Well, another great year in gaming done and dusted!
While it may not have had as many huge releases as we've seen in previous years, there was still plenty to get excited about throughout 2019. With 2020 just around the corner, some of the Gameplanet writers got together to pick their favourite games of the year.
One of our writers, Chris Brown hit a massive milestone here at Gameplanet this year and was our first writer to reach a whopping one hundred reviews for the site! We also introduced a couple of new writers to the team, with Billy Atman completing an impressive thirteen reviews in just three months!
As many of you know, all of our writers are volunteers and do it for the love of gaming and writing about them. I'm so thankful for all of their hard work and effort and can't wait to see what they achieve next year. Lastly, I wanted to take this chance to thank all of our readers for sticking with us through server issues and other setbacks...
We wouldn't be here if it weren't for your continued support, so a huge thanks from the whole Gameplanet team!
Chris Brown's Top Five
While there were some absolute standout games in 2019, overall, I would say that 2019 was a little disappointing. My favourite game of the year was the second re-release of my favourite game of 2017. My second favourite is the PC version of one of the best games of 2018. After that we had a series of very good to great titles, but very few that will stand out as classics. Perhaps the biggest gaming news of the year was EA releasing a single-player only Star Wars game that was not only really good, but also devoid of their usual microtransactions. Next year should be interesting though. Maybe VR will finally have an impact on the gaming space with Index and Alyx. Hopefully we’ll see Stadia live up to its potential, but more than likely it will sputter for a while and eventually people will move on. Two things are pretty certain though, with Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us Part 2 coming in the first half of the year, it does look like 2020 could be a landmark year for gaming.
But we’re here to talk about this year, so here are my Top 5 games and some honourable mentions for 2019.
#1: Red Dead Redemption 2 PC
Rockstar finally gave PC players a chance to walk a mile or two during the last days of the Wild West. It proved once again that the team at Rockstar are consummate storytellers and world builders, but also that they understand the demands of the PC audience. While some may complain about dated mission structure, or in my case the ponderous opening, you cannot deny the technical marvel that is Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC. An absolutely stunning game that is likely to tax gaming rigs for years to come.
#2: A Plague Tale: Innocence
I was shocked at how good A Plague Tale was. I was more shocked at how deeply if affected me. Brutal and beautiful, it takes chances with its gameplay and story that few AAA games would ever risk and it works almost to perfection. This dark and dirty adventure deserves a lot more attention than it received. This is a game people should seek out.
#3: The Outer Worlds
My most anticipated game of 2019 did not disappoint. And I love it for what it is, and I hope this shows that the sub AAA market is one worth exploring to more developers. While The Outer Worlds was never going to be a blockbuster due to limited scope, smaller budget, and focus on characters and conversation rather than a massive open world, and deep bombastic action it delivered on the promise Obsidian made back when it was announced. We need more games like this from established studios, and not just from the smaller European development houses that have dominated this space over the last 10 – 15 years.
#4: Borderlands 3
Another game that delivered exactly what is promised. Sure, it didn’t really innovate, but it didn’t need to. Borderlands is a series that stands on its own merits and I applaud the team at Gearbox for staying true to the series. More guns, more locations, and more build variety was the right approach for the series and I hope we’ll see a lot of DLC over the coming years so I can keep coming back to the best twitch shooter I’ve played in a very long time.
#5: Remnant from the Ashes
The fact that a co-op game made my top 5 surprises me more than anyone, but I keep coming back to this game even though I have beaten it multiple times. This Action RPG by way of Dark Souls is one of very few games not made by From Software to really understand how to make difficulty satisfying, and compelling. It certainly is not for everyone, but it’s sublime execution of rewarding gunplay make it a title people should check out.
Divinity Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition
This is my actual favourite game of 2019, but as this was also the case in 2017 and 2018, I have said more than enough about what is in my opinion the best game ever made. If you’ve not played it and like RPG’s, then there really is no excuse not to check this exceptional game out. I cannot wait to see what Larian do with Baldur’s Gate 3!
