When we reflected on 2018, we realized that it was an unusually quiet year for big-budget games on PC. It was the rare year where some of the most-talked-about games, like Red Ded Redemption 2 and God of War, were console exclusives. Will 2019 go the same way, or should we expect the PC to get more of 2019's extravagant multiplatform games?
I've pulled out the biggest hitters from our massive list of the new games of 2019, looked at the field of console exclusives, and spent some time guessing at the surprise announcements that could drop new games in our laps by the end of 2019. It looks to me like 2019 is shaping up to be quite a bit like 2018, with many, many good games, but few blockbuster PC exclusives. The PS4 looks like it could again lead with the games everyone's talking about, at least if The Last of Us Part 2 and Death Stranding make it out this year.
But there are a few things that could put PC games—even PC exclusives—in the spotlight this year. Cyberpunk 2077 could come out and blow everything else away. Something new from Blizzard, like Diablo 4 or a new FPS, could surprise us. Or the next big thing could be a Stardew Valley-sized indie phenomenon rather than a well-known big-budget game. Here's how 2019 looks to be shaping up for PC blockbusters and exclusives so far.
What big exclusives are coming to PC in 2019?
Total War: Three Kingdoms
Release date: March
This is the first high profile Total War game since Rome 2 in 2013 to focus on historical battles. Total War: Warhammer was great, and Warhammer 2 was even better, but it's exciting to see the series take on a new time period and culture. The expansion of its hero system sounds rad, too. Rock on, Creative Assembly.
Release date: September
What do PC gamers love? Big robots! What do we love doing with them? Shooting other big robots! Here is a game built for that express purpose, and one that, at least at launch, is only coming to PC.
Release date: June
X-COM papa Julian Gollop returns with a new strategy game. It's unlikely to be a mainstream hit, but Gollop's pedigree likely means it'll be one of the best PC exclusives of 2019.
Release date: 2019
A unique RPG that seems destined for a Switch port sometime after it releases on PC, but so far it's only announced for our preferred platform. It'll either be criminally underrated or a surprise hit when it does come out. As we described in a recent preview, it's just fantastically weird: "Disco Elysium is a hardboiled detective mystery RPG set in a neo-noir urban fantasy setting, and unpacking my own baggage appears to be just as important as solving the mysteries around me. As I interrogate suspects, I'm also arguing with disparate parts of my own psyche."
What might surprise us?
The Avengers Project
We've seen and heard basically nothing from Square Enix's Avengers project since it was announced in 2017. That's not a great sign. If it's still coming, this is the year for it: Avengers Endgame is out in April.
There's no release date for Halo Infinite, but we do know that all Microsoft's big games going forward will be coming to PC. This will be the first major Halo PC release in many years, and it's a game Microsoft has clearly been taking its time with. There's a good chance it doesn't arrive until 2020, but it could be a major refresh Halo has needed (at least on the campaign side) for a very long time.
Larian's next RPG
This would be a fast turnaround, but we know Larian, developers of our 2017 GOTY Divinity: Original Sin 2, are working on something new. My bet is two simultaneous projects, one a Divinity game and one something significantly different. Sci-fi, perhaps? Slim odds either are out this year, since Larian's work on the OS2 Definitive Edition just wrapped a few months ago. But if they've been cooking up a small project on the side, who knows?
Firaxis's next game (XCOM 3?)
It's hard to imagine 2K letting go of a series as successful as XCOM, but it feels like Firaxis made the game they wanted to make with XCOM 2, and might be ready to do something new. XCOM 2 expansion War of the Chosen came out in August 2017, and Jake Solomon and his team are definitely cooking up something. Maybe it'll be ready for Christmas.
We know Blizzard is making Diablo 4, even though it chose to announce mobile spin-off Diablo Immortal at Blizzcon 2018 instead. There's seemingly been some recent drama and tension at Activision Blizzard, with some high-level execs departing. If Activision is pushing Blizzard to bring in even more money, a new full game release in the 2019 holiday window sure makes sense. Then again, there's also that FPS game it's been working on...
Red Dead Redemption 2
This one wouldn't exactly be a surprise, because we expect it's coming. But there's still uncertainty, given the original RDR never made it to PC. It won't dominate the discussion in 2019 the way it did the end of 2018, but it could easily be the best-selling PC game of the year.
