2019 was another excellent year for gaming. From the mysterious Death Stranding to the outlandish adventures in The Outer Worlds to the zombie-infested streets of Raccoon City, there’s something for everyone this year.
What was the best game of 2019? Everyone has a different and unique answer to this question, including those of us at The Nerd Stash. Here are our personal picks for the best game of 2019 (Hilariously enough, none of us actually picked the game that won Game of the Year at The Game Awards, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice)
Control will go down as the sleeper game of 2019. It isn’t lighting up sales charts, we can make a conjecture as to why that is, but let’s keep it simple, Control is Game of the Year quality. When I reviewed the game back in August, I was mesmerized. An X-Files-inspired story, captivating performances, a brutalist maze-filled building, and most importantly, addicting gameplay. It’s also a game that I haven’t stopped thinking about since I Platinumed it.
Let me put the combat in perspective, Control features some of the best Star Wars gameplay ever. Being able to grab any object and launch it at the Hiss never grew old. Control makes you feel like a superhero and it’s phenomenal.
The biggest problem is that the story DLC is too far away, in my opinion. Come on Remedy, let’s fix that!
Contributor: Brandon Stephenson
The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds is everything you want in an RPG. An engaging narrative, deep customization, a well-realized world, and the ability to do whatever the hell you want. Obsidian has created a real gem of a game that suits the player with little time on their hands.
When I first booted up The Outer Worlds, I was dazzled by the beauty of the game. Considering the game’s limited graphics, the team has really poured everything into making the game artistically stunning.
The Outer Worlds is one of the games that just takes you away and lets you have fun, without any microtransactions or live-service features.
Oh and let’s not forget Parvati. All hail queen Parvati!
Contributor: Jacob Deacon
Pokemon: Sword and Shield
This is perhaps one of the most controversial games to come out of 2019 with over half of the Pokemon cut from the Pokedex — and don’t even get me started on those trees. However, Pokemon: Sword and Shield has claimed its spot as my Game of the Year.
On paper, SnS being my favorite title of this year, let alone the entire series, doesn’t make sense. My favorite part of Pokemon games has always been collecting as many ‘mons as possible. So, a severe cut to the dex should make this my least favorite game.
However, SnS has made me fall in love with the series all over again. I enjoy the battles. Ironically, this was my least favorite part of the series before now. The raid battles, which at first seemed like a gimmick, are super fun and addicting to grind. And the all-around quality of life improvements has made Pokemon: Sword and Shield enjoyable for anyone to pick up and play.
Contributor: Zackerie Fairfax
Death Standing stood out to me for the unique approach to gameplay, both in singleplayer and multiplayer. The game is basically a walking simulator and most of us are aware of that. But the planning, plotting, and execution of each delivery are paramount to success.
I enjoyed getting lost. I enjoyed getting ambushed and I even enjoyed watching my cargo float down a stream to certain doom. The story kept me guessing, and to be honest, I found it quite hard to follow a lot of the time. But when it all clicked together, it was impressive. The number of twists and turns throughout the game is incredible.
Multiplayer can be both brilliant and horrendous. Throughout my journey, I encountered everything from perfectly placed safe houses to zip lines that threw me off mountains when I dismounted. This huge experimental multiplayer could lay the foundations for a whole new approach to how online gaming integrates with its singleplayer.
Also, if it wasn’t for Death Stranding I would never have discovered Low Roar.
Contributor: Patrick Day-Childs
Oh, Death Stranding… What more is there to say about this odd little journey? After all the hype and secrecy leading up to its release, even I was beginning to doubt that the first project to come out of Kojima Productions could live up to it all. But Kojima definitely delivered. From the stellar performances of Norman Reedus and Troy Baker to the stunning visuals and well-crafted story, there is something for everyone to appreciate about Death Stranding. It is a well-mastered journey that knows just when to incorporate something new to keep package delivery fun and interesting. Its unique multiplayer system makes a horrifying, desolate world feel a little less lonely even though you’re on your own if something goes down. All in all, this crazy dive into Kojima’s mind totally stole the show in 2019.
