Lists are dumb. Whether it’s “Top 5 games of the year” or “Top 5 E. Coli food providers of the year”, lists are just a way to let people know that you’re aware of several culturally relevant things that occurred that year. In fact, lists are a good way to enrage a readership by definitively assigning a number , or ranking, to an entry amongst the rest. Lists are frequently used to validate peoples opinions about their entry either being the best or complain that a particular entry isn’t being done the justice it deserves. Lists should be a way for a cultivator to say, “Hey! All the contents of this list are enjoyable in their own ways and should be experienced by everyone!” instead of them largely being used as the fuel for the war that is sure to ensue in the comment section by their readers.
So, to reiterate, lists are dumb. They create senseless friction and points of contention between people. Not my list, per say. My list doesn’t matter, but then again, lists in general don’t matter. So, below are my favorite games of 2015 in no particular order.
Some publications crudely dubbed Fallout 4 as Fallout 3.5, and while that’s a cute attention grabbing headline, implying that the game is more of an expansion than a full fledge sequel isn’t doing it justice. Is Fallout 4’s gameplay similar to it’s last generation predecessors? Yes, almost identically so. Does this mean that the game is without merit? Absolutely not. Personally, I couldn’t have asked for a better addition to the series, as it addressed many of the faults I had with it’s predecessor, Fallout: New Vegas.
First and foremost, the opening moments were more memorable and immersive for the player, grounding the player in the shoes of the protagonist. Bethesda has also made the Commonwealth feel more personable and vibrant, through character interactions. NPC’s will comment on your appearance, or commend you on completing specific quest accomplishments, such as wiping out a raider camp or definitive decisions you made regarding story quests. Small touches like this empowers the player, as it actually feels like you’re made a difference in the Commonwealth, masking the many fetch quests feel as having more of an impact on the world.
Companion character interactions have also been improved upon, giving them fully fleshed out backstories, bits and pieces of which are revealed to the player based on whether they perform actions that agree with their morality. This gives life to otherwise typically one dimensional companions, adding another layer of life to the bleak wasteland of The Commonwealth.
With any open world Bethesda game, I experienced numerous instances of the frame rate dipping and other bugs, that dampened my overall experience. But, damn, If bethesda hasn’t perfected sinking it’s hooks into me. Whether tackling the main story right off the bat, or wandering the waste land, discovering landmarks and settlements on your own, Bethesda provides a rewarding experience no matter which path players chose to pursue. The addition of a new crafting system, allows player to fine tune their play experience by customizing their armor and weapons to fit their play style. The ability to discover settlements, and build upon them, whether that be resources, defenses or other structures, adds a meta game aspect to Fallout that provides opportunities for the player to become more invested in the NPC’s they meet.
Despite Fallout 4’s main story losing steam about halfway through and the game having numerous Bethesda bugs, the immersive nature of the Commonwealth, a plethora of side quests, and the freedom to approach the Wasteland in anyway the player chooses still made for one of my most enjoyable gaming experiences of the year.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
After a less than stellar last generation Wolfenstein sequel, Machine Games has returned the Wolfenstein franchise to it’s former glory with last years, and my favorite game of 2014, Wolfenstein: The New Order. A year later, Machine Games released Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a standalone title that features two distinctly different mini campaigns occurring before the events of The New Order. Both campigns feature different antagonists and environments, and while they do a good job of differentiating themselves from each other, the overall experience feels more like The New Order directors cut content rather than a fully original experience. With the exception of a few new weapons and enemies (mostly re-skinned enemies from The New Order), it’s essentially more of the same, though this didn’t bother me as it still retained the same refined and fast paced gameplay and humorous charm that made it’s predecessor so memorable.
The New Blood might disappoint those looking for an experience as refreshingly different as The New Order, but for it’s budget price point of $20, there’s an enjoyable 8-10 hours of entertainment to be had.
Killing Floor 2 (Early Access)
Killing Floor 2 is currently in Early Access , and may be missing game modes or other features that will be added upon it’s official release.
