As 2015 draws to a close, I’m going to fall in line with every other gaming-related website and give out my Game of the Year awards. I’ll only be talking about games that I’ve played, meaning there will be notable omissions for The Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid V. Let’s start the show!
Best Action/Adventure — Batman: Arkham Knight
Batman: Arkham Knight completely took over my life for a two week period this summer. I was looking forward to it for months and once I started it, I could not put it down. The well-known Batman: Arkham formula is on display with flowing combat and gadgets, including the biggest toy of all in the Batmobile. The story was great with twists and turns, not to mention exceptional voice acting. The true/100% ending sparked all sorts of discussion, helping Arkham Knight cement itself as a fitting end to Rocksteady’s Arkham universe.
Edit: I’m well aware of Arkham Knight’s … rocky life on PC. While it is pretty horrendous, it has not impacted my enjoyment of the game so I will more or less disregard it for the purposes of this list.
Best Open World — Fallout 4
After years of leaks and glimmers of hope, Fallout 4 is finally here. The huge world of the Commonwealth, formerly known as Boston, is packed with hundreds of hours of fun if you take the time to look around. Sure, it has the (unfortunately) textbook glitches and hiccups that come with Bethesda’s games, but the amount of different ways to play Fallout 4 is staggering. Want to build cities? Go for it. Want to be a pacifist? Why not. Conquer the land with a partner or with your trusty dog, but either way, you should play Fallout 4.
Most Absurd — Dying Light
This may be stretching the limits of a game of the year category, but I had to squeeze Dying Light onto this list so I could talk about it one more time. It was on my most anticipated list for 2015 and it did not disappoint. Techland gave us a fantastic blend of free running, zombie killing, and weapon crafting which makes Dying Light one of the better games to come out this year. Quite frankly, it’s the best free running game I’ve ever played. Once you get used to the controls, they make perfect sense.
Movement aside, killing zombies has never been more fun. Slapping knives, guns, and bats together with elemental modifiers and powerful abilities keeps the fun from ever stopping. A big DLC pack, The Following, is due out soon. I’ll be back in Harran when it drops.
Best Remake — Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
Remakes, reboots, and HD facelifts are commonplace in today’s gaming landscape and the best one I played this year was Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. Epic Game didn’t mess with the formula or add all sorts of challenges and weird, out of place modes. Gears of War: UE is more or less a straight port with updated graphics (yet still very brown), feeding the gory co-op craving you may or may not have (I do). I hope to use the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility to play Gears of War 2 and 3 soon.
Biggest Surprise — Rocket League
This one was a lock. I only played the beta for Rocket League for two days but I could not wait for it’s summer release. Releasing as a PS+ freebie definitely helped spread the news as Rocket League quickly became a phenomenon. The premise is pretty simple: it’s soccer with rocket-powered cars. It’s easy to pick up but incredibly difficult to master with hundreds of options to customize your car from paint and rims to rocket trails and hats. Psyonix has an absolute gem on their hands and continue to make it better with updates, free maps, and aesthetic-only DLC. This game is pure fun!
Biggest Disappointment — The Order: 1886
Another game I was looking forward to this year, The Order: 1886 was a divisive game. It was highly touted and advertised all over the place. Unfortunately, it was little more than a tech demo, ending after about six hours with no reason to play through a second time.
Now, I will say that I did enjoy the game. There is a good enough foundation laid and an interesting enough background, the Knights of the Round Table are alive in Victorian London dealing with a werewolf/beast epidemic, to warrant a sequel in my eyes. It is also the most beautiful console game I’ve ever seen, hands down. Now that the game can be had for $10-$20, I really hope more people will play and enjoy it than when it was a full $60. Still though, there is no denying that The Order: 1886 was a massive letdown.
Best DLC/Expansion — Destiny: The Taken King
It’s no secret that I like Destiny. When Bungie began feeding us information about the big transition into it’s second year with The Taken King, I was chomping at the bit. They did so many things right in TTK: a revamped light system, new subclasses, new PvP modes, a new explorable area, new strikes, a new raid, balances across the board, and much more. I’m normally not one to get DLC since I’m usually moving between games pretty quickly, but The Taken King is practically a new game and has firmly cemented me in the world of Destiny. Hopefully Destiny 2 will be on this list next year.
Best Free-to-Play — Hearthstone
I don’t play many F2P games and yes, I did say Hearthstone was my top F2P game last year, but I’m going to stick by it and continue touting it. Blizzard’s highly addictive card battling game is better than ever after it’s release on iOS and Android. It’s a perfect phone game with games lasting around 10 minute. There is a good balance of time spent to rewards gained, as you can get a new card pack every few days via daily quests. Additional modes like the three single player adventures are worth every penny, giving you access to new cards along with unique ways to play while mixing in Warcraft lore. The addition of a rotating weekly playlist, Tavern Brawl, is a ton of fun and gives you a reason to play besides arena glory and climbing the ranked ladder.
I actually fell off the Hearthstone bandwagon for a few months, but I’m back on (for the third time now). Regardless, I stand by it being the best F2P game out there.
Overall Game of the Year — Batman: Arkham Knight
My final four came down to Batman: Arkham Knight, Destiny: The Taken King, Fallout 4, and Rocket League. In the end, Batman reigned supreme. Arkham Knight is a great game with excellent visuals, wonderful voice acting, tight controls, a good story with a discussion-raising ending, and plenty of side-stories to keep you busy for hours. These are the reasons why Batman: Arkham Knight is my 2015 game of the year.