By Melody Klink
Game releases are getting wilder- while we used to conclude everything comes out in Q4 near Christmas, gaming companies have realized that- gasp!- there are literally other times of the year too!. And you can ever bring stuff out in January and be successful! (Cue the Monster Hunter: World music) Despite the big shakeups in our gaming calendar, 2019 still has almost all of its heavy hitters dropping in the Fall and Winter. Here, I’ve wrangled up some of the last big titles of 2019, and speculate on Q1 2020!
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne (September 6, 2019)
Promising to be just as big as the original title, Monster Hunter World: Iceborne boasts new monsters, story, armor, locales and meetup spots for its army of Hunters. Adding a new difficulty in Master Rank, players will be able to make new gear sets from tougher monster parts in addition to challenging themselves on a whole ‘nother level.
Because Arch Tempered jerkwads just aren’t enough.
These are both new and returning monsters, with some fan favorites such as Nargacuga and Glavenus in the mix. Monster Hunter World is currently celebrating 13 million copies shipped, offering a bonus set of items in-game to hunters who log in, along with a rotation of every seasonal event up to the release of Iceborne! So if you’re missing any of those limited-time weapons or armor, now’s the time to grab them! At $40 for an expansion, I expect a lot from Iceborne-- Capcom, don’t let me down!
Gears 5 (September 6th & 10th, 2019)
Recently making headlines for not being 4-player co-op (like its predecessor), Gears 5 takes the focus off of legendary Gears Marcus and JD Fenix, and instead zooms in on Kait Diaz. Kait’s a surviving Outsider-Gear that teamed up with JD in Gears of War 4, and has a deeper connection to the Locust than any other protagonist. Gears 5 follows Kait’s journey to uncover their roots, pushing her to uncomfortable places as the Swarm carves a swath of death through humanity.
Gears creators insist that they shrunk the team size down in order to better tell the story, and that’s something I can understand; as much fun as I had playing Gears 3 with a 4-man team, we were always spread out, and someone was always running ahead and triggering the next cutscene while my ass was still trying to find ammo. And there’s no need to fret- there are still tons of multiplayer offerings outside the campaign. Kait’s story will just be a different scale.
For those who preordered the Ultimate Edition (and those with Game Pass Ultimate, natch) Gears 5 will be available for play on September 6th- everyone else gets it on September 10th.
Borderlands 3 (September 13, 2019)
If you think this isn’t queued up to install at 11PM on September 12th, you don’t know me very well. Borderlands 3 is a majorly hyped title, making massive spectacles in/on/at every gaming outlet since its announcement. It’s all cool: fans of the series have been itching for another installment since Tales from the Borderlands in 2014, which recently came on the record as canon. (I think most of us assumed it was, considering the brevity of a particularly major moment…)
Borderlands 3 follows the events of Tales and the Borderlands 2 DLC, Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary, a free (for a while) follow-up to the main story. The Calypso Twins have capitalized on the frenzy of the Vault, creating a cult based around themselves and the immense power contained within the vaults. A slew of characters return, and while we don’t know yet what to expect from the ending, we know it’s gonna be one hell of a ride. All the hype hasn’t shielded Gearbox from controversy, though- there’s a myriad of things that have come up since the announcement, but that’s for you to mull over and decide on. For me, I’m ready to hit Pandora and the worlds beyond!
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (September 20th, 2019)
When you go for a game remake or remaster, there’s a hefty checklist of expectations that come with it: modern, top-notch graphics, updated soundtracks, add-ons, and bells and whistles that weren’t part of the original, all while juggling the base story and not losing any of its flair.
So far, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Switch seems to check all the boxes.
This reimagined, reawakened (Nintendo’s words of choice) version of Link’s Awakening features a beautifully rebuilt Koholint Island, new dungeons, a remastered soundtrack, and supports Amiibos! It also boasts a modernized system, allowing you to edit unlocked Dungeons, and equip and assign new actions/upgrades.
For those unaware, Link’s Awakening followed (gasp!) Link, after waking up on a strange island, his ship apparently lost at sea. His quest is to awaken the Wind Fish- using the power of Koholint’s Sirens- in order to leave the island.
As I mentioned in our E3 follow-up podcast, the remake of Link’s Awakening is good on its own, but better on the potential: if we can get gorgeous redesigns of this, it opens the door for others, such as my beloved Oracle of Seasons. It may be a stretch, but I can take it.
Death Stranding (November 8th, 2019)
The first time I saw this game teased, it was a naked Norman Reedus and a fetus. I understood very little then, and three years later, I still understand very little. But Hideo Kojima’s good like that; he enjoys the esoteric, multilayered and strange, and it usually pans out to something great. There are tons of big names involved, from Reedus to Guillermo del Toro, Mads Mikkelsen to Troy Baker.
Death Stranding is a conundrum, but here’s what we know: it’s out in November. It’s made by Kojima Productions in their first outing as an independent game developer, and it’s published by Sony.
That’s… not a lot, I know, but this whole shebang is a bunch of ??? as no one quite knows the story of it all. You just have to watch the trailers and join in on the myriad conspiracy theories floating around the web. In Hideo Kojima’s own words,
“People have created ‘Walls’ and become accustomed to living in isolation. Death Stranding is a completely new type of action game, where the goal of the player is to reconnect isolated cities and a fragmented society. It is created so that all elements, including the story and gameplay, are bound together by the theme of the ‘Strand’ or connection. As Sam Porter Bridges, you will attempt to bridge the divides in society, and in doing create new bonds or ‘Strands’ with other players around the globe. Through your experience playing the game, I hope you'll come to understand the true importance of forging connections with others.”
