If you read over our Game of the Year list for 2019 and thought there were a few missing titles, there’s a reason for that. We simply can’t fit them all. In fact, there were so many great titles to come out in 2019 that we felt running a single list didn’t feel quite fair. With that in mind, we present the eight titles that came a hair’s breadth from our Top 15.
The Runners Up:
Hideo Kojima’s vanity project/paean to modern hyperconnectivity divided critics and fans alike. Those who love it, love it deeply. Those who hate it are driven into a fury at the mention of its name. Regardless of your feelings on it as a game, good art provokes and Death Stranding certainly did that. Is it a Game of the Year contender? As with its value as an artwork, that is entirely up to you.
The delightful return of a well-loved series. A clever, often very funny romp through a haunted hotel with a vacuum cleaner has rarely been this enjoyable. It has all the charm and flair of a true Nintendo original, and has a few new ideas that keep things very fresh indeed. The multiplayer will be good fun with the family over the holidays.
A loving and skillfully crafted riff on the Donkey Kong Country series by the team that know it best. If what you’ve been craving has been a throwback to the SNES era of barrel-throwing, jungle platforming (and god knows we were), then your ship has finally come in. A smarter, tighter and more enjoyable sequel than its predecessor in every way.
The strangest Zelda adventure of them all gets the remaster it has always deserved. Created during a period in the 90’s when Twin Peaks was all the rage, Link’s Awakening is one of the darkest, oddest entries in the series. To see it get this kind of love and care in a remaster is wonderful, but to have it presented to a whole new generation of players who’ve never experienced it before is a joy. A must-play for Zelda fans.
Gears 5 gets a lot right. It takes the series to some interesting new mechanical places, it presents the best story of any Gears game to date by a wide margin and it builds the illusion of an open world without actually creating one. The shooting is as satisfying as ever, and the multiplayer is up there with the greats. Better yet? It’s on Game Pass!
The Anno series has long been the lowkey black sheep of the Ubisoft family. Happy to bubble along in the background doing its own thing, it built a small but dedicated fanbase as it released new titles every few years. A pet project of The Settlers developer Blue Byte, we aren’t certain that Ubisoft was fully prepared for Anno 1800‘s runaway success. The combination of smart systems and an immersive colonial setting made for one of the most satisfying and addictive entries the series has ever seen. Welcome to the Game of the Year club, Anno.
Coming out of absolutely nowhere in February and giving battle royale juggernaut Fortnite a run for its money, Apex Legends is a rare bird. A free-to-play game published by Electronic Arts that was allowed to flourish in-house without meddling or executive oversight, it launched with zero marketing runway and a huge amount of hype. Created by Respawn Entertainment, the team behind the fantastic Titanfall series, it blended the best of Respawns catalogue with battle royale mechanics. Proof that EA can still come up the goods when they turn their creatives loose. It may not have made it into the Game of the Year list, but it has a special place in our hearts.
Gearbox threw everything they had at Borderlands 3, creating an insane, maximal, and consistently entertaining shooter. Sure, the humour is a bit over-the-top at times, but the sheer joy of following a ridiculous quest line and getting the job done like a goddamn boss can’t be beaten. Anyone looking for an incredibly tight first-person looter-shooter with inventive visuals and a sunny disposition can’t look past this one.