It’s been an interesting year for gaming, as the current generation of consoles slowly creep towards the end of their lifecycles. The PS5 and Xbox Series X are officially on the way, landing in late 2020, meaning we’re in a kind of limbo between developers releasing games for this generation and announcing plans for next-generation games – some might even crossover.
Despite being in this weird limbo, we’ve played some fantastic games this year. We’ve revisited Raccoon City, cursed FromSoftware once again, tried to catch em’ all and bothered villagers as a troublesome goose. But which games have truly stood out in 2019?
It’s been a hard task, but the TechRadar team has put their heads together and thrashed out which games were our favorites this year. These aren’t necessarily the games we think have had the most cultural or technological impact, nor are they ranked, they’re simply the team’s favorite games from this year. Let’s be honest, you may not agree with all our picks – as we all have different tastes and opinions – but it’s hard to put together a list that will please everyone.
So, without further ado, these are TechRadar’s games of the year 2019.
Best Virtual Reality Game
Blood & Truth
Blood & Truth is one of our favorite VR games ever, never mind this year. Sony London Studio truly knocked it out of the park with this Guy Ritchie style FPS that shows that VR shooters can be wondefully immersive – and downright fun.
Its storyline is super cheesy but, mechanically, Blood & Truth is a marvel, allowing you to interact with objects and weapons as you would in real life (well as much as is possible in VR) and smoothly move from cover to cover through levels.
Honorable mentions: Trover Saves the Universe and Wolfenstein: Cyber Pilot.
Pokémon Masters was somewhat of a surprise success. We always knew it wouldn’t hold a light to Niantic’s Pokémon Go, but the free-to-play mobile game has definitely held its own in 2019.
Allowing players to battle their way through the Pokémon Masters League, Pokémon Masters emphasizes teamwork and puts the focus on trainer battles. It’s been a great year for Pokemon.
Honorable mentions: What the Golf? and Sayonara Wild Hearts.
Best Action Game
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
FromSoftware isn’t known for making easy breezy games and Sekiro is no different. But that’s exactly why we love it. Sekiro is what happens if DDR was an action game set in a gothic ancient Japan. It’s breathtaking.
However, if you can’t quite get a hang of the rhythm, then things are pretty tough going. FromSoftware’s most recent offering is more punishing than we’ve seen before, but rare moments of success are extremely rewarding – you just need the patience for it.
Honorable mentions: Resident Evil 2 Remake and Devil May Cry 5.
2019 has been a fantastic year for remasters and Link’s Awakening is one of the best. Nintendo took the original 1993 and redesigned it for the Switch, giving it a new toy-like art style that simply adds to the charm.
Link’s Awakening brings classic Zelda to a younger generation, while improving upon issues that original fans may have had. It’s a wonderful trip down memory lane for fans while also being easily accessible for newbies. We love it.
Honorable mentions: Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
When Obsidian Entertainment announced it was releasing a new RPG, there was little doubt that the Fallout: New Vegas developer would let us down. And it didn’t.
Although it’s not totally perfect, The Outer Worlds is as close to a new Fallout game as we’re going to get right now. Blending interesting characters, peculiar creatures, choices galore and a heap of satire, The Outer Worlds sees Obsidian securing its crown as the king of RPGs.
Honorable mentions: Disco Elysium and Pokémon Sword and Shield.
Apex Legends took us all by surprise when it kicked down the battle royale door back in February, introducing some fantastic quality-of-life features like sliding and pinging that have since been lifted by its competitors.
While Apex Legends may not have quite taken the crown from Fortnite, its certainly taken 2019 by storm and we’re hoping Respawn Entertainment has some tricks up its sleeves to keep players interested in 2020.
Honorable mentions: Destiny 2: Shadowkeep and Tetris 99.
Now, we know that not everyone will agree with this choice. CTR isn’t the most technical racing game but it’s a lot of fun and we love this remaster just as much as the original – if not more.
Following in the footsteps of the N.Sane Trilogy, Nitro-Fueled sees Crash and co getting a modern makeover. This remaster rolls together content from Crash team Racing, Crash Tag Team Racing and Crash Nitro Kart into one madcap game that you can play solo or online.
Honorable mentions: FIFA 20 and Need for Speed: Heat.
It’s not been a great year for fighting games, so this wasn’t a particularly difficult choice. Mortal Kombat 11 sees the brutal series returning better (and bloodier) than ever before, while introducing some fresh new features, like Fatal Blows) that move the series forward.
The campaign is solid but really, MK11 does what we expect: let us beat the living heck out of eachother.
Honorable mentions: None (it’s been a poor year for fighting games).
Best Narrative Game
Disco Elysium has been the dark horse of 2019 for a lot of people, releasing at the tail end to critical acclaim. And it deserves every ounce of that recognition.
Disco Elysium is like if someone made an RPG about Hunter S. Thompson as a grizzled detective. It’s bizarre and wonderful. The best part of Disco Elysium? The writing and story. The conversation trees are unlike anything else we’ve seen this year and show that a game doesn’t need to be big budget to tug at our emotions.
