What will be the best games of 2019? It's sort of our job to figure this out. We write stuff like our list of what's coming, or the promising 2019 RPGs to help you foresee how your gaming time and moneydollars might be spent.
This year we're trying something new: a mock draft of the games that we think will be the most acclaimed and popular in 2019. Making predictions is fun, and treating PC gaming like a fantasy sports league is one way for us to see who on the PC Gamer team has the best eye for what's coming this year.
- Each editor picks seven games, one per round, in a reversing, or snake draft format.
- Must draft at least one singleplayer game and one multiplayer game.
- Each editor may draft one (but only one) 'ongoing' game that has already been released, a representation of that game's specific progress and health throughout 2019.
- If a game fails to release in some form in 2019, it's omitted. Part of the draft is predicting whether a game will release this year at all.
- How to win: At the end of the year, PC Gamer readers will vote on who picked the best set of games. We'll weight this voting alongside a set of quantifiable, semi-arbitrary stats like filesize (lowest), number of trailer views, number of patches/updates, and other criteria to be determined.
We finished drafting earlier this week. Here's the results, a lively discussion of how it went, and our predictions about the games coming in 2019.
The 2019 draft results
1st pick: James Davenport, Associate Editor
Far Cry New Dawn
Gears of War 5
2nd pick: Phil Savage, Editor
The Outer Worlds
Total War: Three Kingdoms
3rd pick: Wesley Fenlon, Features Editor
Resident Evil 2
In the Valley of Gods
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
4th pick: Bo Moore, Hardware Lead
5th pick: Fraser Brown, News Editor
The Division 2
Mount and Blade 2
Age of Empires 4
Devil May Cry 5
Total War: Warhammer 3
6th pick: Chris Livingston, Staff Writer
Read Dead Redemption 2
Civilization 6: Gathering Storm
Skull & Bones
7th pick: Tyler Wilde, Executive Editor
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Industries of Titan
Steel Division 2
8th pick: Evan Lahti, Global Editor-in-Chief
Dying Light 2
Rainbow Six Siege
Slay the Spire
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries
9th pick: Philippa Warr, Deputy Editor
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Untitled Goose Game
Sea of Solitude
10th pick: Jarred Walton, Hardware Editor
So, how'd it go?
Evan: Well, I guess that settles how much confidence we have in Cyberpunk 2077 releasing this year.
Bo: Around round four or five, I told myself I'd pick up Cyberpunk in the last round if it was still available. It's the ultimate longshot! Sure, the chances are slim, but what if it does slip in before the end of 2019?
Pip: I was toying with the idea of putting Half-Life 3 as my final pick just for a laugh and even I thought yours was a longshot!
Tyler: Cyberpunk 2077 will be a February 2020 game. For sure. But good luck Bo! A few picks of mine were swiped, but I'm happy with the outcome. I feel like I got a good mix of action, strategy, and anime nonsense. I think my last pick, Steel Division 2, could go further than anyone else expects.
Wes: I'd like the record to show that there's only one anime game on my slate, and it's not even Japanese! I'll admit I was definitely thinking about Persona 5 as a longshot pick, but James stole it out from under me.
Bo: Cyberpunk aside, I'm pretty pleased with my slate of games. I opted less for big-name blockbusters, instead going for the sort of smaller-scope indie darlings that I think will perform well when it comes to things like GOTY lists.
Chris: I had a lot of fun watching Fraser vulture nearly every one of my picks, and Pip and Jarred walk away with the rest of them. But I do have Skin Deep, a game with sneezing in it, which no one else can say. I even scouted it by going into the Blendo Games Discord and asking Brendon Chung if he thought it would be released this year. He said a 2019 release would be "optimistic". So I'm crossing my fingers.
Wes: I'm really hoping for Wargroove to be a smash hit. The timing seems right: I'm banking on a lot of 30-year-olds like me being really nostalgic for early 2000s games like Advance Wars, right about now.
James: I opened as on-brand as possible with Fortnite, so it went as expected. I’ve never participated in a draft of any kind before, so I just went with my gut, which often meant googling ‘games of 2019’ while Phil and Fraser pulled out my picks from under me.
Evan: I know there's no real stakes here beyond our own fragile pride, but I feel like I learned more about what games you guys are into, what's on your radar, and what you think has a chance of blowing up this year.
Tyler: From your picks, Evan, I look forward to seeing how Rebel Galaxy Outlaw and MechWarrior 5 fare. I feel like they could be duds, but the spirit of competition aside, I hope they turn out to be wrecking balls. I want some great space and mech campaigns in my year.
Phil: I'm pretty glad James went first, because he was always going to pick Fortnite, letting me snatch up The Outer Worlds. The ultimate winner of this thing is going to be decided by fan vote, so I tried to focus on PC exclusives that I think could do the business, along with a couple of indie picks that I've enjoyed. Of course if Cyberpunk 2077 does actually come out this year, it'll all be nothing.
