Here it is — the top 50 best games of 2019. Game Revolution has exhaustively compiled the greatest games that have been released over the past year, with our team deliberating over which game deserves the top honor. We voted, we debated, and we decided; these are the best games we played this year.
This was a year of many ups and downs. The looming presence of the next console generation seemed to impact the number of blockbuster releases this year, though many under-the-radar releases truly surprised us along the way. As such, it was one of the most difficult Game of the Year lists we’ve compiled in some time, and the games included in this line-up reflect the diversity of the titles we played.
Here are our top 50 best games of 2019:
50: Untitled Goose Game
Who knew that a game about a mischievous goose would become one of 2019’s defining releases? Ever since developer House House posted a GIF of its avian anti-hero tormenting an innocent gardener in 2017, players were desperate to get their hands on Untitled Goose Game. The end result was an infinitely memeable stealth adventure that became so popular it was referenced live onstage by Blink-182.
49: Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey
An incredibly ambitious project for the small team at Panache Digital Games, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey saw players embarking on an epic reenactment of humanity’s early years. Ancestors absolutely refused to hold any hands in its deliberately obtuse battle for survival, but once you get used to its brutal gameplay loop of dying, learning from your mistakes, and then inevitably dying again, it’s oddly compelling.
48: Metro Exodus
The story of Artyom continues in Metro Exodus as he ventures forth from Moscow in search of other human survivors. Exodus still keeps that desperate, closed-in feeling while expanding to include several open-world aspects. It’s still scary, it’s still dark, and it’s still one of the best action-horror series in video gaming.
47: Trials Rising
There’s something to be said for a game that doesn’t reinvent what came before it, but rather polishes its fundamentals and wraps them up in the best possible package. Trials Rising is one such game. The Trials formula of tense, skill-based gameplay and slapstick humor still works incredibly well, even if it is essentially the same as it was on its Xbox 360 debut. However, the varied and more realistic track selection is what pushes this game over the edge… and into a pile of explosives and fireworks.
46: Modern Warfare
Developer Infinity Ward has done many things right with its reboot of the beloved Modern Warfare franchise, overhauling the game’s presentation, gameplay mechanics, and post-launch support. The campaign is well-paced and full of action and the multiplayer is solid, with the new 2v2 Gunfight mode stealing the show. Free maps and modes DLC should keep the game feeling fresh for a long time to come.
45: Killer Queen Black
BumbleBear Games’ Killer Queen Black sticks in our memories due to its unique strategic multiplayer experience, which is all about distraction, efficiency, and execution. Encouraging strong teamwork between the two teams of five, this arcade title uses visual and audio cues to help players manage the madness.
44: Pokemon Sword and Shield
Pokemon Sword and Shield takes everything we’ve loved about previous games, and then does it all over again. It’s a tried and tested formula that keeps things traditional with its battling system, though with the added twist of Dynamax evolution, turning normal-sized Pokemon into massive behemoths. The urge to “catch ‘em all” will still be a strong motivation for many players, which should result in 100+ hours of enjoyment.
43: Shenmue 3
Shenmue 3 has been almost 20 years in the making, but when you play it, you’ll feel like no time has passed at all. This is a game that’s not for everyone, but if you’re a huge Shenmue fan, this is Yu Suzuki’s love song to you. Ancient-feeling controls and gameplay belie a complex and rich game that’s worth a try if you can get past the rough edges.
42: Borderlands 3
Borderlands 3 returns with its wacky world full of zany characters, exotic locations, and millions of different weapons. Spruced up for the latest generation of hardware, the latest loot shooter from Gearbox boasts great gameplay that is backed up by compelling new mechanics. The secondary function on weapons is especially noteworthy, as are the new abilities possessed by the latest bunch of playable heroes.
41: A Plague Tale: Innocence
A Plague Tale: Innocence is a depressing experience that follows a woman and her sick younger brother that are forced to flee their home. But that dour outlook mean the game is a bummer to play as it succeeds through its linear but open stealth gameplay and more intimate character moments. The overly ambitious plot obscures some of those engaging personal stories and its puzzles may not be difficult to figure out, but A Plague Tale: Innocence is a unique title with beautiful visuals and an engaging premise that shouldn’t be overlooked.
The Nintendo Switch finds itself graced by Chucklefish’s Wargroove, a turn-based title that takes the best parts of both of Nintendo’s strategic titles and merges them into something wholly original. Combining Fire Emblem and Advanced Wars-esque elements, Wargroove stands strong with short but sweet campaign and side modes, the killer map editor with endless potential, and accessibility options that let everyone play.
