Even casual gamers have plenty to be excited for this coming year, with releases from big developers and indie outfits that’ll keep you entertained for hours. Where we could, we’ve included specific dates or seasons, but as anyone who spends any time following gaming can tell you, release dates in the industry can be harder to nail down. Here are the games we’re definitely going to be playing in 2019.
Kingdom Hearts 3
Look, cards on the table, we don’t know why we like the Kingdom Hearts series so much. It’s the weirdest mix of characters, premises, situations, and combat we’ve ever played. Case in point, a Winnie the Pooh world was just announced for Kingdom Hearts 3 and we, in our bourbon, craft beer man caves, found ourselves excited to explore the Hundred Acre Woods. It doesn’t make any sense but we’ll be damned if we don’t love it. Not to mention that by the third game’s release, it’ll be almost 14 years since a full Kingdom Hearts release, which is far too long for most of us.
We’re longtime fans of the Metro series. We’ve been playing since Metro 2033 came out the first time around and Metro: Last Light might be one of the few PC games we’ve bought outside of a Steam sale. The series is on the same level as Fallout in its ability to convey a terrifying irradiated wasteland with the added benefit of a change of scenery, bringing post-apocalyptic Moscow to very creepy life. Metro: Exodus, from what we can tell in the trailers, is the first game to really go outside Russia’s capital city. Not that we wouldn’t explore a bombed-out Moscow for three more games, but getting away from the city might be nice. It’ll allow us to see more of the game’s world and piece together more of the story around the bombings. We’re also interested to see how the developers bring Metro’s distinctive brand of unsettling suspense and supernatural horror to more suburban and rural settings.
EA is doing plenty to destroy their image as a company and turn insane greed into a primary motivator in the gaming industry, but they’re also doing plenty to publish some great games. Anthem is one of those games. It’s a giant open world multiplayer game that takes place outside of a extraterrestrial human settlement. There was a fairly extensive gameplay showcase at E3 back in 2017 that claims to have been running in-game footage. That’s not always true, but we’ll believe it for now, because, aside from the painfully scripted in-game player chat, Anthem looked great and played well. As long as that was an accurate representation of the game, we’ll check it out.
You may be getting tired of zombie games and that’s totally fair. We’re only just coming out of a weird cultural obsession that lasted a lot longer than we ever thought it would. In that case, Days Gone may not be for you. But in the game’s defense, it’s handling zombies in a much different way than almost every other game or movie on the market. In Days Gone, our real world technology has improved to the point where the developers of the game can treat zombie hordes like flowing water. Most of the time you’re being chased, all you can really do to save yourself is drop obstacles to stop the monsters or kill the first few dozen at the head of the pack to try and slow them down. That change in gameplay is the main thing that attracts us to the game. We’ve had plenty of sneaking around or hacking apart a handful of zombies. We want to see what it’s like when a thousand of them are coming for you all at once.
Jedi: Fallen Order
We can never tell how popular those early Star Wars video games were. Even in our own minds we’re not sure exactly what they were or which ones we played. The Jedi Knight series takes up a hazy section of our memory and we definitely played Tie Fighter, but apparently there were different versions. Rogue Squadron is where is starts to get clear again, but then we never really played the Battlefront entries, all the way up through the modern ones. The point is, we’re looking for somewhere to get back in. Jedi: Fallen Order is hopefully that place.
The few details available sound promising. The game supposedly follows a young Padawan who survived the Jedi purges that came at the end of Revenge of the Sith and it’ll be a single player experience that fully leans into the depressing reality of the death of the Jedi, so expect dark and gritty. Beyond that, we don’t know anything. There aren’t any trailers or the like available. All we know is we’ll be sad and we’ll get a lightsaber. Obviously we’ll keep you updated on this one as details emerge.
Skull & Bones
Hands down the best part of the third and fourth Assassin’s Creed games was sailing and fighting out on the water. What’s more, apparently people listened when fans said that, because Skull & Bones is essentially all those seafaring parts of the Assassin’s Creed games, turned into a full game of their very own. You’ll have full and fairly detailed control of your ship, able to raise and lower sails, work a few different weapon stations, and evaluate potential targets from the crow’s nest. The mechanics around the ships themselves are also deeper now. In other games, they’ve been able to get away with a few simple button pushes to go faster or fire different cannons. Now you’ll have to take weather and sailing conditions into account, to the point where you could be blown completely off course if you try to make your ship do something the wind won’t let it. It’s a deeper overall experience and we think it’s a move in the right direction for pirate gaming.
When Doom was rereleased a few years ago, we waited for it to go on sale. To be honest, we didn’t follow the first entries in the series all that closely, so this reboot wasn’t at the top of our gaming agenda. But after we played it, we saw just how wrong we were. That rerelease was one of the best things to happen to the series. Where before it was struggling to find footing and relevance, the reboot brought the series back into the cultural spotlight with a screaming heavy metal guitar riff in a double-barreled blaze of glory.
