Last January we picked a bunch of 2019 games that we thought were going to be good. Some of them, it turned out, were not good at all. Many of them didn't release. A few turned out to be hidden gems. It was a test of our forecasting skills—some of these games we'd had a chance to play or see in advance of release, but others we'd had to wait until release day itself.
One year later, we're reflecting on our predictions. Who struck out, and who bet on the right horses last January? Vote below on the winner of last year's draft, and check back in tomorrow for the results of our surely genius picks for 2020.
The 2019 draft, in review:
1st pick: James Davenport, Associate Editor
Far Cry New Dawn
Gears of War 5
2nd pick: Phil Savage, Editor
The Outer Worlds
Total War: Three Kingdoms
3rd pick: Wesley Fenlon, Features Editor
Resident Evil 2
In the Valley of Gods
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
4th pick: Bo Moore, Hardware Lead (Emeritus)
5th pick: Fraser Brown, News Editor
The Division 2
Mount and Blade 2
Age of Empires 4
Devil May Cry 5
Total War: Warhammer 3
6th pick: Chris Livingston, Staff Writer
Red Dead Redemption 2
Civilization 6: Gathering Storm
Skull & Bones
7th pick: Tyler Wilde, Executive Editor
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Industries of Titan
Steel Division 2
8th pick: Evan Lahti, Global Editor-in-Chief
Dying Light 2
Rainbow Six Siege
Slay the Spire
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries
9th pick: Philippa Warr, Deputy Editor (Emeritus)
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Untitled Goose Game
Sea of Solitude
10th pick: Jarred Walton, Hardware Editor
What we learned about the games of 2019
Evan: This whole exercise demonstrated just how uncertain the games industry is. Chris picked Anthem in the first round and RDR2 in the second. Fraser nabbed Control, but Mount & Blade 2, Total War: Warhammer 3, and Age of Empires 4 didn't release. We spend every day following games but it's so hard to predict this stuff.
Chris: At the time Anthem seemed a sure hit and RDR2 was the longshot, because at the time we didn't know if it would even come to PC at all, let alone in 2019! Funny how that works.
Tyler: Wes picked In the Valley of Gods, and that game might not even get made anymore.
Evan: Oof. Anyway, if I had to choose, I'd give the championship to Wes, who managed three healthy selections in Resident Evil 2, Disco Elysium, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Not your fault that Wargroove didn't seem to find a massive audience, Wes.
Tyler: I agree. Despite In The Valley of the Gods disappearing into the ether, he picked our eventual Game of the Year Award winner—and it wasn't as if Disco Elysium was a shoo-in at the time. Resident Evil 2 was a fairly safe pick, but I don't think any of us expected it to be as much of a hit as it was, or for Mr. X memes to become a fond memory of the year 2019. Jedi: Fallen Order doesn't excite me, but the consensus seems to be that it's a totally acceptable PC Star Wars game, and compared to no PC Star Wars games for the past few years, that's plenty.
Wes: Thank you for recognizing my exceptional foresight in drafting our game of the year. But honestly, it was really my only stellar pick. RE2 was clearly going to be quality, while Wargroove and Indivisible were soft indie successes and Fallen Order predictably played it safe. One of my picks will probably never come out, and the other won't be out till late 2020 or 2021.
Phil: Fully half of the games in Fraser's list didn't come out, but I think Control, The Division 2, Destiny 2 and Devil May Cry 5 are all strong picks. I'm also pretty happy with my own list. Total War: Three Kingdoms and Outer Wilds both made it into our GOTY shortlist, and you are all sleeping on Anno 1800, which is the best the series has been in a decade.
Chris: I had two complete no-shows that hurt my chances: Skin Deep (which was never planned for 2019 but was still a possibility) and Skull & Bones, which I'd played at some event a while back and seemed pretty polished. I guess I'd give the win to Wes, too, even though I didn't think Fallen Order was so hot. Why is my Jedi ice-skating all over the place? Have some dignity, man.
Fraser: I think I should win just because I was bold. Mount & Blade 2? What was I thinking? Really, though, I think Wes has it. I didn’t think highly of Fallen Order, but it definitely seems to have been welcomed by Star Wars fans, while Resident Evil 2 Remake and Disco Elysium are probably two of the strongest picks in the list. Look, obviously I’m going to say it’s whoever picked my all-time favourite RPG. Pip, who has since left us, also deserves a nod for Untitled Goose Game and Heaven’s Vault, two of the best indies of the year.
