As we enter the tail end of a generation, we tend to get better games as developers get more comfortable with the current hardware. 2019 was no exception to this rule, and the games we got this year are some of the best that the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch have to offer. There were games with brand-new ideas like Death Stranding, there were reinventions of all-time classics like Resident Evil 2, and there were even a few surprises thrown in for good measure like Disco Elysium. 2019’s lineup of games is definitely one of the most diverse we’ve seen in a long while, and because of that, there isn’t one clear best game overshadowing the rest.
We polled every writer at Attack of the Fanboy and asked for their top games in each of the following categories. We played a ton of games this year, but we believe these games to be the best in their respective genres or categories. These are Attack of the Fanboy’s Best Games of 2019.
Best PlayStation Game – Death Stranding
After years of cryptic trailers, we finally got our hands on Death Stranding. While many weren’t too fond of Kojima’s first post-MGS outing, we loved just about everything about it. The incredible art direction, fantastic music, and stellar acting make Death Stranding a very memorable experience. It takes things that people generally don’t like in games, like fetch quests and tedious inventory management, and somehow wraps them all up into an addicting core gameplay loop. While the game can be frustrating at times, that frustration works in tandem with the rest of the game’s systems to really drive home the theme of reconnecting with other people. Death Stranding is strange, agitating, and quite unlike anything we’ve ever played.
Best Xbox Game – Gears 5
Gears of War is one of Microsoft’s longest-running series, and Gears 5 is a testament as to why. The original Gears of War trilogy stands as one of the most influential trilogies in all of gaming, so news of a follow-up was undoubtedly met with skepticism. Gears of War 4, while well-received critically, didn’t do much to drive the series forward in any capacity, and some fans were wondering if a new Gears trilogy was even necessary. Gears 5 justifies the new trilogy with a stronger focus on story than ever, paired with gameplay that’s the most refined it’s ever been. It’s a shame that more people haven’t given it a shot, especially considering its widespread availability on Xbox Game Pass. The Xbox One has been lacking in the exclusive department since it launched, but Gears 5 marks a turning point on that front.
Runner-up – Halo Reach: TMCC
Best Nintendo Game – Fire Emblem: Three Houses
The Nintendo Switch has been racking up must-have game after must-have game since it launched back in 2017, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses stands shoulder to shoulder with the best games on the platform. It has the tactical turn-based combat the series is known for, but it also doubles down on the social aspects to great effect. Three Houses easily has the best cast of any Fire Emblem game by a mile. Whether you choose the Black Eagles, the Blue Lions, or the Golden Deer, you’re sure to love each and every one of your students as you get to know them over the course of the game. The game also has insane replay value, with the choice of house you make at the beginning of the game resulting in a drastically different second half depending on which group you align yourself with. If you have a Nintendo Switch, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is just as essential as Super Mario Odyssey or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Best PC – Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium is a masterclass in the RPG genre. Unlike most contemporary RPGs that promise the ability to build whichever kind of character you’d like but end up underdelivering in practice, Disco Elysium goes the extra mile and actually lets you be whoever you want. After waking up hungover and naked in a hotel room, you’re free to make whatever decisions you want about what kind of cop you are. Whether you decide to be some kind of superstar or fully embrace the hobocop lifestyle, Disco Elysium has skill checks, smart writing, and likable characters galore. The freedom and complexity of Disco Elysium’s character-building are unmatched in today’s RPG space.
Runners up – Wow Classic, Teamfight Tactics
Best Strategy Game – Fire Emblem: Three Houses
While Fire Emblem: Three Houses focuses more heavily on the social aspects of the series than ever before, it still has the strategy gameplay that the franchise is known for. Three Houses adds a few new mechanics to spice up combat, like the battalions, but ultimately, it’s the same foundation as always. What elevates Three Houses above its predecessors, however, is the freedom and customization the game allows for. Each of your students can end up as practically any class, and you can create some pretty interesting army compositions just by teaching the right skills in the classroom. The social elements also have a tendency to bleed into the strategy, as spending time with your students will increase their motivation during lessons, allowing them to grow even more so than normal. Because Three Houses so elegantly blends strategy and social simulation, it ends up feeling like a game of chess in which you care for each and every piece.
