplay enough to really like the game overall, though. I don’t remember other levels being too bad, but I’d recently played Doom (last year) so maybe my standards were different.

      The cliff level has the odd design decision of randomly deciding where the boss is placed. He could be at the end, or he could be at one of two earlier points, and killing him finishes the level. So the designers intentionally decided that players might not see the whole level. Very strange.

      The revolver is still very good on the higher difficulty levels, it just becomes even deadlier for the player. You can still get away with melee sometimes, though. I accidentally walked straight into one level’s boss, punched him out, and only realised it was the boss when the cinematic started.

      1. John says:

        There’s this thing that Outlaws does that I love and hate at the same time. It’ll occasionally allow–and require!–you to interact with the environment in interesting and clever ways but it absolutely will not provide you with any kind of environmental hints about what it is you should be doing. The example that leaps to mind is a giant hay bale in either the last or second-to-last level. This hay bale is suspended from the roof of a barn by a single strand of rope. “Hey,” I thought, “I wonder if I can shoot through the rope and drop the hay bale. Outlaws occasionally lets you do stuff like that.” I tried it. Nothing happened, so I reasonably concluded that the hay bale had no significance and it was just another bit of invulnerable, immutable level geometry. Twenty minutes later, stuck and having resorted to the walkthrough again, I learned that the secret to get to the next bit of the level was to–argh!–shoot the rope. The hay bale would fall and crash through the barn floor, revealing a secret and otherwise inaccessible basement that I had previously had no reason to suspect even existed.

        I wasted twenty minutes because I didn’t actually hit the rope and the game’s graphics weren’t sufficient for me to tell the difference between missing the rope and the rope being invulnerable. If I’d hit the rope the first time, I would have been so, so smug. Instead, I feel like an idiot. The thing is that both interactability and non-interactability are perfectly plausible within the Outlaws universe. Sometimes an interesting bit of level design is part of a puzzle and sometimes it’s just decorative. There’s no way to know until you not only try to interact with it but interact with it in the right way and, apparently, with the proper precision. I don’t mind puzzles in games, but I like my puzzles clearly demarcated and with well-defined rules. Outlaws sometimes feels like one of those games where the object is to read the level designer’s mind.

        The iron mine and the cliff dwelling levels annoyed me, but they aren’t nearly as bad as the sawmill. The problem with the iron mine level is that certain doors are just very difficult to spot. A grey door in a dark corner surrounded by grey walls doesn’t exactly leap out at the player. If it weren’t for the walkthrough I would never have found it. Even knowing where it was, I couldn’t see it. I had to bump up against every surface in the room mashing spacebar like I was playing Wolfenstein 3D. The walkthrough seemed to suggest that it wasn’t supposed to be a secret door, but I’m not convinced. The cliff dwelling level, while puzzle-y, is much more obviously and deliberately puzzle-y than some other levels, which I appreciated. I made it through the first two major puzzles on my own. The last puzzle, the one that unlocks the final area, I needed the walkthrough for because, again, I just couldn’t see the last puzzle. Brown does not stand out from brown in the dark.

  19. Robyrt says:

    Best games of the year: Sekiro and Spider-Man. Both feel great to control, they’re single-player experiences that I can pick up without guilt, and they’re very pretty. Sekiro in particular is a nice stripped-down version of the Dark Souls experience that discards the weird multiplayer and weapon collecting angles and is better for it.

    Game I actually spent the most time playing: Destiny 2. This year, it has a bunch of nostalgia-themed content for Destiny 1 fans, which I got a real kick out of, but it has even more grinding than usual. I’m still having fun, and there is even more cool-looking and cool-feeling locations and guns and lore and abilities than ever, but I’m not as into it as I used to be, because it’s such a huge time sink and I feel like I’m missing out if I’m not raiding.

    Biggest disappointment: Gloomhaven early access. I’m a huge fan of the board game (completed the campaign and more), but the UX for the digital version is borderline incomprehensible to me. I just don’t think about playing cards that way! They present it as “Here’s your hand of available cards, you get two, first card you pick is your initiative”. That’s reasonable to write as a requirement, but what I’m actually doing is picking a movement action, then picking an attack action, then finally choosing initiative. I don’t have the card names memorized, I’m relying on the game’s concise iconography to bridge that gap, so a list of cards isn’t particularly useful for me.

    Looking Forward To: Mod support for Phoenix Point. The “tactical combat plus middle management” subgenre has very passionate fans who are all over mod support for XCOM, and the core game is in dire need of some quality of life upgrades.

  20. Hal says:

    The games I spent my most time on this year were Spider-Man and Borderlands 2. I don’t know if I have much to say of interest that hasn’t been said to death on those titles already. Vermintide 2 remained a consistent title for me as well this year; I have no idea why this game hasn’t gotten more traction, but I certainly enjoyed it.

    The biggest surprise for me was 2064: Read Only Memories. This was one of the free monthly PS4 games a while back, and I finally tried it earlier this month. Maybe it’s just been a long time since I last played an adventure game, but I’ve really been enjoying it.

    Second to that, and one I’ve probably put more time into, arguably, was One Deck Dungeon. It’s a digitization of a dice pool game, but dang if I haven’t been enjoying it. Definitely a great “play in the waiting room or while watching TV” kind of game.

  21. Lars says:

    Favorite games of the year:
    Darksiders 3 – Not as good as the first and not as visual appealing as the second but still a good Zelda’esque game.
    Scrap Mechanic – In Early Access for a few years now and Survival mode is still missing but the mod-scene is really active.
    Knights And Bikes – Neat Solo or co-op game I backed on Kickstarter years ago.
    A Plague Tale: Innocence – Solo Story-driven game with likable characters and nice visuals.
    7 Days to Die – Zombie Survival co-op – Nothing near my usual taste, but played with friends is fun.
    Judgement – The Yakuza successor. Logic holes all over the place but fun.

    Disappointment:
    Shenmue 3
    Squadron 42 – No game, no Infos – nothing

    Waiting for:
    Scrap Mechanic Survival Mode and of course Cyberpunk.

    1. Lars says:

      Uuh – Waiting for “Main Assembly”. For now I do anticipate it even more than the other two.

  22. beleester says:

    Celeste came out last year, but I played it this year. (And it just got a DLC this year, so it kinda counts). Really great story, which is something I did not at all expect to be hiding in a tough-as-nails platformer. And there’s an incredible amount of depth to the gameplay despite having just three verbs – climb, jump, and dash. The B-sides and C-sides will teach you new techniques that exploit your momentum to do crazy jumps. It’s definitely one of those “easy to learn, hard to master” games.

    Hollow Knight (2 years old) was the other game that completely captured my thoughts this year. A Soulslike that captures the feel of Dark Souls in atmosphere as well as gameplay. It’s not just the way you’re dying repeatedly to bosses as you learn their patterns, it’s the way you’re exploring the ruins of a once-mighty kingdom and slowly uncovering its history – often by getting into boss fights with the major figures in that history. And also the gorgeous scenery.

    Again, it’s an easy to learn, hard to master sort of game. Unlike Dark Souls, I only died a few times in the story mode, but the optional bosses kick things up a notch, and Godmaster requires you to really master a boss’s patterns and use all your skills. Watching a speedrunner do the final Pantheon is like watching an insect version of Yoda fight.

    I actually didn’t end up playing any games that came out this year, besides Phoenix Point (which only just came out and I haven’t played enough to say if it’s as good as XCOM yet). I have a pretty big backlog, and Epic’s flood of free indies has only made that backlog bigger.

    Biggest disappointment was probably Tooth and Tail (2 years ago) – it looked like a slick little RTS and I loved the weird “Redwall meets cannibals meets communist revolution” aesthetic of it. But the controls turned out to be unforgivably frustrating – you can’t really do any tactics beyond a deathball.

  23. GargamelLenoir says:

    That I loved :
    Unavowed : This is the best adventure game I played! The story was awesome, the puzzles were rather simple but still fun and intuitive and didn’t get in the way of the story, the characters were so lovable than choosing my team between mission was a dilemma, the pixel art was gorgeous, the replayability high… I’ve been playing other Wadget games ever since, but none have compared.

    Beat Sabers : Somehow the current pinnacle of VR gaming. You won’t know why until you try it. Paired with a boxing simulator (Thrill of the Fight) it provides me a fun way to stay in shape from home.

    Outer Worlds : Not quite as well written as Fallout New Vegas but much more pleasant to play, it provided me with a very good A-RPG experience. can’t wait for the DLCs.

    Grim Dawn : I’ve listened to a lot of amazing podcasts this year, and Grim Dawn allowed me to have some unthinking fun while doing it. It’s a very good diablo 2 successor, neck in neck with Path of Exile.

    Fallout 76 : Obviously I didn’t buy this game that was obviously promised to be terrible, but the controversies entertained me more than this “game” ever could. I mean come on, the 500 atoms in exchange for the canvas bag they never sent, which couldn’t even pay for the canvas bag in game? That’s classic! Thank you Bethesda.

    My disappointments:
    198X Pure 80s nostalgia in a nostalgia soaked pill, it’s a narrative experience cut with 80s style games (like a brawler, a car game…). The art is beautiful, the games are fun, but the length is a total joke. Basically once you’ve sampled one level of each game and the story seems to actually start, roll end credits! Obviously we can’t expect too much from an indie, but they went through the trouble of creating an engine for each of those games and then made only ONE level of each, this is insane!
    If they ever decide to make something more than the game’s introduction though it could be a very good experience.

    Stellaris : Megacorp I was a pretty big Stellaris guy, but the overhaul of the game broke it for me. The economy can go from “all of your silos are full” to “you’re almost bankrupt” in a few years because a pop switched job somewhere causing a domino effect. The AI is entirely inactive, I was able to absorb empires after empires with a devouring swarm but then my economy crashed on itself. Maybe the game will be fun again someday. I hope so.

    What I’m looking forward
    No surprises there : Cyberpunk, Bloodlines 2, Baldur’s Gate 3, Wasteland 3

    1. Chad Miller says:

      Fallout 76 : Obviously I didn’t buy this game that was obviously promised to be terrible, but the controversies entertained me more than this “game” ever could. I mean come on, the 500 atoms in exchange for the canvas bag they never sent, which couldn’t even pay for the canvas bag in game? That’s classic! Thank you Bethesda.

      It’s funny to think Fallout 76 has had so many high-profile failures that we can argue about which one is our favorite. I’m partial to the one where they introduced a subscription service with a monthly fee whose most interesting features were private servers and extra storage, but then the extra storage deleted items instead of storing them and the private servers weren’t private.

    2. Radkatsu says:

      On Stellaris: if you’re having problems like that, you need to learn how better to manage everything. Not ragging on you, just an FYI that it’s actually quite difficult to truly screw up once you learn how the new systems work. And don’t leave it up to the AI either, sectors still don’t work all that well. Specialising your planets is a lot more important now as well.

      Though I will agree that it still needs work, especially on the aforementioned AI. Paradox are WAY too interested in nickle and diming everyone with more and more DLC and less interested in actually fixing the issues the game has. Late game performance is so bad on all but the beefiest rigs that most players just quit and start a new game :/

  24. Steve C says:

    Best game of this year: Rimworld. It’s just fun. For some reason I have a hard time starting it up. Once I do though, there goes the day.

    Biggest Disappointment: Battletech: Flashpoint. I loved Battletech. It was my favorite game of 2018. The expansion was so much nothing it was appalling. Thin thin thin.

    Biggest combination of both: Warframe. I enjoy Warframe as my casual-play-for-a-few-mins game. It was the game I spent the most hours playing this year. But not my favorite. I really really liked it when it first came out. Every addition sours it a bit more for me. There hasn’t been any new content released in the past 2 years that I’ve actually liked. The Railjack stuff released this past week is a great example. It is obtuse and frustrating. No tutorial. No info on what I’m doing or why at all. I’m a long time player very used to the sparse info and sink-or-swim mentality of the game. This is on a next level. Plus they keep making the mistake that pushed me away from WoW– ie reworking characters. I’m down to only about 4 frames I enjoy playing. The fact that I’m still playing it has more to do with how far it had room to fall than anything. Now I’m constantly reevaluating if I should uninstall after each major patch.

    1. Radkatsu says:

      If you love Rimworld, highly recommend Kenshi if you’ve not played it, especially as it’s on sale for Christmas. Similar sort of brutal sandbox ‘learn by dying a lot’ game.

  25. GoStu says:

    I didn’t play a lot of new games.

    Favorites:
    (1) The Outer Worlds. This is the Fallout game I wanted. Great worldbuilding, good gameplay, an all-around solid game I’m glad to have bought.
    (2) Old School Runescape: I lost a lot of time to a happy nostalgia trip on this. Bought back warm and happy childhood memories.
    (3) Enter the Gungeon. It had a pretty big content patch (farewell to arms) and completed the game. I really enjoyed some more time with this.

    Disappointment:
    (1) I finally tried Rogue Legacy and something just did not click for me. I like other roguelite style games but there’s something I just didn’t enjoy about this one. I think it was the feeling that my character was very limited; I have a long-standing grievance against 2D games where my angles of attack are limited but the enemy can approach from all directions. Or maybe it felt like more of a meatgrinder with less reprieve.
    (2) I finally broke up with Elite: Dangerous after a long time playing it. I could probably write about 5000 words about this game, but this year cost me my enthusiasm for it.

  26. Mattias42 says:

    Think my best surprise this year was the Resident Evil 2 remake. Got it almost on a whim since I’d heard good things about the original (though missed it back in the day) and the graphics looked really neat.

    Just a great game! Didn’t even realize how much I’d missed the AAA horror game since the passing of Dead Space, and I’m eagerly awaiting the RE3 remake now.

    (Honorable mention to Death Stranding though. Poured 150 hours into 100% that game, and I expect it to be a big, BIG influence on other games down the line… but I’ll fairly admit I completely see why ‘ the first strand game’ has been so divisive. Very love or hate it style stuff, even by the standards of being a Kojima game.)

    Most disappointing… hate to say it and I might get roasted for saying it, but Disco Elysium.

    I know, I know, the writing, world and characters are all superb… but I just cannot STAND the ‘gameplay.’ If I wanted to roll that many d6s, I’d frankly go play Yahtzee, and it boggles my mind so few people seem to mind that part of the game. Hell, even the old Lone Wolf books didn’t have you roll dice for EVERYTHING like that.

    As for next year… gonna be boring and say RE3—as mentioned, Doom Eternal and Cyberpunk. Not the most avantgarde indie list, or whatever, but those are the games right now I’m looking forward to that’s been confirmed for 2020.

  27. Binks says:

    Favorite Games this year: Stellaris, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Pokemon: Sword and Shield

    Biggest Disappointment: Jump Force :(

    Most Looking Forward to: Kerbal Space Program 2

  28. Geebs says:

    Good: Beat Saber, Sekiro, Outer Wilds, Quake 2 RTX, Halo Reach.

    Disappointing: Control.

    Dire: Wolfenstein Youngblood.

    Backlog of Shame: FFXII Switch, Astral Chain, DMC5

    Don’t really know what to think: Death Stranding

    1. Geebs says:

      Oh yeah;

      Surprisingly good: AssCreed Origins

      Surprisingly bad: AssCreed Odyssey

      Honestly I don’t know what UbiSoft were thinking. Origins has great combat and outstanding open world design; Odyssey has bad combat, ridiculous levelling mechanics (you can stealth up to a character a couple of levels higher, messily execute them, and then have them get up again and be at 90% health) and a terribly repetitive open world.

      1. DeadlyDark says:

        While I enjoyed a lot of Origins, something about Odyssey didn’t sit with me right. I avoided it. Guess, I was right with my gut feelings

      2. Duoae says:

        Not saying your opinion isn’t wrong… but the description of Odyssey seems the same as my experience in Origins? I played both games and found them basically the same.

        One thing I disliked about Odyssey was the focus on ship travel…. that got pretty old, pretty fast… At least in Origins you could set a waypoint and have your horse auto-ride to the destination (Yeah, you can do that over land in Odyssey but there’s the Aegean sea between most islands!).

        1. Geebs says:

          Odyssey had tighter level-gating, a bigger emphasis on loot level and deliberately limited XP to 66% of what they should have been in order to sell a 1.5x XP booster “Time Saver”. It was exacerbated by the big battle scenes, in which it was literally impossible to do enough damage to win in the time available unless you had a high enough level. Having most of the combat consist of a bunch of special abilities on cooldown timers didn’t help, either.

          The thing that really broke it for me, though, is that they pushed everything closer together in order to fit in the entire Aegean. This broke the pathfinding so that, when I finally met up with a character I’d been looking for through a fair chunk of the game, they made a big speech about how important it was to remain inconspicuous and then proceeded to jump on a horse, run over a bunch of pedestrians, and get into a noisy fight with a bunch of wild dogs directly outside the town we were supposed to be sneaking into.

          1. Duoae says:

            Okay, fair enough. My experience was very different but maybe that’s because in these games I rarely follow the main quest and isntead search out a lot of side content and just generally explore the maps. After the first two areas, I was so-overlevelled that the game was almost always catching up to me.

            This broke the pathfinding so that, when I finally met up with a character I’d been looking for through a fair chunk of the game, they made a big speech about how important it was to remain inconspicuous and then proceeded to jump on a horse, run over a bunch of pedestrians, and get into a noisy fight with a bunch of wild dogs directly outside the town we were supposed to be sneaking into.

            Maybe I’ve been unlucky but that’s my experience of Assassin’s Creed games >_<*.

      3. Chuk says:

        I’ve been enjoying Origins too, a bit at a time.

  29. Zekiel says:

    As per usual I played games that were at least 2 years out of date, so..

    Favourites:
    – Prey (wow, just incredible… I know Shamus has written a few bits on this but why haven’t we had a huge essay yet?)
    – Tacoma (oddly similar premise to Prey, though utterly different game; absolutely charming)
    – What Remains of Edith Finch (really fascinating, very original and some fantastic sequences)
    – Metal Gear Solid V (golly… utterly bonkers plot but absolutely incredible gameplay)

    Disappointed by:
    – Rise of the Tomb Raider (why did I play this? All the reviews said it was mediocre.. and it was)
    – Spider-man (not a bad game at all, but it just go repetitive… I seem to recall someone round here wrote a few words on the subject :-)

    Looking forward to:
    – Hellblade and Prey Mooncrash (I mean, they’re new to me)
    – Hades (I am a massive SuperGiant fan but I don’t play Early Access games)

  30. Matt says:

    My gaming computer is almost 10 years old at this point, so it can’t run anything new. As a result of that, not being too interested in many new titles, having a kid, and spending more time with D&D/GURPS, I’ve kind of fallen out of the video gaming scene. However, I am getting a brand spanking new gaming laptop for Christmas, and I have been playing some of my older games.

    Favorites (AKA What little I’ve played):
    Darkest Dungeon – My machine can actually run this!
    Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines – In preparation for the sequel. Every time I replay this, I try to be a different clan, but I always seem to come back to Ventrue.
    Age of Empires 2 – Love the Britons.
    Zeus: Master of Olympus – An old Sierra city builder with Greek mythology added in.
    Solitaire – Mostly when I’m bored.

    Most looking forward to:
    Cyberpunk 2077
    Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
    Baldur’s Gate 3
    Kingdom Come: Deliverance – I actually kickstarted this and have owned it for years, but never loaded it. I was hoping it would get me back into PC gaming, but it wasn’t enough. I’m looking forward to playing it.
    The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt My old machine was chugging with this one, so I gave up. I’d like to give it another try.

    1. tmtvl says:

      KCD is a really good game, when my gaming machine was running I played a couple dozen hours of it and it’s a game filled with love. It’s very accurate to history, with only a few minor faults, and it really rewards hard work. Some people dislike it because it doesn’t give you a lot of the niceties other games give you (wanna ride your horse through the forest? Good luck seeing where you’re going), but I think it really gives you an incentive to carefully consider how you are going to deal with whatever challenge is laid before you.

    2. Henson says:

      Okay, so I gotta ask: what exactly do you like about playing as Ventrue? Their appeal has always baffled me.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Yeah, I was going to say: you misspent ‘Malkavian’.

        Another clan that’s always baffled me is the Nosferatu. Hey, let’s forgo a load of sidequests and have to travel via the sewers all the time! What fun.

        1. Duoae says:

          Haha, I guess some people really like role-playing! :D

          I can’t remember precisely which clan I played in bloodlines but I remember something about blood magic so maybe it was Tremere?

        2. tmtvl says:

          I don’t get the love for Malks. “Wacky random insanity dialogue” seems like it would completely detract from the experience.

          I like Nosferatu because I like sneaking around everywhere.

          1. Syal says:

            Wacky random insanity mind control.

            1. tmtvl says:

              Well, if you want Domination, that’s why people play Ventrue.

          2. BlueHorus says:

            It really depends on how well it’s done. ‘Wacky dialogue’ can be truly horrendous.
            (Malkavian players can be an absolute nightmare in the tabletop game…)
            Buuut, for my money, I think Troika did it really well.

            It could have been terrible, but it wasn’t. But that’s just my 5 cents.

            1. Henson says:

              The Malkavian dialogue in Bloodlines is certainly amusing, and I’m glad the clan choice is in the game. But I also feel like I’m not making my own dialogue choices, I’m making their choices. The dialogue choices seem obfuscated by the layers of insanity, not necessarily augmented by them, so I’m just following a trail laid out for me rather than choosing my own path. It just seems the clan is best suited for NPCs, or there needs to be a game built specifically around their extrasensory nature.

              1. Radkatsu says:

                “Insanity.”

                Otherwise known as foreshadowing for future events that only really make sense if you’ve already completed the game a couple of times.

          3. Matt says:

            Malkavians (and also Tzimisce) always seemed rather out of place in the Masquerade setting since they didn’t draw as directly from very well-known vampire stories. Even after I found out about the Necroscope books, flesh-sculpting vampires still strikes me as an odd addition.

      2. Matt says:

        In RPGs, my default playstyle is face man/leader + combat (a paladin, for example), a niche the Ventrue fill well with Fortitude, Domination, and a preference for Social + Knowledges. The Ventrue lead the Camarilla, which I think makes significantly more sense than the Anarchs or Sabbat. Also, I like the “man of wealth and taste” style of the Ventrue and I think they have the best outfits in Bloodlines. Cool, without being decadent or foppish like the Toreador.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          I think one of the things that makes the game so great is that it can actually get such different reactions. Personally, I went with the Anarchs (or the Independent ‘a plague on both your Houses’ choice) every time, because the Camarilla came across as grossly corrupt and stagnant to me.

          It’s definitely a sign of good writing when players can have such different reactions to the same story.

          1. Matt says:

            I think the writers intended you to sign up with the Anarchs or stay Independent. Nines seems to be a genuinely good man and saves your life twice, which should endear you to him, and Jack is one of the best NPCs. In Hollywood, Isaac treats you fairly and respects your ability. Meanwhile, LaCroix orders you around condescendingly, is the architect of the entire conflict, and tries to betray and murder you, and he’s the only Ventrue NPC! Strauss is better, but not very memorable.

            The reason I think the Camarilla is best is that it has the organization and resources necessary to ensure the survival of vampires in the modern nights. With threats of discovery and attacks by hunters and other supernatural creatures, you need overarching coordination to address them. Politicians need to be bribed, evidence needs to be destroyed, intelligence gathered and shared, etc.

    3. Chuk says:

      GURPS is great.

  31. Modran says:

    Games I loved this year:
    1/ Prey. So much. I loved almost evey minute of it, from the game design standpoint (I’m an explorer, I love trying new ways to reach areas, and Prey responded), to the story, to the gameplay (Many people scorned the fighting, I had no problem with it), to the atmosphere (I stopped playing SOMA because I couldn’t fight back. Prey delivered thrills, fright AND release. Also, they understood that sometimes, a pause is needed to build tension)
    2/ Dying Light . Did I mention I’m an explorer? They give me a whole town to parkour in, without the ubisoft smorgasbord of icons everywhere, and with a constant threat in the zombies. It is the first time I’ve noticed how much FPS have a limited Field of View. I’m dealing with a lone zombie, and the time it takes me to kill it, 3 more have arrived IN MY BACK and start eating my fa-… My behind. I’m now at a level where basic zombies aren’t really a threat anymore, except when they catch me unaware. Story is classic, but the sidestories are logical in how people would react in such an apocalypse, for the best or for the worst. And sometimes, for the laugh.

    Disappointments:
    1/ Sushi Striker on the Switch. Premise seemed fun: match sushis to eat them and launch the empty plates in your enemies face. Fights are shorts (1-3 minutes long), but the game gets so, so soooooo repetitive. It’s the same all the damn time.

  32. tomatojuice says:

    Favorite games of 2019:
    Pathologic 2. The anti-power-fantasy. Too much to explain. Watch Mandalore’s video and play it.
    Baba Is You. Not only is it an innovative and challenging puzzle game, but it also thoroughly explores its unique mechanics and takes them to the next level in the optional content.
    (I haven’t played Disco Elysium yet, but I’m expecting to like it.)

    Biggest disappointment:
    Manifold Garden, maybe. I hadn’t heard about that game until it came out. It looked so weird and interesting, but the puzzles ended up being so lame and boring. That game is the complete opposite of Baba Is You.

    What are you most looking forward to in 2020?
    Cyberpunk 2077
    Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2

    1. tomatojuice says:

      Just read I didn’t have to limit myself to 2019 games, so here are 3 more games:
      Overload. A spiritual successor to the Descent series made by the same developers.
      Prey. I played it a second time this year, with a balance mod that changes some skills, their required neuro mods, and overall resource scarcity.
      CrossCode. A SNES style JRPG with a surprisingly cool and fast-paced combat system.

  33. Iunnrais says:

    Been playing:

    * Destiny 2. A lot. A friend of mine invited me to try it early this year, well before the big update, since he wanted to level up a different class anyway. I found the main campaign way too easy, but once we cleared that together, the rest of the content was quite fun, and I dropped my money on preordering the expansion as soon as it was announced. I have not regretted it at all. The game is just getting better, almost weekly now.

