The Top 10 Video Game Trailers of the Year
With 2020 fast approaching, now seems like a good time to reminisce on various elements of the gaming world from 2019. Trailers can be a great insight into an upcoming game title or they can be a total curve ball in regards to what the actual game is (*cough* Dead Island *cough*). Either way, trailers are a great way to create excitement and anticipation. Luckily for us, there were plenty of them released in 2019. We’re going to be counting down ten of the best trailers that were released this year for games across all platforms. I will include both cinematic and gameplay focused trailers.
Side Note: It is November at the time of writing so The Game Awards have yet to happen. There can often be some good trailers released alongside the ceremony. If any great trailers come about during the awards or in December in general, I will add them to the list as special additions.
10. Death Stranding- Official Release Date Trailer- May 2019
Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding may have gotten mixed reviews upon its release on November 8th, but the trailers leading up to launch were pretty interesting. They suggested a game that was something a little bit different and, in true Kojima style, just plain weird. Whilst that all came to be the case, the game has had a polarizing response with critics. Some praise the general ingenuity and uniqueness whilst others criticised the slow and sometimes boring nature of the game. The trailer depicting the release date of the game is more of a short film than an actual trailer. At almost nine minutes long, the trailer demonstrates a little bit of everything. Various aspects of gameplay are show from traversing dangerous terrain on foot to riding motorcycles, confronting mysterious creatures known as B.T’s and using the packages you are delivering to smack people in the face. Cut scenes are also shown and there is no doubting that the games graphics are incredibly impressive. A roll call of the actors involved is also included, making the game feel even more like a movie. Including well-known film and television actors- such as Norman Reedus, Lea Seydoux and Mads Mikkelsen- with video game elite such as Troy Baker is a good way to interest fans of all sorts of media even if they aren’t particularly well versed in games. However, the odd nature of the game is still emphasised by the fact that despite the long run time and snippets of gameplay, it is still very hard to tell what is actually going on. All that I could really decipher from it after watching it for the first time was that the major theme seemed to be creating connections within humanity after some kind of event broke us apart. Maybe…? I haven’t played the game so I can honestly say that I still have no idea what is going on with Death Stranding. In a time where pointless sequels, endless reboots and tepid remakes have infiltrated every form of entertainment, Death Stranding is a breath of fresh air. No matter what the consensus was of the actual game, this trailer was epic, original and downright undecipherable at times and made for one of the best game trailers of 2019.
Death Stranding is available now for PlayStation 4 and will become available of the PC in 2020.
9. Destroy All Humans!- Official Remake Reveal Trailer- June 2019
Like I said, remakes have been dominating the entertainment industry recently. Whilst they tend to represent a lack of original ideas, video games seem to be killing it when it comes to remakes of classics. Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot and Resident Evil 2 are just a few examples of some great remakes and the next trailer in this list has the potential to be added to that list. The remake of Destroy All Humans! was announced just before E3 2019 and had one of the funniest and most bizarre trailers of the year. The trailer shows alien protagonist Crypto invading the Earth and brainwashing several inhabitants of a small town. As he does so he sings along to “Ich Will”, a song by German band Rammstein. He stages a concert and the brainwashed people rave it up before Crypto disintegrates them. The essence of the franchise is captured perfectly in the trailer. The best part is the use of the Rammstein song. “Ich Will” is integrated as part of the story of the trailer, with Crypto using it to control the minds of his victims and lure them outside to his concert. It is not merely a background tune, but instead a key element. The graphics of the cinematic are also fun to look at as they perfectly resemble the cartoony style of the PlayStation 2 version. It shows that Black Forest Games- the developers behind the remake- are not looking to reinvent the franchise entirely. Rather, they want to bring the fun cartoon style into a new generation of gaming. The wackiness that is Destroy All Humans! is reflected perfectly in this trailer, suggesting that the remake is in good hands.
The Destroy All Humans! remake is due to be released early 2020 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows and Google Stadia.
