My Favorite Game Animation of 2019

My Favorite Game Animation of 2019


This was supposed to come
out in December! Oops. Well, whatever.
Let’s do it anyway. Hi! These are some of my favorite
bits of game animation I saw in 2019! Let’s begin with one of last year’s
early animation highlights… ANTHEM I think it’s fair to say that this is some of the
best-looking animation in a BioWare game yet. Characters are generally the highlight
of any great BioWare experience, and I don’t think I was prepared for how much
performance capture was going to add to that. Like, Owen as he’s voiced by T.J.
Ramini is already really charming. But Owen voiced AND physically performed
by Ramini brings a new level of charisma to that character that I don’t think
would have come across otherwise. Owen: ” Hey, considering that
the Monitor is both lancer and cypher, we could probably use a VERY fabulous
cypher/javelin pilot combo of our own.” Player Character: “Owen, be patient.” Of course, most of your NPC interactions use
this game’s conversation animation system, and there are some
gains on that front too, but seeing characters like these brought to
life with more natural performance detail in cinematics really makes me
excited for future BioWare projects. Also: running, jumping and especially flying
around in a javelin just feels cool as heck, in large part because the animation
sells their power so well. I will never get tired of sprinting toward a
ledge and launching into the air in this game. It just feels so cool. Next I want to
talk about Sekiro! The animation in FromSoft games has rarely been
the most polished-looking in the AAA space, but it almost always succeeds where
it matters: functional clarity. And that clarity is crucial
in a game like Sekiro, where players are expected to watch enemies
carefully and react to their attacks with so much more speed
and precision than before. The devs have talked in interviews
about how they spent a lot of time tuning each enemy’s attack animations
frame by frame, and it shows. Because, this game’s combat would not work
without those quickly-recognizable tells. And for their cinematics,
I love that From has maintained their trademark slooooow
timing and scene pacing. That willingness to let
characters move unnaturally slowly is a big reason why FromSoft
cutscenes feel so distinct, and it allows the sudden sharp movements
to feel even more surprising by contrast. From’s soft animation team really
is just getting better and better. Elden Ring cannot
come soon enough. Next up:
Luigi’s Mansion 3 Next Level Games has one of my favorite
animation teams in this industry. This is the same studio behind the
previous Luigi’s Mansion game for the 3DS AND – one of my favorite game
animation showcases of all time – the absolutely stellar
Punch-Out for the Wii. I already made an entire video singing
the praises of that game’s animation because this team is so good at delivering both
function and appeal simultaneously at 100%. And by gosh they are
good at animating Luigi. Next Level consistently brings
the best out of this character, from the moments when
he’s feeling scared, to the moments when he starts to feel
some of his confidence coming back to the moment that NOPE
NEVER-MIND, HE’S TERRIFIED AGAIN. Whatever Next Level is working on
now, I cannot wait to see it. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order We’ve seen a lot of Star Wars games
with lightsaber combat at this point, and a lot of different
approaches to animating it. Some of them have aimed to
replicate the fighting styles of existing characters as
we’ve seen them in the movies, and others try to create an
entirely new style all their own. And one thing that I really
enjoy in Fallen Order is the way Cal’s fighting animation feels like
it stylistically succeeds on both fronts. The way he handles a
lightsaber feels distinctly him and a little different from the stances or movements
that I’m used to seeing in Star Wars games, and yet I could totally see some Jedi moving
like this in a proper Star Wars movie which is something I’m not sure I
could say about the Force Unleashed. Combine that aesthetic balance with
some sharp controls and some stylish finishing animations and no wonder
the combat in this game feels so cool. Also, this? One of my
favorite Star Wars droids now. Look at ‘em. What a good little buddy. But next.
Pokemon Sword & Shield I’ve said before in a previous video
that the animation in the Pokemon series is a triumph of scope management rather than
visual flair, and that’s still true here. But in addition to the fact that they keep
managing to maintain a consistent level of charming animation quality across
these 400 creatures and human characters (which is still a feat
in its own right), I’m really digging the additional focus they’re
starting to put on animated personality. Like, the way the game instantly familiarizes you
with the personalities of all three starters just by showing you how they interact with
each other in one tiny cinematic is SO GOOD. And I think this cutscene
highlights a shift in focus that, really, has been happening
over the last few generations: Game Freak appears to be focusing
more and more of their resources on presenting Pokemon outside of
battle, which I think is a great call. Because one of the core elements of
the Pokemon fantasy is just living and traveling with
your team of creatures. And the earliest Pokemon games
just couldn’t provide that, so I really love the idea of the franchise
making that a higher priority now, because that’s where your Pokemon’s ability
to express themselves really shines. I think it’s telling that almost every time