    * Breath of the Wild. Yes its not exactly brand new any more, and I beat it pretty soon after it first came out. But that’s why it’s fun to pick it up again now and replay it on Master Mode.

    * Untitled Goose Game. Short, sweet, so much fun.

    Most looking forward to:

    * Cyberpunk 2077, along with the entire rest of the internet as far as I can tell.

  34. Duoae says:

    In no particular order:

    Favourite games:
    Sekiro (first From Software title I actually felt like I knew what was going on and what I was doing with regards to the mechanics)

    Jedi: Fallen Order (Loved this game, might be my GOTY. Plenty of things to improve for the sequel, though. This diamond definitely had quite a few flaws)

    The Occupation (I had heard something about this back last year and then promptly forgot it. I played Ether One as part of PS+ and I really liked that game but it was quite technically flawed. The Occupation dealt with a political idea that’s currently relevant, included time-sensitive gameplay, intricately involved level design and a questioning mechanic I quite liked. Sure, the AI wasn’t fantastic and you could game it a bit but overall I loved exploring the levels and trying to get everything done in time for the meeting at the end of each level. Also, by the time I played it, all the bugs were basically fixed. I reviewed this, if you’re interested.)

    They are Billions (Loved the survival mode, sunk at least 40 hours into it… hated the campaign. Still, the survival mode is what is “worth” it for me.)

    Rebel Galaxy Outlaw (It’s Wing Commander Privateer updated for modern times. I love it. Very simplistic and I’d love for them to actually make a more modern version of the game using design principles we’ve developed over the intervening period but I’ll settle for this. I reviewed this, if you’re interested.)

    Biggest disappointment:
    The Banner Saga Trilogy (I read so much about this from people like Bill Harris and I knew I’m not great at tactics games but even on easy this game kicked my ass so hard. I’ll try and get back into it someday but I just felt so deflated. I really could do with an even easier mode to have space to understand the game better. Yes, I know there’s a training mode… I’d scrape by through those encounters, maybe losing a hero or two… didn’t help me get better at the game.)

    Phoenix Point (Unfortunately, the game has a lot of potential but I get the feeling that the developers got into a situation where they were forced to release it – either due to lack of funds or contractual agreements with EPIC. The game is not “finished” – by which I mean, it had many game-breaking bugs on release, some of which were like the problems Shamus experienced where certain libraries were not included with the installer and which resulted in the game not even being able to output graphics to the screen… though it had not crashed. Very painful to watch. I started to play but there’s so many threads on their forums [which are pretty good as far as communities go!] about saves being deleted or late-game breaking bugs that I think I’m going to wait for a few patches to begin playing this one properly. What I played was great though!…. The developers also included a bug reporting system within the game (F12) which is awesome! But it’s not very well documented so people only find out if they randomly mash buttons or if they visit the forums.)

    Games I’m most looking forward to in 2020:
    Dying Light 2 (I’m still not done with [parkour] zombie games)
    Cyberpunk 2077 (Loved the Witcher series, hopefully they pull-off the same magic with this title)
    The Last of Us Part 2 (I just want more of this story)
    Evil Genius 2 (We need more goofy, humorous games that spoof the 60s/70s spy films/TV series. Unfortunately, I can’t get the first game to play on modern OSes, meaning it’s basically dead for me.)
    12 Minutes (The most intriguing game shown at Microsoft’s E3 2019 presentation)
    Gears Tactics (I’m still craving more FIRAXCOM.)

    What are you most looking forward to in 2020?

    1. Duoae says:

      Crap! I forgot to put Mutant: Year Zero: Road to Eden on my favourites list. Really, really enjoyed that game! Simpler version of XCOM on easy and normal modes…. the game completely changes on the harder modes! Couldn’t manage to get good enough for those but the easy mode really scratched my XCOM itch.

      [edit]Oh wow! Really glad you asked the question and glad I remembered the game as I’ve just realised they released an expansion (Seed of Evil) I had not heard about… seems like it wasn’t covered by any of the gaming sites I frequent!

    2. Syal says:

      Well, I’ll try giving pointers because I dig Banner Saga.

      Armor Break is the most important stat in the game, especially because 3 break on a Dredge breaks armor on all surrounding Dredge too. Ability to use Willpower is the second-most important because that adds to Armor Break. Strength only matters when it’s higher than Armor, and high Armor keeps Strength higher, longer. Also a character getting knocked out is par for the course and you shouldn’t worry about it much.

      Training Mode in BS 1 is actually harder than most regular battles; it’s mostly there for getting enough kills on specific characters to level up.

      1. Duoae says:

        Thanks for the pointers. I’ll keep them in mind if/when I get back to the game. :)

  35. Drifter says:

    2019
    Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – never played any of the other Assassin’s Creed games, heard good things about this one, picked it up and enjoyed this more than any other game I played this year. Is it a life changer, no. But I could tell that this was a pinnacle refinement of the core elements that came before. Highly recommended.

    Slay The Spire – came back to this a couple of times before it kicked in for me and I finished it. A fun game.

    Ashen – I’ve avoided all of the Darksouls games. Life’s too short to aggravate myself that much. This one is a Souls light and I managed to finish it. Also enjoyed this. I liked the art work, the world, and the mechanics.

    Disappointment
    Not any big game disappointments that I recall, other than my on-going, business as usual inability to perform at a high level in the latest Call of Duty game. Also, I haven’t gone back to finish Skyrim – not finishing it is a perpetual disappointment.

    2020
    Looking forward most to Darkest Dungeon 2. I thought the first one was great (though it fell apart at the end in my opinion). Also, the next Wasteland.

  36. Thomas Adamson says:

    Got back into Oxygen Not Included, it’s solid now. The easy mod really helps when you want to experiment before trying to get real aboutthings.

    Still love Slay the Spire

    Really liked Disco Elysium. Revives both isometric RPGs and Point and Click Adventures for me.

    RimWorld as always, stopped trying to get into Dwarf Fortress (seriously somebody give that a UX makeover from 1979 to 1994 and I’m right there)

    Stellaris had a runthrough of some of it’s new content. It’s fun. Wish Bios and Synths could mix though. Maybe that’s a recent expansion…. Needs more Wacky Trek to counter to deep Cherryh.

    Crusader Kings 2 gets a run. Still good. Still mad at the Clauswitz engine though. Tried to learn Hearts of Iron to play the Kaiser Reich mod… How much youtube to I have to watch to play this game again? Is it similar to the amount of time I spend learning for my real job? Oh it’s more…. Good.

    Noita looks awesome but for some reason doesn’t perform on my computer.

    Workers and Resources: Soviet Republic. Needs a 1950s start with farms, fences and NKVD bases on the map. But damn, this social-logistics simcity clone has potential.

    Wilmots Warehouse is an OCD crack-rock that I can’t fuck with.

  37. TLN says:

    Disco Elysium came out of nowhere for me (in the sense that I had forgotten about the name change so I didn’t even know it had been released initially) and ended up being one of the best RPGs I’ve played in the past decade, so I’m probably gonna have to go with that. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is another game that I really enjoyed although after beating the first route there are a lot of things about it that are beginning to wear out their welcome, to the point where I’m kind of forcing myself through ng+ right now because I want to see where the story goes. I’m gonna have to take a long break before I check out the final route I think, which isn’t a great way to feel about a game but then again I don’t really know how to make a game like this continuously exciting for 300+ hours.

  38. Narkis says:

    This was a good year. I loved:

    1) Disco Elysium. The best written RPG since Planescape: Torment. Skills-as-characters was a really innovative mechanic, it had some wonderfully complex NPCs and it managed to have both humour and serious situations without detracting from either.

    2) Pathfinder: Kingmaker. Technically a 2018 release, but it was full of gamebreaking bugs. Thankfully the devs patched furiously and I played the Enhanced Edition last summer. It managed to capture the spirit of Baldur’s Gate much, much better than Obsidian did with Pillars.

    3) Obra Dinn. You know it. You love it, or you haven’t played it yet. Can’t say much more than that.

    Of course, there disappointments too:

    1) The Outer Worlds. I really wanted to like it. But I just couldn’t. The mechanics were simplified almost to the point of non-existence. The humour did not click with me at all. The characters were caricatures. I gave up on the game on the first major dilemma, where I had to choose to kill one of two settlements for spare parts, and every NPC who talked about it was fine with me getting to make that choice. The one thing I did like was the companion, Parvati. Not nearly enough to keep my interest though.

    2) Slay the Spire. It wasn’t a bad game by any means, and I spent quite some time with it. But it ended up being not quite as deep as I first thought. Almost disappointingly easy once you figure out the good combos for each character. I just expected more from it.

    As for the games I’m looking forward:

    1) Cyberpunk. CD Project has my trust. I only hope they can deliver on the sky-high expectations. And I am slightly worried ever since I learned about the multiplayer mode with microtransactions.

    2) Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous. From the creators Kingmaker, set on the same world, with the same mechanics and an entirely unrelated story. Owlcat seems to have learned from the mistakes of Kingmaker, and bought their independence with the profits of the first game. That should mean no rushed release, and an even better game.

    And I am definitely NOT looking forward to either Baldur’s Gate 3 or Vampire Bloodlines 2. I feel both are cynical nostalgia-based cashgrabs and cannot possibly be nearly as good as the original titles they’re aping.

    1. Bloodsquirrel says:

      Baldur’s Gate 3 is being handled by Larian, who have their own distinctive style or RPG and a solid enough track record. I’m not expecting it to be a 100% stylistic continuation of the series, but it should be good.

      1. tmtvl says:

        It may be a good game, but it’ll suck as a Baldur’s Gate game. You can’t switch from normal sequels to Final Fantasy style unrelated games partway through. It doesn’t make sense.

    2. Henson says:

      I actually just bought Pathfinder: Kingmaker and Obra Dinn a week or so ago. Really looking forward to both.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        It feels weird. I’m a pretty serious tabletop Pathfinder player, but I haven’t felt drawn to Kingmaker. Many of my local players have recommended the game, though.

  39. Biggus Rickus says:

    The only game I really loved was Sekiro. I liked Outer Worlds and Total War: Rome 2 (which is the only Total War game I’ve tried so far).

    I was disappointed by Ashen and Outward. Both seemed like something I’d at least enjoy, and I could barely make myself play them. They just made me want to play other, better games.

    I tend to keep my hopes down for new games prior to release, but I’m interested in Cyberpunk 2077.

  40. Dreadjaws says:

    What I loved:

    Heat Signature: After playing Gunpoint, the previous game by this developer, I had to take a look at this one, but even though I purchased it earlier for one reason or another I kept putting it off. A few months ago I decided to replay Gunpoint (it’s short enough and easy to pick up, even if you don’t remember much) and that gave me the itch to play this one. Once I did, I couldn’t put it down until I 100%-ed it. This is exactly the kind of emergent gameplay games like FTL promise but entirely fail to deliver due to their fixation in imbalanced randomness over actual fun. Even if you’re thrown into an unfair situation, trying to get out of it makes the game incredibly fun rather than an exercise in frustration. The game is entertaining from the get-go rather than forcing you to spend hours being annoyed before starting to get fun.
    Baba is You: You already know this one. It’s a cute and creative puzzle game that allows you to change the world’s rules to rewrite reality in order to proceed. Even when puzzles get hair-rippingly hard you still feel a sense of accomplishment when you solve them rather than feeling cheated, like it happens in other games.
    Resident Evil 2 remake: I don’t think this series will ever be up your alley, seeing how the “horror” is not psychological, but this is still one of the best games in the franchise and the genre. It’s more serious than previous entries like 4 or 5 (though the plot is, of course, still a ridiculous B-movie) and it manages to produce extreme tension and some genuine scares. Still, if you ever feel like revisiting the franchise, I recommend starting with RE7. It’s probably the less outlandish of the bunch.
    Steamworld Dig 2: Being a fan of the Steamworld franchise, I bought this one at launch, but I put off playing it for whatever reason (man, I do that a lot). Just like with Heat Signature, I didn’t stop until I finished it 100%. The Steamworld games are usually all from a different genre, but since this one is a direct sequel from one of them it’s a metroidvania, just like its predecessor. If you’re not a fan of this kind of game this one is unlikely to convert you, but hey, at least platforming becomes a cakewalk once you get your hands in the jetpack. I also take this chance to yet again recommend you play Steamworld Heist.
    Steamworld Quest: Unlike the one above, this one actually launched this year, and uncharacteristically for me, I actually started playing it as soon as I got it (which was at launch). Like all non-direct sequel games in the series, this one is from a different genre. In this case, it’s a mix of turn-based RPG with Collectible Card Game. It’s quite a lot of fun and filled with lovable characters. Didn’t 100% this one because I was waiting for an update that brought new content, and then my PC was killed and I moved on onto other games. I recently got my PC back on track, but I put off other games due to still having to take advantage of my free month of EA Game Pass. Also, why are you not playing Steamworld Heist yet? Do I have to go there and force you to? Because I won’t, I’m too lazy and I can’t afford a trip to the US anyway. You win this one, Shamus!
    Mr. Shifty: Hey, speaking of that Game Pass, this game came with it and was a very welcome surprise. It’s a top-down brawler, with the gimmick that you have the ability to teleport several feet in front of you. It might not sound like much, but this actually makes the game much more tactical and puzzle-like. You can’t just punch your way through every level. You have to carefully consider how to use your ability to win the upper hand, considering it needs recharging and it’s not just unlimited use.
    Fire Emblem Fates: I’ve always loved the tactical genre, but there’s something special about Fire Emblem that games like Final Fantasy Tactics or Advance Wars never got. This is why I was interested in Into the Breach, but that one turned out to be more FTL randomness crap. Anyway, I’m sure the game’s story can be completed in less than 20 hours, but I played the game for over 100. And that’s only one of the three stories available, as there are two more as DLC. Maaaaaaan.
    Wandersong: This is it. This the best game I played this year, and one of my favorite games of all time. I don’t know if I can adequately describe it, but this is art in its purest form. You play as a bard, and use song to overcome your obstacles, eschewing all violent behavior, as the protagonist is a pacifist. Make no mistake, I’m all for violence in videogames, but the way the singing gameplay is implemented in this game is so versatile I certainly don’t miss combat. Plus, the protagonist is just so endearing you can’t help but love him. The story is beautiful, characters are lovable and the minimalistic art style is adorable. I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s clear that the developers put their heart into it.

    What disappointed me:
    Marvel’s Spider-Man: Everyone and their mother kept saying how this was the best Spider-Man game to date, and after playing it I have to wonder why didn’t they just play more Spider-Man games. In graphics it’s definitely superior, but everything else has already been done equally or better in previous games. I don’t see how this game is better than, say, Web of Shadows, and I certainly don’t remember any previous game where the story reached insulting levels of bad. They’ve been usually comic-booky, yes, but they didn’t outright insult my intelligence. Is it a fun game? For sure! Is the story stupid? Without a doubt. Is its gameplay any better than in later Spider-Man games? Not really.

    What I look forward to:
    Cyberpunk 2077: I loooooooove Cyberpunk, I love CDPR, and I’m a Keanu Reeves fan, so this is right up my alley.
    Resident Evil 3: Capcom has been doing great lately and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to believe things will change here. As a fan of the franchise, I have my reservations about Nemesis redesign, but otherwise I’m excited for this game. And I surely hope they announce a Dino Crisis remake next.

    1. John says:

      I’ve always loved the tactical genre, but there’s something special about Fire Emblem that games like Final Fantasy Tactics or Advance Wars never got.

      That’s funny. I love both Final Fantasy Tactics and Advance Wars but I’ve long since lost all interest in Fire Emblem. I binged hard–possibly too hard–on the first GBA Fire Emblem. I completed every route and even went back and beat the game on the hardest difficulty. I bought the second not long after, and, while I completed both routes and appreciated some of the gameplay improvements, it didn’t grab me like the first one did. I’m not sure why. The story in the second game–The Sacred Stones?–was extremely bland and generic, but, frankly, that was true of the first game too. Possibly I just burned myself out on Fire Emblem. I can’t imagine going back to the series now. I listened to a few podcasts where people discussed Fates and it sounded awful to me (especially all the non-battle parts). It might be an anime-style story thing. The older I get the less patience I have for that.

      I like Final Fantasy Tactics more than Fire Emblem because of the job system. Characters in Final Fantasy Tactics have more interesting abilities than characters in Fire Emblem and you have more control over which abilities they learn. (This is perhaps less true of the later Fire Emblem games, which, again, I haven’t played.) It’s a min-maxer’s dream. Advance Wars is similar to Fire Emblem in that you spend a lot of time mashing Unit A into Enemy Unit B and that there’s a bit of rock-paper-scissors going on with unit types, but very different in that any two units of the same type are interchangeable and disposable and that, in most levels, you can get reinforcements from barracks and factories. Advance Wars also has a fairly customizable skirmish mode and a map editor. There’s no need to engage with the campaign if that’s not what you’re interested in at the moment. I love that.

      1. Scerro says:

        FF Tactics is a game that’s meant to be broken, so I enjoy it, as my general philosophy is that Single player games should be breakable without an insane amount of min-maxing.

        While solidly in the FF Tactics camp, I think the main draws for FE are from the relationships and how those turn out, and the Mythos. Honestly I don’t get it 100% either, as the stories feel repetitive and I have a hard time being railroaded and feel rewarded. Still, I’m 90% sure it’s mostly about characters. FE: 3 Houses seemed to be all about it.

        I’ve really only played FE 7, 9 (The ones on the GBA around 2003 and 2004), and part of Path of Radiance.

        Personally I think FFT’s story isn’t all that crazy unique or anything, but the opposite approaches of Delita and Ramza are what make the game at the end of the day. The statement about what true heroes are, compared to very morally grey heroes is quite interesting. Game is otherwise just a decently run of the mill game with a fairly steep initial learning curve.

    2. Radkatsu says:

      Ugh, Heat Signature. One of the biggest disappointments ever for me. Started out as a kickass game, then they slowly ruined it with updates that changed core functionality and added irritating enemies. Current version is unplayable for me now, I hate it with a passion.

  41. tmtvl says:

    My favourite releases this year:

    1: Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen. I don’t have a Switch, so I didn’t pick up that release, but DDDA is the best game that has been released in my lifetime, so whatever excuse I can find to put it on 1, I’ll take.
    2: Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Remember Symphony of the Night? How about Aria of Sorrow? Bloodstained is more of the same, by which I mean an amazing Igavania with beautiful graphics, music, and gameplay.
    3: Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. As unrealistic as the Ace Combat series is, the games are an absolute blast to play, and 7 is another quality release in a quality series.
    4: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Tenchu meets Dark Souls. It’ll do, but From really needs to make another Tenchu game.
    5: Onimusha: Warlords. Capcom is bringing the Onimusha series to PC. Warlords is a good game, but I’m looking forward to Demon Siege.

    Games I played the most:

    1: Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen. See favourite releases.
    2: X3: Albion Prelude. X4 doesn’t really like my system, so until I can upgrade I’ll keep on keeping on with AP.
    3: Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire. PoE1 was kind of a disappointment, Deadfire was so much better that it made me want to replay #1 to build up the story of another character.
    4: Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition. Bob’s articles got me interested in going through again. Solo sorcerer runs are so fun, even if I have to miss Edwin.
    5: Drakensang. Adapting the Das Schwarze Auge ruleset to computer didn’t work out as nicely as it did for D&D, but it’s got an odd charm that just keeps me interested.

    Games I’m looking forward to:

    1: Dragon’s Dogma 2. I don’t know when it’s coming, I don’t know what it’s gonna be like, but I want it.
    2: Trials of Mana. Seiken Densetsu 3 was my favourite entry in the Mana series, so I’m looking forward to the updated re-release.
    3: Winter Belle. Mystik Belle is one of the best indie platformers I’ve ever played. I’m so hyped for the sequel.
    4: Shantae and the Seven Sirens. Shantae is a brilliant platformer series and HGH was awesome.
    5: Freedom Planet 2. Freedom Planet had fun characters and a solid gameplay experience, so I’m really interested in the sequel.

    1. Lino says:

      Drakensang

      I thought I was the only person on Earth that’s actually played this game! It was awesome! Too bad it was released the same year as Dragon Age: Origins. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

      1. Duoae says:

        Is this the game that was released in 2008 or is there a new one?! I loved that game! Lost my save really far in and never got back around to playing again… I found the ruleset change from D&D confusing at first but eventually got my hooks into it. I think it’s one of the last games that I bought that had a really thick, useful manual with the disc!

        Crap, need to add another game to my pile….

        Also, +1 to DD:DA. Superb game… I don’t think 2 is coming though :(

        1. Christopher says:

          I’m pretty sure Itsuno has said he’ll make either Dragon’s Dogma 2 or Rival Schools 3 next – and the odds are good enough that whatever he doesn’t pick becomes the next game. Hopefully, anyway, there will finally be a Dragon’s Dogma 2.

          1. Duoae says:

            The only quotes from him are the ones I’m already familiar with:

            https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-03-03-the-devil-within-hideaki-itsuno-on-25-years-at-capcom

            “I’ve mentioned this before, but when we started Devil May Cry 5, I’d gone to the people up top and said let me make either Devil May Cry 5 or Dragon’s Dogma 2,” he says. “I thought Devil May Cry 5 would be the better choice right now, so did that. If I could, I’d love to make Dragon’s Dogma 2 – it’d be awesome.”

            https://www.ign.com/articles/2019/09/02/dragons-dogma-the-most-influential-game-no-one-ever-copied

            We consider Dragon’s Dogma to be an important franchise… But there’s nothing more I can say right now.”

            1. Christopher says:

              I probably conflated statements like those with statements he’s made about Rival Schools.

              https://comicbook.com/gaming/2018/09/23/devil-may-cry-5-director-wants-new-rival-schools-game/

              I think it’s a pretty reasonable guess that he’ll go down one of these routes, but granted it’s not the clear statement I remembered. This brief search reminded me they’re making a Netflix anime for Dragon’s Dogma. The time’s ripe, Itsuno-san!

        2. tmtvl says:

          The original. If I ever finish it I’ll move on to River of Time and Phileasson’s Secret.

          Man, now I want to get a group together and run the Phileasson Saga. Such memories.

          1. Lino says:

            THEY MADE A SEQUEL? The only one I knew of was the travesty of Drakensang Online which I played during the beta, and was completely disappointed in. I was also very disappointed that I watched trailers of a prequel (or a DLC?) to Drakensang which had Gladys, Ardo and his dwarf bodyguard (whose name eludes me), but it was in German – a language in which I know less than 30 words. But I’ll definitely give them a try.
            I hope I can recreate the Hugh Hefner dwarf I unintentionally played in the original.
            See, I played a dwarf, and my play-style can best be described as a “thieving, penny-pinching, altruistic, yet unconscious pervert”. I chose all the good dialogue options, but at the same time I not only sold all the loot I could get my grubby little dwarven hands on, but I also pickpocketed every single citizen in every single settlement in the game.
            I rolled with a permanent party, and whenever I retired one of my companions to the house, I would take their entire inventory and equipment and either give it to my other party members, or I would most often sell it. And by “take their equipment”, I mean every possible thing they had on them, to the point of leaving them in their underwear. As I got more and more companions, this led to me having a house full of half-naked characters who causally stood around and talked to each other.
            It was only before the game’s ending that I realized what I had done, and started buying some clothes for them (the cheapest ones possible, of course) so that my character wouldn’t be remembered as the “Pervy Dwarf who saved the world”…
            Hmm… Come to think of it, I hope I won’t be able to replicate that experience :D

    2. Nimrandir says:

      I jumped back into Dragon’s Dogma (without Dark Arisen), but it got put aside when I had to swap Xbox 360’s in my living room for something else. Weirdly, my pawn kept getting gifts, even though I read the servers had been shut off.

  42. Henson says:

    I didn’t play a lot of new games this year. Some noteworthy entries:

    Tyranny. After all the talk I heard about this game being a disappointment, I was very much surprised by how good this game was. There are a lot of different paths to take, even if reactivity is a little lacking, the story and setting are interesting and unique, and the magic system is really fantastic. I think it’s one of the few games I’ve played which has strongly encouraged me to really roleplay, pretend to be someone other than myself. Also: glare silently.

    The Talos Principle. It’s a puzzle game, and the puzzles are pretty good, using a series of discrete elements and then combining them in interesting ways. However, what really drew me in was the attention to metaphysics and philosophy in the narrative. It would be easy to make the story feel disjointed from the gameplay, but it all works really well. My only gripe is that I was not treating the stars as a bonus element, and some of those solutions are really impossible for me to get.

    The Council. I would not call this a great game. I’m not even sure it’s a good game. But it sure was interesting. It’s an investigation game set in the 18th century, and while I’m not sure the investigation elements came together as well as they could have, I see the potential in the approach (in that way, it kinda reminds me of Alpha Protocol). It’s not exactly polished, but I never felt bored, which is more than a lot of games can claim.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Tyranny is a bit of an aberration in the world of RPG’s: it starts off amazingly strong, keeps it up for a while, and eventually sputters out towards the end.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        It’s a perfect example of an Obsidian game. So much potential! Such good ideas! So very unfinished!

        Had that game been properly finished, given enough time, the story given the full five acts planned, a bit of polish in the gameplay…it could easily have been a classic.

        But alas.

        1. Thomas says:

          I’m glad Tyranny has developed a bit of a cult following. It was the most Obsidian Obsidian game in a long while

    2. Henson says:

      Man, I did not mean to have so much bold text. Whoops!

    3. Richard says:

      Oh, I really should replay Talos Principle. (and the Road to Gehenna DLC)
      Steam says I haven’t played it since Jan 2017.

      Wow, it doesn’t seem that long ago.

  43. lucky7 says:

    My favorite games this year have to be Crusader Kings II, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Dragon Age: Origins (I played through the trilogy for the first time this summer.)

    My biggest disappointments were Assassin’s Creed IV (I hated the ship combat), Dragon Age II (where Kirkwall is apparently so crime ridden that bandits drop out of the sky), Imperator: Rome, and Mad Max (a great nine-foot game with car combat I couldn’t stand).