Pip: I honestly can’t believe Doom Eternal was still available by the time the draft got round to me. Other than that I just went for games I’m excited about. I considered trying to draft based on what PCG readers traditionally and reliably play (or what might get a simple numerical win in terms of fanbases most likely to vote for the studios they love), but I figure if the stuff I picked makes good on its promise people will play and love those games anyway. Atomic Heart is my biggest gamble, I think. It could be the game which wins the contest or it could be the thing which sinks me.
Fraser: Most of my picks were made on a whim, but I’m feeling pretty good about them, especially since most of them were accompanied by Chris being upset I got there first. Sorry, Chris, I’m in your head. I’ve never done a fantasy league before, so what’s next? We gonna watch some football?
What's your biggest regret?
Evan: I wanted Sekiro bad, which Tyler nabbed just one pick before me. I also can't believe I let Mount & Blade 2 slip away, which despite its slow development shows massive interest whenever a new trailer or scrap of news seeps out. Everyone who played Kingdom Come: Deliverance will play M&B2, and then some.
Wes: I can tell Evan has fantasy draft experience, because he hates Dark Souls and would surely only pick Sekiro with a strategic cackle: "The fools!" For my part, I'm happy with the games I ended up with, but I do wish I'd been clever enough to guess at an unannounced game or predict something that hasn't yet been announced for PC. Shit, what if Battletoads is the best thing to come out this year.
Bo: I found myself debating between two options at multiple points throughout the draft, then—unable to decide—tossing them both aside and picking a third option. I did it with Spelunky 2 over Metro Exodus vs Anthem in round one, both of which were quickly snapped up by others. Same with AoE4 vs Rainbow Six Siege in round three, which I ditched in favor of Afterparty. They're not necessarily regrets, I just hope the voters recognize my indie slate in comparison to some of the bigger names on the board. I also regret not snagging Atomic Heart in round five (honestly surprised it lasted that long). That game looks great, though it does have a lot of uncertainty.
Tyler: I wanted Anthem as my first pick. It doesn't look like a game I'm going to love, but a feeling in my gut says it's going to surpass expectations and pick up a lot of Destiny players. The game I did pick that I'm least sure about it GTFO. It looks cool, but is another co-op shooter really the most '2019' thing I could've picked? Vermintide 2 didn't exactly blow up.
James: I’m worried about how people will react to Far Cry New Dawn. Far Cry 5 was incredibly popular even if it wasn’t universally acclaimed, so I figured New Dawn would likely follow suit. But now I’m worried that the injection of RPG bullshit might sabotage its reputation. Ubisoft always does this, slowly spreading the same ideas throughout their games until one or two late adopters break the dam, and everyone notices and/or gets sick of the trend at the same time. First it was towers, and now it might be RPG systems.
Chris: I regret not picking Doom Eternal in the first round. I kinda think that's gonna be a winner. But Pip has it now and my next pick was RDR2 which may never show up on PC at all. I regret my whole first two rounds, in other words.
Pip: I think the nearest I got to regret was wishing I could have nabbed Outer Wilds. But I’m not fully committing to that regret because I wouldn’t have changed my first three picks to get it. Perhaps my biggest regret is not leaning over to Phil’s PC and picking something on his account while he was getting coffee. So my biggest regret is not cheating.
Phil: I mean, the second game on my list was Doom Eternal, so I assumed you had peeked at my list. Personally, like Evan, I'm very jealous of Fraser's Mount & Blade 2 pick. I'd earmarked it as my fourth round choice, once I'd secured a few safer bets. When Fraser nabbed it, I was left without a flashy 'what if' game—something highly anticipated with only a reasonable chance of arriving this year. I briefly considered picking the nuclear option—Half-Life 3—but chickened out.
Fraser: Winners don’t have regrets! OK, maybe one regret. Before the draft I considered just making every pick very on-brand, including only tactical or strategy romps and hoping that my very PC picks would engender support among the readers, but then I lost my bottle and went with The Division 2 right out of the gate. Ah, what could have been. I do have a couple of unknowns in there, however, like Mount and Blade 2 and Total War: Warhammer 3, which don’t have 2019 release dates yet, but I’m still feeling pretty good about them.
What was the best late-round pick?
Evan: Satisfactory. Probably the coolest game announced at last year's PC Gaming Show at E3, and the intersection of a whole bunch of recent genre trends.
Tyler: Aw, thanks. I was holding onto that one, hoping its Epic Store exclusivity would scare folks away. I think Skull & Bones, which Chris grabbed in a hurry after accidentally snagging a game that was already claimed, was a great pick up. With Sea of Thieves and Atlas prodding at, but not fully scratching, my pirating itch, I wonder if Ubisoft will provide the missing prong that finally satisfies my apparently very-itchy psyche.
Bo: Gears 5 and TW: Warhammer 3 both seem like outstanding picks for the final round. They're big, triple-A titles with a lot of budget behind them. Do we just not have confidence in the series?
Fraser: I was really surprised Warhammer 3 was still free when it came to the end! But then again, there’s no release date. I’m definitely confident in the series. The last two games represent two of Creative Assembly’s most ambitious and impressive endeavours, and I’m hoping it really kicks things up a gear for the finale.