39: Kind Words
A game where you send lovely letters to strangers in need was exactly what the world required in 2019. Kind Words was the perfect antidote to the myriad of soul-crushingly depressing news stories that defined this year, reminding us that anonymous people on the internet can be kind to one another after all.
38: The Stretchers
Released by publisher Nintendo with little fanfare, The Stretchers flew right under the radar for many after being stealth-launched in November. That’s a crying shame, because this hilarious puzzle game is perfect for the Switch. Borrowing from the Overcooked school of frenetic local co-op, The Stretchers places players in the shoes of two rescue workers desperately trying to stretcher patients back to hospital. The end result is a true test of how in sync you are with your co-op partner, for better and for worse!
37: Code Vein
It may just look like anime Dark Souls at first glance, but Code Vein is anything but derivative. The story of a world overrun by vampires kept us hooked, and the challenging combat makes the journey satisfying. Add in a massive amount of customization and you have one of the best games of 2019.
36: Days Gone
Following in the footsteps of a number of critically-acclaimed first-party PS4 titles was never going to be easy, but Sony’s Bend Studio ultimately impressed us with Days Gone. Though this title doesn’t really innovate or do anything totally new, it succeeds in the way that it polishes the ideas that other games have introduced. It’s a slow burn experience, but those who stick with it should come away feeling satisfied.
35: Rage 2
Rage 2 might not be id’s best and most well-rounded game, but it has the id soul where it counts: the shooting. Players are given a varied selection of weapons and abilities that, when linked together, created a fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled combat loop that few other first-person shooters can match. The open world is as bloated as the story is dull, but Rage 2 is still one of the best games of 2019 purely because of its gunplay.
34: Dead or Alive 6
An improvement over its predecessor in nearly every way, Dead or Alive 6 upped the ante considerably with a strong sequel for series’ veterans while still being accommodating to newcomers. DOA Quest gave offline gamers a reason to play, with nearly 100 missions offering an extra layer of challenge on top of an already solid package.
33: Ion Fury
Duke Nukem is thankfully dead and canceled. And like most creepy men that are dead and canceled, he’s been replaced by a woman that’s just as suitable for the job. Ion Fury isn’t just a cheap ploy at ‘90s nostalgia either as it actually stands on its own merits. Firefights are fast and frenetic, making the lack of visible load screens all the more appreciated as you blaze through stages with the game’s creative arsenal. The rocking soundtrack and throwback visual style supplement the gunplay and result in a timeless shooter that shames many of its modern counterparts.
32: Dragon Quest Builders 2
This Minecraft-tinted RPG lets players build, build, and build even more to their heart’s content but this sequel is mostly noteworthy for it builds (excuse the pun) on the foundation of its predecessor. Buildings and recipes mean more since they don’t just disappear as you go to the next world and cooperative multiplayer is a welcome addition. It is thematically appropriate that Dragon Quest Builders 2 built upon the original game in such intelligent ways, paving the way for a promising future for the franchise.
31: Anno 1800
Running your own colony at the beginning of the 19th century is way more fun than it sounds. Anno 1800 has you balancing social classes, exports, imports, and diplomacy while trying to make a foothold in the new world. This is a management sim that makes things clear and easy to grasp which means you can spend more time directly managing things and less time sifting through graphs and charts.
30: The Division 2
The Division 2 boasts a well-paced, co-op experience set within a gorgeous open world. It takes the features that made The Division good and makes them great, with quality of life tweaks and with player enjoyment in mind. Though it didn’t push the envelope in a significant way at launch, the solid foundation it created has seen multiple expansions during Ubisoft’s always-impressive post-launch support.
As a spin-off of the popular Yakuza series, Judgment worked hard to carve its own niche. It’s a game that’s more serious in tone, and forgoes familiar faces in favor of a new cast. It was a bold gamble, and it paid off with one of the best stories in the Yakuza universe yet.
28: Sayonara: Wild Hearts
Sayonara: Wild Hearts is one of the coolest games of the year. An audiovisual experience that teams a killer soundtrack with addictive gameplay, Sayonara has you hurtling through a series of dreamy levels at breakneck speeds, trying to beat your high score by collecting hearts. A must-have on the Nintendo Switch and a killer app for Apple Arcade.
27: Gears 5
Gears 5 is absolutely full of content. There’s the campaign, which makes bold steps forward in the right direction; Horde, which is still intense and brilliant for co-op play; Escape, a great addition that will only get better with community creativity; and Versus, which has evolved to become fun for both veterans and newcomers.