    The game I’m looking forward to most is Crusader Kings III, although after Imperator, I’m much more cautiously optimistic.

    1. SkySC says:

      I just replayed Dragon Age Origins this year for the first time since it came out. It is still a very fun game. Even though I’ve heard so many bad things about the sequels, I’m tempted to try them just because I loved that first game so much. DA:O isn’t particularly deep or original (the main plot is incredibly generic, and the setting is just one step away from Tolkein) but it’s just so well-crafted, particularly the character dialogue, and the way certain themes are explored through different perspectives as you travel through the world. And when the story did go in original directions, it could be riveting. The lead-up to the battle with the brood mother was very effective.

      Too bad there just isn’t more like it. I found the DLCs mostly a waste of time, and the expansion had a lot of new content, but felt really unfinished. I started playing some isometric RPGs next because as far as I can tell, nobody makes full 3D games with that kind of writing anymore.

  44. Chad Miller says:

    Biggest hits: I finally got around to playing the new Hitman games within the last few months. I got full mastery on the first one before finding out they ported the levels over to the second one and I may well play Hitman again in the Hitman 2 engine after I’m done with Hitman 2 proper.

    The Outer Worlds was very much needed especially after watching what happened to Bioware and Bethesda, may they rest in peace.

    Honorable mention: I started Control and Prey this year and both are games I started this year and plan to finish but I was distracted by the other two above.

    Biggest Disappointment: The Outer Worlds. Yeah, one of my best is also a disappointment. I’m glad it was made and I even eagerly look forward to the sequel. But I still find it, not bad, but more mediocre than I’d hoped; Bob Case said we should have had several more of these by now, but my feeling was more like I wish this game came out several years ago so we could be playing the sequels that move the state of the art further. I started a second playthrough and didn’t even get out of Edgewater. I actually found myself considering picking up New Vegas again.

    Anticipating: Bring on Cyberpunk!

  45. DeadlyDark says:

    Hmm… Must say, this year I can’t pick any game (that I played) as a GOTY. Still, there were some games that I enjoyed a lot this year, in no particular order.

    Sekiro (2019) was better than I expected. New combat system worked well enough and made the Souls formula to feel fresh. But it has very shallow AAA stealth (on par with PS4 Spider-Man and Horizon Zero Dawn) plus there are places when the game looks terrible (say, look at the Fountainheaded palace from afar – it screams outdated graphics). I mean, overall, the game is able to look good, it’s just it’s not everywhere and it’s very inconsistent. Say, Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne were able to look more consistent. I applaud for the game having no DLC, no mtx, no deluxe editions and pre-order bonuses. I do wish, that they worked on a proper Tenchu game.

    Devil May Cry 5 (2019). I was afraid to touch this one. I loved playing 3 and 4, but it’s been ten years. It can’t be like good old times, isn’t it? Well. It can. Even edgelord V, that terrified me in the trailers with his cringy look, I even liked him. It’s nice to play the exact same Devil May Cry with the same combat with a few well-thought additions, I apparently missed it to the point I almost cried from nostalgia here*. And this game looks great. Side-by-side comparison with Sekiro blows the latter out of the way with ease. I also loved the story – with their reveals and conclusion. I must say, I tried to play first Bayonetta after DMC5 and… I prefer DMC combat system. For me, Bayo is about doing dodges all the time (so they added this dodge-offset mechanics, which makes sense) while DMC is about right positioning and capitalizing on it. Bayo feels reactive, DMC feels proactive. To be fair, I haven’t mastered dodge offsets. Still, after playing Bayo I started to hate dedicated dodge button in games now (yes, Dante has it in Trickster style, but I almost never use Trickster). Especially if there’s no stamina mechanics to prevent its abuse.

    Age of Empires Planetfall (2019). Mostly played for the setting, and the childhood memories of looking at pictures of AoW and AoW2 coverarts (but never playing them). These pictures were enigmatic. I guess, I need to play them one day. As for Planetfall itself, it seems like a watered down Civilization. Or may be a Civilization combined with HOMM mechanics. Something like that. I enjoyed the setting, and few ideas in the mechanics seemed interesting. Dvar – the space dwarves with slavic names, were my favorite race. Oh, and very good music here.

    Yakuza Kiwami and Kiwami 2 (2019). I played Zero, so it’s more of the same. But it’s interesting to note, how better Kiwami 2 story, compared to Kiwami 1, and how Zero (which is 6th game) has the best story. It is nice to know, that devs learn and improve their craft. Also, Kiriyu is a national treasure.

    Bloodstained Ritual of the Night (2019). I only played Castlevania Aria of Sorrow and I’m happy to play Bloodstained – they are very similar, but instead I can play on my PC, and not on Nokia N73’s GBA emulator. I played almost to the finish, sadly. Beat the villain, and now I had to explore some more. But I switched to other games. I need to finish it.

    Code Vein (2019). Played a few hours, but shafted in the queue to finish Planetfall and Vampyr. May be after them. It’s a competent Souls clone, and I have weakness for… some character designs here. I’m an easy man to please.

    Valfaris (2019). Metal game of the year. Pixel art, heavy metal, pixelated gore and cheese lines like “This will satisfy my desire for carnage”. A little game that ticks all the right boxes. I’m an easy man to please.

    Hitman 2 (2018). New maps, new missions and unlocks. Can’t really say more, since it’s GOTY 2018, and I just continued to enjoy it. Must say, I’m afraid, that IOI will not be able to top Hitman 2 with Hitman 3. It’s a testament to their skill, but it’s a very high bar they set. I’ll be waiting nonetheless.

    Kingdom Come Deliverance (2018). Well, the simulationist in me loves this game, since it tries to be as meticulous and historically accurate as possible, while still being a fun game (just watch Shad’s videos on castles in this game – he’s having a blast looking at every cobblestone there). Albeit a frustrating one, at times, if you’re like me chose hardcore difficulty with all negative percs turned on. Overall, it’s the closest thing to The Elder Scrolls series, and I want to see what will happen in sequel. I need to play one more time, but on normal difficulty and with some other class.

    Vampyr (2018). Still playing it, but far enough to make conclusions. Despite one-save policy combined with a dialogue wheel (so a couple of times I chose things I’d never choose, if it gave me full description, with no option to roll back), I enjoy the game so far. It’s surprisingly cozy and comfortable game to play (can’t explain why, but I just feel warm and at home in the inhospitable streets of London). And organization of interactions with named NPCs is top-notch. I’d like to see more of this game ideas on other games.

    Spider-Man (2018). Eh. It’s decent. Sometimes you need to play this kind of AAA product. On par with an average Assassin’s Creed game, in my eyes.

    StarCraft 2 Wings of Liberty (2010?). Replayed the campaign. It’s decent. It was decent, it’s still is. Not mind blowing, to be honest. I’m hoping for these Command and Conquer remakes that EA is teasing us with

    Dragon Age Inquisition (2014). I started the year with this one. I expected far worse story-wise, to be honest. But it was surprisingly decent story. Not perfect, but if it was a more condensed game, it could’ve worked better. Shame, that OG devs left the studio, and other people will do a new concept DA4, leaving initial plans for it behind. Good bye Bioware, at least I parted with you on a relatively high note… Oh wait. It’s not. Damn you Shamus for you series on

    Mass Effect Andromeda (2018) since I had to play it this year. Well, I’m joking. But as a parting game with Bioware, it left me with a very bland taste, since I couldn’t connect with any part of the game. Not story, not gameplay. Oh well. I decided that I’ll avoid their games for a foreseeable future.

    I bought a Resident Evil 2 remake on sale, haven’t touch it. Halo Reach on PC is on halt until they fix audio issues. And I’ll want to play this year’s Metro Exodus, Death Stranding, Greedfall and Disco Elysium first before I can safely choose GOTY 2019. Will be funny doing it in 2020 or 2021. Like, imagine December 2021. I finished Disco Elysium and exclamate “GOTY 2019!”. Well. We’ll see if I do that.

    *Devs who read this. Now do the same with Jedi Outcast games. I’ll promise I buy three copies

    1. Mike says:

      “Age of Empires Planetfall (2019)” -> “Age of Wonders: Planetfall (2019)” :)

      There was an actual Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition release a month or two ago as well, but of course there’s nothing really new there.

      1. DeadlyDark says:

        Dammit! My bad xD

    2. Groboclown says:

      I’ll never play another Planetfall, because although I enjoy the original, the idea of playing a space janitor in a modern setting just puts me off. That’s why I never played Stationfall.

    3. DeadlyDark says:

      Can’t say I have games that I anticipate in the next year. Nothing looks particularly promising yet.

      I almost sure that Doom Eternal will be good, but will still have combat arenas level design, which I find boring (the only major fault of Doom’16).

      CP2077 is 50/50. It’ll either be the second The Witcher 3, or it’ll be the huge disappointment. They didn’t show anything that convince me it’ll be the former, and not the latter. News and rumors about the project development don’t inspire confidence.

      Wasteland 3 will be good, but my enjoyment of it will depend on my mood, I’m afraid.

      Bloodlines 2 is a dark horse at this moment. Plus they said something about not releasing all clans with the game, but as dlc later (free or not, it’s a disappointment nonetheless).

      Actually, scratch that. I’m waiting for Iron Harvest. Great setting with steam mechas and high level of environment destruction. I hope I’m not wrong.

      P.S. GOG just started to sell the Blade Runner game!

    4. tmtvl says:

      *Ahem*

      MACHICOLATIOOOOOOONS!

      Shad fans’ll get it.

    5. Lino says:

      Have they fixed all the major bugs in Kingdom Come: Deliverance? I’m waiting for a new graphics card before I play it (it just doesn’t look good on low settings), but I’m wondering how far down or up the list I need to put it (and believe me, it’s a very long list).

      *Devs who read this. Now do the same with Jedi Outcast games. I’ll promise I buy three copies

      I’ll buy thirty!!! Especially if it’s in the Legends universe – I want to see Kyle Katarn again!

      1. DeadlyDark says:

        Played this summer. I don’t remember any noticeable bugs, so I guess major issues were fixed

  46. Mike says:

    Best:
    – Disco Elysium – great dialog-only world/narrative-heavy RPG.
    – Katana Zero – very solid violent-synthwave-neon Devolver platformer, with the usual trippy storyline.
    – Age of Wonders: Planetfall – good mix of old AoW and new mechanics in a fresh sci-fi setting, exactly what I wanted it to be.

    Meh:
    – Phoenix Point – needs a year or two more of dev time, has literal “this is placeholder text” in places, people waiting for it on Steam are right.

    Future:
    – Phoenix Point – after patches and DLC or two, or maybe modding support.
    – Wasteland 3 – inXile CRPG, nuff said.
    – Empire of Sin – hopefully a Jagged Alliance successor.
    – Kerbal Space Program 2 – might be good if it’s just KSP on a new engine with more/new space, but no idea.

    1. Radkatsu says:

      I’m really hoping all that Microsoft cash means Wasteland 3 will be more full-featured than 2. I love 2, but too many situations arose in which I couldn’t really do much outside of maybe one or two solutions. Also, I’d quite like better moral conundrums than the Ag Centre/Highpool one, that felt superficial as anything (Mr BTongue covered it in one of his videos where he discussed the difference between that ‘choice’ and a bit later when Angela goes a bit sideways in a quest I won’t mention for spoilers).

      Still looking forward to it either way though.

  47. Einar L says:

    I mostly survive on PS+ monthly games and purchase anything specific fairly seldom.

    This year cemented my love for the weird, eye-rolling interactive dramas of David Cage.
    Sure, while playing Detroit, I had to face-palm, look at it with a pity etc much more frequently than I’d normally do in a game — yet I had a BLAST playing it.
    I love that, being a finished story, it is practically un-replayable thanks to unskippable cutscenes and my lack of patience.
    The characters that died, are dead, and I have _my_ story and, even though, other choices would’ve lead to different outcomes, _my_ canon is written.

    After Detroit and Beyond Two Souls I was ready to tackle Heavy Rain, as I knew what an I getting into — a game that I put away as a strange, slow walking and showering simulator the first time I saw it — and it IS a walking and showering simulator.
    This time it was exactly as much fun as I was looking for.

    Another fav was/is Nioh, still playing that.
    Thanks to crazy fast loading, the death doesn’t feel too punishing, and the mechanics come together in a very pleasant way — where dark souls series seems to overflow my aging reflexes with bosses with weird hitboxes and safe spots and weird camera angles (DS3), this one feels so much more my alley, even with all the complexities.
    The fights and losses feel fair and doable all the time.

    Honorable mention: What remains of Edith Finch, for the most wonderful swing simulator.

    Disappointment: Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice, even though I actually bought it with high hopes, I couldn’t bear its railroady “no you can’t walk over this small ledge, go the long way around” puzzles.
    The headphones and the wonderful setting weren’t enough to make me struggle through that long.
    Kinda inverted David Cage experience for me.

  48. miroz says:

    I didn’t play much this year. I think I became a casual player.

    I liked:
    Rimworld – I take a break for a few months and then return again to it with new ideas, try new mods and different strategies. I really like its story-driven approach.

    Cities Skylines – Every time I get stuck in the traffic, I go to Skylines and try to make a city with better traffic. I fail every time.

    Assasins Creed IV – I play it for an hour every month. I just can’t uninstall it. Sometimes I just want to take a walk around Havana and dive into Caribean see.

    Hard West – I have to have something turn-based in my queue. It’s Xcom lite, simple story with tactical missions but a lot of fun.

    Cookie Clicker – I know, I know. But I just can’t close this browser tab. I’m saving for the Antimatter condenser now. It’s stupid, fun and genius.

    I didn’t try anything new this year (except Cookie Clicker, still no comments). All those games I played last year. I guess I didn’t give any game a chance to disappoint me.

    I’m looking forward to Crusader Kings III and Baldur’s Gate III. These series are in my top 5 by playtime, fun, and memories. I wonder if there is still magic in them.

  49. Mortuorum says:

    2019 was an odd year for me. I started the year in crunch mode finishing my master’s degree, getting my diploma in May, so I didn’t do much gaming before that. (I wrapped up Dragon Age: Inquisition and Prey last year, so those don’t count, although i enjoyed both.) As a result, I only really seriously played three games this year, all of which I liked to some extent:
    – Witcher III
    – Pillars of Eternity
    – Borderlands 3

    Honestly, I never completed Pillars. It was fun, but the writing never clicked for me. So, when Borderlands 3 came out, I put it aside and never looked back. Besides, I can play Borderlands 3 splitscreen with my daughter, and that’s priceless. Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, I still occasionally play Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer, since it’s my go to for scratching my online multiplayer itch.

    Next year, I’m looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077 and Final Fantasy VII Remake. There are also a couple of games that have already been released that I’d like to play: The Outer Worlds is on my wishlist, and I might pick up Greedfall when the price drops far enough; the reviews were not great, but it looks like the mechanics might be adequately fun to keep me occupied on a snowy afternoon when I’ve got nothing better to do.

  50. CloverMan-88 says:

    I played many great games this year, but my biggest surprise was how much I enjoyed the Crash Bandicoot remake. They simply don’t make games like that anymore. Even though I never played the original, and so had 0 nostalgia to lean on, I absolutely adored it and 100%’ed all 3 games in a week or so.

  51. Penn says:

    City of Heroes came back on fan servers. There’s even new content, depending where you play! That ate most of my gaming time.

    1. Mortuorum says:

      How could I forget about that? I sunk a fair amount of time into CoH/CoV. It’s remarkable how well it’s help up.

    2. krellen says:

      This was my gaming highlight of the year as well.

  52. Ninety-Three says:

    Top games:
    Noita: A roguelike with Powder Game-esque pixel physics and an incredibly open-ended spell customization system, where the balance is all over the place but it’s fun to be overpowered instead of a dull cakewalk. Knew it was my game of the year two days after buying it, still playing two and a half months later.

    Guilds of Ravnica (MTG expansion): Cardgames totally count, and Guilds of Ravnica Standard is tied with RTR-ISD for my favorite Standard format of all time. The sad thing about cardgame formats is that they only last three months before another expansion hits and the perfect balance is lost forever. War of the Spark almost made biggest disappointment for what it did to this format. Ban Teferi.

    Epic Battle Fantasy 5: A solid combat-focused JRPG. The best thing I can say about it is that I had a bossfight that lasted almost an hour, and it somehow wasn’t dull or grindy: things felt tense the whole way through. It’s hard to praise a game when all you can say is “the combat feels good” but the combat feels really good, and bossfights are satisfyingly hard while rewarding careful equipment selection and strategizing.

    Biggest disappointment: Disco Elysium. This is one of those painful times like Witcher 3 where everything about a game says I should like it, but I don’t, and then I have to sit through months of all my gaming spheres talking about how they love this game I hate when it should be right up my alley. The problem is its tone. It wants to be a serious, choices-matter Planesscape-ish narrative heavy RPG, and it also wants to be a zany comedy where failing a stealth check results in your character jumping through the air for no reason, flipping a double middle-finger to your target in slow motion, then crashing into a woman in a wheelchair. Both halves of it are good, but they do not work together and the game’s writers don’t seem at all aware that there is a conflict between these things.

    Looking forward to: Nothing. I bought two and a half AAA games this year so I just don’t keep abreast of mainstream releases these days, and there are way too many indie games to spend my time reading up on ones that aren’t even released yet. I should be hyped for Cyberpunk, but I should have liked Witcher 3 so I’m lowering my expectations.

    1. RFS-81 says:

      I got into MtG Arena briefly around Guilds of Ravnica/Allegiance. I was almost hyped enough to go to a (pre-)release again, but my excitement ebbed before that. The fact that I’m a curmudgeon who just doesn’t like planeswalker cards very much helped with that.

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      Wait, did I say I wasn’t looking forward to anything? One Step From Eden! I somehow came across a trailer for this random indie title that’s basically Megaman Battle Network as an FTL-style roguelite, and I need it.

  53. Seamus says:

    1. Favorite Games
    Outer Worlds(played through twice). Though short in a trend of really long hundred hour plus RPGs (Witcher 3, Persona 5, Dragon Age Inquisition), it was a nice diversion when I was feeling particularly down on the video game industry in general. Though with the Microsoft purchase I am wary again of it being made exclusive.

    I also spent the summer playing through Witcher 3 a second time, making different choices and putting better outcomes together.

    Recently, with all the Star Wars craze, I renewed my subscription to SWTOR which I have had a love/hate relationship with since release. My son and I also enjoy playing Battlefront 2 together. I have not picked up Fallen Order yet though.

    2. Biggest Disappointments
    Anthem – Ugh. Great potential. Terrible execution. My friend warned me off, but I couln’t imagine how Bioware could go wrong. Now I see.
    Ghost Recon: Breakpoint: My friend and I had an absolute blast in Wildlands a few years ago. The game was amazingly put together, where we went province by province to work on taking out the Crime Boss of Bolivia. We had some fantastic moments(synchronized sniping we had to execute perfectly or the mission would fail) and we would have some funny moments like when my friend jumped out of the helicopter I was riding shotgun in just to watch it crash(It didn’t, he didn’t know you could switch seats). Enter Breakpoint: New game enhancements actually made the game worst than the first game. Seeing multiple people in a single base camp when you are supposed to be a handful of people left remaining, having to helicopter every where left less experience with the vehicles. It was also shorter. My friend and I easily put 80-100 hours into the first game, where in this game we were done in 35-40 hours.

    3. 2020 Games I am looking forward to:
    Cyberpunk 2077: Witcher 3 was amazing and I hope they put in the same amount of effort into this game. However, I am reading that development is starting to sound like Anthem. My buddies and I play a lot of tabletop Shadowrun, and I hope this will provide the non-magic based experience.
    Vampire Bloodlines 2: Huge fan of the first game, thought it was a decent story. I picked it up off Steam and played through the story again almost 20 years later. I hope this will provide a similar experience.
    SWTOR: Time to finish those other 5 class stories that I haven’t played through yet, and work my main Trooper Commando through the expansions that have launched since 2016.
    Star Wars Galaxies: Considering picking an old copy up to play the SWGemu effort. Maybe. Too much Star Wars craze running through me right now with the Mandalorian show.

    1. Lars says:

      WOW you’re the first to mention Anthem. Everybody else seems to have forgotten that it released this year, or didn’t had any expectations at all and have any anticipation for the remake.

      Bloodlines 2 YES!, but not in 2020. This game deserves time and polish. What was shown on E3 and Paradox Con was in dire need of both. I can wait until the middle of 2021.

  54. Zgred says:

    For me 2019 was mostly a year of disappointments, although mostly with older games. Still, there was a few pleasant surprises.

    Sekiro – seems to be a popular choice here. Probably my favourite FromSoft game from a mechanical point of view, especially the duels. The story itself, while somewhat repetitve, it’s still pretty good.
    Prey – That was a great discovery. I absolutely adore this one (except for the ending). Wish there was more titles like that.
    Dishonored 2 – a perfect sequel, improving on virtually every level.
    Saint’s Row 2 – I’ve never expected that I would enjoy this title so much, so it was a pleasent suprise.

    Disappointments:

    Dragon Age: Inquisition – might actually be the worst game I’ve ever played. Words can’t describe how aggressively boring it is.
    The Last of Us – not really bad, just overhyped. The story is rather mediocre, while the gameplay is horrible. Looks really nice though. I love post apocalyptic stories, so I was eager to forgive more than usual, but ultimately it was just so-so experience
    Metro: Exodus – I absolutely love Last Light, but it seems that the series lost its way and fall off the track (I regret nothing). Very shallow experience.
    Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones – I was so, so excited for this title, but it’s almost impossible to play right now. Maybe patches will fix it?

    Games I’m looking forward to:
    Cyberpunk 2077 – well… yeah, obviously.
    Vampire: The Masquarade – Bloodlines 2 – Could We Make This Title Even Longer Than KotOR 2? – Troika’s Bloodlines is still one of my favourites game of all time and the fact that Mitsoda is involved in creating this one gives me hope.
    Wasteland 3 – I still believe.

  55. Hector says:

    I had to think about it, but for me it was FF14, which I had to give up due to the cost; Kingdom Come:Deliversnce, which I adore and can’t wait to play in a better system, and Pathfinder:Kingmaker.

    P:K does something interesting with the fantasy mechanics by adding the strategic layer. I was nervous at first because there was much ink spilled by reviewers who couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Brilliant idea though and well worth playing.

  56. For favorite games this year, I’ve gotta go with the Glorious Capcom Revival exemplified by Devil May Cry 5 and Resident Evil 2 (remake), along with Disco Elysium, a fantastic dialogue-driven RPG with a really gorgeous impressionistic artstyle and lots of hilarious political comedy. SIGIL, John Romero’s new DOOM episode, was also fantastic, and this last one is kinda cheating but I really enjoyed the Fresh Supply rerelease of the classic Monolith shooter, BLOOD.

    My biggest disappointment by a mile was Astral Chain; I’ve been a big fan of Platinum’s games in the past and through this one looked really neat, but upon playing it I just haven’t been having any fun. The lighting is way too harsh to the point that it kinda hurts my eyes, the mechanics are really unpolished and inconsistent, the controls are needlessly clunky in ways that are kind of baffling since a lot of these mechanics are lifted from previous Platinum games where they controlled in a much more intuitive way, and due to be trapped on the Switch the game has to make a lot of concessions just to hit 30 fps (which isn’t even really adequate for this kind of game), most notably the fact that the vast majority of combat encounters take place in an empty void dimension. I really wish Nintendo’s eShop had a refund policy, losing 60 dollars on a game that I just don’t enjoy on pretty much any level really stings.

    As for 2020 prospects, I’m really looking forward to the Resident Evil 3 remake, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Cyberpunk 2077, DOOM Eternal, and the release of the Playstation 5. The current speculation is that the PS5 will have full backwards compatibility with previous Playstation consoles, and I’m really hoping that turns out to be the case.

    1. Radkatsu says:

      No chance in hell is the PS5 going to have disc-based backwards compatibility. That would require putting the PS1 and PS2 chips in it, increasing cost. It’ll be the same as PS3 and 4, downloadable titles that are run in an emulation wrapper on a per-game basis. Not least because that means having to buy those titles again and Sony getting money off of it.

  57. Elethiomel says:

    This year I’ve been loving the Legend of Heroes: Trails games, I’ve been playing through LoH: Trails in the Sky FC and SC, and now I’m into Trails of Cold Steel. They have charming worlds where NPCs change what they say pretty much at every major plot event, which makes the world feel alive.

    I bounced off Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which is ironic because it seems heavily inspired by Trails of Cold Steel now that I’ve gotten around to playing that; ironically what I disliked about Three Houses was the sheer amount of stuff to do and choose between. ToCS is more my pace.

    Cyberpunk 2077 is what I’m looking forward to the most in 2020. It’s a very auspicious year to release a Cyberpunk game.

    1. Kyle Haight says:

      You and I might be the same person. I did NG+ runs of Cold Steel 1 and 2 and Sky FC/SC this year, and played Sky TC for the first time. That, plus Dragon Quest XI and a long-running Original Sin 2 co-op run took up the bulk of my gaming time this year.

      Oh, and Spider-Man, which seemed fun at the time but gets increasingly forgettable with time.

    2. Mike P. says:

      Yes! Yes!

      We hardcore rushed Trails of Cold Steel 3 not long ago, and it is hands down our game of the year. It’s going to be a long wait for CS4. I’m hoping to see a localization announcement in 2020.

      Honorably mention for this year is Earth Defense Force 5. This is absolutely how I like my shooters. Ridiculous.

    3. Radkatsu says:

      I don’t want to dampen your enthusiasm for Cold Steel, but maybe lower your expectations for 3 and 4. They both went to NISA and are going to be absolutely terrible localisations as a result :/ 1 and 2 were given to XSEED and were translated by a friend of mine who happens to be the world’s biggest Falcom fan, which is why the localisations are such high quality.

