Wow, what a year for gamers 2015 was! Lots of great games. While far from the best year for me personally, I still enjoyed many awesome games. So enough of this, let's get right down to it. Now, unfortunately I'm not rich and can't play everything, even if I do get to play a lot, so I didn't get to play all the good stuff this year. All the same, this is my top 10 of 2015.
10: Tales From the Borderlands.
This one took me by complete surprise really. See, without going too deep into it...I've had a colorful relationship with Borderlands as a series. I recently went through this in great detail in my last blog entry if you're ever so curious. But suffice it to say I rather strongly dislike Randy Pitchford of Gearbox. But rather than continuing to hold my grudge against him and letting it ruin my fun, I decided to let it go. This game was the reason why. I took a gamble on it because I got it for under $4 on the first week of PSN's Holiday sale.
Glad I did. The writing is spot on, at times actually laugh out loud funny. And the game is just a pure joy to experience. I was told this was one of Telltale's best games to date, and I'd have to agree with those sentiments actually. As a big fan of both The Wolf Among Us and Walking Dead Telltale games I wasn't sure if it would live up to that claim...but it did. As petty as it honestly is, any game that could make me get over my petty ban on Gearbox's games was worth making my top 10. The game is great though, well written, fun, funny and thoroughly enjoyable.
9: Heroes of the Storm.
Let it be known, I'm a huge fan of Blizzard and their games. They just really do it for me, can't even completely explain why. I also really enjoy MOBA games too from a long-time fondness of League of Legends. And this one delivers, even if I honestly do still prefer LoL as a whole.
The game is still in a fairly infantile state, but it's already in great shape. The hero variety is great, offering plenty of unique play styles and fun "gimmicks". The daily quest system the game offers if a great idea and works well to help you build up gold to buy things with. The idea of having multiple maps, each with different objectives is also a good one. Overall it's just a solid MOBA that's on its way to becoming something truly great if it continue down the path its taken so far. Besides if you're a Blizzard fan, what's not to like about playing as Thrall and fighting against or beside characters like Jim Raynor, Diablo and The Lost Vikings? Seriously, that's awesome just reading it, let alone playing it. It's kind of like what Super Smash Bros. is for Nintendo.
8: Dying Light.
This one was another that surprised me a bit. See, I never really got into Dead Island, so when this game was announced I assumed it'd just be a lot more of the same. Hell, it even looked liked EXACTLY that. I kinda put it off but when it released I remember reading reviews and watching people play it on Twitch and thinking I may have been wrong in that first impression. I decided to ride on that thought and went out to pick up the game and give it a go.
It was a good decision, and I had indeed been wrong about that first impression. One of my favorite times in realizing I was wrong about something in 2015. Thinking back on it I'm still struggling to pinpoint exactly what made this game so damn good when I found Dead Island so bland and "meh". Regardless though, that's what it is, damned good and damned fun too. The combat feels tight, responsive and extremely satisfying. The controls are spot on and the parkour is fluent and very well implemented. I found the story and most of the quests/missions engaging and fun as well. But what I think I really enjoyed was the eventual transition to night time. Where the game goes from a horror themed action/adventure game into a full blown horror game. The night portions were tense, exciting and just thrilling. Then you go back to running around the city and beating some zombie ass with those wicked weapons you've been building.
It's a fun transition and keep things from getting stale. I think this worked very well in the games favor. Whatever Techland did they did it well. The game is fantastic and I'm surprised it didn't make more GotY contender lists.
7: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
I know what you're probably thinking. Yeah, you expected this here somewhere but why is it so low on my list? Well, I'll address that first. The game is flat out unfinished. We all know why, the famous split between Kojima and Konami. The first half of the game is pretty amazing and then kind of...fizzles. And then there's the fact that honestly from a story or narrative perspective the game falls flat on its face in comparison to every other entry in the main series.
And then there's Metal Gear Online. Now I've been a big fan of the MGO series since the original on PS2 and was anticipating this portion of the game quite possibly more than the base game itself. God damn was I let down. The game feels like a leap backwards in every single regard from the other two entries except in the controls department. It feels watered down, simplified and just...shitty. One week with it was all it took my crush my hopes that it'd get better. One of the bigger disappointments of the year for me, actually.
