With E3 in the rear view mirror and the summer months in full effect, I figured it’s a good time to look back on the first half of 2019 before the insanity of the fall and holiday season consumes us. That’s why I figured it’s time we pause the action to discuss some of the notable games we’ve seen in 2019 so far. Consider this a mini Gamer Crash Awards.
As it stands, you’ll likely see at least some of these games mentioned again later in the year when we get to the actual awards. For this mini-edition, I’ve decided to create a bunch of off the wall categories in addition to naming some of my favorite games of 2019 so far. I’m also including at least one thing that disappointed me as well.
Better yet, this list is absolutely going to help me remember what I actually played earlier this year. I don’t know about you but by the end of the year, my brain is overwhelmed by new releases and games I’ve played over the past few months. It’s hard to remember all the games I enjoyed at the start of the year.
So without further adieu, here are some of my favorite (and not so favorite) games from the first half of 2019:
Game I Need To Spend More Time With – Bloodstained
Considering that Konami seems generally disinterested in making decent games anymore, even though they have a ton of great IPs, Koji Igarashi decided it was time to venture out on his own to make a classic Castlevania style experience. It went on to bank of ton of money through Kickstarter and last month we finally got the finished product.
I’m super early into the game, but I really like what I’ve experienced. Couple that with all of the positivity from the general populous and I think Iga has a major hit on his hands. It feels like a Symphony of the Night, while modernizing the genre with new ideas. It’s refreshing, fun, and a game that I really need to sit down and play more of.
Game I want to like but I’m terrible at – Apex Legends
I absolutely love the Titanfall IP, and even though it’s not a mainline game in that franchise, I couldn’t help but find myself drawn to the free-to-play Apex Legends. Part of the appeal is that it exists as part of that universe and the fact that the gunplay is still just outstanding. Plus, they have a number of really cool features like the ping system, jumpmaster role, reviving, and more.
Unfortunately, it’s a Battle Royale game, a genre that I’m generally not great at and doesn’t really appeal to me. With Season 2 finally here, they added a new hero, changed up the map a bit, and added some much needed quality of life updates. I’ve been thinking of giving the game another shot, but without the feeling of need to dedicate myself to it, it’s unlikely I’ll be getting better at it anytime soon. And that’s okay.
The Heartbreaker Award – Anthem
Boy, this one hurts. I was all in on Anthem before it launched. I mean, it had all the markings of a great game coming from the RPG powerhouse BioWare and mixing class based third person combat. Plus, the promise of a cool story, character progression, and of course, loot.
As we now know, the game quickly fell apart once it released. Everything from glitches, odd gameplay choices, a less than compelling story, and boring loot really undermined the entire experience. Couple that with a community that has largely abandoned the game and the damaging behind the scenes look at the long and chaotic development cycle leaves the game in a precarious state going forward.
I applaud the team for continuing trying to improve things and I really hope they do, but it’s likely too little too late for me.
The Meh Award – Rage 2
The marketing for Rage 2 was on point…well…outside of the Andrew W.K. stuff at E3 last year. Between all of the cool new trailers to the fact that id Software was partnering up with Avalanche Studios, I couldn’t help feel like Rage 2 was going to be the game the first one was supposed to be.
In the end, it was more like its predecessor than I assumed it would be. Now, I’m not saying Rage 2 is a bad game because it’s certainly not. It’s well made and the combat is easily the best part of the whole thing. The guns feel great and the powers definitely help to add a little spice to encounters. However, the rest of it just kind of feels like a paint by numbers open world experience. It’s fine but I grew tired of it and the formulaic missions and side content. Plus, it didn’t help that the driving somehow felt worse than the first game. Again, Rage 2 isn’t a bad game, it’s just…well, it’s fine.
Late to the Party Award – Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
There’s always at least one or two games that I miss out on. For 2018, it was Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. I’m a big fan of this franchise, so I really can’t tell you why I skipped out on this one. I’m going to chalk it up to the insane release schedule and the fact that I knew this wasn’t going to be a short game.
And it isn’t. It’s a massively huge open world set in Ancient Greece, which is just a fantastic time period for this franchise to visit. You play as a Spartan warrior (mercenary) with a legendary lineage who gets pulled into a conspiracy. The game looks gorgeous, it’s incredibly fun, and it has a nearly overwhelming amount of things to do. It’s very easy to get lost within this world.
Interestingly enough, Ubisoft could have easily spun this off as its own franchise because in my opinion, it barely qualifies as an Assassin’s Creed game. There’s a very loose connection, but if you didn’t know the title, you probably would never know it was an AC game.
Honorable Mention – The Messenger
Just a small shout out to the Ninja Gaiden-esque indie game called The Messenger. I’ve been playing it on my Switch and it’s a fantastic experience. Side-scrolling action platformer with some challenging (but fair) boss fights. The story is interesting, the writing is top notch, and the controls are extremely tight.
Game that Won’t Lie Me Go – Destiny 2
As many of you may know, Destiny 2 isn’t a new game by any means. It’s continually updated with new content, though for me, I decided to take a break a few months ago. I wasn’t too keen on the Annual Pass content and that it gated a good chunk of content behind it. I had done most of what I wanted and was content to move on.
Fast forward to E3 2019 when Bungie revealed its plans for a life without Activision and the future. As I wrote last week, I was impressed with what they had to say, where they want to take the franchise, and that they seem to be focusing on us, the fans. The reveal kind of reinvigorated my passion for the series and the fact that the Annual Pass was on sale for like 75% of the price pulled me back in.
With so much content to catch up on, Destiny 2 has kept me quite busy. I’m loving my return and I’m very much looking forward to the next expansion, Shadowkeep.
My Favorite Games of 2019 so far:
There’s a few more games I’d like to point out as well from early 2019. No silly awards for these five, just a mention that they really stood out to me among the crowd.
- The Division 2 – Taking the formula from the original and expanding upon it tenfold. It’s very clear that the team utilized the feedback from the first game because The Division 2 is bigger and better in every way. Better yet? Free DLC to keep the community intact.
- Super Mario Maker 2 – Yes, it came out a few weeks ago, but I think we all knew that this would be a hit. Just like The Division 2, Mario Maker 2 takes the formula that everyone loved from the first game and expanded it out with more content. We’ve already seen some masterwork levels from the community, which should only get better the longer people can play with the available tools.
- Mortal Kombat 11 – What can you say, really? NetherRealm knows how to craft a damn good single player campaign, something most probably wouldn’t think possible since this is a fighting game. The visuals are gorgeous, the fighting has never been better, and there’s just a ton of content players can delve into. The tutorials are incredibly in depth and the Krypt is now Shang Tsung’s Island, where you can run around and explore.
- Devil May Cry 5 – This one surprised me a bit considering I’m not a huge DMC guy. Devil May Cry 5 is not only very easy to get invested in, the action and combat is straight up fun and addictive. The pacing and difficulty are pitch perfect and switching between three compelling characters make for one massively entertaining experience.
- Katana Zero – This last one kind of came out of no where for me. This smaller indie title is unbelievably stylish and has a very interesting story to go with it. You play an amnesiac samurai working to unravel a plot, though the moment to moment action has you running through rooms slicing and dicing up enemies. While you can temporarily slow down time, the trick here is that one hit takes you back to the start of the room you’re in. Because of this, overcoming a particularly tough encounter definitely provides a hugely satisfying feeling.