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Introduction

2015 was a year of pleasant surprises. Sure there were big titles that entertained, but there were equal amounts of games that came out of nowhere to completely deliver. But across the board we witnessed the trend of a return to form for games, an optimization of play. With our short attention spans and busy lives, games were no longer able to bank on their names, and had to prove themselves by re-evaluating their core purpose?why is this fun? From couch co-op to fresh takes on old genres, 2015 was a year that demanded that you sit down and play.

Matt’s Top Five Games for 2015

#05: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: CD Project Red
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Matt’s Take

The Witcher III: Wild Hunt quenched my thirst for sword-swinging fantasy. CD Projekt Red has drastically improved the combat from previous games, and I felt like for the first time in the series, I wasn?t ripped out of the story by clunky mechanics or the need to get really meta in order to survive a fight?which potion do I need, again? Plus, the open world which Geralt can explore is absolutely massive. The only thing that Witcher III has working against it are the ?romance? scenes, which seemed more fit for a grocery-store paperback than a game made in 2015.

#04: Rocket League

Publisher: Psyonix
Developer: Psyonix
Platforms: PS4, PC

Matt’s Take

A friend of mine got married several years ago, and the groom?s party nearly missed the car to the ceremony because we were so caught up in Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars. This year, its sequel, Rocket League, entertained the same group throughout the week of my wedding. On the surface, a very approachable game, Rocket League hides deceptively elite levels of depth behind its brightly colored cars and party-game exterior. Those willing to put in the time can take advantage of a physics system that rewards the skill put into a perfectly timed shot, or a flying block from the upper corner.

#03: Tales from the Borderlands

Publisher: Telltale Games, 2K Games
Developer: Telltale Games, Gearbox Software
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS

Matt’s Take

I grew up on games like Maniac Mansion and Hugo?s House of Horrors, so Telltale Games? delve into one of my favorite series may seem like a no brainer, but Tales from the Borderlands is so much more than just a point-and-click reskin. For an adventure game, Tales moves at the speed of its wit. Your character is constantly involved in making decisions, and if you?re not paying attention, a quicktime event could easily catch you off-guard. Multiply this with the hilarious dialogue and storytelling that has become synonymous with the Borderlands series, and you?ve got a must-have game.

#02: Ori and the Blind Forest

Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Moon Studios
Platforms: Xbox One

Matt’s Take

I first saw Ori and the Blind Forest over the shoulder of someone playing it at an event, and it stopped me in my tracks. Not only was the game absolutely gorgeous?and trust us, photos do not do justice to its multi-layered backdrops, wow?but the mechanics were clever. There is one in particular, Bash, that allows Ori to launch from points of light including enemy fire, lanterns, and more that really made the game stand out. You can use Bash to divert projectiles, access secret areas, or simply navigate through levels more quickly. To put it simply, Ori and the Blind Forest has perfected the Metroidvania genre by delivering a game as beautiful as it is challenging.

#01: Fallout 4

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Matt’s Take

In a perfect balance of dark and light, Fallout 4 created a world that I fell in love with immediately. The Wasteland is confettied with death?skeletons draped across diner tables, husks of homes clustered together?but throughout it all, there are signs of humanity persevering. Even the ghouls of Goodneighbor have found ways to laugh and enjoy a bottle together. Wandering across the Commonwealth, I often laughed out loud at the things I found, and actively took time to just explore outside of the missions. This aspect kept me interested in Fallout 4 long past the campaign, and helped earn it a spot on my list.

Matt’s Off-Topic Awards for 2015

Swinging for the Fences Award
#IDARB
In the world of social media and streaming, #IDARB aimed for the fences and gifted Xbox One users with a retro throwback that mashed up Joust and soccer. Audience members could chat or tweet in secret codes that would modify the game in hundreds of ways. Nothing throws you off your game like an 8-bit Rick Astley singing his way across the bottom of the screen as you try to score. Gamers could also customize their characters, teams, and intro music allowing you to really assert yourself as you matched with random players across the globe. Since #IDARB tried so hard, it wins the ?Swinging for the Fences? Award.
The Game That Made Me Hate My Friends Award
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

Don?t let its bright neon colors and cutesy graphics fool you, because Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is winner of the ?Game that Made Me Hate My Friends? Award. A game that sees you blasting your way through the cosmos in a ship that runs on love, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime can be played via couch co-op or with an AI companion. Both are great options, but the robotic perfection of the AI can make the meatbag that joins you (Spencer) when you attempt couch co-op seem like a worthless frustration machine. I highly recommend hugging it out after each gaming session.

The “Best Kept Casual” Award
Destiny: The Taken King
Original Destiny and I broke up a few months after we started hanging out. Almost a year later, I started seeing pictures of it on Facebook. It was prepping for The Taken King, and it was looking good. I started remembering its tight controls, the way we used to sit and wait for Public Events in the sunset. Nostalgically, the grind didn?t seem so bad. I started playing again. Now?I?m not going to lie?the first few nights I barely slept. But it told its friends that I would buy it whatever it told me to, and it wouldn?t let me hang out with my friends who hadn?t continued along to The Taken King. It started making promises just like it did the first time around, promises it never delivered on. So Destiny, you win the ?Game Best Kept Casual Award? Award.

