DualShockers’ Favorite Games of 2019 — Ben's Top 10
From games like Apex Legends to The Outer Worlds, 2019 proved to me that there were a huge variety of games to enjoy across all genres.
As 2019 comes to a close, DualShockers and our staff are reflecting on this year’s batch of games and what were their personal highlights within the last year. Unlike the official Game of the Year 2019 awards for DualShockers, there are little-to-no-rules on our individual Top 10 posts. For instance, any game — not just 2019 releases — can be considered.
I’m not really sure where to begin with 2019. It’s a year I’ve certainly grown a hated for, and the gaming landscape has been incredibly volatile at times. We’ve seen the Sekiro discourse send a barrage of abuse towards both disabled gamers and journalists. We’ve seen a well-known publisher hold an AMA on 4Chan. We’ve seen E3 doxx nearly every journalist that has attended the event.
However, amongst the dark days we’ve had some great games come out in 2019, and I’ve been enjoying a handful of games I never would have experienced if it wasn’t for Xbox Game Pass. I’ve also been front and center in helping to direct change to how video games are made more accessible for players, but more on that at a later date.
So, here’s my top 10 list of games that I’ve been enjoying in 2019.
10. The Outer Worlds
Originally this title from Obsidian Interactive was going to be higher up on my list, but after pondering on it I realized that it doesn’t entirely deserve to go too high. I enjoyed it, I completed it, I gushed about it for numerous weeks, and I found Parvati, a video game character I adored. But while I really enjoyed the game, it started to become a chore even thinking about picking it back up and trying to go through it all again. The combat felt groggy, the side-quests were a bit naff, and it wasn’t much of a broad open-world as I initially expected.
Saying that though, I did find the writing between the companions and the main storyline characters incredibly engaging and enjoyable to sit through. I liked how the acting reflected wonderfully on dialogue options I chose, and as a result, I found myself heavily engrossed in the story right up until the end where it told me the fate of those on my team that I may have neglected somewhat. The brilliant writing was enough for The Outer Worlds to have left an incredibly positive impression on me.
Check out DualShockers‘ review for The Outer Worlds.
9. The Orange Box
I’m going to cheat a bit here. Earlier in 2019, I went through Portal for the hell of it; another journey through Valve’s puzzler with portals and an evil robot that sings about cake. I’ve played it God knows how many times and it still never gets old. I also jumped on Team Fortress 2 when news sparked up about the game no longer being supported by Valve for the time being. Hearing the news sent me down a nostalgic trip from my many hours spent with it. Returning to it was somewhat heart-warming to be back in the world, but at the same time heart-breaking that it seems riddled with hackers now. Despite that, it was still brilliant to go back.
With Half-Life: Alyx being revealed, I wanted to spark up my memories of the Half-Life world again. So I booted up Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, and then managed to get through Half-Life 2: Episode Two before becoming busy with this journalism lark. Safe to say, The Orange Box is by far my favorite collection of games that will always remain fun to play no matter how many years have passed, even now in 2019.
8. Ape Out
Devolver Digital’s crazy ooh-ah-ah game was one I enjoyed for hours, and still find myself picking it up every now and again. The gameplay was challenging at best, and had a soundtrack that reacted to the combat which kept me wanting to keep the fight going at all costs, even if it meant bleeding out everywhere. The sounds of the punches, gunfire, and limbs splattering were all of high-quality and kept Ape Out feeling more like a large-scale action flick rather than a small indie title.
The art style was also something I found to be the most memorable; it had a clash of gritty textures that seemed to blend in well with the vibrant orange ape. The harder modes for a bigger challenge were also incredibly frustrating but were always tempting for that “one more go” mentality. The one that stood out the most to me was the mode in which you have to break back into the place from which you escaped, but you’ve only got one life. The Metroidvania twist here left me with hours of extra fun trying to beat it.
Check out DualShockers review for Ape Out.
7. Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley is a game that I’ve always wanted to play, but one I never got round to until I got the Switch. Stardew Valley is one of those games that seems perfect for portability; I’ve always enjoyed relaxing games in which you can do simple things such as farming, but the pixel art style adds to the aesthetic that I found myself being drawn towards. I particularly enjoy the music combined with the gentle sounds of nature flittering through the world. Eventually, I found myself putting it down for a good few months, and it’s always sat there beckoning me to play it again.
It wasn’t until recently when I heard there was a new update for it that I picked it back up and jumped into an entirely new game, deleting my old farm. Upon doing so, I’ve rejuvenated my love for it and I’m glad I’m back on the scene for it. My only question is, will I continue enjoying it when Animal Crossing: New Horizons comes out, or will I abandon it for a town of overly happy animals? Time will tell.
6. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Thank you Xbox Game Pass; if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have finally tried Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Originally, I never picked the game up because I didn’t think I’d enjoy it. There was no reason, in particular, it just didn’t draw me in. However, all the talk of how it represents mental health and how the graphics are stunning was enough for me to download it and try it out. I was blown away. The binaural sound design is really quite something to behold, especially with a good set of headphones. The character animations are lovely and the combat felt heavy and impactful.