      That ain’t going to be the case for the final two :/

      Also, an FYI that you should probably keep an eye on the Ao no Kiseki and Zero no Kiseki fan translation projects. Cold Steel 3 and 4 both assume you’ve played those two games and WILL spoil them completely. If you’re not aware, Ao and Zero see the same basic conflict, but from the other side’s PoV, hence why you’re in dangerous spoiler territory going forward.

  58. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

    I love these types of lists, but I’ve been a very bad gamer this year.

    Your favorite game(s) this year?
    I only played a few games this year, and only a couple were 2019 releases -both disappointments.
    I really enjoyed getting into WarFrame, and now have a friend I can play online with (PC), so thanks for pointing that game out to me.
    The game I’ve probably logged the most hours on is XCOM: Long War, and XCOM:2, what with the new DLC last year. XCOM, however, has become a bit of a slog. Next time I do Long War, I’m turning on all the “but not too long” options.
    I played Empire: Total War all the way through and loved it. I know I’m in the minority here, but I still love the naval combat of that game.
    Similarly, I played Metro: 2033 and Metro: Last Light and loved them. The first Metro is such a great game.
    I finally finished Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt after I think three years of playing off and on. I was underwhelmed, but I did enjoy the game (and really like Blood and Wine as the finale of the series).

    What was your biggest disappointment this year? Like, what game did you expect to like, but didn’t?
    Hands down, Three Kingdoms: Total War. I love the Three Kingdoms period, I love the movies and the book, and the history, and I even like Dynasty Warriors. This game was made for me, and it is so terribly boring I have a hard time putting it into words. I’m in the end-game, and I’m still fighting with militia units against other militia units. If there’s strategy and tactics to this game beyond “have the largest army,” I don’t know what it is. I so want to love this game -and I’m getting the expansions, but I just can’t bring myself to slog through the end-game.
    On a lesser note, I picked up Metro: Exodus, which -while not as disappointing as 3K:TW -is a great step down in quality from 2033 and Last Light.
    I will say, though, for both of these games, that they provided a reason for me to dive back into older games I really liked, even if they were somewhat less impressive.

    What are you most looking forward to in 2020?
    Cyberpunk 2077.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      XCOM: Long War, and XCOM:2, what with the new DLC last year. XCOM, however, has become a bit of a slog. Next time I do Long War, I’m turning on all the “but not too long” options.

      Yeah. When Pavonis Interactive say ‘Long’, War they mean it. I’ve never finished a Long War play-through; I always get to a point where I’m just sprinting to stay in place with something like 0.01% chance of making any meaningful progress.

      Ironically, it makes me appreciate (some) of the hand-holding and babying of the vanilla games. At least in XCOM vanilla you can achieve real progress by putting in 5 HOURS OF GAMEPLAY.
      In Long War? Not a guarantee!

  59. Angie says:

    I haven’t gotten excited about a new game in ages. A lot of new, AAA games are shooters or otherwise realtime games, and I’ve never been into those. I don’t enjoy failing at something over and over and over and over and over, until I finally succeed at it, then move on to the next task where I fail over and over and over and over and over and over andover, until finally succeeding at that, ad nauseum. If I’m going to grit my teeth and practice something that hard, I’d rather be learning a real skill. (I started learning to draw in April. It wasn’t much fun at first, but I persisted, and now I don’t completely suck. And I have an actual skill, unlike if I’d put that effort into mastering a shooter or platformer or something.)

    Anyway, the three games I spent the most time on this year are:

    1. Might and Magic 6. Old-school RPG. Turn-based, so you can take a break when you want. Fun magic system. (Omitting Ring of Fire is one of THE worst decisions they made when they did M&M7.) Some Easter eggs for the folks (like me) who’d been playing since M&M1 back in the Paleolithic. :)

    2. Morrowind. This is the only realtime game I enjoy. Nice introduction of controls and such at the beginning, even if it’s a bit frustrating when you’re starting your 20th character. Having only one character to control makes the realtime aspect work for me — I never got very far into Baldur’s Gate, frex., and a major reason was trying to control a bunch of characters in combat. Not fun. Morrowind also has awesome worldbuilding; it’s a really wonderful world to just explore. I like that there’s a little auto-levelling but only a little; there’s a true sense of peril if you try to take your level 4 character on a hike overland to the east coast. It’s doable, but you have to be very careful. This aspect of the game gives you a sense of accomplishment ten or twenty levels later that auto-levelling games just don’t have. The mudcrab merchant is great, a cool Easter egg to find, and just far enough out of the way that it doesn’t feel too horribly Monty-Haulish. Great stuff when I feel like adventuring.

    3. Sims3. I’ve been a Sims fan since the first version. I tried Sims4, played it for a few hours, but it just reminded me how much fun I had with Sims3 and I went right back to it. I’ve tried 4 a couple of times since, but it always annoyed me enough to send me right back to 3. I love the open neighborhoods — being able to send my character on a jog from one end of the map to the other, and watch over his shoulder as the sun rises over the landscape and the neighborhood wakes up around him, is hard-to-explain fun. Having kids and playing multiple generations is fun, and gives you a sense of investment in a family. Rock-hounding is THE best job when it comes to earning simoleons, if you have the Supernatural expansion, and can take your gems to the alchemy shop to cut yourself before selling them. And it’s fun, like a scavenger hunt every day. I’ve gotten bored of individual households and moved on to play others for a while, but I’ve never gotten bored of this game. This is the game I spend the most time with, and I probably always will, so long as I have hardware that’ll run it.

    Angie

    1. Gargamel Le Noir says:

      Hey I just replayed MM6 and MM7! It’s still inexplicably fun! The exploration just felt more pleasant than most RPGs, and at the end it’s so great to fly around the map and town portal across the world.

      1. Angie says:

        It is! :D I love the gameplay, and don’t care that the graphics feature pixels the size of basketballs. I like 7 too, and play that one sometimes as well, just haven’t in a while.

        And yeah, once you get the good travel spells, zipping around is fun. :)

        1. Hector says:

          With the fan patches it’s actually ok, graphics-wise. It’s never going to be great, but just going fullscreen does wonders for the Might and Magic experience.

  60. SidheKnight says:

    Haven’t been able to play as many games as I’d have wanted this year, but one that I definitely enjoyed, and was expecting for a while, is Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition

    A remake/remaster of a game from 2000, which managed to keep a devoted community, to the point that it received a constant stream of officialy supported fan-made expansions and balance patches since 2013. The Definitive Edition came out last month, and it’s a remake of all that content plus a new expansion.

    Since the game is so old and the fanbase so devoted, they had to tread very carefully to balance between changing too much and risk alienating players, or changing too little and risk nobody buying the damn thing in the first place.

    I think they pulled it off almost perfectly (the voice acting could be better, especially in the Spanish version).

    The idea is that the multiplayer community should eventually move from the OG game to the Definitive Edition.

    1. SidheKnight says:

      Oh I forgot: Game I’m most expecting/excited for: Cyberpunk 2077

    2. Grimwear says:

      I’m curious about the Definitive Edition. I avoided it since I didn’t want to buy AoE2 for the third time and I felt that the 2013 HD edition was good enough. That being said, I recently saw a video where they put the old ai against the new and improved ai and it piqued my interest. Is this new ai present in the single player campaigns? If so does it change the experience of playing those campaigns? Minus of course the absolutely horrible The Forgotten campaign. Boy that one is rough.

      1. SidheKnight says:

        Well, the single player campaigns have their own custom AI specific to each scenario. But compared to the original game, I’d say the new campaign AIs play better (at least on moderate difficulty).

        Oh, and the Forgotten campaigns have pretty much been redone from the ground up and are vastly different to the HD version (unlike, say, the original campaigns which have only a few small “updates” like making Poland Slavs instead of Goths, or making Berbers in El Cid actually Berbers and not Turks).

        In fact, they removed the “El Dorado” campaign and replaced it for a new one, actually based on the Incas and not an Spanish explorer.

        1. Grimwear says:

          I’m glad that The Forgotten has been redone it was a chore to get through. I’m not sure how I feel about them replacing a whole campaign though. Why not leave it in and still add the new one? I don’t like the fact that the newest “upgraded” version now has different content from the previous.

          1. SidheKnight says:

            I imagined some people wouldn’t like that, but so far you’re the only person I’ve encountered who has that opinion. So either the reworks are really good (can only vouch for the Alaric campaign so far, it’s vastly improved) or the Forgotten originals were really bad (never made it past the first El Dorado mission myself).

            I suppose it can always be restored in a custom campaign mod or something. I mean, it didn’t even have voice acting.

            1. Grimwear says:

              Honestly, actually playing through the campaigns is rare according to steam achievement stats. The very first tutorial campaign has a completion rate of 14% and then the second campaign drops to 5%. I doubt many people even tried to finish Forgotten since the ai was so garbage the devs just gave the ai a constant stream of resources then made it so they can’t make buildings meaning the whole campaign is a slog of build a billion castles for defense, then make a bunch of trash armies and rush them to destroy buildings. It just seems odd to me that they would rework the Forgotten campaigns but then just swap one of them out. I’m of the opinion if you’re going to make a remaster you can add stuff in but you shouldn’t ever take stuff out, especially story content.

  61. David Rolsky says:

    My favorite games that I’ve played this year …

    Sekiro – This is my new favorite SoulBorne game. I really loved the combat system, especially the parrying mechanic. It took the skill ceiling for combat up another notch from the previous SoulsBorne games. I also really enjoyed having more story in the game. My only complaint compared to previous SoulsBorne games is that it has way less replayability because there’s really only one build, but that’s fine. I still got more than my money’s worth.

    Hollow Knight – I played the heck out of this on my laptop while on a long trip to Taiwan. I adored the art, atmosphere, and music. Unfortunately my Linux laptop couldn’t quite perform well enough for some parts of the game. I hope to go back and replay it on my Windows gaming machine.

    Dead Cells – Best roguelike I’ve played in a while. That said, I stopped playing after a certain part because of the forge grind. But I still had a great time playing as much as I did.

    Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – Is it the best metroidvania ever made? No, that’s probably SotN. But I really missed the old 2D Castlevania games. A while back I tried playing the 3D Lords of Shadow. I have no idea how this game got any good reviews. It’s basically low budget God of War, and it’s awful. But Bloodstained was a really solid Castlevania game that recalled some of my favorites from the DS.

    Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead – Probably my #1 favorite roguelike of all time. I’ve been playing this one on and off for years, and it’s changed a _lot_ over that time, which I really like. In particular, a lot of the UI has gotten way better over time, and they’ve added new monsters and mechanics too. It’s an open source project and it runs on any platform. I wrote a Linux launcher for it if that’s your preferred platform.

    As to what I’m most looking forward to in 2020:

    Subnautica: Below Zero – The original is one of my all time favorite games. I’m hoping this one delivers the same wonderful feeling of exploration, wonder, and horror.

    Cyberpunk: 2077 – I will say I’m _cautiously_ looking forward to this one. I really enjoyed the storytelling in The Witcher 3, but I think the combat is awful. It’s so repetitive and boring, with no skill needed. I’m hoping that this new game will either improve the combat or perhaps make it possible to avoid entirely.

    Vampire: TM – BL 2 – I really enjoyed playing the first one (many years after it came out with patches applied).

  62. Christopher says:

    Oh man, it’s been a year. I only played a handful of new releases – Devil May Cry 5, Sekiro, Ninja Warriors Once Again and 198X. I’ve also gotten my finished Kickstarter game Indivisible and bought Resident Evil 2 REmake, but I didn’t get around to those.

    198X is a real whatever indie game. I kickstarted what promised to be some slick pixel art telling a story of growing up through the arcade scene – and to be fair that’s all it is. You play some arcade game for a little while, something breaks into the arcade game from the real world, and you move to very nice pixel art cutscenes that show this kid growing up in the suburbs. But it’s all so shallow and run of the mill that nothing connected at all. It’s not worth playing through for what it is, I don’t think.

    Ninja Warriors Once Again, or Ninja Saviors as they decided boringly to call it here, is a remake of an old SNES beat ’em up with robot ninjas that was itself a remake of an older arcade title. What’s fantastic here is that the people making it are the same people as back in the nineties and eighties. Try and google them and you’ll see three whitehaired nice old Japanese men. Their company wasn’t doing very well, but this three-man team and a few support staff members sat down to remake their old classics – First Wild Guns, and now this. And they do it with hi-res pixel art, the kinda look that might fool you into thinking it’s a straight port, until you see how massive the improvements are side by side. Ninja Warriors maybe isn’t the deepest game, and certainly not the longest, but it plays different from most Beat ‘Em Ups, it has amazing music and it looks stellar, and that made it a good time for me.

    Sekiro is pretty outstanding. Fort he first time since Bloodborne it feels like they took a good hard look at the elements that make up their action RPGs and revamped it to be fast, slick and exciting. It is a Souls game, in many ways, but it also isn’t. I really adored most of the changes. A more upfront story, a movement system with the highspeed dashes and grappling hook that’s fun to control, including the best swimming since Zora Link. Some music outside of just boss fight, very moody music that creates the right atmosphere for the situation. And a lot of color in one of these games, finally, just about the first time since Dark Souls 1 that they’re not overwhelmingly grey or desaturated. The atmosphere is tangible, the mythology feels involved, once I stepped foot into a dark cave or somethinga bit more divine, it feels straight up immersive and works super well for me. Sekiro’s new stealth and running abilities also make for way better setpieces than earlier games – assaulting the Gun Fort or outmanouvering the snakes was amazing.

    My issue with it is mostly the combat. It’s very simple, but also not easy. It feels like playing 3D Punch-Out with 5 blokes at once. In many situations it works, but when a boss switches this or that way between attacks that should be jumped over or Mikiri countered, I struggled to deal with it. And unlike more dedicated action titles, Sekiro is kinda pathetic in terms of attack options and variety. You’re here to do parries. Done. Anything else are limited gimmicks, with only a handful of useful moves and a few ninja tools with specific utility. I forgive that in most 2d action titles, which never went much deeper than that, but 3d action titles have done better since Devil May Cry 1, 19 years ago. Very Hard and Very Simple just isn’t my favorite kinda combat. Definitely not the one I’m best at. I’m at the final boss now and it might be a while before I take him down.

    Devil May Cry 5 is everything I want in an action game. It blows most other titles from this decade, and really gaming as a whole, completely out of the water with its mix of deep combat mechanics that all animate beautifully, its state of the art graphical fidelity, its three different characters all with their own quirks and systems and a campaign that’s filled with a great assortment of enemies and bosses, enough different stages for the characters to have room to show off, and a surprisingly heartwarming story that ties it all together. It’s waye easier than Sekiro, but also way deeper and more varied. I don’t necessarily think this is a Shamus game. I think for some people, air combos and cool tokusatsu-inspired anime bullshit just looks a bit too stupid for them to care about in any serious way. Not that DMC is the most self-serious game out there, most of it is about that childish glee you can have when your new weapon is a motor bike that splits into to huge chainsaw maces. Itsuno’s talk about the game at GDC mostly revolved around plot moments he cribbed from old children’s mecha movies for crying out loud. But I don’t think that exact mood and these characters with histories back 19 years told in those older games are gonna completely resonate with the tastes I mostly see on this blog. It’s not a carefully put together down to earth worldbuilding kinda game. It’s an emotional, intensely character-focused action romp.

    But anyway, that deflection aside, for me this is currently my favorite action game of all time. It’s astoundingly well put together inmost every way, and I had so much fun with it that I’ve replayed the game several times, trying to nail those S-ranks and make it through higher difficulties.

    Obviously I played many more games than just these. This was a big backlog year for me, I went back and played a variety of games that I meant to get around to, or finish, or wanted to revisit. There are too many to go into everything, but the list of the games I finished is here. Some highlights:

    Breath of the Wild and Link Between Worlds revitalized my love for the Zelda franchise, which had been waning terribly since Twilight Princess(which is good but uninspired), the DS Zeldas(They’re pretty damn weak compared to all other 3d zeldas and stuffed with DS gimmicks and compromises) and Skyward Sword(Which I don’t like at all). Breath of the Wild I borrowed back in 2017 originally and finally got to finish. It’s a fantastic game. Link Between Worlds I completely played this year, and it’s an amazing take on the traditional formula. Way better than the offerings on DS, which many of the same developers worked on.

    – The Ratchet & Clank franchise doesn’t get nearly enough credit. I beat the five first games this year and also gave the remake a shot, and I have a newfound love for these games. It’s not an equal love. The Playstation 3 games and the remake have a very different kinda writing and tone to the PS2 games, which is a shame, ’cause I love the style of the PS2 titles. Up Your Arsenal is particularly hilarious, and the original ratchet 1 is both a very funny game and a very good emotional journey for Ratchet & Clank to go on. Some solid buddy cop stuff going on there. The remake and the PS3 games go for more of this run of the mill not-Pixar kids movie writing, which honestly I can’t stand. But they still at least play well. I heartily recommend picking up the HD collection if you have a PS3. The ports are a bit jank here and there, but the games are top notch, even today. And if you already liked the remake, imagine of much more you might like the remake if it had jokes you actually laughed at. Some aged graphics and the occasional control innovation aside, that’s what those old games are.

    Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is one of those PS1 platformers that most people don’t play, but everyone who do loves it. Including me, now. It goes for this Rayman or Kirby style dreamlike setting, but does much more with that on a story level. And on the gameplay front, it goes for this puzzly approach that puts it apart from all sorts of precision-based or action-heavy platformers. It’s not long, either, but it feels precisely as long as it should be. You can beat Klonoa easily in probably about 6 hours, and you’ll walk away satisfied, and annoyed that more people didn’t play Klonoa.

    Super Mario odyssey makes me smile like no other game. There are so many wondrous things you can do, so many weird asides, that it always felt like some new funny thing was just around the corner. I sympathize with those wishing for something more hardcore and platform challenge focused in their platformer, but I loved what I got.

    Dragon Age Inquisition, I’m increasingly convinced, is a bad game. Maybe all Bioware games are, to some extent. You gotta deal with crappy gameplay here, ill considered vehicle sections there, choices that don’t go anywhere over here and main plots that weren’t planned out at all over there. And their games are always full of jank, graphical glitches, all that good stuff. Dragon Age Inquisition is the least well put-together Bioware title I have personally played.

    But it’s also the only one I’ve finished twice. Not for any grand reasons, but it has a couple of characters I adore, in still shots the landscapes look quite beautiful and colorful and the grindy gameplay lends itself well to putting on a podcast and mindlessly waste a few hours. Most of all, they never released the last story DLCs for the 360 version. I had to buy the PS4 version and play it all again if I wanted to play their version of the Citadel DLC. Which I did quite like, when I finally got there. The story DLCs are the only places I feel like Bioware get to have fun, and do unique, animated, lighthearted scenes. They should make a game that’s entirely like that, although I doubt they’re able to. I hope, alhough I don’t have much hope, that after the very public issues with Anthem and Andromeda’s development, they get the support and freedom they need to make a great game on their terms.

    Kirby’s Adventure on the NES is pretty much exactly as good as the GBA version, especially because it is so visually impressie for an NES game, but the controls and framerate suffer a bit compared to that later port. It was still a fun way to revisit a game I had only played the remake of before.

    Unavowed takes the Bioware party member stuff and puts it into a point & click adventure game about secret urban fantasy society police officers. I don’t have any fondness for how this game looks or plays – it would almost certainly be better as an RPG, and maybe even just as a visual novel, so you don’t see the awkward sprites trying to do exciting action sequences and boat chases. But I liked the characters, I got into the story and on the whole I enjoyed my time. It’s no Phoenix Wright or anything, the individual cases move so fast that it’s hard to get invested in the one-off NPCs and the characters are more approaching dull realism than memorable anime dudes. There’s no music in here approaching the PW tunes. But I think it’s worth checking out.

    Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies was a hell of a good time for me. The franchise is kinda dead. Everything after the original trilogy has felt a bit off compared to those classics, and DD can’t escape the writing from Apollo Justice where the status quo changed so much, even if i tries to walk some of that back so we can play as Phoenix again. But even with the whole Canon feeling shaky to me, the actual cases I really loved. The move to 3D graphics was so well-executed almost nothing from the old games are missed, and the cases are all wacky rollercoaster trips. It’s definitely formulaic, maybe to a fault – almost every witness has a secret side the complete opposite of their first appearance. And it’s way wackier than even the ghost possession of the old games was. There is, no kidding, a robot invasion at one point. But it was still a ton of fun.

    1. Christopher says:

      I forgot about next year’s games. I’m looking forward to Old Weeb Revival Spring 2020: Granblue Fantasy VS, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Resident Evil 3 Remake, Trials of Mana Remake, Persona 5 Royal and Scramble and Yakuza: Like a Dragon. The year as a whole is fairly stacked, with games like Guilty Gear Strive, Streets of Rage 4 and Deadly Premonition 2 later on.

      Then there are games I kinda don’t think I will like, like Marvel’s Avengers, Doom Eternal, Ghost of Tsushima, Vampire or Cyberpunk, which depending on whatever deals they get I might at least give a shot. They all look to be, to varying degrees, up to AAA polish standards. They just don’t seem like my jam, so some peer pressure or frighteningly positive reviews from people I respect are needed.

      I want to see actual gameplay for Gods and Monsters, Ubisoft’s new cartoony action RPG that looked all greek mythology in the CG trailer. I think their big open world games are pretty dull, but I like a lot of their smaller efforts like Rayman Origins or Valiant Hearts. If they make a cool gamey action RPG, I’m all for it. Relatedly, I hope to get a release date on Granblue Fantasy RElink, which is those guys’ first big foray into console games. Additionally, Tales of Arise should be next year. Big action RPG party if these turn out cool.

  63. Christopher says:

    Guess I should have expected my comment got marked as spam lol

    Help, Shamus!

    1. Don Alsafi says:

      I had the same problem. Newly aggressive software?

    2. Christopher says:

      Thanks!

  64. Your favorite game(s) this year?
    Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order (no clue how to type that out properly)
    and Blade Runner The Game re-release on GOG.com.

    I’m disappointed that Aliens vs Predator 2 (by Monolith) + the Primal Hunt expansion isn’t on GOG.com yet.

    What are you most looking forward to in 2020?
    Cyberpunk 2077 and Vampire The Masquerader Bloodlines 2

    I’d also like to point out that the soundtrack for Blade RUnner THe Game is availavble on the composers website as MP3s https://www.frankklepacki.com/ost/vg/bladerunner

    And on GOG.com I noticed that they have a restored content patch.
    The game is reasonably priced (compared to the hours of content and replayability) https://www.gog.com/game/blade_runner

  65. Don Alsafi says:

    First, as many have pointed out: You should really try the Resident Evil 2 remake. Even with how you’ve (understandably) bounced off the series in the past.

    I haven’t gotten around to playing the “return to survival horror basics” that is supposedly RE7, but so far? I think the RE2 remake is without a doubt the best installment Capcom has ever made.

    The controls are miles away from the original’s “tank” maneuvering, and yet it’s not the overly slick interface that came with RE4. Unlike Capcom’s usual approach to render even creepy mansions as gaudily-colored and brightly lit, the art team here appears to have really taken to heart an atmosphere of claustrophobic intent – so that even though the graphics are ridiculously detailed, they’re not afraid to keep the lighting moody and dark.

    Previous games always disappeared the corpses of the zombies you’d slain. Since systems now have the memory to keep track of hundreds of such bodies, every corpse remains on the scene in the precise manner in which they were disposed and fell to the ground – sometimes in pieces. This macabre detail really does gradually underscore and heighten the creepiness of what you’re involved in.

    Resources are scarce as HELL. While I can appreciate RE4 as a better game than the previous instalments, maybe … the plentiful ammo made it seem far, far less of a horror game. With this new one, zombies are bullet sponges. If you try to clear every area, you’re quickly going to find yourself with nothing left to fire! Which often means leaving dangerous enemies alive, even in corridors you’re going to be treading through time and again.

    And finally, the story – while still firmly in the byzantine Resident Evil lore – is FAR more palatable than it’s ever been. Part of that is keeping a lot of the high-level plot (Umbrella’s motives, the newest virus, etc) at a significant remove; you don’t constantly have Wesker or some other cardboard villain blathering on about their latest scheme for power. Plot and character interactions are so much tighter, with a scope that is far more personal and less concerned with larger-world machinations the player honestly doesn’t care about. And they’ve used both the writing and the (now stellar) voice actors to fix certain oddities from the original game, like how Annette Birkin always seemed weirdly unconcerned with her missing daughter. Here, the brief conversations you have with her clearly impart that she’s … not altogether there.

    And possibly my favorite part is how the devs have made effective use of the protagonist as a mouthpiece for lampshading some of the more unbelievable elements, and essentially voicing what the player is thinking. I was in shock when I first discovered how a zombie I’d shot down just kept coming, and COMING – so when I kept shooting, and she exclaimed an incredulous “Seriously?!?”, it really connected. Even better was when I solved the clock tower puzzle – which, despite being FAR more realistic than in the previous game, is still a (trivial) puzzle you have to do just to get an item. After completing it, and the clock tower bell ringing, Claire’s first reaction was a surprised and bemused: “Well… THAT worked.” I laughed aloud.

    ~

    But my favorite game this year was one so shockingly impressive that I’m suprised more people haven’t heard about it: Supraland.

    I first read about it in a writeup from Rock Paper Shotgun. Like the reviewer, I too was skeptical as hell at its description of “a mix between Portal, Zelda and Metroid”. Um, wow. Those are some lofty heights it’s purporting to invoke! But … goddamn, after playing through the game I don’t think it falls too short. Which is rather stunning. (The Steam scores agree with me. All-time reviews: 97% recommended. Recent reviews: 99%.)

    Like the best metroidvania, it encourages exploration at whatever pace in whatever direction you like. Follow the nudges toward the main quest, or explore this newly-opened cave for potential rewards. Keep finding new and more powerful upgrades, which open ever more options and pathways. And I really do feel that it rivals games like Portal and The Talos Principle in having puzzles that can drive you nuts while you’re trying to figure them out … but spend enough time working on them, and you’ll not only figure out the solution – but also realize 99% of the time that the puzzle was completely fair. (I think I had to look up a solution once. Maybe twice.)

