This year was an incredible one for PC gaming. Microsoft launched its Xbox Game Pass program making dozens of titles infinitely more accessible. Publishers began abandoning their most abhorrent micro-transaction practices. Entirely new PC-exclusive genres — such as Auto-Chess — began to pop up seemingly out of nowhere. What we really saw was developers beginning to take more risks, as well as owning up to previous mistakes — and that’s a great place to be from a consumer standpoint. There wasn’t a single game that I can reflect back on that is the definitive “Game of the Year,” which you’ll definitely see in my list.
It’s also worth mentioning that 2019 saw countless older titles began to make their way onto PC. Beyond: Two Souls, Halo: Reach, and the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, each of which is the definitive way to enjoy each game or series. Although I played all of these to death, I think it’s against the spirit of a “top games” list to include them, and thus I’ll be focusing on games specifically released in 2019, beginning with:
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
I have so much to say about The Division 2. From its massive open world (of which I blogged about here), to the infinitely customizable loadouts, Ubisoft absolutely perfected the looter-shooter genre with this entry. Unlike its predecessor back in 2016, The Division 2 includes interesting and varied enemies fighting within a very living, breathing world. Gone is the tacky “MMO” feeling of the previous game, instead opting to focus in on a superior single-player experience.
I spent hundreds of hours exploring the re-creation of Washington DC completing side quests and building up each of my safe zones before I even made an attempt at progressing through the story (which is good because the story is quite meh). There’s just something so endearing about seizing an overgrown US Capitol Building or going on a lone-wolf mission to steal the Declaration of Independence that I’ve never quite experienced before.
I’m not even afraid to admit that in all my playtime I never even got around to trying the PvP mode, but I can only imagine it would even further bolster a game which perfectly executes on everything it sets out to do.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
As you could probably see from my official review, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare brought back my love for the franchise in a way I haven’t felt since Modern Warfare 3. Slowly but surely I have begun to experience the technical glitches and issues that my cohorts had been complaining about since launch, but even so there are infinite ways in which Modern Warfare still sets itself apart from the rest of the multiplayer FPS genre.
The incredible (albeit controversial) campaign, engaging co-op missions, and jaw-dropping PC optimization were a much-needed resurgence for the series. What keeps me coming back, however, is the absolute chaos that is multiplayer. Modern Warfare has it all; fast-paced 10v0 deathmatches, 64-player vehicular combat in ground war, testing your skill in 2v2 gunfight, all of which succeed in satisfying that anxiety-driven blood lust for another kill streak. This is classic Call of Duty brought to the new age, bolstered by the modern amenities we’ve come to expect like crossplay.
Not to mention the influx of content we received in the Season 1 update which adds new maps, modes, and challenges — Modern Warfare truly is the gift that keeps on giving. You bet that I’m foaming at the mouth waiting for the classic “christmas n00bs” to hop into multiplayer next week. I can only hope they end up on the other team.
I was completely blown away when asked to review Valfaris this fall. Breathtaking visuals, a crushing difficulty curve, and a head-banging soundtrack had me cranking my headphones up to 11 as I wrestled with waves of alien baddies. Charm aside, Valfaris is a well-paced and interesting platformer at its core, refusing to stagnate even in its longer segments. It’s a shame that this indie gem will likely be overlooked by a more casual audience because it’s really, really good.
It is an absolute crime that Metro: Exodus flew so far under the radar this year. Not only has the Metro series never looked so good, but it has never told a story as nuanced and engaging as Exodus. I’m sure the purists will complain that Exodus‘ mechanics have been “dumbed-down” to support a wider player base, but at its core it is still very much a Metro title.
You’ll sneak around desolate post-apocalyptic towns in search of supplies whilst blasting mutant doggies with makeshift gats in classic Metro style. But this time around there is a much greater sense of urgency as your crew (particularly Anna), has actual substance and nuance to their personalities.
Also if you’re into trains, Metro: Exodus has lots of ’em. Do yourself a favor and play this, it’s on Game Pass now.
What do you think of my picks? Check out my most anticipated games of 2020 here.