Best PC Games Of 2019
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Innovation, stellar action, powerful stories--PC had it all.
PC has always been a platform that spawns innovation and excels at specific genres; it's also where many of us prefer to play our multiplatform games. And with those aspects in mind, PC gaming delivered on all fronts in 2019. We've compiled our five best PC games of 2019 in this gallery, but we'd be remiss not to at least give a nod to the other games that made the platform special this year.
Some great exclusives showed up and were shining examples of the types of experiences only found on PC. Mordhau took the first-person melee combat multiplayer found in Chivalry and made it into something more refined and dynamic. There was also a step forward in the Total War franchise with Total War: Three Kingdoms, which evolved elements of diplomacy to pair with strong storytelling steeped in the rich history of Imperial China while maintaining the satisfaction of grand strategy gameplay. Then there's Disco Elysium, regarded as an evolution in the CRPG space--more on that later.
In terms of brand-new developments on PC, we saw the creation of the auto battler genre, which is a spin-off of MOBAs. Through the Dota mod called Auto Chess, players were hooked by the strategic planning aspect and watching rounds of fights unfold until one player was left standing. This then led to official games like Dota Underlords from Valve and Teamfight Tactics from Riot (makers of League of Legends), while Blizzard created its own version through Hearthstone with Battlegrounds mode. We recognize their significance, though none of these quite made our list of the best PC games of 2019. But you know which ones did? The five games below.
We here at GameSpot have been hard at work to properly celebrate the great games that made 2019 a memorable year. And you can catch up all our content in our Best of 2019 hub page and check back everyday up until December 17 for more of our coverage and our Game of the Year announcement. You can also check out our 10 contenders for Game of the Year 2019.
In Disco Elysium, you take on the role of an amnesiac detective in a downtrodden world of a barely functioning society. At the start, you don't have a name, your equipment, or any semblance of who you once were. You wake up hungover in a trashed hotel room within a grim town that doesn't take a liking to you at first. So, what's in it for you, the player? One of the most revered RPG experiences in recent memory.
Once you build out your character's initial psyche and disposition through a diverse skill tree, you're off to explore a contained but dense world, converse with its fascinating characters, and unravel the intruiging mysteries that sprawl well beyond the initial murder investigation. The body that's hanging outside of your hotel might be the first priority, but you soon find yourself dealing with politics, racism, heartache, and the unforeseen consequences of your choices along the way. Your partner Kim Kitsuragi is there as a guide most of the way, looking out for you whether or not he appears to care, but also as someone who provides a necessary and defined perspective.
At every step of the way, your in-game conscience informs the decision-making process, providing different perspectives on situations. It's also how you begin to role-play, essentially building your character through choices as you naturally progress in Disco Elysium. The game isn't just an achievement from an RPG standpoint, but also as a marvel in impactful writing that can be poignant and comedic at the right times, or at the same time. Admittedly, for a game that revolves around reading and interpretation, stellar writing is a must, but Disco Elysium delivers in spades. -- Michael Higham
Outer Wilds isn't a puzzle game, exactly, but in many ways, the game itself is a puzzle. As the denizen of a small backwater planet with big dreams of exploring the galaxy, you're tasked to explore a large uncharted galaxy. The game has all the initial appearances of a space exploration sim with somewhat realistic (and challenging) rocket mechanics. It only takes your first cycle, in which the entire galaxy ends and resets itself, to realize it's much more than that.
On a mechanical level, Outer Wilds is about unlocking a mystery over time. Every life will inevitably end after a set time, and each iteration starts you fresh, equipped only with the cumulative knowledge you've built up through your previous lives. That mechanic is used brilliantly to explore larger human concepts--the value of curiosity and discovery, the pursuit of knowledge, and the passage of information between generations. Outer Wilds a deceptively simple game with big ideas. -- Steve Watts
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
With Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, From Software proved it can still excel at creating new ways of making incredibly difficult action games. Though Sekiro utilizes similar storytelling beats and mechanics from From Software's Soulsborne titles, the game is an altogether different beast to tackle--curating mentally taxing (but highly rewarding) combat encounters that are defined by both stealth and hyper-aggression. Combat is the best aspect of Sekiro, but the game has a lot more going for it, all of which helps make it one of the best gaming experiences of 2019.
Sekiro's setting, Ashina, is loosely based on the Sengoku period of Japan. It's a well-crafted world, one that's supported by its detailed level design and storytelling. Save for a few areas, all of Ashina's many locations are directly connected, allowing you to seamlessly traverse most of the map without the need to fast-travel. This further makes Sekiro's in-game world feel like an actual place--one where its well-written characters call home. Lore isn't info-dumped on your either; instead the game encourages you to seek out the answers to its many questions by tying expositional history to useful in-game items or weapons. By growing stronger you learn more about the world, and vice versa.
Which, frankly, is just a long-winded way of saying that Sekiro works so incredibly well because all of its systems, mechanics, and features are working in tandem with one another. Individually (with the exception of the combat), you could argue that Sekiro doesn't do any one thing in an extraordinary way. However, the game does a better job than most at seamlessly tying all of its pieces together in a way that can only be described as extraordinary. -- Jordan Ramée
Remedy has a sharp interest in science fiction and the paranormal, as seen across games like Alan Wake and Quantum Break. Its latest game, Control, is perhaps the purest distillation of the studio's keen eye for the strange and mysterious, as it turns the story inward toward a secret government agency that oversees paranormal activity. The result is a veritable playground of peculiar weirdness, letting Remedy stretch its legs with a world that is richly detailed and often hilarious in its meta-commentary on genre tropes.
Control's well-crafted world serves as the setting for an engaging action romp as Jesse Faden, a visitor with her own agenda to the department, finds herself thrust into the middle of a disturbing attack. You gain access to a variety of Force-like powers, which work well within the creepy backdrop. And it complements all this with a Metroidvania-like structure, having you double back and explore a headquarters that's often shifting in structure. These elements all work together to make something truly unique that recontextualizes Remedy's library and fulfills its esoteric interests in the otherworldly. -- Steve Watts
Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 is far more than a remake of the classic PlayStation original. Where recent games in the series lost sight of what made early entries so unique, the RE2 remake continues the work began by the wonderful Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and develops the series' quintessential survival horror mechanics and puzzle-solving into its most cohesive iteration yet.
As Leon or Claire, a familiar terror awaits as you navigate the labyrinthian hallways of the Raccoon City Police Department. The original game's most memorable moments expectedly line the remake's retelling of that terrifying night in 1998, but they're recontextualized, remixed, and given new life. Simply pointing your gun at a zombie is anxiety-inducing again, as the game removes the empowerment once offered by the freedom to aim, providing you only a semblance of dominance, a much shakier aim, and fewer bullets. And don't even get us started with the Lickers or Mr. X; the remake amplifies the terror of fighting these relentless enemies in a more seamless environment where your chances of survival seem to decrease by the minute.
Somehow RE2 remake's successes far exceed that of the original. The brilliant execution of its risk-reward survival-horror highlights it as one of the best experiences this year. A riveting and harrowing adventure, RE2 Remake is a shining example of the series' best qualities that proves the genre can still evolve, thrill, and delight. -- Matt Espineli