No doubt about it: video games are bigger than ever. In 2017, the American game industry grew by a whopping 18%. And thanks to popular devices like the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and pretty much every mobile phone on the planet, things aren’t going to slow down any time soon. For gaming fans, 2018 should be great. With a number of high-profile titles slated to come out right before the turn of the decade, 2019 might be even better. These games might be a ways off, but don’t let that stop you from getting excited. If even half of them deliver, 2019 is going to be one heck of a year.

Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda – Spring 2019

Getting one The Legend of Zelda game a year is a treat. Getting two is practically unheard of — and yet, in 2019, we’re getting exactly that. Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda might not be a traditional Zelda adventure like the upcoming Link’s Awakening remake, but don’t count it out. Crypt of the NecroDancer, a roguelike, rhythm-based dungeon-crawler, is one of the best music-based games of the past decade, and The Legend of Zelda is all about the music.

As in Crypt of the NecroDancer, you can’t do anything in Cadence of Hyrule without moving to the beat of the soundtrack. Want to move Link, Zelda, or NecroDancer hero Cadence from place to place, swing their weapons, or cast one of their spells? You’d better have rhythm. With 25 tracks plucked from the past 30-plus years of The Legend of Zelda history, an art style that recalls The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and more Easter eggs than you can shake a Wind Waker at, Cadence of Hyrule should be a treat for Zelda fans everywhere. While you wait, feel free to go check out Crypt of the NecroDancer, too. Trust us. It’s worth it.

Super Meat Boy Forever – Spring 2019

Almost a ten years ago, Super Meat Boy arrived on PCs and Xbox Live and single-handedly launched the super-tough indie platformer revolution. Did you enjoy Fenix Furia, The End is Nigh, or 2018 game of the year contender Celeste? Without Super Meat Boy, you wouldn’t have played any of ’em.

Now, almost a decade after Meat Boy and Bandage Girl stole platformer fans’ hearts (when they weren’t busy making players snap their controllers in half, anyway), the dynamic duo is back. The evil Dr. Fetus has stolen their child, Nugget, and it’s up to Meat Boy, Bandage Girl, and you to get him back. Your tried and true Super Meat Boy tricks won’t work here, though: in Super Meat Boy Forever, every level is generated on the fly from predefined “chunks,” and will scale to match your performance. The better you do, the harder Forever gets. Great.

Super Meat Boy Forever has been in development for a long time, and it’s gone through a number of changes in that time. Meat Boy co-creator Edmund McMillen has moved on to other things, and the game transformed from an infinite runner into something more traditional over its lengthy gestation period. From the looks of things, it’s time well-spent. Super Meat Boy Forever might only use two buttons, but it still controls better than almost any other platformer out there. Welcome back, little guy. We’ve missed you.

Rage 2 – May 14

Nobody really asked for a sequel to Rage, id Software’s 2011 shooter. Sure, Rage is a fine game, but it’s awfully derivative. It’s post-apocalyptic landscape looks like something straight out of Mad Max. The levels look nice, but don’t offer much in the way of interactivity. The shooting is great, but in id’s games, the shooting is always great, and Rage doesn’t feel all that different from the studio’s past titles like DOOM and Quake.

On the other hand, since Rage’s debut, publisher Bethesda has been on something of a hot streak. Wolfenstein: The New Order breathed new life into id’s original Nazi-killing simulator. DOOM, a reboot of id’s breakout 3D shooter, was even better. 2017’s Prey doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the original, but if you like immersive sims, you’re going to find an awful lot to like.

So, why not give Rage another shot? Rage 2 co-developer Avalanche Studios has proved it can handle digital mayhem just fine with its work on the Just Cause franchise, and Avalanche’s Mad Max is surprisingly good (and woefully underrated). Further, Rage 2’s Overdrive mechanic sounds a lot like DOOM’s fantastic glory kill system, which rewarded players for being as aggressive and brutal as possible. The more of that, the better. Keep the pretty graphics, give it some variety, and add some individual quirks to the gameplay, and Rage 2 could end up being 2019’s sleeper hit. We’ll just have to wait and see on May 14.

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