Shack Chat: What is your Game of the Year 2019?

Our official awards are going to be announced while we are on break, but please take a look at our Shacknews staff's individual GOTY 2019 picks.

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It's almost time for The Shacknews Awards 2019 to kick off, but the staff wanted to share our personal picks for game of the year 2019 before the real festivities kick off. Check it out.


Question: What is your Game of the Year 2019?

Death Stranding - Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor

As you've no doubt grown tired of me saying over and over again, my personal game of the year is Death Stranding. I'd try to articulate why again as elegantly as I did in my review (which I scored the game a 9 out of 10 in), but honestly, it's better if you just go read it for the most organized argument as to why it touched me so much. But a word of advice: Don't just write it off as another "kooky" Kojima game, and don't linger in the third chapter. Take it all in, let it flow over you, and give it a chance. This has nothing to do with being a "fanboy" or being "pretentious." The game is genuinely fantastic, and it deserves your time and attention over all others this year, in my opinion.

The Outer Worlds - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Editor

I say this as a guy who's completely fallen down the Outer Worlds side quest rabbit hole, but I can't remember the last time I've played a game with such depth, so many different ways to approach it, and with more enjoyable characters. The character arcs for Parvati, Vicar Max, and Nyoka are captivating enough by themselves, as are the various character moments for the game's bigger NPCs. That's before even touching on how you can build your own character, whether you're going an all-violent route (I'm looking at you, Blake!) or trying to avoid conflict by smooth-talking your way out of danger.

I could go on and on about the cleverness of crafting a universe completely ruled by capitalism. I could talk about the funnier gags that such a premise put forward or I could talk about the clever social commentary. But for me, I'll say I'm where David Craddock was with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild a few years ago. The Outer Worlds is bringing me so much joy that I can't bear to finish it and I haven't felt that way about a game in years.

Borderlands 3 - Blake Morse, Reviews Editor

I’ve made no effort whatsoever to hide my love for the Borderlands series from anyone. So, it should come as no surprise that Borderlands 3 would end up being my personal choice for GOTY. I’ve been spending all my free gaming time exploring the galaxy as a vault hunter ever since I laid eyes upon my personal copy. There are a lot of nuanced new features that don’t stick out much, but still make number 3 a vast improvement gameplay-wise over its predecessors. 

The fact that you can now climb and slide in the game makes a huge difference in the way that you play. Skill trees have been streamlined and offer up a few extra ways to tweak your character class and the classes themselves this time around are a great blend of the ones available in previous entries. And we finally get the hell off of Pandora this time around to really see what this galaxy has to offer.

While I plan on doing my best to complete the main story this weekend, I’m pretty confident I’ll be playing Borderlands 3 well into the new year. I love this game the same way that my colleagues love their GOTY choices and I’m not gonna be quitting it any time soon.

Resident Evil 2 REmake - David L. Craddock, Longreads Editor

It’s rare for someone in my position, who’s been ensconced in video game coverage for coming up on 16 years, to play a game that not only delivers on expectations, but vastly exceeds them. For me, Capcom’s brilliant remake of Resident Evil 2 is that game.

Like its remake of the original game for GameCube in 2002, Capcom deftly balanced old and new. You still play as Leon or Claire, and you still have to escape the RPD and fight off an increasingly mutated William Birkin. You’ll even recognize many of the corridors and rooms you pass through (and cower in) as you play. But so much is new. Corridors, rooms, and decor organically extend from familiar places so that you’ll question how you ever imagined RE2 without its new additions.

Add to that more accessible controls, an AI “director” that raises or lowers the difficulty based on how well you’re playing, better writing and voice-acting, and a much scarier mood thanks to the macabrely gorgeous visuals of the RE Engine, and you have a near-perfect game. I’ve got back to “RE2make” several times this year, and will enjoy playing it again and again for the next 21 years--when Capcom remakes it again.

The Outer Worlds - Bill Lavoy, Managing Editor

When I was putting together my Games of the Year list it really hit me how many quality titles came out in 2019. I am very high on Super Mario Maker 2, Remnant: From the Ashes, and Disco Elysium, but The Outer Worlds stands above them all for me. It was the one game I played this year that, the moment I finished it, I started a new play through. It didn’t feel done. It still doesn’t feel done and I’ve played multiple times and role played entirely different characters. It’s the sort of game where you’re never disappointed if you ask, “What if?”

What are the high points of The Outer Worlds, though? Well, you could read The Outer Worlds review from Shacknews, which I wrote. If you’re pressed for time, though, expect to enjoy deep and meaningful dialog that drastically changes how your experience plays out. Expect to care for the characters you meet, want to explore the world you travel, and know that you’ll want to do it all again a different way the moment you wrap up your first play through. You can create a dumb character and open up entirely new dialog options not normally available. You can even kill every single character in the game (save for one), and somehow Obsidian manages to keep the story rolling even as quest givers and important characters perish.

The Outer Worlds is a remarkable gaming experience, and you should play through it at least once this holiday season if you’ve got the time.

Astroneer - Chris Jarrard, What are you doing with a gun in space?