What game didn't live up to your expectations?
Evan: I was certain that Griftlands was gonna be big. Klei's 2D art is peerless, and 'proc gen JRPG from a western indie' was exciting. But then—showing again just how much things can change in a calendar year—Griftlands stopped being an open-world RPG and became a singleplayer card game! How often does a game switch genres? At least it released, eh?
Wes: I somehow thought Wargroove was going to be a Stardew Valley-esque moment: an indie game taking a beloved console genre and bringing it to PC. The idea of a new Advance Wars sounded so appealing, but something about the execution left me completely bored. I probably played an hour of it. I don't know if it was the game, or me, but it amounted to a bit of a shrug.
Evan: Same, and I love Advance Wars. Hate to say it, but I think Fire Emblem and the like are just more at home on handhelds than a 1440 monitor.
Tyler: I played Satisfactory in early access for a bit, and it was fun, but not quite what I expected. When I first saw it, I thought it had the potential to be Factorio meets Kerbal, and that we'd be seeing gifs of wild contraptions on Twitter and Reddit every day. That didn't quite happen. It's a fine game, but Chris and I could only get so creative about linking mining machines with processing machines before it felt like we'd exhausted all of our interesting options. I should check back in soon, though, as I'm sure it's grown since I last played it.
Phil: At the time I remember thinking Quake Champions was a really smart pick. It was in a good place in late-2018, and felt like it was a few patches and a marketing campaign away from being a big deal. Instead, it introduced a battle pass, alienated its audience and now it's a shadow of what it could have been. I'm not even annoyed about what it's done to my list. I'm just disappointed that all its promise was wasted.
Fraser: I picked three games that didn’t even come out—including a game that technically hasn’t even been announced yet. C’mon, Creative Assembly: give me Warhammer 3 already. As for the games that did launch, The Division 2 is probably the biggest disappointment. I bounced off it pretty quickly because I didn’t have the time for it, though I still reckon it’s pretty great. It hasn’t seemed to grip people, though, with Ubisoft also saying that it hasn’t performed as well as it had hoped.
And while we gave it a very positive review and it’s done well, I didn’t really click with Control. Great setting, awesome super powers, absolutely terrible enemies and iffy fights. Oh yeah, I also picked Destiny 2, which was probably a good choice, but I wasn’t impressed with New Light.
Wes: Special props to Jarred for his Very January 2019 pick of Atlas, and Left Alive, one of the worst-reviewed games of 2020.
Chris: I picked Anthem, so hello there. I didn't play much because it's really not my kinda game, but I did kinda enjoy flying around like Iron Man, and as plenty of games have shown, it's never too late to turn things around post-launch. Maybe it'll make a comeback, No Man's Sky-style.
Who made the smartest single pick?
Tyler: Phil grabbed Sunless Skies in the second-to-last round, and it predictably received one of our highest review scores of the year with a 90%.
Evan: I think it's Fraser, who grabbed Devil May Cry 5 in the middle of the sixth round was smooth. It didn't get a ton of awards acclaim at the end of 2019 but it's sitting at an 89 Metacritic on PC.
Phil: Tyler got the best first-round pick in Sekiro. I also think Destiny 2 was a smart choice of ongoing game for Fraser. While Bungie's shooter can always feel like it's on the verge of shitting the bed, it spent more of 2019 being really good than not.
Fraser: Wes for Disco Elysium. This was 10 months before it came out, before we really knew we had something special on our hands, and it ended up being our GOTY. Three Kingdoms was a good shout from Phil, too, as it’s arguably the best of all Total Wars, and with the latest expansion is even better.
Chris: Red Dead Redemption 2 was the best game on PC last year despite what our GOTY awards say, and I picked it before it was announced for PC, so me. I made the smartest single pick. Give me a trophy. One with a little cowboy hat.
Wes: Amid Evil wasn't on my radar at all, but ended up being my personal pick for 2019, so I want to give credit to James there. And I think Tyler deserves some kind of bonus points for picking the last game to be released in 2019—GTFO snuck in on December 9.
Thanks for following along on our 2019 predictions. Check back tomorrow as we divvy up the 2020 calendar of games in an all-new PC gaming fantasy draft.