If you didn’t already think so, it’s definitely video game season for 2019.
We’ve already had a chance to experience some amazing releases this fall like Code Vein, and some not-so-amazing releases that shall not be named (*cough* the one with that Walking Dead guy *cough*). Starting this week, this fall’s heavy hitters are going to slowly start pouring out to digital and physical stores around the world as the end of the year approaches and 2020 begins. But this time it’s a little different, despite 2019 marking the end of a console generation.
There’s a lot to look forward to for 2019’s fall and winter lineup, which isn’t usually the norm with the end of a console’s life cycle. Normally this is a time where things slow down: One or two AAA stragglers finally release at the end of the year as we prepare for the next console evolutions. Despite some unfortunate delays to Doom Eternal and The Last of Us Part II, there’s a massive lineup of amazing games coming in late 2019/early 2020 that show the PS4 and Xbox One are not done just yet. Here are some must plays as we close out the year and begin 2020, starting as early as today:
The Outer Worlds – 10/25/19
A Fallout-like RPG from the makers of Pillars of Eternity, South Park: The Stick of Truth, and Fallout: New Vegas, Obsidian is publishing this brand new IP as the first release under new ownership from Xbox Games Studios. Outer Worlds is a more condensed open-world game dominated by mega-corporations that have colonized alien planets. The player awakens from cryosleep to a world full of morally ambiguous issues and satirical caricatures of political differences. Many of the story beats will progress based on player-choice, giving players multiple avenues to complete their goals however they see fit. The Outer Worlds seems to be taking everything that made the story of New Vegas so great, and optimizing it for a unique take on non-linear storytelling. And it certainly helps that everyone is loving it so far and it’s included on Xbox Game Pass.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – 10/25/19
Yes, a new Call of Duty game comes out every year, we know that. This one is gearing up to be truly special, and while it seems like they say that every year, Modern Warfare feels a lot like it’s truly going back to its roots as the genre-shaping shooter it once was. From everything that we’ve been able to see and play so far, Modern Warfare is focusing on what initially made the series explode into popularity with Call of Duty 4 and capitalizing on these aspects to make a truly modern shooter experience. The campaign is returning with a clear focus on an engaging story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but doesn’t stray too far from the realities of war. The multiplayer we all know and love returns with satisfying movement, tactics, and gun play that feels vastly improved over previous iterations. Coop “Spec Ops” modes make a return as well. We were thoroughly impressed by the multiplayer beta as well, so it’s safe to say this is a must-buy, especially if you’ve checked out from the Call of Duty franchise before because you didn’t like the more recent games.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 – 10/31/19
Long live Gooigi. With an appropriately timed release date, Luigi’s Mansion finally returns with a third installment on the switch this Halloween. Paired with his brand new model of the “Poltergust,” Luigi has to once again save his friends who keep getting kidnapped by ghosts in hotels and mansions for some reason. This time he’s teaming up with a slimey, mirrored version of himself, aptly named “Gooigi.” Gooigi and Luigi (Ew.) have to work together through several different puzzles and challenges throughout the hotel, which can be done both solo or with a friend through same-screen coop. While this game is largely similar to other entries in the series and may not pose much of a challenge, it’s a perfect bite-sized game to add to your collection on Switch that looks like a ton of fun.
Death Stranding – 11/8/19
Ever since we heard about this game, Death Stranding has been shrouded in mystery. Even today, while we might know enough about the core of the story, it’s hard to parse how the game will actually play out as the story goes on. We’ve eagerly awaited Hideo Kojima’s next project, and now it inches ever closer to players’ hands. Norman Reedus is a delivery man in a post-apocalyptic world fighting off bandits, evil factions, and other-worldly spirits in an attempt to reunite the lost cities of America in this Sci-Fi epic. Enough said. And while review copies have in some cases already been sent out to media personnel, it’s safe to say this game is going to be the topic of conversation and debate among fans and enthusiasts for a while. It could be highly experimental, or revolutionary to how we experience games as a whole, but only time will tell. Also, you can make Norman Reedus pee on command.
