Reflecting on the year that was 2015 in gaming, here is my finalized top-10 list, updating my post from September. As mentioned previously, the only games that were considered for this top-10 list were those that I have played myself.
10. Star Wars: Battlefront
DICE and EA revived the popular franchise with the series’ first release in two console generations. The game has great elements such as its sound design and inclusion of favorite heroes and villains from the classic films, however it ranks last of this list due to its shallow gameplay. That gameplay is a strength and a weakness, however, depending upon how you choose to look at it. Clearly a decision was made to make this title approachable and arcade-like for mass appeal, something that seems to have paid dividends, based on sales reports.
9. Halo 5: Guardians
343 Studios brought back Halo multiplayer, plain and simple. Halo 5 has what is widely regarded as at worst, the series’ best multiplayer since Halo 2, back in 2004. The campaign mode tried some team elements that were hit or miss; with Spartan Locke being a forgettable second lead playable character who I would hope to see less of in Halo 6. The new War Zone mode is also a notable addition to the multiplayer suite that warrants some playtime.
8. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
Treyarch’s third carnation of their series-leading Black Ops title was another hit. This game is certainly worth the price of admission with a stellar campaign, multiplayer and the return of the fan-favorite zombies mode. An interesting and somewhat random addition was Free Run mode, which takes advantage of some of the new boost jump and wall run techniques, featured in this game to serve as a challenging tutorial-like experience. One downside to this year’s COD was the fact that it shipped with only one zombie map in the standard edition.
7. Rocket League
One of the most fun multiplayer games you will ever play. I have a background in sports, but for those who don’t this game will provide a entertaining introduction to them for you. It is hard to believe this game was provided free with a Playstation Plus subscription, when I would have been happy to pay for it. Here is hoping that they continue to support and add on to this game in the future. One of the upper-hands this game has on traditional sports games is their fan bases get more and more fragmented across each year’s release, while Rocket League fans at least for the near future will just have this one game to dedicate time into. This should keep servers busy and online matches easy to find for years to come.
6. Batman: Arkham Knight
Rocksteady’s apparent finale to theirArkahm series was easily my most-anticipated game of 2015. Its story and combat did not disappoint those who have been along for the ride since 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum. However, their controversial use of the batmobile prevents this game from reaching the high point to which it could have ascended. While the batmobile can be very fun to cruise through Gotham City in, the game’s requirement for you to utilize it time and time again to complete the main story can be frustrating.
5. Life is Strange
Though the game has not yet concluded with Episode 5, the first four episodes of Dontnod’sLife is Strange have hit home with me. The games brings the nostalgia of being back in high school while also touching on very unfamiliar territory through mechanics I have never seen in games before. Some may criticize the dialogue and voice acting choices made, but those who enjoy the game may come to accept it as part of its charm. Based on the placement I have given it here, you can probably guess which side of the issue I fall on.
4. Until Dawn
Supermassive Games has something so different and fun here that I could not put it any lower on this list. As someone who has been intrigued by horror movies most of my life, the 80’s horror movie feel this brings with it gave me a chance to be a part of a genre I have enjoyed for so long. Borrowing elements from Quantic Dream games such asHeavy Rain fits this game incredibly well and has me looking forward to a second unique playthrough in the future. I will keep my fingers crossed that this universe is revisited sooner than later by Supermassive.
3.Rise of the Tomb Raider
Crystal Dynamics had something special with their 2013 reboot ofTomb Raider. However, they hit a new high with Lara Croft’s return in Rise of the Tomb Raider. The game held onto much of the gameplay and features of its predecessor while bringing a new, more interesting, setting to the table and some added pieces of content to give many reasons to return to the world and the hubs within. The game also has the series’ first season pass with more story content coming down the road.
2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Though this incarnation of Metal Gear Solid may be unrecognizable to those who have not played Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the minute-to-minute gameplay in MGSV is as addictive as any console game in memory. As someone who has not played many RPGs, dumping 70+ hours (so far) into a single-player experience is something new to me. It is hard not to appreciate the kind of monetary value that brings with it compared to some other $60 experiences that may only give you 10 or less hours of playtime. The Xbox One digital version I played was not without some slowdown issues and glitches, but it was never enough to knock it from the number one spot on this list.
1. Fallout 4
Full disclosure, this is the first proper-RPG that I have ever completed. I had playedFallout 3 previously, however the gunplay in Fallout 4 is so superior to that of 3, or Fallout: New Vegas, that every aspect of this game simply clicked. There is some bias to my feelings on this game, being born in Massachusetts, however it seems like there is quite a bit of happiness coming from many others visiting the Commonwealth’s wasteland. This game will be pointed at for some quirkiness and bugs that can come with Bethesda Game Studios’ titles, however I had no issues whatsoever in my nearly 130 hour playthrough. The season pass will see a price hike due to BGS creating more DLC than previously planned. Count me as excited to hear that and now knowing I will not be putting this game away anytime soon in 2016.