People may say that this was a generally bad year for gaming, but I feel I must disagree. This may be due to the fact that I judge my personal enjoyment by different standards than most, but this year hosted a selection of games that I thought were all positive steps forward for the industry. Some made the cut due to one or several particular features while others are here on the merits of their entire experience. Whatever the reason, I look back fondly at a year of gaming in 2015.
Nick’s Top Five Games for 2015
PS4, Xbox One, PC
The fact that I both platinumed and 100%?d Just Cause 2 may suggest that Just Cause 3?s presence on this list is somewhat bias, but trust me when I say that Just Cause 3 needs no assistance from circumstance to be considered a great game. While the map didn?t host quite the level of diversity its predecessor’s did, and the loading times could be brutal in some cases, there is no other experience like the latest adventure with Rico. Laws of physics are the last thing on my mind as I ramp a car off a cliff then wingsuit through an exploding satellite array, and I couldn?t find this level of high-octane action anywhere else. The game is basically made of explosions, and that never gets old.
#04: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is huge and detailed with a vast gameplay variety, but this isn?t precisely why it made my top 5. Stealth games are a favorite of mine, but it is so rare that one is executed using the very particular design elements I demand. I need an indication of how visible and audible I am, a method of locating and tagging enemies, a span of time between being found and the alarm being sounded, and enough variety in my tools to reward multiple approaches to one objective. It may sound picky, but MGSV managed to hit all these points, a rare occurrence in gaming over the past several years.
Neither sports games nor indie games are preferred genres of mine, so what is Rocket League doing in my top 5? Though it may sound like a cop out, this is one of those titles where it is hard to describe what I see in it. Maybe it’s the ?easy to learn, hard to master? skill curve, maybe it’s the simplicity in conjunction with the highly competitive atmosphere, or maybe it’s something else entirely. Wherever the source of my enjoyment comes from, I spent more time playing Rocket League this year than most other triple-A titles.
#02: Call of Duty: Black Ops III
PS4, Xbox One, PC
I was never proud of the ungodly number of hours I put into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2?s multiplayer, but since then no game in the franchise has scratched that itch. Sure, I have played all the intermediate titles since, but only due to my competitive nature as opposed to any connection with the games themselves. It’s hard to say what about Call of Duty: Black Ops III has brought that aspect of the series back into the light for me, but I suppose it’s in the more subtle design choices. Bigger maps, a slower pace, and more accurate weaponry give the whole experience a more precise, tactical feel, harkening back to the days of Modern Warfare 2. Also, while the make and break of Call of Duty for me is the multiplayer, I have always had a soft spot for their Zombies survival mode, and Black Ops III brings it back in full.
#01: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
CD Project RedPlatforms:
PS4, Xbox One, PC
In an age all about getting the most bang for your buck, the quantity of a game?s content is valued almost as high as its quality. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is my Game of the Year not only because of the genuine entertainment it provides, but also for the amount of hours you can get from the experience. I went into it with no knowledge of the first Witcher and only tangential knowledge of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, but still I derived the most enjoyment from The Witcher 3 this year. Normally I am partial to the sector of gaming more aligned with shooting and blowing stuff up. For a title to pull me towards something more methodical and explorative, it must balance all of its elements effectively while juxtaposing slower moments with satisfying intensity, and this is also why The Witcher 3 has claimed my top spot.
Nick’s Off-Topic Awards for 2015
The “Obligatory Game Journalist Cred” Award
Fallout 4 just barely missed out on my top five due to some basic technical issues, but this should be considered praise by exception. I mention this first to get it out of the way because everything else Fallout 4 offers vastly outweighs any trivial problems I may have with it. There is an addictive quality about Bethesda RPG?s that is hard to describe but let it be known that whatever it is, their latest game has it in spades. Sure the story is interesting enough, but most of my hours in the experience were spent simply roaming the environment, buffing up my equipment, and investing the smaller stories that make the world the deep narrative that it is.
The “Why Can’t I Stop Playing This” Award
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
After a number of arguably successful open betas, Rainbow Six Siege was finally released. The game has some prominent server complications and is relatively low on content, so one may be wondering why I am mentioning it. As I have alluded to, I am a sucker for the competitive element of games, and Siege is possibly the most intensely competitive and team oriented game released this year. In spite of its flaws, it was one of my most played games by the end of the year and I plan to go back for more.
The “Good Enough and I’m Happy With It” Award
Batman: Arkham Knight
As the third in the trilogy, assuming we discount the less than popular Batman Arkham Origins, the latest adventure of the Caped Crusader deserves some acknowledgment. This is not necessarily due to any particular feature that took the industry by surprise, but instead just by being a genuinely fun game to play. Batman Arkham Knight is intriguing, well put together, and engaging right up until the very end. None of these features may set the world on fire, but they?re enough to make the game stand out to me as the year comes to a close.
EGMNOW’s Best of 2015 Awards Schedule