But still the game is here...so obviously I didn't hate it or even dislike it. In fact I still quite enjoyed it. The open-world gameplay is utterly fantastic. Kojima went above and beyond here, sparing no details. Quite frankly this is probably the best open world gameplay I've ever played and that alone is why it has secured this spot on my list. More so than any other game in my long 26+ years of gaming history this game made me feel that the options in which I had to finish a mission or objective were truly in my hands. I felt as if I had more freedom to shape how I did things more than any game I've ever previously played. It's like a gigantic militia/stealth sandbox and it's absolutely fucking fantastic.
6: Until Dawn.
Until Dawn was an interesting game. It came as partly a surprise and partly expected. First and foremost I'm a HUGE horror fan, almost any form of media, if it involves horror I'm interested. And within horror I grew up on the cheesy 80's and 90's slashers, so of course I have a soft spot for them. Naturally, when Until Dawn was first revealed it peaked my interest quickly. It seemed like almost everything I could ask for in a game. But at the same time it also seemed like a game that would be VERY easy to fuck up. And a part of me kind of expected that to be the result. One of those too good to be true things, if you will.
Well I'm very happy to say it didn't. Obviously, since it's here. In fact it went beyond my original expectations. And it didn't end up playing out exactly how I assumed it probably would either. The game is fantastic, it takes itself just seriously enough to really work. Cheesy and hokey as is fitting of it's genre, but never too much to break the overall tension and ruin the experience. This is a very fine line, very easy to cross but Supermassive Games toed it perfectly. And man, first party or not, the production values here are top notch. Stellar graphics and top notch voice acting. It's got it all and it's a game that absolutely should be experienced by anyone who owns a PS4 and has even a mild interest in horror.
Absolutely worth this spot on my list, Until Dawn delivers. I can dream that some sort of sequel/prequel releases. A similar game set during an 80's slasher settings would be just near perfect. Hell, this game comes close itself. Do yourself a favor, check it out.
5: Fallout 4.
Fallout, good ol' Fallout. I could make you roll your eyes with one more "War Never Changes" quote, but I won't. Instead I'll say that while Fallout 4 really doesn't do too much of anything new it's still a fantastic game. There's a lot to love here, tons of quests, lots of content.
So yeah, it has slightly better graphics than the two previous games and it's a new setting, new story with new characters. But other than that the game doesn't really do much different from the standard "modern" Fallout games. But that's ok. I just wanted a solid new Fallout game and that's exactly what I got. Some things have been streamlined, some for the better, some not so much. Regardless it does what Fallout does well, suck you in and keep you engaged while you explore that terrible, but addictive post-apocalyptic wasteland. You know what, that's ok. While I love innovation as much as the next guy, it's not always needed and I feel this game is an example of why.
Truly a case of it's it ain't broke, don't fix it. But the thing is, plenty of things actually did get tightened up, innovative or not, plenty of quality of life changes came into effect. The overall experience has improved, and like I said above there's a lot of content to enjoy here, so get out there and do so if you haven't, it's worth it.
4: Shovel Knight (Physical Release).
Ok, I came late to this party, this year was my first time experiencing Shovel Knight. I'm slow, I get it. But better late than never. Despite all the praise for this game, I somehow managed to never play, despite actually having interest in doing so. But when the physical release came, I decided it was finally time. I'm big into physical copies, I much prefer them over digital releases. So while it may not be a new game to some of you, it was to me this year, so it's here.
Yeah...all the praise, all the love people have shown for this game is deserved, I'll start by saying that. This game shows what kickstarter is really capable of for video games. Yacht Club Games weren't just looking for a quick buck fueled by nostalgia here, and it shows. This is a labor of love and care. Shovel Knight is a full package of amazing. Catchy, fantastic chip tune midi tunes that will get stuck in your head. Charming 8-bit graphics that work exceptionally well for the game (And I say this as someone who's pretty damn tired of the 8-bit retro look) and platforming that is near absolute perfection. Tight controls round it out.