26: FIFA 20
FIFA 20 may have been yet another controversial entry into EA’s increasingly divisive soccer series, but it was still a bloody good game. Volta gave us a nice alternative to the publisher’s unfortunately forgotten FIFA Street series, while improvements to its Career Mode and Ultimate Team made it an essential purchase for fans of the “beautiful game.”
25: Cadence of Hyrule
The year’s most surprising crossover, Cadence of Hyrule blended Crypt of the Necrodancer with The Legend of Zelda to bring us a rhythm game set in Hyrule. It worked incredibly well, with it replacing the series’ dungeon-crawling with bopping between spaces to a wide selection of incredible music.
24: F1 2019
F1 fans are a passionate bunch, so a game series based on the sport needs to be as authentic as possible. Developer Codemasters Birmingham has routinely achieved this, and F1 2019 was its best entry to date. Its Career Mode heightened the drama by positioning you against rivals, making each race a battle against your adversaries, while its realistic weather effects and physics made it a real spectacle.
23: Astral Chain
Platinum Games struck gold again with the release of Astral Chain. The unique ability to control two fighters at once worked way better than we ever thought it would, and it manages to run great on the Switch. Astral Chain is Platinum Games at its best and the game is one more reason to own a Switch.
22: Blood and Truth
It would be easy to say Blood and Truth would be boring without VR, but that’s not entirely fair since VR is so fundamental to the experience. The game uses the medium brilliantly by revolving all of its mechanics around the intimacy of virtual reality from gunplay to puzzles to its storytelling. And not only is it a decent showpiece for what bigger shooters can do in VR, but you can also shoot the last boss straight in the testicles and earn a trophy.
21: Magic the Gathering: Arena
There have been several attempts to produce Magic the Gathering in a video game form, but none has been as successful in creating an attractive, easy-to-pick-up experience as Magic the Gathering: Arena. This title brings the CCG to PC and is much more accessible than Wizard’s other online offering, Magic: The Gathering Online.
20: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
EA bounced back after its lengthy mishandling of the Star Wars license with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, a single-player Soulslike that finally managed to please fans of that galaxy far, far away. Jedi: Fallen Order focused on lightsaber combat and Force powers, in a crowd-pleasing action game that players could finally get behind.
19: Ace Combat 7
Ace Combat brought its dazzling aerial combat and political intrigue to current-gen consoles with Ace Combat 7, a highly unlikely sequel to 2007’s Fires of Liberation. Fortunately, for those who missed Ace Combats 1–6, this belated follow-up was an accommodating first foray into the series. While it didn’t introduce many new features, it provided an accessible entry point into a genre known for being unwelcoming to newcomers.
18: Super Mario Maker 2
Nintendo let players open up its toy box once again with Super Mario Maker 2, allowing them to create their own Mario levels and share them with friends online. The possibilities were endless in Mario Maker 2‘s creation suite, while its thorough tutorial served as a helpful and empathetic overview of game design. Then there was its story mode, which saw Nintendo going wild with its own tools and designing some crazy levels that you’d never see in a mainline Mario game.
17: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Though it kicked our ass, we still respect Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice for its furious combat which rewards skill, the good enemy variety that prevents it from getting boring between bosses, the fantastic world design, and the best story in a From Software game yet. A must-buy game for any fan of the genre, and a decent place to start if you’re a newcomer to punishment.
16: Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi was the star of the show this year, with Luigi’s Mansion 3 taking us to a haunted hotel filled with devilish puzzles to solve. With players able to work alongside Gooigi, Luigi’s sticky new sidekick, in co-op mode or take control of the new character in single-player, this was one of the most fun Switch games of the year.
15: Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled shows that an original game can hold up when divorced of that original console if given the right treatment. Each track and character from the original has been faithfully recreated and decorated with flourishes consistent with Naughty Dog’s original vision. Nitro-Fueled even carved out its own path by adding a ton of new modes, customization options, and content from the forgotten Crash kart racers. Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is not only one of the best PS1 remasters but it’s also one of the best remasters, period.
14: Telling Lies
Sam Barlow’s follow up to Her Story presents the same kind of game with a new twist. In Telling Lies, you must piece together the story via video clips. However, each clip only contains part of one side of a conversation. This is one of the few games in recent memories that you may have to keep a notebook for as you delve into the lives of the four main characters to find out who they are and see past their lies.
13: Devil May Cry 5
Even though a swerve toward the familiar is a little disappointing, Devil May Cry 5 almost makes up for it by being one of the best pure action games in recent memory. While V was a total bust and Nero had his limits, Dante’s was a combo fiend that perfectly embodied the best parts about the series. Clutching so heavily to its established formula kept DMC5 from true classic status but it’s also that established formula that made it such a solid action game.
