With the year coming to an end in just a few short months, we’re getting that much closer to choosing Digital Trends’s game of the year. So far, we’ve seen plenty of outstanding titles across a variety of genres and platforms, and expect to see even more before the year is out. Until we announce the award-winning titles of this year, take a look at what we consider to be the very best games of 2019.
The best games of 2019
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
The Fire Emblem series has grown immensely popular since the release of Fire Emblem: Awakening in 2013, but Intelligent Systems developed Fire Emblem: Three Houses like it still had something to prove to naysayers. With three distinct narratives depending on the house you choose at the starting monastery, Three Houses is among the most replayable and emotional role-playing games we’ve ever experienced.
An open-ended exploration segment allows you to customize your units and build relationships, and when it comes time to fight, Three Houses brings the goods. Classic turn-based action is streamlined and expanded in all the right ways, with difficulty levels for any player and the new “Gambit” system to support your units.
Devil May Cry 5
Less can be more when it comes to action game design, but no one told that to the Devil May Cry 5 development team, and we’re thankful for it. The long-awaited sequel is one of the most bonkers games ever made, starring three distinct protagonists with drastically different abilities.
The young devil-hunter Nero’s raw power and precision allow him to take down larger enemies with ease, while the veteran Dante can juggle many foes at once and cut them in half with a bladed motorcycle. Newcomer V’s Pokémon-like approach rounds things out, as he relies on others to do his battles. The frenetic action is built on top of a surprisingly heartfelt and funny story that has us very excited for a sixth game.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
It’s not Dark Souls and it’s not Bloodborne – From Software’s latest action game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice shares the DNA of its past work, but the formula has been adjusted in crucial ways that make it more satisfying, more intense, even more punishing.
Set in feudal Japan rather than a fictional world, the gorgeous environments and architecture are contrasted with extreme violence to wonderful effect. Combat has been changed, removing the stamina system and replacing it with “posture,” which requires you to play aggressively in the hopes of breaking your enemies’ guard. They can do the same to you, and this constant tug-of-war is at the heart of what makes Sekiro so fantastic … and occasionally infuriating.
Read our full Sekiro review
Super Mario Maker 2
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We’ve all heard the expression, but is that really true? With Super Mario Maker 2, Nintendo took the original Wii U game and made it even better with a wealth of new features, including additional building items such as on-off switches and sloped terrain.
These seemingly small changes ultimately allow creators to make even wilder maps, with the most inventive players practically changing the game’s genre in the process. For those who just want to have fun playing Mario maps, you’ll never run out of content, and the single-player story mode is a great place for newcomers to start. It’s also one of the best games for YouTube creators to play, as watching someone else fail is a guilty pleasure that can be just as fun as playing it yourself.
Read our full Super Mario Maker 2 review
Resident Evil 2
Capcom has remastered Resident Evil games in the past and even altered their gameplay, but its 2019 Resident Evil 2 remake goes well beyond that. A completely new experience that retells the same general story as the original title, it switches to a third-person over-the-shoulder camera view that puts it in line with more recent entries.
The horror and atmosphere of Raccoon City remain intact, however, and the most terrifying moments are brought closer to reality with the game’s brilliant RE Engine. It isn’t groundbreaking or particularly innovative, but Resident Evil 2 made a classic game even better.
Read our full Resident Evil 2 review
Mortal Kombat 11
Despite being around for more than two decades, the Mortal Kombat franchise has received some of its highest critical acclaim in more recent years. Mortal Kombat 11 is a gorgeous, fluid, and wonderfully gory fighting game that takes the best elements from the series’ past and games like Injustice 2 to create a brutal competitive experience.
The action focus more heavily on countering and spacing than it does stringing combo attacks together, requiring you to focus on your opponent more carefully. Customization options and a huge cast of characters give everyone someone to use in a fight, provided they don’t just pick Scorpion again.
Read our full Mortal Kombat 11 review
The Division 2
2016’s The Division had a terrific framework, combining classic Clancy techno-political thriller themes with role-playing mechanics, but it ultimately felt hollow. Missions blended together and the endgame was nearly nonexistent. Ubisoft took this criticism to heart with The Division 2, which included much more varied objectives in its Washington, D.C. setting, along with free post-launch content and raids to keep dedicated players engaged.
Deeper competitive multiplayer in the “Dark Zone” and a completely changed world after completing the final mission only further sweetened the deal. Combat was also made more satisfying by having enemies go down in fewer shots, making your weapons feel like they’re actually firing bullets.
Read our full The Division 2 review
Metro Exodus took some massive risks with the series’ tried-and-true formula — including taking nearly all of the action out of the titular Metro system in Moscow. Despite this, 4A Games never lost sight of what made Metro so special, with atmospheric environments, terrifying mutant creatures, and a gripping story that had us holding our breath until the final moments.
The scavenging system from past games remains, and works perfectly with the new open outdoor areas protagonist Artyom explores during his journey. What other game features cracked gasmasks that you can fix with a piece of duct tape? Exactly.
Read our full Metro Exodus review
MLB 19: The Show
Last year’s MLB 18 felt like a step back for the baseball franchise, but MLB The Show 19 returned it to its former glory with a few clever additions. Dynamic Challenges in the single-player Road to the Show mode give you incentive to perform at your very best during at-bats or when you’re pitching, and the streamlined March to October mode cuts out the fat for maximum excitement as you approach the playoffs.
The basic baseball formula remains mostly unchanged, but Sony San Diego is already the best sports developer in the business. Any major tweaks would only work to sully the formula, which rewards careful swing choice, accurate pitches, and good awareness when running the bases.
Read our full MLB The Show 19 review
We didn’t really need another battle royale game, but we’re glad it came from the developers of Titanfall 2. Apex Legends is technically set in the same universe as the former game, but it’s an entirely separate beast. Respawn Entertainment’s take on the genre features brilliant gunplay, as we’d expect, but it’s combined with a few new wrinkles in the formula that PUBG and Fortnite helped popularize.
Characters can be revived after dying, and you can redeploy on the map if you need to quickly change locations. The map itself offers plenty of variety and places to hide, making every match’s final moments a tense and challenging affair.
Read our full Apex Legends review
- The best PS4 games, from The Surge 2 to Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
- The best Xbox One games you can get right now, including FIFA 20
- The best Nintendo Switch games
- The best PlayStation 4 exclusives you can get right now
- The best Nintendo Switch exclusives