Honorable mentions: Control and Outer Wilds.
Best Indie Game
Untitled Goose Game
It’s a lovely day and you’re a horrible, horrible goose. That’s right, Untitled Goose Game sees you wreaking havoc on some (probably lovely) unsuspecting villagers in House House’s indie meme machine.
But the memes aren’t the only reason we love Untitled Goose Game. It’s the exact type of (almost) wholesome content we love to see in an indie game, artistically beautiful and the synchronization between the music and slapstick humor is sheer brilliance. HONK.
Honorable mentions: Outer Wilds and Disco Elysium.
Game of the Year
Resident Evil 2 Remake
It’s the biggie and it was a tough call. But Resident Evil 2 Remake is officially TechRadar’s Game of the Year.
Resident Evil 2 shows how a remake should be done, elevating the original game into a masterful modern horror experience. The attention to detail is astounding, encouraging players to properly explore RCPD and soak in the experience. Plus, exploring is a welcome break from trying to solve Resident Evil 2’s head-scratching puzzles.
Best of all, you don’t just have to play it once, you can replay again and again. And we sure will.
Once again Cyberpunk 2077 is the game we’re most excited about. It won the same category last year but, now that we know more about it (like that Keanu Reeves will be in it), we’re more hyped than ever.
CD Projekt Red’s massive dystopian RPG will finally hit shelves on April 16, 2020 and we cannot wait to get our hands on what’s sure to be one of the best games of 2020 – well, if the Witcher 3 is anything to go by.
Honorable mentions: The Last of Us Part 2 and Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
Google launched a pair of new 5G Android smartphones: the Pixel 5, its flagship model, and the Pixel 4a 5G, an entry-level device with faster cellular network speeds.
While the Pixel 5’s display is in line with the latest top-end phones from Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., changes to its features and a lower price put the handset more directly in competition with lower-end phones from those companies.
Google started offering its own smartphones with much fanfare in 2016, after years of collaborating with handset manufacturers on a bespoke Nexus line intended to demonstrate the best of its Android operating system. Progress has been slow. While IDC data show Pixel shipments rose 52% to 7.2 million units last year, Apple, Samsung and Huawei Technologies Co. each sell more than 100 million handsets annually.
The Pixel 5 moves to a front display that is almost all screen. Both new phones include slower processors, fewer camera sensors and cost less than the premier phones from its rivals. The Alphabet Inc. unit also removed the facial recognition camera and motion sensor from last year’s Pixel 4, instead adding a hole-punch sized notch for the camera and reverting to a fingerprint sensor on the back. The starting price for the Pixel 5 is $699, $100 less than last year, and the same price as the entry-level iPhone 11.
Apple and Samsung’s latest top offerings cost more than $1,000. Rick Osterloh, Google’s hardware chief, said the company removed expensive components because it didn’t want to sell a $1,000 phone that would price many consumers out of the market in an economic downturn.
The flagship handset unveiled Wednesday for new fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless networks now comes in a single 6-inch model, replacing the 5.7-inch and 6.3-inch Pixel 4 offerings from last year. It comes in black and green. The phone also adds the ability to charge headphones on the phone’s back, and new low-power mode to extend battery life.
Pixel devices have won over some customers with capable cameras and photo-related software. But Apple and other manufacturers have caught up and one of Google’s leading camera technology experts, Marc Levoy, left earlier this year.
The Pixel 5 adds an ultrawide-angle camera, replacing the telephoto camera lens from last year’s model. The latest setup helps users photograph more of the environment, while the telephoto lens had more zoom. Google is making up for the lack of optical zoom with software. Apple and Samsung offer three separate cameras on the rear of their pricier top-tier phones.
The front camera on the Pixel 5 is 8 megapixels, the same as the Pixel 4, but the new handset has more memory and a larger battery. The phone also adds a feature to use portrait mode in the dark and new modes for enhanced video stabilization.
The Pixel 4a 5G is similar to the Pixel 4a announced in August, but adds a 6.2-inch screen, improved cameras and a faster processor. That phone costs $499, considerably more than the smaller non-5G variant. Both phones are scheduled to be released Oct. 15, Google said.
Apple plans to launch four new iPhones in October, adding faster chips, improved cameras, its largest and smallest display options and an updated design, Bloomberg News has reported.
Google introduced other hardware products on Wednesday, including a new Nest Audio speaker and an updated Chromecast TV streaming device.
In 2013, Google launched the first version of its Chromecast TV dongle. It was designed to cast smartphone apps, including video streaming apps, to big-screen televisions. Seven years later, the market for streaming TV apps has changed, and Google is changing with it. Today, it officially announced Chromecast with Google TV.
So what are the similarities and the differences of Chromecast with Google TV vs Chromecast? Good question. As you will see, the original Chromecast is still very useful. However, the new Chromecast with Google TV offers a lot more, and it’s not that much more expensive.
