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Pixelkin 2019 Holiday Gift Guide: PlayStation 4

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The PlayStation 4 has been king of the console mountain throughout the current generation. Sony’s exclusives were mostly downplayed this year, however, as many developers get ready for the PlayStation 5, which was officially revealed earlier this year.

The biggest PlayStation exclusives both featured bleak post-apocalyptic worlds, with the the zombie apocalypse Days Gone, and the unique package-delivering, ghost-dodging Death Stranding.

With the PlayStation 5 launching in Holiday 2020, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend jumping into the PlayStation 4 this year. However, you can find some killer deals this late into the PS4’s life cycle. We’re particularly attracted to Sony’s Only on PlayStation 4 Bundle, which features a 1TB PS4 and three of the best PlayStation 4 games of the current and previous generation: The Last of Us Remastered, God of War, and Horizon Zero Dawn. Sony’s Black Friday sale event begins Nov. 24 and runs through Dec. 2.

See below for all our PlayStation 4 game recommendations for 2019.

 

Younger Kids

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King

Two classic platformers from the 90s, Aladdin and The Lion King, have been updated and packaged together as Disney Classic Games. As these games predate many of the modern conveniences we’ve enjoyed in the years and decades since their launch, players can now enjoy a rewind feature and easily activated cheat codes, which should come in handy for the notoriously difficult The Lion King.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Switch, Xbox One

Dragon Quest Builders 2

Dragon Quest Builders 2 continues the brilliant mashup of the colorful, kid-friendly Dragon Quest RPG series with Minecraft-like building and crafting. The sequel features a new retro fast travel system, the ability to fly and swim to reach new areas, and online cooperative multiplayer.

Also available on: Switch, PC (Steam – Dec. 10)

Team Sonic Racing

Mario and friends aren’t the only ones who like to settle their differences on the race track. Team Sonic Racing features 15 racers spread over three distinct classes, and 21 different tracks, including favorites from previous Sonic racing games. Up to four players can race together locally, or up to 12 players online.

Also available on: PC, Switch, Xbox One

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

The first Yooka-Laylee was crafted as a spiritual successor to the wave of 3D platformers of the late 90s/early 2000s, but was met with mixed results. The sequel, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair,  takes a far different approach, utilizing successful 2D level designs. It’s both a solid throwback to classic game design, and a refreshing modern update.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Switch, Xbox One

 

Older Kids & Teens

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Planetfall is more than a sci-fi version of turn-based strategy series Age of Wonders, which combines Civilization’s empire management with XCOM-like tactical combat. Planetfall completely changes city-building and expansion through the use of sectors, and expands combat to make room for armored dinosaurs and laser guns.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Xbox One

Apex Legends

EA and Respawn surprised everyone when they dropped the Fortnite-like Battle Royal shooter, Apex Legends. What was initially seen as a Fortnite-killer has since cooled off, but the makers of Titanfall have crafted an excellent team-based online shooter in a (slightly) more serious sci-fi universe.

Also available on: PC (Origin), Xbox One

Civilization 6

Civilization 6 released back in 2016 on PC. It was an excellent entry in the long-running strategy series, and it’s made its way to major consoles this year. The base game has plenty of material to lose dozens if not hundreds of hours, but if that’s not enough you can also buy the Expansion bundle, which includes 2018’s Rise and Fall, and Gathering Storm, which released earlier this year, for additional civilizations as well as features such as Dark Ages and climate change.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Switch, Xbox One

Dreams

While still technically in Early Access, Dreams is less a traditional game and more game editing software. The creators of Little Big Planet have focused on user-created content and robust tools for creating art, music, and gameplay systems, perfect for the budding game designer.

Also available on: N/A

Kingdom Hearts 3

Kingdom Hearts 3 was one of the longest-awaited sequels in gaming history, finally returning to the adventures of Sora, Donald, and Goofy in this unique and memorable mashup of Japanese RPG and Disney and Pixar films. Wield magical keyblades and repel the Heartless through the worlds of Toy Story, Frozen, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Also available on: Xbox One

Outer Wilds

It’s the end of the world, Groundhog Day style in indie adventure Outer Wilds. As an astronaut on a new planet, you have exactly 22 minutes until the sun explodes. It’ll take a multitude of iterations to explore the mystery behind the time loop, diving further and further into the story and wider universe with each catastrophic death.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), Xbox One

Slay the Spire

What Slay the Spire lacks in graphics and animation it makes up for in depth of gameplay. The roguelike card game is well-balanced and tactically demanding as you ascend through dungeon rooms and challenges, playing cards, making choices, and building your deck. Three distinct classes offer multiple playstyles and a huge list of cards to find and unlock.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Switch

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

And legions of fans cried out, “finally, a good Star Wars game!” Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order takes place in the fertile story-telling era between the prequels and the original trilogy, and stars Cal Kestis, a young Jedi who must survive being hunted down by The Empire.

