Our most anticipated games of 2019

It's December and 2018 is pretty much over, with just a few latecomers like Dusk (great) and Atlas (we'll see) still releasing. So as we say goodbye to this year of pro golfers doing Fortnite dances, we're largely turning our attention to all the new games we have to look forward to, and there's no shortage of stuff we're excited to play. So if you need some new release dates to mark into your calendar, here's what we're most anticipating in 2019.

For a much bigger list of games releasing next year, head to our upcoming games of 2019 hub.

Sable

Release date: 2019

When Sable first debuted at the PC Gaming Show at E3 this year, I was stunned. What was this incredible concoction of Studio Ghibli charm and Moebius-inspired art? Well, as it turns out, Sable is a serene adventure game made by two best friends who work out of a shed. In it, we'll traverse an endless desert to uncover the histories and cultures of the people who once lived there. It's evocative of the PS3 classic Journey but without that same sense of urgency pushing you onward, and it looks brilliant. Sable is undoubtedly going to be the kind of game people expect too much from, but all I want is to spend a few afternoons hoverbiking through its gorgeous ruins. —Steven Messner 

Steel Division 2 

Release date: 2019

Eugen Systems has set about quietly making a sequel to the excellent Steel Division. I saw it at Gamescom and was very impressed by the real time tactics side of the game—which has always been solid—but also the new strategy maps that let you manage a regional campaign with hundreds of troops. It’s Eugen, so the UI is lovely and gleams with military detail, and there will be a huge number of units to play with. It’s entering beta in January 2019 with a full release scheduled for later in the year.  —Tom Senior 

Griftlands 

Release date: TBD

When a developer we love takes on a new genre, there's a special feeling of promise. How will Klei interpret the Final Fantasy-style party RPG? So far the answer seems to be procedural generation, fabulous art, and storytelling driven by the choices you make in its "mercenary sandbox." "Charm, Fight, Negotiate, Steal, Explore, Steal, Profit," reads a tagline from the June 2017 announcement trailer.

It's possible that Griftlands has undergone significant change since then, however. In October, Klei admitted that it "jumped the gun" on announcing Griftlands. "After testing it out in-house, though, we felt that the game just wasn’t delivering the experience we wanted, so we went back to work and have quietly been working on it since," Klei wrote on Steam. "The game is much further along now, but we’re still some ways from announcing a new date. Once we have more information, we’ll let everyone know." —Evan Lahti 

Skin Deep 

Release date: TBD

Blendo games are always a treat. This one is a first-person shooter inspired by Die Hard, but set in space. Sabotage systems to survive, pick glass out of your feet after smashing through windows, and try not to sneeze when you’re crawling through vents.  —Tom Senior 

Outer Wilds 

Release date: TBD

Imagine if No Man’s Sky was a more curated experience, with hand-designed planets and crafted stories woven through each location. Outer Wilds is just that, and its planets vary enormously. There’s a water planet riven by tornadoes, another is hollow with a crumbling crust—just take a look at them on the Mobious Digital site. This has looked awesome ever since we saw it pop up in the IGF, but we’re still awaiting a final release.  —Tom Senior 

The Outer Worlds 

Release date: TBD

Since Fallout New Vegas way back in 2010, fans have been clamoring for Obsidian to developer another Fallout game. And on the heels of the disappointing multiplayer Fallout 76 from Bethesda, the announcement of The Outer Worlds, a singleplayer RPG from Obsidian, makes for some spectacularly good timing. With a Bioshock feel, plenty of Fallout DNA, and a bit of Firefly thrown in for good measure, the sci-fi space Western could scratch an itch players have had for almost a decade. We haven't seen more than a handful of minutes worth of gameplay so far, but it's already looking good, with perhaps the exception being the fairly stiff and unexciting combat. 

On the other hand, we're mainly looking for well-created characters, interesting choices, and a story that lends itself to repeated playthroughs. If we get that, we'll probably be willing to overlook a few shortcomings in its combat system. Wes interviewed the creators of The Outer Worlds, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, about Fallout, making mistakes, and Obsidian's RPG heritage. —Chris Livingston 

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw 

Release date: TBD

The first Rebel Galaxy was a charming space western that mimicked Assassin's Creed's ship combat by limiting space travel to a two-dimensional plane. It was a fun as hell sandbox at first but, like a lot of sandbox games, eventually things just started to feel a little too grindy and monotonous. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is a spiritual successor that not only addresses many of those issues through a greater focus on story and less emphasis on randomization, but it also ditches the 2D-restricted combat for the six-degrees-of-freedom movement seen in most space sims. That same Firefly-esque charm is still there though, and the results look very promising. I'm tired of space sims like Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen that try to be the Ultimate Game, whereas Rebel Galaxy Outlaw seems hellbent on simply ensuring I have a good time blowing shit up. —Steven Messner 

Metro Exodus 

Release date: February 22, 2019

Ever since watching Mad Max as a kid, I’ve had a thing for the post apocalypse. It doesn’t matter precisely how the world ends up fubared—nuclear war, zombie plague, whatever. And the setting isn’t important either, as long as it’s not the void of personality found in Fallout 76. So there’s that aspect of Metro Exodus that interests me.

