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The best games of 2019 (so far)

(Image credit: Remedy)

This year has been a strange one, as although we've gained a strong handful of titles for our best games of 2019 list, it definitely feels like a slower year – the end of a console generation year. However, this month we gain the Switch remaster of Link's Awakening, and Gearbox's latest romp, Borderlands 3 on our list of the best games of 2019, and they couldn't come with heartier recommendations. 

At the end of every month, we comb through all our recent reviews to find the two games that qualify as must-plays, slowly amassing a list of the best games of 2019. Consider these to be the highlights of the year thus far - and if you're looking for something to play while you wait for the other new games of 2019 (and beyond), these standout titles are a sure bet. 

Don't forget to vote in the 37th annual Golden Joystick Awards to make sure your best games of 2019 get the recognition they deserve.

September Game of the Month (Runner-up): Borderlands 3

(Image credit: Gearbox)

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, and PC
GamesRadar+ review score: 4/5

In terms of hard numbers alone, Borderlands 3 is already one of the most successful games of 2019, selling over five million copies in just its first five days. It's safe to say that people like Gearbox's looter shooter sequel, then, and not without good cause. While its risible humour isn't to everyone's taste (the campaign is best enjoyed on mute), Borderlands 3's glossy gunplay, kaleidoscopic pantheon of planets, and reams of creatively crafted loot mash together together to provide some the best value for money you'll find in gaming this year. Gearbox has already been embellishing Borderlands 3 with new quality of life updates, in-game events, and - yes - dozens of Borderlands 3 Shift Codes, too, proving good on its promise to support a game that'll keep on giving well into 2020 and beyond. Mayhem has never looked, played, and felt so good. Alex Avard

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
GamesRadar+ review score: 4.5/5

Nintendo's decision to remaster The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is quite the delight. This Game Boy original – or more specifically, the 1998 Game Boy Colour version, Link's Awakening DX – peak, old-school Zelda, with puzzles, dungeons and colourful characters galore, and this Switch reimagining takes all that and makes it 10x more adorable. The art style takes this well-loved adventures and turns it into a tiny toy town, which totally plays up to its quirky story. Because of that, it manages to feel new, but still maintains the essence of its amazing source material. Classic Zelda at its best and most gorgeous, it's one not to be missed. Sam Loveridge

August Game of the Month (Runner-up): Telling Lies

(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

Platform(s): PC, iOS
GamesRadar+ review score:
4.5/5

Developer Sam Barlow has a gift at creating games that just keep you tumbling down the rabbit hole, and Telling Lies is no different. Rifling through a hard drive through of illicitly-obtained video files, you will work out the story of Barlow's latest by watching one-sided conversations, where you'll have to figure out who each person is talking to, and what about by searching for keywords that'll crop up across multiple files. The story spans several years, involves multiple characters and will regularly surprise you. It's rewardingly moreish, will stay with you for years to come, and manages to make you as much a part of the voyeuristic, privacy-invading problem that the story dances around. It's a powerful narrative that everyone needs to experience. Sam Loveridge

August Game of the Month: Control

(Image credit: 505 Games)

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
GamesRadar+ review score:
4.5/5

Control takes everything you know, and love, about a Remedy game and makes it better, stranger and downright more brilliant. Making you feel like you've been dropped straight into the middle of a TV show, Control's story is about making you feel lost, confused and too intrigued not to see what's around the corner of the Oldest House - which is possibly the best video game setting ever created. It's a twisting, turning beast that moves of its own accord, and only allows you to go where it wants you to. It doesn't help that it's been taken over by the Hiss, which turn its workers into glowing, floating adversaries. But, armed with powers you'll absorb from Objects of Power, you'll quickly realise that this is a game about taking back Control. The perfect blend of narrative and gameplay, this is Remedy at its best, and one of the games of the generation. Sam Loveridge

July Game of the Month (Runner-up): Dragon Quest Builders 2

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Platform(s): PS4, Nintendo Switch
GamesRadar+ review score: 5/5

Forget saving the world from Nazis or scoring the perfect goal, you haven't known true gaming happiness until you've built an ideally situated scenic shower room. Dragon Quest Builders 2 uses the foundations of the original - a mix of Zelda-esque exploration, monster battling and Minecraft style construction - and expands it, giving you a much bigger and more varied world to leave your mark upon. The story guides you to build bigger and better projects, like castles and solid gold cocktail bars, but still gives you room to create your own weird and wonderful towns. Toilet building has never felt so magical. Rachel Weber

July Game of the Month: Fire Emblem: Three Houses

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
GamesRadar+ review score: 5/5