8. Watch Dogs: Legion- E3 Reveal Trailer- June 2019
One of the more surprisingly exciting games from E3 2019 was Watch Dogs: Legion. The next instalment in the Watch Dogs series will be set in a futuristic London under surveillance from the big bad corporations. The main selling point (the cynical may call it the gimmick) is that there is no protagonist. Instead, the player will switch between a huge cast of characters each with different skills. The developers suggest that every NPC is able to be recruited and become playable, an interesting feature if it is able to be pulled off. The premiere trailer was a fun look at the world of Watch Dogs: Legion despite it being cinematic in nature rather than gameplay focused. It shows various characters that the player will be able to take on, including a retired assassin/grandma who shoots a guy in the face. The environment also looks like an enjoyable place to roam, with London’s famous landmarks given a technological upgrade due to the futuristic time frame. The city is under the control of a private militia headed up by an army of weaponised drones, so it’s up to the player to recruit various city dwellers to form a resistance and fight back. The trailers use of music also emphasises the fun atmosphere. This is what the game seems to going for now rather than the serious tones of the marketing for the first Watch Dogs game. It hasn’t gone full Saints Row yet, but the trailer suggests a game that is weird, wonderful and- most importantly of all- fun. At the end of the day, isn’t that why we play games? For an exciting experience that takes us out of the real world for a while? Watch Dogs: Legion’s premiere trailer offers this and I just hope the actual game delivers. It is also set in my home country of the UK too, which I always get excited for. I shall be sitting down with a nice cup of tea and looking forward to how this one plays out.
Watch Dogs: Legion was originally announced for March 2020 but was delayed to an unspecified date in 2020. It will be released for Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Google Stadia and possibly on the next gen consoles: the PlayStation 5 and Project Scarlett.
7. Ori and the Will of the Wisps- E3 2019 Gameplay Trailer- June 2019
A follow up to the stunning Ori and the Blind Forest was announced back in 2017 and we got a new trailer to confirm the February 2020 release date at E3 this year. The trailer shows the different mechanics of the new game, showing Ori fighting off creatures like giant spiders and wolves. The aesthetic of the first game is one of the elements that made it feel so memorable and magical and this definitely continues by the looks of the trailer. There is also a certain maturity emphasised here, with Ori fighting off these monsters whereas the only option would be to run from them in The Blind Forest. There is certainly a darker tone to the enemies here too, looking more frightening and maniacal than the ones encountered in The Blind Forest. Some of the music is showcased too and it sounds just as beautiful as the incredible soundtrack to Blind Forest. The final shot of Ori soaring through the sky on the back of an adorable owl is visually stunning as well as being painfully cute. The entire art style of Ori is spectacular and this trailer only shows improvement from the first game. With spectacular visuals, threatening foes, hints of gameplay and powerful music, the Ori and the Will of the Wisps trailer earns its place as one of the best this year.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps will release on February 11th 2020 for Xbox One and Microsoft Windows.
6. Halo Infinite: “Discover Hope” Cinematic Trailer E3 2019- June 2019
Having been announced at E3 2018, the next chapter in Master Chief’s story received a new cinematic trailer during E3 2019. Whilst there wasn’t any gameplay shown, the trailer emphasised the nature of Master Chief’s character. We see Chief being revived by an engineer who is stranded on a spaceship. He tells the Chief that they lost their fight and there is nothing left for them there. In true Master Chief style, he refuses to run and instead decides to tackle the enemy head on. This focus on the Chief was confirmed by Chris Lee, Head of 343 Studios- who are developing the game- in a blog post. He wrote that they had heard the criticism from Halo 5 (which split time between Master Chief and Spartan Locke),saying the team also heard feedback loud and clear...In Halo Infinite, the game will focus on the Master Chief and continue his saga after the events of Halo 5.” It is clear from this trailer that this is the new strategy and it works very well. There are several call-backs in the trailer too, such as a hint of what sounds like the Halo 3 soundtrack, armour that looks very similar to Master Chief’s original look and a tease of Cortana. These elements all combine to create anticipation for a new journey with a familiar and beloved character whilst also tugging at our heartstrings via the blatant nostalgia. Add this to the awesome visuals within the cinematic and an interesting looking story (from the little it suggests) and you get one of the best trailers this year.
