What better way to celebrate 2019 coming to a close than highlighting the very best games of the year as agreed upon by the Console Deals team. See, we’re not just rampant deal hunters dedicated to finding you the best bundles and offers, but also passionate players that dabble in the dark arts of gaming ourselves. Our tastes are pretty varied, though, hence why our top 10 list is equally so. But it still serves to emphasise just how much of a banger 2019 was for all-round great games.
It's worth bearing in mind that we couldn’t play absolutely everything that came to PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch this year. So, if your favourite game isn’t here it doesn’t mean we didn’t (or won’t) like it, just that noone on the Console Deals team got around to it. Anyway… let’s get into the official Console Deals’ top 10 games of 2019:
10. Gears 5
The Gears of War franchise had a lot to prove with its fifth mainline entry. Developer The Coalition had already used 2016’s Gears of War 4 as a decent warm-up act, but now players were ready for the next bombastic instalment of this hallmark Xbox franchise and thankfully they got it. Gears 5 retains the core of what makes the series’ third-person cover shooting great, adding in several new mechanical elements – such as Jack’s new tactical abilities – to keep the formula feeling fresh.
Gears 5’s story moved away from the Fenix family to instead focus on a more personal tale involving fan-favourite Kait Diaz. This decision is what finally allowed Gears to experiment with less-linear level design, finding great success with two wide open areas in chapters 2 and 3. This bolder approach is backed up further my the same great PVE and PVP multiplayer suite that feel more polished than ever, complete with a totally new mode in Escape that turned out to be immensely fun and challenging. Gears 5 paves an exciting future for this still great Xbox series.
9. Astral Chain
Most known for being the folks behind Bayonetta and 2017 critical darling Nier: Automata, Platinum Games has made a habit of creating beautiful third-person action games filled with a lot of heart and style. These two factors are once again at the heart of Astral Chain, a Nintendo Switch exclusive game that casts you as a future-set super cop tasked with repelling an oncoming alien force. Your primary way of doing so involves mastering attacks with your tethered Legion creature, playing like nothing else Platinum Games has ever developed because of it.
We absolutely loved our time playing through Astral Chain, and it was an experience made all the better for being a complete surprise. Platinum had a prior pedigree for creating stunning action games before, sure, but the fact that it plays so flawlessly on Nintendo’s amazing handheld made it a true treat. Investigating crimes works as a genius way of exploring Astral Chain’s world, the family story at its centre was more moving than expected, though most importantly it delivers a kind of pick-up-and-play action spectacle rarely seen executed in other games of this style.
8. Devil May Cry 5
Sticking with incredibly stylish action games that look and play flawlessly, Capcom continued its trail-blazing hot streak first kicked off with the likes of Monster Hunter World and Resident Evil 7 by returning the Devil May Cry series to its former glory. When it released back in March it delivered hack and slash combat at its finest, dropping players back in the crazily inventive world of angels and demons as not one, but three main characters.
Leading the charge of this trio is long-time series protagonist Dante. His combat is more traditional to what series fans will expect, letting you swap between four distinct fighting styles to let players keep enemies at bay creatively using guns and other tools. Nero, meanwhile, specialises primarily on melee combat, as evidenced by his hulking Red Queen sword. Finally, new character V commands over his nightmare creatures to deal damage from afar. Devil May Cry 5 offers plenty of variety in its combat and that’s why the series suddenly feels more renewed than ever.
7. Metro Exodus
The Metro series had always been thought of as a cult franchise up until recently, first starting out as an Xbox 360 exclusive before broadening its player base by releasing on other platforms for its sequel, Last Light. Despite this added reach, though, it was only this year, in 2019, where Metro feels like it finally came into its own, quite literally poking its head above ground to widen its scope and give us one of 2019’s best games in Metro Exodus.
Metro Exodus centres on the continued exploits of underground Russian survivor Artyom, only now his goal no longer lies in the underground tunnels. The result is a cross-continental road trip across Russia able to deliver a healthy mix of exploration, first-person gunplay and general survival. Metro Exodus marks the first time 4A Games’ underdog franchise lets you off the leash into several open-world hubs and it’s all the better for it. Looking for a highly polished Triple-A FPS with great creative freedom and an interesting narrative? This is one of 2019’s best.
6. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
The universe had been screaming out for a decent single-player Star Wars game since 2012, when LucasArts was disbanded and EA had nabbed the exclusive rights to the license. The two Battlefront games had delivered action spectacle on a massive multiplayer scale, sure, but those wanting a narrative-led experience wouldn’t get it until Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’s release this year. Luckily, it was worth the wait, with the game taking heavy inspiration from the likes of Dark Souls and bloodborne to realty make you feel the weight and responsibility of using a lightsaber.
