Happy New Year! Whether you’re recovering from a monster hangover, hitting the gym to meet resolution goals, or just chugging along as usual, one thing we all have in common is another great year of gaming to look forward to! The first half of 2019 already looks stacked, which begs the question: which games are the cream of the current crop?
Chris | Crackdown 3
Crackdown 3 will most likely have a story that involves Terry Crews in some way; that statement alone is excellent reason for the game to grace this list, but what really sealed the deal is the fact I like to blow shit up. There’s nothing abnormal about that, by the way!
I'll certainly sink some time into the campaign, but I'm most eager to jump into an online world with a few like-minded crazies and just tear it apart.
The promise of wanton destruction has been made many times before, without any game coming close to meeting expectations (looking at you, every Battlefield title ever). Crackdown 3 could be the very first to allow us to transform the landscape so much as to make it unrecognisable. If you can't find the aesthetic beauty in the harsh brevity of a built-up city skyline, maybe you can create your own version of beauty by razing said city to the ground using explosives. Either way, you should have plenty of fun in the process.
Liam | Pokémon for Nintendo Switch
Having only recently come back to the franchise after a near 20-year hiatus, I’m not exactly what you’d call a diehard Pokémon fan, but the Switch’s as-yet-untitled Pokémon game gets my vote simply because a mainline entry on a home console is something I’ve always wanted to see.
The Let’s Go games, while impressive, are remakes, and therefore don’t count. However, their fully-fledged worlds, wandering wild fauna, vibrant towns and sleek visuals showed just how good a Pokémon game can look with a bit of power behind it, and have me seriously tempted by another sojourn in the well-trodden Kanto region.
Had it not been for my recent acquisition of Moon on 3DS, the seasonal decimation of my gaming funds and the fact that your rival is now nice (outrageous!), I’d probably be searching for Bulbasaur in Let’s Go this very moment, and, having had my console Poké-fix, Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order would be sitting atop my list.
In any case, observing Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! from afar (for the time being) has only served to whet my appetite for a proper Pokémon RPG on Switch, and I look forward to seeing more in 2019.
James | Streets of Rage 4
Very little is currently known about Streets of Rage 4. The second instalment was one of the first games I ever played and, as mentioned last week, was the first game that I ever completed.
It might come as no surprise then that the obviously-nostalgia-fuelled announcement of a fourth game would set my spine somewhat a-tingling.
While the cynical side of me wants to assume this will just be a hastily cobbled together cash grab to join the other remasters and re-treads which somewhat plague the industry at large, there's a louder voice, deep inside which screams "BAREKNUCKLE!"
The war cry of Axel Stone, one of the game's returning protagonists, has so many memories tied to it that I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt for now.
Indeed, the aforementioned trailer leans into an anime art style perfect for the game and suggests a similar 2D scrolling beat-‘em-up style as you’d hope for from the series. Coupled with an energetic soundtrack, early signs are looking very promising in my eyes.
Rob | Ori and the Will of the Wisps
My new year’s resolution is to try and play a few more games this year than I did in 2018. That shouldn’t be too hard, as I’m eagerly awaiting Resident Evil 2, Shenmue 3, The Last of Us Part II (fingers crossed we’ll have it before Xmas), Streets of Rage 4, and I might finally have to get a Switch for Fire Emblem Three Houses, too.
My most anticipated release though, comes on my beloved Xbox One, and was a large reason behind renewing the old Game Pass subscription for another year. It’s Ori and the Will of the Wisps, of course!
I adored playing through the original’s superb blend of challenging platforming, combat and exploration, all wrapped up in Metroidvania staples, so can’t wait to delve into the new and improved world.
Add to that the chance to rediscover such beautiful visuals, aurals and, hopefully, an even more emotional story, and I’m already sold. Not just that, but the time trial and multiplayer modes look to add an interesting competitive element to the game this time around.
Thank you Moon Studios, thank you Microsoft. See you on day one!
What game are you most looking forward to playing this year? Let us know in the comments below.