The original Killing Floor was an unparalleled zombie shooter experience that paired class based team work with frantic wave based encounters. While it lacked a variety of game modes, the core gameplay was what separated it from the over saturated zombie shooter genre. Six years later, developer Tripwire Interactive has released a sequel that improves upon the original in almost every regard. Almost. Killing Floor received an exceptional (mostly) cosmetic tweaks for it’s sequel, in the form of an impressive graphical overhaul, new weapons, and maps. For better or worse, little has changed from a gameplay standpoint, and this will largely factor into whether Killing Floor 2 is appealing to consumers. If you’ve played the original Killing Floor and were looking for something drastically different, in it’s current state, Killing Floor 2 won’t be for you. It would be nice to have new gameplay options offered from the jump , but the cosmetic overhauls are welcome additions paired with the same fantastic shooter mechanics, providing an enjoyably, bloody time for both Killing Floor veterans and newcomers.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
The Phantom Pain is a terrible Metal Gear Solid game. While it alludes to many elements of the Metal Gear Solid mythos, such as the inclusion of notable Metal Gear Solid characters and countless nods to previous events transpiring before The Phantom Pain, it’s missing a lot of what makes the Metal Gear Solid games so memorable. The Phantom Pains story and newly introduced antagonist characters aren’t interesting or intriguing, and lack any of the charm that are memorable staples of the Metal Gear Solid series. Also, the change from the traditional linearity of Metal Gear Solid, in favor of an open world one, eliminates the possibility of grandiose set piece moments that the series is known for.
While the change to open world may hinder The Phantom Pain’s ability t to tell its story, it allows the gameplay to flourish and bring players one of the best open world, stealth action games ever made. The gameplay more than makes up for it by pairing flexible open world gameplay & base development meta-game seamlessly. The amount of freedom in which players are given to approach enemy outposts, small and large, is second to none; Scanning a base from a safe distance, tagging soldiers location, and developing or air dropping a weapon or equipment to tackle specific enemy encounters is stupidly satisfying.
Equally, if not more, satisfying is requisitioning unconscious enemy combatants, material crates and vehicles with the Fulton – a balloon that when attached sends the enemy or item shooting into the sky- it’s destination being your off screen base of operations. This allows you to collect material for developing new equipment, and soldiers to man different departments of your base, such as R&D, espionage, security, ect. Gathering resources to develop specific weapons and equipment becomes a game in its self, as it gives purpose to somewhat repetitive side missions, that amount to opportunities to requisition more skilled soldiers or greater quantities of materials.
In addition to the lengthy single player, there’s also a competitive multiplayer component , and while I wasn’t a fan of it, it could provide players with several more hours of entertainment, on top of the 50+ they’ll be spending with the single player portion. It’s story may leave a lot to be desired, but that doesn’t stop Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, from being one hell of a fun game to play.
2015 Completed Back Catalogue
- Super Meat Boy
Thee most competent, rage inducing, aesthetically appealing platformer of the last generation. Play for 20 minutes or play for 2 hours, either will result in a stressfully fun time.
- Mass Effect Trilogy
Some of the most engrossing role playing games I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. A grandiose sci-fi universe dripping with unique characters and galaxies awaiting exploration. While the overall ending to Mass Effect 3 is a point of contention for some, overall, the relationships built and the journey you embark upon with companion characters throughout the three games is a rewarding experience in of itself. Some of the best writing and RPG mechanics in video games.
- Destiny: The Taken King Legendary Edition
I don’t get the hype. I try to approach all games with an open mind, but Destiny is still one I’m trying to figure out. The shooting mechanics are solid, but it never got its hooks into me. I found a majority of the missions to be tedious, environments uninspiring, and enemies to be repetitive bullet sponges requiring little strategy to defeat them.
I should preface that I came into Destiny fairly spoiled, as my initial Destiny experience included all of the DLC and patches from the jump, which many have noted as being the optimal Destiny experience. My initial play through of vanilla Destiny was an underwhelming experience , that suddenly ended and left me wanting more. The initial campaign was filled with tedious missions that required me to revisit locations a nauseating amount of times, so much so that I was quickly fatigued by the lack of variation offered. I found raiding with a group to be the optimal Destiny experience, but finding a competent group proved troublesome, and I found the hours I was dedicating were resulting in lack luster loot drops, making me feel severely under rewarded for my time.
With vanilla Destiny behind me it was time to move onto The Taken King. Fortunately, Bungie listened to the Destiny communities complaints and included these changes into The Taken King. More developed, and genuinely funny, non-player characters, more varied missions objectives and environments, which made for a more enjoyable and memorable experience.
I’m at somewhat of an impasse with Destiny: The Taken King Legendary Edition, as it has it’s moments, and playing with a group of friends is the optimal way to play, but those moments felt rare when compared to the number of hours I was logging. I would recommend Destiny: The Taken King Legendary edition to someone looking for a shooter to play with a group of friends, otherwise you’ll find that a lack of communication or competent party members will heavily downtrodden your overall experience.