2019 is over halfway over, which means we have a laundry list of games to look back on already. The year has been filled with lots of notable releases, including Kingdom Hearts III, Far Cry New Dawn, Resident Evil 2, and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, to name a few. Of this year’s biggest games, the PlayStation Lifestyle team has enjoyed many of them. But what about 2019’s best games? In this list, we’ve broken down the site’s highest-reviewed games of the year so far by the scores they’ve received.
Once the end of the year rolls around, this list will likely look different, but for now, let’s look back on 2019’s best PlayStation 4 games so far. (Editor’s Note: At least according to the minds at PlayStation LifeStyle).
15. Apex Legends – 9
In what would have been a new entry in the Titanfall series, Respawn Entertainment capitalized on the battle royale craze at the beginning of 2019 with Apex Legends. It offers some of the most fast-paced, frenetic online gameplay, with an emphasis on its unique and diverse cast of characters. It saw tremendous success when it released, with over 50 million players just in its first month on the market.
Here’s a snippet from our review:
Apex Legends is an expertly-crafted battle royale shooter, which is no surprise when you consider the development team behind it. It feels like the culmination of lessons learned from other games in the genre, almost as if battle royale has finally grown up. Combining the hero shooting concept of Overwatch and others before it with battle royale seems obvious, in hindsight. What isn’t so obvious is that injecting Titanfall-inspired gunplay makes the package much more compelling. We are only a week into the life of Apex Legends, but the outlook is looking pretty great from where we’re standing.
14. VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action – 9
VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action is a bartender simulator, which is not a sub-genre you see very often. Aside from its unique premise, VA-11 Hall-A has an immensely gripping story with a wonderful cast of characters. If you’re in the mood for a visual novel with an anime aesthetic, don’t skip out on this one.
Check out what we thought here:
I loved my time with VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action. It’s one of the best visual novels I have played in years and one of the best stories in games this decade. It’s a funny, tragic, stunning adventure unlike anything I’ve played recently. It treats the player with respect by not insulting your intelligence as well as empowering its characters to be confident, scared, sexual, and at times a piece of garbage. VA-11 Hall-A is the visual novel that you must play even if you aren’t typically a fan of the genre.
13. Ghost Giant – 9
It’s always great to see high-caliber additions to the PSVR library. Ghost Giant, much like Moss, has you overlooking a fantastical world with the goal of helping out a small furry friend, a kitten named Louis. Throughout your journey, you’ll assist Louis by completing puzzles and developing an emotional bond, one that tugs at your heartstrings by the end of the experience.
Here’s a blurb from our review:
For Zoink’s first foray into the VR space, they’ve done on incredible job. Ghost Giant is one of those unique must-play VR experiences that effectively demonstrates just what VR can do that traditional screens can’t. It’s a game that effectively makes you feel a strong bond and connection with its world and its characters. It deftly weaves between humor and deep emotion, elation and sadness. It’s not a difficult game, but that’s not the point. Ghost Giant wants you to play in its world, but also engage with its heart. It’s a beautiful experience that really highlights what not just VR, but games overall, are all about.
12. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition – 9
Although this is a an upscaled version of a previous generation game, we’re still considering it on our list. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is the complete version of the fan-favorite Tales of Vesperia, which is now playable on PS4. Critics loved how it looked and some even called it the best game in the series. The Definitive Edition includes improved visuals, English and Japanese voice tracks, and all previously released content.
Here’s what we had to say:
Ultimately, the question for many will be if Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is worth picking up even if players have experienced it before. The answer, at least in my eyes, is a resounding yes. The addition of characters and story content makes it a fresh experience for western fans, and it is a game that still manages to capture the imagination even now. Audio issues aside, this is the best version of Tales of Vesperia we’ve ever gotten—and, to be frank, that we will ever get—and newcomers and veterans alike owe it to themselves to experience the Definitive Edition of one of the best Tales of games ever created.
11. Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers – 9
Shadowbringers is Final Fantasy XIV’s third expansion that takes players to a new dimension known as the First Star. The MMORPG was already beloved, but it seems the reception to Shadowbringers has been tremendous. In the expansion, many new features have been added like increasing the level cap to 80, new raids and dungeons, new jobs, as well as improvements to the battle system.
This is what we said in our review:
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a pretty cool game. Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers is an awesome extension of it, adding features that further distills the game’s core appeal and adds an entire new game of shockingly excellent storytelling in terms of scale and quality. I don’t really know what happens between those two points yet, and I have a long road of Final Fantasy XIV ahead of me yet. But after my experiences so far in learning the game, experiencing its latest expansion, and seeing just how much I have left to see and do, well, I’m in it for the long haul.