I’ve seen people showing off their team online, or sharing clips
from their own game. Those clips tends to be video of their
Pokemon being goofballs in the Camp. So yeah! Real excited to see where
Game Freak takes things from here. Now high-quality traditional hand-drawn animation
is something of a rare treat in games, so I’m always grateful to see
the Banner Sagas and the Cupheads and the Hollow Knights out
there keeping that torch lit. And this year’s hand-drawn
champion was Indivisible. It is real fun seeing the
Skullgirls crew try on a new genre! I love these characters,
I love their designs, and their combat animations are just
loaded with tons of great little details… the team even brought in Studio
Trigger to animate the game’s opening! If you are enjoying the look of this
right now, I recommend picking it up, because not only is this
game loaded with charm, but you just don’t see games that
look like this coming out every day, and frankly I want to see studios like
Lab Zero, MDHR, Stoic and Team Cherry able to keep doing
what they’re doing. But, moving on. There were a LOT of extremely
AAA games raising the bar on photo-realistic human game
character animation this year. Devil May Cry 5, Modern Warfare,
Resident Evil 2, Death Stranding… lots of extremely
impressive work. I can’t imagine the hundreds of hours it
took hundreds of people to make all this. But the one team I’d like
to call out in particular is Remedy Entertainment for
their work on Control. I am legit impressed by
the degree of subtlety in character face performances
during some of these story scenes. Granted, certain moments and scenes can
dip into the uncanny from time to time, but this game’s setting already
exist so deep in the uncanny that, somehow, those moments kinda
just help contribute to the vibe. But the thing that push
this over the edge for me, and I’m sure that this effect is impart due
to the fact that your player character’s based on real
actor Courtney Hope and they occasionally use some live
footage of her in specific scenes, but I’ve got to confess: once or twice
while watching these story scene, there would be just a moment
that had me questioning: “…wait, is this the real
actor or the digital character?” And I can’t remember a time where a game
succeed in making me unsure of that before. So kudos, Remedy!
And good job making a darned cool game. But, leaving the realm of
the photo-real for a bit, let us all give thanks
to the indie scene for blessing us with so much
incredible pixel animation this year. Wargroove, Blasphemous, Cadence of Hyrule…
Katana Zero, for heck sake. Y’all spoil us. I do want to give special mention
to one in particular, though, and that is River City Girls. The Kunio-kun franchise has NEVER
had animation this gorgeous. Every character’s moveset is
just so fun to frame through. I highly recommend doing
so yourself sometime. Misako’s rage-y headbutt.
Kyoko’s selfie parry. The bookbag swing. The spinning power dab. How can you not
love a brawler with movesets like this. I’m so happy that games
with pixel animation are not only surviving in the year
2019, but THRIVING. And now for a couple
of honorable mentions! The first goes to Kingdom Hearts III, which
would almost definitely be on this list, except for the fact that I
intentionally have not played it yet. I’ve really been wanting to do
an unspoiled playthrough of it over on PlayFrame once
the ReMind DLC drops. But I’m just going to
take a shot in the dark and guess that the
animation was pretty darned good? Because it’s Kingdom Hearts and the animation in Kingdom Hearts
games tends to be pretty stellar, combat especially. And what I’ve seen of the Disney and Pixar
characters in trailers looks pretty incredible, so I am really excited to finally see
all this for myself pretty soon. And the other honorable mention goes
to Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, which I would talk
about at length here, but I already said all the exact same nice
things about Monster Hunter World last year. So just take everything
I said back in the 2018 Favorites videos and
add some snow I guess, because the animation in this
expansion is every bit as fantastic. And finally, before we wrap up,
let’s talk about Untitled Goose Game. Because having incredible game animation
isn’t always about realistic fidelity, or massive scope or
flashy movesets. Sometimes it’s about getting
one crucial thing exactly right. And for this game,
that thing is the goose. The perfection of that waddle
completes the comedy of this game. It’s amazing; it puts you in the right frame of mind
to be a dorky little nuisance almost instantly. And so many of your available moves
double as a tool for player expression! Like, I’m sure this wing-extension
move does something practical, but most of the time I’m just
using it to go MYEHHHHHHHH. Seriously, though,
if this waddle didn’t feel just right, I’ll bet this entire game would
feel noticeably less entertaining. And that makes this one
incredible piece of animation. But I think that should do it!
Did I miss anything? I mean, I will admit I
haven’t quite finished playing every single game
that came out in 2019, so… yes,
probably I did miss something. But, if you happen to know of
any games with stellar animation that I didn’t mention, please do call them
out in the comments, because I’m always eager
to see something cool! And here’s to all the great
game animation coming in 2020! I’ve got a lot planned for
New Frame Plus this year, so be sure to subscribe so
you don’t want to miss out. And consider supporting the show
like all these wonderful people. Thanks for watching,
and I will see you next time! [music]

