2019 was an interesting year for me. I cooled down on playing many new releases to focus on finishing up my massive backlog of games. Thanks to Xbox’s Game Pass, I finished off countless games–both old and new–that I would have otherwise never played or forgotten about. But even with Game Pass taking the majority of my time, I managed to play a collection of stellar games as well, ranging from long-awaited to sequels to original titles that kept me entertained for many months out of the year.
Picking a Top 10 was surprisingly easier than figuring out which games deserve the top spot on my list. After some heavy thinking, here is my list of the Top 10 Games of 2019:
10. Kingdom Hearts 3 – Xbox One, PS4
A sequel ten years in the making, Kingdom Hearts 3 successfully finished off the story of Sora and his friends as he visits new Disney worlds. While the story felt a bit sluggish at times, the new refined combat system that let players wield multiple keyblades and unleash devastating super attacks made the gameplay as accessible and fun as ever.
9. Pokémon Sword/ Shield – Switch
The first entry in the Pokémon series exclusively on consoles was also one of the most ambitious titles to date. New Pokémon (of course), bigger levels and more multiplayer functionality makes Sword and Shield one of the biggest entries in the long-running series. The decision to make it console exclusive might not work out in the long run due to availability, but all Pokémon owners lucky enough to own a Switch will be excited to see the new direction the series has taken.
8. Borderlands 3 – Xbox One, PS4, PC
The Borderlands series is still as fresh as ever and shows no signs of slowing down. Multiple planets, hundreds of new weapons, and great new characters pushed Borderlands 3 to deliver an excellent sequel as well as a staple to what the series can offer in the future. The community is as lively as its ever been.
7. Apex Legends – Xbox One, PS4, PC
This game came out of nowhere to not only rival Fortnite and PUBG in the battle royale genre, but possibly takes the crown now. Instead of simple running and gunning, Apex Legends added special abilities on top of freeflow running to make APEX one of the surprise hits of 2019.
6. Days Gone – PS4
If you can get past the slow start, you will be rewarded with one of the freshest open-world games of the year. A beautiful setting drapes over this zombie apocalypse as you use a large cache of weapons to mow down hordes of enemies. Days Gone perfectly encapsulated the sheer terror of a zombie horde better than any zombie game before it.
5. Gears 5 – Xbox One, PC
The newest entry in the Gears of War series that somehow had a very nostalgic feel to it. The level design was some of the best the series has ever seen with a more open-world exploration feel as opposed to previous entries’ more linear style. An emotional story and the same great violent gameplay help propel this entry to one of the year’s best games.
4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – Xbox One, PS4, PC
From Software is not slowing down it seems as Sekiro arrived in 2019 and quickly became a household name. Punishingly difficult with a similar style to their previous Souls games, Sekiro is worth the frustrations for its brilliant combat and setting.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – Switch
While HD remasters are not allowed on our collective Game of the Year SmashPad list, it can be in our personal top games lists. What made Link’s Awakening so different was how Nintendo totally remade the game from the ground up while offering many new features as well. A retro-modern visual style and the ability to customize dungeons made Link’s Awakening much more than just a remake.
2. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC
The Star Wars game fans have been waiting for, Fallen Order fully encompasses what it feels like to be a powerful Jedi. Force powers, lightsaber customization, and a solid story help propel Fallen Order to not only one of the best Star Wars games to date, but a serious front-runner for 2019 game of the year.
1. The Outer Worlds- Xbox One, PC
Obsidian once again proves they are the heavy-hitters in the RPG genre. The Outer Worlds has a style very similar to Obsidian’s other fan favorite Fallout: New Vegas, with witty humor, hundreds of dialogue choices, and memorable characters. The Outer Worlds is simple, impressive fun. You can easily lose hours completing quests, searching for secrets, or exploring the many planets The Outer Worlds has to offer. As an added bonus, Game Pass owners get to play it for free, and that might be the steal of the year.
2020 is right around the corner and already plans to be as exciting as 2019. Heavy hitters such as Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us Part 2 finally arrive as well as many more exciting, original titles I can’t wait to try. Game Pass I am sure will take up most of my time again as it continues to be one of the best values in all of gaming. Here’s to a continued love for gaming in 2020!