Runners up – Total War Three Kingdoms, Wargroove
Best VR Game – Boneworks
2019 was a spectacular year for VR. The Valve Index pushed the limits of high-end headsets, while the Oculus Quest made the technology much more accessible to a wider audience thanks to its pick up and play nature and lack of wires. On top of new and exciting hardware, VR also started to get its first wave of truly must-play exclusives like Asgard’s Wrath and Stormland. While those games are great in their own regard, none of them push VR forward as much as Boneworks. Boneworks relies on physics for all of its interactions, from puzzles to combat to traversal, and the creativity and experimentation these systems allow for is unparalleled in the VR space. While the physics can be a bit wonky at times, the level of immersion and interactivity they provide cannot be overstated. Wrap all of that up in a campaign reminiscent of Half-Life, and you’ve got the best VR game of 2019.
Runners up – Asgard’s Wrath, GORN
Best Shooter – Apex Legends
Battle royale as a genre has already been done to death in the short amount of time it’s been popular. So many come and go, and it’s rare that one holds the public’s attention for more than a few weeks. That’s why Respawn decided to unveil and release Apex Legends out of the blue, and that move more than paid off. The game has an excellent foundation with tight gunplay and satisfying movement mechanics, and its own unique features helped to set it apart from its competitors. Having distinct characters with their own abilities allows for an extra layer of strategy amongst squads, and the ping mechanic (which has since made its way into other contemporary battle royale games) broke new ground for the genre by allowing for quick, efficient communication between players, even those without mics. It’s hard for a battle royale game to maintain relevancy over an extended period of time, but Apex Legends still remains on the hard drives of millions thanks to its punchy shooting and unique ideas.
Best Multiplayer Game – Apex Legends
Much like Fortnite last year, Apex Legends was the game to play with friends this year. Coming out of nowhere, Apex was a breakout success that drew in the masses thanks to its unique take on the battle royale genre. The ping system and distinct characters built upon a foundation of satisfying shooting and movement mechanics. While other battle royale games depend heavily on teamwork and communication, Apex doubles down on the teamplay aspect by requiring squads to consider their team composition and synergize with one another to counter weaknesses. Other small tweaks, like the banners plastered around the map that feature the champion squad or the kill leader mechanic, make players aware of other squads in the match outside of the one they’re currently shooting at. It adds to the spectacle and competition, as everyone wants to land the kill on the kill leader or be crowned the champion squad so they can show off prior to their next game.
Runners up – Modern Warfare, Tetris 99
Best Publisher – Capcom
This year, Capcom continued their streak of releasing excellent games. The publisher wasn’t in the greatest spot in the first half of the decade, but starting with titles like Resident Evil 7 and Monster Hunter World, it proved to the masses that it still knows what to do with its extensive library of IPs. This year, Resident Evil 2 continued the franchise’s hot streak, and Devil May Cry 5 brought the classic stylish action series back into the spotlight for the first time in a long while. Not wanting to rest on its laurels, Capcom also released a huge expansion to last year’s Monster Hunter World in the form of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, which has enough content to be a new entry in the series in its own right. Capcom has proven that it knows how to handle its beloved franchises, and we’re tremendously excited to get our hands on some of their next projects like Resident Evil 3.
Runners up – Nintendo, Square Enix
Best Sports Game – MLB The Show 19
MLB The Show has consistently been one of the better annual sports franchises out there, and The Show 19 is no exception. It’s still largely the same baseball experience as previous years, albeit refined, but two new additions help to keep things fresh. The new March to October mode allows you to play through a team’s pivotal moments on the way to the postseason, trimming the fat that would come with a full Franchise mode playthrough. Another interesting addition to The Show 19 is Moments mode, which makes some of baseball’s most legendary moments playable in small chunks that shouldn’t take very long to complete. All in all, The Show is a quality title year after year, and The Show 19 offers meaningful additions that make the game well worth it for any baseball fan.
