Chosen by: Harry Kalogirou
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: January 25, 2019

I’m ashamed to admit that horror is a genre in gaming I didn’t get into until a few years ago. My first foray into Resident Evil was via the stellar seventh entry into the long-running franchise, which piqued my interest enough to give the original’s remaster a go. For some reason, I just couldn’t get into it at first. I dipped in and out of it every few months to no avail, until one time it just clicked, and I loved it. Since then, I’ve played every numbered entry in the series, and a few of the spin-off titles, so it should go without saying that it’s quickly become one of my favourite franchises. Despite loving all three games in the original trilogy, there’s an X factor I get from Resident Evil 2 that I can’t quite put my finger on.

I was aware of the Resident Evil 2 remake in the pipeline, but upon seeing it in action at E3 2018, I was starting to get excited. A gorgeous graphical overhaul, the change to a third-person perspective, and a re-imagined scenario to create a more cohesive and fluent narrative. These are all things that can contribute to the existing experience without tainting what makes the original so great. This is all before mentioning how Capcom knocked the remaster for the original out of the park, and are looking to follow suit with the sequel. My hands-on time with the game at PAX has left me thoroughly impressed and wanting more. I can’t wait for Resident Evil 2 to satiate my hunger for more quality survival horror, because it’s a genre that rarely gets the love and attention it deserves nowadays.
 


 

Chosen by: Nick Ballantyne
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: January 29, 2019

Oh, Nomura, how you tease me. Releasing those playful little trailers, hinting oh so daintily at a sense of conclusion that Kingdom Hearts fans have never known. Well, the jokes on you, because I only finished playing the games last year. That’s right, I’m an imposter, an intruder amongst the diehard fans who’ve been waiting… Holy ballmongers, 17 years!? Oversized pants never went out of fashion for you guys, huh? Well, all that waiting’s gonna pay off, because Kingdom Hearts III is confirmed good.

After playing the brief demo at PAX last year, I’m sold. KH3 boasts an insanely satisfying combat system that’s been polished up so much that it could redefine the ancient art of dorodango. Group attacks are spectacular, magic is eye-poppingly fun to use, and the variety of attacks promises to be ridiculous. The game is the culmination of over a decade and a half of refinement, and it shows. Thing is, we knew it was gonna be a great game, but that’s not why I’m so excited.

Right now, I think I know what a Xehanort is, but everything could change when KH3 hits. The conspiracy’s so thick at this point that it’s difficult to make out the plot, but the trailers have hinted at answers. So… Was it all worth the wait? Will the conclusion satisfy the kids-now-adults who have stuck by the game since the original? Can Xehanort nort enough Xehas to nort Sora into a Xeha!?

I’m not big on Disney or Final Fantasy, but Kingdom Hearts III has got me shaking with excitement. The combat, conspiracy and conclusions will be good. I know they will be. They have to be. Oooohhh, Nomura, you devilish manchild, hurry up and release the game so that I may be unshackled from these chains of curiosity!
 


 

Chosen by: Connor Weightman
Developer: Failbetter Games
Platforms: PC
Release Date: January 31, 2019

Failbetter’s Sunless Sea (2015) is one of my all-time favourite adventure games. It put you in charge of captaining a ship and exploring your way through an unmapped subterranean ocean in an alternative, steampunk, fantasy-tinged turn of the twentieth century. It could – and would – kill you at any moment, wiping perhaps tens of hours of progress away with a single wrong decision. Few games have ever produced in me the same feelings of stress or fear, awe or relief. It was and is a world of characters and places from some unholy Pratchett meets Lovecraft by way of Jules Verne hybrid, fleshed out in hundreds of thousands of words of branching micro-narratives, and games have rarely been as imaginatively captivating.

Sunless Skies? Oh. Well due to my intentional avoidance of news about it, I don’t really know anything about Sunless Skies. I know that it’s been in Early Access for nearly a couple of years, but it’s set to launch in January, at which point I will finally allow myself to play it. I know early reports on it were a little iffy, but plenty of development time has passed since. I know one of Failbetter’s studio heads left in the interim. But mainly I know that it will be at least a little bit like Sunless Sea, only an entirely new world and map to explore full of the unknown, full of possibilities. Presumably this time it’ll even have cloud saves at launch. Honestly, if it’s a conduit for even half the experience of its predecessor, I’ll be happy.
 