Need for Speed: Heat – 11/8/19
If it’s been a while since you last played a Need for Speed game, nobody would blame you. Time and time again the franchise has attempted to rekindle its popularity from the surge it experienced during the Hot Pursuit/Underground/Most Wanted days. We’ve had reboots of Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted released, each to mediocre appeal from critics and fans alike. We’ve even had the entire franchise rebooted in 2015 with Need for Speed. With middling releases in between, it’s been a long time since we’ve had a commercially successful Need for Speed game. Heat is EA’s attempt at renewing faith in the former landmark video game franchise, and this time around all the necessary parts seem to be there. Vast and detailed character and car customization, straight-forward progression earned through race events that’s not locked behind “Speed Cards” or other extraneous currency, A beautiful Miami-inspired setting previously unseen in modern Need for Speed games, and an interesting day/night cycle that blends the traditional racing and police chases together and integrates it into game progression in a fluid way. This game has everything going for it to reinvigorate the franchise once again and bring Need for Speed back into mainstream success. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get too overshadowed by a certain aforementioned game.
Pokémon Sword and Shield – 11/15/19
We’ve never seen a traditional Pokémon game made for home consoles before, granted the Switch is often far from being considered a home console. Despite this, Pokémon makes its console debut with Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, another dual entry in one of the longest running video game and pop culture phenomenons of all time. Players will get to explore the brand new Galar region, a UK-inspired world featuring all new and returning Pokémon to catch and train. Along with all new and remixed creatures per usual (similar to the last game’s Alolan form Pokémon), Sword and Shield will feature a new mechanic called “Gigantamaxing,” which makes certain Pokémon super-sized and very powerful. Meaning in certain battles, you can fight a rival trainer with an almost comically oversized Pikachu. The games are also introducing some kind of Pokémon gig eceonomy called Poké-jobs, meaning you can basically send off certain Pokémon to do tasks in the background that gains them XP, perfect for mass leveling other Pokémon who aren’t part of your A-team. Overall, despite not being able to catch every Pokémon ever, Sword and Shield are looking to shake up the Pokémon formula once again with the 8th generation.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – 11/15/19
Finally, after a string of some questionable entries in the Battlefront series, a Star Wars single-player adventure game worthy of playing is coming this year. Jedi: Fallen Order follows Padawan Cal Kestis on his quest in a post-Order-66 galaxy, where he needs to hone his skills and survive under the Empire’s grasp. Players will traverse several worlds throughout the galaxy as they attempt to escape the Empire’s genocide of the Jedi and help organize a resistance. Combat shines in this adventure, as its been a long time since we’ve had a truly Jedi/lightsaber-centric adventure game. Movement and fighting enemies seems to be an amalgamation of “Soulsbourne” mechanics perfectly paired with force powers similar to the telekinetic abilities found in Control from earlier this year. Pair that with the Metroidvania-inspired exploration (And while not much of the exploration has been highlighted in trailers), this game sounds like it’s going to take up way more hours than you might think. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s more Star Wars.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps – 2/11/20
The sequel to the wonderful first game Ori and the Blind Forest, Will of the Wisps continues Ori’s story through an even darker world full of larger-than-life monsters. Paired with a new owl companion, Ori once again embarks into an exotic world in search of his true purpose, facing all manner of puzzles, bosses, and platforming along the way. Players will have access to all new abilities and traversal options throughout this new adventure, unlocked by finding shards to unlock and upgrade skills. The game is also including a new Spirit Trials mode for players to speed-run levels and track their times in online leaderboards. Other than, this we don’t know much about Ori and the Will of the Wisps, but that’s totally fine. Ori and the Blind Forest was praised for its charming subtlety and amazing world, which I’m sure we’ll be getting plenty more of in Will of the Wisps.
Gods and Monsters – 2/25/20
A brand new open world adventure from Ubisoft and the makers of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, comes a story based on Greek mythology and fantasy. Drawing comparisons from Breath of the Wild, Gods and Monsters seems to be a similar venture where players take on the path of a supposedly legendary warrior in order to save the Greek gods from the danger of Typhon. There’s not a whole lot we know about Gods and Monsters other than what we saw in the teaser at E3 this year, but it seems players will be taking on the greatest threat in Greek mythology with the powers of Greek gods on their side. Players will be able to wield various skills and powers such as Zeus’ thunderbolts to defeat beasts such as Hydras, Cyclops, and Minotaurs. There’s also supposedly puzzle elements that will come into play while exploring the world, though we don’t know to what extent these challenges will be implemented. The art style looks heavily stylized like a fairytale, which Ubisoft notes is influenced by a “painterly,” storybook appearance. If this game is anything like Breath of the Wild, it’ll certainly be worth checking out.