Also available on: PC (Origin), Xbox One

Wargroove

Wargroove asks one simple question: Do you like Advance Wars? The beloved handheld tactical strategy series has been given an excellent spiritual successor, transforming the pseudo-modern Advance Wars into a fantasy series with a lengthy story campaign as well as skirmish, puzzle, and map editing modes.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Switch, Xbox One

 

Mature Teens

Borderlands 3

Borderlands 2 is often considered one of the best games of the previous generation. Borderlands 3 may not live up to that lofty goal, but it’s still a fantastic entry in the popular co-op looter-shooter series, and one of the few big budget games to still offer split-screen couch co-op.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), Xbox One

Control

Developer Remedy (Alan Wake) came out swinging with this gorgeous third-person action game. Control stars Jesse Faden, an agent for a secretive government organization that studies strange phenomenon, and finds her world, and reality itself, torn apart. Thankfully she’s got a supernatural firearm and some special abilities of her own.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), Xbox One

Death Stranding

Hideo Kojima became a household name among gamers from his Metal Gear Solid series. His first game free of studio control, Death Stranding, is incredibly unique, as Sam Bridges (played by Norman Reedus) must navigate across a dangerous apocalyptic world of killer ghosts to deliver materials and packages and help rebuild society.

Also available on: N/A

The Division 2

The first Division had a rocky start but Ubisoft spent months and years patching and upgrading the shared world multiplayer post-apocalyptic looter-shooter. The sequel shifts from New York City to Washington D.C., featuring Ubisoft’s trademark attention to geographical detail, and satisfyingly refined weapons and classes.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), Xbox One

The Outer Worlds

Leave it to Obsidian Entertainment (Pillars of Eternity) to craft a better Fallout game than Bethesda.The Outer Worlds  infuses all of Fallout’s satirical dismantling of mega-corporations within a pulpy sci-fi first-person RPG, as the choices you make ultimately determine the fate of the Halcyon star system.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store), Xbox One

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Fans of the Dark Souls series need no further incentive for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the newest game from FromSoftware. Sekiro is closer to a traditional action-stealth game than the more RPG-like Souls series, and takes place in a vastly under-explored time period in 16th century Japan.

Also available on: PC (Steam), Xbox One

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Pixelkin’s Most Anticipated Games of 2019

Posted by | Feature, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One | No Comments

A large number of games on our 2018 list of most anticipated games were delayed into 2019 – which is all the more reason to get excited for the new year! Next year will kick off with the very long awaited sequel, Kingdom Hearts 3, easily one of the single most anticipated games of the year. From there things get a bit less friendly-family, though still exciting, with the likes of Anthem, Mortal Kombat 11, and the Division 2.

The Switch is still going strong but as always Nintendo keeps its games close to its chest. For the purposes of this list, only games with 2019 release dates will be included.

Here are our most anticipated games of 2019!

For Younger Kids:

 

Kingdom Hearts III

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: January 29, 2019

The Kingdom Hearts series has become a bit of a convoluted mess of a story since its original inception back in the PS3 era. But it’s also a beloved series that uniquely combines JRPG storytelling and world building with official Disney characters and settings. A lot of Disney and Pixar films have released since Kingdom Hearts II in 2005 and we’re excited to see the worlds of Toy Story, Monster Inc, Frozen, and Tangled come to life.

Yoshi’s Crafted World

Platforms: Switch
Date: Spring 2019

Yoshi’s Woolly World was an incredibly delightful 2D platformer on the Wii U. Yoshi’s Crafted World looks like the perfect sequel, this time featuring a world of cardboard and paper. Levels feature a unique 2-in-1 design as you can flip them to traverse the backside to uncover more paths and secrets.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

Platforms: Switch
Date: January 11, 2019

Nintendo knows not nearly enough gamers bought a Wii U and experienced many of the excellent games on that system. Many big Switch games are ports of Wii U games, and four-player side-scrolling New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe was is an obvious addition to that roster. The Switch version will feature two new playable heroes – Nabbit and Toadette and combines all the levels from New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U.