A wonderful game that only failed to make my top 5 due to some dumb mistakes, a little over-reaching, and that it tried too hard to emulate Planescape – Torment without having the narrative chops to completely pull it off. Seeing as this is their first game, I have no doubt that ZA/UM’s next game will be truly exceptional, but this is great nonetheless and truly unique which is not something we see often these days.
I do love me some post-apocalyptic action, and when it is as gorgeous and immersive as this it’s impossible not to love. With a massively expanded scope and world to explore Exodus was a great adventure I highly recommend.
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
Who knew that a Single Player story-driven Star Wars game without bullshit would be a massive success? Well everyone to be honest except apparently EA. Respawn did an excellent job in giving Star Wars fans what they wanted. Lets all hope this proves to EA that the Dark Side is not the only path to success.
Yeah, its not new but I put more hours into Hearthstone than any other game I own, and the new Battlegrounds mode is a whole lot of fun. And absolutely Free to Play. Check it out if you’ve moved on, or never checked out Blizzards dominating CCG.
A slight course correction, and the most fun I’ve had with a Darksiders game since the old THQ and Vigil days. Recently got to play some co-op I couldn’t during my time reviewing the game, and it adds another layer of fun, and even more reasons to play!
Billy Atman's Top Five
I only recently started writing here at Gameplanet, but I've been lucky enough to review some of my favourite release of this year. It hasn't always been easy and I've had to sink more hours in front of the TV in these last few months than I've ever done before, but I'm so proud to be a part of the team. Looking back, the last year feels like a blur, but there are definitely some stand-out experiences that I just can't get out of my head.
#1: Death Stranding
Death Stranding was my favourite release of the year for so many reasons.
I've had so many interesting conversions with friends and colleagues about Death Stranding since it released. Whether you loved it or hated it, there's no arguing that the first game from Kojima Productions since their public split from Konami, was a game that encouraged discussion throughout the gaming community.
Regardless of your (or my) opinion on the game, I think that's a great thing and I hope we see more releases that spark more of the same.
#2: The Outer Worlds
I had incredibly high expectations going into The Outer Worlds, and alarmingly, they were exceeded in almost every area with Obsidian's triumphant RPG.
Having been a fan of choice-driven RPGs for years, I've played a lot of excellent games, and more than a few duds. The Outer Worlds shocked me with it's multitude of outcomes and an art style and tone of humour that I fell in love with immediately.
I can't lie, I've loved every single release from Remedy since the first Max Payne. I feel like the studios fingerprint on their games is so evident, that their games have a very unique feel.
It's almost always obvious that you're playing a Remedy title, from the deft gun-play to the bat-shit crazy stories, Control is absolutely dripping with style. It's also hands-down the weirdest game I played this year, which gets it extra points in my book.
#4: Astral Chain
Astral Chain came out of nowhere for me. I hadn't paid any attention to it up to launch but I thankfully snagged the review for Gameplanet. I'm so glad I did, as I likely would never have played it otherwise.
While it was a bit strange playing this and Control back to back, as the two share more than a few similarities with their representation of the Astral realms. Platinum Games really outdid themselves with one of the best looking Switch games of the year.
It also helped that the games combat was a frenzied rush of visual splendor and style backed up with some cool puzzles and abilities. While the story was about as cliched as they come, I enjoyed every minute of my time with the game.
#5: Resident Evil 2
My first experience with the original Resident Evil was sitting on the couch watching my dad play through it because little old me was far too uncoordinated and scared to control the terror on-screen.
Fast-forward some twenty years and I finally had the chance to play the game for myself. I don't think I've ever played such an impressive remake or remaster and it shows that Capcom is willing to make changes to their back-library to usher these classic into the modern space.
The Resident Evil 2 remake quickly became the gold standard for remasters and something tells me it wont be surpassed until the recently announced Resident Evil 3 remake releases early 2020.
Andi Garnett's Top Five
2019 was a crazy year personally, a lot of fun and adventure – but not nearly enough gaming. That being said, what time I did find to pick up the controller was occupied by some truly incredible games. I think I'm enjoying them even more, knowing that fatherhood is on the horizon in early 2020, so my leisure time is going to become even scarcer.
