2019's most wanted: The games you shouldn't miss this year
Start saving your pennies now as the hotly anticipated titles start to come thick and fast from later this month.
(PC/XO/PS4) Late 2019
If Fallout 76 disappointed you massively, lock your wallet instead onto a pre-order of Atomic Heart, a visually arresting take on a post-Soviet world. Incorporating echoes of BioShock and Metro, this imaginatively designed shooter features a host of distinctive enemies along with a whiff of the horrific supernatural. Developer Mundfish may not have much of a visible track record but its two-minute trailer for Atomic Heart shows a team bursting with bonkers creativity.
The Division 2
(PC/XO/PS4) March 15
Ubisoft’s commendable long-term support for the original Division bodes well for the sequel. A quick play of The Division 2 back at E3 2018 suggests it’s far more the finished article already. Instead of a frigid New York, this one’s set in a baking-hot Washington after a dictator has taken over the US. The makers deny this is political satire turned up to 11 but whatever, it still promises to be a damn fine shooter.
It’s been in development for what seems like an aeon (actually, it was first announced in 2013), which seems odd for a game-building game that ostensibly follows on in the same vein from Little Big Planet. But creator Media Molecule has earned our trust that it can outshine that game’s brew of play, create and share. What little we’ve seen of Dreams so far hint at powerful yet accessible tools to make and play a mindblowing variety of level designs, game designs and, quite possibly, art installations.
In the Valley of Gods
Fans of the quietly understated brilliance of Firewatch should relish this left turn from developer Campo Santo. Once again, you’re dealing with a pair of characters dependent on each other, this time exploring the ancient tombs of 1920s Egypt. This is no Uncharted or Lara Croft adventure, so expect a deep narrative, unexpected twists and plenty of slyly wisecracking dialogue.
Kingdom Hearts 3
(PS4/XO) January 29
More than 15 years after the last one, this joyful Square Enix-Disney crossover emerges from development hell at the end of the month. Yeah, it’s an RPG in that cartoonish Final Fantasy style but most players will come instead for the vast panoply of animated characters drawn from the Disney roster. Modern stars from Frozen rub shoulders with veterans such as Winnie Pooh, with every base from Goofy and Donald to Jack Sparrow covered in between.
(PC/XO/PS4) February 22
The conclusion to the survival horror trilogy looks to be the darkest, most formidable yet. The post-apocalyptic Russian shooter ditches a linear story for an open-world experience in Exodus, which its developers promises to be significantly larger than the previous two games. Early highlights include some vicious new monsters and stunning landscapes but it’s the chilling details – the background chatter, the environmental storytelling – that create more of the terrifying atmosphere.
Thirteen years after the delightfully screwy original, the psychedelic world of Psychonauts returns thanks to a crowd-funding campaign initiated by creative genius Tim Schafer. We’re thrust back into the mind-melting dream universe where logic, humour and platforming collide. Expect hallucinogenic landscapes, a steady stream of chuckles and some challenging puzzles, Let’s hope this one ends up more popular than just a cult classic.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
(PS4/XO/PC) March 22
The makers of the Dark Souls series branch out into Assassin’s Creed territory. But From Software’s new opus will undoubtedly invoke that love-hate feeling of its siblings, where death hovers constantly like a wraith and you’ll die a lot. Set in medieval Japan and intended to be more free-flowing with its combat, Sekiro also incorporates a grappling hook move and some sort of aerial skirmishes.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
(PS4/XO/PC) Late 2019
Rumours aside, we know practically zip about this latest in the endless carousel of Star Wars tie-ins. But one detail alone makes it tantalising: Titanfall (and ex-Call of Duty) developer Respawn is at the controls. That’s enough to convince it won’t be a money-grabbing cash-in (cough, Battlefront 2, cough). The story seems to focus on a young Padawan who’s handy with a light-saber – and, well, who cares after that so long as Respawn builds it in its own inimitable style.
Yoshi’s Crafted World
(Switch) Spring 2019
There’s far more than meets the eye to this Yoshi. Cuddlier than ever, YCW steps into a papercraft world with a twist – the player can flip the 2D perspective to the other side to find secrets and hidden paths. That aside, it’s business as usual for Yoshi, swallowing enemies and, um, squeezing them back out as projectiles. And anyone can resist humming those charming pipe-based tunes has a cold, dead rock where their heart should be.