2018 will go down in history as a year, and there were certainly games in it.
Unfortunately, 2019 won't be able to compete with the dozens of games released last year - only nine are scheduled to come out before December. Luckily for us, they're all solid options, so we each picked one of the only nine games coming out this year to champion. Here are our selections.
Patrick Sklar - Wargroove (February 1st)
This is what I'm talking about: that Dual Strike, Days Of Ruin, Black Hole Rising grid-em-up feel just 11 years never-too-late. This is the Advance Wars I've been missing and it's on my favorite console, and it's got a cute dog and when the dogs get hurt they don't die, they just run away.
Stardew Valley, Wargroove, and many more games done or upcoming - forget Sony; Chucklefish does what Nintendon't.
Honorable mention: Ooblets. Cute-ified 3D bobbers breakdance battling to the Pokébeat! More of this, please.
Raphael Bennett - In The Valley of the Gods (Late 2019)
There are very few video games about adults. Really.
Most games are about young men (and occasionally young women) finding their way in the world and eventually decorating themselves in superpowers. Developers Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin have made a name for themselves designing games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead (Season 1) and Firewatch — rare games about grown-ups dealing with grown-up stuff (and sometimes zombies).
Firewatch stood out as a game/radio play about star-crossed lovers whose best years were behind them. It was a treat from their newly founded studio, Campo Santo.
The studio’s sophomore title, In the Valley of the Gods, is set to release by the end of 2019.
Meghan Overbury - The Sinking City (March 21st)
Most horror video games these days seem to be crafted to appease the YouTube Let's Play audience, giving personalities like Markiplier material to scream at. Frogwares, known for their Sherlock Holmes series, want to change that.
The Sinking City feels like L.A. Noire and H.P. Lovecraft had a child raised by BioShock. And they're making this game as immersive as possible; it actually makes you do the detective legwork yourself. This is probably most evident from early gameplay demos: if you're told to go to a location, for instance, The Sinking City expects you to open up your map and find it yourself. While detective-ing, you'll also have to avoid going insane. You know, normal detective stuff.
Aliah Luckman - Shenmue III (August 27th)
It’s almost here... sort of!
Since the 2001 release of Shenmue II, fans have patiently awaited the return of Ryo Hazuki on his endless quest to avenge his father’s untimely passing. Back in 2015 (14 years later) Sega announced the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to fund the development of the sequel. With a crowdfunding total of over 7.1 million dollars by over 81 thousand contributors, it’s safe to declare Shenmue III a highly anticipated title.
Series creator Yu Suzuki has expressed that the intent of the sequel is to create a richer experience within the existing storyline, packing in much more gameplay than its predecessors. The title isn’t scheduled to drop for until late August (27th), but fortunately remastered versions of I and II are available to keep us at bay. Until then, who’s up for a game of Lucky Hit?
Sean Murray - Rebel Galaxy Outlaw (Late 2019)
I'm super stoked for Rebel Galaxy Outlaw. From the same folks that brought you Rebel Galaxy, this Firefly-esque space shooter/looter/trader came with all the feels of Freelancer but presented it in a two-dimensional, procedurally generated space-scape with country rock anthems blasting along with your capital ship's guns.
For their second offering, Double Damage Games is dialing the Freelancer vibes up to eleven by making the sequel a fully-3D space shooter/looter/trader that takes place in the same Western-themed universe. If you loved Freelancer as much as I did (and judging by the fact I've mentioned it three times in the past 30 seconds, I loved it a lot), then this is the spiritual successor you always wanted.
Sam Watanuki - Days Gone (April 26th)
Although I have waited far longer for Kingdom Hearts 3 (stay tuned for my review of the game at the end of the month), I am most excited about the PlayStation 4 exclusive, Days Gone.
I am a sucker for the post-apocalyptic genre, especially if it comes with zombies. Days Gone basically looks like The Last of Us, but takes place within an open-world setting – which is an element I would have loved in The Last of Us. What peaks my interest most is the zombies (AKA “Freakers”), which come at you crazy-fast in massive hordes, reminiscent of the zombies in 2013’s World War Z – another game I am looking forward to.
Honorable mentions: Mortal Kombat 11, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
Chris Littlechild - Animal Crossing Switch (Unknown 2019)
The Nintendo Switch has been doing super well lately, on the strength of big names like Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The Switch’s 2019 seems to be all about adding big-hitters to its catalog.
On that score, my most anticipated game for this year has to be Animal Crossing. I’m a huge fan of the series, and the addition of Isabelle to Smash Ultimate only heightened my excitement.
So far, all we know about the latest addition to the quirky life-sim series is that it’s coming at some point this year. That’s literally all. Still, it’s sure to be another huge hit. Animal Crossing is a series best fit for little-and-often sessions, and the portability of Switch is perfect for that.
Daniel Alvarez - Luigi's Mansion 3 (Unknown 2019)
Luigi's Mansion was one of the first ever GameCube games, and remains a cult classic. It featured innovative gameplay, and a fantastic antagonist called King Boo - move over, Bowser. In 2013, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon released on 3DS and the stakes were even higher. Now, an unexpected third game is on the way.
Luigi's Mansion 3 looks to change things up even more. The setting appears to be a hotel rather than a standard mansion. Not only is Mario missing, but it appears Toad and Princess Peach have been captured as well. This looks like it will be the surprise hit of 2019.
Honorable mention: Yoshi's Crafted World
Sergio Solorzano - Jump Force (February 15th)
A lot of long-awaited titles are coming this year, but all my hype is going to an anime crossover game. From the moment Jump Force's first trailer dropped, showing realistic versions of Goku, Luffy, and Naruto, I was intrigued. As more characters are revealed, I want this game more and more.
There are two things that make Jump Force more than just another crossover. For one, the story has the real world clash with the Jump world. This is reflected in mishmash stages such as Planet Namek that for some reason has the Statue Of Liberty. It also features characters from more recent hits like My Hero Academia, making Jump Force a treat for seasoned anime fans that goes beyond the usual Dragon Ball-dominated affair.