James: I picked Gears 5 and don’t have much confidence in it. I’m sure it will be fun, but unless it’s a total reinvention I don’t expect much beyond another decent Gears game. And as for interest, it’s pretty wild how such a big name made to the last round without at all. For me, Warhammer 3 is a safe bet, and Ooblets could be the next Stardew Valley if the stars align.
Bo: Yeah, Ooblets is another great late-round pickup, very surprised it lasted that long.
Tyler: I really wanted Ooblets.
Fraser: If any chipper indie game is going to do well, I reckon that’s it.
Pip: It probably won’t console you at all to know that I was close to not picking Ooblets, just because it’s such an ambitious game and the dev team is just two people. I feel like it could (entirely reasonably) slip to 2020.
Evan: I think Wargroove (Wes' round 1, pick 3) is another indie with a shot at being huge. Chucklefish has taken its time with it, and it could be the Stardew Valley of 2019—the spirit of a long-neglected Nintendo series breaking onto PC in a new, more open form.
Wes: I debated Devil May Cry 5 but always picked something else instead. I think that may turn out to be an underrated choice for Fraser: Capcom's been firing on all cylinders for the past year, and I think that game is going to be exactly what fans have been wanting since 2008. The will of the people will be on his side come awards season.
Chris: Slay the Spire is a great pick: the Steam reviews are better than I've ever seen for pretty much for any game in Early Access. It's also a great pick since I know Evan really likes the game, and it's much more fun to have a game in your roster that you actually enjoy.
Pip: Agreed re: Slay The Spire. I also think Sunless Skies was a solid late-game pick up. I’d have nabbed that as my final game if Phil hadn’t grabbed it.
Phil: Imperator: Rome could prove to be a strong pick. I suspect it'll be more niche than Stellaris or Crusader Kings II, but courting a small, dedicated community isn't a bad strategy.
Fraser: It’s funny to think of Imperator as more niche than a game about running a medieval dynasty and murdering your spouse. I don’t think we would have ever thought something like CK2 would grip people as much as it has ten years ago. But I still agree. CK2 has become a big niche, and I don’t think Imperator’s quite offering as compelling a fantasy. It’s a Paradox grand strategy game, though, so I still have very high hopes.
Who's gonna win?
Evan: If AoE4 happens this year, Fraser's the favorite. Although Bungie's separation from Activision means Destiny 2 could stumble in 2019.
Fraser: Have faith, Evan! 2019 is going to be Destiny 2’s year. Bungie untethering itself from the callous publishing machine is undoubtedly going to create new challenges for the team, but I expect it will also be very liberating. I think—or at least I hope—we’re going to see some neat, experimental stuff coming in the future. Also, let’s not underestimate how much people dislike Activision and how happy a lot of players are that Destiny 2 has broken free. I think that’s going to help Bungie weather any storms, at least for a year. So, would it be gauche to say I think I’ve got a very good shot? Both Pip and Evan also have a great set of games, so they’re at the top of my list.
Tyler: If Red Dead Redemption 2 releases on PC this year, Chris wins. If not, I think I had a decent strategy. Our judgement primarily comes from a reader vote, so I picked Warframe knowing it has a healthy community that loves to evangelize for it. Others have that going for them, too. Phil's going to have Obsidian fans on his side, and James' bold pick of Persona 5, if it actually releases on PC, could make him a hero.
Bo: I mean, if CP2077 lands in 2019, I win right?
Tyler: Or that. It'll just be you and Chris. Unless CP2077 is a massive disappointment? You don't know, Bo. That dialogue in the demo sure was dumb.
James: A sphere just showed up in Fortnite, so I think I’ve got this one in the bag.
Phil: Let me point out that it's been nine years since New Vegas was released and people are still going on about it, so I'm expecting big returns from picking a first-person Obsidian RPG. And you're all underestimating the power of Rhythm Doctor. Looking at the rest of the list, I don't think there are any surefire winners yet. Pip's combination of Doom Eternal, Ooblets and Untitled Goose Game could prove formidable.
Fraser: People are still going on about Baldur’s Gate after 20 years, Phil, but Obsidian’s last two isometric RPGs haven’t really made a big splash. Tyranny has a crap final act, but it’s also one of Obsidian’s most inventive games, at least from a narrative perspective, while Pillars 2 is the best thing the studio’s made since New Vegas and possibly even Baldur’s Gate’s equal. People are fickle. That said, I think The Outer Wilds is going to prove to be a strong pick.
Pip: I could definitely win if a few things happen. One is that nothing bad happens to Doom, obv, and another is that Atomic Heart pulls off whatever it was that trailer promised. But I’m also banking on some seriously abstract aspects of games. Untitled Goose Game will succeed if the goose personality is the right combination of horrible and great. Ori needs to meet or clear the incredibly high bar set by its predecessor. Heaven’s Vault needs to pull off complex narrative feats (which I totally believe it could), and Sea of Solitude needs to make metaphors for loneliness a good player experience. Oh, and Ooblets has to not kill its tiny dev team! I have faith in my picks, but I will say that Tyler’s Sekiro/Warframe/Jump Force combo looks terrifying right now. Especially given this will go to a reader vote.
Wes: We've all picked some great games, but only one of us has Goku. The answer is clear.