Although many of us are still knee deep in multiplayer games that launched two or three years ago, 2019 brought with it some serious firepower and more than a few big surprises.
Last year saw Monster Hunter World ultimately come out on top, having narrowly triumphed over the hugely popular Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Onrush was another one of our runner up choices and continues to be a vastly underrated game that has sadly faded into obscurity.
With the dust finally starting to settle after the colossal combined success of Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the battle royale genre is steadily opening up to new competitors and not all of them are shooters. Meanwhile, an entirely new breed of game has quickly come into favour with developers latching onto the “auto-battler” trend.
For this year’s best multiplayer game, we once again tip our hats to the incredibly talented folk at Respawn Entertainment. The EA-acquired studio has had quite the year and it all started back in February with the surprise reveal of its battle royale shooter, Apex Legends.
The Titanfall studio’s secret project had been rumoured for months in advance, but when Apex Legends finally launched, it took the world by storm with more than 10 million players deploying within those first 72 hours.
Favouring three-player squads and hero-like characters with their own unique abilities, and with an intelligent ping system that was quickly ripped off by Fortnite, it felt remarkably fresh despite turning up late for the battle royale party. In fact, that probably worked to the game’s advantage, as did Respawn’s mastery in putting together a solid first person shooter that feels just as fluid and frenzied as its past works.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne – Runner Up
That’s right, we’re yet to tire of Monster Hunter World. For years fans of Capcom’s action RPG series had been longing for a modern evolution of the core game that would finally make online multiplayer seamless and accessible.
Although Iceborne has inherited the core game’s matchmaking limitations, it’s still the best co-op action game available on current consoles and one that has seen a bevy of changes and improvements since the vast, full game-sized expansion launched.
Gears 5 – Runner Up
Since kicking off its sequel trilogy with Gears of War 4, there’s definitely been some umming and ahhing when it comes to Xbox’s gritty cover-based shooter. While it never strayed too far from the established series blueprint, Gears 5 still took significant risks with a more intimate focus on Kait’s story and more open level designs. However, the series has also been a bastion for top-flight multiplayer on Xbox as well.
That core competitive squad-based shooting is as fun and challenging as ever while smart improvements have kept Horde mode a step above similar wave based co-op modes. In Gears 5 we also got our first taste of Escape in which teams of three combat unpredictable enemies and a countdown timer as they attempt to flee a maze-like Swarm lair.
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
- Dota Underlords
- Samurai Shodown
- Tetris 99
To catch up on the Game of the Year awards we’ve handed out so far, here’s a handy list:
What was your personal favourite of the year? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to stick with us through the rest of this month as we tick our categories off one by one. Our next category? Best Gameplay!