100 thoughts on “My Favorite Game Animation of 2019”

  1. Thracker Zod the mighty

    Later Alligator! It is a funny and Whimsical hand-drawn game that came out semi quietly in the middle of 2019. All the characters move with their own personality, the dialogue is actually quite good and it's got a couple of interesting twists including how the Mechanics Work. Definitely worth giving a look to!

  2. Not to be controversial but Jedi Knight was a mixed bag. The sword fighting looks great but the rest of the character animations look really jank for some reason, especially the running animation.

  3. Epic Knight Studios

    Can tags be added to note what game is what when its on screen? There were several that I thought looked really good and wanted to try but don't know what they're are.

  4. Great video! All this animations feel so satisfying to watch! Also, I recommend you take a look at MO: astray. The animation, specially in the boss battles, is very cool! It's kinda of obscure, which is a shame 🙁 But I am really hoping the game gets the love it deserves when it lauches for the switch next year. Have a good day!

  5. Hải Đăng Thạch

    Not animation buy Pathologic 2 has some of the most unique and atmospheric art style ever. The expression of the character face when in a dialog scene is stellar too.

  6. Thanks for mentioning Blasphemous and Pokemon because those two definitely need credit for their animation.
    When it comes to DLCs in the "x of the year" lists, they are almost always forgotten: that's why I want to bring up The Messenger DLC Picnic Panic and Celeste DLC Farewell. Pixel art done so beautifully (the ending of Picnic Panic is such a great callback) and in the case of the latter, the non-pixel art too.
    Also 6:44 and 10:59 what games are these?

  7. Something I never noticed til you mentioned From Soft's slow timing is that it reminds me an awful lot of what tiny little snippets I've seen of Kurosawa films, and now I'm really curious if anyone's done a comparison between that style of cinematic and Japanese cinema.

  8. Dmc5 is my favorite because of how much they evolve Nero and Dantes moves while keeping most of the same attacks from before, they feel so alive rather than 3d models, when they swing the sword stays in their hands and drags behind while running, if you aim with nero without shooting he rests his gun close to his face while looking around cautiously, a lot of amazing little detail

  9. Imo, "Lucah born of a dream" had a super good surreal-neon-pastel art style, and associated animations

    https://youtu.be/FPZjCVKhfpU

  10. I do think the Camping is the best part of Pokemon Sword/Shield and that feature alone should be a standalone game. I really really want something like a Subnautica or Rain World like Pokemon game.
    However, in term of monetary value, I don't think the camp alone could save all the other unpolished features of the game. Game FrEAk (sorry….) should have also sticked to the dex-cutting idea and improved graphic or stuff further, instead of pleasing and spoiling the fanbase with more pokemon as usual.

  11. ScarfFox and Friends

    Some people say they kinda over did KH3 animations. To me, it's mainly just the Attractions, they are just boring and appeared way to much. I think the best example is how they completely killed the mood of KH3 equivalent to KH2 battle of 1000 heartless.

  12. while Indivisible ingame animations are fantastic and fluid, that intro on the other hand is not, it has the same problem that most of modern animations have, its stuttery and i hate it. Same in Banner Saga, the motion of movements is not fluid. Event the camera movement stutters for gods sake.

