The Best New Video Games Of 2019 So Far
No, we're not quite halfway through the year, strictly speaking. But in the world of video games, E3 marks a sort of mid-point where what'd been is toast and what's next is all anyone cares about.
So, with an avalanche of new releases, updates, trailers and more coming over the next few days - reminder: follow the UNILAD Gaming and GAMINGbible Facebook pages to get the best of E3, as it happens - there's no better time to look back at 2019 so far, and collect what we feel have been the best games released since the year blinked into existence.
Here are our favourite 15 games of 2019 so far...
The standout battle royale hit of the year so far, Apex Legends' surprise emergence in February caught us somewhat off-guard - one, because we didn't think anyone would have the cajones to go up against the twin titans of PUBG and Fortnite, and secondly because, well, Apex proved to be flipping awesome. Then again, is that so surprising, given it's the work of Titanfall series developers Respawn. About to slip into its second season, Apex is already a heavyweight, and we can only see it getting bigger and better.
Devil May Cry 5
Devil May Cry 5 hacked and slashed its way to critical acclaim in March, Capcom's highly polished demon-slaying extravaganza proving that when a series gets its core gameplay perfect at the first time of asking - as the original Devil May Cry achieved in 2001 - the rest is... Well, not easy, but easier, certainly. Playable both as a meticulous and massively challenging fight against incredible odds and as a gleeful button-masher full of mesmerising special moves, DMC5 is a dream action title for hardcore gamers and those new to this genre alike.
Resident Evil 2
Is this cheating? Capcom's remake of 1998's Resident Evil 2 scared us half to death in late January, making the most of the RE Engine - debuted with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard - to bring the dishevelled Raccoon (City) Police Department to life in a way that our nightmares never could. A dizzying bloodrush of expertly crafted jumps and panicked chases, Resi 2 has us salivating at what Capcom could do next, when revisiting other older Resi titles.
Okay, so while Apex Legends is the biggest battle royale breakout of 2019, Tetris 99 has to be the most interesting new game in the genre. It pits the player against 98 others in frenetic online puzzle shootouts, where blocks are ammo and your only defense is clearing your own, um, blocks. Perfect balance of defense and attack is the only way to break into that top 10 - and trust us, once you've tasted a top spot once, you'll do almost anything to reach it again.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
A confident evolution of FromSoftware's Dark Souls series formula, Sekiro takes its maker's trademark toughness and dials down the opaque role-play elements for something closer to the arcade immediacy of a Ninja Gaiden. Earning many perfect review scores on its March release, Sekiro's a testing game where patience can yield rewards; but equally, learning its environments, the patterns of its patrolling enemies and move sets of its hulking bosses, will enable speedy navigation of some truly breathtaking scenarios.
BoxBoy! + BoxGirl!
If a cuter puzzle game than the Switch-only BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! comes out in 2019, I will eat this hat I don't own anymore on account of having to nosh it down the last time I made such a ridiculous, word-count-filling statement like this. Anyway, BB!+BG! doesn't do a lot that the past three games in this kinda-the-inverse-of-Kirby series from HAL did - basically, rather than inhale and gain abilities, you squeeze blocks out of your body's silhouette and arrange them to overcome various obstacles - but everything it does do represents a delicious brain-tickler that keeps you coming back for more. And it's two-player for the first time, too, making it one of the best same-sofa co-op games on the Switch, full stop.
Total War: Three Kingdoms
Creative Assembly's latest grand strategy game is far richer than the titles which have come before it. With all the different factions clustered so close together on the ancient Chinese map, you will immediately be competing for territory, forming coalitions to ward off rapidly strengthening enemies, and trying to vassalise the weaker states. Three Kingdoms a beautiful game, and one of the best in what is already a legendary series. Julian Benson
Anno 1800 is a city builder all about satisfying the developing needs of your people. At first they require simple foods and access to beer, but as they learn new skills and unlock more advanced factories, they need more advanced sustenance. In time, that desire drives you to colonise other islands in order to access the new resources you need to make the products your people desire. It's a delightfully engaging game that teaches you all about the evils of the industrial age. Julian Benson
Slay the Spire
Slay the Spire is a card game for people who can't be bothered with the faff of building a deck out of a massive collection of cards. Each game is a fresh start: you pick your character and have a small hand of cards to battle enemies with. Every time you win, you get to pick a new card to add to your hand. The longer you survive, the more cards you get in your hand. It's extremely addictive, so don't blame me for all your lost evenings. Julian Benson
Askiisoft's beautiful pixel-art action game demands precision movement and murder from the player - but mess up, and the scene rewinds to seconds before you, as a katana-wielding assassin, got themselves killed. If you loved the gameplay of 2018's Celeste but prefer your games to be a little more bloodsoaked, and to mess with your head, Katana ZERO is an essential.
How much can you get done in 22 minutes? That's the question that Outer Wilds asks you, as its looped gameplay sees its sci-fi universe wiped out every 22 minutes. What mysteries can you uncover in that time? Where will you find yourself? What are you even doing here, in the first place? Time is both an enemy and an ally here, as certain routes to discovery will only open at particular points of each cycle. Hugely inventive and addictive, Outer Wilds is something special indeed.
Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth
Atlus's new game for the 3DS is remarkable for both being a new game for the 3DS in the first place, and for managing to combine characters from across the Persona franchise in one, dungeon-crawling role-play experience, without feeling like ill-advised fan service. Rather, New Cinema Labyrinth is streamlined adventure through silver screen surrealness, which doesn't even require a comprehensive knowledge of Persona games past to get a kick out of (though, it really, really helps).
Gorilla jazz has never been so wickedly violent, and Ape Out is perhaps 2019's best example of a just-one-more-go game - which you then end up playing solidly for another hour or more.
Scottish studio No Code's second full game, after its breakthrough with the BAFTA-winning Stories Untold, is a work of quiet terror and tension, set on a space station which really isn't where it should be. You take control of the station's AI, SAM, working with Dr Emma Fisher to locate and rescue the rest of the crew, and work out how the heck to get back home. It's not a horror game, at all; but Observation uses tricks much like those found in titles that keep your hairs standing on end, and its eerie atmosphere and compact plot will keep you glued to your screen until the credits roll.
Meowtroidvania: the action genre you never knew you needed in video games, but just about perfect at the first time of sampling it.
Featured Image Credit: Activision/FromSoftware