12: Kingdom Hearts 3
Kingdom Hearts 3 was the finale that promised to wrap up Sora’s story for fans of the franchise, but it became so much more. This is Disney looking its very best and is the most accessible Kingdom Hearts game since the original. The game’s ending, when it does eventually get there, is incredibly satisfying, delivering a brilliant conclusion to a long and winding story.
11: Outer Wilds
Games often tell you that you’re exploring an alien world, but in reality, you’re just exploring our world with a more outlandish color palette. That wasn’t the case in Outer Wilds, which had you hurtling through space in a flimsy craft, solving a mystery spanning a number of improbably constructed planets. There’s an ocean planet with towering tornadoes and one with a black hole at its center, pulling you in and spitting you out somewhere in the vastness of its galaxy. It’s a true space adventure, compelling you to continue rooting out its secrets in order to learn more about.
10: Fire Emblem: Three Houses
With the release of Three Houses, Fire Emblem made its debut on the Switch. While some franchises haven’t transitioned so gracefully (Pokemon), Three Houses is a breath of fresh air in a series in which the core gameplay has changed little since its debut on the NES. Three Houses is still very much a Fire Emblem game, but the enhanced social aspects and expanded gameplay make it one of the best to date.
9: Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night helped to create a genre, but in recent years the franchise has gone dormant. Fortunately, Symphony of the Night Director Koji Igarashi created a new franchise to take its place. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night feels like the natural evolution of the 32-bit era Castlevania formula and gives that same classic gameplay with enough unique aspects to feel fresh.
8: Disco Elysium
Indie developer ZA/UM was unknown before 2019, which makes Disco Elysium’s position in our top 10 a remarkable success story. This tale of a cop who drunk himself into amnesia while working on a case is full of humor, intrigue, and philosophy. The game’s unique spin on the traditional CRPG formula gives it a style all its own and the amazing writing will keep you hooked till the end.
7: Mortal Kombat 11
Innovation is at the beating heart of Mortal Kombat, which is impressive given how that heart has been beating for 27 years. Mortal Kombat 11 takes cues from its predecessors while having a slower tempo that gives the game a fresh, new fighting game smell. Its approachable but deep core mechanics make all of its modes — from the endlessly rewarding Towers of Time to its well-paced cinematic campaign and smooth online netcode — incredibly satisfying and welcoming to players of all skill levels.
6: The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds was a Fallout game but in all but name, and with Fallout 76 leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouths, that’s exactly what was needed this year. Obsidian added a sci-fi tint to the post-apocalyptic series, delivering a spiritual successor to its New Vegas devoid of any of the bugs or performance issues that plagued its previous RPG. Its cast of characters was diverse and memorable, the decisions you could make were impactful, and its story was engrossing right until its very end.
5: Slay the Spire
Few games in 2019 were as addictive as Slay the Spire. Developer Mega Crit Games basically bottled that feeling of “just one more go” and turned it into a card game, blending CCG with roguelike for a dungeon crawler that we just. Can’t. Stop. Playing.
4: Apex Legends
Apex Legends takes the battle royale formula, which was becoming a little tired, and spices things up with a focus on teamwork. While other battle royale games encourage players to avoid danger, Apex is all about continuing to upgrade loot, ensuring you’re team is well-equipped for the final fight. The heroes and their unique abilities offer another layer of strategy and provide many different ways to play. All shooter fans should give this free-to-play battle royale title a go, whether you’re on PC, PS4, or Xbox One.
Control feels like the game Remedy has been building up to for decades. Traces of Control can be found in the team’s other hits but this game glues them all together in the most compelling way. Combat is quick, varied, and rewards aggression. The world immediately draws you in and encourages you to dig deeper and read everything you come across in hopes of understanding its weird, weird world. Through its endlessly fascinating world and storytelling to its hectic battles, Control both pleases the mind and tests your reflexes in a satisfying way that few games can ever dream of.
2: Death Stranding
Few games capture the feeling of “the journey” more than Death Stranding. Sam Bridges crossing of the United States to reunite a people divided by a supernatural catastrophe is a true epic. With a blockbuster cast, engrossing gameplay, and an engaging world, Death Stranding is a game that will be talked about for years to come.
1: Resident Evil 2
The Resident Evil 2 remake cements the franchise’s return to greatness and is an almost flawless modern rendition of the 1998 classic. RE2 adds enough new content to surprise fans of the original while not straying too far from the formula that made it a success. Our journey through the horrors of Raccoon City stuck with us all of 2019, and this is one of the rare times where the game of the year was decided all the way back in January.