Doom: Eternal is the sequel to the reboot and, unlike last time, we’re fully on board. It looks like it’s going to be an even more ridiculous game, with more guns, more demons, more locations, more secrets, and more violence. Probably more music to go along with it. Really, we couldn’t care less about the specific plot points, weapons, or gameplay updates. What we want/need it to be is unapologetically its own, just like the first one was. As long as it’s fun (and it looks like it’s going to be) we’re going to stay up way too late playing it.
The Outer Worlds
It doesn’t look like we’re ever going to get a direct sequel to Fallout: New Vegas. On one hand, that’s disappointing. It was easily one of the best Fallout games to ever come out, and from Obsidian, a team compiled from the original developers, no less. On the other hand, that’s fine, because it frees Obsidian up to develop their very own game. The Outer Worlds is that game. It’s a space exploration game, but not one that follows in the footsteps of games that have come before it. The planets you’ll be exploring have already had settlements and cities established on them and have been around long enough that corporations saw how well they were doing and decided to take them over. The corporations even went so far as to literally freeze the original settlers to remove some of the competition the corporations’ current and future customers may face.
Tonally, the game seems very much in line with New Vegas, though most of what we know comes from the announcement trailer. The characters and settlements are all just a little bit weird with that tinge of dark humor we liked so much. You’re woken up by a guy who seems like he’s the smart version of Fantastic at Helios One. The wildlife is unique and deadly and will probably cause a good bit of frustrated swearing. Put it all together and it’s making us realize that we never really needed a New Vegas sequel. We just wanted another game from Obsidian.
Wasteland 2 was made for gamers who thought the Fallout series had gone soft gameplay wise. There’s no denying the partial reality of that sentiment. Once Fallout was out of the original developer’s (InXile) hands, certain changes were made to make the series more palatable and approachable for general audiences. When Wasteland 2 came out, not only was it the sequel to a game that came out in the very late ’80s, it was touted as a true sequel to Fallout 2. Evidently this was a successful angle, because the game was well received and is going to receive its own sequel in less than two and a half decades.
Wasteland 3 is going for an environmental change. Where the second one stayed in the American Southwest, similar to the first one and parts of its Fallout successors, the third one is venturing into the cold. Graphics are getting an update as well so things look and play a little more modern. But if you’re an RPG purist, don’t worry. One of the series’ main draws is its loyalty to the gameplay and feeling of older, deeper RPGs and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be dropping any of that.
Generation Zero asks a question we never knew we wanted the answer to. It asks, what if 1980s Sweden had all the people disappear and was invaded by killer robots? It also, unintentionally, asks the question, where are the game’s Swedish protagonists finding all these assault rifles? Right now it seems the only way to get a satisfactory answer is to buy the game when it’s finally released, which is fine by us. That gives us time to see which of our friends have the same questions and want to spend a few hours a day exploring a version of Sweden that doesn’t automatically give you healthcare and happiness as soon as you step foot in it.
The fact that Alan Wake never got a true sequel is a shame. It remains among our favorite games. Remedy Games, the developer of Alan Wake, Quantum Break, and this pick, always blends unique gameplay mechanics and exceptionally well-written stories. Alan Wake had light, Quatum Leap had time, and Control seems like it’s going to focus on telekinesis, or maybe brainpower more generally. The trailer showcases rooms and weapons that come together and apart like smooth LEGO blocks, the main character tossing stuff around the environment with small hand gestures, and enemies that seem like mind-controlled ghouls. We don’t know how that’s all going to come together in the story, but we’re confident Remedy can pull it off.
Our main source of information for Babylon’s Fall is the confusing trailer that was released at this past year’s E3. We’ve watched it a few times and still aren’t sure what we’re supposed to take away from it. What we’ve pieced together (and are prepared to be totally wrong about) is the game takes place on Earth thousands of years in the future after a handful of apocalypses have caused a weird amalgamation of the different eras of human technology. None of our modern countries exist and have been replaced by something like a mix of medieval kingdoms and futuristic mega countries. And all of this is conveyed in an animation style similar to Chinese brush work and European tapestry. Like we said, it’s a confusing trailer, but it did its job in that this is one of our main titles to follow for the year.
The Last of Us: Part II
Our compulsion to play as many story-driven games demands that we play The Last of Us: Part II. It’s a followup to one of our favorite PS3/4 games, so obviously we’re going to be picking through everything we can to find a bit of news about part two. We can’t wait to get back into the suspenseful world of body horror The Last of Us so deftly navigated. Who knew an apocalyptic world of diseased cities overgrown with greenery could be just as engrossing as the post-nuclear wastelands of some of our other favorite end of the world games?
Love it or hate it, the Halo franchise has done excellent things for video games. It’s pushed technology forward, helped establish the widespread viability of online multiplayer, and showed the importance of having a memorable main character to rally around. Obviously a franchise that’s been around as long as it has will have its problems, but for us, there haven’t been any big enough to stop us from enjoying each new release. Not much is known about 2019’s upcoming game beyond Master Chief’s presence in it, but we don’t need to know much more than that. E3’s beautiful announcement trailer showed us everything we needed.