#1: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
2019 was already an epic year for Star Wars. With the last entry in the Skywalker Saga dropping in time for Christmas, and Disney+'s The Mandalorian, I'd have been content to settle for a film and a TV series. So being able to play out my childhood fantasies in Fallen Order has been an absolute joy.
Respawn's Jedi: Fallen Order is the first game in almost a decade that actually contributed to the world of Star Wars. Incredible combat, story that felt like it was ripped straight from the films, and planets that begged to be explored. It definitely feels like this is the beginning of a strong franchise for years to come... if only it didn't take so long for us to get here.
#2: Destiny 2: Shadowkeep
I was late to the game with Destiny 2: Forsaken, only being drawn back with claims of "it's good now" and "there's actually stuff to do" from my clan. Needless to say, they were right, so I was there on day one when Shadowkeep released. The expansion keeps players busy with a constant stream of activities and content, but what puts the game on so high on my list are the changes Bungie made to the game's ecosystem.
Breaking its chains from Activision resulted in one of the best cross-platform experiences. I can take my Guardian from PC, to PlayStation, and back with all my progress carrying over. It's a game changer. And while cross-play isn't available now, the developer hasn't ruled it out for the future.
#3: The Outer Worlds
Everyone always raved about Fallout, and I could understand the appeal. I loved the narrative, the decision-based plot points, and the cheeky humour... but did it have to be so brown?
Of course, the Fallout series is now in a bit of a rut, so it was my absolute delight when Obsidian stepped in and said "hey Andi, you know all those things you liked about Fallout? Well, we put them in our game and then added colour!"
The Outer Worlds has some of the best questing I've experienced in years – detailed characters, fantastic humour, and missions that actually took you on an adventure. I don't think I'm even close to moving on from this game.
#4: The Division 2
Improving greatly on its first iteration, Massive Entertainment delivered an incredible experience with Division 2.
Transitioning from a winter wildland to a blistering swamp, it's the perfect climate for a virus to spread - ramping the stakes and danger up even more in this sequel. The most appreciated change in D2 however was changing how enemies took damage - a welcome adjustment from the bullet sponges of the first game. The strategy involved in targeting a specific part of their armour, destroying it, then taking down your foe brought the gameplay to a whole new level, while rooting the game in a greater sense of reality.
I've been chomping at the bit to get back into Division 2 with some mates in order to experience more of the endgame content, so this will definitely be on the list for my holiday game time.
#5: World of Warcraft: Classic
Ah, WoW... the game people "quit" like a drug habit. I still remember coming back to it during a relapse after the events of Cataclysm and feeling a very real loss at the destroyed zones in which I'd first adventured. When WoW Classic was first announced after years of pirate servers and fan petitions, I was certainly interested, but I wasn't sure if I wanted Blizzard to get its hooks into me again.
Thankfully, Classic offers that perfect dose of nostalgia just the way you wanted it. No fuss, just the brutal grind we all remember, and a social system that forced players to talk to each other. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go tell some more players "how much harder things were back in my day..."
Dan Grayson's Top Five
Like most of our writers, I've been juggling a full-time job on top of writing (and editing) here at Gameplanet. It has been an absolute roller-coaster of a year both in gaming and out of it and I can't wait to see what comes in 2020.
While next year looks set to trump this year in almost every way, especially with the next-gen consoles set to arrive before the end of next year, I'd be remiss if I didn't look back at some of the games from 2019 that I spent many a late night with.
#1: The Outer Worlds
Of all the games I Played in 2019, The Outer Worlds rose above the pack for me by offering one of the most open and wonderful RPG Shooters I've ever had the joy of playing. It's not often, if at all that I start a game again right after finishing it, but that's exactly what I did with this one. Obsidian's instant classic featured insane amounts of experimentation for players and allowed for one of the most diverse gaming experiences of the year.
The Outer Worlds is a beacon of light in the genre and I hope other developers take not of how it should be done.