  13. I wonder what a ranking of, rather than animation quality, instead of [animation quality divided by person hours spent making the animation] would be like? Well, probably that question isn’t well-defined, but hopefully the general idea comes across.

  14. The thing you mentioned about Control, about being unsure whether it was the character or the actress, I felt that exact same way about Hellblade (and especially about the Hellblade 2 trailer)

  15. Too bad you didn't mention my favorite Sword/Shield animation: the leadup to throwing the giant pokeball to catch a dynamax pokemon. The huge grin as your trainer turns around is adorable, and I'm pretty sure there's even some slight smearing happening.

  16. Don't you ever make me wait that long for a video again! T^T
    Your videos help motivate me through my animation school! 😀

  17. I’m glad you put Pokemon on this list, it’s been getting a lot of unnecessary backlash about the “lack of animations” online. I’m totally with you I love the added personality that went into it every character. I always remember to record each new one I come across just to watch them over again.

  18. Sekiro shows something with its animation that I think so many other games that try to copy what From has done but don't really succeed at. Not only is From's animation really clear and extremely readable, it also has a ton of character and gives loads of personality to enemies themselves. You can tell what they are like as characters just by how they swing their weapon. Too many other games go for a somewhat generic "threatening tough guy" approach for their enemies, and it pales in comparison. A huge part of what makes From's combat so good is that animation quality, not simply just the gameplay design.

    Also kudos to DMC5's motion capture. I remember when they first showed that game, I was actually really put off in the aesthetic change from the previous games, and found the realistic characters jarring. But when you see them in motion in the game, all my worries were put to rest. All the tiny little subtleties of the facial movements are amazing. Full of character and nuance. But perhaps look a bit strange in still shots out of context. Also not to mention the brilliant combat animations too.

  19. Very cool video as always dude… I recently stumbled upon a small game called "Curse of the Dead Gods". I have watched gameplay of it on youtube, and the animations are fantastic! Check it out..

    Oh, and also, the game I am creating on my channel "The Adventures of Gorm" 😉

    Keep up the great work. I always look forward to your videos

  20. In Darksiders Genesis, there's a bit where you can pet a dog. Both of the playable characters have a different animation for this, and this one small animation communicates pretty much everything you need to know about their personalities. Strife is fun and friendly, so he immediately kneels down and gives the dog all sorts of pets. Whereas War is stoic and grumpy, so he gives the dog a couple tentative pats on the head, before getting annoyed when the dog jumps on him and licks his face.

    I'm not really the person to judge whether it was one of the "best" animations of the year, but it was unexpected and made me smile.

  21. Children Of Morta!!!!! It’s so gorgeous, the pixel art is beautiful and every character’s move set and animations are packed with personality

  22. I'd love to hear what you have to say about Fire Emblem's minimalist animation. (Specifically, Three Houses) How in battle, there's really not much to it, and how in character cutscenes, it's really just taken from a small pool of talking and gesture animations.

    Since they're not trying to be realistic but using few animations to piece together small moments in an otherwise very large game.

  23. Tbh I prefer "best of year X" lists after the year has ended since then you can actually look at all the things from the year and not just everything from January to mid December.
    Cecil from Good Bad Flicks (really recommended channel btw) released his best movies of 2018 video on December 31st of 2019 and it made it so much better since he had time to go through all of the movies and collect his thoughts with more scope.

  24. I would've liked going a bit more in depth, not just mentioning that games exist. I thought you'd pick some specific animations that are great for certain reasons

  25. 2:18 you can see his hands missing the katana handle and search for it while his eyes are locked on his enemy, such a small detail but adds tons to the realistic aspects of the character (simply we feel him as a human not a heartless perfect killing machine for a moment) and it is amazing!.

  26. But people on Twitter told that Pokémon animations were bad. How dare you, a professional animator says the contrary? HOW DARE YOU?

  27. Shadowbringers. The stunning animation is a huge part of the excitement and love that people have for FFXIV. It's often cleverly used during phase changes of lengthy boss battles to give players a bit of a rest and something nice to look at.