    And both the puzzle design and world layout are extraordinarily thought out. One of the things I appreciate is that very occasionally, you’ll find yourself locked into a new area with a single puzzle. What I like about this is – just as with the testing rooms in the original Portal – it’s telling you that you have everything you need to solve this puzzle. One in particular stands out to me because I couldn’t figure it out, couldn’t possibly fathom what I was missing, and then I solved it almost (but not completely) by accident. At which point I realized that the new method of gate-opening I’d just discovered could be used in several places that I’d seen outside the walled area – optional areas I’d noted, but passed by without any means of entry. In other words, to make this clear: If you were clever enough, you could have explored those optional areas at any point! But at a certain point in the game, if you haven’t figured out that lesson? It gives you no choice but to do so. I mean, WOW. I really respect that.

    (The Zelda influence probably comes most from the combat and artstyle: cleanly gorgeous, elegant simple, and just joyfully fun!)

    To make a long story short: Supraland is one of the best games I’ve played in YEARS, and one that hits my sweet spot of puzzles, exploration and (light) combat. In fact, it occurs to me that in many ways it hits the same buttons that made the Metroid Prime trilogy one of my all-time favorites that I’ll return to again and again.

    One final note: As amazing and polished as this game is, it’s astonishing that it’s almost entirely the work of one guy. And unlike developers that release a game and then ignore it, he’s incredibly active and responsive on the forums. “Hey, I think I found a glitch,” someone opines. An hour later he’ll post that he’s patched a fix. “This puzzle was too under-clued,” someone else points out. You’re right, he says – I’ll address that too!

    Anyway, chech out the free demo if you get the chance. It’s still a relatively unknown gem, and I think you may be pleasantly surprised.

  66. The Puzzler says:

    Streets of Rogue has been my new game of the year (not that I’ve played many). It offers a similar emergent gameplay to Heat Signature, but since the city is full of neutral characters minding their own business, the potential for unexpected conflict and chaos is much higher. You rob someone, they open fire on you, they accidentally hit a gangster, who accidentally hits a policeman while returning fire… It’s a game that finds room for gorillas, terminators, tiny creatures that possess bodies, zombies, firefighters who actually turn up to fight fires, swimming pools, panic rooms, cinemas, shopping malls, ice skating rinks…

  67. Don Alsafi says:

    First, as many have pointed out: You should really try the Resident Evil 2 remake. Even with how you’ve (understandably) bounced off the series in the past.

    I haven’t gotten around to playing the “return to survival horror basics” that is supposedly RE7, but so far? I think the RE2 remake is without a doubt the best installment Capcom has ever made.

    The controls are miles away from the original’s “tank” maneuvering, and yet it’s not the overly slick interface that came with RE4. Unlike Capcom’s usual approach to render even creepy mansions as gaudily-colored and brightly lit, the art team here appears to have really taken to heart an atmosphere of claustrophobic intent – so that even though the graphics are ridiculously detailed, they’re not afraid to keep the lighting moody and dark.

    Previous games always disappeared the corpses of the zombies you’d slain. Since systems now have the memory to keep track of hundreds of such bodies, every corpse remains on the scene in the precise manner in which they were disposed and fell to the ground – sometimes in pieces. This macabre detail really does gradually underscore and heighten the creepiness of what you’re involved in.

    Resources are scarce as HELL. While I can appreciate RE4 as a better game than the previous instalments, maybe … the plentiful ammo made it seem far, far less of a horror game. With this new one, zombies are bullet sponges. If you try to clear every area, you’re quickly going to find yourself with nothing left to fire! Which often means leaving dangerous enemies alive, even in corridors you’re going to be treading through time and again.

    And finally, the story – while still firmly in the byzantine Resident Evil lore – is FAR more palatable than it’s ever been. Part of that is keeping a lot of the high-level plot (Umbrella’s motives, the newest virus, etc) at a significant remove; you don’t constantly have Wesker or some other cardboard villain blathering on about their latest scheme for power. Plot and character interactions are so much tighter, with a scope that is far more personal and less concerned with larger-world machinations the player honestly doesn’t care about. And they’ve used both the writing and the (now stellar) voice actors to fix certain oddities from the original game, like how Annette Birkin always seemed weirdly unconcerned with her missing daughter. Here, the brief conversations you have with her clearly impart that she’s … not altogether there.

    And possibly my favorite part is how the devs have made effective use of the protagonist as a mouthpiece for lampshading some of the more unbelievable elements, and essentially voicing what the player is thinking. I was in shock when I first discovered how a zombie I’d shot down just kept coming, and COMING – so when I kept shooting, and she exclaimed an incredulous “Seriously?!?”, it really connected. Even better was when I solved the clock tower puzzle – which, despite being FAR more realistic than in the previous game, is still a (trivial) puzzle you have to do just to get an item. After completing it, and the clock tower bell ringing, Claire’s first reaction was a surprised and bemused: “Well… THAT worked.” I laughed aloud.

  68. Don Alsafi says:

    But my favorite game this year was one so shockingly impressive that I’m surprised more people haven’t heard about it: Supraland.

    I first read about it in a writeup from Rock Paper Shotgun. Like the reviewer, I too was skeptical as hell at its description of “a mix between Portal, Zelda and Metroid”. Um, wow. Those are some lofty heights it’s purporting to invoke! But … goddamn, after playing through the game I don’t think it falls too short. Which is rather stunning. (The Steam scores agree with me. All-time reviews: 97% recommended. Recent reviews: 99%.)

    Like the best metroidvania, it encourages exploration at whatever pace in whatever direction you like. Follow the nudges toward the main quest, or explore this newly-opened cave for potential rewards. Keep finding new and more powerful upgrades, which open ever more options and pathways. And I really do feel that it rivals games like Portal and The Talos Principle in having puzzles that can drive you nuts while you’re trying to figure them out … but spend enough time working on them, and you’ll not only figure out the solution – but also realize 99% of the time that the puzzle was completely fair. (I think I had to look up a solution once. Maybe twice.)

    And both the puzzle design and world layout are extraordinarily thought out. One of the things I appreciate is that very occasionally, you’ll find yourself locked into a new area with a single puzzle. What I like about this is – just as with the testing rooms in the original Portal – it’s telling you that you have everything you need to solve this puzzle. One in particular stands out to me because I couldn’t figure it out, couldn’t possibly fathom what I was missing, and then I solved it almost (but not completely) by accident. At which point I realized that the new method of gate-opening I’d just discovered could be used in several places that I’d seen outside the walled area – optional areas I’d noted, but passed by without any means of entry. In other words, to make this clear: If you were clever enough, you could have explored those optional areas at any point! But at a certain point in the game, if you haven’t figured out that lesson? It gives you no choice but to do so. I mean, WOW. I really respect that.

    (The Zelda influence probably comes most from the combat and artstyle: cleanly gorgeous, elegant simple, and just joyfully fun!)

    To make a long story short: Supraland is one of the best games I’ve played in YEARS, and one that hits my sweet spot of puzzles, exploration and (light) combat. In fact, it occurs to me that in many ways it hits the same buttons that made the Metroid Prime trilogy one of my all-time favorites that I’ll return to again and again.

    One final note: As amazing and polished as this game is, it’s astonishing that it’s almost entirely the work of one guy. And unlike developers that release a game and then ignore it, he’s incredibly active and responsive on the forums. “Hey, I think I found a glitch,” someone opines. An hour later he’ll post that he’s patched a fix. “This puzzle was too under-clued,” someone else points out. You’re right, he says – I’ll address that too!

    Anyway, check out the free demo if you get the chance. It’s still a relatively unknown gem, and I think you may be pleasantly surprised.

    1. tmtvl says:

      You seem very passionate about this. Quadruple posts may be a tad much, though. Oh, and Shamus, sorry if my posting this makes deleting things harder, it was just such a tempting target.

      1. Don Alsafi says:

        Heh. See above re: the aggressive spam filter supposedly eating my original post. Then not? (I’d delete it if I could…)

        1. Shamus says:

          Sorry. I saw a post caught in the spam filter and didn’t realize it was a dupe. (This thread has been really busy and it’s hard to keep track.)

          Sadly, I can’t delete the original. It has replies now, and WordPress hates it when you delete a parent post.

          I don’t know why the spam filter works the way it does. I’m not convinced it isn’t just a random number generator.

  69. baud says:

    I’m trying to think what I’ve played this year and here they are, completely pêle-mêle (perhaps not what Shamus expected, go to the bottom for favorites):

    The only game released this year I’ve played is Queen Wish, an old style RPG, it look like it could have been released at the start of the aughts; it was meh, mostly brought down by trite and repetitive story and weak character system beyond the first 10 hours. Some of the explorations and dungeons were fun. Some choices, but little consequences that I could see.

    I think I played a little of XCOM:EW, but with my fifth playthrough I think I’ve seen enough and I don’t dare to touch LW.
    Finished some action games (XCOM: the Bureau, Hunted: Demon’s Forge, Enclave, all average but with something that made me enjoy them (XCOM: 50s feel, a better ME2&3-style combat, Hunted: exploration, some of the art style, Enclave: character customisation, good & evil campaigns)).
    Played for the first time a PS1-era Tomb Raider (Revelation: archaic controls, fun platforming, good ambience).
    The Room, which I discovered here, a very cool puzzle game. It looks good and I enjoyed the kinaesthetics (word shamelessly stolen from Shamus’ review).
    Bomb Squad Academy: Puzzle game, best I’ve played this year in the brain-teasing section.
    A lot of Titan Quest, with the best parts were travelling (through Greece, Egypt, from the Middle-East to China and across central Europe). Other than that it’s a High-fantasy Diablo set during the Antiquity with an uneven difficulty.
    Warframe: very cool gameplay/gunplay, lot of option in equipment, very good feeling for the movement; completely brought down by the progression system and associated grind.
    Dawn of War Soulstorm: fun RTS, much more frantic pace compared to any RTS I had recently played (mostly Supreme Commander & Company of Heroes)
    Rance 6: Not for everyone, but I still enjoyed the over-the-top characters and the dungeon crawling felt rewarding
    Suikoden 1: Great game, I like being able to recruit characters that don’t join the combat but instead offer other services. Also I liked the visual of the spells. The story was also compelling, even if it’s not very original.
    Hollow Knight: huh, I think I don’t get the gameplay yet, meh. Good-looking though. Probably the game I was the most disappointed with, even if don’t exactly remember what I expected.
    Star Wars: Rogue Squadron: SW + spaceships = pew pew pew pew & fun. It’s showing its age though.
    Serious Sam 2: Ugly art direction, very fun shooting, except for most of the bosses
    Prince of Persia: Two Thrones: I enjoyed the platforming, it’s good looking, but nothing that hadn’t been done in the previous PoPs, the story isn’t good and combat is uneven (depending on who I was controlling).
    Starcrawlers: Sci-fi dungeon crawling. Not far enough to have a strong opinion, but average so far.

    In the end, I played a lot of games (before going back and looking, I wouldn’t have believed I had played that many), but I can’t say that any of them were particularly outstanding and I had difficulty to select any favorites, but I did it this way:

    Favorite gameplay: Warframe
    Favorite ambience: Tomb Raider Revelation / Titan Quest
    Favorite platforming: Prince of Persia: Two Thrones / Warframe
    Favorite story and RPG: Suikoden

    There wasn’t a lot of disappointments, since most of the time I knew what I was getting.

    What I’m mostly forward in 2020 is a new PC ;) to play some modern games.

    1. baud says:

      I had missed that one, but seeing it above reminded me: Zeus: Master of Olympus: good city-building, but the game loop didn’t engage me enough to play more than one campaign.

    2. Lino says:

      I actually really like Prince of Persia: Two Thrones. I liked both the story, and the stealth sections. It probably helps that it was the first game with QTEs that I played. But if I play it now, I don’t know if it’ll hold up based on its gameplay merits or based on my nostalgia.

  70. Benden says:

    Top 5:
    Dishonored
    Metro: Last Light
    Sleeping Dogs
    Saints Row IV
    Thief (2014)

    Disappointments:
    Valiant Hearts
    Thief (2014)

    Reviews of Borderlands 3 make me think it’s going to get filed under disappointment as well.

    Looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077. I’m so far behind the zeitgeist that I don’t really know what else might be coming out that I should be liking forward to!

  71. Favorite game this year would have to be a small indie game called A Short Hike. It’s a little 30 minute or so game, but I can honestly say it’s one of the only games I’ve ever played that just made me really happy. I started smiling somewhere in the first couple of minutes, and continued well after the credits rolled. It just made my day infinitely better. I also finally got around to playing BOTW, so that comes in at a close second (similar traversal mechanics in both).

    Biggest disappointment was a game called Heat Signiture. It came out back in 2017, but I just got around to playing it. It was from the same developer of the game Gunpoint, so I was expecting something really creative and fun. While it was definitely creative and fun for awhile, at some point early on I realized there was literally no point to the game, and no reason to do anything. I put the game down and haven’t touched it since.

    2020 I am extremely excited for. I haven’t been actually excited about a game’s release in years (I remember being super excited about Portal 2 back in middle school, but not really anything since). 2020 will mark the year of not one, but 4 games I am legitimately excited about: Black Mesa, Ori and the Will of the Whisps, Cyberpunk 2077, and the PC release of Death Stranding. I know Death Stranding has been getting some polarizing reviews, but it seems like exactly the type of thing I would be into.

  72. Rob Lundeen says:

    Games I loved this year:
    1. Stardew Valley – I played this on PC a while back and got the bug to play it again. Bought it on mobile and had a blast! The pacing was perfect for mobile, jump in-jump out. Loved it!
    2. Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales – This was really enjoyable low-stress game. Expanded on the witcher universe and gwent. Both things I really enjoy!
    3. Far Cry: New Dawn – This series scratches an itch I don’t usually get. This entry was also post-apocalypse and I love that.
    4. Donut County – Lovely art and feel. Lots of fun!

    Still undecided:
    1. Parkitect – I’m having way more fun with this than with Planet Coaster but I can’t sink my teeth into it. I think it’s because I don’t have the disposable time that i did when I played RCT3 as a kid.
    2. Graveyard Keeper – This is the tone I thought Stardew Valley was going to turn into but never did. A great concept and I’m enjoying working my way through it. However, the pacing is slow and the game is skewed towards people who love looking things up on the wiki (which I don’t).
    3. PC Building Simulator – This was way more fun than I thought but got repetitive pretty quickly. Also, you need to know a lot more about computers to play this then I thought you would.

    Games I hated:
    1. Jurassic World Evolution – Built by the Planet Coaster people I thought it would be a fun little dino park game. However the game can’t figure out if it wants to be a disaster simulator or a playground. It doesn’t do either terribly well and gets boring fast.

    2020 brings Cyberpunk and I can’t wait!

    1. Lino says:

      Just want to second Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales. I really liked the different scenarios, and the throwbacks to the books. A very solid game in its own right, and I hope they make more of them (BTW, the Skellige units were absolutely BUSTED)!

  73. Attercap says:

    I got a Nintendo Switch this year, so that’s shaping a lot of my highlights/thoughts.

    Top 3 Games:
    1. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – This was everything I loved about CastleVania: Symphony of the Night. It’s basically the same game but without the inverse castle (as far as I know) and specific map. SotN is one of my top 5 all-times, so I spent a lot of time with RoTN.
    2. Mario Kart 8 – It’s been a looong time since I’ve been able to play split-screen with friends and family and I was reminded of how much fun it can be.
    3. Warlords II Deluxe – Finally re-released for GOG, I was able to play one of my favorite old-school turn-based strategy games. It’s probably not for everyone, but unlike a lot of games I’ve repurchased on GOG it still held up well for me.

    Disappointments:
    1. Call of Cthulhu – I really wanted to like this game, but the mechanics just got in the way of the atmosphere and I didn’t end up playing for long.
    2. Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones – A strong concept that ended up being a glitchy mess with horrible and mandatory combat that ended so abruptly I wondered if I missed something. Nope. It’s basically unfinished.
    3. Borderlands 3 – I should have known I wouldn’t have enjoyed this iteration. I didn’t care for the Pre-Sequel and was even bored when attempting to start a replay of 2. But I went in with high hopes and a pre-order only for me to put the game down after the first few major zones.

    Mixed Bag:
    1. Outer Worlds – I mostly enjoyed a complete playthrough of the game, but found myself often rushing through conversations and, despite all the choices, didn’t feel the desire to head into a second playthrough. For me, that’s a telling strike against games like this.
    2. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – I like the artwork, the challenges, and the open world… but after a while I started to experience Ubisoft-style open world burn-out, where I felt compelled to unlock everything but not excited to do it.

    Looking Forward:
    1. Cyberpunk 2077
    2. Dark Crystal Tactics
    3. Vampire: The Masquerade, Bloodlines 2
    4. Animal Crossing: New Horizons – I’ve never played an Animal Crossing game and they seem pretty cute and fun
    5. Fire Emblem: Three Houses – Yes, this came out already but I’m getting it as a holiday gift and won’t be able to play it until the end of the year/into the new year

  74. Don Alsafi says:

    Annnd now I see that it let through my first long post, blarg.

  75. Dragmire says:

    Ni No Kuni rerelease for Switch – love this game.
    Stellaris because I got back in after buying like $80 in updates – game makes me unhealthy since I’ll play it compulsively for a month before burning out again.
    Octopath Traveller – replaying this and loving it all over again.
    (*)Fire Emblem 3 Houses – honorable mention, would have been better with less down time between battles.
    (*)Pokemon Shield – It’s alright.
    (*)Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – honorable mention, got distracted soon after buying it and it got put on the back burner. What I played was very fun though so I expect to thoroughly enjoy it once I start playing it again.
    Subnautica – Played it for the first time this year. Loved it but it can be unsettling.
    (*) Wargroove – it’s Advance Wars and I like Advance Wars.

    (*)2019 releases

    note – nothing that came out this year was super good or disappointing to me, all were basically as expected.

  76. Dev Null says:

    Outer Worlds
    Prey
    Dying Light + expansion
    Obra Din
    The Surge
    Obduction
    Dishonored
    Total War Warhammer II: Revenge of the Longest Boringest Name Ever
    Warframe

    Bout the only thing I bought that I was immediately disappointed in was Cultist Simulator. Sank quite a few hours into it waiting for it to start being a game of some sort, but it never clicked.

  77. Decius says:

    Man, where did people find time to play 2019 games?

    I only played around 200 games this year.

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      You misunderstand, 2019 is actually a genre tag, the spiritual successor to the old 2018 games.

      1. tmtvl says:

        I remember the old 2014 game, that really launched a new type of game.

  78. Aerik72 says:

    Nier: Automata
    I give it a B for gameplay, but an A for story and character, with the usual Square-Enix JRPG caveat that it takes twenty hours to get going. But when it does… hoo, boy.

  79. Syal says:

    Huh, I don’t remember when anything came out.

    Slay the Spire is still the go-to “spend a little time on a tricky game” game.

    Burned out on Skyrim; completed the main quest, and reached a point where all the remaining major questlines had bugged out and wouldn’t advance anymore, so that’s the end of that.

    Really liked Baba Is You, but probably won’t be back; I’m at the point where all the puzzles are complex enough to give me a headache just looking at them.

    Return of the Obra Dinn was good fun while it lasted, but it would have benefited hugely from some alternate stories; once you beat it, you’ve beaten it.

    Vigilantes was a short, fun time. I want to say it’s a cross between Fallout 1 and Jagged Alliance, but I never actually played Jagged Alliance so I guess it’s a cross between Fallout 1 and X-Com. But without permadeath. So not really like X-Com. Had some story issues (two bosses killed themselves in cutscenes, while a third threatened legal action; guess which two bosses survived the fight and which one didn’t) but the core gameplay was fun.

    Played Book of Demons, which is an on-rails ARPG ripping off paying homage to the original Diablo.
    That got me back into Torchlight 2, which is still pinball fun, although the movement was some issues; there’s a lot of vertical terrain and tiny things that look like you should be able to walk over but you can’t.

    Somehow that got me back into my old tower defense games like Orcs Must Die. Still fun, and there’s nothing quite like memes from several years ago. Like it more than Dungeon Defenders, a tower defense with more RPG grind mechanics that shoved my camera behind obstacles enough times to tick me off. Still like it more than…

    Dungeon of the Endless is a sci-fi roguelike tower defense game, and a wonderful concept poorly executed. Game is way harder than enjoyable. I’d love to see a better version of it, where resources aren’t so scarce, wave difficulty isn’t so spiky and your defenses don’t just randomly shut down.

    Really wish I liked Phantom Brave more than I do, but the random dungeons just aren’t fun enough to keep playing. Would like to see another turn-based tactics game where your troops time out over time.

    1. Syal says:

      Oof, forgot Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass. Don’t remember if I played it this year but it’s charming and hard and maybe thought-provoking* and high in the running for my favorite RPG. Dislike the ending but love the game.

      And Chess. OG TB Stra-te-GEEE!

      *(bear in a clown wig)
      (forced to ride a tiny bike)
      (but he’s still a bear)

    2. Scerro says:

      What modes are you playing Dungeon of the Endless on that you get your defenses shut down? Generally stuff will take damage and get attacked, especially from some certain monsters. But with proper unit management and especially an engineer that can repair the turrets, it’s not too much of a problem.

      That said, in the last 3-4 floors you have to balance whether you have spare enough power to keep exploring, or to bail. Generally speaking, bailing when you can is not a bad decision – especially if low on spare power to light up whole smaller hallways, and can’t find good chokepoint rooms to hold.

      My biggest problem with the game is that the multiplayer variant modes are broken and don’t work right.

      1. Syal says:

        They get shut down by EMPs starting around Floor 6, which as far as I can tell have no rhyme, reason, or counter. And of course bolting is only an option when you’ve found the exit; one notable run I was thirty waves into a floor and still hadn’t found it, three floors in a row.

        Of course immediately after I posted that I got to Floor 8 on Easy, which is about twice as far as any Easy run I’ve made so far. Have to try again to see if that was a fluke because the random science obelisk had a random Industry booster.

        1. Syal says:

          So having tried to figure out what I want Dungeon of the Endless to change, I’ve come up with the following:

          Instead of finding an exit, you’re gathering enough Dust to power the elevator. Instead of carrying the crystal to a goal, you’re defending it as it powers up. Maybe it starts turning off lights as it drains Dust, so you need extra to keep some defenses up for the last phases.

          Put the Science obelisks on the elevators. You get one unlock and one upgrade per elevator, assuming you can afford them. Maybe put a Dust merchant on there too, for rewarding anything left over from the previous floor. Other resource merchants stay scattered throughout levels.

          Shorter runs; 12 floors, some of which have 30 doors, for a single run in a roguelike is asking a lot.

          Don’t give characters resource enhancements, or lock them behind much higher levels.

          Don’t know what to recommend for unlocks, but the unlockable pods feel like pretty solid downgrades. Crypt of the Necrodancer had the same problem, where the unlockables feel like higher difficulty modes more than alternate playstyles, something FTL and Into The Breach really hit.

          No EMPs.

          Not a fan of character arcs that have mechanical effects. Had a bounty hunter and a killer on my team, and they had elevator banter which ended with one of them killing the other in the elevator and leaving me a man down the next floor. Lore unlocks are fun, mechanical sacrifices for lore unlocks are not.

          Needs a better name. Heard the name years and years ago, ignored it as another medieval roguelike hack-and-action. Instead it’s a whole unique thing.

  80. rbs says:

    Top 3 of the year:

    1) Red Dead Redemption 2: I like Rockstar open world simulations, and that one is my favorite. I love to explore the peaceful and well simulated nature, with great weather, light, flora, wildlife. It’s not full of quest markers and angry people/animals to keep action flowing. There are still Rockstar’s scripted quests, but it doesn’t bother me too much, I do one from time to time.

    2) Dirt Rally 2: I waited for VR support. It’s quite hard on my computer and I need to set very low details, but I love to drive those cars in those environments. I mostly do time trials and a custom league with friends.

    3) Hades: Still in Early Access, but it’s the best SuperGiant Games game for me. Everything is top notch.

    Then I keep playing Beat Saber every week, but it’s more like a 2018 game to me. And other VR games like H3VR and Blade & Sorcery.

    And I spent a lof of hours in some management games: Rimworld, Oxygen Not Included, They are Billions. But they don’t excite me too much, it’s more something I like to do while listening to a podcast or something (sometimes I stop to thing, though).

    Looking forward to

    1) Half Life: Alyx: Valve back to business

    2) Flight Simulator 2020: a bit like RDR2, great simulation to visit

    3) Cyberpunk 2077: well, like everybody… though I still have to finish the Witcher 3. I feel a bit overwhelmed in those games.

    Disco Elysium: I hope to take the time to play it next year

  81. Jason says:

    Looking back at what I played this year, I didn’t really play much, and nothing new. It seems like I just don’t have much gaming time anymore, and I’ve been spending more of my free time doing more passive things like just watching YouTube or movies.

    Prey was the only game I actually finished this year. I think enough had been said about it by others. I really liked it.

    Here are some games I started, but didn’t finish for various reasons:

    A Hat in Time – I enjoyed it, until it got difficult and confusing in Chapter 4 (Alpine Skyline). Took a break and never picked it back up.

    Cities Skylines – Played for about a month. My city kind of became a mess and I didn’t really feel like starting a new one. Plus the Vanilla road building tools are awful. I can’t build a freeway offramp if my life depended on it. I know there are plenty of mods that make it much easier, but I just didn’t have it in me to try them out.

    Black Mesa – I liked this take on Half-Life. Got stuck due to a bug in Residue Processing, which would have required a restart of the level (or I could have cheated with noclip). Put it aside and didn’t pick it back up.

    Assassin’s Creed Unity – Working my way through the Assassin’s Creed series and this is where I am now. Took a break when I got a Switch to play Breath of the Wild and didn’t go back yet. Will finish this some day.

    Breath of the Wild – Haven’t played since this summer, but that’s because we moved and only got the Switch set up a month ago. Will get back to this as well.