EGMNOW’s Best of 2015 Awards Schedule

Read More

About Matt Buchholtz

view all posts

Matt learned how to play video games from his grandma, who bravely adventured with him through the “terrifying” halls of Shadowgate. He plays a lot of Dungeons & Dragons on a podcast with comedians. Find him on Twitter @mattisgrounded

EGM’s Best of 2015: Matt Buchholtz’s Editor Awards

By Matt Buchholtz | 12/23/2015 09:00 PM PT

Features

Introduction

2015 was a year of pleasant surprises. Sure there were big titles that entertained, but there were equal amounts of games that came out of nowhere to completely deliver. But across the board we witnessed the trend of a return to form for games, an optimization of play. With our short attention spans and busy lives, games were no longer able to bank on their names, and had to prove themselves by re-evaluating their core purpose?why is this fun? From couch co-op to fresh takes on old genres, 2015 was a year that demanded that you sit down and play.

Matt’s Top Five Games for 2015

#05: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: CD Project Red
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Matt’s Take

The Witcher III: Wild Hunt quenched my thirst for sword-swinging fantasy. CD Projekt Red has drastically improved the combat from previous games, and I felt like for the first time in the series, I wasn?t ripped out of the story by clunky mechanics or the need to get really meta in order to survive a fight?which potion do I need, again? Plus, the open world which Geralt can explore is absolutely massive. The only thing that Witcher III has working against it are the ?romance? scenes, which seemed more fit for a grocery-store paperback than a game made in 2015.

#04: Rocket League

Publisher: Psyonix
Developer: Psyonix
Platforms: PS4, PC

Matt’s Take

A friend of mine got married several years ago, and the groom?s party nearly missed the car to the ceremony because we were so caught up in Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars. This year, its sequel, Rocket League, entertained the same group throughout the week of my wedding. On the surface, a very approachable game, Rocket League hides deceptively elite levels of depth behind its brightly colored cars and party-game exterior. Those willing to put in the time can take advantage of a physics system that rewards the skill put into a perfectly timed shot, or a flying block from the upper corner.

#03: Tales from the Borderlands

Publisher: Telltale Games, 2K Games
Developer: Telltale Games, Gearbox Software
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS

Matt’s Take

I grew up on games like Maniac Mansion and Hugo?s House of Horrors, so Telltale Games? delve into one of my favorite series may seem like a no brainer, but Tales from the Borderlands is so much more than just a point-and-click reskin. For an adventure game, Tales moves at the speed of its wit. Your character is constantly involved in making decisions, and if you?re not paying attention, a quicktime event could easily catch you off-guard. Multiply this with the hilarious dialogue and storytelling that has become synonymous with the Borderlands series, and you?ve got a must-have game.

#02: Ori and the Blind Forest

Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Moon Studios
Platforms: Xbox One

Matt’s Take

I first saw Ori and the Blind Forest over the shoulder of someone playing it at an event, and it stopped me in my tracks. Not only was the game absolutely gorgeous?and trust us, photos do not do justice to its multi-layered backdrops, wow?but the mechanics were clever. There is one in particular, Bash, that allows Ori to launch from points of light including enemy fire, lanterns, and more that really made the game stand out. You can use Bash to divert projectiles, access secret areas, or simply navigate through levels more quickly. To put it simply, Ori and the Blind Forest has perfected the Metroidvania genre by delivering a game as beautiful as it is challenging.

#01: Fallout 4

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Matt’s Take

In a perfect balance of dark and light, Fallout 4 created a world that I fell in love with immediately. The Wasteland is confettied with death?skeletons draped across diner tables, husks of homes clustered together?but throughout it all, there are signs of humanity persevering. Even the ghouls of Goodneighbor have found ways to laugh and enjoy a bottle together. Wandering across the Commonwealth, I often laughed out loud at the things I found, and actively took time to just explore outside of the missions. This aspect kept me interested in Fallout 4 long past the campaign, and helped earn it a spot on my list.

Matt’s Off-Topic Awards for 2015

Swinging for the Fences Award
#IDARB
In the world of social media and streaming, #IDARB aimed for the fences and gifted Xbox One users with a retro throwback that mashed up Joust and soccer. Audience members could chat or tweet in secret codes that would modify the game in hundreds of ways. Nothing throws you off your game like an 8-bit Rick Astley singing his way across the bottom of the screen as you try to score. Gamers could also customize their characters, teams, and intro music allowing you to really assert yourself as you matched with random players across the globe. Since #IDARB tried so hard, it wins the ?Swinging for the Fences? Award.
The Game That Made Me Hate My Friends Award
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

Don?t let its bright neon colors and cutesy graphics fool you, because Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is winner of the ?Game that Made Me Hate My Friends? Award. A game that sees you blasting your way through the cosmos in a ship that runs on love, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime can be played via couch co-op or with an AI companion. Both are great options, but the robotic perfection of the AI can make the meatbag that joins you (Spencer) when you attempt couch co-op seem like a worthless frustration machine. I highly recommend hugging it out after each gaming session.

The “Best Kept Casual” Award
Destiny: The Taken King
Original Destiny and I broke up a few months after we started hanging out. Almost a year later, I started seeing pictures of it on Facebook. It was prepping for The Taken King, and it was looking good. I started remembering its tight controls, the way we used to sit and wait for Public Events in the sunset. Nostalgically, the grind didn?t seem so bad. I started playing again. Now?I?m not going to lie?the first few nights I barely slept. But it told its friends that I would buy it whatever it told me to, and it wouldn?t let me hang out with my friends who hadn?t continued along to The Taken King. It started making promises just like it did the first time around, promises it never delivered on. So Destiny, you win the ?Game Best Kept Casual Award? Award.

EGMNOW’s Best of 2015 Awards Schedule

Read More


About Matt Buchholtz

view all posts

Matt learned how to play video games from his grandma, who bravely adventured with him through the “terrifying” halls of Shadowgate. He plays a lot of Dungeons & Dragons on a podcast with comedians. Find him on Twitter @mattisgrounded