Tilting at Pixels’ Top Games of 2019

“Game Most Likely Named By An Algorithm”

These games sound like the particular sort of nonsense that only a neural network could generate.

Winner: Robotics;Notes DaSH
Runners-up: Love Live! School Idol Festival All Stars, Death end re; Quest

“WTF, that came out this year?”

Between long development times and the popularity of early access, many games get an "official" release long after most of us have played them. Or, in the case of our winner, long before anyone should.

Winner: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Runners-up: Walking Dead: The Final Season, Slay The Spire

“WTF, that isn't officially out yet?”

Some games feel like they've been out forever, when in fact they've never been officially released.

Winner: Factorio
Runners-up: Dota Underlords, Hades

Games We'd Most Like to See Speed Runners Break

There's nothing quite like watching a speed runner absolutely dismantle a game in their pursuit of a faster time. These are the games we're most excited to see utterly broken.

Winner: Ape Escape (winner in perpetuity)
Runners-up: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Resident Evil 2

Best Game Designed to Trick You Into Learning

While there are plenty of explicitly educational games out there, this category is meant to instead honor the games that manage to sneak a bit of educational content in when you least expect it.

Winner: Ring Fit Adventure
Runners-up: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey - Discovery Mode, Baba Is You

Dark Souls of the Year Award

Every game is now basically the Dark Souls of something, but these are the Dark Soulsiest of the lot.

Winner: Star Wars: Fallen Order (like Dark Souls but Star Wars)
Runners-up: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (like Dark Souls but Sengoku Era Japan), Code Vein (like Dark Souls but anime)

Best Game We Don't Want to Play

These games are great in theory. We love what they're doing. We just don't want to spend as much time actually playing them.

Winner: Shenmue III
Runners-up: Sayonara Wild Hearts, Mordhau

Grittiest/Griddiest Reboot

Gritty reboots are an annual staple for the video game industry, but 2019 marks the first year we've had a Griddy reboot as well.

Winner: World of Warcraft Classic
Runners-up: Grid, Resident Evil 2

Best Geoff Keighley Appearance

Geoff has a way of popping up everywhere you might and might not expect him. 2019 was no exception.

Winner: Death Stranding
Runners-up: The Video Game Awards, Fortnite: Star Wars

Game Pass Game of the Year, Presented by spiffymarc

The Game Pass library is deep. Which available games make it worth a purchase? We turn to our Senior Xbox Analyst to find out.

Winner: Void Bastards
Runners-up: Outer Wilds, The Life is Strange Franchise, Gears 5, Crackdown 3

From our correspondent:
Game Pass continues to be the best way to find new indie favourites and to see the latest disappointing installments of Gears and Crackdown without having to purchase them. Bingeing the entire Life is Strange franchise is worth the price of admission alone.
Marc Chambers, Senior Xbox Analyst

Game of the Year 2019

Here we go. Let's count it down!

#10. Untitled Goose Game

Untitled Goose Game demonstrates how effective a simple, concise concept can be. Namely, what if a real jerk of a goose got loose in some nice English village? You are that goose. A right bastard of one.

#9. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

After the previous Star Wars game had a business model so shady state legislatures got involved, fans were right to be skeptical. Fortunately, Star Wars: Fallen Order delivers on all the promise Star Wars has to offer. Force Powers, Lightsabers, and a planet-hopping adventure to unravel a Jedi mystery.

#8. Out of the Park Baseball 20

OOTP continues to be the best sports video game franchise out there, and OOTP 20 was no exception. In addition to the tried-and-true simulation baseball action, this year added Perfect Team mode and a variety of other enhancements that made it the best one yet.

#7. Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fire Emblem is back and bigger than ever, and now contains just a dash of Persona. As Garreg Mach Monastery's latest professor, you now have students to teach and lesson plans to draft between classic turn-based RPG battles. The sprawling cast, setting, and relationship interactions all compliment each other shockingly well, making this 2019's best RPG.

#6. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint

This was an unexpected delight. The combination of Breakpoint's mysterious island setting, engaging stealth gameplay, and hilariously dumb-as-a-rock protagonist made this title into way more than the sum of its parts. Add to that some memorable multiplayer hijinks and you have yourself one of 2019's best games.

#5. Control

Trevor's Game of the Year and a truly unexpected surprise. Control is an action-adventure game full of elements straight from the X-Files and the SCP Foundation. At this point we're all used to battling dragons and evil wizards, but Control takes things another direction. What if your enemy was a telekenetic floppy disk or a teleporting rubber ducky instead? With each conquered bedeviled item, your own powers grow, leading to a game with a fantastic sense of escalation. By the end, it'll feel like you're playing something completely different.

#4. World of Warcraft Classic

The care that Blizzard put into resurrecting WoW was so deeply evident that it really overpowers any quibbles we might have. While some of the phasing issues at launch were a bummer, this was on the whole an incredibly successful re-release of one of the greatest games ever made.

#3. Death Stranding

An interesting, different game with grand ambitions that it sometimes delivered on, Death Stranding lies just on the cusp of true greatness. The first 5-10 hours of monotonous deliveries are legitimately among the most compelling video game experiences in recent memory.

#2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

While we prefer the core Dark Souls franchise from a pure gameplay perspective, Sekiro has a lot of other things going for it. In particular, the setting and visuals are extremely compelling and the boss fights are novel and very difficult. This is a deserved entry into the Souls-adjacent canon, but also a game that stands just fine on its own merits.

#1. Resident Evil 2

After quite a few disappointing Resident Evil entries in a row, it started to feel like the series had lost its way. Resident Evil 2 was a monumentous course correction, bringing back all the horror and mystery Resident Evil lost somewhere in its sprawling lineage. The halls of the R.C.P.D. are filled with zombies, lickers, and the mysterious Mr. X, here to hound you relentlessly as you make your escape from the city. The atmospheric tension and methodical pacing made Resident Evil 2 the best game of 2019.

Complete stack rank

  1. Resident Evil 2
  2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  3. Death Stranding
  4. World of Warcraft Classic
  5. Control
  6. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint
  7. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  8. Out of the Park Baseball 20
  9. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  10. Untitled Goose Game
  11. Slay the Spire
  12. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  13. Anno 1800
  14. Tetris 99
  15. The Outer Worlds
  16. Ring Fit Adventure
  17. Devil May Cry 5
  18. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
  19. Life is Strange 2
  20. Outer Wilds
  21. Apex Legends
  22. Void Bastards
  23. Cadence of Hyrule
  24. Samurai Shodown
  25. Tom Clancy's The Division 2
  26. Destiny 2: Shadowkeep
  27. NBA 2K20
  28. Mortal Kombat 11
  29. Trials Rising
  30. Shenmue III
  31. NHL 20
  32. Madden NFL 20
  33. Pokémon Sword and Shield
  34. Kingdom Hearts III
  35. Anthem
  36. Days Gone
  37. Rage 2
  38. Dauntless