    Path of Exile – Was looking for a fun ARPG. This wasn’t it. I’m not really into the inventory management and all the weird currencies. Played for about 3 weeks.

    The Witcher 3 – Fired this up and played for a couple of hours two weeks ago. I’m not sure if I’m ready to make the commitment to this game yet. Also, I have The Witcher 1 and 2, and wonder if I should play them through first. I played The Witcher 1 years ago, but only got part way through. If I go back to that save game, I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. There are a few quest markers, but nothing seems to happen in those locations.
    I fired up The Witcher 2 last year and played for a few hours just to try it out. I keep going back and forth on whether I should play them in order or just dive right into 3.

    1. Attercap says:

      Regarding the Witcher, it all depends on how well you handle wonky controls. 1 was extremely frustrating for me to play and I never finished it. 2 got annoying, but I managed to make it through. 3 was the only Witcher game I’ve played twice. And while there’s a lot of history and story, it’s better covered in the 3rd game than if playing through the other 2–no real need to play them, so I’d suggest diving right into 3.

  82. John silver Harloe says:

    I really really like Stardew Valley – which leads to my disappointments. These are not games I anticipated, but their release snuck up on me and their outline of concepts seemed really really likeable from a “I like Stardew Valley a ton” perspective:
    My Time at Portia 3d Stardew? sign me up. but it was far too tedious and the mechanics were too heavy on MMO grind and less on having fun planning your own way through the game – which is similar to my next complaint: Graveyard Keeper should have been awesome, but unlike Stardew, the playfield just isn’t open enough to try out different things – you just don’t have the space or the game mechanics to invent new strategies or play with your layout. I wrote a spreadsheet on optimal graveyard layout and then it became a 12 hour grind to get delivered the right bodies to fill my yard the best way. And the dungeon/combat just isn’t as fun as in Stardew because it’s all combat with no breaks to mine minerals or whatever.

    Finally, there was Stranded Sails Pirate Stardew? sounds cool. but the gameplay is frustrating, the quests are too limiting on how you can proceed – you have to follow the quests pretty much precisely, but then you need 500 of a thing that spawns rarely on an island that takes you 20 minute of real-clock time to reach (20 minutes because you have to cook food first so you don’t run out of stamina just before you get to the island) I was sad.

  83. Thomas says:

    Favourite games this year:
    God of War – Wow, I never thought I’d care so much about Kratos! Turning Kratos into an ex-military Dad trying to raise his son to be strong whilst struggling to connect emotionally was genius. One of the few stories to stick with me this year.

    The Norse setting is my jam and encountering it up close and personally in a video game is great. This game showed how videogames can embrace weirdness and give us sights the world can’t offer – the first time you use the rainbow bridge is really something.

    The combat is super tight and the Metroidvania-esque level design was perfect with the hub world and narrative that crossed old areas. Jedi: Fallen Order could learn from this, and I’m pretty sure they’d taken a lot of ideas from GoQ already.

    A Way Out – Games you can experience with friends are fun.

    Outer Worlds – More than anything, I’m glad to see this kind of game get made again.

    The Last Guardian – The way you build up a relationship with the giant winged cat monster is perfect. The way you can suggest and nudge but not control Trico and the stunning animation make him feel alive. This director specialises in videogame beauty.

    Rocket League – My go to timekiller that I started up again this year.

    Disappointments:
    Kingdom Hearts 3 – I assumed being a main numbered game its story wouldn’t require you to play the umpteen spin-offs. Boy was I wrong

    Ni No Kuni II – Lovely graphics, but when the story is for kids, and the gameplay is so simple, I couldn’t find a reason to continue playing it.

    2019 – The only game I truly loved this year came out last year. And even when I was brainstorming this list, all the things I came up with, I had played the year before. Valkyria Chronicles 4, Nier Automata, Spider-Man…

    Most anticipated:

    Ghosts of Tsushima – RPG. Gorgeous Japanese setting. Tick, tick.

    Ancestors – This came out this year, but I haven’t played it yet. A third person survival game of evolution where even the mechanics evolve.

    VR – I love VR. I hope Half Life makes it go mainstream.

    FFVII Remake – I was suspicious at first, but the trailers have brought me on board.

    Fire Emblem & Smash Brothers – I met get a switch next year. If I do, this is what I’ll be playing

    1. Christopher says:

      I’m convinced Leo’s nose in A Way Out is so big exactly so players will have something to talk about. It was a good time.

  84. Fizban says:

    *Looks over Steam recently played list*. Woah. No wonder it feels like I barely played anything this year: I barely played anything this year. Not counting old games I played to a greater or lesser degree, there’s basically just 3 new games I played significantly, and two of them are half the same thing:

    Slay the Spire (deckbuilding rogulike turn-based)
    Hand of Fate 2 (deckbuilding roguelike action)
    Deep Rock Galactic (class based space bug “zombie” shooter with randomly generated maps and light mining)

    So yeah. No wonder I’m sitting here feeling starved, been starving myself. Not that the reasons for that are gone (can’t sit down and enjoy a story RPG when people won’t stop making bullshit problems), but that’s the whole year now.

    And of those three games, the first two I just plowed through until I had clearly experienced just about everything and then dropped. It’s only Deep Rock that I’ve continued playing regularly. If I actually run out of stuff to unlock I’ll probably stop for a while, but it’s basically the perfect “I just feel like shooting some bugs” game.

  85. Fugu Tabetai says:

    I played two games this year, primarily. Hare Brained Studio’s BattleTech, a great turn based tactical mech stompy game, and Street Fighter V. It was a fun year.

    I did start Nier: Automata, and it looks good, but I don’t have the time to learn new systems and take in story at the same time, so I just kept going back to BattleTech and Street Fighter V.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      As someone who leaned hard into the 2009 fighting game renaissance, I have always been curious about SFV. How does it compare to the rest of the series?

      1. Christopher says:

        I like it a lot. It had a bad launch, some wacky PC issues and it’s not as technical as some of their earlier efforts, and I still don’t think Capcom are great at communicating with their customers – not ideal for a game that’s supposed to get support all throughout the year. Those factors all combined make the zeitgeist be pretty down on it. It’s still popular, and my preffered fighting game of the generation alongside Smash Ultimate, but I don’t think the narrative will ever turn around on it. And maybe it doesn’t deserve to, with so many problems along the way. Still, I think I feel confident saying that it is a great fighting game at its core, especially now that it’s got a plethora of content on level with the late versions of SF4. I just hope SF6 doesn’t botch its own launch down the line.

        1. John says:

          My impression is that Street Fighter V is slightly less demanding execution-wise than Street Fighter IV, but I’m not sure that it’s really any less technical. Also, I’m not entirely sure what technical means in this context. There’s nothing like focus attacks or focus attack dash cancelling but because of V-Triggers it seems to me that suddenly every character is sort of a two-stance character. You’ve got to learn all about not only your default normals, specials, EX moves, and combos but also those same moves when V-Trigger is active. It’s like they replaced all the ultra-combos with Juri’s Feng Shui Engine ultra from Street Fighter IV.

          Of course, when you’re as bad at Street Fighter as I am, it doesn’t make all that much of a difference.

          1. Nimrandir says:

            For the record, I tend to play charge characters — and by that, I mean that I play Blanka, and pretty much only Blanka. Based on most Capcom fighter tier lists, that squarely lands me in scrubdom.

            Are charge characters still a thing? If so, are they viable? Can I still electrocute people and/or eat their faces for way less damage than either of those things should cause?

            1. Christopher says:

              Blanka’s in! Honda too. Guile is always pretty high up there too, and Urien charges with the best of them. Vega isn’t a charge character anymore, but if you wanna roll around and bite you can do that no problem lol

              Blanka has the best costume in the game which might make him spiritually the best at least

              1. Nimrandir says:

                It’s going to be tough to top the Saikyo gi from SFIV, but I will look for images online!

          2. Christopher says:

            I’m definitely not good enough myself to complain about the skill ceiling, it’s just what I keep hearing from the people in the community better at fighting games than I am.

  86. Lee says:

    The only game I’ve played a lot of this year is Minecraft. My son really loves BaBa is You, and I’ve played that a bit since he bought it for me last week.

  87. Mistwraithe says:

    Favourite new games would be Slay the Spire (awesome game, although I don’t get why they have taken so long to get it onto iPad, seems perfect for it) and Forza Horizon 4 (haven’t really played the other ones, or indeed any recent car games, so I’m not burnt out on the formula).

    I also still struggle to resist playing my old favourites like Europa Universalis 4, Stellaris, Dominions 5, etc.

    Looking forward to trying Crusader Kings 3 and any good TBS which come out next year.

  88. Xeorm says:

    Favorite game for sure would be the new Final Fantasy XIV expansion Shadowbringers. Played it a lot this year. Fantastic game all around. Would highly recommend to anyone that enjoys the mmo experience.

    Prismata would be second on my list. Great game, and a great way to take the classic RTS genre and distill it down to its core elements. Functionally it looks like a card game, but really isn’t. Feels more like an RTS without the need for micro.

    Crying suns gets third place with a setup in a similar vein to FTL, but in a great setting reminiscent of the Dune and Foundation series.

    Fourth place goes to Slay the Spire. Love me some deck building gameplay, even if I haven’t quite gotten the hang of the newest hero quite yet.

    Fifth would be a funny little game called “The Colonists”. Terribly nondescriptive, but it’s a fun little city builder of sorts.

    Biggest disappointment would be No Man’s Sky. Heard that there were some improvements made, read all the craziness of the game from this site, and friends wanted me to play with them. Hard to pass all that up. But even this site didn’t prepare me for much it would disappoint. It’s one thing to be a bad game, but this game is so close in everything to being a game I think I’d rather enjoy that it gets to a state akin to the uncanny valley. It’s not a bad game, but it’s not a good game either. And the small difference is enough to infuriate me.

    Can’t think of any games I’m really looking forward to. Still have a good backlog to go through and a wishlist of games I’ve collected, so really only looking for more time to play what I have and for some sweet sales to come out on the games I already want.

  89. TehShrike says:

    Unordered:

    Children of Morta – the best ARPG since Diablo 2. I say that because it’s nice and shocking statement, but it has modern gameplay affordances and amazing local co-op, so it’s probably actually the best ARPG I’ve ever played.

    Divinity: Original Sin 2 – I’m only 5 hours in, but it’s the first RPG I’ve gotten that far in since Final Fantasy 9, so I’m pretty optimistic

    Dead Cells – Wow, talk about nailing the macro progression curve. Satisfying to get good at, and satisfying to level up in.

    Lonely Mountains: Downhill – I love racing games, I love physics-based games, and this game is as fun to play as it looks like in the trailers.

    1. Shamus says:

      Thanks for the heads up on Lonely Mountain. That’s going in the queue as soon as my 2019 writeup is done. Looks so fun. Reminds me of Pako 2, which made my list last year.

  90. Orophor says:

    Favorite game I played in 2019: God of War (2018). The father and son adventure, while both grieve Faye and scatter her ashes from the tallest peak in the nine realms. Outstanding visuals, fantastic music, solid gameplay, and wonderful characters made this game a real treat for me. I got it as a Christmas gift and wasn’t expecting much, but wow it was a great game.

    Worst disappointment: Fallout 76, it was a complete dumpster fire. Everything that was wrong at launch is bad, but the fact that it got worse and worse all year, then they had the gall to ask for $99/year for that trash, Yikes.

    Most looking forward to: Cyberpunk 2070. Been playing the tabletop RPG since it was called Cyberpunk 2013, and really loved the Witcher series from CD Project Red, so this has my name all over it. Bummed I couldn’t get a PC version of the collectors edition though.

  91. Nimrandir says:

    Good grief — I really need to be willing to hop over comments to post my own thoughts. I’ve spent most of the day trying to find time to get to the bottom of this page! Anyhoo, this year’s play time has mostly gone to:

    Monster Hunter * : between playing World in single-player, Generations with my son, and Ultimate 3 when I could convince him that playing as a Palico is not objectively the best way to play Monster Hunter, it’s probably been around three hundred or so hours. The only reason I haven’t dug into the Iceborne expansion yet is the shift to Generations slowed down my gear collection for the elder dragons.

    The Elder Scrolls * : After reading Rutskarn’s old Altered Scrolls posts in January, I decided to install Arena. Then Bethesda gave away Morrowind for free. Then I started playing Oblivion when my son created his own Skyrim character. Then I decided I wanted to play Skyrim with the ability to block (my first three characters were a stealthy archer and two runs with magic in one hand and a weapon in the other). I really need to get around to installing Daggerfall before Windows 7 end-of-life.

    Diablo III: I know, I know — it’s inferior to its predecessor in just about every way. I never played that predecessor, though, darn it, and there are only so many games I can play with my son on a single screen.

    As far as stuff from this year goes . . . um, I bought Code Vein today! Also, there’s a gift bag in our Christmas present pile that will let me play Bloodstained in about a week! I’ve also realized from reading through other people’s lists that I probably won’t play any 2020 games for a while, since I have a mess of stuff I still need to revisit.

    Lastly, I feel obligated to mention that after Shamus’ look at Control, I decided to try my hand at writing for the SCP wiki. I’m currently working on an article about the corpse of mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss continuing to produce research. So . . . that’s a thing.

    1. Chad Miller says:

      FWIW the GOG release of Morrowind runs fine for me in Win10 (but if you mean you just outright don’t want Win10, I understand)

      1. Nimrandir says:

        I’m not a big fan of Windows 10, but the real issue is that my gaming PC is an ancient laptop. I play modern stuff on console.

    2. tmtvl says:

      Daggerfall runs through DOSbox, so you can play it on pretty much any platform.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        I’m pretty sure my employer isn’t okay with my installing games on my work machine. Especially not one as horny as Daggerfall.

        That being said, getting the setup files from UESP onto a flash drive wouldn’t be a problem.

        1. tmtvl says:

          Yeah, but you can just set up a VPS and run dosbox in your browser. Kinda like the Internet Archive does.

  92. Scerro says:

    Your favorite game(s) this year? You don’t have to pick a single favorite. If you loved 5 games, go ahead and list all 5. If you didn’t love any, that’s fine too. (Although please leave a comment saying so.)

    Favorites:
    Final Fantasy 14 – Shadowbringers reminds me of the old SquareSoft. You know how Final Fantasy is a dying brand? Shadowbringers has given me hope for the future for the entire company, that not only can they create good stories, but insanely amazing stories.

    Risk of Rain 2 – The reimagining in 3D really brought this game to life. The first was meh, this one was a month or two of addiction.

    7 Days to Die – This game finally hit it’s stride. Update 18 has made the game truly fun on the skill side of things. I’m playing with a group of friends and we’re doing a shortened 40 minute day (24hr period), 150% xp gain, block damage set to 200% during blood moons (300% normally). It’s a group of settings that have made a huge change and with the skill updates have brought a lot of balance to the game. We’re still going at day 50, which is twice as far as we’ve ever gotten. Junk Turrets also breathe a lot of life into blood moons.

    Space Engineers – Years, and years later, the game is finally as stable as it’s going to get in multiplayer. It’s not an awful experience just to try and build. Add in some random planet encounters and the actual features they’ve been adding, and it’s a real game. With real progression! Good fun.

    Rocket League – You can’t cheat at rocket league, there’s no numbers to hack, no aimbots. Just pure PvP where you slowly get better at hitting the ball closer to where you want it to go. While I dislike the acquisition by Epic Games, it’s still a solid game.

    What was your biggest disappointment this year? Like, what game did you expect to like, but didn’t?

    Apex Legends – It hit with a huge splash, but the hard lock to 3 man squads and general inflexibility with team size made this game fall flat despite a really, really good start. Their implementation of SBMM also sucks, which has kinda burned me out at the end of this year.

    What are you most looking forward to in 2020?

    So many games hit early access, have promise but aren’t playable, that I don’t pay attention any more to new releases. It’s all play by ear these days. Getting the friend group on the same page is near impossible anymore, so I just have to take what we’ll all go for on the spur of the moment.

  93. evilmrhenry says:

    The Good:
    Okami: Yeah, I finally got around to playing it. Is it as good as people say it is? Yes. I played it on the PS2, which was really struggling in some spots, but there’s a remake out.

    Other games of note:
    NGU Idle: Tried it out once it launched on Steam. Basically, it’s an idle game that isn’t a terrible cashgrab and has interesting mechanics. These are always a bit of an acquired taste, of course.
    Minit: A Zelda game played a minute at a time. Interesting hook, and a good game.
    SteamWorld Dig 2: A bigger and much better sequel. I’d recommend it even if you didn’t like the first game.
    Yoku’s Island Express: Pinball Metroidvania. If that interests you, I think you’ll like it.
    Project Ozone 3: A Questing Minecraft modpack that hits the sweet spot of needing actual thought put into progression, properly-integrating a bunch of disparate mods, while not being a grindy mess.

    The Bad:
    Yoshi’s Island: The difficulty level in this game is astounding. Poor controls, enemy spam, and requiring absolute perfection to beat a level 100%. I don’t get it.
    Batman Arkham Origins: Basically, they changed the Metroidvania setup of Asylum into an Ubisoft Open-World game, and didn’t even make it a good one. I knew it wasn’t going to be as good as the first two games, and I was still disappointed.

    I don’t really follow gaming news enough to be looking forward to anything.

  94. Laser Hawk says:

    I think the outer worlds is good so far, haven’t finished it yet. Code Vein was a surprisingly good soulsborne, but the ranged combat (archery equivalent) was badly designed. I was dissapointed by Fallen Order. I am looking forward to cyberpunk, vampire the masquerade, and the console port of pathfinder kingmaker. Also the Fairy Tail rpg coming out next year, I just like the franchise. Gameplay seems pretty standard JRPG fare.

  95. I don’t really have an answer for 1 because I only really played one new game this year–Anthem. I was HOPING it’d be on the good side, and it’s definitely my response for #2. I’ve mostly been playing Dungeons and Dragons Online this year. The new Sharn expansion stuff is cool, and the Keep on the Borderlands classic adventures are a lot of fun, so overall I count it as a very good year for DDO. The DDO Twitch community is starting to pick up some viewers, and even my streaming is starting to get some attention.

    For 2020 I’m actually kind of looking forward to that weird tiny people game Obsidian is working on, but I’ve bought some games over the past month or so that I want to play at least a little: Greedfall, Conan: Exiles, Arcania.

    I’m curious what they’ll do to “fix” Anthem and if it’ll be worth a second look. I’m a bit tempted to look in at No Man’s Sky since it’s been updated to heck and back, but I have enough games otherwise that it’s really not a priority.

    I’m really hoping to at least get a trailer for Dragon Age 4 in 2020, although I know they’ve said “no game until 2022”. Jerks. I expect Obsidian will have 4 more new games out by then.

  96. Christopher Theofilos says:

    I feel like this was a very good year for gaming.
    Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was a welcome change for me (the last one I played through completely was Black Flag). The setting worked for me(my family is from Sparta), they finally embraced the insanity that can come with the animus (the unicorn mount with the rainbow streamers trailing behind it), and the ship combat worked better for me than it did in AC3+4. I didn’t have the same problem everyone seemed to have with the combat or leveling. I just finished the final dlc and I made it to level 94, without boosting so that complaint seems kind of specious. I could understand how people could find the combat a “bullet” sponge (sword sponge?spear sponge?) on higher difficulty levels. The story had humor and pathos, and made me tear up in a couple of spots. Plus, this was the first game since Skyrim, where I felt I got my money’s worth on the amount of content included.

    Vampyr was another earlier game that I finally got around to this year. I can understand some of the griping over the ending of the game, but the journey to get there was pretty enjoyable to me. Also this was one of the first games I remember to do make the game easier by farming the npc’s but make the final boss harder by doing the same thing . I enjoyed the characters, the setting, and the combat, even with some rough edges.

    Pathfinder: Kingmaker and Pillars of Eternity 2:Deadfire were finally beaten, both of them thanks to turn based mods. Yes, in some cases, turn based naysayers, the combats took longer, but in all cases were much less chaotic, which is something I can appreciate as I am currently replaying Pathfinder on my Surface Pro at work. There were things to love about both games, and things to complain about, but I enjoyed my playtime in both.

    And lastly, for my biggest surprise of the year, Remnant: From the Ashes. I wasn’t tracking this game, hadn’t been following it’s development, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. A team based souls-ish, shooter. It hit a lot of my fetishes in a really good way.

    For disappointments, number one has to be my brother for making me buy Anthem. There was an enjoyable kernel of gameplay there, in the little 3 minute snippets I got to be in a mission for before my team dragged me into another 5 minute loading screen because they got ahead of me. It’s sad, but Bioware is dead to me. Dragon Age 4 would have to give a happy ending every time I sat down to play it, to make me buy it.

    After most of an enjoyable year,Destiny 2 has ended on a really sour note for me. I enjoyed all of the season 2 content, and was hopeful for Shadowkeep to be a cool underdog story about Bungie showing Activision how to do it. Instead they doubled down, hard, on grinding, currencies, and unfun content. I went from playing every day and raiding a couple of times a week, to not logging in in over a month, and I haven’t missed it.

    For the most part, as I look at my game library I am realizing that most of my best memories this year have been off of single player games, while most of my play time has been on multiplayer ones. COD’s campaign was really good, maybe one of the best I have played, while the multiplayer is mostly more of the same (in a familiar comfortable way). COD Mobile is really well done for a mobile title, which helps when we get team’s going at work.

    I am looking forward to Cyberpunk, VTM:Bloodlines 2,Baldur’s Gate 3, and now Dark Alliance, although that trailor is pretty…..something. On the tabletop side, I am looking forward to the Gloomhaven expansion Frosthaven, Isaac is saying will be as large as the original game.

    Edit: Can’t believe I forgot about Diablo 4. The trailor looked suitably dark for me

  97. jurgenaut says:

    1. World of warcraft classic – I had so high hopes, and for the most part the game looked much like it did in 2004. I gleefully set about playing it casually and had so much fun doing it.

    2. The people playing World of warcraft classic – While the game was much like it was (1.12), the gamers were not. Players clearing MC and onyxia first week is… bleh. Exploiting layering within dungeons with mage groups AOEing trash mobs for XP – so much for the journey… It turned out that no one was playing the game the way I was playing it. Most people were only interested in blazing through the content and then whining about lack of content. Hell, in my guild – made up of the people I could find from back in the day – some people blazed to 60, then quit because there were no groups for dungeons. Then two weeks later, some more people reached 60 and quit because there were not enough people at 60 in the guild. A month later I reached 60 and quit because there were not enough 60s – and not enough people left in the guild to reach 60.

    3. Cyberpunk. I love the neuromancer novel, and the visual style of bladerunner. Deus ex 1 was awesome. The old SNES shadowrun game I also loved. Loved witcher 3. I’m fairly sure this will be great.

  98. Galad says:

    I tend to play a few dozen hours in a game, then move on and usually forget about it. If it’s a good game to me and there’s more to do in it, I would likely return to it at some later point, probably months later. In this weird way, I’m looking forward to returning to games like Prey 2017 (18 hours on record), Pyre (2 hours on record), or Subnautica (8 hrs)

    Some games I enjoyed this year: Remnant: from the Ashes, Deep Rock Galactic, the usual stuff like Neverwinter Nights: EE, hell some good old CS:GO with the new Operation. Some great new stuff I tried is Noita, <3 that action roguelite. I'm honestly blanking on what I played more than two months ago.

    Also, nowadays I'm spending time on Fallen London, one of the best browser games out there, after a 5 year hiatus. If that's definitely not your cup of tea, feel free to try Sunless Sea / Sunless Skies, made by the same company, in the same gothic/victorian universe.

  99. Zaxares says:

    I actually spent most of 2019 on a retro gaming binge thanks to GoG. I bought a lot of classics from the 90’s and early 00’s, along with some of the 80’s TSR D&D games. What I find particularly strange is that I actually have quite a list of “games to play” such as Witcher 3, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and others that I SHOULD be getting to, but it’s like I can’t muster the energy to get started on them. :/

    Well, anyway, for games I’m looking forward to in 2020:

    – Cyberpunk 2077
    – Baldur’s Gate 3 (although we still know next to nothing about how the game will work, so I’m kinda reserving judgement on this)
    – Final Fantasy VII Remake (I’ll have to wait longer for this since it’s exclusive to PS4 for 1 year. The other platforms will get it on Mar 3 2021.)

  100. Mephane says:

    Oh that’s easy.

    Favourite new release: Jedi Fallen Order.

    Biggest disappointment: Anthem.

    Looking forward to in 2020: Cyberpunk 2077.

  101. pseudonym says:

    After not getting beyond Primm in two playtroughs, I discovered this year that I like fallout new vegas much better in hardcore mode, so I started on my first full playtrough. That was somewhere at the beginning of this year. Since I game about 2 hours per week on average, I am still playing it.

    I got myself a new computer last week and now I finally meet the system requirements for the witcher 3 and metro exodus. But given the good reviews I’ll probably play the outer worlds next year, if it launches on GOG

  102. Charnel Mouse says:

    Most of my game time has been spent playing a board game by forum (Codex by Sirlin Games, specifically). With a few exceptions, I had to look up what computer games I’d played this year, because so little made an impression. Apparently I attempted to play a Paradox grand strategy game again? What was I thinking?

    Anyway, here are the ones I remember playing, and that I really liked:

    Slay the Spire. A nice mixture of deckbuilding and turn-based combat. I am bad at it.
    Jupiter Hell. First time I’ve bought something while it’s still in development, because I trust the developers. This is basically the sequel to Doom: the Roguelike, and it’s been interesting to see it progress over the last few months, and gradually diverge from its predecessor.

    After looking up what I played, Gorogoa was a cool little puzzle game that lasted a few hours. Jedi Academy was also decent, and I’d like to go through it again to see if the saber staff breaks the game (the skirmish AI really does not understand how to deal with its jumping attack).

    Games I played this year that I’d like to try again if I ever get the time:

    Hegemony Gold, which is about Phillip (Alexander the Great’s father) uniting Ancient Greece.
    Wizardry 8 seems like the sort of RPG I’d actually like, at least for a while. Maybe I should just try out the Gold Box series.
    AI War. As bad an AI as Arcen usually manage outside of Bionic Dues, but it looks to have a lot of depth underneath it.