Fire Emblem: Three Houses takes the human tales of loss and redemption that are at the heart of the series and puts it centre stage, prioritising stories over combat with a Persona-like relationship simulator that tasks you with learning the dislikes, likes, histories, and ambitions in order to build an army you care about. Of course, the tight, challenging, and beautifully designed grid-based combat is still there - and best in class - but its the stories that you'll find as you explore the three houses, and meet its students that will stay with you. This is a meaningful new direction for the franchise. Sam Loveridge (reviewed by Aron Garst)

June Game of the Month (Runner-up): Super Mario Maker 2

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
GamesRadar+ review score: 5/5

Super Mario Maker 2 is an almost perfect package, one that puts equal emphasis on all elements of its offering: discovery, creation, story mode and outright brilliant gameplay. Like its predecessor, the majority of the appeal lies in the creation tools, which let you design and make your very own Super Mario levels that can be played by the masses. But there's a story mode here too, which bolsters its offering to include some 100 levels of professionally made fun. It basically takes everything that made the original game great, but takes into consideration all the user feedback and must-have features to make this a must-buy. It really is a brilliant title that blends elements of play, creation and discovery for a game that never stops delivering something new. Sam Loveridge

June Game of the Month: Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

(Image credit: Activision)

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
GamesRadar+ review score: 5/5

For years now, Mario Kart has been essentially the only top tier kart racer, which meant Nintendo was where you had to play for some hectic, noob-friendly, karting action. If you're old enough to have had a PS1 however, then chances are you'll remember Crash Team Racing so if you do, we've got good news; Crash is back with a brand new track. Well, technically it's lots of old tracks that just look a lot nicer. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a remake of both the original game and the PS2 Nitro-Kart sequel, and Crash has reclaimed the crown once more because there's a much higher skill ceiling than Mario Kart, the mechanics are deeper, and there's some semblance of a plot too. Plus it's got online multiplayer and a bunch of new characters and outfits. What's not to love? Ford James

May Game of the Month (Runner-up): A Plague Tale: Innocence 

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
GamesRadar+ review score: 3.5/5  

A Plague Tale: Innocence might not set your world on fire, but it damn sure will make you seriously think about your relationship with your siblings. Telling the tale of the teenage Amicia and her toddler brother Hugo as they flee from the Inquisition and man-eating rats, it's gritty as hell and doesn't pull many punches, with one-hit deaths that really makes you feel like Amicia is being put through the wringer as there's not much room for error. Although you don't really get the quiet moments that the game really needs to make Hugo and Amicia stand out as siblings, it's a great chill Sunday evening game to play thanks to its linear structure and relatively easy puzzle-based gameplay. Zoe Delahunty-Light 

May Game of the Month (Winner): Blood and Truth 

Platform(s): PS4
GamesRadar+ review score: 4/5  

Blood and Truth offers all the thrills of life in London's gangster underworld, with none of the increased life insurance premiums. The PSVR shooter makes the most of its immersive medium, from shootouts taking place in a DJ booth - complete with lasers and pyrotechnics - to small but immersive details like reaching to your chest for ammo before slotting it into your weapon. The special attention that developer SIE London Studio has put into motion capture and voice artists stops the cutscenes sliding to the bottom of the uncanny valley, and there are nice little breaks between all the firefights - like picking locks, climbing towers, or wrecking an art exhibit - to stop it all just feeling like a shooting gallery on steroids. Rachel Weber 

April Game of the Month (Runner-up): Mortal Kombat 11 

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
GamesRadar+ review score: 4/5  

Mortal Kombat 11 has everything you'd expect from the series, polished to perfection: fast-paced 2D fighting, a surprisingly engaging story mode, plenty of unlocks, and Fatalities that can make even the most desensitized gorehound wince. The cast is a great mix of old favorite fighters (like the return of Kabal and Skarlet) and some intriguing newcomers in the time-manipulating Geras, elemental elder god Cetrion, and an avaricious fiend known as The Kollector. Getting to see past and present MK timelines mashed together in the story mode is a treat, and the comprehensive tutorial does a great job of getting fledging fighters up to speed on some high-level terminology and strategy. You can spend ages duking it out and endeavoring to unlock all kinds of gear in Mortal Kombat 11 - just be ready for a major grind if you hope to one day have every costume and cosmetic item. Lucas Sullivan  

April Game of the Month (Winner): My Time at Portia 

Platform(s): Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC
GamesRadar+ review score: 4.5/5  