 

Chosen by: Ellen Zebegew
Developer: 4A Games
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: February 15, 2019

Metro Exodus is the third game in A4’s Metro series. Inspired by the Metro novel series by Dmitry Glukhovsky, it follows the protagonist Artyom in his journey for a better life in the post-nuclear remains of Russia.

If you had asked me a couple of years ago my dream holiday destination, I would have said somewhere like Hawaii or Paris. How naive I was. As soon as I picked up Metro 2033, it instantly changed to Russia. I became fully immersed in the rich lives of the remnants of humanity, hauled up in the old Metro railway lines. Though they cannot venture to the Earth’s surface without gas masks, I still feel like I have been totally immersed in the Russian way of life.

But it is not the only the total immersion-style of the game which has hooked me into the Metro, it is the unique story-arc of not only Artyom but the ominous, alien-like Dark Ones who appeared shortly after the nuclear missiles devastated the planet, who have been integral to the previous two games.

Metro Exodus is a continuation of the gripping storyline from both 2033 and Last Light. The gameplay requires cunning, stealth, a good aim, and sometimes even compassion. Metro Exodus promises a similar gameplay style but with new additions such as a crafting mechanic, including weapon modding, gas mask creation in the field, and more open-world style levels (although the game itself is not actually totally open-world).

I love games which entirely take over my life, and I’m sure as of February 15, 2019, my heart will be in the Metro.
 


 

Chosen by: William Kirk
Developer: FromSoftware
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: March 22, 2019

I still remember a time where I had to preface anything I wrote about a FromSoftware title with a disclaimer that they’re games which “might not be for everyone.” There’s no reality I ever imagined where the Souls games would reach the height of success they have, let alone inspire an entire sub-genre which is openly being embraced by countless developers today.

While I am indeed a huge Dark Souls fan, Bloodborne is my favourite FromSoftware game. I loved everything it did with the fundamentals of the Souls series and how FromSoftware wasn’t afraid to trim the fat of what came before and push new playstyles and ideas, ultimately making for a unique experience that felt both fresh and familiar. Not only was it a smashing success, but it was also the most approachable game of that style they’ve developed to date (not to be confused with “easier”). It’s for this reason I am incredibly excited for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

As the industry continues to chase after what FromSoftware has already achieved, they’re once again looking to the future and to take what they’ve built and bend it around an entirely new framework. The Dark Souls trilogy was the epitome of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and it was hugely successful because of it. However, Sekiro follows on from Bloodborne in a way that’s even more progressive to once again deliver an experience that’s approachable to both fans and newcomers. After all these years, there are few games which leave me with as many questions as a new FromSoftware game, and I couldn’t be more excited by or confident in what they’re going to deliver in 2019.
 


 

Chosen by: Ellis Longhurst
Developer: Beenox
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Release Date: June 21, 2019

Mario has been allowed to dominate the cartoon racing genre for too long. Now, we have an appropriately named podium contender – Crash.

If you cannot remember when the last Crash Bandicoot racing game on console was released, I don’t blame you. Crash Team Racing, Nitro Kart, and Tag Team Racing first graced our screens between 1999 and 2005. These were the years that I was being introduced to gaming. Together, these games made a huge impression on me, and may be partly responsible for my current ineptitude at driving IRL.

Nostalgia is not the only reason I look forward to Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, which is set to be a recreation of Crash Team Racing. Unlike many racing games, the Crash titles weave the racing around a strong storyline that is often thick with dark, mature humour and wit. Crash Tag Team Racing even had contextually relevant platforming and puzzle elements. It is a welcome contrast to the stock standard, and frankly, boring, no frills Mario Kart formula.

If Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled remains true to the spirit of the Crash bandicoot racing games, I’d bet all my wumpa fruit that this fresh-look, updated version will resonate with players in the same way that the original did. After all, what is it that Aku Aku always says? No… really… what does he say?
 


