2014 was a pretty lousy year for video games, with quality titles being scarce, and the rest of the releases being at best, uninteresting, and at worst, unplayable. Happily for all of us, 2015 came to the rescue with a release catalogue that has been referred to as the best in many years by people with many more followers and much more experience in the industry than I.
Now that it has come to the end of the year, many of those same people have taken it upon themselves to create lists of video games from the mass of releases, and place them in an arbitrary order. If they can, then so can I! This is the list of my top ten games of 2015
10 : Heroes of the Storm
In a world being overwhelmed by hordes of MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) games, it takes something special to be different, and while many newcomers try to appeal to the hardcore side of the audience by adding more complexities, Blizard decided to go a different way. Heroes of the storm tries it’s best to stand out by being a much more chaotic experience. Getting rid of items and shops and adding map gimmicks and mini objectives for teams to go for, such as fighting over control points on a map to supercharge a hero or collect coins for a pirate captain so that he will fire his cannons on your opponents. HoTS manages to be a MOBA that anyone can pick up and play and most importantly be able to understand quite quickly without making it too simplistic.
9 : Warhammer – The End Times – Vermintide
Imagine a four player co-op game in the vein of Left 4 dead, and set it in the end times era of the warhammer fantasy setting. Everything that Left 4 Dead did well, Vermintide did better. Each of the five selectable characters is unique and plays very differently, from the sturdy tank-like warrior to the nimble fast firing rogue and even the magic hurling spellcaster, each one is unique as well as having multiple weapon sets that change up how they play even more. Combine that with a loot drop system and you have a very customizable experience where most players are bound to find a combination of class and equipment that will play exactly the way they want to.
8 : Cities Skylines
For anyone let down by the last Sim City game and looking for a deep city management sim, Paradox has got you covered. The number of tools available to you in this game are astounding, and there is very little you cannot tweak if you are willing to get in deep with the mechanics. Districts of your city can be marked out to have their own unique edicts and taxes, public transportation and supply routes can be played with to the most minute detail, and the game has been so heavily modded that if there’s something that you can’t do, change, or build in the base game, there’s more than likely a mod out there for it to give you the ability to do just what you think the game is lacking.
7 : Tales from the Borderlands
When I first heard that Telltale was making an adventure game out of the Borderlands franchise, I was very sceptical. Borderlands is a series all about it’s gameplay and enormous amount of guns. The storyline is there but it’s never pushed too hard, only ever seeming to matter to give you a reason to go and shoot things, and give characters like Tiny Tina a reason to exist. This game blew me away as the storyline was not only good, it was engrossing, and I found myself caring about the characters like I never had before in a borderlands game. The main series of Borderlands may give you a fun world to shoot things in, but Tales from the Borderlands takes that world and makes it feel alive. Plus it contains an entire finger gun fight QTE, which means it automatically gets a place in the top 10.
6 : Kerbal Space Program
This game is a perfect toy box for anyone who has ever dreamed of building a rocket and sending it flying into outer space. You start with an empty hangar and access to all the pieces you could want. It’s then your job to put those pieces together to create a rocket ship that you can take to the moon and beyond … Or, which is more likely, a ship that will explode on the launch pad before it even gets a chance to go anywhere. It’s a game about trial and error. Every explosion is a lesson learned, and after many many failed attempts, you will finally find that one build that works and finally get to the moon, you will feel such a mass of triumph. This game is for everyone who likes to experiment and put things together to see what works, and there’s even a career mode for people who want to take it further.
5 : Splatoon
Shooter games nowadays all seem to be cut from the same cloth. Shoot at people before they shoot at you, shoot at people to stop them getting the thing, a lot of shooting people. You may argue that this is what the shooter genre is about, but Splatoon dares to turn the genre on it’s head. Splatoon gives you control of a half kid/ half squid creature, armed with a large array of ink shooters, and tasks you not with shooting your opponents as much as covering the entire map with your teams ink colour. This twist allows a lot of different types of tools for you to use, from ink cannons and quil pens to paint brushes and paint rollers. Splatoon is a unique take on an old genre that still manages to innovate.
4 : The Witcher 3
I have to admit I was late to the party with this one, but I’m so very glad I did. There is a massive world to explore with a lot of side quests to discover, secrets to find, towns to liberate from monsters, and even more. None of this is unique to the Witcher 3, and yet it manages to bring them all together into an amazing package that seems to do everything brilliantly. The stories are believable and the characters are well fleshed out. There is even a playable card game with its own quest line. Put simply, if you like action RPGs, this game should definitely be on your radar.
3 : Fallout 4
While a step back in rpg mechanics from the predecessor, Fallout 4 still manages to be a breathtaking game. The gunplay has been improved dramatically from 3 and new Vegas, and the new crafting systems allow you to outfit your character with outfits and weapons tailor made to your exact specifications. This is also the first game in the series to drastically change power armour, changing it from a late game powerhouse into almost a vehicle that increases your speed, armour, and power, but which needs a resource to function, which once used up, then becomes slow and cumbersome, almost more of a hindrance than a help. Fallout 4 is definitely not a perfect game, but I find myself having a lot of fun with it.
2 : Bloodborne
I am a fan of the souls games, despite being terrible at them. I also am a great fan of the literary works of H.P. Lovecraft. Imagine my delight when I discover the team behind dark souls are working on a game that mixes the gameplay and storytelling of their past games with a dark Victorian aesthetic which borrows heavily from the Cthulhu mythos. Bloodborne also takes a step away from previous games in the series by removing emphasis on blocking, instead increasing the speed of combat and focusing more on motion, out manoeuvring your opponents and getting your hits in at just the right time. There are also a lot less weapons to choose from, with each varying drastically in how they are used, from the speed and grace of the blades of mercy, to the blunt power of the kirkhammer. The storyline is one of the best in series history as well, being spread around in item descriptions, in the environment, and very rarely, told to you. It takes a while to figure it all out but when you do manage to put it together it’s amazing. Definitely worth the difficulty.
1 : Life is Strange
This will probably be the most controversial placement on this list, but this game affected me more than any game ever has. It starts as a story of a girl who gains the power to rewind time, using rediculous dialogue that nobody in there right mind would ever use, but it quickly changes to become an epic adventure where every single choice you have to make has immense impact on the world around you and the people that inhabit it. This game covers some very deep subject matter, such as rape, drugs, and the death of a loved one, and it handles them in the most mature way I have ever seen a video game handle anything. Sadly, I can’t say much about the story without spoiling things, but know that if you enjoy games that focus on telling a story, and you’re okay with that story punching you squarely in the feels over and over again, then Life is Strange is one game you will not want to miss.