This outer space terrain deforming adventure stuck its claws in me dating back to its extended run as an early access title on Steam. After dumping more than a hundred hours into the unfinished version, I assumed that the official 1.0 release this year would be nothing more than a formality and that my serious time with the game was done. I was wrong.

I jumped into the official release version of the game and it only took about an hour before I had fallen back into the swing of things. I now have more than one hundred hours in the officially released version of Astroneer. The combination of exploration, base-building, and materials management strike the perfect mix to produce digital crack cocaine. Add a few friends to the stew and you have the recipe for multiple people chiefing on a digital crack pipe.

I’m not 100% sure where I’m going with this other than to say that of all the excellent game releases in 2019, this is the one that has me rambling about smoking crack. I’m writing this while on cold medicine.

Link’s Awakening on Nintendo Switch - Josh Hawkins, Expert Writer Guy

When it comes to video games, the Legend of Zelda series has always been held in a place of high regard. When Nintendo announced the remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, I was more than happy to dive back into one of the green-clad hero’s classic tales. What awaited me in Link’s Awakening on the Nintendo Switch was better than anything I could have expected.

The unique graphical approach combined together with the same puzzles and mechanics I loved in the original, really helped to create a replica of one of the greatest Zelda adventures I’d ever experienced. It just left me starstruck and wanting to see more of my favorite Zelda titles remastered with the same love, care, and adoration. 

For me, Link’s Awakening was my game of the year. Yeah, it was pretty much just a 1 for 1 remake, and it wasn’t changed all that much like other remakes we saw this year (looking at you Resident Evil 2). But, that doesn’t change that Link’s Awakening still stands up as one of the greatest Legend of Zelda games I’ve ever played, and honestly one of the greatest games I played this year. Listen, if it ain’t broke… just don’t fix it. Sometimes things just work.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - TJ Denzer, News Editor

I don’t need The Game Awards to tell me why Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice deserves a Game of the Year trophy. I already knew as I played through my final games of this year and put together my personal list. When I first laid eyes on Sekiro, I thought, “Oh look, Team Ninja did a Dark Souls impression with Nioh, so FromSoftware is answering back.” I was wrong. It was in a conversation with a colleague that I learned Sekiro is not a Soulsborne game, but rather, it began its life as a Tenchu game, a stealth action ninja game that FromSoftware also handled years ago.

It changed my whole perspective and approach to Sekiro, and even then, I would argue that Sekiro goes out of its way to set itself apart. You are not a brazen warrior or sorcerer tripping through darkness and making the best of an often unfair hand. You are a ninja. Stealth and agility are your sharpest tools among a host of gadgets and only second in power to information. I was absolutely thrilled by Sekiro’s approach to giving you options to explore its world, circumvent its enemies, and smartly exploit their weaknesses. It helps that Sekiro’s world is an absolutely beautiful tapestry of snowy mountains, burning castles, and isolated temples filled to the brim with enemies thoughtfully inspired by Japanese history and mythology.

Add to this, some of the most breathtaking and dramatic set pieces and battles in a year full of good combat. The Lady Butterfly fight alone was a beautiful collection of applying the information you learned to a deadly and dramatic battle in the midst of a burning temple with a goosebump-instilling musical track to accompany it - easily my favorite boss battle in a long time. In a year of great games, Sekiro stayed with me like no other from all angles. Auraly, visually, mechanically, and with impact, it was easily my number one of 2019.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 - Greg Burke - Master of Video 

I’m 34 years old. I’ve spent countless hours playing Nintendo, Sega Genesis, N64, Playstation and many other consoles. Once in awhile I pop in an old game from my childhood, and nostalgia sweeps over me. The feeling doesn't last very long though. I have very good memories of playing games, specifically Nintendo games and Luigi’s Mansion 3 was able to capture those perfect memories in a modern Nintendo Switch game. 

It may not be as visually impressive as, say, Resident Evil 2 Remake, and maybe it doesn't have online an addictive online mode like Apex Legends or Fortinite, but Luigi’s Mansion 3 has a lot of heart and fun gameplay that will make you lose track of time while playing. This is even more impressive considering it was developed by a second party studio, Next Level Games. Luigi’s Mansion 3 just gives you a flawless classic Nintendo adventure and it’s an experience everyone should have in their lifetime. It was pretty much glossed over for more “adult” games this year, but I feel it deserves to be noticed.

The Outer Worlds - Donovan Erskine, Intern

I’ll be frank. I’m a sucker for a good old western RPG. Franchises like The Elder Scrolls represent everything I love in games. The open ended exploration, the random encounters, the NPC’s, and so on. I haven’t played a game that evoked such joy in me until I played The Outer Worlds. It’s a perfect blend of everything I want from an RPG, along with its own unique style. Obsidian has crafted an experience that not only stands atop of 2019 releases, but rivals the best of the last several years.

SUPER MARIO MAKER 2 - Asif Khan, Shackmas Claus

SUPER MARIO MAKER 2! GOTY, BABY! GAME OF THE YEAR!


There you have it, Shackers. The official results for the Shacknews Game of the Year 2019 and the other Shacknews Awards will be announced over our Holiday Break. What was your game of the year 2019? Let us know in the Shacknews Chatty comment section below.

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