 

Chosen by: Kenneth Lee
Developer: id Software
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PX
Release Date: TBC 2019

When id Software released DOOM in 2016, its quick and aggression-focused gameplay hooked me instantly. Unabashedly campy and refusing to take itself too seriously, DOOM quickly resonated with gamers who were looking for a change from the narrative-heavy plethora of shooters that were released every holiday season. Although DOOM still features one of the best audio and visual packages of modern shooters (“Rip and Tear” never fails to get my blood pumping), it’s fair to say that its gameplay is its crowning feature. What we have seen of DOOM Eternal promises more of the same. And that is a very, very good thing.

Perhaps the most substantial change I am looking forward to in DOOM Eternal are the new ways of traversal. The new grappling hook attachment to the trusty DOOM shotgun allows players to hook and pull enemies toward you, as well as use it to fling yourself around the level quickly. DOOM’s levels already evoked the arena-based combat of classic multiplayer games like Quake III; I sense that this grappling hook will further evoke said feelings.

With all the massive games on the horizon, it’s possible that DOOM Eternal could get lost in the mix. id Software definitely needs to crystallise its marketing for the game as RAGE 2, which it’s co-developing with Avalanche Studios, has the potential to feel the same as DOOM according to some early press impressions. It would be a shame if that happened as the DOOM series holds a special place in gamers’ hearts. For me, DOOM Eternal is my most anticipated game of 2019.
 


 

Chosen by: Lliam Ahearn
Developer: WayForward Technologies
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Release Date: TBC 2019

Bloodstained was an extremely exciting announcement to me, but the more we saw, the more sceptical I became. The 3D art didn’t capture the almost painted aesthetic of Symphony of The Night, and the animations lacked the sharp motions of the ancestor series. I started worrying we’d have another Mighty No. 9 on our hands.

Things turned around, though. Every showing of the game is a little better than the last, getting that look less bubbly, that walking and jumping looking like a Castlevania game, and the atmosphere feeling a little more realised. It hasn’t been enough to blow me away, but if Ritual of The Night can get the basics at a decent level and replicate Symphony of The Night’s style and structure, that’ll be enough to have me stoked with it. I think it can do more, though.

Bloodstained: Curse of The Moon was sneakily released last year, to a very warm reception. As Ritual of The Night is derived from Symphony of The Night, Curse of The Moon was from Castlevania III. This game was cold, hard evidence of the capabilities of Bloodstained. CotM perfectly evoked classic Castlevania, but with modern and sophisticated additions. True to form, but up to snuff for 2018. If Curse of The Moon can be all that it was with Castlevania III as a basis of reference, then Ritual of The Night could be an incredible descendant of Symphony of The Night.
 


 

Chosen by: Patrick Waring
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: TBC 2019

The Outer Worlds is a pulp-fiction sci-fi FPS RPG from Obsidian, and that’s enough to already get me interested. I also can’t wait for it to metaphorically beat the snot out of Fallout 76, and F4, regarding critical reception. It’s almost impossible to separate it from thoughts of Fallout, not in the least because Obsidian themselves drew attention to it. Indeed, in its debut trailer, the game is billed as coming from “The original creators of Fallout,” and “the developers of Fallout: New Vegas,” easily the best of the modern Fallout entries. Arguments could be made that these games carry prestige and that it makes perfect sense to use them in drumming up hype for an upcoming release. They’re far from the only games Obsidian has worked on, however, and certainly not the only RPGs of this nature they’ve produced. The intent is clear: This is the Fallout game fans have been waiting on for some time now.

Probably the best thing I’ve heard about the game so far is that it won’t be a sprawling open world, smaller and more focused in scope, and aimed to be something more of a mid-tier quality game. Some people might be disappointed that it won’t be a massive landscape to explore, but I love the idea of a smaller, easier-to-handle game with quality writing for which Obsidian is reputed. And do you see how beautiful this game looks? Colourful environments, 70s style retro-futurism, and in-game graphics that are apparently as good as the launch trailer made things appear. Also, the people actually look and move like humans should and do, characters don’t seem to be clipping into other objects and each other, and I don’t feel the need to retch whenever the camera moves. These are all things that Fallout has lacked of late, and good Lord I am excited to have those things back.

Sure, I think the game will be fantastic, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the idea of a romp around a back-water planet full of things that want to kill me, and vice versa. That said, I’m also gleefully looking forward to Obsidian beating Bethesda at their own game (almost literally) just as much.
 


