Well 2019 has certainly been a year. Before we know it we’ll be shoveling snow and saying it’s only two weeks until e3 again. YOWZA the timeline is funny like that.
Welcome to our final Mid year list on The Young Folks staff’s choice content rollout, as we gather the games that our team have successfully got hands on time within the first 6 months of the year.
2019 has already had a treasure trove of good game content with indie darlings like Baba is You, niche genres growing into their own place with the likes of Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain, and even iconic studios like Obsidian creating new properties like the beloved The Outer Worlds. We didn’t get to play enough of those games to determine their places on these lists but we’re mentioning them here because they’re better than Anthem. Anyway, stop trying to play Anthem and check out some of these games that are, at least at this point in time, pretty iconic releases of 2019.
10. Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer featuring The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo Switch)
Look, if someone told me a year ago that this thing existed, I wouldn’t have believed it. Yet, here we are – a rhythm based roguelike set in The Legend of Zelda – and it’s spectacular. While I’ve not played Crypt of the Necrodancer, the team at Brace Yourself Games has absolutely left their mark here by taking numerous familiar elements of the Zelda franchise and making it entirely their own. It’s a particularly fine line to walk when dealing with one of gaming’s most storied franchises and not once did an element feel held back or added for the sake of fanservice; but to maximize the potential of this once in a lifetime chance. Soon as the credits rolled, I was raring to start another run. It may seem unreal, but I’m so very happy that this game exists. – Travis Hymas
9. Super Mario Maker 2 (Nintendo Switch)
Super Mario Maker 2 is a Mario game. This is great, because Mario games contain a certain baseline level of fun. This game just might be worth it’s own value to some players for the prospect of a wildly designed 100 level story mode, plus limitless online levels with varying difficulty for many years to come! That’s only half of the story, because this game is also a Super Mario Maker. Lauded by other publications as an incredibly accessible game design tool, this game brings together video game fans of all ages, regions and styles and unleashes upon them a canvas and vast toolbox that is even more overwhelming with options and customizability than ever before. The even better part is Nintendo tried their hand with the first game on the Wii U, which only betters this game for curating popular or trending levels that are actually playable, it already has a built in community of players looking to challenge themselves creatively by designing traditional, experimental or downright brutal levels for the enjoyment of others. – Evan Griffin
8. Katana Zero (Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac)
Combat is incredibly intuitive and fluid. You have the ability to dash, jump, and slash in sequence allowing you to close distance between enemies quickly. However, your enemies can act just as quickly, and remember, they can kill you with one hit. There is a special mechanic designed to accommodate this vulnerability however: the game allows you to manipulate time. Your assassin has the ability of foresight allowing you to see briefly into the future in order to set your plan of attack precisely so that you can ensure you are successful. If you die, you can rewind and reset your foresight to try again and attempt a new strategy. Katana Zero is a side scrolling platformer where, when you clear one part of a mission room, the game will show you where your next enemies are coming from. Additionally, the enemy types gradually increase in difficulty. The first set attack with their fists, the second wield melee weapons, and the third set could wield guns and wore armor, which requires two hits to kill them. Eventually players find themselves against these three sets interspersed through the levels in creative ways to create unique challenges to clear missions. – Grant Jonsson
7. The Division 2 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One,Windows, TBD on Google Stadia)
Destiny 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, The Division 2, Anthem, Apex Legends and Battlefield 5; If I was to tell you only one of these games was going to have a smooth launch date for an online multiplayer game, which one would you choose? Probably Destiny 2 or CoD right? Well the answer is The Division 2 and that fact is only a bonus to what is masterfully balanced, meticulously designed, and downright addicting gaming experience.
After building up the Division agency presence in New York during the events of the first game, Agents are called to help again, this time in the US nation capital of Washington D.C. where the White House has been turned into a major resource supply hub and is under constant attack from various gangs and other ill-intent organizations. The differences to the first game only begin there, with quests, side-quests, checkmark like objective tasks, gunplay, abilities, stat development are all improved. Guns feel more responsive to button commands, your choice of arsenal is completely open and able to be tuned to the type of playstyle each individual player is used to. Each gadget and ability feel powerful and worthy of space in your inventory. For the gadgets, not one felt underserved or overpowered; I actively had a hard time choosing which to roll out with due to them all feeling necessary and useful in their own ways. My only complaint for the game is the menu UI set up. While aesthetically pleasing, it feels overstuffed and clunky moving from menu to menu and for a game that does so much so very right, it seems strange that something so integral to the experience like the inventory, quest, and ability UI is so disappointing. To say though that this is the game’s only flaw is a win in my book and why The Division 2 is one of the best games of the year thus far. – Grant Jonsson
6. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
Since my completion of the first Dark Souls I have followed the franchise and the style of gameplay with fervent interest ever since and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was no different. Unlike the Dark Souls series however, Sekiro does not give the player the option to create his own character or attribute RPG style stat points; rather, there is a more linear story. In a reimagined Japan, you play as Wolf, a shinobi trained samurai tasked with the protection of the divine heir. Matching the trademark difficulty of the Dark Souls difficulty with a meticulously crafted story filled with high mysticism and fantasy was a stroke of brilliance. The player has characters to truly root for or against now rather than just a thinly veiled avatar tackling bosses one after the other. With the emotional connection strengthened, so too are the stakes. Each major encounter in the game serves an important narrative function either in Wolf and Kuro’s story or in the world building of this alternate history Japan.
