It was a huge year in gaming. From the revival of classic franchises, to the success of numerous indie darlings, as the year comes to a close it’s time to reflect on our best experiences. Here is The Daily’s pick for the best video games of 2019.
“Sekiro: Shadow Die Twice”
Controversial? Yes. A new beginning? Yes. Mentally strenuous and engaging? Yes. A game for everyone? No. “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is a masterpiece of gaming because it does not compromise. After concluding their critically acclaimed series “Dark Souls,” developers FromSoftware had a vision and stuck to it. That vision is “Sekiro”: the 15th century Japanese themed, stealth, action adventure that had gamers either glued to their screens or screaming at it. “Sekiro” is hard, very, very hard. But it’s exactly this struggle which allows the player to appreciate the craft and sophistication that went into this game. “Sekiro” does not accommodate for its audience, the audience must accommodate to it. To endure it is to admire it. “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is committed to an artistic message. It is that commitment that makes it the best game of 2019.
“The Outer Worlds”
“The Outer Worlds” is proof that video games have transitioned into the age of intertextuality. The relationship between “The Outer Worlds” and video classics is one of homage and reverence. It’s fitting that this game was released in 2019 because veteran gamers will find that “The Outer Worlds” is a nostalgia trip through some of the best games of the decade. Developed by some of the best brains behind the Fallout series, “The Outer Worlds” plays very similarly but also borrows creative mechanics from other successful games. Blasting your way through an art deco inspired galaxy controlled by corporate oligarchy is well … a blast. Despite its many allusions to classic video games and sci-fi, “The Outer Worlds” manages to tell a story with political relevance while still keeping things light hearted. “The Outer Worlds” puts video games into the context of cultural history and reminds old time gamers how far the medium has come.
“Mordhau” is a competitive first-person medieval warfare game with a skill ceiling so high, I could get a Masters degree in it. This indie darling not only managed to capture the attention of the steam community, but also all my free time. The thrill of charging into battle along 60 plus players, shields ready and swords primed is a thrill second to none. The best part of this game is its complex and difficult but rewarding combat. “Mordhau” is a game of infinite approaches. By utilizing slashes, lunges, faints and blocks, combat turns into a dance. You’ll probably get sliced to bits in your first couple hours, but stick around for a while and you’ll be a master knight wielding excalibur as your sword.
“Mortal Kombat 11”
For a franchise that revels in gore and spectacle, who thought that slowing things down would make for a better game? This is exactly what “Mortal Kombat 11” does. By taking everything down a pace, “Mortal Kombat 11” delivers the best fighting experience I’ve had in years. So long are the days of button mashing and cheap wins. I now feel like I can have a fair fight with my friends. Add back the signature gore and bloody finisher moves and what you get is a game that provides desensitizing masochistic fun for everyone in the family. I’ve lost count of how many arguments I’ve settled over “Mortal Kombat” this year.
“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare”
I never thought I’d see the day, much less be the one to report it, but “Call of Duty” has made a comeback. For about a decade, “Call of Duty” was a washed up celebrity, showing up every year, managing to turn a couple heads, but at the end of the day, still irrelevant. After making cookie cutter game after cookie cutter game, people were tired and any fan who wasn’t a prepubescent boy would agree that “Call of Duty” had seen better days. Taking a much needed break and not even including a single player campaign in the last installment, Activision has returned with a game that is so rich in visual detail it scares me. “Modern Warfare” looks and sounds like real life. Stalking through a terrorist hideout with night vision goggles and silenced weapons might sound like standard video game affair. Yet its creaking of the floorboards, the quiet ding of bullet casings falling to the ground, the shortening of breath as your character is about to open a door. These tiny details accentuate every experience making “Modern Warfare” the most realistic game I’ve played in 2019.