Best Racing Game – Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
Hot off the heels of the N. Sane Trilogy, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled brings the bandicoot back for one more race on modern platforms. Chock full of content from not just the original Crash Team Racing, but also some of the later PS2 Crash racing games, Nitro-Fueled has no shortage of things to do. In an era dominated by Mario Kart, Crash Team Racing offers a different, more challenging experience where skilled drivers will dominate their competition with expertly-timed drifts and boosts. For those of you who prefer single-player, Nitro-Fueled also contains the adventure mode from the original, providing a hefty amount of content for those of you who prefer to play solo. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is not only a great remake, but also an excellent kart racer in its own right.
Best Action Game – Devil May Cry 5
Devil May Cry 5 is the action genre boiled down to its purest essence. Incredibly deep and equally stylish, Devil May Cry 5 is a remarkable return for the franchise. The core of any action game is the combat, and Devil May Cry 5 does not disappoint. There are three characters, each with their own unique moveset and weapons to choose from. Not only do Dante, Nero, and V all play incredibly different from one another, the wide range of moves and combos for each character allows each individual player to express themselves in their own way using the given tools. Nero’s devil breakers can change your playstyle dramatically, Dante has a ridiculous amount of weapons and styles he can switch between at any moment, and V has his own unique playstyle that involves commanding multiple familiars at once. When you combine the immensely deep combat with gorgeous graphics and a rocking soundtrack, there’s no question that Devil May Cry 5 is 2019’s best action game.
Best RPG – Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium is not only the best RPG to release in 2019, but also one of the best RPGs of all time. From the second you start the game, waking up with an intense hangover as you have a conversation with your skills in your mind, you know you’re in for a treat. The quality of writing remains excellent throughout, and the sheer amount of it is staggering. While many RPGs tout that you can build your character whichever way you please, Disco Elysium actually makes good on that promise, allowing you to be whatever kind of cop you’d like. Whether you’re an ace detective or a hopeless drunk, Disco Elysium’s characters and world respond in ways that feel natural. The amount of variations possible for your own character is staggering. On top of that, the writing is some of the most beautiful prose ever featured in a video game. Disco Elysium is an instant classic, and everyone should give it a shot, not just fans of the genre.
Best Indie Game – Disco Elysium
2019 was a spectacular year for indie games, and this was definitely one of the closest categories this year. However, Disco Elysium takes the cake for working its way into the RPG hall of fame just months after its release. The quality of Disco Elysium really cannot be overstated. The writing is so incredibly elastic, bending to the choices you’ve made for your character such that everyone will have their own unique but fully-fleshed out experience with the game. Every character you encounter is memorable, and the dynamic between you and your partner can shift in surprising ways depending on how you build your character. Equal parts funny and profound, and you should definitely not skip Disco Elysium.
Runners up – Outer Wilds, Untitled Goose Game
Best Surprise – Disco Elysium
It’s crazy how one of the best RPGs of all time just came out of nowhere. Sure, other games came out this year that nobody was expecting, but Disco Elysium absolutely floored everyone upon its release without being on too many people’s radars beforehand. As if the bevy of awards this game has already won isn’t telling enough, you should absolutely play Disco Elysium if you haven’t already. The writing is stellar and the game dynamically reacts to your choices in a believable way.
Runners up – Outer Wilds, Remnant: From the Ashes
Best Fighting Game – Mortal Kombat 11
With a series as long-running as Mortal Kombat, it’s tough to keep coming up with ways to keep the franchise feeling fresh. Mortal Kombat 11, however, does more than enough to innovate upon its predecessor. Not only that, it might just be the best game in the series. It’s a celebration of Mortal Kombat new and old, and the story mode is way better than it has any right to be. The fighting is as refined as ever, and the presentation is exceptionally slick. Competitive players will appreciate the mechanics and intricacies of the combat system, while more casual fans will love the excellent graphics and gory fatalities.
Best Ongoing Game – Destiny 2
Destiny has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years, but there hasn’t been a year as pivotal for the series as 2019. Earlier this year, Bungie split from Activision and took the Destiny IP with them, giving them complete control over the game going forward. Of course, the content released this year most was most likely planned way in advance when the developer was still with Activision, but even still, going independent has worked wonders for Bungie and Destiny. Shadowkeep and its accompanying seasons are providing players with new things to do at a much faster rate than before. Going free to play and constantly updating a game with as much content as Bungie does with Destiny is a daunting task, and the developer’s efforts should be lauded. Plus, the split has allowed Bungie to double down on their idea of a slowly evolving world. In an era packed with live service games that demand your attention on a regular schedule, Destiny 2 is the best of the best.