 

Chosen by: Alex Chalmers
Developer: Mundfish
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: TBC 2019

Did you ever have a dream that was so strange, you couldn’t help but wonder if it was, in fact, a real place in another part of the universe? Something so unlike anything you’ve ever seen in your life that you doubt that your tiny human brain could concoct such alien imagery? Seeing Atomic Heart for the first time reminded me that strangeness is something I definitely crave more of in my life.

A first-person ARPG, Atomic Heart is an eastern European work of surrealist horror and looks to be primed as becoming a cult classic in the vein of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. From what little has been shown of this game, one can glean that there’s an emphasis on both melee combat and shooting, but also survivalism, crafting and weirdly enough, battle-royale style aerial deployment over the absolutely massive looking game map. The premise seems to be a natural evolution of the Bioshock and Fallout formulas of gameplay, but dangit, it’s the baffling imagery that makes it unforgettable, regardless of how good the game will actually be.

Seriously, there are creatures and objects seemingly built out of veins wandering around the Russian wilderness, techno-organic automata running amok, landscapes warping like carpet on the ocean, sentient liquids, nightmarish Slavic theme parks, and landscapes seemingly warped by gravitational discrepancies to be seen here. These things are the first anyone has seen of this game. Dali would be proud. This game isn’t just weird, it ate weird for breakfast, then decided to scry the future by fingerpainting with the subsequent faecal matter while dancing to polka under the influence of Czech absinthe and honey-cake. If you’re now wondering if I’ve had a stroke, just look at the damned thing, and you’ll never forget it. Here’s hoping the enigmatic lack of information just makes the impact of the game just all the more interesting when it actually comes out.
 


 

Chosen by: Ben West
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Platforms: Switch
Release Date: TBC 2019

There are a lot of reasons I play games. Sometimes it’s the challenge of a difficult puzzle or the thrill of a tricky platforming challenge. Other days I’m seeking a new compelling story or some relatable character development. And then on some days, I just want to hang around a village with a host of anthropomorphic animals, collecting furniture, paying off my debt to the local racoon and contemplating the current turnip market. Maybe fit in a quick show at the end of the day courtesy of the well-renowned guitar-playing dog.

It is for these last reasons that I have always adored Animal Crossing. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it for themselves or wasn’t pulled it by the concept immediately. The daily life of Animal Crossing has always been dripping with charm, keeping me invested in maintaining the little town I’ve moved into for months after release. With the series now juggling for years between the power of the home console and the convenience of the portable, I am thoroughly excited to see it coming to the hybrid between these two worlds, the Nintendo Switch.

Thus far, every core Nintendo franchise to come to the Switch has done so in spectacular fashion. While I don’t think we’ll see anything as revolutionary as Zelda’s, I’m hoping Nintendo put in enough effort to make this the best one in the series. I’m thinking scope here: more activities, more connectivity, and more customisation; more of just about everything that makes Animal Crossing what it is. It’s only a matter of time until we see our first gameplay footage, and I’ll be eagerly watching for any updates until then.
 


 

Chosen by: Blade Shaw
Developer: Santa Monica Studio
Platforms: PS4
Release Date: TBC 2019

Six years after The Last of Us released to widespread praise and fanfare, Naughty Dog is bringing the much-awaited sequel to the journey of Ellie and Joel. When the initial reveal trailer for the game dropped, I was sucked right back into the way I felt at the end of the first game. We were treated to an atmospheric cinematic showcasing Ellie’s singing/guitar playing abilities, and setting a melancholic tone between her and Joel that hinted at how their relationship developed since we last left them.

Last year at E3, we were given an even longer cinematic which also provided a first look at the revamped gameplay. Not only does the game appear to have upped the ante in the violence department, but combat seems to play much more seamlessly and offer a fluidity that was lacking in the first title. What was missing, though, was the presence of Joel, which raised so many questions about where he was – separated from Ellie/dead/injured etc.? This particular omission enhanced my curiosity tenfold ahead of the game’s release this year.

I definitely think that The Last of Us 2 is a game that can be tapped for GOTY without hesitation. While it appears improvements have been made in areas which were lacking during the first game, Naughty Dog is known for crafting excellent stories and compelling characters, and it appears that they’re back once again doing what they do best.

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