Best of 2019 – Day Five: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Expansion

Over the next eight days, Hardcore Gamer will be revealing its Best of 2019 Awards leading up to our Game of the Year. Today we present you with the Best PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch Game, and Expansion/DLC.

Control

It wasn’t exactly a massive year for games exclusive to the PC…well, ones that were great enough to earn a spot for consideration, anyway. But when it comes to the platform-specific awards, you also have to take into consideration what the definitive platform may be for a game as well. And thanks to its souped-up graphics that make full use out of RTX, it can be argued that the PC version of Control is the best one to invest in. We’ve already handed it an award for being quite the visual masterpiece, but the visuals of The Oldest House and the chaotic combat that ensue within it really pop the most on a polished PC. Oh, and of course, there’s also the fact that PC owners should pick it up for, you know, just being an incredible and engaging game in general. That should really be a no-brainer, given that the gameplay and combat are superb and the world you get to explore is a fascinating one. But yes, if you’ve invested in a new graphics card and need a quality game to show it off, look no further.

Runner-Ups
Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers Disco Elysium Slay the Spire Valfaris

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III

In a year that, for the PS4, has seen anticipated, Hollywood-donned AAA IPs battle it out with fellow first-party offerings — and intriguing little ventures in VR of all things — it says something when The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III can still hold its own and come out on top. With a deep and evermore fascinating well of lore, that same delightful cast of characters to engage with, not to mention a retaining of one of the best combat systems in JRPGs at present, Nihon Falcom’s third act of the Erebonia arc is a welcome reminder that visuals aren’t everything. It may not have had the technical wow factor or the novelty of virtual reality, but Trails of Cold Steel III’s determination with the deeper elements — and having fun in dishing it out both the playful and the ridiculous in equal measures — proves Nihon Falcom’s craft remains one to be beaten. Who knows if the fourth and final part in this current sub-series will too meet the incredibly high standards the studio have set themselves, but in 2019, The Legend of Heroes once more shone as the stand-out name for modern day JRPG enthusiasts.

Runner-Ups
Concrete Genie Death Stranding Days Gone Judgment

Gears 5

The Coalition has done wonders for Gears 5, creating a more open, expansive world to explore, along with deeper world building than we’ve seen in the entire series. We learn about the various wars and conflicts in the past, along with political relations between nations. Mechanically speaking, Gears 5 is arguably the best third-person shooter on the market, offering tight, highly-satisfying combat that will always have you coming back for more. It helps that the multiplayer is both diverse and immensely addictive, and the horde mode has been iterated upon so much that it rivals the campaign for best cooperative experience. There’s nothing like hunkering down with friends and taking on fifty waves of enemies as you fortify your base of operations. Speaking of which, we get a deeper look into Kait Diaz’s psyche as she takes the helm of the plot this time around, offering a far more compelling tale to be told. While players may think Xbox as the Halo machine, we’re reminded why Gears of War defined the Xbox 360 era of gaming with this latest addition. In the end, Gears 5 helps revitalize the series in phenomenal ways that you can see is building towards a larger-scaled sequel for the future.

Runner-Ups
The Outer Worlds Outer Wilds Devil May Cry 5 Resident Evil 2

Astral Chain

Astral Chain came about as a huge new surprise this year with PlatinumGames collaborating with Nintendo for a brand new IP like nothing else. This strong title was a pure stand-out among Switch titles with amazing combat and a wonderfully engaging story with a great amount of challenge and replayability. It brought a whole new world into existence that no one knew they needed until now, and Switch players were thrilled to hop on board into the cyberpunk cop world filled to the brim with chaotic mystery. From beginning to end Astral Chain was a blast that only continues to improve as it goes along with players getting stronger and every chapter unveiling more of a fantastic story little by little. As it stands now there’s nothing remotely close to Astral Chain on Switch and it will likely only continue to draw attention as one of the most outstanding titles which made it our favorite Switch game this year.

Runner-Ups
Super Mario Maker 2 Fire Emblem: Three Houses Luigi’s Mansion 3 Pokemon Sword and Shield

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers

This year was a surprising turn around for expansions. While there’s always a couple of exceptions here and there, Shadowbringers and Iceborne in particular put up a fight that we haven’t seen in a while. Ultimately, it was the 50-hour long adventure that shaped Final Fantasy XIV into a must-play MMO that came out on top. This is coming off the good, but fairly safe Stormblood which had drastic ups and downs. Shadowbringers tells a masterful story that will no doubt go down in history as one of the best Final Fantasy plots to date. It presents a fantastic villain in the form of Emet Selch, which is essentially XIV’s own Ardyn, except without all the Final Fantasy XV around it, and the true tragic backstory of his people. It also establishes beautiful areas in a brand new world, not to mention has some well-crafted raids that pay tribute to Final Fantasy VIII, A Realm Reborn and NieR Automata. Square Enix has also completely reworked all of the classes and their roles to be less confusing, condensing some actions and made others better in the long run. Shadowbringers did more to Final Fantasy XIV than any expansion before it and cements it as the best MMORPG available.

Runner-Ups
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne The Messenger: Picnic Panic Celeste: Farewell Shovel Knight: King of Cards

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