Above: if games in 2019 had a Time Magazine-style Person of the Year, it'd surely be Mr X.
A few months ago, I published this piece (opens in new tab) on PC gaming's slightly disappointing selection of blockbusters in 2018. I attributed this to a few things: Red Dead Redemption 2's arrival likely causing other games to move down the release schedule (the game itself, meanwhile, didn't come to PC), Fallout 76 falling short, and an expectedly sparse year from developers of PC-only strategy games.
This year, which, frighteningly, is 25 percent over as of this Sunday, has so far kicked ass for big games. I thought I'd follow up my original piece with a little optimism for the mostly fantastic blockbuster titles we've had so far in 2019. I guess my definition of 'blockbuster game' here is fairly broad, much as the general definition for 'indie game' is: in this case, I'm talking about big budget games from traditional publishers, that ten years ago might've been sold in a box at a physical retailer (or still are, in the case of console versions).
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (opens in new tab), the typically much-discussed new game from developer From Software, is the latest title to score over 90% from us—the fifth of the year so far, after Apex Legends (opens in new tab), Devil May Cry 5 (opens in new tab), Slay The Spire (opens in new tab), and Sunless Skies. Of those five, three are blockbusters, which is a strong showing. And all of them are contenders for our GOTY shortlist and annual top 100 games list, even if we hoped for more from Apex Legends' first battle pass (opens in new tab).
But they're not the only big games that have wowed us this year: there's the Resident Evil 2 Remake, which has yielded many great Mr X memes (opens in new tab) and mods (opens in new tab), and of which Gabe Newell is apparently a fan (opens in new tab). The Division 2 (opens in new tab) has eaten so many of my hours that I can't account for most of my time during March, and now has a year of updates ahead that threaten to monopolise my entire gaming calendar. Andy wasn't totally wowed by the combat in Metro Exodus (opens in new tab) and the late-in-the-day Epic Games Store exclusivity provoked some strong reactions, but the game's post-apocalyptic world is undeniably extraordinary to explore. Even if you like arcade-y dogfighting, there's a solidly-reviewed game (opens in new tab) for that. We've even had a great racing game (opens in new tab) in 2019 already.
The biggest disappointment is probably Anthem (opens in new tab), unless you were hoping Jump Force was going to deliver on the Smash Bros-level promise for combining all those manga characters—and even BioWare's co-op mech game is going to develop further over the coming months. Whether it will ever reach its full potential is a much bigger question, and I'm also curious to see if it'll still have a sizeable enough player base in six months for me to jump in and find other players for most of its activities.
While it's not been a huge year for PC-only games so far (there was a solid new Civ expansion (opens in new tab) earlier this year), next month sees the arrival of Paradox's next grand strategy game Imperator Rome, which will likely tick that box. The next major historical Total War game, Three Kingdoms, is now very close as well, arriving in May.
It's also been a decent 2019 for announcements and teases, even for games that might not be out this year. Something Borderlands-shaped is being hinted at (opens in new tab). Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines 2 is a game that exists. Whatever Respawn's Jedi: Fallen Order will turn out to be (we'll find out in April), the developer has an amazing track record, and Chris Avellone has worked on the game (opens in new tab). At some point this year, we will be playing a new Doom. Plus, we'll get to play it on Steam (opens in new tab).
I'm pretty optimistic about the months ahead, and happy that I now have more than enough games to consume my entire summer. Hell, Sekiro, which took Tom over 70 hours to complete, will probably eat a few months by itself—assuming I don't throw a tantrum after 20 hours and give up, which is absolutely possible.
Did Red Dead's domination of the gaming calendar in 2018's holiday period accidentally give us a fantastic start to 2019? I think it's possible. And, to be really optimistic, maybe we'll finally see that game on PC before the year is out.
How's your 2019 been so far? Let me know in the comments.