Contributor: Shelby Royal
Jedi: Fallen Order
EA and Respawn did a horrible job at marketing what this game was. Going in, all I expected was a nice little Star Wars game with a fun story. However, it was instead a sick twisted love-child of Uncharted, Assassin’s Creed, and Dark Souls. I’m serious about that last comparison. This game’s combat is incredibly rewarding but ridiculously difficult.
Exploration in this game is so refreshing. You can say the same for the lack of fast-travel and a quick save feature. Cal Kestis is a likable protagonist with possibly the best droid in Star Wars yet. While there are things that can be improved with a possible sequel/spin-off, this is a must-play for any Star Wars fan.
Contributor: Taylor Cole
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
For 27 years, from 1990 to 2017, the Fire Emblem formula was largely unchanged and Intelligent Systems was rewarded for that with consistent rave reviews.
This year, it eschewed easy success with Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The series’ staple turn-based tactical combat is still there, but permadeath is optional, the weapon triangle has been abandoned, and any character can be almost any class. Moreover, Three Houses sequesters that to half of the game’s content by adding a life simulator wherein you budget your time, build relationships, and prepare for battle, reminiscent of the Persona series. The gamble paid off, as the result is a more engrossing and long-lasting experience. What’s more, in a curious inversion of Fates, Three Houses essentially packs three storylines into one game — and they’re the best story the series has ever seen.
Three Houses isn’t perfect. The new stuff is rough around the edges and it was unexpectedly easy (Thanks, patch 1.0.2 and maddening difficulty). But it’s phenomenal despite that, and with a little refinement, the next Fire Emblem could be divine.
Contributor: Nick Zazulia
Resident Evil 2 Remake
Looking down this list, it’s interesting how few games are on it that released before August. Earlier releases tend to get ignored in Game of the Year discussions and I shall not let that stand! Resident Evil 2 might have landed on store shelves last winter but it still stands out as my pick for the best game of 2019.
I’ve been going back and forth quite a bit on this, as I really love The Outer Worlds and had a lot of fun with Jedi: Fallen Order. But RE2 takes the cake. It has been a REALLY long time since a horror game actually scared me. I think the original Silent Hill might have been the last.
I find myself hesitating to play this game at night when I’m home alone. Emotion isn’t the only reason I think this takes the top spot though. It’s a game that also looks good and plays great. Some might say that remakes shouldn’t qualify for Game of the Year, but clearly, others disagree. And this doesn’t feel like a remake. It’s not just a rezzing up with a couple of new features. It feels like a reimagining and a fantastic one at that.
Contributor: Oliver VanDervoort
Resident Evil 2 Remake
I’m the second to put this game up for GotY it seems, and no surprise, either. RE2: Remake was one of the best surprises of the year. Some people are saying that the Single Player game as a concept is dying. Well, RE2 disproved this notion and gave us a solid, atmospheric, single-player survival horror experience that brought the series back to its roots while giving it some modern, cinematic touches.
Scary and foreboding in nature, the game does away with the action setpieces that have characterized the last couple of entries in the series (aside from Resident Evil 7) and brought back the ‘survival’ into this horror. Conserving ammunition and medical supplies is crucial to surviving the game as well as a hefty reflex for when the Tyrant suddenly rocks up out of nowhere to chase you down! Combine this with some great motion capture, voice work, and an array of extra features and you’re in for a treat. I can only hope the RE3 Remake captures the same tension and builds upon what this fantastic game has.
Contributor: Nathan Franklin
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is a love letter to Marvel and gaming fans alike. The title has tons of replay value with its extensive roster and Infinity Rift challenges. Add in co-op play and you have a game that everybody can enjoy.
MUA3 doesn’t really break any new barriers and that may sound like a bad thing, but it isn’t. Team Ninja stuck to what the franchise is known for and expanded upon it. Now, a strategy is more important than ever, as even low-level minions can take you down quickly if you’re not careful. Players will also have to master the synergy system to deal maximum damage in battle, especially against bosses.
The game combines beloved characters with co-op play and challenging battles to deliver a fresh take on an old formula. I hope that the franchise continues to grow and encompasses more heroes and stories.
