Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will try your patience. As you might expect given its developer, it's a devastatingly difficult game that will require your skill and concentration. It's beautifully designed, with a clever new combat system and some of the most cinematic action ever in a From game, and it will kill you over and over again. All told, it's the best game I've ever hated, and I never want to play it again.
ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove is a literal return-to-form for the series, and longtime fans should be happy about that. While it might not be a hardcore roguelike or fully integrate its more modern design choices, it does exactly what it sets out to do: give players a true sequel to the original Genesis classic. It's hard to say how far this formula could have come in 28 years if the series hadn't taken detours into other genres, but for now I'm just happy that it's gone back to its roots.
Crackdown 3 is just more Crackdown. For some players, that will be enough. But compared to what Crackdown 3 initially promised, what we ended up with seems lacking in depth and destruction. When it's good, like with its boss fights, there's nothing like it. Unfortunately, there's just too much filler, and with its most exciting feature demoted to a fairly minor multiplayer mode, Crackdown 3 just isn't the step forward that it could have been.
Wargroove might be the least original game I've played in a long time, but it offers fans of the Advance Wars series something we've been lacking for a while. Thankfully, Wargroove does add enough subtle variations on Advance Wars' formula to create its own niche, and multiplayer is much easier than convincing your other friend with a Game Boy Advance to buy their own copy. Even if you're playing alone, there's plenty to see and do, as long as you're willing to learn some hard lessons along the way.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes might not exactly be the game that fans of the series were hoping for, but if you're want to catch up with your favorite assassin and are willing to accept changes made to the gameplay, you should find plenty to like here. This is a surprisingly complex game and seriously goofy sequel-ish thing, made with obvious passion and an undying love for the gaming experience.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a must-have for Switch owners who skipped the Wii U. Packaged with two complete games and a plethora of challenges to complete, the Deluxe version will give you plenty of bang for your buck. Even if you already owned the game, it's worth trying on the Switch, if only to have a mobile, 2D Mario game at the ready. It might not be as difficult as past Mario games, but it's never not fun.
Darksiders III is a frustrating, awkward sequel to a series that's charmingly stupid, but there's a lot of fun to be had if you give up on getting good. Do yourself a favor and tone down the difficulty level so that you can enjoy the crazy character designs and ridiculous fantasy world that Gunfire Games has built. Fans will be glad that this underdog of a series at least got a third chapter, but if you're new to Darksiders, you might want to start at the beginning.
Battlefield V has the potential to be the best game in the series. It’s recaptured the magic of those Battlefield moments at almost every opportunity, and its new mechanics like squad revives and attrition put the focus back on sticking with your teammates. There are still a lot of questions it needs to answer with its Tides of War live service, and more casual players might be turned off by the challenging gunplay, but what we have now is a worthy successor to the Battlefield name.
Hitman 2 may seem like more of a second season than a full sequel, but there’s still nothing like a Hitman game. It might not represent a massive leap forward for the series, and it might be missing some of the bells and whistles that the last game had, but it should still satiate fans of Agent 47, thanks to its more satisfying stealth and its complex, lively mission areas.
The Missing's clever innovations on the platforming genre are more than just gimmicks. They underline the game's deeply emotional core and create a uniquely affecting experience. Like any Swery game, you might run into some technical difficulties, but those are easy to overlook when the experience as a whole is so fully realized. The Missing is like a dream in every sense, but it's one that you won't forget after you wake up.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey lives up to its namesake. By fully investing in becoming an action RPG, Odyssey's characters, combat, story, and scope are beyond anything the series has accomplished so far. Its ambitions might get the better of it sometimes, like in how it divides its story moments or in how the leveling system can get out of hand, but the overall experience is, simply put, epic. Even when the game's pacing hits a speed bump, there are plenty of engaging and rewarding side quests and distractions to keep you busy.
FIFA 19 is one of the most satisfying games in the series yet. The addition of the UEFA Champions League adds some excitement to everything, even if it artificially bloats the overly long final chapter in The Journey. Subtle but meaningful tweaks to the gameplay make it both flashier and more physical than last year's edition while still retaining that good ol' fashioned FIFA feel, and the new modes and stat-tracking tools added to Kick Off are great, even if they're relegated to local play.
NHL 19 is one of the best-playing hockey games I can remember, thanks to an overhauled animation system and the best body checking money can buy. World of CHEL is cool, too, at least as a foundation for future editions. Unfortunately, as it is right now, unless you like player-locked multiplayer experiences, this banner addition won't have much more to offer other than a few challenges and a new parka. Still, if you've skipped the last few years of NHL games, you could do a lot worse than NHL 19.
NBA Live 19 fully expands on its The One mode while adding a little more weight and momentum to its actual gameplay. While its in-game presentation and distinct style of gameplay might turn off players looking for a strict basketball sim, NBA Live 19 consistently rewards players for actually playing without trying to gouge them for more money.
NBA 2K19 had a real opportunity to learn from last year's mistakes, and in some ways it did. The Neighborhood is more convenient, the Prelude is way more interesting, and the gameplay has seen some subtle but important improvements. Unfortunately, all this is marred yet again by the game's predatory microtransaction system, which turns the MyCareer stuff into a grind-heavy, pay-to-skip farce.
Madden NFL 19 is, in pretty much every way, less exciting than its predecessor, at least on a conceptual level. Last year's game had a new engine and a completely new mode to boast. This year's biggest selling point—Real Player Motion—definitely makes running a more viable offensive option. Otherwise, all you're getting is part two of what's becoming an unnecessary trend in EA's sports-related telenovelas and a whole lot of advertising for Madden Ultimate Team. If that doesn't sound good enough for you, then you probably should just skip Madden this year.
Bomb Chicken is a classic indie puzzle-platformer that wears its developer's history and influence on its sleeve. From its Super Nintendo-inspired, colorful pixel art to its one unique platforming mechanic, Bomb Chicken is truly an education in how to put together a satisfying gaming experience—though players hoping that the length and narrative of a game like Celeste or the ability progression of a Shovel Knight might make their way into a game about a chicken that lays bombs will be a little disappointed.
Detroit: Become Human is a testament to how far the genre of interactive narrative storytelling has come and, at the same time, how much further it can go. While it might still suffer from some annoying QTE moments and a few narrative speedbumps, it delivers on promises that many other games in this genre make yet fail to keep, especially in how the choices you make can lead to very different experiences down the line.
Laser League's simple concept belies a ton of hidden depth in its character classes and map-specific strategies—It's the definition of easy to learn and hard to master, without requiring mechanical godliness to succeed. While its core mode is somewhat lacking in variety and its basic gameplay might get too repetitive for some players, it already feels like a concept that's been around much longer than it has, and manages the tall order of balancing for casual and competitive gamers alike.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze makes another strong case for the argument that Nintendo needs to port every single one of its Wii U games to the Switch. DK's latest adventure is one of the most clever, joyful platforming experiences I've had in a while, and it adds just enough newness to the series to keep the formula engaging without going overboard. There might not be enough (or anything) to convince Wii U owners to play it again, but long-lost Nintendo fans who came back for the Switch have another must-play game to add to their growing libraries.