    Not only that but the XIV team at Square-Enix keep pushing the boundaries of what animation can do for MMORPGs. They are relying less on artificial looking "red boxes" for avoiding boss attacks, and instead focussing on strongly signposted visual cues on the character models themselves to tell players how to react. And while most cutscenes are still fairly static due to budget constraints, their engine allows them to create dynamic sequences for important story beats, and it's obvious how talented their animators are when given the chance to exhibit their skills.

  28. Definitely gotta give it up for Astral Chain, per usual with Platinum the animations on offer from Chimera and officer alike are exquisite and pack power and speed together with fluid grace.

  29. "I'm sure that this wing extension move does something practical, but most of the time I'm just using it to go "NYYEEEHHHH" "

    You just described the mindset of most geese

  30. Ok 2 things. 1: yay Someone said a nice thing about anthem! ^_^ and 2: heck yeah river city girls! It’s such an amazing game (it kind feels like the Scott pilgrim game but better) ^_^

  31. Glad to see River City Girls and Luigi's Mansion on here; they were two games that came out this last year that made me actually think "holy cow that's some good animation." One I think that deserves more attention is Gato Roboto; it has some pretty great animation for a single-bit game.

  32. Hand drawn animation is almost extinct; Disney had to bring old hands out of retirement for the Mary Poppins reboot (crazy to think DISNEY doesn't have the staff to make traditional animations anymore)…..and, with Richard Williams' death, 2019 laid to rest one of its patron saints. The Skullgirls team is a tiny flame in a deep fog, and I hope they keep flickering.

  33. Dark Mountain Productions

    All good choices. Though, for your consideration, check out the animations for Astral Chain, and The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince.

  34. My personal favorite last year was Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled! Especially as a long time Crash fan it feels nice to see him look so good in modern day times!

  35. A bit that was pointed out to me by Vaati for Sekiro was also that the animation details still really convey the character at that moment. The example given is the two times you go to fight in that flower field. First at the begining when the character is in a poor condition, mentally and physically. Then later when you go again and you see he's focused, ready, fit. And all that was needed was the hand motions as he draws his blade.

    I don't usually go all gahgah over animation, but the depth of lore behind that motion alone is something I love. It's the reason for games to exist (Well at least from an animation point in my opinion).

  36. I personally really like the links awakening remakes animation, both the cutscenes and the actual game play part. Maybe not animation of the year but up there

  37. The plaque tale I thought was really fantastic. The animations changed as she got more comfortable in this new pandemic Apocalypse World

  38. I could not BELIEVE how many context-specific animations were in Luigi’s Mansion 3. What an enrapturing experience.

    Try examining the laundry chute before King Boo chases you, and you’ll get a little taste.

  39. Extremely pleased to see River City Girls on the list! I'm not surprised it's not the talk of the town, it's a niche genre to begin with so it's natural, but it's nice to see it get some recognition, it's so damn charming.
    And speaking of charm, I would also add Gris somewhere on that list.

  40. Smile For Me was so charming, albeit the animation was minimal. Things like cheering up a character and seeing those blue sparkles appear, and the aesthetic of photorealism vs. cartoony merged together always made me smile.

  41. I think Ace Combat 7 might be a game worth looking at from 2019 if you haven't already! The cutscenes look fantastic and the environment and plane models just look incredible. The actual animation itself might be kind of basic by nature, but animators are the ones building the models and scenery in the end aren't they?

    Heck, I think a video about lighting enviornments and the importance of scenery could be interesting and maybe shed some light towards games like Ace Combat and Forza/Gran Turismo that are putting out some incredible visuals!

  42. 4:23 I felt a great disturbance in the internet, as if millions of entitled nerds suddenly cried out in impotent rage and were anything but silent.

  43. I’m surprised you weren’t impressed enough to say anything about Modern Warfare’s gun animations. The game is debatably good, but the reload and fire animations are top notch. A good general example of this is the reload animations when Sleight of Hand is being used; instead of the general reload animation being faster like in 99% of games, nearly every gun has a varying degree of a different animation where the soldier more hastily and sloppily reloads.

  44. I love watching this because it makes me more appreciative of this aspect of the art in games I play. I know you put hella work into this, bravo.

  45. Bro, leaving aside all the other shit with the game, the photorealistic motion capture in Modern Warfare is out of this world…

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