The days of waiting for the holiday season for the year’s hottest video games are long gone. Just a few months in, 2019 is shaping up to be one of the best years for gaming yet, with satisfying AAA releases like Resident Evil 2 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice landing alongside delightful indie experiences like Wargroove and Ape Out. EA’s Apex Legends shook the entire gaming world as the new king of battle royale, and Tetris 99 quickly became our new favorite Nintendo Switch addiction. World of Warcraft: Classic is around the corner as well, which has gotten WoW fans pumped. And we’re just getting started.
Here are the best games of 2019 so far.
Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 isn’t just a great remake -- it’s one of the best Resident Evil games ever made. This enthralling horror romp transforms Capcom’s 1998 classic into a modern third-person action game, one that’s dripping with eerie atmosphere and terrifying enemies without sacrificing the exploration, puzzle solving and hidden secrets that made the original so special. Iconic characters Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield are given all-new life thanks to some excellent performances, and Capcom’s RE Engine makes the Raccoon City Police Department more hauntingly beautiful than ever. And as for the scares… let’s just say that, even four playthroughs later, I still tense up when I hear Mr. X’s thundering footsteps. – Mike Andronico
Battle royales — you either love them or hate them. However, with the momentum of the genre over the past few years, we’re seeing more unique interpretations of these titles than ever before. And if Fortnite or PUBG didn’t quite cut it for you — as they didn’t for me — then you’ll want to dip your toes into Apex Legends. Developed by Respawn Entertainment, the team behind Titanfall 2, Apex hits many of the same beats as those aforementioned genre mainstays, but tweaks the formula with radically different characters and classes, each with special abilities, a-la Overwatch. It also throws respawning into the mix, which should be a welcome addition for anyone who gets easily frustrated with the overall lack of play time battle royales provide. And if all of that isn’t enticing enough, Apex is free — so there’s literally no risk to try one of 2019’s biggest gaming phenomenons. – Adam Ismail
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Fans of FromSoftware have already suffered through Demon's Souls, the Dark Souls trilogy and Bloodborne — and paradoxically, enjoyed every second of them. The latest tough-but-fair adventure in From's arsenal is Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. This action/adventure game, set during Japan's Sengoku period, deftly combines history, fantasy and tear-your-hair out gameplay that's so deep and satisfying, you'll have to come back, no matter how many times you throw your controller down in frustration. Playing as a samurai called "the one-armed wolf," you'll have to master intense swordplay, sprawling levels filled with secrets and a device called the "shinobi prosthetic," which lets you grapple to distant platforms, fire shurikens, tear away enemy shields and more. Come for the demanding gameplay; stay for the beautiful, minimalist story and setting. – Marshall Honorof
From the joyous Puyo Puyo Tetris to the enrapturing Tetris Effect, the world’s most iconic video game continues to reinvent itself into something special year after year. The Switch-exclusive Tetris 99 is no exception, bringing the classic line-clearing action of Tetris into the red-hot world of battle royale. The concept is simple: you and 98 other players attempt to play the best Tetris you can, clearing bricks and sending debris to your opponents until there’s only one player standing. But Tetris 99’s layers of depth quickly reveal themselves, as you can strategically choose which players you want to attack as you frantically clear your own game board. Tetris 99 is the perfect Switch game to play in 10-minute chunks, but be warned: once you start, it’s extremely hard to stop. – Mike Andronico
Devil May Cry 5
Calling Devil May Cry 5 one of the best games of the year is most certainly an understatement. Fans have been waiting for a true sequel to the Devil May Cry series for over a decade, and it's wild to see how many improvements that Capcom has made to its beloved series after all of this time. For those that don’t know, the DMC series revolves around two main characters, Dante and Nero, that travel across the world killing demons for a living and it’s all presented through hack and slash gameplay that focuses on how stylish you are at comboing your moves. This latest iteration revamps the graphics and world design with the gorgeous new RE Engine, the hack and slash combat feels more intricate and exhilarating than ever before, and its story is immensely satisfying for those that have followed along all these years. – Rami Tabari