Contributor: Andrew Silva
Jedi: Fallen Order
Jedi: Fallen Order, the Star Wars game we deserve. We’ve had years of broken promises and a whole lot of nothing in terms of single-player Star Wars games. That said, this game wasn’t at all what I expected.
I didn’t know I wanted a Souls combat style mixed with a Star Wars setting. It turns out, I did. Respawn and company set themselves apart though with a difficulty setting that makes sense, a story I fell in love with, and gameplay that never felt repetitive.
It excels with making you feel like a Jedi that has a shaky connection to the force. As the game and story progress, you truly feel more powerful. Along the way, I met characters that I actually cared for which had rich backstories that you slowly learn about. It made the ending that much more intense with a surprise twist thrown in! Truly Respawn and EA outdid themselves. I’m all on board for a sequel, as long as Respawn is running that show.
In the end, what I loved about Jedi: Fallen Order most was that I cared. I was truly sad when I finished the game and it was all over. To give us a good Star Wars game is one thing, to give us one that makes us feel something is what makes it special.
Contributor: Jeffers Haile
Super Mario Maker 2
It had been quite some time since a 2D Mario game got me excited. 2019 also saw the release of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. But as I had already played that, and since that series had already become watered-down in my eyes, I wasn’t about to spend $60 on it.
Super Mario Maker 2 came at the perfect time. Not only did it take everything that made the first wonderful, but it also came with a ton of levels ready to play through. Over 100 wacky, fantastic, Nintendo-crafted levels to enjoy before diving headfirst into what the players had to offer. And you guys did not disappoint.
Here comes the true beauty of Super Mario Maker 2. Every time you hop on, there’s something new to discover. Whether the level is a simple speed run, a challenging gauntlet of masterful design, or even a makeshift point-and-click adventure, I’m always happy when I press “play.”. I’ve never had the patience to make them myself. But exploring the creations of others always reminds me how video games can be such a positive and connected art form. Plus, now you can play as Link, which is just the cherry on top.
Contributor: Johnny Reynolds
If you would have told me that my favorite game of the year would be a multiplayer battle royale version of Tetris, I would have called you a liar. However, as soon as I started playing Tetris 99, it was like a match made in heaven.
Tetris 99 was released in February of this year and easily became my favorite game in the battle royale genre. Incorporating the simplicity of Tetris and layering it with a competitive strategy layer had me coming back to improve my rankings again and again. Nintendo’s support of the game through DLC and special weekend events around new Nintendo games kept the community alive and well.
This wasn’t a game I played for a bit and then put down, which is what made Tetris 99 special. I worked at it for months to get better and better. When I finally got a win, it was an earned victory that no other moment in gaming this year topped for me.
Contributor: Bailey MeCey
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled
Not only is Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled a nostalgic throwback to the past, but it is also a welcome return for the Crash Bandicoot series.
The game offers up seriously spectacular visuals from the extensive range of tracks to the open-world designs around them and the cut scenes in its story. Elsewhere, the adventure mode is a challenge but always a lot of fun. And the driving feels as if it’s been honed to perfection.
In short, 2019 didn’t get any better than it did when revisiting this revived classic.
Contributor: Matt Bailey
A Plague Tale: Innocence
I thought I wouldn’t find a darker and grittier game than Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but did A Plague Tale surprise me, in the best way possible. A Plague Tale is a narrative-driven game set in 18th century France during the plague.
From the beginning, I fell in love with its story, characters, and stealth mechanics. Asobo Studios and Focus Home Interactive outdid themselves with their unique storytelling and the game stands out as one of the best written of the year, maybe of all time.
Sneaking through tall grass and using a sling to hurl stones as a distraction never got old. It was a refreshing take on the stealth genre. Plus, the boss battles were engaging and unique. It deserves more attention and a sequel as well.
Contributor: Scott Roepel
What was your Game of the Year for 2019? Let us know in the comments below!
Avid gamer and placeholder of what is now the worst selfie of all time. Mostly an Xbox/PS4 player but I have been known to destroy friendships in Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.