10. Days Gone – 9
In one of, if not the most divisive game of 2019, Days Gone came out and attracted a lot of attention from the media. Some outlets praised it, while it was critically panned at others. We absolutely loved it here, applauding its actors’ performances, narrative, and sound design. The open world of Bend, Oregon created by Bend Studio is beautiful, too, with varying weather effects to accompany it and give it a personality.
Here’s what we thought:
Days Gone checks all the boxes of a proverbial PlayStation exclusive, but never feels like it’s stepping on anyone else’s toes. Despite the games, film, and TV that you can easily draw comparisons too, Days Gone handles it all in such a way that it has its own unique identity. The more I played it, the more I loved it, until finally finishing the long journey and not wanting the adventure to end. Sam Witwer is brilliant as Deacon St. John, and his journey of survival, humanity, and self-discovery through a deadly world via motorcycle is a memorable one that shouldn’t be missed.
9. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled – 9
After the success of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, a remake of Crash Team Racing was bound to happen. With Nitro-Fueled, we got a faithful, yet modernized recreation of the 1999 original. Beenox has done a tremendous job of constantly updating, improving, and adding free content to Nitro-Fueled, too, making it almost feel like a game-as-a-service. (Editor’s Note: Microtransactions are being added to the game with the second Grand Prix event, but it’s simply a shortcut around gameplay progression for cosmetic items.) There are a ton of things to do in the game, as well, and the content just keeps piling up. Especially for $39.99, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is an excellent kart racer.
Here’s a summary of our review:
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a faithful remake of a classic karting game, with extra content from across the franchise to boot. Whether playing the respectfully challenging campaign mode to unlock all kinds of parts, stickers, and more, or skirmishing with strangers and friends both online and off, those who have fond memories of the original will get their money’s worth out of the racer, without a doubt. The sliding mechanic still takes some getting used to after all these years, but it just wouldn’t be CTR without it.
8. Dragon Quest Builders 2 – 9.5
In the sequel to Dragon Quest Builders, it’s more building and more Dragon Quest, but this time with some added features and improvements. Dragon Quest Builders 2 gives you a chance to teach other NPCs to build and heavily enhances the combat from the first game. In the first entry, many argued that combat felt like an afterthought, so it’s nice that the sequel includes more depth in that regard. And boy, is the loop of gathering resources to construct your base addicting.
This is what we had to say:
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a massive game that can get even more massive if you date to venture outside the box and get creative on your own. But even if you don’t care for sandbox-style gameplay, there is more than enough story to keep JRPG and Dragon Quest fans occupied. If the first game seemed a little out of your comfort zone as a traditional Dragon Quest fan, rest assured that Dragon Quest Builders 2 smooths out nearly all the first game’s rough edges, has plenty of Dragon Quest fanservice to shake a slime at, and has plenty of tools to make the sometimes icky survival and resource management of the genre easy enough to deal with. With so much to do, fun, engaging play and a cute, lighthearted story that takes its time to breathe, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is the best kind of sequel.
7. Wandersong – 9.5
Wandersong is the embodiment of positivity. This puzzle adventure game sends you on a quest to save the universe by gathering pieces of a song. You use music to change the environment to solve puzzles, making it feel like a rhythm game at times. The story and characters are charming and have a distinct personality that is sure to grab your attention.
This is what we thought:
Wandersong is the video game equivalent of a pep talk. This is your virtual cheerleader. Are you having a bad day? The Bard believes in you! Are you worried about being you? The Bard is your friend and will be there to hear you out. Having trouble solving a problem? Well, I mean, singing a jaunty tune probably won’t suddenly make things right, but it might improve your mindset. Wandersong is one of the most pleasant and refreshing games out there. Even when the going gets tough, the goodwill garnered here will help you push through and enjoy another day.
6. Trials Rising – 9.5
In the latest edition to the Trials series, Trials Rising takes you to various places around the world from Paris to Mount Everest. Its combination of slapstick comedy meets intense split second decision-making, is one that makes the series so special and memorable. In Rising, you get a lot of variety of tracks, as well as a progression system that feels satisfying to advance through.
Here’s what we had to say:
Trials Rising is pure, unadulterated, arcade fun at its finest. The mechanics are simple, and indeed anyone can play. But mastering the techniques to get ever faster times can take countless hours. The extreme levels will really test players’ resolve, but the payoff of finally finishing the Everest level, for instance, is worth the obstacle-filled journey. There’s so much content packed into Trials Rising, it’s hard to believe the game is launching at $24.99.
5. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – 9.5
Since it’s been close to a decade since we’ve gotten a 2D Castlevania game, series producer Koji Igarashi decided to take it upon himself to make his own spiritual successor, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. This game unabashedly feels like Castlevania, including the same mechanics and formula as the beloved series its based on. Ritual of the Night does have its own identity, though, with unique mechanics like the ability to inherit enemy powers.