Halo Infinite will release during the Holiday season of 2020 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox One and the upcoming Project Scarlett.
5. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order: Official Reveal Trailer- April 2019
There was plenty of scepticism surrounding Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order following its announcement in E3 2018. Controversy was rife due to the numerous criticisms aimed at the Star Wars: Battlefront games, such as unfair micro transactions and lack of content. Fallen Order was said to be a single player experience with no multiplayer or micro transactions involved but wariness towards the title continued thanks to the track record of publishers EA. Thankfully, worries about the game were alleviated upon release. It is currently receiving mostly positive reviews. The reveal trailer- unveiled at the 2019 Star Wars celebration- was incredibly endearing despite the negative feeling that swarmed YouTube comments and Twitter posts. The trailer is cinematic in style, showing the player character Cal as he hides his true nature as a Jedi from the Empire. The trailer suggests that after saving his friend with his Jedi powers, Cal goes on the run as he is hunted down by the Imperials. The trailer suggests an interesting story and boasts some impressive cinematics. Despite the controversy at the time of release, there is no denying that Respawn Entertainment-the developers of the game- have put a lot of hard work and care into building on the world and lore of such a beloved franchise. As the trailer ends with Cal wielding a lightsaber, you can’t help but feel optimistic about the future of Star Wars in gaming as well as single player narrative based games. The power of hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I can honestly say that no matter how the game would have turned out this trailer would still be a brilliant one.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows.
4. Diablo 4: Official Announcement Cinematic Trailer- November 2019
This one may seem a little bit unfair as the trailer doesn’t feel so much like a cinematic but rather a mini movie in its own right, clocking at almost 10 minutes long. As one of Blizzard’s trademark animated trailers, the Diablo 4 reveal that was shown at Blizzcon 2019 is an incredible feat in terms of animation and storytelling. The trailer shows a small group of people as they escape some nasty looking guys by entering a dank dungeon that could only be opened via their blood. Not an ideal situation in the first place but things only get worse as one by one the men are sacrificed so that their blood can be used to bring forth a particularly scary looking lady demon known as Lilith. Lilith is a character who has only really had the surface of her narrative scratched within Diablo lore. She is the daughter of Mephisto, Lord of Hatred and Prime Evil, and she had a hand in creating Sanctuary- the realm where the Diablo games take place. She was a mini boss in Diablo 2 but her lore has not been delved into much in the actual games (though there is some information on her in official Diablo lore). She is depicted as incredibly imposing here, emerging from a cocoon of skin with a cape of blood and flesh flowing behind her. It all looks rather sticky. Her design, the way she is introduced and her imposing stance suggests that she will be the major villain but only time will tell. The hugely impressive animation, dark and devilish tone and intriguing hints of narrative make for a trailer that is better than most movie trailers out there today.
3. The Last of Us Part II: Release Date Reveal Trailer- September 2019
One of the most anticipated games of 2020 is The Last of Us: Part II, Naughty Dog’s sequel to the 2013 classic The Last of Us. Announced at the PlayStation Event way back in December 2016, information on the sequel has been few and far between. The most recent trailer for the game came with the PlayStation’s State of Play in September and it was definitely worth the wait. Incredible graphics show a huge upgrade from the 2013 game, which was already pretty awesome anyway. Characters look so life like that it is almost a little scary, but it doesn’t venture into the uncanny valley thankfully. The environments also look insanely beautiful. Stand out shots include some impressive snow physics as Ellie rides on horseback through a blizzard, an overgrown city and some amazing water effects as Ellie rides a boat down a river. The narrative is also hinted at and whilst it is likely that Naughty Dog will be throwing some curve balls at us to throw us off of the scent of the actual plot, the theme of revenge and how far you are willing to go to get it is prevalent. There’s a bit of gameplay too, showing Ellie mercilessly hunting down both the Infected and normal survivors on her quest for vengeance. The crowning moment is the appearance of Joel, the protagonist from the first game. He appears at the end alongside Ellie, telling her that he wouldn’t let her go alone. Joel seems weathered and aged, even more so than one might expect during the apocalypse. Fans of The Last of Us are sure to be curious as to what has gone on between him and Ellie since then. I know I certainly am. The big finale of the trailer was the February 2020 release date, which has since been pushed back. Disappointing as it always is to have to wait, Naughty Dog only want to deliver the best game they possibly can for us to enjoy. For that, I’m willing to wait as long as it takes.