Back in 2013, smart televisions were still something of a novelty. The first Chromecast allowed TV owners to quickly turn it into a smart television, and inexpensively. If you had a smartphone, and your apps supported Chromecast, you could connect the dongle to your TV’s HMDI port. Then you could cast and watch movies, play games, and more from your phone to your TV.
Later versions of Chromecast did basically the same thing as the original. However, the current third-generation Chromecast streamed smartphone content at 1080p resolution. The more expensive Chromecast Ultra. which launched in 2016, increased the streaming resolution to 4K. It also added support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision video formats and an Ethernet port. It also allowed users to stream high-end PC and console games to their TV via the Google Stadia service.
The new Chromecast with Google TV is a very different device. While it can still cast smartphone apps to your TV, it has Android TV built-in as well. That means you can watch streaming TV and apps directly, with no smartphone required. It comes with its own hardware remote for controlling those apps. It also supports Google Assistant to control apps with your voice, again via the remote.
In fact, for this product, Google has installed a new UI on top of Android TV. That’s where the “Google TV” part of the brand comes in. It allows you to watch movies and TV shows across several streaming apps and services on one screen, rather than switching between apps. It’s very similar to what you will find on the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV apps. The device supports up to 4k resolution, along with HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision video formats.
Unfortunately, the new Chromecast with Google TV does not yet support the Google Stadia game streaming service. That support is supposed to be added sometime in 2021. If you want Stadia gaming on your big-screen TV right now, you need to either keep or purchase the Chromecast Ultra.
One other minor addition to Chromecast with Google TV are color choices. You have snow, sunrise, and sky colors to pick from.
Chromecast with Google TV vs Chromecast: Price
The current third-generation Chromecast is available for $29.99, while the Chromecast Ultra is priced at $69. The Chromecast with Google TV is on sale now in the US for $49.99.
Which one should you buy?
If you own a 1080p TV, and want an inexpensive way to stream video and other content on your television, the regular Chromecast is your best best. If you want to try out Stadia game streaming, get the Chromecast Ultra. However, if you have a 4K television, and want a better movie and TV show streaming experience without the need for a smartphone, Chromecast with Google TV is a must.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is planning to resume regular briefings similar to those he held early in the pandemic after a plea he made to Canadians during his national address led to a significant bump in the number of downloads of the COVID Alert app.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), COVID Alert had been downloaded 2.75 million times by last Tuesday, the day before the throne speech, which Trudeau followed with a national address that was broadcasted by each of the country’s major television networks.
During Trudeau’s address — which critics said failed to focus on the severity of the second wave of COVID-19 in favour of highlighting the government’s just-revealed agenda — the prime minister drew attention to the notification cellphone app, while talking about how Canada can contain the pandemic.
“In the spring, we all did our part by staying home,” Trudeau said. “And this fall, we have even more tools in the toolbox. People are wearing masks. That’s critical. So keep it up.
“We’ve got the COVID Alert app. Take the teacher who felt fine, but she gets a positive (test result) after the app warned her she’d been exposed. COVID Alert meant she went home instead of the classroom.
“It’s a powerful, free tool that’s easy to use and protects your privacy,” he continued. “So if you haven’t already, download it off the App Store or Google Play. It’s one more way to keep ourselves and others safe.”
Searches of “COVID Alert” spiked on Google immediately after the prime minister’s address. Google Play statistics provided to iPolitics by the PMO show that downloads of COVID Alert also soared immediately after the prime minister’s address.
Between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. last Wednesday, about 15,000 people downloaded COVID Alert onto Android phones alone.
Higher-than-usual download rates continued throughout the evening, as well.
From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., it was downloaded close to 8,000 times on Androids, and between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., it was downloaded about 5,000 times.
By Friday, the app had been downloaded 2.91 million times.
Responding to the bump in downloads, which the government hopes to replicate to counter the spike in COVID-19 cases, specially in Ontario and Quebec, Trudeau will resume the semi-regular updates he made from Rideau Cottage in the pandemic’s early days.
With the House of Commons sitting again, Trudeau likely won’t hold the briefings outside his home, a senior source in the PMO told iPolitics. While a schedule hasn’t been set in stone, the PMO envisions Trudeau resuming regular briefings “at the very least” once per week.
Federal officials have been tirelessly trying to convince Canadians to download the COVID Alert app since it was released at the end of July.
COVID Alert does not force users to surrender any personal information and doesn’t track users’ locations.
It relies on Bluetooth technology to exchange randomized codes with other phones that users are close to. Although the app is available across Canada, to function, it relies on users inputting single-use key codes when they test positive for COVID-19. That way, their phone automatically alerts anyone they encountered to the possibility of exposure to COVID-19.
Provincial health authorities are responsible for delivering codes to people who test positive for the coronavirus. So far, only users in Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador are able to report a diagnosis in the app.
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