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Game of the year: the best games of 2019

It’s that time of year again: the period when we argue about, and celebrate, our favorite games that came out in the last 12 months. 2019 was a bit of a strange year in that regard, with few big-name blockbusters dominating the conversation. Instead, we settled on a much more diverse set of favorites, ranging from supernatural thrillers to leather-clad action games. And yes, there’s a goose. Here’s your guide to The Verge staff’s favorite video games of 2019.

  • Dec 20, 2019

    Verge Staff

    The 10 best video games of 2019

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    It’s never easy narrowing down a list of the best games of the year, but 2019 seemed particularly difficult. There wasn’t a single blockbuster that dominated the conversation, games along the lines of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or God of War that everyone seemed to have on their list. That doesn’t mean it was a bad year for games — in fact, the depth and breadth of titles was impressive. During the voting process, The Verge staff called out 45 different games as ranking among their favorites.

    After a lot of discussion — and a bit of arguing — we’ve managed to whittle that down to the 10 best games of the year. Check them out below.

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  • Dec 20, 2019

    Megan Farokhmanesh

    Why Devil May Cry 5 is my game of the year

    Devil May Cry 5

    If you want to understand the magic of Devil May Cry 5, look no further than V. The game’s newest lanky boy addition is one of three heroes to play as throughout Devil May Cry 5’s winding narrative. Unlike the game’s beloved demon hunters Dante or Nero, V doesn’t get his hands dirty directly, but rather stands back and lets summoned beasts take care of the fighting. He has a blowout befitting of Adam Driver on his best hair day, paired with tattoos that I can only describe as aggressively tribal. He reads poetry out loud and wears leather pants with sandals. Everything about V is remarkably stupid and yet ironically cool. I love him more than my own mother. 

    The plot of Devil May Cry 5 goes something like this: Dante, Nero, and V are fighting masses of demons in order to save the human world and that’s… kind of all you need to know. Its story twists and turns through time and perspective, but never feels like it’s there to drag you down. You could enjoy the entire game with no idea what’s actually happening. It plays out through a series of new areas to explore, bookended by combat where you string together combos to pull off the most stylish moves possible — but literally, since the game awards you a score. Each segment is broken up into individual missions by time of day and character, as the game switches between all three men.

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  • Chaim Gartenberg

    Dec 19, 2019

    Chaim Gartenberg

    Why Pokémon Sword and Shield are my games of the year

    Pokémon Sword and Shield.

    Pokémon Red is the first game I can remember playing myself. And while revolutionary for the time, the rudimentary, 8-bit graphics of the series left a lot to the imagination. Pretend this grass hides wild pokémon. Imagine this pokémon is wielding vast elemental powers. Picture an epic gym battle for the right to be the champion of the entire country. The Game Boy classics could never live up to the dream they were selling. With Pokémon Sword and Shield, though, you don’t have to imagine. For the first time, developer Game Freak has brought the world of Pokémon to life in a way that the pixel-art of Red and Blue never could. 

    Sword and Shield’s Galar region feels alive to me in a way that no Pokémon game ever has. Wild pokémon peer their head out of the grass as I adventure along the path, ambling along in their native habits like the wild creatures we’ve always been told they were. There’s the pervasive sports culture (complete with practice fields, rowdy fans, and merchandise) around Pokémon battles that makes my adventure feel a part of the world. 

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  • D. M. Moore

    Dec 18, 2019

    D. M. Moore

    A short list of the best short games of 2019

    Alex Castro / The Verge

    The idea behind the Short Play column was to recommend games that anyone could finish in a weekend, because people finishing games turns out to be a surprisingly rare occurrence. And the longer a game gets, the more difficult it becomes.

    We’ve recommended 26 different short games over the last year, but if you are looking for the best of the best, here are six games that have stood out from the rest for one reason or another. And they’re short enough that you might even be able to finish them all before the end of the year. (Unless it’s December 31st, then I can’t really guarantee that.)

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  • Kevin Nguyen

    Dec 18, 2019

    Kevin Nguyen

    Why Fire Emblem: Three Houses is my game of the year

    There is no multiplayer in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but it certainly lends itself to being social. I have a running text thread with two friends about the game, and I have a couple more I message. Nicole and Christina send me Three Houses tweets and memes. Sarah chronicles her playthrough on the game’s toughest difficulty setting, “maddening,” which is proving appropriately named. Andrew has advice about “min/maxing” characters, though I haven’t had the heart to tell him I have no idea what that means. Basically, I’ve been talking about Fire Emblem for the better part of the year.

    Three Houses is a rare feat in that it’s a legacy franchise that seems to have satisfied the longtime players and also welcomed a new audience to the series. (I’m somewhere in between, having played one and a half of the Fire Emblem games on 3DS.) How developers Intelligent Systems and Koei Tecmo pulled that off has mostly to do with making an excellent game with an overwhelming number of entry points. Maybe you like an RPG with a sophisticated leveling system to fiddle with. Maybe you like a near-perfect loop of tense tactical combat and relaxed moseying between battles. Or maybe you just like the Hogwarts vibes of Three Houses’ high school drama.

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  • Jay Peters

    Dec 17, 2019

    Jay Peters

    Why Fortnite is my game of the year... again

    Image: Epic Games

    There were a lot of great games this year. Pokémon Sword and Shield, Death Stranding, Control, Untitled Goose Game, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Baba is You all hit in 2019. But when I had time to play a game, I usually opted for another drop in Fortnite instead.

    At this point, I’ve been hooked for nearly a year and a half, ever since Fortnite came to the Switch in June 2018. My first goal was to get that elusive first win, but the game keeps pulling me back with its frequent updates, seasonal events, and addicting battle passes. The improvements and changes in the newly released Chapter 2 have made the game even better. There’s always something to do that only takes a few minutes to get into. Those few-minute chunks frequently stretched into hours-long sessions for me this year.

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  • Adi Robertson

    Dec 17, 2019

    Adi Robertson

    Why Hypnospace Outlaw is my game of the year

    Hypnospace Outlaw screenshot
    Tendershoot / No More Robots

    If you’ve frequented certain older web forums, someone may have once told you to “lurk more.” The command admonishes newcomers to immerse themselves in a strange new digital environment until they understand its quirks and topography — to become part of a culture specifically by not participating in it.

    Hypnospace Outlaw is a game for lurkers.

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  • Sam Byford

    Dec 16, 2019

    Sam Byford

    Why Control is my game of the year

    Screenshot from Control featuring the main character silhouetted by a red background pushing away an enemy.
    Image: Remedy Entertainment

    There’s a moment near the end of Control that is so unabashedly thrilling, joyous, and decadent in its design that it would make most roller coaster creators reflect on their life decisions. To say much more about the Ashtray Maze would be to spoil the giddy surprise. But it’s worth noting that, when it’s over, protagonist Jesse catches her breath and offers her analysis of the mind-blowing events that just transpired:

    “…That was awesome.”

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