The Last of Us Part II will now be released on May 29th, 2020 for the PlayStation 4.
2. Final Fantasy VII Remake- E3 2019 Trailer- June 2019
Another hotly anticipated release of 2020 is the Final Fantasy VII remake, a game that has technically been in the making since the early 2000’s. Going into full development in 2015, the game has received three trailers in the space of six months. The one I have chosen as the second best trailer of this year is the E3 2019 trailer as it shows off the perfect blend of cut scenes with a fair amount of gameplay. It is incredible to see characters who were once blocky PlayStation pixels recreated so beautifully in high definition. The same goes for the environments, the levels and the classic music. There is a new and polished feel to it but it is also extremely familiar. Even the combat that we see has an element of familiarity surrounding it, despite the large overhaul that it has had to modernise it. This is the first trailer where we get a proper look at a range of beloved characters. Some gameplay and cut scenes featuring Tifa, Aerith and Barret is shown and we also get a glimpse of the big bad Sephiroth at the very end of the trailer. This trailer is the epitome of how to do right by the game that you are remaking. For a game as influential as Final Fantasy VII, I would expect nothing less from Square Enix. Thankfully, initial reactions to the gameplay demo at E3 2019 suggest that the game is everything we are hoping for.
The Final Fantasy VII Remake will be released on March 3rd, 2020 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows.
1. Cyberpunk 2077- Official Cinematic Trailer E3 2019- June 2019
The trailer that truly took the video game world by storm this year had to be the cinematic for Cyberpunk 2077. Yet another highly anticipated 2020 game from The Witcher developers CD Projekt Red, Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that has been in the making for many years. The game was announced back in 2012 and the first teaser came about in early 2013. Since then, we have been waiting patiently for more news. E3 2019 was when we got a significant look at the title, with a look at some more gameplay following on from the details we got at E3 2018. But the trailer was the main event. Despite it being a cinematic, there is a brief glimpse at how some combat works via the interactions within the trailer. As the player character V enters into combat during a shady deal gone wrong, he lets loose some rather dangerous looking metal spikes from his arms. These are known in-game as Mantis Blades, cybernetic enhancements that allow V to scale walls as well as use them as melee weapons as we see here. After taking out an enemy with the blades, V is then hacked into. His blades seem to malfunction and as we switch to V’s perspective, we see the warning “system breach” pop up. This is also something that can occur in-game- displayed in the gameplay demo- but V can be the one doing the hacking. V manages to shoot the hacker but is then shot by the last remaining bad guy. As V’s system reboots, we see that he has been left at some kind of dumping ground. He is then confronted by a character called Johnny Silverhand (played by Keanu Reeves) who instructs him to wake up as “we have a city to burn”. The appearance of Reeves at E3 2019 to announce trailer was a surprise enough but seeing him as a character-who will have a significant role in-game-was even more so. Silverhand is a “digital ghost” who will haunt the player throughout the game. Unfortunately, due to him being a ghost and all, he will not be romanceable. I plan to write a strongly worded letter about that but I digress. I believe this trailer deserves the number one spot as it manages to integrate gameplay elements into the cinematic without actually showing any gameplay. It is not just for show. Instead, it suggests what the player can choose to do when faced with the various conflicts in game. This is a smart move as it provides a narrative trailer for marketing purposes whilst also dropping hints to in game situations. I also think it is admirable that the game has accomplished all that it has so far when it is not a remake or a sequel, currently the dominating forces of all media. It is a part of the Cyberpunk franchise but this consists of a role playing board game first introduced in the 1980’s. It is refreshing for a game developer to take on a franchise that wasn’t necessarily hugely renowned. CD Projekt Red did the same with The Witcher series so I am certain they will do so with Cyberpunk too.
Cyberpunk 2077 will be released on April 16th, 2020.