Here it is, the final award! If you need a refresher on the previous winners this year, make sure to click here.
Well folks, we’ve reached the end of 2015. So before we jump into the new year and experience games like The Division, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and the many other exciting titles, lets have one last look back at the year and some of the standout titles from 2015.
While the future continues to look bright for the gaming industry, fans of games were also given a huge amount of excellent content to play this year. The games below represent titles that had the biggest impact on me, either from it being something I couldn’t wait to get my hands on, or coming out of left field to provide a haymaker. Make no mistake, all the games I’ve listed below are fantastic and picking one to stand out from the rest was an absolute nightmare. So without further delay, here is are my absolute favorite games from this past year.
and the nominees are…
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
As I mentioned previously, the Witcher series has never been one that has stuck with me. The Witcher 3 thankfully broke that curse and introduced me to an immersive and content heavy world making it a game that I couldn’t easily put down. CD Projekt RED has managed to craft an experience which will grab you and never let you go. I can’t even tell you how much time I’ve put into this one, and I still feel like I have a metric butt ton of content left to explore with it. As new expansion content is continuing to release, who knows if I’ll ever really reach the “end” of this game.
Super Mario Maker
I feel like we’ve all wondered what it would be like to create our own Mario levels at some point in our gaming career and thankfully for us, Nintendo finally gave us the tools we needed. Not only does Nintendo allow WiiU owners to create legitimate levels from games like Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros, but they even let us break the rules by seeing what would happen if we placed a super sized piranha plant on top of Bowser’s head or attached a chain chomp to a moving rail. Almost anything is possible in Super Mario Maker and with access to a community of talented level makers, this is a game that is not only fun but it’s one that promises to have a long life.
Tales from the Borderlands
Again, I know that Episode 1 launched late in 2014, but to me, the series really picked up steam and became my favorite Telltale Game once episodes 2 through 5 launched. It seemed each episode was stronger than the last, able to mix great humor with compelling game play that really managed to capture the spirit of the Borderlands franchise. The interesting thing to me is that Borderlands is a loot based first person shooter, so how Telltale was able to take that and put it in a choice driven adventure style experience was amazing. This is a series you should absolutely check out, regardless if you’re someone who enjoys their other work with The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. It’s just that good.
This one is the big behemoth on the list and for good reason considering it’s a Bethesda game. I don’t think anyone doubted the fact that Fallout 4 would capture the hearts and minds of the gaming industry when it was announced earlier this year at E3. I jumped into the series at Fallout 3 so this was a game I was already highly anticipating and when I heard that Boston, Massachusetts was the location for this new entry, that was the cherry on top. Fallout 4 manages to retain a lot of what made the series great and even managed to throw in new stuff like town building and the ability to customize power armor. It has more content than you can shake a stick at, great characters, and finally compelling combat making this Fallout arguably the best yet.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
I’ve been a massive fan of this franchise since day one. I’ve been there for each release over the years, and I’ll sadly admit that I was starting to slip off of the hype train. After a series of mediocre releases and a horrendous launch last year with Unity, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to dive into another game this year. With Ubisoft Quebec now at the helm and with positive buzz moving throughout social media, I gave Assassin’s Creed Syndicate a shot, and boy, am I glad I did. Syndicate manages to do away with much of what was holding the series back and instead gave players access to great tools like the rope launcher, a fun progression system, and two compelling lead characters that almost rival the untouchable Ezio Auditore. To me, Syndicate is a return to greatness for the franchise.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
As I mentioned in a previous award, I’m not a Metal Gear player so the fact that I was excited about The Phantom Pain was noteworthy in and of itself. I may not have had a good handle on Metal Gear lore, but The Phantom Pain immediately drew me in with its wide open sandbox areas, giving me the freedom to come at missions the way I wanted. I was also drawn to the Fulton system which essentially let me steal things and not only add them to my base of operations, but upgrade different platforms allowing me to research more cool gear and tech. The Phantom Pain surprised me and gave me an incredibly entertaining sandbox experience unlike any other this year.
Ori and the Blind Forest
By default, Ori and the Blind Forest is liable to melt your eyes with it’s amazing colors and visual design. Graphics and visuals aside, Ori brings solid controls and compelling game play to the table as well, letting players roam around a large map that is inspired by games like Metroid and Castlevania. If you’re someone who needs to search entire maps for hidden collectibles, power ups, and upgrades, then Ori has got you covered with a ton of stuff to find. If you’re looking for a package that includes fantastic visuals, an emotionally driven story, and tight game play, Ori is your game.
Truth be told, Splatoon is really the game that pushed me over the edge and got me to buy a WiiU. Not Mario Kart 8, not Super Mario 3D World, not Super Smash Bros. While all those games are fantastic and ones that I’ve ended up buying as well, I was drawn in by it’s unique spin on the typical multiplayer shooter formula. Instead of relying on kills and streaks, Splatoon adds a simple but important twist, tasking both teams with covering the map with ink. The teams color that occupies the most space at the end of the match ultimately wins. New modes have since been added but essentially, these rules ensure that matches are always frenetic and exciting right down to the very end. Couple all that with Nintendo’s unheard of DLC plan by providing constant and free updates since the game launched, Splatoon is proving to be a game that provides endless fun for its players.
and the winner is…
Winner: The Witcher 3
I’ve already spoken at length about why The Witcher 3 is so great from a game play point of view. What I feel isn’t given enough credit is how CD Projekt RED operates as a whole. TO me, they’re a company that really respects their audience, as evidenced by their anti-DRM stance and also giving out a ton of free DLC after the game released. The way representatives communicate with their audience is downright refreshing and it’s clear the company is absolutely concerned with how the players view them. They’re a company that puts time and care into what they make, and that passion is clearly seen in what The Witcher 3 brings to the table. While every game on the list above deserves a spot, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was a complete package for me this year, one that surprised me and kept me entertained for a very long time.