2019 was a great year for games, which made picking our GamesRadar+ Game of the Year of 2019 a difficult task. The 12 months across Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC were particularly exciting, which made narrowing it down to just 25 award-worthy titles pretty tricky. Whether you’re here to see what you missed, to celebrate your favorites getting recognition, or just to see if you need to send us an angry tweet about what didn’t make the cut, welcome.
So how do we even start to make a list like this? Spreadsheets and arguments, mainly. The GamesRadar team submitted every single game they thought should be on the long list, which eventually was filled with around 50 games. Every member of the team then voted on their top 25 of that list, ranked from 25th best all the way down to their ultimate number one (so your #1 game received a score of 1, your #25 game received a score of 25 etc). We added up all the scores, and the game with the most overall votes, but lowest average score became our number one. The process was applied to all games in the long list, allowing us to create a focus-group-style average ranking. That’s how we got to this ultimate 25 best games of 2019.
So without any further ado, here’s our final list of the best games of 2019. How many of these beauties have you played?
25. Gears 5
Developer: The Coalition
Format: Xbox One, PC
What is it? The Gears game you’ve grown to love, remixed to add open-world elements and an upgrade system
Why should you play it? Gears has always been fun, and Gears 5 (opens in new tab) takes a great formula and improves upon it, adding side-quests, open-world mechanics, and an upgrade system that makes the series’ penchant for collectible-hunting finally seem worthwhile. It’s everything you’ve ever loved in Gears, but with shiny new additions that remind you why you liked the old rusty bits. The campaign has plenty of moments that feel familiar and an entire middle section that’s nothing you’ve ever seen before in a Gears game (there’s a skiff, and some wild lightning storms), and a multiplayer that’s been streamlined to feel just as heavy-hitting as before, without the clunkiness. Grab it because you know Gears, love it because it’s ever-so-different. Alyssa Mercante
24. The Division 2
Developer: Massive Entertainment, Ubisoft Reflections
Format: PS4, Xbox One, PC
What is it? A sequel to the first Division game that builds on everything it did well, with tough multiplayer raids, a live, active Washington D.C., and captivating missions.
Why should you play it? If the idea of a Destiny-like game that’s much more realistic is appealing to you, The Division 2 (opens in new tab) is that title. Set in Washington D.C. years after the outbreak that eliminated so much of the population in the first game, you have to fight back against multiple factions and regain control of the capital city. There are countless play styles and gadgets available to utilize, with immensely satisfying gun play and unique weapons available everywhere you look. There’s also plenty of side content to tackle, including a series of mysterious riddles to solve and bosses to kill, along with a number of PvP areas called the Dark Zone where you can hunt down other players for their new loot. What are you waiting for, Agent? Ford James
23. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Format: Nintendo Switch
What is it? A tactics game and school life management sim that spins a grand story of war, love, and loyalties.
The Fire Emblem series was in a tough place before Three Kingdoms. New fans who were drawn in by the stories and relationships of Awakening were tiring of follow-ups that failed to escape its waifu-shaped shadow, while series veterans were chafing at a lack of tactics and character specialization options. It seemed like Fire Emblem had to go one way or the other. Then Fire Emblem: Three Houses (opens in new tab) came with a third way: more character customization, a little bit of romance, a story that starts strong and kicks into gear in its back half, and way more school life. Whichever house you choose, you’ll grow to know and appreciate each student at the school – which makes it all the harder when you one day meet at opposites sides of the battlefield. Connor Sheridan
22. Borderlands 3
Developer: Gearbox Software
Format: PS4, Xbox One, PC
What is it? The original looter shooter returns with the third mainline instalment in Gearbox’s FPS series, now with more planets, enemies, and (yes) guns.
There are games that cater to fan expectations, and then there’s Borderlands 3 (opens in new tab). Gearbox’s long-anticipated looter shooter sequel delivers on everything you could hope for from a Borderlands game, and then some, bearing all the series hallmarks alongside new features that only furthers the game’s strengths as an RPG-FPS hybrid. Gearbox has already proven itself a skilled player in the art of live service gaming too, delivering frequent updates that pay attention to ongoing concerns alongside reams of free content that keeps players coming back for more. A handsome addition to 2019 indeed. Alex Avard
21. Kingdom Hearts 3
Developer: Square Enix
Format: PS4, Xbox One
What is it? A beautiful PRG melting pot of Disney, Pixar, and Square Enix’s original characters, continuing the story of 2005’s Kingdom Hearts 2 with a bang.
Why should you play it? Like taking hallucinogens at Disney World, Kingdom Hearts 3 (opens in new tab) is a huge, familiar and occasionally confusing adventure that indulges both your inner child and your passion for micro-managing your potion inventory. It’s got all the usual JRPG mechanics, team battles, outlandishly sized weapons, big boss fights, it just has them in places like Frozen’s Arendelle, Monsters Inc’s Monstropolis, and the oceans of The Pirates of the Caribbean. The Kingdom Hearts lore is deep enough to drown in; there’s plenty here for the hardcore. And for everyone else, there’s the sweet, simple delight of going into battle knowing that you can summon Simba from The Lion King. Rachel Weber
Turn to page two for the rest of our best games of 2019…