It's no secret that we here at RPGFan love Final Fantasy XIV. We talk about it a lot, and we've given it a lot of awards over the years. But it's been quite some time since FFXIV was last crowned our Game of the Year, and competition in 2019 hasn't exactly been light. So what makes Shadowbringers so special? Simply put, it's about as close to perfection as FFXIV has ever gotten. The story is arguably the best in the reborn MMO's six-year history, and that's a tough milestone to reach after 2015's excellent Heavensward. Characters are strong and endearing, the world of the First is beautiful, the soundtrack is brilliant, and gameplay has been refined. We've said before that FFXIV is better than many single-player RPGs out there today, including previous entries in the Final Fantasy series itself, and Shadowbringers is a prime example of why that is the case.
We're always ready to champion Falcom at RPGFan, and after a lengthy wait, fans can finally find out how the Trails of Cold Steel saga continues. It does so in an excellent fashion. In a series lauded for its outstanding worldbuilding and engaging stories, Cold Steel III stands shoulder to shoulder with its predecessors. Rewarding longtime fans for their investment, Cold Steel III answers many questions posed by previous games, but it handles everything deftly, never getting bogged down or feeling overwhelming. Major invasions, unexpected arrivals, and the occasional head pat are all standard, and with every little twist or morsel of information, you're immediately sucked in. It helps that the game is also one of the best-looking and best-playing entries in the series, with some much-needed improvements to the combat and visuals that bring the game into the current generation. Cold Steel III ties so many things together — from characters and musical callbacks to previous events — that it leaves you gasping for more by the end. It's more than a worthy runner-up, delighting old fans and sparking interest in potential new fans, and that's the highest praise we can give it.
by Alana Hagues
It was a tight race between the two newest entries in these two venerable franchises, which makes sense, since they ranked very closely in our own votes and in our voting for Best of the Decade, but once again, Trails is the winner!
Disco Elysium finished as a distant third, but it managed to beat out games from other major franchises, and as an indie game released late in the year, it's nice to see it get some traction, so we think it deserves a mention.
Oh, and to the one person who voted for Ys IX in this category...be patient! There's always next year.