With an industry that’s obsessed with getting the most bang for buck with any new game, few live service games truly manage to rise above the obvious cash-grab trap and find themselves settling into a groove of establishing a community and then toiling away to create new content on a consistent schedule. That’s not to say that one such game doesn’t exist. In fact, there are several of them out there, heavyweight in the always-online space who make the most of their platform and use it to build inspiring new worlds that are constantly evolving. Here’s a look then, at some of 2019’s best ongoing games.
Fortnite: Battle Royale
We might as well kick off the nominations with the biggest name in freemium live service action: Fortnite! The biggest battle royale on the block, Fortnite was in a comfortable place this year but was well aware that complacency breeds failure in this digital day and age. Not wanting to get stuck in a rut, 2019 saw Fortnite make an effort to prepare for something…big.
The end result? An event that the world watched with baited breath, as Fortnite’s lore collided with dangling threads to hit the reset button. Fortnite was reborn, its systems gently altered and its world was forever changed as what was old began to feel brand new again. Combined with a never-ending onslaught of events, challenges and new gadgets to try out, and Fortnite is still mainstream gaming at its very finest.
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep
It’s the start of a new era for Bungie as Destiny 2 charts a path away from Activision, a future that so far is a magnificent return to form for the franchise. Without Activision’s deep coffers or their various studios to lend a hand at the eleventh hour, Bungie’s focus for Destiny 2 was simple: Think small, but big. Returning to the Moon this year capitalised on that new school of thought as the humble patrol zone may not have been the biggest swathe of land with which to pop Fallen heads in, but it certainly was dense with mystery and new ideas.
Grabbing the baton passed on to it from 2018’s Forsaken expansion, Shadowkeep is a dark and focused dive into Destiny’s most hidden corners, a remix of ideas on top of an already stunning game that has just opened much of its borders to new players with its free to play slice of action. It layers this intrigue on top of ideas that are by now polished to a mirror shine, creating a path for the series that all can enjoy whether they’re hopping in for the low low price of nothing or supporting the series by chipping in to its expansion.
Bungie has proven that they can not only survive without Activision, they can also thrive in a market with very little room for error.
Rainbow Six Siege
Four years after it first launched, Rainbow Six Siege is the pinnacle of Ubisoft’s current game design philosophy. It’s a world of multiple opportunities within its singular cops ‘n robbers FPS framework, one that keeps building upwards and forwards to create a precise game of teamwork that will leave even the most battle-hardened of armpits drenched in the sweat of tense firefights.
Even if you happen to hav clocked hundreds of hours within Ubisoft’s shooter, there’s always something to do. Whether it be a new operator to try out or a new map to explore, Rainbow Six Siege is a constantly changing metagame that demands a level of focus that sets it apart from many games who allow for players to coast by through its established systems.
It is teamwork that combines to deliver golden moments of joy when all the pieces fall together, and even with half a decade of action clocked in so far, it feels like Raimbow Six Siege’s tour of duty is far from over.
No Man’s Sky Beyond
There was a time when No Man’s Sky was seen as a cautionary tale, a warning to take a shot of reality with any pint of hype, but recent updates, changes and a sweeping overhaul of redesigns have created a game that is nothing short of superb in the experience that it seeks to deliver. No Man’s Sky in 2019 is an absolute marvel of redemption and making good on promises.
A grind of note? Absolutely, but one whose core mission of charting new planets and working your way across the cosmos is an exercise in ambition that has been fueled forward by the recent Beyond update. There’s an actual sense of fun in the grind that propels every humble spaceship in No Man’s Sky right now, one whose social experiences are magical and whose galaxy seems to have unlimited potential.
Is there any real purpose in playing No Man’s Sky? Absolutely, but it’s a modus operandi that you’ll have to find for yourself as you dig deeper into a universe that seemingly knows no limit.
Final Fantasy XIV
In the vast history of MMORPGs that have risen, fallen and faded into obscurity, it’s amazing just how well Final Fantasy XIV has done over many years of being on the block. Stumbling out of the gates when it first launched, Final Fantasy XIV is a testament to hard work, passion and listening to the fans. In 2019, the game is better than ever thanks to the recent Shadowbringers expansion which not only fleshed out a massive new narrative for the online game, it created a story that easily stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the more famous games in the series.
More than that, Shadowbringers cements Final Fantasy XIV’s legacy as one of the best MMORPGs of all time. It is both an epic odyssey across new terrain and a story that brings the focus back to the player, the most epic of boss fights and a fantasy of the highest order. Shadowbringers sets the bar incredibly high for Final Fantasy XIV, and whether it’ll ever be able to live up to its own expectations and those of fans, is a question for another day. But for now? This is Final Fantasy XIV’s finest hour.
And the winner is… Apex Legends
Back in February, Apex Legends came out of nowhere. In an industry whose ship is leakier than the Titanic at an iceberg festival, it’s amazing that Respawn Entertainment kept the lid on this project for as long as they did, before influencers ruined the surprise. Like the best RKO, this was a game that came out of nowhere and delivered with minimal hype behind it.
Here was Respawn’s best first-person shooter mechanics, running with all cylinders firing to deliver a silky smooth experience through the Unreal engine. It was a battle royale with a difference, favouring teamwork and throwing in a good dollop of hero shooter medicine for good measure. There’s no denying that Apex Legends just feels immensely satisfying to play thanks to its chunky action and assorted roster, but the real triumph here is how Respawn has kept this ship sailing on smooth waters.
It may not have the frequency of new events to partake in that Fortnite does, but whenever Apex Legends adds something new to the mix it feels fresh and exciting instead of a simple retread of established gameplay.Apex Legends is still an infant, but this tot is a revolution in communication, Polish and putting fun back into squad-based action.
Last Updated: December 2, 2019