My Time At Portia is one of those games that makes grueling manual labor - woodcutting, mining, carpentry, farming - feel like a vacation from all your IRL responsibilities. You inherit a home and workshop and start from scratch, building a business as you make things for your neighbors and improve your little homestead. There's a whole bunch of lore about religion versus technology and an inexplicable number of cutesy monsters, but the real satisfaction comes from putting together increasingly elaborate inventions, raising livestock, and winning over the people of the town. If you reached your Stardew Valley peak and need some new challenges, this is the perfect way to kill time without resorting to buying your own tool bench and pet llama. Rachel Weber 

March Game of the Month (Runner-up): Devil May Cry 5

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
GamesRadar+ review score: 4.5/5 

Sure, the story is mostly going to be hot nonsense for those unfamiliar with the series, as it references and pays off on a surprising amount of Devil May Cry lore - though enough is unique to this adventure and explained to the point where it makes a certain amount of thrilling sense. Even so, this latest installment of emo violence is a wild, exhilarating ride from start to finish, with bright sparks, spurts of blood, and raging fires. Devil May Cry 5 is an absolutely stunning return to form that builds on improvements Ninja Theory's spin-off and reimagining DmC. Oscar Taylor-Kent 

March Game of the Month (Winner): The Division 2 

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC  
GamesRadar+ review score: 4.5/5 

On the surface, The Division 2 is more of what came before. It's a solid third-person shooter, focused around co-op shootouts with three different factions (and later, a fourth) and developing skills, abilities, and a loadout that compliments your play style. Keep playing though, and you realize that Ubisoft has absolutely nailed this sequel, with a gameplay loop that keeps on giving, and an endgame that will keep you playing for months (or years) to come. Sam Loveridge

February Game of the Month (Runner-up): Metro Exodus 

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
GamesRadar+ review score: 4.5/5

Metro Exodus is the best entry in the criminally underrated Metro series. It's far more open-ended than the first two games, but it's also more focused than sprawling sandbox games like Fallout 4 and Far Cry New Dawn. It gives you just enough freedom and space that you can discover things on your own and chart a personal course, but it's not so massive that you ever lose track of what you're doing. Missions and areas get more linear as you progress, and it quickly becomes clear that nothing was sacrificed in exchange for the game's openness. It's amazing how well the structured missions hold up, considering how much work must've went into the open worlds. The final area is especially brilliant, not only for how it brings the game back to the series' tunnel-crawling roots, but also how it caps off Exodus' powerfully human story, which still occupies my thoughts weeks later. Austin Wood 

February Game of the Month (Winner): Apex Legends 

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
GamesRadar+ review score: 5/5

Not long ago, nobody had even heard of Apex Legends, but now it's going toe-to-toe with Fortnite in the battle royale market. The Titanfall community is understandably disappointed that Titanfall 3 is much further away than expected - if it's even coming at all - but the game we've received instead is the most enjoyable battle royale experience ever seen. An array of characters enable unique playstyles unlike anything else in the genre, and with an upcoming battle pass and expected challenges, we can see ourselves playing Apex Legends for years to come. Ford James 

January Game of the Month (Runner-up): Kingdom Hearts 3 

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One
GamesRadar+ review score: 4/5

Whether you've been waiting almost a decade for a new entry to the series, or you've never played one before, Kingdom Hearts 3 improves upon the previous games in every aspect. Sure, the story is complex and the amount of characters feels like a follow up to Too Many Cooks, but there’s nothing better than teaming up with Goofy, Donald Duck, and the vast array of beloved Disney characters that inhabit every world. When you’re done with battling Heartless, you can hop in the Gummi Ship and search for constellations in space, or collect ingredients to use with Remy from Ratatouille in his little bistro. Every world has been crafted with that tender loving care we were all expecting, which makes Kingdom Hearts 3 easily the best game in the franchise. Let’s hope it’s not another decade until Kingdom Hearts 4. Ford James 

January Game of the Month (Winner): Resident Evil 2 Remake 

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
GamesRadar+ review score: 4/5

If you remember the first time around or this is your introduction to Raccoon City’s zombie fun, Resident Evil 2 Remake is an essential horror game. Back in the day, the 1996 version set a standard for the genre, and this total remake only raises the bar further. It’s an atmospheric and tense exercise in terror using its scant resources and undead threats to create a tactical and engaging fight to stay alive, as you manage what you have and what you need to do on the fly. It’s also got some of the best dead in the business. Mr. X might be the meme star, but it’s the rotting, disintegrating corpses that shine here. They moan, shuffle and fall apart under gunfire in a way that’s up there with the best of their film and TV contemporaries. But above all, it honors and recreates what made the original great in a way that makes sense today, and on that front it’s a success on so many levels. If you’re thinking of diving in, check out our Resident Evil 2 Remake guide to make life just that little bit easier. Leon Hurley