Here’s a summary of what we thought:
There is so much meat on Bloodstained’s bones, I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface in this review. But my job isn’t to outline all the content. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a game that returns on the player’s investments, whether that’s going through the critical path as quickly as possible, or deep-diving for recipes and checking off every last collectible from the list. This is a game that is well aware of its pedigree, and every person involved in making it has given their all to deliver on that prestige. Aside from some minor performance issues and localization typos barely worth mentioning, Bloodstained is an incredible feat in independent video game development. I’ll be coming back to this one for years to come.
4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – 9.5
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the ninja samurai game we didn’t know we wanted. Before it released, many were expecting another Dark Souls game, since that’s what FromSoftware is best known for. And while it does share a lot of its DNA with that series, Sekiro is an entirely different beast. The combat is insanely deep, forcing you to be in an almost trance-like state to master it. Zipping around with a grappling hook gives Sekiro a major sense of verticality, as well. If you like deep systems-based combat and challenging boss fights, Sekiro is for you.
Here’s a summary of our review:
Untethered from the expectations that come with a Dark Souls or Bloodborne game, FromSoftware was able to create a game that maintains the studio’s unique identity while allowing them to explore interesting new mechanics and ways of telling the story. Sekiro is challenging, but fair—a game with the goal of allowing the player to grow, rather than the avatar. It blends mechanics and narrative in a way that is too rare in games today, allowing for a deep level of immersion that begs for just one more clash of blades no matter how difficult the encounters get. Seeing each one to its bloody finish is well worth the trials it takes to get there.
3. SNK 40th Anniversary Collection – 10
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is an example of video game preservation done right. It contains a compilation of 25 SNK games, which originally released from 1979 to 1990, an era prior to SNK’s Neo Geo years. This collection features beloved titles like Ikari Warriors, P.O.W.: Prisoners of War, and Prehistoric Isle, along with some lesser known gems.
Here’s what we had to say:
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is one of the coolest, most fascinating video game releases out in 2019. There is really nothing else like it, even when you compare it to the work Digital Eclipse has done in the recent past that led up to this being made. It preserves gaming history not because these games are particularly legendary or fun or to sell a different game. I doubt the profit expectations are high. You won’t find Windjammers or Fatal Fury on this bad boy, and that’s because those games will always be safe. SNK 40th Anniversary Collection exists because of an ongoing effort to save as many games as possible from being lost to time due to things like disk rot or IP-holder negligence. It’s a middle finger to the way things have been and a guide post pointing to what could and should be.
2. Kingdom Hearts III – 10
Kingdom Hearts III had no business being as good as it was. After all, it was in development for what felt like a century, with an absurd amount of hype behind it. And you know what? It lived up to it. While many outlets didn’t love it as much as we did, Kingdom Hearts III still received generally favorable reviews across the board. Many praised its combat, characters, and the story’s ending, giving fans a satisfying game that answered most of the questions left by its predecessors.
Check out what we thought:
I had my doubts about this game, as I already mentioned. I never once thought there was a way Square Enix could live up to the hype the company has built up for this game. But bravo, it has done it and then some. The developer has refined and perfected the combat. It kept its silliness in tact. It kept in the darker themes and deep moments of self-reflection that we all need every once in awhile. It’s, quite frankly, the best Kingdom Hearts game Square Enix has ever created.
1. Resident Evil 2 – 10
Resident Evil 2 (2019) is unbelievably good. The way it manages to capture the essence of the 1998 original while modernizing it in nearly every way is astounding. Part of what made the original so terrifying were the static camera angles, which just wouldn’t fly in 2019, and yet the remake still feels horrifying. But that’s not the only place it excels: It rewards players for exploring in such a satisfying way, gives you multiple reasons to replay each of the stories, and is almost perfectly paced. Plus it’s gorgeous, both visually and from a sound perspective, as well. No game is perfect, but Resident Evil 2 comes damn close.
Here’s a clip from our review:
I’ve done a lot of gushing here, but Resident Evil 2 is the perfect sort of game for gushing. Much like the legendary REmake, this new version of a storied classic was lovingly crafted by people who not only have a collectively sharp eye for what makes an excellent video game today, but also possess a deep understanding of why the original Resident Evil 2 is worth revisiting and what made it a game celebrated to this day. This isn’t just an old Resident Evil molded into the new Resident Evil formula. It’s a new take on Resident Evil 2 that doesn’t feel like it’s trying to “modernize” or “fix” the original. It’s more of an expensive, ludicrously polished tribute than a remake in the semantic sense, a project that has been in demand for years and quietly pursued for just as long. I’m glad it worked out so well.
And those are the site’s highest-reviewed games of 2019 so far. There are still a handful of heavy hitters scheduled for release this year, like Death Stranding, Control, The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan, Borderlands 3, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, that are sure to shake things up on our final list.
What did you think of our best games of 2019 so far? Let us know in the comments if you agree with what our scores are saying!