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2015 has been some year for video games. The current console generation is starting to live up to it’s promises that started a couple years ago and what seemed the impossible became possible for the future with announcements people waited years or even decades. This year’s holiday rush in particular was the most I played games in a long time, but some did stand out for me as my favorites. So let’s get started with my top ten games of the year.
10) Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition
While remasters have been one of the worst gaming trends the past couple of years, it did die down a bit this year. The majority of them haven’t been worth replaying, but one I was anticipating the most was Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition. Sure, the game is mostly the same as it was in 2008, but the new playable characters made this an instant purchase for fans of the series. Vergil, Lady and Trish add new layers and fun to already one of the better DMCs (DMC3 still the best) along with the new Legendary Dark Knight mode making the game look like Dynasty Warriors because of the amount of enemies on screen. Capcom has been heavy on remasters this console generation and continue to do so next year, but hopefully the real Devil May Cry 5 is being worked on somehow.
9) Halo 5: Guardians
Despite my issues with the storyline, I had a fun time with Halo 5: Guardians’s combat being my “serious” shooter compared to Star Wars Battlefront and others. The modernized gameplay was a worthwhile addition for the series to stand up to the current shooter market. Aiming down sights felt fine for a Halo game and the multiplayer consistently gets updated with more maps, armor and finally Forge mode. Many were concerned that 343 Industries couldn’t rebound from the Master Chief Collection debacle with this anticipated sequel and fortunately they did with a smooth launch. Halo 5 is definitely gonna be on my regular rotation for next year because of the free updates and the e-sports scene, but hopefully 343 ends the current story arc on a high note whenever Halo 6 is out.
8) Mortal Kombat X
After rebooting the series on the right foot back in 2011, Mortal Kombat X has a lot to live up to and despite NetherRealm not delivering on the netcode again, it still satisfied casual fans & tournament-level players. The story mode remains unrivaled compared to the rest of the genre because of the effort put into them. Fighting mechanics are also deep with the variation system characters have even though only one or two of them stand out in tournaments than all three. I also still play this every week because of the weekly towers for more unlockables (the Christmas one this week especially is fun). The fact Jason Vorhees and Predator are downloadable fighters make for some cool dream matchups that aren’t possible in other fighting games. We’ll see if Kombat Pack 2 next year brings back those that stopped playing early on and keeps the competitive scene going.
7) Tekken 7 (ARC)
Okay, an arcade release on my top ten where it’s not technically out at US arcades sounds like an asterisk, but I played enough Tekken 7 at various venues to the point it’s on my top ten of 2015. The newest Tekken goes back to basics with the 1v1 gameplay and not the complicated 2v2 format Tag 2 had. The new screw combo system doesn’t replace bounds entirely because those are still in it, but seeing the slight change in combos has been worthwhile. Power Crushes and Rage Arts are also worthy additions in certain situations especially Rage Arts being Tekken’s version of super moves.
However, the best feature in Tekken 7 is the slowmo effects especially at the end of rounds when both players are low on health and trying to figure out which move beats the other like the gif above. It is the hypest thing in fighting games right now personally and especially more spectator-friendly for casual fans. The recent announcement of the Fated Retribution update for arcades got fighting game fans excited, specifically Akuma’s inclusion to the foray for non-Tekken players finally giving the series a shot when the console versions come out hopefully next year.
6) Rocket League
There’s always a summer drought for game releases, but one game was the hit of the season and it was Psyonix’s Rocket League. It was arguably the breakout hit of the year because it made soccer more accessible than the FIFA games ever did. Plus, playing soccer with cars is a way better idea in general. The depth is there especially for the ability to make fancier shots at the goal mastering the controls. In addition, consistent updates like the recent Winter/hockey one have been worth the wait. Stream numbers have been high since it’s release because of the e-sports crowd and more is still to come for the game in 2016 such as the Xbox One version.
5) Rise of the Tomb Raider
It’s a shame Rise of the Tomb Raider didn’t sell that well because it’s really one of the best games of 2015. Sure, the Xbox timed exclusivity was likely the main reason and releasing it around the same day as Fallout 4, but it doesn’t shy away from how beautiful it plays and looks. Crystal Dynamics did listen to the fans by making Lara more of a real character compared to her past days, adding more tombs to solve and taking out multiplayer even though the mircotransaction-driven Expeditions mode is not a suitable replacement. The story hit the right notes and it was a straight up polished game, a relief because of all the rushed releases with bugs/glitches in recent years.