The art, zone settings and enemy variety are also the best that From Software has ever developed. There are many unique surprises tied to specific locales of the game, as well as certain mini-boss and boss encounters that make the playthrough exhilarating and completely unpredictable. While I want to recommend taking a moment to marvel at the technical details of the game—backdrops, artwork, level design, enemy and boss design—taking a time for these can occasionally result in an unanticipated fatality. The risk is worth the moment of appreciation though; From Software deserves the praise. – Grant Jonsson
5. Days Gone (PlayStation 4)
If you’re a zombie fan and love open world games, Days Gone is most definitely the game for you. You play as Deacon St. John, a biker trying his best to stay alive and keep the peace in a world overrun with the dead. With your motorcycle and the ability to craft weapons and traps, you set off to help your friends, work with camps that you have been part of in the past and find the woman you love. As you progress through the game, you are forced to move through the environment and find new shelter. Your bike needs gas and repairs, your weapons degrade, and sometimes you have to risk your life to complete the mission at hand. And the threat isn’t just from the zombies, but from the rival camps (which even include a Mad Max-like group of enemies) and the wildlife that roams the world. Days Gone is a game that can be played in various different ways and at various speeds. Whether you want to explore the world and stock up on supplies and upgrades or if you just want to finish the story and solve the mystery of Deacon’s lost love, there is much to be had in this surprisingly fun game. – Tyler Carlsen
4. Resident Evil 2 (Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
The Resident Evil games have been talked about in the video game world for decades now, both positively and negatively. This year, one of the highest rated games in the series Resident Evil 2 was given a fresh coat of paint and a 4K remaster. Whether you’re a casual fan of the series or a die-hard fan, this game is both visually stunning and a hell of a good time. The game was already frightening and intense when it originally premiered on the PS1 back in 1998. Over two decades later (and three PlayStation consoles later) this remaster of Resident Evil 2 does not disappoint and flexes the muscles of the PS4. The character designs look incredible and the environments look gorgeous, even more so on the PS4 Pro. And with the ability to play as either Leon or Claire, you have the ability to see this great story from multiple different viewpoints. If you’re on board with this series for the horror elements, Mr. X is way more menacing when you get to see him fully remastered. Regardless of your reason for playing this game, or even if you’ve never played a Resident Evil game, this game is a perfect jumping off point and will get you hooked on the series. – Tyler Carlsen
3. Devil May Cry 5 (Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One)
The Devil May Cry series, alongside God of War, is seen as one of the catalysts for propelling the 3D action genre forward in the PlayStation 2 era. A franchise that is beloved by many but, up until this point, has been seemingly in limbo since the divisive Ninja Theory reboot. A game that wasn’t particularly atrocious, but wasn’t what the series faithful were wanting. Hope for a Devil May Cry 5 seemed slim for a long time. So when Capcom announced Devil May Cry 5 at E3 2018, fans were rightfully ecstatic. No more “Emo Dante”; Ol’ Uncle Dante was back and better than ever.
As a series known for its highly mechanical combat and stylized action set pieces, Devil May Cry 5 is a wonder to behold. The game’s core mechanics are still just as stylish as its predecessors with several layers of complexity added in for experienced players. Fans of the classic games were impressed by how buttery smooth Dante and the rest of the cast played. By himself, Dante has so many ways to fight, that it makes playing through the game again worth it; Just to see if you can learn all of the different play-styles. It’s a return to form in the truest sense. By all accounts, this is the most rewarding entry in the entire series. Combine the combat with a story that is full of charismatic characters and top-notch writing to boot, one can understand why this game has garnered so much praise. All of it culminates in an experience that cements Devil May Cry 5 as a game that both newcomers and veterans alike can enjoy. – Mark Wesley
2. Kingdom Hearts III (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
I’d call this game my holy grail, except somehow it actually exists. Leading up to the release of Kingdom Hearts III, it was hard to say what kind of game it would actually be; given that the franchise has spun off into some truly strange departures. That’s what makes it so much more surprising that KH3 is more of what the original two PS2 titles were all those years ago – except the PS4 and Xbox One can actually handle the spectacle this time. Everything about this game is quintessential Kingdom Hearts – it is strange, a bit bloated in the middle, and has exactly too many mini-games – but how many games in today’s world are willing to be that adamantly weird anymore? After all the waiting, it turns out Kingdom Hearts III was exactly what it needed to be: a fun and satisfying video game, with some people crying here and there.
1. Apex Legends (Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One)
2019 could certainly be deemed the year of Respawn Entertainment. One of many studios under the black cloud of Electronic Arts has been building up a head of steam thanks to their Titanfall series and the impending release of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order this November. But the success of the former and what got people hyped for the latter was when Respawn pulled a Beyoncé in February with the surprise release of Apex Legends. What could’ve been another addition to the growing pile of battle royale, cosmetic driven loot box generator, shooters games became one of the year’s biggest gaming phenomenons and arguably the best battle royale to date, and it arguably revolutionizes ping signal mechanics for the majority of team based multiplayer moving forward.What makes Apex so fun and freakishly addicting is its fluid gameplay. It’s essentially a spin-off of Titanfall, taking the weapons and rocky terrain of Respawn’s original creation (though sadly not the giant robots or wall running). What it lacks in robo-brawls, it makes up for in the special abilities of its distinct characters that emphasize the enjoyment of the three-person co-op squads. There’s also the crisp design of the Kings Canyon map built for those who want to snipe in the mountains or chase down targets. It takes the military shooter base and budget of Call of Duty with Respawn’s splashes of sci-fi personality. Apex Legends is Respawn’s Crock Pot of looter shooters miraculously coming up with a near-perfect gaming stew. But still, WHERE ARE THE GIANT ROBOTS?!?! – Jon Winker