Sunday, January 12, 2020

My Favorite Games of 2019

After much consideration, I've decided to make this my final, annual "favorite games" list for this blog. More on that in my next post. For now and as always, a game's absence from this list should not be taken as an indication of its quality.

Before I get into this year's PC games, I want to give a quick shout out to the one Nintendo Switch title I spent considerable time with in 2019, "Fire Emblem: Three Houses," which is quite excellent, and definitely worth a look for any SRPG fans out there who aren't already aware of it.

Without further ado, let's do this crazy thing one last time!

#10 - Hot Lava

At its core, "Hot Lava" is a very simple game about running and jumping one's way through a variety of obstacle courses and environments while the floor is literally covered in hot lava. Think first-person "Ninja Warrior," with a lot more fire!

#9 - RICO

With its arcade-style, first-person shooting, and 1980's, action/buddy-cop movie esthetics, "RICO" has a lot to offer those seeking a fun, co-op friendly experience that can range in difficulty from a casual romp to a challenging rampage.

#8 - Anthem

I know it's extremely fashionable to hate on this game, and I would absolutely agree that it spectacularly failed as a "live service" title in 2019; however, looking back on "Anthem" in terms of the fun I had playing through it with friends, I have to say that I found the overall experience enjoyable, despite its brevity and lack of staying power. I'm also genuinely curious to see what (if any) future "Anthem" may have as I do still find the premise and core mechanics of the game interesting and compelling.

#7 - Need for Speed: Heat

Prior to playing "NFS: Heat," I hadn't truly loved a "Need for Speed" game since 2010's "Hot Pursuit." While it comes up short of recapturing the glory days of the series in my opinion, I see "Heat" as a significant step in the right direction, and the most fun I had with a racing game in 2019.

#6 - Half Dead 2

I really enjoyed the first "Half Dead" when it was released back in 2016 and "Half Dead 2" improves on that effort in every measurable way. If you've ever wondered how your social circle would fare if deposited into a randomly-generated, puzzle maze of death, look no further than "Half Dead 2."

#5 - The Pit: Infinity

Procedurally-generated, rogue-like RPGs are a dime a dozen these days, but there's something about the way all the bits and pieces of "The Pit: Infinity" come together that make it one of the best, most fun games of that sort that I've played, particularly given its support for up to three players in co-op.

This game had a bit of a rough start when it was initially released out of Early Access, with copious, game-breaking bugs; however, its developers have really rallied in recent months to address those issues and bring the game much closer to its full potential. As of this writing, it's not quite there. Still, I now feel it's close enough to warrant its position on this list.

#4 - Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Breakpoint

As big fans of "Ghost Recon: Wildlands," my friends and I were all extremely excited for the release of "Breakpoint." Sadly, despite ultimately proving itself to be a fun, content-rich, and fulfilling experience, a slew of technical issues, some inconsistent and occasionally sub-par narrative elements, and a general lack of polish in certain, key aspects of the game such as its UI keep this one out of my top three for the year. "Breakpoint" is definitely a good game, especially now that it's been patched up a bit. For me, it just falls short of true greatness.

#3 - Remnant: From the Ashes

"Dark Souls" with guns, proper co-op, and randomized elements, you say? Yes, please!

I would have liked to have seen a bit more sophistication in this game's melee combat system to make it a more viable option in certain scenarios but that's honestly my only significant gripe with this one. If you haven't played "Remnant: From the Ashes," I'd highly recommend giving it a go, particularly if you've got a couple friends to help you attack the darkness.

#2 - Tom Clancy's The Division 2

Sometimes, the best thing you can say about a game is that it's the game its predecessor should have been. In a disturbingly-predictable fashion akin to the difference between "Watch Dogs" and "Watch Dogs 2," Ubisoft's "The Division 2" finally makes good on the original game's premise in a variety of meaningful and compelling ways. I haven't played enough of this title to say that it's a complete slam dunk from top to bottom, but the non-trivial amount of time I did spend with it in 2019 felt genuinely worthwhile and has left me wanting more.

#1 - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

As a big first-person shooter fan, I've found the pickings a bit slim in recent years. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I haven't been truly blown away by the experience of playing any FPS since the glory days of "Battlefield: Bad Company 2" back in 2010. It's therefore no surprise how the 2019 reimagining of "Modern Warfare" took the number one spot for me this year, having completely captured my mouse-shaped heart, and the bulk of my gaming time over the past few months since its release.

Bottom line: If you love first-person shooters, this is one you should definitely play. If you have friends to play it with (or against,) all the better.

In closing, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who's made a habit of showing up for these lists over the past eight years. At this point, I think it's really unlikely that I'll be continuing this tradition in 2020 and beyond as my available time for gaming continues to shrink. Having said that, as with my YouTube and Twitch channels, gaming will always have a home here and you shouldn't be surprised to see occasional posts about games and my experiences with them on this blog in the future.