It’s weird and beautiful and if you wanna play it, it’s all yours on November 8th!
Pokemon: Sword and Shield (November 15, 2019)
It’s always a good time when there’s a new Pokemon release! Sword and Shield are both Switch titles, and include specific exclusive Pokemon; Shield has Larvitar and Gloomy, while Sword has Deino and Jangmo-o. Each version also includes its own unique Gym Leaders, which means, yes, Gyms are back! Lemme just say that Shield’s leader is named Allister and he’s super creepy.
So right up my alley.
As far as transferring your Pokemon from previous titles, it’s super specific: only if the Pokemon appears in the Galar Region in your Pokedex. There will be co-op raids like in Pokemon Go, and various versions of Pokemon that can be massive in size thanks to the Gigantamax. While the faces are different, the story hasn’t changed-- you’re still there to become the very best! Like no one ever was~!
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (November 15th, 2019)
Set after Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order puts us in control of Cal Kestis, a young Jedi on the run while the Empire looms over the galaxy. Cal is played by Cameron Monaghan, who played the coolest psycho in all of Gotham on the titular show.
Seriously, I’d play this game just to see him as the main character. He’s good.
Our character isn’t the only big thing about the game, though! We have writers returning from Knights of the Old Republic II, as well as hands on deck that molded the God of War games.
Yeah, EA pulled out all the stops for this one.
Like God of War, Fallen Order’s scope is going to be small and focused; it’s a single-player game, on an open-but-linear system. (They’re saying it’s Metroid and Dark Souls mixed together, with Sekiro-like combat. Wow.) There’s also no planned DLC or microtransactions, so they’re really aiming for this to be big and perfect at launch. Not gonna lie, after some recent gaming shenanigans, I’m good with that. Please don’t plan 9,000 DLC and then disappoint me by not only not delivering said-DLC, but also not delivering on the primary game.
You know who you are, and I love you, but it’s not okay.
Fallen Order will lack some folks’ favorite concepts in Star Wars, namely the ability to tempt your Jedi to the Dark Side. But again, they’re here to tell this particular story, exactly how it goes.
Shenmue III (November 19th, 2019)
I mentioned Shenmue III in my previous article, citing that its Kickstarter blew past Bloodstained to become the largest funded game ever on the platform. People donated over 6 million dollars to see the story end, and now it’s almost time!
Ryo Hazuki’s been trying to find his father’s killer since 1999. Not in-game of course, since we’re still in 1980s China, and Lan Di is still at large. But development for Shenmue III has been stalled for the better part of those two decades-- the first two titles, while being cult classics, didn’t make back their budgets, and Sega was leery to spend time and money on making another. They politely never ruled out the idea, but didn’t intend to back it. Cue 2015, when creator Yu Suzuki decided to try Kickstarter to fund the project.
It made a million dollars in 1 hour and 44 minutes. It hit its starter goal of $2,000,000 in 8 hours and 43 minutes.
By the time it was all over, Suzuki had raised over six million dollars for the title. Sony and Deep Silver chipped in as well. Sega licensed the rights to Suzuki’s company Ys Net, and the work began with a large chunk of the original Shenmue team intact. Now, in three months, we’ll *hopefully* see the fruits of that labor!
I say *hopefully* because it’s been pushed back numerous times. I’m good waiting for everything to be perfect, though.
You can’t rush perfection, right?
Hollow Knight: Silksong (Now TBA Release Date)
When I started this article, Hollow Knight’s sequel Silksong was rumored to drop before Christmas-- now, unfortunately, every retailer says TBA. And per creator Team Cherry, they’ll release it “when it matches the quality” of Hollow Knight. We’ll have to see when it actually drops.
In any case, Silksong is the follow-up to the beautiful Switch title, and promises the same graphical quality paired with more aggressive mechanics. This is something I can appreciate, considering how many slower-paced artsy games I’ve consumed recently…
Silksong focuses on Hornet, princess and protector of Hallownest. If her name is familiar, it’s because she was originally a DLC character for the first game! The team expanded upon her lore, moveset, and world so much that they decided to ditch the DLC path and make a sequel instead. She’s got all new moves, ready to be used on tons of new baddies.
While we don’t know a ton about the story itself, we do know that Hornet’s journey is through a kingdom “haunted by silk and song,” and that she must make it to the peak of this kingdom. (if you watch Family Guy, I know you just did the “I love it when they say the title in the movie” thing, right?)
It seems they’re ensuring that the best parts of the original title are kept intact. Screenshots so far are lovely, and I have no doubt that it’ll be worth the wait.
In addition to everything here, Q1 of 2020 will be huge too! There’s Ubisoft’s new IP Gods & Monsters in February, the first episode of Final Fantasy VII in March, Animal Crossing: New Horizons March 20th, Cyberpunk 2077 in April, and a whole ton of others! We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
As you can see, you can plan to be doubly broke in the coming months. Yay! But at least you’ll be swimming in fantastic games, right? *cries*