DreamWorks Dragons Dawn of New Riders

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO, Switch
Date: February, 2019

Although it’s releasing near the same time as the highly anticipated third film in the How to Train Your Dragon series, the game stars all new characters: newbie dragon rider Scribbler and his unique dragon hybrid Patch. The gameplay looks a lot like Skylanders, and we mean that as a big compliment.

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

Platforms: PS4, XBO, Switch
Date: June 21, 2019

Mario and company aren’t the only kart racers around. If you don’t have a Switch (or even if you do) and pine for some alternative family-friendly multiplayer racing, Crash Bandicoot’s Crash Team Racing is being remastered with new tracks, karts, and online multiplayer. Better yet, the formerly PS-exclusive series is coming also to Xbox One and Switch.

 

For Older Kids and Teens:

 

Anthem

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: February 22, 2019

Sure it may be “BioWare Does Destiny with Mech Suits” but none of that sounds unappealing. Anthem pits players as Freelancers who customize their own Javelin mech suits to combat the many exotic and powerful threats around the alien planet. The shared world features up to four players joining missions together. BioWare’s trademark romanceable companions won’t be a feature, but judging from the trailers the world will be full of interesting characters and events.

Civilization VI: Gathering Storm

Platforms: PC
Date: February 14, 2019

Global warming and climate change are hot button topics, and Civ is diving in head first with its second expasnsion. Gathering Storm will add natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and active volcanoes. A new climate system will increase these disasters as Civs grow bigger and burn climate-destroying resources like coal and oil. Gathering Storm will also add eight new Civs and two new scenarios.

Shenmue III

Platforms: PC, PS4
Date: August 27, 2019

One of the biggest cult classics in gaming, the original Shenmue series on the Dreamcast failed commercially with its huge budget and production, but nostalgic fans helped crowdfund this third game. Shenmue 3 became the highest-funded video game in Kickstater (over $6 million), and we’re all desperate to see if that translates into a long-awaited winning formula for this unique adventure series.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Platforms: PC, XBO
Date: 2019

Ori and the Blind Forest was a stunningly gorgeous 2D action-platformer that combined tight controls, intriguingly intertwined level designs, and a gripping tale of loss, fear, and protection. The sequel wouldn’t need to change much to make it one of our most anticipated indie games of the year.

Psychonauts 2

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: 2019

Like Shenmue 3, Psychonauts 2 is another infamous cult classic that is being revived thanks to a large crowd funding campaign.  Game designer luminary Tim Schafer is known of many quality games over the years, but none as much as Pyschonauts, a 3D action game with Double Fine’s trademark humor and goofy characters about government agents who enter the minds of others. The surreal level designs and honest themes of mental illness should translate well into a modern sequel.

 

For Mature Teens and Parents:

 

Metro: Exodus

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: February 15, 2019

Post-apocalyptic Russia has never looked so good. Metro Exodus looks far bigger and more ambitious than the previous Metro games, while still incorporating an intriguing blend of survival horror, stealth, and first-person action.

Devil May Cry 5

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: March 8, 2019

Capcom made waves this year with Monster Hunter: World, and are looking to continue that success with the fifth installment in the over-the-top action series Devil May Cry. Devil May Cry 5 unites previous protagonists Dante and Nero along with a new third character. Expect lots of hacking, slashing, and musical mayhem.

The Division 2

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: March 15, 2019

The Division was a rough yet compelling multiplayer third person shooter set in a post-apocalyptic New York devastated by a pandemic. Over the months and years Ubisoft and Massive have supported the game with excellent updates, patches, and DLC. The sequel moves from New York City to the nation’s capital in Washington D.C. Look for a beta to start up before launch.

Mortal Kombat 11

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO, Switch
Date: April 23, 2019

One of the biggest names in games, let alone fighting games, was just recently announced at The Game Awards. The trailer was horrendously bloody and violent, which is exactly what we’d expect from a new Mortal Kombat. NetherRealm Studios is one of the best fighting game developers in the world and Mortal Kombat is definitely the favorite child.

Days Gone

Platforms: PlayStation 4
Date: April 26, 2019

Days Gone has been in development for several years as we’ve seen E3 stage demos since 2016. It stars rebellious biker Deacon in a zombie apocalypse that’s far less urban than most zombie fiction. A smart Deacon can use the dynamic weather, day/night cycle and wildlife to avoid and distract hordes of zombies – or lead them right into other people.

It’s shaping up to be a great year, and there’s so much more we don’t know about. Look for some exciting Nintendo news in the months to come. Happy New Year!