I wasn’t a fan of the Metroidvania-theme that lingers throughout the game, but it certainly adds to the tension of trying to stay alive just so you don’t have to go through it all again. It’s certainly a game I’ve had a great time with, and am still enjoying playing it now as we wait for the sequel to arrive with the Xbox Series X.
5. Tetris 99
I’ve always been a fan of Tetris, the old version and any modern-at-the-time iterations. When Tetris 99 was announced, I won’t lie, I groaned: “Ugh, another Battle Royale attempt.” Little did I know that I grew to love it almost instantly. The matches can be quick, some can be lengthy and challenging. Some can be frustrating and some can leave me cocky and proud. I had started to grow fed up of it being constantly online though, and while I don’t agree that the single-player mode is locked behind a paywall, I paid for it.
The Big Blocks DLC is actually great, allowing me to play it with friends on the same system without needing to worry about 97 other players battling against us. The marathon mode is also addictive, with me racking up over 500 lines in one match. The fact that the game is still sporting a good deal of players online is also fantastic because whenever I want to jump online and play it, there’s always players there to fill 99 slots.
Check out DualShockers‘ review for Tetris 99.
4. Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves is still my all-time pirate game, even in 2019. I still get a lot of satisfaction from it, especially when it comes to just hanging out and having fun with friends or family. There’s always something to find, quests to do, and enemy ships to battle, but not only that, the game is continually being supported with more and more updates. These updates bring small changes and some big changes, such as the addition of fire which I find devastatingly good fun. I can’t get enough of the game, and while sailing alone can be boring, it’s still somewhat relaxing and a lovely escape from life.
Check out DualShockers‘ review for Sea of Thieves.
3. Rocket League
Okay, the new Blueprints update has kind of angered the community, and I myself am annoyed that all the items I was planning to trade are now suddenly not tradable. But it goes without saying, Rocket League is still one of my favourite titles, specifically on the Switch. I used to play it on PC, then I switched to Xbox, but I’ve found myself more comfortable with it on the Switch due to the portability and being able to lounge around while knocking my balls around (you know what I mean).
What I most enjoy about the game though is the full cross-platform play that allows me to enjoy it with friends and family on different platforms. It’s an absolute godsend and keeps the game thriving with players.
2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I just can’t not have a year where I don’t pick this game up. Now it’s getting even harder to ignore despite being several years old because it’s being re-released on everything. It landed on the Nintendo Switch and sparked up the whole hype surrounding it again, then just as the chatter dies down, it heads over to Xbox Game Pass too. In addition to that, the Netflix series went live this month, making 2019 a pretty big year for The Witcher fans.
I still love jumping into the game, whether it’s to carry on with my quests I still haven’t completed, or to wander the expansive world for no reason but exploration, or to just take photos with Nividia Ansel. I’ve also found myself starting the game from scratch earlier this year because I forgot where I was, but this meant I got to experience the brilliant missions towards the start of the game, especially those with the Bloody Baron. It’s a game I don’t think I’ll ever tire of.
1. Apex Legends
A surprise favorite of mine. I tried getting into other Battle Royale games such as PUBG, Fortnite, Battlefield V‘s Firestorm mode, etc, but none have stuck with me. It wasn’t until Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends hooked me. I love nearly everything about it; the art is lovely, the way it feels to play is fluid, and the Ping system is revolutionary with me not even needing to use a headset to communicate.
The game has done well for itself since launch. While lately it has been slow on updating the game with new content, eventually the developers caught up and started introducing quality content over quantity. It’s a game I keep wanting to play, a game I continually enjoy despite dying so many times I fear my team despises me, and a game that I hope continues to be supported and inspires more multiplayer games to incorporate a Ping system.
Check out the rest of the DualShockers staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards:
December 23: DualShockers Game of the Year Awards 2019
December 25: Lou Contaldi, Editor-in-Chief // Logan Moore, Managing Editor
December 26: Tomas Franzese, News Editor // Ryan Meitzler, Features Editor
December 27: Mike Long, Community Manager // Scott White, Staff Writer
December 28: Chris Compendio, Contributor // Mario Rivera, Video Manager // Kris Cornelisse, Staff Writer
December 29: Scott Meaney, Community Director // Allisa James, Senior Staff Writer // Ben Bayliss, Senior Staff Writer
December 30: Cameron Hawkins, Staff Writer // David Gill, Senior Staff Writer // Portia Lightfoot, Contributor
December 31: Iyane Agossah, Senior Staff Writer // Michael Ruiz, Senior Staff Writer // Rachael Fiddis, Contributor
January 1: Ricky Frech, Senior Staff Writer // Tanner Pierce, Staff Writer // Laddie Simco, Staff Writer