#2: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
No other game this year had me swearing and screaming at my TV quite as much as Sekiro and I'm so grateful for it. I've been an avid Dark Souls fan for years, and FromSoftware did not disappoint with their crushingly difficult and beautiful take on the Sengoku period in Japan.
From it's stunning world and character designs, to the frantically paced, yet precise combat, Sekiro delivered a refinement to the Souls formula and has left me starving for whatever the studio does next.
#3: Devil May Cry 5
I was one of the few people that didn't hate the DMC reboot, but I have to admit, I was immeasurably happy when the series returned to its original cast and story. The game never takes itself too seriously and is backed up with what I consider to be some of the very best hack and slash combat to grace this generation. There were just so many jaw-dropping moments throughout and with the game running on Capcom's impressive RE Engine, I'm hard pressed to think of a better looking game in the genre. If you love crazy over-the-top action, you will not be disappointed.
#4: The Division 2
I only fairly recently got into The Division 2 but in that short time I've already sunk in a whopping 200 hours. I've mostly been playing co-op with my best bud and we've been having an amazing time. The constant reward of loot along with the excellent shooting have had me staying up way past my bedtime for weeks now and I don't see that changing any time soon. I have loot to get and Black tusk bastards to riddle with lead.
The Division really scratched my itch for a game I could pick up in between epic single player experiences and quickly became my gaming equivalent of comfort food during the tail-end of this year.
#5: Dragon Quest XI Switch
I grew up with a massive love for JRPGs (mainly Final Fantasy) and have been left wanting with a lot of the attempts at the genre in recent years. After having it recommended by several friends and colleagues, I finally decided to jump into the Dragon Quest series for the very first time.
The game felt like an instant-classic and having sunk in over seventy hours so far, with the end nowhere in sight, I'm blown away by how much excellent content Square Enix has managed to fit on the Nintendo Switch. If you can only play one JRPG this year, I can't recommend Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age highly enough.
Syed Mahir Hussain's Top Five
#1: Devil May Cry 5
Slashing, bashing and shooting up demons has never felt so good! After a ten-year hiatus punctuated by a divisive reboot and a ray of hope in the form of DMC4’s Special Edition, Devil May Cry 5’s arrival has reinvigorated the series. Every single animation – right down to the transitional ones – has been lovingly crafted and polished with photorealistic visuals to make you look and feel like a total badass. Factor in a rockin’ soundtrack celebrating the entire series and an emotionally-driven plot that ties up every loose end – including from outside the games – into a neat little bow, and you get my Game of the Year!
#2: Kingdom Hearts III
A near-perfect end to the Xehanort Saga, Kingdom Hearts III amalgamates iconic mechanics from prior games with tight and responsive controls, making Sora’s arsenal the flashiest and most formidable it has ever been. It is also filled to the brim with character-driven moments, granting us the emotional payoff we’ve been waiting for so long! Square Enix and Disney really poured their hearts out this time!
#3: Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled
Upon release, Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled was a welcome breath of fresh air in the current gaming environment. And while Beenox quickly tainted that air with microtransactions after being lauded for their absence, the regular monthly events and influx of new unlockable karts and characters from every corner of the Bandi-verse makes the game’s longevity all but assured. Now if only they’d do something about the frequent server crashes…
#4: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Complete Edition
Two full games for the price of one – where could you possibly go wrong? Factor in a number of quality-of-life changes and the availability of all the new Digimon added in Hacker’s Memory across both games, including DLC and preorder bonuses, and Digimon fans everywhere would be doing themselves a disservice to skip this one!
#5: Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince
After the dramatic misstep that was the third installment, Trine 4 brings the series back on track by returning to its classic formula and starting fresh rather than continuing from its predecessor’s cliffhanger. Gorgeous visuals, a charming soundtrack and stellar voice-acting all frame some of the series’ most challenging puzzles to date, with very little to complain about. Frozenbyte have really knocked it out of the park with this new entry, and I cannot wait to see what comes next!
That's it from us folks. Thank you all so much for the support and comments in 2019. We've loved every minute of it and can't wait to see what surprises are in store for 2020!