Final Fantasy VII Remake – 3/3/20
Probably unbelievable for some, but the remake of Final Fantasy VII is actually coming out relatively soon. Now granted this is supposedly going to be the first so-called “episode” in the full remake of the game, meaning there’s plenty more to come, but it’s a start. Built from scratch, Final Fantasy VII Remake is a re-imagining of the original game through modern game design. Players will assume the role of Cloud once again as they explore a fully 3D Midgar in a revamped beginning of the story. Square Enix has extended our time in Midgar substantially compared to the original game, with this entire first episode focusing on the members of “Avalanche” and their fight against Shinra. It seems Square is striking a proper balance between a faithful adapatation as well as exploring story beats further in-depth with FF7 Remake, though it’s hard to tell how that’ll play out in the full release. Battles have been completely overhauled for a more action-oriented battle system akin to Final Fantasy XV, as well as a reformed “Classic Mode” that mimics the menu and turn-based combat of the original game that players can opt-in to. All of these changes have been made respectfully, which should impress both fans and newcomers to the world of Final Fantasy VII. Absolutely give it a fair shake before you say you’re “not interested.”
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – 3/20/20
It’s been a little while since we got a new core Animal Crossing, with 2012’s New Leaf being the previous core entry in the series. Now with the immense popularity of the Switch, a new Animal Crossing game is just over the horizon, literally. (Awful, I know) Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the perfect tropical getaway for the series where players get to live life in Tom Nook’s “Deserted Island Getaway Package.” Players will be able to participate in a variety of island activities as they build up their community from scratch on a completely new island adventure. Of course, not without paying Nook Inc. for the travel costs. Time and settings plays a larger role this time around, with seasons in the game mimicking those happening in real life depending on which hemisphere you live in. Players will also be able to play together locally and online on a shared island with up to four friends locally and eight for online multiplayer. New Horizons is looking to be quite literally the perfect escape from everyday life.
Doom Eternal – 3/20/20
Originally slated for November of this year, Doom Eternal was unfortunately delayed to March 2020. Despite this, the game is shaping up to be a solid continuation of the momentum from 2016’s award-winning Doom reboot. Players return to Earth to systematically destroy every demon in their way as they learn more about the Doom Slayer’s origins and why he just rips open demons for a living. Players can expect the next improved iteration of Doom gunplay through fast-paced movement, new weapons like a shoulder-mounted flamethrower and wrist-mounted melee blade, and new abilities like double-dashing to evade enemy attacks and keep the momentum going. All of this is supported by the adrenaline-fueled soundtrack and haunting visuals of Doom that everyone knows and loves. And while we’ve discussed before that this may not be an ideal release date for Doom, we’re perfectly willing wait patiently for the next iteration to be the perfect Doom game we deserve.
Cyberpunk 2077 – 4/16/20
While I understand this is a bit of a stretch into Spring, I’d be remiss not to include Cyberpunk on this list considering this game has been one of the most anticipated games ever developed. Created by the same folks at CD Project Red who created The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, this Sci-Fi open-world RPG has been in development as early as 2012 with very little information up until E3 2018 when we got our first glimpse at gameplay. Cyberpunk 2077 plants players in the world of Night City, a futuristic city full of technology highs and society lows. As the ambiguous mercenary “V,” you have to make a living existing in this world full of moral depravity. You get to choose your backstory, customize your character’s skills and attributes, and be able to swap between different character classes on the fly to adapt to any playstyle you want. Which is perfect for a world as diverse as Cyberpunk (inspired by Blade Runner and other Sci Fi epics) that features an assortment of different characters and locations envisioned by the idea of a post-modern society. This game looks insane, and may be one of the most ambitious titles ever to be released in video games period. It would be a mistake to miss this game.
See what I mean? We have new consoles quite literally coming out next year, and still all these great games are coming out anyway. Whether you’re looking for a title that’s going to revolutionize the industry, or just want something fun to enjoy, there’s still plenty of material in the months to come to satisfy your taste and destroy your wallet.