    Upcoming games I’d like to try if I get the time: Vampire: Bloodlines 2 is the only one I can think of, I really liked the first one. For stuff that’s already come out, I’m looking at:
    AI War 2. Arcen can do a good interface this time, right?
    Dusk
    Fantasy Strike if it ever reaches GOG, it’s a fighting game that tried to make the entry floor really low. Simple controls, full crossplay, a discrete-valued health bar, visual frame advantage information when a hit lands or is blocked… lots of nice feautres.
    Duskers, a game about exploring dangerous space hulks with text-controlled drones, that Jarenth covered a while back.
    Darkwood
    Hand of Fate 2 sounds like it’s reduced some of the uncontrollable card RNG in the original (i.e. equipment inbalance).

    1. John says:

      The Hegemony series is deeply tempting to me in ways that Total War never quite has been. I’m not entirely sure why. I’d say that it’s because I’m much more into classical history than medieval history, but Total War has two games about Rome. Maybe Total War is just too . . . glossy. I don’t know. The thing that stops me is that the Hegemony games are Windows-only (and many of the Total War games aren’t). I should probably suck it up and go check the Wine AppDB or the ProtonDB already.

      Fantasy Strike is also very interesting. It even has a Linux version. I wish I were more sold on the art though.

    2. Nimrandir says:

      Fun fact: despite never playing anything made by Sirlin Games, I’m super familiar with its website. I use Sirlin’s Playing to Win as a textbook for my first-year seminar class.

      Well, I thought it was a fun fact.

    3. tmtvl says:

      Wizardry 8 is neat and interesting, but due to them running out of money the late game is kinda weak. Protip: crit stacking is absolutely necessary for dealing with enemies later on, as they will have far too much health to try and grind through normally.

    4. RFS-81 says:

      Oh hey, Wizardry 8, the game I stole my nick from! It’s an interesting look at how the first-person party-based RPG genre might have evolved.

  103. Elaine says:

    Favorite game this year would have to be the stand alone expansion Spellforce 3 Soul Harvest. I felt like I was a teenager again playing RTS/RPG campaigns like Warcraft 3 and Spellforce 1. Good times.

    Biggest disappointment is definitely Life is Strange 2. If you’ve played it or even watched the trailers you’ll probably understand why.

    I’m really looking forward to Ready or Not. I am super hopeful it can capture the glory of SWAT 4 Co-op.

    I’m not playing a lot of new releases these days, it’s mostly going back to the tried and true for me.

  104. JFalkayn says:

    1. Favorite games this year: Fallout 4, Skyrim, Dragon Age Inquisition, Mass Effect Andromeda. I just keep going back to these games and I’ve put hundreds of hours into each.

    2. Biggest disappointment: The Outer Worlds. Was really looking forward to it and I did put 50 some hours into the game but I lost interest in it. Didn’t finish main quest although I may have been close. Surprised that I was disappointed since most people seemed to like it. I suppose it just seemed a little shallow and repetitive to me.
    Also played about 35 hours of Greedfall and quit. Don’t think I’ll go back to it. Just didn’t keep my interest. Story had some depth but combat was too hard for me. Hadn’t heard of the game til I saw someone playing it so it wasn’t something I was anticipating and thus wasn’t as big a disappointment as Outer Worlds.

    3. Looking forward to: nothing at this point for 2020 since I don’t think a new Elder Scrolls game or a new Dragon Age game will be coming out that soon.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      You know, until you mentioned Andromeda, I had completely forgotten how much I played that game in 2019. Man, did I subconsciously block out the Ubithon?

      I didn’t finish the critical path, but I remember getting three planets to 100% viability. I think I stopped right after leaving Kadara Port?

    2. Radkatsu says:

      > Elder Scrolls

      Let’s be real here, TES6 is going to be a complete shit show anyway. Bethesda have lost all credibility (what little they had) at this point.

  105. ccesarano says:

    The two things I loved most this year were my Nintendo Switch and Japanese Game Developers. The two are, obviously, linked.

    I was already doing plenty of Switch gaming in the first half of the year, but the release of Fire Emblem: Three Houses kicked off the full marathon of excellent Nintendo titles that would last throughout 2019, including games I missed. I only started playing Fire Emblem with the release of Awakening, and in that short span I’ve already experienced highs and lows with this franchise. Three Houses seemed like it was chasing cringe-worthy trends by taking place in an academy, but they actually managed to use the setting as a method to better understand each individual units’ unique characteristics and create more thoughtful, in-depth builds than most players would have managed in prior games. Unfortunately, the game also seemed designed with the assumption a whole host of new players would be struggling to get used to all the systems, or simply be less efficient. It’s the easiest of the games by far, and the format makes the initial playthrough capable of reaching 70-90some hours (around 91.5 hours for me). Nonetheless, the story is compelling enough that I am looking forward to a second playthrough on Hard mode in the future.

    Astral Chain was the next major release and is probably my favorite title this year. PlatinumGames brought their action chops to this, removing the focus from button combos and instead turning it into a vulnerable human’s reliance upon their indentured beast from the Astral Plane. Small “open” environments that allow the player to explore and build the setting, platforming sections that break up the intense combat arenas by making use of each Legion’s unique traits, and a variety of unique bosses scattering the world make it more than just another character action game. The only real drawback is the story, which seems to resolve every interesting conflict once it is introduced. The plot is thus straight-forward and predictable, regardless of the possibilities presented by the setting.

    This title was followed up by Link’s Awakening, my first time playing the game with the advantage of modern mechanical polish while retaining the old school feeling of discovery. A neat entry that feels like a lost sequel between the first Zelda game and A Link to the Past. Luigi’s Mansion 3 was absolutely charming and imaginative, and while it overstayed its welcome a bit, I was always finding myself grinning with glee as a new interaction with the specter-snagging vacuum was discovered. I’ve been finishing the year off with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night on Switch, though it’s undoubtedly the worst platform for the game. Not that I regret it, something about a throwback title like this, feeling like I’m still that chubby kid playing Super Nintendo, seems appropriate on an under-powered Nintendo console. Metroidvanias have become far more common, but I feel like most of them lack a special something that Bloodstained manages to capture in some degree of simplistic purity.

    It’s not just about the Switch, though. Capcom really came out swinging this year with Resident Evil 2, which feels like an amalgamation of the lessons learned throughout the franchise’s 20-ish year history. The far more user-friendly controls established and developed from Resident Evil 4 through to Resident Evil Revelations 2, but balanced in a fashion that recontextualizes the sort of horror from the original games, as well as the value of familiarity with an enclosed space. The Resident Evil remake introduced Crimson Heads as a wrench in the player’s gears, and here it’s the powerful Mr. X forcing the player to double-check their map and adapt their routes to best achieve their goals. They’ve even managed to take some of Resident Evil 7’s narrative presentation (which I’ll link NightMind’s excellent break down, as it’s probably the first truly good Resident Evil story in the whole franchise) to reduce the stupid in RE2. It’s still campy, but it feels like their efforts at telling the narrative with a straight face are far more effective here than… well, ever. Still miss RE4’s tongue-in-cheek approach with Leon almost knowing he’s in some B-movie rip-off plot of nonsense, but I can’t say I disliked this new interpretation of Claire and Leon.

    Capcom immediately followed this up with Devil May Cry 5, a franchise I only began playing through late last year in order to catch up. While I played DMC4 at launch, I wasn’t as well versed in character spectacle action games as I am now and therefore was awful at it. I then played DmC and found it surprisingly enjoyable despite really screwing up its narrative execution. But going back to replay DMC1, 3, and 4 in the lead up to DMC5 has made me a true believer of the franchise (even I know to avoid DMC2), and was also the perfect idea to prepare me for the conclusion of the Sons of Sparda narrative, as fans refer to it. Even after beating the game I discovered neat little tricks in the combat and controls I was unaware of, and there’s no denying that the narrative pay-off is handled so well that I’m still thinking about it. It’s definitely a game I’m going to want to revisit over and over, perhaps back-to-back with replays of DMC3. We’ll see. Possibly the best in the series.

    Lastly, Judgment. I finally got around to playing Yakuza 0 and Kiwami this year, and then jumped into Judgment, a spin-off of that franchise. While at its core there’s a lot in common with the other titles, they really knew which elements to tone down and which to crank up so that Takayuki Yagami would not only stand on his own, but that the mechanics would reflect what it means to be a former lawyer turned detective versus… well, being a Yakuza. He doesn’t kill anyone, and in fact avoids others dying if he can help it, and while the city of Kamurocho is still filled with prostitution and nude booths and other such unsavory conduct, he himself tends to stay away from it when he can. A very different character than Kazuma Kiryu, yet still encapsulating this notion of masculinity that I think these games puts forward. That the ultimate antagonist at the end is the exact opposite of what you’d expect from a Yakuza game only strengthens the value of Judgment as a spin-off. Also really goes to show that there’s more value in an “open-world” that’s only two-to-three city blocks rather than a sprawling world. Between three games, Kamurocho feels more familiar to me than sections of Philadelphia I’ve roamed over and over, with loads of unique side quests and activities to experience. It’s like the anti-Ubisoft open-world.

    Now then… biggest disappointments? Hrm. You already know Control is one, given I had been a bit hyped up for it and yet the end result is… well, what it is. Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order: EA™ is a similar case, filled with so many little problems that I couldn’t help but feel like they zigged too much where they should have zagged. Especially disappointing because taking action games, Metroidvanias, and Tomb Raider platforming and fusing them together ought to be an easy Game of the Year contender for me. Caligula Effect: Overdose was also a bit of one, though it at least had an inventive combat system and an excellent “the Anti-Persona” storyline. Really interesting characters, and you can tell the lead director went to College for psychology.

    And I suppose I’m disappointed in myself, because I keep forgetting I played A Plague Tale: Innocence this year and enjoyed it.

    As for 2020? Final Fantasy VII Remake comes to mind, despite knowing they’re going to absolutely George Lucas the crap outta that story. The combat looks fun, but I’ll have to chant to myself “Don’t worry, the original still exists” every time a cut-scene plays. And it’s only episode one! That’s just… that’s just magical. I’m hoping to catch up with Switch releases of Daemon x Machina, Pokemon Shield, and Dragon Quest XI S, while eventually playing Death Stranding at some point. I already told my friend Steve I’d start The Witcher 3 in January, though, and he’ll be starting Breath of the Wild since we both keep telling the other how amazing their respective favorite game is. Looking forward to the console release of Darksiders: Genesis, no doubt, and Resident Evil 3 of course. Would like to play the original SNES version of Trials of Mana before the remake hits, and am hoping to be able to manage Persona 5 Royal. I’ll need to wait and see if Bethesda did anything questionable with DOOM Eternal, but I’ll likely be grabbing Cyberpunk 2077.

    That should cover it. Sorry for the novel.

  106. Tonich says:

    I hardly ever play games on release, so for me 2019 was definitely the Year of Yakuza. First I got the amazing Yakuza 0 as a winter holidays gift, then I subsribed to Humble for the first time in my gaming life (I know, I know) to get Yakuza Kiwami.
    Now, I fondly remember playing the original Yakuza on my PS2 and, consequently, getting an itch for this kind of game that very few titles managed to scratch over the years (I guess only Sleeping Dogs succeeded) – so playing the remake was like meeting an old friend you haven’t seen in more than a decade and finding that hanging out with them is just as fun as it used to be. But Yakuza 0 was really something else for me, and I was in constant disbelief about the game hardly getting any awards upon release – heck, it was hardly even talked about much. I, on the other hand, loved every second of it, so it’s totally, definitely, undoubtedly my game of the year.
    Games I also loved:
    Yakuza Kiwami, obviously.
    Cuphead – srylish, charming and deserving of all the praise it gets… and yet way too unforgiving for me. Doesn’t mean I can’t still admire it, right?
    The Sexy Brutale – I have a soft spot for puzzle games, murder mysteries, the weird and coulorful kind of aesthetics, and great soundtracks. This game checks all the boxes.
    Broforce – when one needs a short burst of mindless visceral and non-politically-correct fun with a hint of nostalgia, this is the game to go. :)
    Wolfenstein: Old Blood – That’s right, Old. Can’t say I liked it more than New Order, bit I thought it was a nice little addition to it.

  107. Charles Henebry says:

    Absolutely loved playing “Return of the Obra Dinn.” Great story, fun retro-mac-1980s-bw graphics, engaging interface, strong voice acting, great music.

  108. Alex says:

    The most pleasant surprise was Eastshade, I went in expecting a pretty walking sim and got an RPG that felt like a miniature Elder Scrolls without the annoying combat.

    The biggest disappointment was The Outer Worlds. I really wanted to enjoy and gave it the benefit of the doubt for hours but it’s a pale shadow next to New Vegas and makes me doubt what Obsidian are going to do without Chris Avellone.

    The easiest game to recommend is Disco Elysium, which is likely to be the gold standard for video game writing for some time to come.

    My most anticipated is probably Doom:Eternal (which should be called Eternal Doom -gah!) although Cyberpunk and The Last of Us 2 are close. I really need to get around to Pathologic 2 at some point aswell…

  109. Joakim says:

    I played through the visual novel Steins; Gate this year. A visual novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and wholeheartedly recommend. The characters felt fully realized and the plot was interesting. This is also coming from someone whose only prior experience with visual novels are Ace Attorney, so I found it enjoying even as an outsider to the genre.

    As an outsider to the genre I will say though that it didn’t feel like I the player had much impact on the narrative.

  110. MelTorefas says:

    Total War: Warhammer 2 is definitely my number 1 game for this year in terms of sheer number of hours spent playing it. I love fantasy, and I like the Warhammer setting in terms of aesthetics, even if I don’t care for/about the lore. The Total War games have a pretty solid formula going, and adapting it to a game with different races and magic and magic items has actually gone really well. Warhammer 2 added another continent and a bunch more races, and if you play in Mortal Empires mode (which is the only one I play) you get the entire available world to work with. Of course with so many AI factions there was an issue where after each of your turns the game would take anywhere from a minute to several minutes, depending on your machine, to cycle through all the AI turns. They recently released an update which took that down to literally less than 20 seconds, which has… made a pretty big difference in how fast games go. >.>

    The other single player game I spent a decent amount of time on this year was Streets of Rogue, a sprite-based roguelike/roguelite game set in procgen’d city levels. It is super fun with all kinds of wild chaos that can happen. One of the few games I have bought in early access in recent years and no regrets there. It released recently and is still seeing regular updates adding stuff. I love navigating the levels and figuring out how to complete the randomly generated missions on each one to proceed to the next floor. With the ability to enable mutators that alter gameplay (sometimes in huge ways), the wide variety of playable characters (everything from gangsters and cops to zombies and shapeshifters), and even the ability to design your own custom characters (choosing whether or not to keep them “legal” in terms of power level), the game has massive replayability. Plus it is co-op.

    The vast majority of the rest of my gaming time was spent on MMOs, as usual. The main difference there is I took a loooong break from World of Warcraft, so this year I have probably spent most of my MMO time in Champions Online, that old Superhero MMO that is still sort of around. I have actually enjoyed doing events to get new costumes, as well as endgame world bosses for tokens for gear. I won’t claim it is a GOOD game by any means, but it still has the best costume creator I have ever seen and I do enjoy building freeform characters with weird powerset ideas.

    I don’t follow gaming news or get hyped for new releases, so, the worst gaming disappointment for me was buying Portal Knights during a recent steam sale after having it on my wishlist for ages, and having it turn out to be shallow and boring (as well as having inexplicable design decisions preventing it from being fun to play, like tying movement speed to a stat that does literally nothing else and takes a huge number of points in to even get a decent bonus, so you are stuck always being slow).

  111. Elm says:

    Favorite games of the year:

    Sayonara Wild Hearts – Great music, strong art direction, accessible gameplay with a high skill ceiling.
    Battletech – It’s the best turn-based game about giant robot fights that I own. Much better now that it’s not so slow and you can forgo the main plot.
    Kenshi – Gets a bit grindy and tedious at times, but also the best Mount and Blade since Warband. Bonus points for an interesting setting and having baddies like slavers and cannibals actually do what it says on the tin.
    Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy – I am not yet over it, but enjoying the process.

    What was your biggest disappointment this year? Like, what game did you expect to like, but didn’t?

    Stellaris – The early game is very fun until you’re doing it for the dozenth time, the mid-game is nothing special, the end-game is tedious.

    What are you most looking forward to in 2020?

    Cyberpunk 2077
    The Outer Worlds

  112. Richard says:

    Loved:
    Outer Wilds
    – This is just wonderful. The storytelling, the environments – all beautiful.
    What Remains of Edith Finch
    – A beautiful “walking simulator”, with an excellent (albeit somewhat dark) story. A few elements really scared me.
    Silence
    – Continues the story of The Whispered World. I think you do need to have played the first game though.

    Enjoyed:
    Lego Harry Potter
    Attack of the Earthlings
    – A turn-based alien invasion, except you’re the aliens. And being invaded.
    Life Goes On
    – A plain silly, but excellent platform puzzle game.

    Was disappointed by:
    Surviving Mars
    – It started out fun, but I found it got a bit tedious in the midgame. Perhaps I don’t enjoy ‘base building’ games anymore.
    Duskers
    – Too difficult. The story is interesting and seems deep, but so far almost every game has ended by the RNG killing me before I can discover much of it.
    Either a critical item randomly breaks leaving me with the choice of leaving with nothing or taking an extreme risk for possibly no rewards, or the ships I can reach have no resources.

  113. Jamey says:

    For all it’s faults, I really enjoyed Anthem quite a bit. The gear grind loop was not quite right, but the actual game play was very enjoyable for me.

    But my absolute favorite this year has to be City of Heroes. It came back from the dead, and some friends and I got our hands on the code and got a server up and running on a spare machine, and we’ve got about 25 accounts on it (5-6 highly active +another 8-10 maybe on once a week), and have been having a ton of fun with it.

  114. RCN says:

    1. Battletech. Last time I played anything with the Battletech label was when I was 9 years old. It was Mechwarrior 3, I think. Even not knowing almost anything and being confused by everything, I was still enthralled by the level of detail of being able to blow specific robot parts one at a time. I remember accidentally discovering how to throttle up but having no idea how to throttle down, so I was always going forwards. Playing Battletech now, I see the appeal is still intact… and that I had no idea just how deep the level of simulation goes in the battletech world. Now, if just I could figure what else I could take from my Stalker with 4xLRM20 to shove a missile HUD improvement in it.

    2. They are Billions. Played it for the most of the start of the year. Should probably go back to it now. Interesting premise of a horror-themed RTS that keeps you on your toes. The only thing I can say that isn’t that fun is that it seems like there’s only one right way to play, but I feel like the different scenarios force you to adapt and look for alternatives.

    3. Pathfinder: Kingmaker. A Pathfinder CRPG, precisely as promised. I just wish it had a more diverse NPC cast. And that the story NPC party members were better balanced. As it stands, there’s precisely 1 story NPC who is actually optimized and 2 or 3 that are viable at all in the game’s ridiculously overturned difficulty. Heck, Amiri is outright gimped. It also made the nigh-impossible accomplishment of making the Pathfinder setting interesting.

    4. Rayman Origins: Bought it for the sole purpose of having a game to play coop with the wife. Got pleasantly surprised at how good it is. The story hilarious, the animation is fantastic, the soundtrack is entrancing, (the fairies are bodacious) and the pacing is tight. Made me interested in getting Legends. Also, made the remarkable accomplishment of making a “origins” subtitle not foreboding of a crap game.

    5. Age of Empires 2 DE: always believed AoE to be one of the best RTS franchises. Buying the definitive edition has pretty much confirmed it for me. While the new civs were overtunned (rams and TC at feudal age with no drawbacks at the imperial age? WHAT?), playing it and getting my build orders optimized for online play renewed my interest in it, even though I’ve been following AoE2 youtube channels for years.

    Disappointed: League of Legends TFT mode. 90% of the time, you KNOW you lost because of the RNG. Not the combat RNG, but because your opponent has 5 golden champions and you’re still only only with silver with a backboard clogged with duplicates, or because that guy got 3 complete items from the first 3 minion waves and you got squat. No ammount of synergy or tactical acumen will save you from a golden Draven with a bloodthirster with even a passably decent front-line. Dunno how the second season is going, this feeling of helplessness to the RNG soured the game for me.

    2020: Pheonix Point? I know it is already out, but even with no beef against Epic I won’t get that anytime soon. Not even for Christmas. Unless there’s a miracle in my finances in the next week.

  115. Sjonnar says:

    First Place: Monster Sanctuary. Dragon Warrior Monsters + Metroid. Nearly flawless and a throwback to the good old days when games were made to be fun and not to rifle through your wallet. And it isn’t even done yet.

    Second Place: Total Warhammer 2 I chewed the devs out good for including redshell, but to their credit, they removed it just a few days later. The game itself is damn good and lets you play cartoonishly evil rat-men mowing down elves and dwarves with hand-held gatling guns that fire magical nuclear waste. Or you can be vampire pirates with zombie deckhands and giant mechs built from shipwrecks.

    Third Place: Grim Dawn This is what Diablo 3 should have been, but Blizzard is dead now and Activision is cavorting naked in the basement while wearing its skin as a suit.

  116. MarsLineman says:

    Very little time for gaming this year. My favorite games are all from previous years, and the total time I spent gaming is probably under 30 hours. With one notable exception

    Last holiday season I fell face-first into the incredible throwback that is 2017 Prey. I haven’t enjoyed a game like that in years, and I mainlined the game (40 hours or so) is under 2 months. Made me feel like a teenager again, in how much I felt engrossed by the world and its situations. Such a masterpiece.

    Otherwise, I moved slowly forward in Divinity Original Sin 2 (another fantastic throwback), now getting towards the end of Act 2 (out of 4). I started the game in spring of 2018, just to give you a reference for how slow I’m gaming (and how vast the game is).

    And I’ve put a few hours into Hollow Knight, which I’ve been enjoying- very atmospheric and with a beautiful score

    Can’t really say I’ve been disappointed by anything, all three of these games are quite excellent. The first two would make my list of all-time greats, and I haven’t played enough Hollow Knight to have an opinion yet

  117. Sentinel says:

    Given that I have limited time for games (two small kids), I tend not to keep up with the latest releases. So my playing time has been mostly spent on older titles.

    Most enjoyed:
    Kingdom Come: Deliverance. This has been my personal game of the year. I was excited about it when it was announced in 2014, still excited about it last year when it launched, and loved it this year when I finally got to play it. And I had mods from the start!

    Two Point Hospital and Dawn of Man. Lumping them together because they’re both management sims of a sort, and have scratched the same itch. TPH is older, but I only got it this year.

    Most disappointed by:
    Myself, for getting back into playing Dota. I mean, it’s fun and all, but after every round, another hour of your life has rolled by, and what have you done? You’ve played another game of Dota. You’ve seen nothing new, you’ve experienced nothing new (not really, anyway), you’ve just frittered away another hour. The endless wheel marches on.

    Most looking forward to:
    The Outer Worlds, Baba is You, Obra Dinn (I know they’re all out already, I’ll only get to them next year, see above).
    Mount and Blade 2… if the launch happens on schedule.
    Shadow Tactics: Blades Of The Shogun. Just started it, looking forward to playing more next year.

    1. Lino says:

      Most disappointed by:
      Myself, for getting back into playing Dota. I mean, it’s fun and all, but after every round, another hour of your life has rolled by, and what have you done? You’ve played another game of Dota. You’ve seen nothing new, you’ve experienced nothing new (not really, anyway), you’ve just frittered away another hour. The endless wheel marches on.

      I’m by no means one to tell how people should live their lives, but I don’t think you should berate yourself for coming back to Dota.
      It’s a bit like saying “Gee, I just wasted an hour with that old friend of mine – we just spent the whole hour talking about the good times we had at school – none of us learned anything new! I should stop seeing him!”

      After all, John Lennon once said: “Time you enjoyed wasting, was not wasted.”

  118. Erik says:

    It’s been a great time for builders. I’ve loved Satisfactory and Transport Fever 2; my wife has been loving Oxygen Not Included. And I haven’t even started Automation Empire yet, which looks really interesting on Let’s Plays – the ever-increasing tax system provides the ability to fail that many sandbox games just don’t have. Couple this with continuing new DLC including new systems for Cities Skylines, and my re/discovering Factorio (tried it in 0.12 but it was too raw; in 0.17-almost-18 it’s getting quite polished, delivering addictive levels of where’s-the-new-bottleneck), my appetite for covering the world with new buildings is being fully supplied.

  119. MaxEd says:

    Frankly, this year wasn’t much good. I really can’t say I loved any of the 2019 games I played – some were OK, but none excelled. I guess my favourite part of the year was replaying Pathfinder: Kingmaker with a turn-based mod. It changes the game from OK to great! Also, I joined Pathfinder: Kingmaker team in March, just in time to get some of my work into Enchaned Edition, but that doesn’t have anything to do with it ;)

    Well, ATOM RPG, which was released last December, but which I played in February, was great, for a very, very indie effort. So I guess that’s my GOTY?

    Other than that… I finally played Phantom Doctrine: it was a nice game, but way too long, and all of its good ideas were buried under less-than-stellar execution. MechWarrior 5 so far is proving itself to be less fun than any of the previous games due to infinite enemies – one thing I absolutely hate in video games. It’s still playable to some degree, and maybe even fun sometimes, but really, give me MW2 or MW4 any time. Queen’s Wish proved to be the least fun of Spiderweb Software games I’ve ever played, which means it’s still good, but, again, nowhere near Geneforge, Avernum or Avadon. Mutant Year Zero was also a very flawed game, often incredible frustrating for all the wrong reasons.

    Disco Elysium was OK, but I’m not really into RPGs without combat, I discovered: all that walking and talking grew somewhat tedious without any other activity to break it up. Can’t say it’s my Game of the Year.