It helps that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order isn’t short on charm thanks to its eclectic cast of characters. Protagonist Cal embodies everything you’d want to see from a Luke Skywalker type being pulled towards his destiny, while Cere and Greeze are some of the best supporting characters from the entire Star Wars Canon – not just the games. Fallen Order always encourages you to explore every nook and cranny of its new and familiar planets due to a sprinkling of fun cosmetics, all of which help makes it feel like this is your story just as much as it is Cal’s. The future is bright for Star Wars games.
5. Darksiders Genesis
When a popular video game franchises course corrects to a new genre, there’s always fair chance you’ll annoy fans who just want more of what they love. However, by stripping the formula back to basics, adding in two-player co-op and moving the series to an isometric perspective, Darksiders is now on top form with Darksiders Genesis. Bashing through legions of enemies through various Gauntlet-esque dungeons with another friend in tow simply never ceases to be fun, especially when both War and Strife become better and more badass with further upgrades.
The one caveat to Darksiders Genesis’ inclusion on this list is that the game has only been released on PC and Stadia thus far, but a PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch version is planned for this February 14th. When that day arrives, it’s likely that players here will find the game’s blend of hack-and-slash combat and top-down action just as addictive and satisfying. Taking on the hordes of hell was just as fun here as in any mainline Darksiders games; one of 2019’s biggest surprises.
Objectively great single-player games that place narrative at the forefront are a dime a dozen these days. The gaming industry is one that seems to constantly be moving more towards games built around an ongoing live-service model rather than a singular experience players can enjoy once and then reflect upon, so it was nice to see that some sense of the latter is still much alive in Remedy Games’ Control. It’s an ethereal third-person shooter quite unlike any other, centring on Jessie Faden’s descent into an ever-evolving brutalist building called the Old House that has plenty of secrets to uncover.
Control’s main triumph is in its handling of tone and atmosphere. In lesser hands the setting of the Old House could come off as lifeless and grey, but the makers of Alan Wake and Max Payne excel in surprising players with what’s in store. Remedy was clearly inspired by the likes of Twin Peaks when developing Control, and the result is the closest thing yet to a playable Twilight Zone episode. IF you’re craving for a solid single-player narrative, don’t sleep on Control.
3. Borderlands 3
The original king of the looter-shooter returned in 2019 with great results. Borderlands 3 is everything fans could have wanted from a new game in this chaotic cell-shaded series, including four new diverse vault hunter classes and significantly more algorithmic gun combinations than we know what to do with. The new villains, the Calypso twins, might be a little lacking when compared to the witty brilliance of Borderlands 2’s Handsome Jack, but by blasting beyond the planet of Pandora for the very first time the series has moved into a great direction.
What’s more, even so far in 2019, developer Gearbox has done an excellent job in giving Borderlands 3 players plenty more to do via routine patches and free seasonal content updates. You never know what new will be in store each time you log back into Borderlands 3, whether there’ll be floating ghost pumpkins in honour of Halloween or new Christmassy vault hunter skins. Combine all that with irreverent humour and some of the most creative gunplay seen in an FPS and you have one of the best games of 2019 in Borderlands 3.
2. Tetris 99
If you had told us at the start of the year than one of our favourite games would be a Battle Royale and Tetris mash-up, we simply wouldn’t have believed you. And yet, fast forward 12 months on and several people in the Console Deals office can’t stop gunning for that number 1 position. This isn’t surprising considering that Tetris 99 is seemingly built for friendly rivalries, with the game rewarding those that aren’t just good at clearing lines but doing so quickly and with 99 other players attempting to screw you over.
What’s even more surprising about Tetris 99 is how the entire game is free for subscribers to Nintendo Switch Online. At a time where Nintendo has been struggling to give players reason to sign up, aside from having the ability to play online multiplayer and access to NES and SNES games, who knew that the golden goose would be a reinvention of this classic puzzle game? Tetris 99 proves that the classic puzzler is timeless, now having inspired a new generation of players with this 2019 twist on the format.
1. Resident Evil 2
The PS4 and Xbox One generation of consoles has given us many remakes of classic and fondly thought-of games, but all expectations of what the concept could achieve were blown away by this year’s remake of Resident Evil 2. It’s a game that smartly pays tribute to the original PS One games’ classic survival horror roots, retaining inventory management and limited ammo, all while infusing it with a whole bunch of contemporary sensibilities such as an over-the-shoulder camera and updated graphics.
Even more surprising was in how Capcom’s 2019 remake of Resident Evil 2 made the flesh-eating undead feel scary again, making them stumbling forces able to deal real damage to both Leon and Claire, rather than having them go down rather easily. Resident Evil 2 builds upon the foundation of what made Resident Evil 7 such a rousing return to form by sticking closely to the scares, giving us the absolute best game of 2019 for the Console Deals team. Here’s hoping 2020’ Resident Evil 3 remake will be just as enthralling.