2019 has had its up and down when it comes to gaming, but there’s plenty to be excited about as the year progresses

So far, 2019 has been a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to the world of gaming.

The quality of games major and indie have run the gamut: The remake of “Resident Evil 2” is a horrifying gem, while the long-awaited “Kingdom Hearts III” could have used some more time to find its focus. (Or less time, perhaps?) The kinetic “Katana Zero” is far more entertaining than it has any right to be while “The Sinking City” wasn’t nearly as clever as it thought it was.

Games like “A Plague Tale: Innocence,” “Life Is Strange 2” and “Sea of Solitude” had their flaws but engaged with their stories, while games that should have had longer shelf lives — think “Apex Legends” or “Days Gone” — have fallen to the wayside.

Weirdly enough, as a gamer who tends to stick to the major — and, admittedly, safer — titles (hey, I can only play so many a year), I’ve been having more fun with the smaller, indie releases this year. (I’m looking at you, “My Friend Pedro.”)

Technology-wise, you may be excited for Google’s Stadia cloud-streaming service, but who really wanted a weaker version of the Nintendo Switch console? (It doesn’t even switch from handheld to TV-connected, and no one can convince me it’s not a Nintendo 3DS, the company’s current handheld gaming device, in disguise.)

The Electronic Entertainment Expo earlier this summer offered some highlights but plenty of head-scratching moments, too.

Xbox’s Project Scarlett, the company’s next-generation Xbox console slated to be four times more powerful than the Xbox One X?

The remake of fan-favorite “Final Fantasy VII” getting a release date for the first installment?

“Watch Dogs Legion,” “Pokémon Sword and Shield,” “Doom Eternal,” “Ghostwire: Tokyo,” “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order,” “Gears 5,” “The Outer Worlds,” “Dying Light 2?”

“Cyberpunk 2077” and Keanu Reeves?

Yes, please, more of all this.

(Even Sony, which didn’t host its usual booth at the convention this year, left its mark just before the expo with the engrossing if utterly confusing trailer for “Death Stranding,” the latest creation by Hideo Kojima of “Metal Gear” fame.)

But no news on “The Last of Us Part II?” No more details on the PlayStation 5? No stronger version of the Switch? And if Square Enix was trying to impress with that trailer for “Marvel’s Avengers,” it failed.

Like I said, 2019 has been a bit odd. But you know what? I’m still excited for what’s to come this year. Plenty of great games are on the horizon. Also, with the rollout of The Register-Guard’s newest Features section, CAFE 541, I figured it would be a good time to start expanding what you’ll see on this page.

I’ll still be doing plenty of reviews, but expect to see a wider range of content (news roundups, non-game review opinion pieces, etc.) and focuses (anime, hardware/tech). You’ll also find web-exclusive content (videos, podcasts, polls) at registerguard.com, which I hope you’ll engage with.

Looking ahead

With the exception of the Switch Lite, I’m not expecting much in the terms of new tech to check out this year, though I’m excited to try out Google’s Stadia service (if it comes out this year and I can get my hands on one of the standalone controllers). Otherwise, here’s some of the game titles I’m most looking forward to as we close out 2019.

“Control” (Aug. 27; PS4, Xbox One, PC)

If nothing else, Remedy Entertainment isn’t afraid to try something new. “Control” looks like a weird amalgamation between “Alan Wake,” “Quantum Break” and “Max Payne” (all Remedy titles), merging a disturbing atmosphere with supernatural and gun-based action. What’s known so far is that you’ll play as Jesse Faden, who’s tasked with fighting off otherworldly creatures in a facility called — no joke — The Oldest House. It looks fascinating and more than a bit terrifying.

“Astral Chain” (Aug. 30; Nintendo Switch)

One word: PlatinumGames. Need I say more? This Switch exclusive, developed by the studio behind “Bayonetta,” “Vanquish” and “Nier: Automata,” is shaping up to be an outrageously kinetic, third-person brawler packed full of action. In what seems to be a running theme this year, your character is charged with beating back inter-dimensional invaders with the aid of a special weapon in a beautiful array of combinations.

“Blair Witch” (Aug. 30; Xbox One, PC)

OK, so this one is more for me than anything else. I’m a huge horror fan, and “The Blair Witch Project” still gives me chills all these years later. Picked up by Bloober Team, the studio that created “Layers of Fear” and “Observer,” I’m curious to see how this first-person psychological horror game will turn out. If it maintains even a fraction of the tension of the film, I’ll be a happy, if terrified, gamer.

