Best Games Played 2019: Beefiest Invitation

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2019 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2018, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.


Have you ever wanted to prove yourself? Grow stronger, faster, more hardened in the face of oppressive odds? Stand against a world of indomitable preditors and show your resolve? Smack a dinosaur in the head with a hammer that’s bigger than you? Because so often, when I hear Monster Hunter getting compared to other games, especially in terms of long-haul difficulty and challenging combat, I see Dark Souls used as its closest kin, with its drill instructor tendencies, berating and demeaning your vain attempts at success.

But Monster Hunter is more like a personal coach — cheering you on, engaging in pre-workout chants and helpful advice, and trying to get you to bring out your best. Previous MonHun titles embraced their PlayStation 2 origins to a fault: clunky movement and archaic UI design proved too large a mountain to scale for most new players. But last year, Monster Hunter: World entered the scene with a promise to deliver on the classic Monster Hunter experience, refined for modern sensibilities. Now with Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, we’ve hit the apex of what this series can deliver, with the most impressive buffet of monster hunting the series has ever seen.

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Best Games Played 2019: Grandest Epic

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2019 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2018, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.


Final Fantasy XII was a missing chapter in my life.

I had skipped the PlayStation 2 and all of its associated JRPGs, so I don’t remember any announcements or hype about Final Fantasy XII, nor do I remember anyone raving about it after it came out. It seemed like a forgettable entry in the Final Fantasy anthology, so when it came to Switch, I had an excuse to at least satisfy my curiosity. I expected a pretty mild but typical JRPG. Instead, I was met with a sweeping, engrossing, and wonderfully acted epic.

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Best Games Played 2019: Loveliest Follow-up

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2019 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2018, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.


Three years later, I can’t help but feel like I missed something when I played Undertale. It’s surely one of my favorite games in recent memory — the characters, the story, the jokes all come together in a lovingly tailored package. I drank deep of its themes of love and friendship and felt my stone heart soften.

But I was later informed that there were things I missed. That, on multiple playthroughs, more of the world gets exposed to you. The charming fog gripping the world of Undertale dissipates in later runs, revealing the dark machinations that reside beneath.

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Best Games Played 2019: Greatest Culmination

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2019 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2018, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.


Video games can come and go, but every once in awhile you get one that sticks with you forever. I played Outer Wilds at a point where mental health was in a deeper valley than usual, and it left me so profoundly impacted that I didn’t do much but think about it for a week afterwards. The game has a stellar concept — the very definition of “galaxy brain” in scope and execution — and yet so humble amidst its thematic backdrop.

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Best Games Played 2019: Dreamiest Past

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2019 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2018, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.


Hypnospace Outlaw is a blast from the past.

But not our past. An alternate past, where people don headbands while they sleep to enter the alternate reality of Hypnospace; where folks collect SquisherZ monsters while they drink Grey’s Peak soda and listen to their favorite bands like Fre3zer and Chowder Man. It’s both eerily familiar and wholly different.

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Best Games Played 2019: Richest Shared Experience

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2019 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2018, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.


When my buddies and I first stepped into Divinity: Original Sin II, we realized very quickly the magical potential of the multiplayer journey on which we had embarked.  And make no mistake, embarking on that journey is much like committing to a Dungeons & Dragons campaign.  For one thing, to finish this story as a group requires scheduling play sessions for a potentially one-hundred hour game. But it also invokes the camaraderie — and infighting — of tabletop role-playing games in a way that I have not seen another video game capture. You can play Original Sin II in single player and have a fantastic and distinct campaign, but I want to write about my experience playing with my friends.

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Best Games Played 2019: Sexiest Style & Substance

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2019 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2018, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.


Devil May Cry 5 really is something special.

This is the culmination of a series that founded — then refined — the character action genre. I followed it through its highest highs, its lowest lows, and even longed for it during its excruciating absence (Devil May Cry 4 was a game that was begging for a sequel without having earned it, which still frustrates me). When series director Hideaki Itsuno exclaimed “DMC is back!” I was everything between surprised and excited. I couldn’t have known what was coming. 

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Best Games Played 2019: Most Uplifting

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2019 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2018, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.


At its brilliant neon core, Simogo’s Sayonara Wild Hearts is about experiences — it’s about taking the good with the bad that life hands you and moving forward with your head held high. It’s a lesson that we all have to learn at some point, often at our lowest lows. Condensing that lesson in such a beautiful combination of music, visuals, and a high BPM just makes it that much better.

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Best Games Played 2019: Quickest Revolution

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2019 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2018, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.


Two years ago, I was raving about the innovation that was PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. How it felt so fresh, so new, and how I was so excited to continue to play well beyond the one hundred hours I already clocked in it.

In the intervening time, battle royale empires have risen and fell. When a new game genre emerges — or an old one finds itself reinvented — the market leaders establish their leads early on: World of Warcraft has enjoyed a more than 15 year tenure as the seminal MMO. League of Legends and Dota 2 secured their placement early in the MOBA wars and have remained entrenched ever since. A whole generation of imitators crashed upon these franchises’ gates, and yet the walls held strong.

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Best Games Played 2019: Most Reverent

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2019 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2018, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.


Super Smash Bros. is video games’ holy scripture. There is no other series in the medium’s history that treats games — and their avatars — with such veneration.

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