    1. Radkatsu says:

      If you enjoyed ATOM, I have to ask if you’ve played Underrail? If not, you should, it’s excellent and more of a successor to Fallout than anything Bethesda has managed. Its big ass expansion just released this year as well (highly recommend base game first to learn the systems, it’s a heavily build-focused game, so check out some guides on Youtube or the Underrail forums).

      1. MaxEd says:

        Yeah, I played Underrail when it came out. It’s a great game, though I’m happy the developer finally added a map: drawing it by hand wasn’t an experience I relished all too much, I’m too lazy for that. Haven’t got around to expansion yet. Maybe someday…

  120. Eric says:

    I haven’t had a lot of time this year to play much of anything, so my list is incredibly short:

    Loved:
    The Witcher 3: Technically I started it back in late 2018 and still haven’t finished it but I’m enjoying my time with it. I’ve completed Hearts of Stone (which I loved) and am prepping for the final quest of the main story, with only Blood & Wine left beyond that. The story is well-crafted, the characters are interesting and have arcs, and the world is well-realized. The gameplay isn’t particularly amazing, but it doesn’t get in the way of my enjoyment. One thing I especially appreciate is how the game is easy to pick up and play without requiring each session to be a huge time commitment. I’ve done a pseudo-completionist run since I’m pretty sure I’m never going to play it again once I finish it. I say pseudo-completionist because I have not spent more time with Gwent than I need to for the main plot and I’m sure as hell not trying to collect everything in Skellige.

    Disappointment:
    Divinity: Original Sin 2: After getting hyped by the Baldur’s Gate 3 teaser, I really really wanted to like this, but I just found it to be obtuse and frustrating to play. I don’t like any of the characters and find the setting to be a strange combination of bizarre and bland. The story did nothing to attract or hold my interest and dicking around with game mechanics in Fort Joy only took me so far. I restarted it over a dozen times trying out different builds and nothing ever clicked for me. I put it down months ago and had completely forgotten about it until now. My biggest regret is that I got it on GOG and can’t get a refund.

    Looking Forward to…
    Not much of anything. I’m not as big a fan of sci-fi as I am fantasy, so Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t scratch any kind of itch I have and my interest in Baldur’s Gate 3 has soured since I tried Divinity: Original Sin 2. A few years ago I would have said Crusader Kings 3, but nowadays I seriously doubt I’ll purchase it. I don’t have time for time sinks anymore. In all likelihood I’ll just be replaying the games I already have or cutting through my backlog.

    1. ivan says:

      GoG offers refunds. Just ask. Before that look up barrelmancy.

      1. Eric says:

        Do they? That’s great news.

        I’m familiar with barrelmancy. If I was interested in the story or characters, I might use it to get through the game, but the story and characters are the least interesting things to me.

  121. Baron Tanks says:

    Damn, I was typing this two days ago when the post went up but never got to finish it then promptly forgot about it. For posterity’s sake I’ll still write down here at the bottom real quick what I played most and why.

    In all 2019 was a good year for gaming for me. After a multi year lull where I seemed to play less every year, it seems that this year it was series/shows that got put on the backburner and I played more games, in 2019 almost a daily occurrence. For reference, I turned 31 this year. Here’s the games I played this year that are notable and I have not already been playing before 2019. They are in no particular order:

    Sekiro: To immediately violate my no particular order comment, this is the game that made the most of an impact on me and I was properly obsessed (played up to New Game 7) with. Before Sekiro my Soulsborne resumé read exactly one Dark Souls 3 playthrough. Sekiro I adored and devoured though, very satisfying system mastery. I even came back to it after the summer with a Boss rush mod installed, just to relive some of those epic fights.

    Subnautica: The one that almost got away. I had dipped into Subnautica the year before and while the world made an immediate impact, my dislike for survival/craft ’em ups meant that I bowed out. At the urge of a friend I went back to this one and I was properly obsessed. What a beautiful world, what a masterpiece. Highly recommended.

    Halo: Reach: As someone that owned a 360 for a number of years and thoroughly enjoyed Halo 3 and Reach, it was great to come back to it on PC. I played a nostalgia laden Heroic run through the campaign and even dabbled a bit with some multiplayer modes. The game holds up and of course runs even better on current hardware. I don’t think I’ll play much more of this and will probably check in with the MasterChief Collection only when the other campaigns come out, but if anything I can say Reach holds up. Since I had the game pass active at 1 euro a month for Outer Worlds anyway, this was great value. The reason I will not play much more of this at this moment also has to do with the next entry…

    Red Dead Redemption 2: Wow. Red Dead Redemption 2, what a product. I struggle to call this a game and coming to it I was fairly sceptical if I would enjoy it. I did enjoy the original but I was quite worried the pace in this would be too slow, based on the reviews/reactions to RDR2’s release. I had not intended to play this yet, but as I was out sick from work all week last week, after a couple days I was itching for something new. After a half day download (120 GB….) I dove in and I was immediately hooked. There is an amazing world created here that feels so well realized and alive, it is a true marvel to behold. And the way you interact with the world does not break the spell for me, I am just out there hunting, fishing and exploring, mostly leaving the story content off to the side. I first played this a week ago but foresee that this will be the only thing I will play well into January and perhaps beyond that. I can see how this ‘game’ is not for everyone and expected myself to be on the other side of the divide in audience reaction, but I’m completely hooked and adoring this game.

    Smash brothers: Not much to say about this one, except that with the amount of Friday Ramen nights I spent with this in local multiplayer (1 on 1), it deserves a mention. Smash is still my favorite game to play together and this one holds up. It must be said that me and my buddy are of a similar skill level (average), which is when this game shines most.

    Honorable mentions: Slay the Spire, Dead Cells, Stardew Valley. I said I’d stick to new for 2019 only, however I noticed my games were rather ‘AAA’ heavy, while I have made a noticeable shift to smaller scale games. Mentioned here are the three that have dominated most of my gaming in recent years and three gems of games I heartily recommend to anyone.

    Disappointments: Outer Worlds and Rise of the Tomb Raider. The games mentioned above are also basically all the games I played this year. Outside those there are two more that I gave a whirl this year and both fell short of my expectations. I finally got around to playing Rise of the Tomb Raider, after having gotten the 2013 reboot in a sale for 5 bucks, I think it was back in 2017. I adored the reboot despite some of it flaws and was interested to play the sequel. I just sat and waited till I could pick it up for 10 bucks in a sale, thinking I’d get similar value out of Rise as I did the 2013 game. Well this year that happened and I played Rise, but I didn’t get more than 4 or 5 hours into it. It’s visually still interesting and I came to it anticipating basically gaming fastfood, but even at that level everything felt so dull and uninspired. I got a real sense of going through the motions through this one, as if the team didn’t really have any ideas for a sequel and every design document just read: more of the same. And apparently that was not enough for me. I suppose my complaints with the Outer Worlds are similar. As in, the reason I stopped playing it and bowed out, was because I just felt a lack of freshness and inspiration. The opening hours of Outer Worlds are fun and quite creative and it feels like they front loaded most of their quality work. But after the first 10 hours or so, I noticed I was just going through the motions and not feeling particularly inspired or motivated to continue. There was nothing I would consider bad or offensive in the game, but I just missed a bit of a spark or a bit of magic to keep me going. So basically my Outer Worlds adventure fizzled out and didn’t end with a bang, but with a whimper. Ah well. You cannot win them all.

  122. Wolf says:

    Games I loved this year:
    Deep Rock Galactic – Since I am really into coop multiplayer right now and it has just oodles of charme!
    The Talos Principle – Good puzzler with a great high concept story that keeps you thinking about it after the last puzzle is done.
    The Forest – Again coop multiplayer. Was surprised I liked this as much as I do since I normally don’t like horror elements.
    Hexcells – Just one of the best most soothing logic puzzlers.
    Axiom Verge – Just sooo well done athmosphere in this Metroidvania, the gameplay is also good.

    Disappointments of 2019:
    Generation Zero – Got sold on the flaire, but there was next to no interesting gameplay.
    Monster Hunter World – Have japanese ultralong tutorials always been this boring or did we just outlearn them?

  123. RFS-81 says:

    I played more board games than video games this year, but Ninety-Three says they count!

    Race for the Galaxy: Actually, I played the digital version before, but this year, the 2nd edition finally came out and I could also play it on paper! It has a steep learning curve, but it’s well worth it.

    Architects of the West Kingdom: I played it first in late 2018, but I decided that it still counts! Looks like your typical eurogame (even though it’s from New Zealand) where you gather resources and construct buildings to score points, but there’s a twist: If you put many workers in one spot, other players round them up and ransom them for money!

    Dominion: Yes, it took me a while to play the classic deckbuilding game. If you’re unfamiliar with the genre, it feels like a collectible card game but isn’t. All players start every game with a weak deck and upgrade it during the course of the game. My favorite deckbuilding game still is Star Realms, but Dominion works better with more than two players.

    Other good board games I played: Gaia Project, Paladins of the West Kingdom, Istanbul, Raiders of the North Sea.

    On to video games:

    Hollow Knight: Great Metroidvania game, beautiful art, setting and music! I’m stuck at the final boss, though…

    Celeste: I didn’t think I would like hardcore platformers, but I got bitten by the platformer bug in Hollow Knight’s White Palace.

    Age of Wonders: Planetfall: Turn based strategy game with excellent tactical combat. I also love the lore and story! Unfortunately also a very slow game, I’m only halfway through the campaign. Too little time!

    Disappointments:

    Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Disappointment is a bit harsh, I think I’ve just burned out on open world games after Skyrim. The weapon fragility system is silly.

    Lords of Hellas (board game): I think there’s a decent light wargame in there, but when a player fights a neutral monster the game stops and that player plays a minigame with the player after him. I didn’t buy it myself, luckily!

    Looking forward to: The Silver River (relatively quick 4X board game), Vikingjarl (light wargame about vikings doing viking things), Silksong (Hollow Knight sequel)

  124. Taxi says:

    Now I want to play Daikatana again. Apart from the beginning, it was pretty awesome.

    Anyway I’ve only played a handful of outdated mobile and handheld games this year. Just another little reason why my life is sad, huh.

  125. Platypus says:

    My fav games of the year are all over the damn shop and in really no particular order of favour, neither chronological or plain old logical.
    Red Dead Redemption 2(ps4) I am like right at the end of it right now. Really struggling with how i feel about it. Its certainly the best rockstar game if you wanna take that for anything but i guess the problem is that its a rockstar game so all the kinks in mission design and pacing they have picked up over the years come back to bite the 5th and 6th chapters right in the behind. Still first 4 chapters plus 2 epilogue chapters make up for it.
    Unheard:(Pc)Only bought it and played it like a few weeks ago but its a really good take on the mystery genre focusing our attention just on sounds and forcing the player to come up with a detailed chronology of events makes it very involved compares to the La Noire method of abusing suspects with vague information for example
    Alpha Protocol:(xbox 360)will probably make this list next year, i have no idea why i keep playing this game since frankly te gameplay sucks but no other game comes close to how well this game frames its choices with an agent using various personas to gain and exploit information making you free to chop and change ur attitude in a way that makes in universe sense. Probably about the only game that absolutely needs a remaster of sorts that fixs the gameplay issues and spruces up the graphics cause the crap shooting and visuas really undersell just how good the dialogue bits are in this game, 10/10 dialogue, 3/10 gameplay tldr
    The only game i didnt care for this year that i spent any real time on was the orginal mass effect. What really killed it for me apart from the meh combat was how boring the whole paragade dialogue system is. I really think alpha protocol and hell any obsidian game has just ruined those sorts of binary author prescribed morality meter conversations for me. I honestly felt playing during the game they may aswell have just scrapped the options and instead focus on giving shep a defined personality cause it felt like a real bad midle ground of no interesting choice aswell as little personality tho Jen Hale does save the day abit with her lovely voice. Shame too cause i like the world and the characters but i was really just unengaged because of that.
    Heave Ho on pc aswell annoyed me recently because they are trying out the new cross play feature which in this game replaces actual online lobbies meaning me and me GF who dont live together currently have to rely on it and its abit shody as far as connection goes. Cute wee platformer when it does work tho.
    Tbh i dont really play games when they come out so i dont really see anything im losing sleep waiting for in 2019 more interested to see how the new consoles shape up and if its worth diving right back into console gaming or just upgrading me pc again

  126. Nick says:

    This year I’ve been playing:
    A LOT of Total War: Warhammer 2 (every time I just call it Total Warhammer LIKE IT SHOULD BE). I got the first one as a gift a while back but never really got around to it, but I’ve been playing a lot of co-op campaigns with a friend. That game is -addictive-

    My siblings and I all live in different cities post-University, so we’ve got a semiregular online gaming session on Tuesday evenings. As such, Jackbox Party Pack 6 has been a mainstay for us, especially Joke Boat and Trivia Murder Party 2.

    Life Is Strange 2 was pretty good, even if the ending was a bit of a downer. I do continue to be a little frustrated that the games aren’t interested in exploring how or why people have powers, they just kinda do.

    Wilmot’s Warehouse was a fun little game that had you stacking boxes of stuff in a warehouse and then delivering them to the front of the store.

    Oh right, Dicey Dungeons was out this year, that was very fun. It was impressive how it kept re-inventing dice mechanics for the different characters. I hear they reworked some of the Witch episodes to make them easier, which was my main frustration with it. Would recommend.
    Eliza was an interesting departure for a Zachtronics game, essentially a visual novel with no programming in it at all. The gap between what people think a counselling AI can do in the game and the level of logic that it’s actually operating on is interesting.
    My Friend Pedro I played the hell out of, essentially a bullet time game that’s completely over the top in the best way.

    Slay The Spire contines to be in the background radiation of my life. I’m anticipating the new character coming out sometime next year, along with Hollow Knight: Silksong and Outer Wilds. Hades I’m tentatively looking forward to actually coming out but I’m a little unsure how much I want to play a roguelike Bastion, when what I enjoyed the most about Bastion was the story. (I refuse to install Epic’s launcher, so I’m waiting on Outer Wilds).

    1. Radkatsu says:

      “every time I just call it Total Warhammer LIKE IT SHOULD BE”

      Yeah, it rolls off the tongue, but unfortunately trademarks don’t work like that. Total War and Warhammer are separate ™ properties, neither of them could legally be smooshed together like this, no matter how much better it might sound ;p

  127. Torsten says:

    Disco Elysium – only game I ever bothered writing a Steam review for. Others have written better words about it, no point in writing more.
    Prey – When I exited the station via the emergency exit on top of the garden, I was kind of blown away.
    Supraland – What a gem.
    Mutant Year Zero – Good fun, though slightly limited in options.
    Surviving Mars – I tanked a lot of hours into it, no idea what I did there.
    Kenshi – I tanked a lot of hours into it, no idea what I did there.

  128. RandomInternetCommenter says:

    I enjoyed Prey (2016) a lot. This game feels like the realisation of how I thought video games would be, after Deus Ex and System Shock 2. Prey is a simulation rather than a game, with tight real-time gameplay. Most games don’t try to be sims, and the few that do lack an engaging gameplay loop with this level of polish. Prey does just about everything right. Perhaps it could be better in just about everything, too, but it might be the first sim in the history of video games that doesn’t have a glaring flaw at some level.

    Also played a lot of Starcraft 2, for some reason. Turns out Starcraft has a whole new co-op mode since I played, which boils down to replaying the same missions over and over. Doesn’t seem to stop that mode from being incredibly popular, so now Starcraft makes bank by being a pseudo grindy MMO. What a strange development from THE e-sports game. Blizzard deserves credit for their ability to flourish largely outside of the industry, with a Blizzard ecosystem almost completely insulated from everyone else.

  129. Dork Angel says:

    Oh, what did I play/enjoy most this year.

    1. The Outer Worlds – Great story and great characters. Conversations you could imagine yourself having and both very funny and very sad moments. Story choices that do actually change the story and ending. Different character stats change the game and if you make your character dumb you can actually get your own special unique ending. The detail they have thought of to put in this game is astounding.

    2. Death of the Outsider – great finish to the Dishonoured story.

    3. NMS – Still playing it after all this time. Decided to restart after a long break and it has evolved so much. It was only The Outer Worlds that tore me away again.

    4. Dying Light – Better version of Dead Island (which I also loved). FPS Zombie mayhem at it’s best and a story to match.

    5. Firewatch – Finally got round to playing this and glad I did.

    Disappointments

    1. Mass Effect Andromeda – Another year of still trying to get back to finish this…

    1. commentord says:

      The detail they have thought of to put in [the Outer Worlds] is astounding.

      Yeah, the devs even though of putting a list of names you can’t use to name your PC. In a Single-Player game with no online component. Sigh.

  130. Gresman says:

    This year was quite nice to me in gaming terms. Played many things and most of them were good or at least interesting.
    The good ones:
    Baba is you – Interesting puzzle thing. But is definitely on the harder side.
    Blossom Tales – A great Link to the Past clone. Bit easy but really enjoyed that one. Only issue being that it is fiddly to get it running due to it being on the older side.
    Epistory – Intriguing typing game with great visuals and good modding options.
    Return of the Obra Dinn – Cool concept and art style. Was way more intriguing and enjoyable than I expected.
    Vanishing of Ethan Carter – Basically a walking simulator with light puzzle elements. That was a short and somewhat fun experience. Way more interesting than I expected.
    Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse – Cutesy fun platformer. Has good humor and varied gameplay. Played due to it being on GDQ. I suck at platformers but I got through it. I am now curious about the other Shantae games.
    Resident Evil 2 (2019) – I never got into RE. This is what got me into it and I want to see the rest of the RE franchise now just to see the differences. From what I heard it is quite faithful to the original but was made into something less clunky.
    Link’s Awakening on Switch – Another remake I enjoyed. I am so happy that I played it and that I was able to see this game.

    The disappointing ones:
    Orwell – I did not expect much but I just is not as interesting as it could be. The have a message and hit you over the head with it but it just does not work. The mechanics themselves are somewhat boring. The sequel is not better.
    Lego The Hobbit – This year I played three Lego games. This one was an exercise in tedium. It was way more long winded then the other two (Jurrassic Park and Lord of the Rings). Did not help that they scrapped the DLC for the third movie.
    The Council – A “Choices matter” game. Too bad that the choices are referenced incorrectly in cutscenes and dialogue. The RPG mechanics are nice but underused. The pacing is all over the place. The story shifts from political intrigue to supernatural stuff. So much potential went unused.
    A Case of Distrust – Interesting premise. Noir detective adventure. Too bad for the game that the story is somewhat boring and moves along at a snail’s pace in the 3 hours of playtime. The characters are blander than a bowl of unsalted rice. The puzzles are somewhat obtuse. The only redeeming quality is the somewhat interesting artstyle.

    The expected ones:
    WoW: Shadowlands – Yeah. I am one of those who still play and enjoy WoW. I am interested in seeing what they will do with Shadowlands and the leveling restructure.
    RE3 Remake – If it is as good as the one that I mentioned above. I will be hooked.
    Vampire Bloodlines 2 – Here I am a bit skeptical given that I have not seen anything telling me something about the game but I have to be intrigued given that Bloodlines is one of my all time favourite games.
    Shantae game – I forgot the name. I will try my hand at it after enjoying Shantae this year.

    @Shamus:
    Will you be doing some kind of write up/data analysis of the comments here?

  131. Boobah says:

    My favorite game that hasn’t been mentioned: Nova Drift It’s an iteration on ye olde Asteroids formula, mixed with some rogue-like elements.

    You control a ship from a top down view in a wrapping field (that is, exit the top of the screen and you re-enter from the bottom) through waves of enemy ships, with some space hazards thrown into the mix (asteroids, comets, black holes…) As you destroy enemies, you earn xp. When you level, you can upgrade your ship; the first three times you visit upgrade screen you pick one of three gear upgrades. In order, weapon, shield, and hull. After that, it’s possible to swap out your gear, but the bulk of your choices are for mods, which start out doing things like “+15% rate of fire” or “retro rockets” while later ones include things like “the longer you hold the trigger, the faster your gun fires, but a) your engine is mostly useless and b) you do damage to yourself (which also ramps with your rate of fire)” or “Your ship can now teleport a few ship-lengths in front of itself.”

    Your goal is to try to improve your ship faster than the enemies get more dangerous, which they do both by getting bigger numbers (higher stats) and by getting bigger numbers (more of them spawn more frequently.) Eventually, you will get overwhelmed; the game gives you a score, lets you put your name on the scoreboard, and gives you the opportunity to try again, only this time instead of a rapid-firing super gun, you try for an arrow of death that trades in its guns for more healing from all the ramming it does. Or maybe you’re at the center of an army of drones. Or you’ll have super-powerful engines to burn your enemies. Or…

  132. Rosseloh says:

    1: I’ve been playing a lot of simulators and engineering-type games. Stormworks: Build and Rescue, for one. Wonky physics aside, a game where I can build planes, trains, and automobiles (and boats) down to the fuel lines and coolant systems? Yes please. I’ve also done a lot of flight simming. There are plenty of other titles I’ve put time into but as for the “favorite”, I don’t really know. Star Citizen maybe, that’s the one I’ve probably spent the most time in, and will be spending the most time in in years to come as well.

    2: RDR2 on PC. I picked it up the day it was available on steam. I’ve barely put four hours into it. I tried to play yesterday – started a mission, and quit after ten minutes. I don’t get it. The story doesn’t grip me, the characters don’t grip me, the controls are god-awful (even with an XBox controller), and the game just isn’t fun. Too bad the tutorial takes long enough your first time that I’m well over the steam refund period. Rockstar won’t learn their lesson if they keep my money.

    3: Cyberpunk, and I’m sure I’m not alone. CDProjekt is my favorite studio and has been since the first Witcher which I picked up on a whim in 2007. And their games have gotten nothing if not better over time. I am honestly of the opinion that unless some crazy corporate thing happened behind the scenes, they can’t release a bad game, at all.

    1. Platypus says:

      Just played through red dead and i might not be able to sell you on the story but i think the control thing might be the same problem i had. By standard the controls have “dead zone” on , at least on the ps4 version which makes your controls incredibly sluggish for no benefit. Turn that off and if you hate acceleration then turn that up to max as that basically removes the effect by making the “acceleration” instant. You can still probably get some fun out of going on robbery sprees and installling a couple of mods even if you say f the story so id recommend giving it another shot if you have some spare time.

  133. shoeboxjeddy says:

    1) Your favorite game(s) this year?
    Still Destiny 2. This was a good year for the game as they left Activision in a ditch and instantly made a bunch of long asked for improvements (cross save, free to play, reduced the costs of using all your different collected cosmetics to near zero in important costs). There are a lot of inside baseball changes I would still prefer, but I feel like being hopeful about the game consistently approving from here on is very logical at this point.

    I also had a ton of fun with Kingdom Hearts 3. More on that below in the complaints section. Suffice to say here, it paid off various story elements that I’d been speculating about for 5-7 years or more. In that sense, completely worthwhile and a good time.

    Gears 5 was a lot of fun and a return to form compared to 4. Because of Destiny’s dominance of my multiplayer time, I mostly enjoyed the campaign and not VS or Horde, but campaign alone was a good time in the style that I enjoy.

    Overcooked 2 was your basic “same but MOAR” sequel, and it pulled it off well. It’s kind of weird that they’re consistently growing the game with season pass DLC… but it’s also still fun and includes new recipes and mechanical challenges, so it’s a fine, fun sort of weird? I wish you could throw plates across the room though. There’s already a mechanic for losing stuff so that it has to respawn, so throwing plates could be a high risk/high reward strat in that they will break if they aren’t caught out of the air.

    Bloodstained turned out to be a big success story in the niche market of “continuation of an established IP by the original creators but without the license”. That good old Castlevania Symphony of the Night feel, back with some updated modern day features. I ended up taking a break on this one, but 100% intend to come back and clear it when I get the chance to.

    2) What was your biggest disappointment this year? Like, what game did you expect to like, but didn’t?
    Also Kingdom Hearts 3. While it did exactly what I would have hoped in several ways (fun new worlds, great combat, all the fanservice characters you could hope for… if you weren’t hoping for FF characters), it belly flopped in some series staple ways and also some new ways. The “only the ending matters” syndrome from Coded, 358/2 Days, and DDD returned with a VENGEANCE. Kairi was sandbagged and fridged like never before, made worse by them lying in the marketing ahead of time that it was all coming up Millhouse… er Kairi this time. Less in the way of extra content I was interested in pursuing made me stop playing the exact day I beat the story, instead of coming back to it.

    Anthem was even worse than I could have anticipated. Like… wow yikes. I had given Bioware some rope that perhaps Andromeda was a mess because that was the less experienced elements of the studio and all their talent/money/effort was being stolen by Anthem. So this will be something really special…. oh god Anthem is MUCH worse. Their beta, nay demo was a very accurate warning system though, so I will give thanks for that.

    My inefficient use of time + heavy work schedule means I’m sitting on a bunch of games I intended to play this year. I’ll… sigh… I’ll get around to them. Probably. Maybe.

    3) What are you most looking forward to in 2020?
    The Kingdom Hearts 3 DLC launching in January looks to be a pretty substantial, exciting chunk of content. I’ll likely never fall out of love with this series completely, so I will totally be on board for the Final Mixing of this one.

    The Ori sequel is looking very fine, should be a no brainer pickup.

    Resident Evil 3 Remake looks just as good as 2, which was great so far (I’m not very far into it).

    Final Fantasy 7 Remake hype is off the charts for me personally. It’s exciting to think this will actually be a real product and not forever just a pipe dream!

    I never upgraded to an Xbox X, so bumping up to the next gen (with full backwards compatibility!) is an enticing prospect.

    1. shoeboxjeddy says:

      I forgot to mention EDF 5, but playing EDF: Iron Rain (my Xmas present) last night reminded me. EDF 5 was, like Overcooked 2, a more is MOAR sequel. Some appreciated quality of life improvements and more diverse enemy types were slightly harmed by the less bonkers and humorous story (as compared to 4). It’s the better game to replay, but hopefully if they do a very similar 6, they choose a more OTT story direction.

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