When the Advance Wars franchise was discontinued in 2008, its unique take on turn-based strategy was not followed up by anyone else. Eleven years later, we have Chucklefish’s Wargroove, a fantasy-themed evolution of the idea. Push forward across a map, capture buildings to fund your army and build new units, then send those units into beautifully pixel-animated battle. All units across the four factions are functionally identical, with the main difference coming from each group’s three unique commanders, who lead the charge with enhanced health and attack power, plus a special ability that charges over time. You can play in several ways too, going through the story campaign, playing in multiplayer matches either simultaneously or asynchronously, or designing your own maps, campaigns and cutscenes to tell your own stories. No matter how you enjoy your strategy games, Wargroove can provide for it. – Richard Priday
Dirt Rally 2.0
The magical thing about rallying is that it’s as much about beating the elements as it is about beating your opponents’ times. And no game recreates the treacherous nature of the sport quite like Dirt Rally 2.0. Codemasters’ latest entry in its long-running racing game series breaks away from the broadness of Dirt 4 and its varied off-road racing disciplines, and redirects the focus squarely on rally and rallycross. In doing so, 2.0 delivers the most visceral, all-consuming experience you’ve ever had barrelling through the Australian Outback, or the forests of Poland in a video game. There are no frills here, and Dirt Rally 2.0 is arguably barebones to a fault when it comes to its single player design. Yet, in terms of vehicle dynamics, stage design and the sheer terror of being at the edge of control, nothing short of being in an actual rally car comes close. – Adam Ismail
On paper, Ape Out — in which you control an ape escaping the confines put on it by man — doesn't really sound like a triumph. But through sheer inventiveness and fun, Ape Out smashed through expectations and into our hearts. Super simple controls (one button for smash, another for grab) make it easy for anyone to jump in, but you'll stay addicted because of Ape Out's simple Saul Bass-esque visuals and jumpy jazzy score. If you loved Hotline Miami, you'll also appreciate Ape Out's top-down point-of-view design, which makes it feel like the spiritual successor to that neon-soaked franchise. – Henry T. Casey
The Division 2
At E3 2018, we awarded The Division 2 “Most Improved Game” for the positive changes the title. After listening to fan concerns over the first game, Ubisoft went back to the lab and created a game full of twists, turns and interesting new factions. The popular Dark Zone has been split into three and more classes and customization options allow you to really play your way. The first raids are starting to drop and will be the first time any Division title will have eight-person teams. Ubisoft also has plans to launch another specialization, effectively shaking up the gameplay even more. In short, the post-viral apocalyptic FPS is back and better than ever. – Sherri L. Smith
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
I will ride this particular hobby horse for as long as I need to: Gamers in the West don't appreciate the Tales series nearly enough. This long-running series of JRPGs features charming characters, complex narratives and real-time battle systems, and it's never really had a bad installment. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition revitalizes the sleeper hit from 2008 with full HD graphics, new playable characters and compatibility with all four major systems. (Previously, only Xbox owners could play it.) Players take control of Yuri Lowell and his band of lovable misfits as they explore a rich fantasy world, full of colorful villains, powerful weapons and tricky moral dilemmas. Even level-grinding feels fun, thanks to a fast-paced battle system that tests both your reflexes and your strategy. – Marshall Honorof
Far Cry: New Dawn
There’s just something about a Far Cry game I just can’t say no to. Is it the colorful characters? Sure. The increasingly ridiculous weapons? Affirmative. The resulting wanton violence? Absolutely. Throw in a nuclear apocalypse and not one, but two compelling villains and you’ve got Far Cry: New Dawn. Set 17 years after the bombs dropped, you’re once again tasked with helping the denizens of Hope County beat back the forces of tyranny. This time it's the nihilistic Highwaymen and their leader, The Twins. There’s plenty of fan service to be had as you discover the fates of some of your County Faves. But you’ll also have the chance to maintain bases, forge new alliances and see other parts of the country. So strap in, gear up and get ready to kick some ass. – Sherri L. Smith
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