Finally, the blessed medium. The one where you control what’s on the TV. Chewy, we’re home. Let’s get to it.
The Surge 2 is now my favorite Souls-like
I have a troubled relationship with Souls-likes. I like their combat and exploration, but their difficulty curves and often stiff-feeling combat piss me off. I cannot finish them. But still I quest for the best one. Even though my definition of “best” Souls-like may not be yours.
Earlier this year, I played through some of The Surge 2 until I got stuck on a boss. I was just killing time before another game, so it was no big deal to switch over to that. But I picked it up again in early December, and this time I blew through that boss and kept going. I was really seeing this game now, and seeing it as a GOTY contender. In fact, I can’t remember liking a Souls-like more than this? Deck 13 has come a long, long way, even since the last game. This is a fully AAA game from a team that clearly put in the 10,000 hours and paid some dues.
The Surge 2 has weapons for days, which you can upgrade to meet your own level and ditto for armor sets. The enemies have a ton of variety, despite being mostly human. Their armors and weapons make them distinct, and you can steal both by cutting them off of their bodies. And there’s a real story this time, that makes the world of The Surge matter and feel alive and populated. I can’t recommend this one enough. It’s about as good as…
Devil May Cry 5 isn’t just a return, it’s easily the best in the series
This was another game I skipped at first, because I thought I knew what to expect. But it was cooler, so much cooler, than I expected. Like, it’s still as corny-as-all-hell, but I didn’t know how much I’d like that. The cliché is to say it grew on me over time or something, but that time was like, a minute. I love these edge-lord anime energy drink mascots so much. They are so very extra and so comfortable with themselves, too.
And the gameplay is the best in the series, even split between 3 characters. I liked all 3 of them. I wanted to play more of all of them. Their upgrade paths, combos, high-level play, it’s all great. And V is everything you’ve heard. He’s basically the guy I thought I was in high school.
Finally, the story was the-you guessed it-best in the series. It reminded me why I liked this series in the first place, introduces new characters that help make existing characters shine, and ends really, really well. It’s such a prize for people who love this series. And speaking of good stories that end super-well...
Death Stranding was one hell of a story
Here’s a controversial game. Not politics-controversial. It’s actually controversial for its gameplay. That’s kinda refreshing, actually. It’s the Dark Souls of parcel delivery, and almost literally so. I truly cannot blame anybody for playing this game and hating it. But I loved it. A lot of people did. I guess we just have a passion for logistics and infrastructure. The biggest twist in the game, honestly, is not giving me a trophy for building the last fucking road. But I will faithfully deliver your shit through rain, snow, blizzards, whatever. My pride demands it.
Tied into that, or hanging out at the edges of it, are a troupe of performers putting in Hollywood-level work and telling a story that will go from annoying you, to sneaking up and devastating you, over the course of the game. Everyone in this game fucking owns. It’s hard to pinpoint the one big MVP in this lineup. There’s at least 3 performances that could win Best Performance at a hypothetical Game Awards. It’s just world class stuff all around. Kojima’s putting those Hollywood connections to work in a big way.
Final Fantasy XIV is my Favorite MMO now
This feels weird, because I haven’t touched the new Shadowbringers campaign at all. I played through Heavensward. But that means I played a solid month of this game, so it was easily my biggest gaming obsession in 2019. The hype is real, believe what you’ve heard. What makes it so good? A lot of things.
They truly cared about telling some good, slow-burn stories, where characters are not just disposable bulletin boards with arms and legs.
- It’s gorgeous as hell. They brought the Final Fantasy style and did not compromise
- Multiple character classes eliminate the need for multiple characters within a sever. Each class is effectively a new character, as far as experience and gear are concerned.
Resident Evil 2 was a stunning evolution of classic RE
It’s hard to think of this as a remake. It felt so new and exciting. Resident Evil 2 is the best reboot/remake of a game since Doom in 2016. It’s a happy medium that has the third person perspective and aiming from the modern games, and the puzzle-focused, more vulnerable gameplay of the 90s games. It’s got enough quality of life improvements to make it appealing to new players in 2019, but it’s got that classic RE gloom and pants-shitting fear, which new players now also love. I mean, Mr. X became an internet phenomenon. The level of polish is insanely good, too. It looks like a million bucks covered in nasty gore. It was one of the best games of 2019.
I didn't make anything game of the year this time. I just wasn't passionate about ranking these games against each other. But if you really want an answer, the time I spent on Final Fantasy XIV says a lot. One day, I'll actually see the campaign they made for 2019.