What other blockbuster PC games do we already know about?
Release date: TBA
This is the big, big question mark. Cyberpunk 2077 is poised to be a bigger hit than The Witcher 3, and that'll put the PC front and center with the year's biggest game. Sure, it'll come out on consoles too, but CD Projekt is still a PC developer first and foremost. But will it actually come out in 2019? My bet is no: Cyberpunk 2077 will be a 2020 game.
Release date: February
We don't know yet if Bioware will manage to avoid many of the pitfalls Bungie fell into with Destiny. Will this hybrid of RPG and action game manage to keep players invested for months and months in a living world, or will they chew through everything it has to offer in a few days and rage about the lack of fresh missions and loot? This will potentially be the most dramatic launch week of 2019.
Release date: 2019
Doom isn't the biggest game on the planet the way it was in 1994, but Doom Eternal is still going to command attention. The 2016 reboot was great, and Eternal is adding more weapons and enemies while bringing Hell to Earth. I wouldn't be surprised if it's the best shooter of the year. It's also probably going to be the only game in 2019 to feature a heavy metal choir, and that's pretty badass.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Release date: March
Sekiro will be a test case for how much weight the From Software name carries when it's not attached to Dark Souls. Sekiro will no doubt be a success, but will it be a blockbuster? I think yes—it'll beat out other strong contenders like Devil May Cry 5 to be the biggest action game of the year.
Resident Evil 2
Release date: January
I think Resident Evil 2 could be a surprisingly big hit. Resident Evil 7 was a success for Capcom, but didn't hit the kind of sales numbers as its more action-heavy Resident Evil 6. This remake may pull in both the action and the survival horror fans and quietly end up one of the biggest games of the year. We'll know soon enough.
The Division 2
Release date: March
Another Ubisoft multiplatform blockbuster that stands a good chance of being bigger than its predecessor. Ubisoft has really honed its games-as-a-service skills, so even if this doesn't end up one of the most acclaimed games of the year, it'll likely be one of the most played.
Release date: 2019
Spelunky 2 won't be a blockbuster exactly, but I can't think of a game released in the last decade to have as much acclaim or influence as the first Spelunky, except for Dark Souls. I don't know if the sequel will make such a lasting impression, but I expect it's one players will still be discovering things about and speedrunning two or three years from now.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Release date: 2019
Most likely a holiday 2019 game, and definitely one that EA hopes will be a hit. Respawn proved it could make a great campaign with Titanfall 2, and this Star Wars game shouldn't have to face the same loot box PR disaster that Battlefront 2 did.
Console exclusives that could dominate this year
The Last of Us Part 2
Naughty Dog is the games industry's darling. It makes games that are stunningly detailed and emotionally complex, with better motion capture and acting than just about anyone else in the business. If The Last of Us Part 2 does release this year (it's not currently confirmed), expect to see its name at the top of a whole lot of 2019 Game of the Year lists.
Hideo Kojima's new game looks weird as hell, and we've been watching trailers of actor Norman Reedus's strange baby-swallowing adventures for years now. Originally this one seemed like it had a chance of coming to PC, before Sony was announced as its publisher. No other game will get as many "what the hell" thinkpieces than Death Stranding if it makes it out this year.
Ghosts of Tsushima
Another Sony exclusive from Sucker Punch, makers of the Infamous series. It's a samurai action game that looks gorgeous (and expensive). Could easily be the most successful PS4 game of the year behind TLOU: Part 2.
Kingdom Hearts 3
A console exclusive right now, but given Square Enix's recent track record, I expect this game to get a PC port eventually. That might not happen until late 2019 or 2020, but if even Dragon Quest makes it to PC these days, Kingdom Hearts surely can, too. The Disney element may make things a bit more complicated, but let's be real: Disney really likes money. Put emo Mickey on the PC.
Metroid Prime 4
There's no hard release date for this game yet. We don't even know who's making it. But the GameCube's Metroid Prime is a mainstay on "best games of all time" lists, and it could easily be Nintendo's marquee game for the holidays. Shame it'll never come to PC—mouse and keyboard for first-person Metroid would be pretty sweet.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Haha, just kidding. See you in 2022.