The difficulty is just about perfect, never really hitting truly frustrating but never letting you just casually walk through things either. In fact, everything about the game is damn near perfect, the game is astoundingly good. As such I had to take the physical release as an excuse to put this here on my list. It's deserving, even if it didn't actually truly release in 2015. It still counts! So much to love here.
3: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.
I know, I know. You're probably thinking "Jesus Christ, Call of Duty in the top three over MGS and Fallout!?" Well firstly, this is MY list, but secondly I feel it's quite justified. Black Ops 3 is the about face this series needed. The game is bucketloads of fun and absolutely jam packed with content.
In a time when the two biggest competitors (Star Wars Battlefront and Rainbow Six Siege) both came out feeling incomplete, rushed and scummy in demanding you buy the season pass to completely flesh out the game...eventually, BO3 does what those games doesn't. It comes out the gate filled to the brim with content. A 4 player co-op campaign, another campaign focused on the series zombies, a free running mode, the expected multiplayer mode, which in itself has over a dozen modes to play within and then the most fully fleshed out and deep zombies entry the series has seen yet, complete with it's own progression system finally.
Yeah, ok it DOES have a season pass. One that will add in more multiplayer maps and zombie maps. BUT even if you have no desire whatsoever to ever even consider buying that you're still getting more content from the base disc alone that almost any shooter in recent memory. And this isn't even yet taking into account all the unlocks you get in multiplayer. So much to do. And it's all damned fun and addicting to boot. Since it came out I've probably played this on average more than anything else in my library, even if just for a short burst or two a day. If you're into FPS games there's something to hook you here, I assure you.
If you've just pushed it aside and shrugged it off based on the series it comes from, thinking it's just the same shit from another year, I urge you rethink that and give it a try. The game is fantastic and will keep you busy for quite some time. Great fun with your friends to be had too. It's also one of the more balanced entries the series has ever seen, which is a good thing coming after two of the more unbalanced games in the series. Black Ops 3 delivers in spades so long as you're willing to give it a shot.
2: The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.
If not for the game that takes my number one spot here this would have been a surefire game of the year for me. The game is so fully realized and detailed that at times it's staggering. I'm already a big fan of this series anyway, to the point of having even read several of the novels the games are based from. Each entry in this series has gotten progressively better, a thing not extremely common in this industry, and Witcher 3 shows that while Witcher 2 was amazing it was just the tip of the iceberg for the series.
Witcher 3 is not just a stellar game, it's also a rare example of when a developer actually gives a shit about both it's product and YOU. CD Projekt Red decided to thank us for picking up their masterpiece by offering us several weeks worth of free DLC. Yeah, some of it was small stuff like a suit of armor or a skin, but some of it was much bigger stuff that most every other developer out there would have charged you for, like quests and later even a full blown new game plus mode. And then we got the first real paid DLC piece, Hearts of Stone. And while I own it, I'll admit I haven't played this yet, but from what nearly everyone says it delivers on most every front and maintains the quality of the main game.
Quite honestly there's not a lot here I could say that you probably haven't already heard or even experienced yourself. The game has claimed many Game of the Year awards already from all over the world, and it's absolutely deserving of them. There's so much to love here. So many things done right, with so little done wrong. It's a full package even without any of the DLC, free or not. This game truly is a masterpiece...and I actually almost feel bad putting it in second place...but then...
This happened. Bloodborne is a game that only comes around every so often for this industry. It's a game that I think almost everyone expected to be pretty good. Both based on it's first trailer and on the history of the Souls series and Miyazaki's work with From Software. But not only did it indeed turn out good, even amazing...but in my honest opinion, this is one of the absolute best games this decade.