“Catherine: Full Body” (Sept. 3; PS4)

I kind of hate puzzle games, but that didn’t stop me from falling in love with 2011’s “Catherine.” Its quirky, engrossing story hooked me from the start, and I’m more than a little excited to get back into the game with the release of the remastered version next month. Exclusive to the PS4, the game is slated to release with new content, twice as many puzzles (and a Safety Mode to skip said extra puzzles) and a new character, Rin, to make this incredibly complicated love triangle even more outrageous.

“Gears 5” (Sept. 10; Xbox One, PC)

I got into the “Gears” games quite late; my first foray was “Gears 4.” I enjoyed the frenetic gunplay and viscous visuals, but the story felt like it was in transition between the Fenix clan, the series protagonists, and those who might be taking up the mantle as the series progressed. Well, now we know that the protagonist will be Kait, a sidekick in the previous Coalition game, who seems to be on a more personal quest this time around. I’ll consider this a successful sequel if the action stays just and the story gets a bit deeper.

“Borderlands 3” (Sept. 13; PS4, Xbox One, PC)

I adore the “Borderlands” game: They’re quirky and witty and colorful and just OK with being what they are. The Gearbox looter-shooter is coming back next month in all its post-apocalyptic glory, pitting your customizable Vault Hunter against the Calypso Twins. Much seems similar to what we’ve played before (I’ve lost track of all the weapons types already), but that’s the point: Why fix what isn’t broken?

“The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening” (Sept. 20; Switch)

I was but a young boy when “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening” first released on the Game Boy, and I didn’t play it until years later, but I still remember just how mesmerized I was by top-down adventure of Link exploring dungeons for once not set in the Kingdom of Hyrule. I didn’t think I would need a remake, but now I’m just eagerly awaiting a return to that amazing tropical world but this time with high-definition graphics and a new art style that seems childish and perfectly at home.

“The Outer Worlds” (Oct. 25; PS4, Xbox One, PC)

I haven’t been super impressed with first-person RPGs as of late (thanks, “Fallout 76”), but “The Outer Worlds” has caught my eye. I’m always up for a sci-fi adventure that allows me to explore alien terrain while trading witty banter and/or bullets with everyone I meet along the way. The last Obsidian Entertainment game I played was “South Park: The Stick of Truth,” which charmed me from start to finish. “Outer Worlds'” blend of Wild West ethos and space-age aesthetic most likely will be nothing like that, but the company has earned some good will with me.

“Death Stranding” (Nov. 8; PS4)

I don’t know what “Death Stranding” is about. No one does, and if they say they do, they’re lying. The PS4-exclusive game, directed by Hideo Kojima (the video game auteur behind the “Metal Gear” series, though I have a soft spot for his work on “Snatcher” and “Policenauts”), stars Norman Reedus and a few other big names, but that’s where normalcy ends. Each trailer has been more confusing than the last, showcasing ethereal babies, invisible monsters, a ruined world and a reject from “The Purge.” Still, I can’t look away. All I can say is that I’m excited for whatever Kojima delivers, nonsense included.

“Pokémon Sword and Shield” (Nov. 15; Switch)

The next generation of “Pokémon” is almost upon, and it’ll be the first mainline entry in the series to be released on a console. “Pokémon Sword and Shield,” the eighth generation of Game Freak’s world-changing franchise, takes us to a new, England-like region — Galar — to catch Pokémon (though, to the fury of many longtime fans, not all 800-plus of them) and battle gym leaders. We’re also getting new features, such as Dynamax (aka giant) versions of Pokémon, a welcome addition to a series that can feel incredibly similar no matter what generation you’re playing.

“Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order” (Nov. 15; PS4, Xbox One, PC)

The last entries in the “Star Wars” franchise have left plenty to be desired (remember the controversy surrounding “Star Wars: Battlefront II” and its loot boxes?). The Respawn Entertainment game due out in November, however, seems much more attractive. “Fallen Order,” a single-player adventure, follows a Jedi in hiding, Cal Kestit (portrayed by Cameron Monaghan of “Gotham”), who attempting to survive Order 66. (The game takes place between the third and fourth movies.) However, his self-exile doesn’t last long before he’s wielding a lightsaber and the Force and running from those who want nothing more than to wipe him and every other Jedi out of existence. From what I’ve seen, “Fallen Order” looks fun, and who doesn’t appreciate a good “Star Wars?”

“Doom Eternal” (Nov. 22; PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)

The 2016 reboot of “Doom” was fantastic (its ending could have used some more effort, but I digress). It was chaotic and bloody and an absolutely wild ride. “Doom Eternal,” a sequel, is setting up to bring the dangers a bit closer to home, though I really don’t care why because all I want is more outrageous and glorious glory fights with hell fiends. Is that too much to ask for?

You can contact Dominic, especially with game suggestions, at dbaez@registerguard.com or follow him on Twitter @Silver_Screenin.



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