2019 was one of those years that flew by - to the point where you don't even realise how stellar the rollout of titles was until you recap them, month by month.
Resident Evil 2 all the way back in January, the battle royale shake-up that was Apex Legends in Feb, Devil May Cry 5 in March and Mortal Kombat 11 in April, things then got way more relaxed across the middle third. Worthwhile titles still popped up left and right, but if we're talking about the big hitters, they were more resigned to the opening and ending of the year overall.
Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo (plus a smattering of indie devs) have released a ton of must-plays, but only one can make it to the very top.
A stellar execution on a formula we fell in love with 13 years ago, Gears 5 annoyingly scattered its campaign across some notably barren environments, only occasionally peppering in the stuff you come to a Gears game for in the first place.
Thankfully, when it was on, Gears 5 is the best third-person shooter of the year.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3
A strange released marred by an overly repetitive structure, Ultimate Alliance 3 still lets you batter thousands of foes with the most recognisable superpowers in entertainment history.
Developed by action maestros Platinum, it might only do one thing very well, but there's a lot to love if you temper your expectations.
A Hotline Miami-style blur of brutal kills and synthwave music, Katana Zero has a surprisingly driven, dialogue-heavy story to keep you invested.
It's the perfect accompaniment to all the slaughter, as time-slowing powers let you return bullets to their senders, or carve your name through the local populace one gangster at a time.
Fan-funded into life to the tune of six million dollars, for thousands of gamers just getting "another Shenmue" in any form was a dream come true.
Divisively, this resurrected instalment feels like what Yu Suzuki and co. would've made back in 2001. The voice acting is stilted, the animation basic - gameplay revolves around conversations and collecting random trinkets. It literally looks and feels 20 years old... but we wouldn't have it any other way.
Blood & Truth
The PS VR's first flagship title that Sony crafted from the ground up, Blood & Truth barely saw any cultural dint thanks to just being a VR game, but playing it? That's another story.
Intuitive controls, meaty gunfights, scores of awesome set-pieces and great acting across the board. If you own a PS VR, play Blood & Truth.
Luigi's Mansion 3
A last-minute inclusion to Nintendo's exemplary 2019 offerings, Luigi's Mansion has surprisingly punchy controls and a melee sensibility, despite being a horror game about chasing ghosts.
Whipping them in all directions, Ghostbusters-style, the level layouts and power-ups encourage a pace that lets you drink this in from front to back.
The Division 2
Ubisoft might have bungled the original Division with naff DLC plans and a major disparity between pre-launch footage and what was released, but The Division 2 righted almost every wrong.
Your mileage will vary on such a stock looter-shooter template, but from weapon feel to enemy variety, fun equipment to iconic locations, The Division 2 is a pristine shooter backed by a level of confidence that wasn't there before.
Almost completely overlooked thanks to being tied to a nascent, outdated IP, the newest Blair Witch game was surprisingly tight.
Playing as an Outlast-style slow-burn of scares, a haunting atmosphere and a very good boy in your dog Bullet, Bloober Team clearly love the movie they were inspired by, and this became a super recommendable horror gem.
Untitled Goose Game
It could've all fallen apart; could've been a throwaway gimmick for the streamer crowd to point at while curiosity purchases trickled in.
Instead, Untitled Goose Game is a damn fine, Hitman-adjacent stealth title where experimenting with A.I. patterns and routines results in a ton of hilarious possibilities.
The fact it's all channelled through an instantly loveable "awful goose" with a nihilistic attitude makes everything even better.
Of all the new IP in 2019, none made waves with as much power as Apex Legends.
Taking the template long perfected by PUBG and Fortnite, then adding Respawn's kinetic, trademark FPS combat, this went from nothing to pop culture domination overnight.
Pokémon Sword & Shield
It might have been dragged through the muck on social media thanks to missing a ton of Gen 1 Pokémon, but Sword & Shield is more of the formula you know and love - this time accompanied by quality of life improvements, and a camping mechanic so you can hoover up the local fauna for longer.
The sooner Nintendo overhauls the base text speeds and general systems that contribute to the 20 year-strong "Pokémon feel" though, the better.
Cadence Of Hyrule
The last time Nintendo entrusted the Zelda IP to another developer we got the godawful Philips CDi games.
This time though, despite no one seeing it coming, studio Brace Yourself applying their Crypt of the Necrodancer rhythm-action setup to the gorgeous soundscapes of Hyrule was a match made in heaven.
Difficulty might have been off the charts depending on your sense of timing, but this is a stunning title from top to bottom.
Call Of Duty: Mobile
It shouldn't have worked. It should've felt like the most rushed-to-market thing in gaming history, with a bevy of microtransactions ruining weapon balance, and the game itself struggling to maintain a frame rate.
But instead... COD Mobile was glorious.
Surprisingly easy to control and with all the bells and whistles of the console/PC editions, you can squeeze a quick game of Team Deathmatch, Domination etc. everywhere from the bus to the toilet and back again.