Runners up – Final Fantasy XIV, Warframe
Game Changer – Game Pass
The past few years have seen some crazy stuff that people wouldn’t have thought possible a decade ago. Xbox and PlayStation players are showing up in the same lobbies in some games, Nintendo released a console/handheld hybrid, and Google entered the gaming space with an entirely streaming-based solution. The biggest game changer in recent memory, however, has to be Xbox Game Pass. Players have long since dreamed of a Netflix style subscription providing access to hundreds of games, and Microsoft somehow managed to deliver on that promise. Game Pass wasn’t released this year, but it definitely hit its stride in 2019 with the service hitting PC and being bundled with Xbox Live Gold through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Game Pass is the best value in gaming right now, and the quantity and quality of titles that hit the service each month continue to surprise us. Not only do you get all of Microsoft’s first-party offerings like Forza, Halo, Gears, and all of their upcoming exclusives from their newly acquired studios, but you also get loads of excellent third-party titles like The Witcher 3, Fallout, and Devil May Cry.
Runners up – Cross-Play, Game Streaming
Best Cross-Play – Modern Warfare
During Call of Duty’s heyday, the console wars were in full swing. Xbox 360 players and PS3 players were at each other’s throats over things that ultimately didn’t matter, but the flames of war burned hot. Now, with the release of Modern Warfare, these warring factions are brothers in arms, capable of playing in the same lobbies alongside each other. Modern Warfare’s cross-play accomplishes multiple things. Alongside uniting players from multiple platforms, it also allows players to choose their preferred input method, whether that be a controller or a mouse and keyboard. Also, PC players won’t have to worry about the player base shrinking on their platform as they’ll have access to full lobbies whenever they please thanks to cross-play. All players also get access to DLC maps day and date, ridding the series of its typical one-month exclusivity for whichever platform Activision struck a deal with. Overall, cross-play is a major win for Call of Duty, bringing people together, making DLC launches simultaneous, and giving PC players peace of mind when it comes to finding matches.
Runners up – Dauntless, Fortnite
Best Expansion – Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers
Shadowbringers is the best Final Fantasy game to come out in recent memory. Final Fantasy XIV has been steadily chugging along, gaining more and more market share in the MMO space thanks to quality expansions and several crossovers with series like Monster Hunter and Nier. The game’s latest expansion, Shadowbringers, not only makes numerous changes to most of the game’s classes, but also tells one of the best stories in franchise history. Unfortunately, not enough people got to experience the thrills of Shadowbringers due to it being the third expansion to an MMO that’s been running for years. Whether you’re new or already invested in XIV, Shadowbringers is more than worth the work it takes to access the new content.
Runners up – Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, No Man’s Sky Beyond
Game of the Year – Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 Remake is one of the greatest survival horror games ever created. It takes the foundation set by the original Resident Evil 2, which is a classic in its own right, and converts it into a horrifying modern-day reimagining. Resident Evil 2 doesn’t lose anything from switching to a third-person perspective and ditching tank controls. If anything, it benefits from it, allowing the player to focus less on fighting the controls and more on managing their supplies as they work their way through the Raccoon City Police Department. The tension never lets up. Noticing you’re running low on bullets, not having enough space in your inventory for that herb you need, and hearing Mr. X’s footsteps echo throughout the halls of the RPD are all terrifying reminders of the situation you’re in. It’s hard to find flaws in Resident Evil 2. Everything about it, from the chilling atmosphere to the exceptional sound design to the extraordinarily detailed gore, comes together to create the ultimate survival horror experience. Capcom clearly has such a reverence for the source material but is also able to acknowledge its shortcomings in order to refine it for the modern age. Resident Evil 2 is not just one of the best remakes of all time, but also one of the best video games of all time.
Resident Evil 2 was also voted best remake and best multi-platform game.
- This article was updated on:January 23rd, 2020