Bloodborne took the best elements of the Demons/Dark Souls formula, already one of my absolute favorite series, and just not only hones them to perfect but then just raises the bar even more. More fast paced and aggressive than the other games in the series, but requiring just as much careful timing, planning and thinking as the previous entries. All of the games systems in place work perfectly, I won't even say near perfectly, because as far as I'm concerned...they're perfect. The combat is absolutely exhilarating, intense and visceral. The art direction compliments this all and is nearly second to none, it's dark, gothic tone that progressively gets dirtier and bloodier just never fails to impress and inspire awe in it's level of detail.
But the real icing on the cake over this masterpiece comes in the often untold story that's absolutely drenched in deep, cryptic Lovecraftian inspired lore. I've found myself scouring the internet for more details and theories on that lore/story, and still do to this day. It's just that damn good. Now, yeah, I'm a lore hound anyway, and yeah, I'm a HUGE fan of Lovecraftian/cosmic horror anyway, but damn, it's just so well thought out and done here. What seems like the smallest detail that may simply just be there for the sake of decoration usually has some deeper purpose to the game's world and lore. Never have I wished so much for a game to get some sort of novel or book written for it as with Bloodborne.
More recently we were graced with the first (And unfortunately as it seems, only) DLC piece for the game, The Old Hunters. Answering some of the questions the base game asked, and then of course in Souls fashion asking some more of it's own. Continuing the trend of making that tight, frantic combat the forefront and offering some of the steepest challenges the entire series has seen yet. Adding to an already near perfect game and just making it that much better. This is the type of game that will haunt you for years, and stay in your mind, urging you to continue further unraveling the mysteries it offers. Bloodborne is the type of game that really does only come around so often, so close to perfection, so enthralling and absorbing if you can embrace it's violent and extremely dark subject matter and harsh difficulty.
Bloodborne is the best game I played in 2015 and the best game I've played in quite some time in fact. And I just cannot get enough of it. In fact it's so damn good that it's the sole reason I wanted to make this entire list. I wanted to not only put it on a pedestal, but show the amazing competition it had last year and why I feel it was able to beat them all. Games like The Witcher 3 are masterclass and absolutely demanding of respect and acknowledgement. Still, Bloodborne is just special enough to have even topped that, at least as far as I'm concerned. If you're not playing this or haven't, you really should quit wasting time and get to it. You're missing out.
So there you have it. My top 10 of 2015. Unfortunately there are some games that may well have made this list that I just didn't get to play, such as Undertale and Super Mario Maker. But that's just how it goes. I just don't have the time and most especially the money to play everything. There are a few honorable mentions I'd like to highlight that almost made the cut but for one reason or another didn't quite make the list.
Destiny: The Taken King.
This large expansion marked a real turning point for Destiny. Offering a large chunk of good content and a load of serious quality of life changes. This combined with already addicting gameplay and tight gunplay made for a great game. Unfortunately it seems as if the game has fallen into the same problematic hole the original game fell into. A lack of content that leaves the player just scrambling to grind what is there with nothing new in sight. Haven taken to just relying on timed events that feature small microtransactions rather than larger paid DLC expansions. It was fun while it lasted.
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus.
Hooo-weee! Titties everywhere! Yeah, ok the game is perverted. It features an all female cast, most with huge tits and complete with the gals getting their clothes ripped off during combat. Sure, fine, whatever, but the game is also damned fun too. It's a great, silly little beat em up that's fast paced and actually has a decently deep set of gameplay mechanics. The game is just flat out a joy to play...and is filled with enough tits and ass to fit it on a latenight Cinemax block. It honestly would have made a spot on my list but there was only one problem...it didn't come out in 2015! For some reason I thought it had, despite picking it up at launch (October 2014), in fact I would have sworn it released in 2015...but it didn't. And as such...it couldn't make it.
And then there are a few games that a lot of people DID have of their lists this year, games I too played but didn't quite get into as much as others. Such as Splatoon and Rocket League. These two are good examples because while I enjoyed both that enjoyment turned to boredom for me fairly quickly. But whatever, so there it is. I had to write this twice, as the first time I was on the last paragraph and somehow accidentally deleted the entire body of text...I'm not even sure how it happened.
Either way, there it is! Overall a great year for gamers. Hope I didn't bore you to death!