But I’m also the hardware guru of PC Gamer, and despite being less than giddy over the use of ray tracing in Battlefield 5, I’m super excited to see the technology put to better use. And better in this case means doing lighting and shadows rather than just reflections. Other games with ray tracing effects might come out first, but I’m definitely looking forward to exploring the ray-traced glory of the Russian Metro (and the outside world, presumably) in Exodus. —Jarred Walton 

Resident Evil 2 Remake 

Release date: January 25, 2019

I had the chance to play Capcom's high-end remake last month, and it's impressively elaborate, bringing new playable sections to the game featuring different characters. While it ditches the fixed perspectives of the original game in favor of a third-person shooter template, the sense of place in key locations like the Raccoon City PD building remains the same. It's still hard and scary. A January release date, normally a quiet time of year, is most welcome. —Samuel Roberts 

In the Valley of Gods 

Release date: TBD

Firewatch was one of several games that turned me into a huge fan of narrative adventures. It’s not easy to rely so heavily on dialogue in any story, let alone videogame, but Firewatch made it seem effortless. It’s a huge reason why I’m looking forward to In the Valley of Gods. The 1920s Egyptian setting is exciting, and I can easily see some surprises popping up in a similar as way they did in Firewatch. Campo Santo is aiming for a 2019 release date, but the Steam page says TBD. Hopefully In the Valley of Gods will be here sooner rather than later. —Joanna Nelius 

Atomic Heart 

Release date: TBD

While I appreciate apocalyptic and alternate-universe stories in all their forms, there’s something about the ones set in Russia I like the best. There’s uncomfortable realism dashed with minimal hope. There are no stereotypical heroes. They’re darker, often deeply rooted in politics that get glossed over when learning about WWII for the first time. Story aside, Atomic Heart looks deliciously deranged—weird experiments, homicidal retro-robots, and so much blood. We’ve already gotten a little taste of what ray tracing is going to look like in Atomic Heart, with both lighting and shadows, so this is definitely a game I’m picking up in the new year. —Joanna Nelius 

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice 

Release date: March 22, 2019

It's the next big thing from FromSoftware, and while it features third-person combat in sprawling levels, it's not just another Souls game. Set in a surreal interpretation of Sengoku-era Japan, Sekiro is more Hotline Miami than Dark Souls, encouraging fast, violent maneuvers that turn crowded rooms silent and bloodied as quickly as possible. Checkpoints are more frequent to allow for faster iteration and experimentation as you find the best murder-route through an arena, and with the ability to use a grappling hook to prey on enemies from above, stealth plays an important role too. Even stranger, if you do enough stabbing, you'll earn the ability to wake from death. And as you progress, you'll be able to do it more often. It's difficult to imagine how these inverted Soulsy systems will play out over the course of the full game, and I'm a bit nervous the ability to jump during combat will make things needlessly complex, but this is FromSoftware we're talking about. At the very least, Sekiro is going to feel different from most of the games I play, and that might just be enough. —James Davenport 

Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers 

Release date: Summer 2019

I'm not a consistent player of Square Enix's Final Fantasy MMO, but I do spend a few dozen hours every year bingeing on the latest updates and catching up on the story. I've been saying this for a long time but Final Fantasy 14 is quietly the best Final Fantasy game since FF9. The story is brilliantly told and features loads of charming characters, but it has also steadily grown darker and more bleak. Shadowbringers will see FF14 really dig into that darkness and despair, and I think the results are going to be spectacular (if a little melancholy). What's better, a new expansion always means a massive new continent to explore, new classes to level, and loads of new bosses to battle—all the things that Final Fantasy 14 does so exceptionally well.  —Steven Messner 

Sunless Skies 

Release date: January 31, 2019

Not long to go! I’ve already played some of Sunless Skies’ in Early Access, but I dragged myself away so I wouldn’t spoil my appetite for Victorian cosmic horror. It’s been tough, as Sunless Skies is pretty much all the things I really like crammed into one superb game. The gothic horror is genuinely unsettling and sometimes downright terrifying, the sci-fi is wild and more than happy to mingle with magic and mysticism, and the writing! It’s good, folks. It’s pitched as horror but it’s really so many things, and frequently funny, whimsical even, in a way you’d never expect from a game that also sends you on journeys into horrifying stellar abysses. I mean, you get to ride a space locomotive. What’s next? Police boxes? —Fraser Brown