I’m excited to see what the season pass offers because from what I seen and read so far, it’s gonna be good stuff unlike other big single player games with season passes (hello Batman: Arkham Knight). As someone who missed out on the reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider is my biggest surprise of the year especially I wasn’t all hyped for it till I actually started playing.
So this is what happens when Nintendo actually spends time making an original IP. Nintendo’s attempt of a shooter makes the most Nintendo sense with Splatoon. It’s their best attempt of an original IP since Pikmin’s debut on the GameCube. Using ink to claim turf than just going for kills (splats in their terms) turned out to be a genius idea because of the tactics teams could use and messing with all the customizable elements. The Inklings have become popular as Nintendo’s classic stable of characters and the they have a certain hook to them with their numerous outfits just like trying to catch all the Pokemon. Perhaps the Inklings were a response to the increasingly popular cosplaying scene and Nintendo’s approach to this happened at the perfect time.
Sure, it was light on content at it’s launch, but Nintendo answered the call with continuous free updates with new and interesting modes, more maps, weapons and outfits. It had arguably the best post-release support for a game this year. The campaign had surprisingly clever level design with the ink mechanics and the closer multiplayer matches provided some of the most intense moments I ever had in a game in 2015. Nintendo hit another home run with Splatoon and I’m looking forward to what they could do next with this new franchise.
3) Ori and the Blind Forest
In recent years I’ve been buying less indie games compared to the last console generation, but there was something special with Ori and the Blind Forest. A gorgeous-looking platformer with a minimalist yet emotional story that almost made me tear up at the end, Ori is an adorable character to play as even through the challenging sections. It felt challenging but not frustrating, which is essential for a game like this. The Metroidvania aspect to the gameplay was icing on the cake along with the later abilities you get in the journey. The Ginso Tree escape is my favorite playable sequence of 2015 and it was breathtaking to play through while trying to survive with all the intense platforming.
I also love how this game caters to speedrunners with the abilities Ori has, difficult tricks to perform and routing the collectables. Casually, this game can beaten in several hours, but seeing 30 minute speed runs of this game still blow me away. The extended version of this game is out in Spring 2016 and I can’t wait to replay this game again with the new additions. 2015 was another amazing time for indie games with the amount of attention Undertale got, but Ori and the Blind Forest also stands out as one of the best games out this year.
2) The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
This is the game I spent the most time with in 2015 and why I didn’t play Fallout 4 yet. I couldn’t handle another 100-hour+ action RPG as superb as The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. As my first foray into the series like many, CD Projekt Red did a great job easing newcomers into Geralt’s world not needing any information about the events of the previous two games. The amount of detail put into the beautiful open world is the best I even in a RPG. The vistas are amazing to look at since it’s one of the better looking games of the year. The combat can be both accessible and deep either by wailing away at enemies head on or being prepared and methodical mixing up signs and oils.
The characters are the shining stars of The Witcher III and the difficult choices you have to make in the bigger moments of the main story. They’re also great character studies in general once you’re attached to them because they’re all lovable in certain ways, especially the Bloody Baron quest line. I never felt that much character attachment to Geralt, Ciri, Yennefer, Triss & others since the Mass Effect trilogy.The amount of side activities you can do from completing witcher contracts, playing gwent or just exploring the huge world is impressive and they’re all fun in their own ways. Even the DLC expansions can be their own games, specifically the upcoming Blood & Wine storyline that is out soon. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt is an instant classic and that’s rare to say for this current console generation right now.
1) Super Mario Maker
Oh hey, a Wii U game is my game of the year for a second year in a row. Super Mario Maker is filled with endless replay value from making courses and playing through levels of varying difficulties, usually insane ones that seem impossible or wanting to troll you. I can literally play this for years or even decades from now, assuming the servers will be up that long, because there’s new levels I can play every day with the random 100-man mode, searching on the new bookmark site that went up earlier this week and coming up with new courses of my own. There are days I can’t stop thinking about Super Mario Maker, especially with new ideas for levels I can make, and that’s something not many games offer today.
From the accessible level creator, your imagination being the limit making levels (well a limit on objects though) and seeing other Nintendo characters playable by the Mystery Mushroom feature, this game is simply ridiculous in a good way. It was definitely flawed at launch, but checkpoints were finally added in a recent update and more new toys to mess with like the fire clown car above. There’s still some missing elements like slopes and the SMB3 sun and that might come in at a later time, but what’s there to use now is still enough to appease Mario fans that dreamed of making levels “legitimately” since they were kids like me. Super Mario Maker once again proves that when Nintendo is at the top of their game, they’re pretty good. It’s definitely a game that can be arguably claimed as a “game of the generation.”