2019 was a good year in gaming with both titles and accessibility alike. With a boom in cross-play and new studios showing off what they have to offer, looking back on 2019 – despite a few missteps – is a reflective period where we feel just happy to be gamers. While there are so many good picks out there to mention, the Prima Games staff wanted to talk a little bit about the games that impacted us the most.
Liana Ruppert – Editor-in-Chief, News
When EA first revealed Respawn’s foray into single-player games with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, I didn’t have a lot of hope in the upcoming game. The marketing for it was a bit off in the beginning, and the protagonist didn’t really grab me in a way that made me want to play this on day one. Then gradually more and more started to be shared and I had a glimmer of hope for what could be, though in no way thought it would have Game of the Year potential. Then I played it, and all bets were off.
Cal Kestis grew on me with his awkward nature and standoffish personality, and it was the little moments in between – like him playing guitar on the couch – that made me understand him. The way Respawn integrated canon lore and combined that knowledge with fluid (and insanely satisfying) combat, an incredible storyline, and characters that made me want to know more about them? Everything about this game blew me out of the water and the ending? The ending definitely hints at so much more to come. I’m so happy to see Respawn’s latest venture receive such an incredible welcome and I hope that this gives EA, as a publisher, a little more faith in developers to let them flesh out their own vision and that there is absolutely a place for single-player adventures in this community.
Runner up: Devil May Cry 5
With no spoilers, the story is also one of the better ones seen in the franchise to date. The pacing is intense so that even those that aren’t necessarily fans of the traditional style of combat won’t be left behind. The familiar nods to previous games is also apparent throughout the title’s progression and the heavy metal soundtrack only adds to the pure glory that Devil May Cry 5 brings to the table.
Overall, the latest entry is one of the best games yet from the series. It has the music, the cinematic drama, the addictive combat, the personal flair, and characters that you will just genuinely love. It’s safe to say that Devil May Cry 5 definitely delivers on its promise to be loyal to fans while still providing an entirely new experience at the same time and I wish that this game got the attention it deserved. Unfortunately, I think it’s early release made it a bit buried under such a busy year.
Nicholas Barth – Guides Writer
2019 spoiled me with a plethora of amazing video game experiences. However, there is one title that stood out from the pack and gifted me with countless hours of fun this past year.
I had been on the battle royale craze with my friends with Players Unknown Battlegrounds before the release of Apex Legends. Fortunately, this did not stop with the release of Respawn Entertainment’s new multiplayer game in February. Soon, I was able to corral all of my gaming buddies together and live through plenty of adrenaline-fueled moments as we battled our way to a treasure trove of wins and highlight moments.
The fluid movement, unique weapons, entertaining character design, and impressive map layout provided the perfect combination of features to deliver a multiplayer experience I had not felt since I was playing Halo 3 as a youngster. A large multitude of victory roars and memorable memories I made with my friends playing Apex Legends these past few months is why Apex Legends is my Game of the Year for 2019.
Ginny Woo – Guides Writer
My GOTY pick is Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and not only because it’s given me enough waifu and husbando material to last me until the end of the next decade. Fire Emblem: Three Houses marked a spectacular return to form for the franchise, after what a lot of fans considered a stumble with its predecessor.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses really leaned into its fantasy of essentially being Battle Royale Boarding School, and as such, had some of the most interesting character relationships that we’ve seen in a long time from a tactical JRPG. While the franchise has always prided itself on the fact that you can romance, well, almost anyone and also get your troops to shack up with each other, it’s a testament to the narrative team’s strength that the journey of doing so feels like more than just empty fan-service.
Whether it was the optional missions that gave lore fans all manner of details to pour over, the fact that you could spend hours on end cooking with your faves and playing career counselor to murderous teens, or the fact that everything looked so damn crisp on the Nintendo Switch, Fire Emblem: Three Houses had a whole lot to offer and I lapped it all up. The maid and butler DLC outfits are just a bonus, I swear!
Honorable mention here to Devil May Cry 5, which came out at a time that was basically packed with back to back releases of ridiculously great games. With a bangin’ soundtrack and ridiculously fluid and satisfying combat (not to mention being able to play as some of the hottest demon slayers in history), it’s a shame that this title hasn’t been in the wider GOTY discussions. Capcom’s other big hit, Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, has been getting some love but please don’t forget about DMC5!
Morgan Shaver – Features Writer
Tetris 99 changed not only the Battle Royale genre, but how modern Tetris can be played competitively. Despite all of the amazing games that released in 2019, I found myself returning to Tetris 99 daily, and I love how easy it is to bounce between a game like Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Tetris 99 on the Switch. I can put in 10 minutes of Tetris 99, then an hour of Fire Emblem, and never feel like I’m stretching myself thin. Plus, I know I’m not alone in saying that Tetris 99 was the main reason I bought a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. I even went so far as to purchase the DLC in order to add single-player options like Marathon because of how much I love playing Tetris on the Switch. I may be biased, but I genuinely feel like Tetris 99 deserves a GOTY nod. It’s just that good
Christopher Buffa – Support
The build-up to the PS One version of Resident Evil 2 in late 97/early 98 was so intense that I barely slept because of the insane level of anticipation. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Capcom’s horrifying Resident Evil 2 forPS4 and Xbox One left such a lasting impression. This is the gold standard of video game remakes. Capcom didn’t simply “smooth out the jaggies” from the original. It redid the entire game in a brand-new graphics engine, then introduced new content that shocked this longtime Resident Evil fan. Perfect example, the first encounter with one of the game’s most fearsome enemies, the Licker, which doesn’t happen the same way as it did 20 years ago.
Visually, the game is a masterpiece. The Raccoon City police station and the surrounding area (beware the sewer) never looked creepier. Gameplay-wise, the zombies are deceptively dangerous, with a smooth bob and weave that had me missing shots and wasting handgun ammo, while Mr. X became this constant threat where one wrong move resulted in death.
You still have two campaigns to finish (Leon and Claire’s), but there’s enough new content to make them both unique. The fact that Capcom included DLC that expanded on the game’s lore (of note, being able to play as Robert Kendo, the gun store owner) adds more value to an already incredible game. I’m still playing through Claire’s story. After that, bring on the Resident Evil 3 remake so I can dance with the Nemesis one last time!
There were so many incredible games out there. Life is Strange 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man, God of War, Gears 5 – and don’t even get us started on all of the amazing indies including the recently released Arise and Afterparty. Gaming is about celebration so celebrate with us by telling us your Game of the Year pick over on Twitter by tagging us @PrimaGames!