2015 has been a weird year for me and video games. In one way, it’s been defined by the fact there’s been a shortage of games that I’ve found really memorable, to the point where picking out ten for this list was tough work. In another, that might be because I spent almost the entire year playing The Witcher 3.
Normally, the stars of these lists are games that have taken me by surprise. Smaller titles, or niche affairs, games that I barely knew anything about before launch but which got their hooks into me to the point where they end up dominating my end-of-year recollections. Games like Crusader Kings II, or Endless Legend.
I didn’t come across a game like that in 2015. Instead, I came upon a very different kind of surprise.
The Witcher 3
Almost the perfect video game. Everything I want from an expansive singleplayer experience. I’m going to stop now, because if I don’t, this post will go forever. Suffice to say this is making a serious push towards being my favourite video game of all time.
Konami sucks and FIFA spends more on marketing than some countries spend on defence, so the odds on PES2016 succeeding would seemingly be slim. But hey, never tell me the odds. This was the first time in a long time that PES was the clearly superior football game, and I had a damn good time playing it.
Metal Gear Solid V
I’ve never been a Metal Gear fan, but that’s OK, because there’s never been a Metal Gear game like this. Its story and mission repetition would eventually lose me, but for a while there, building a base and attaching balloons to everything while blasting corny ’80s pop, this game was a blast.
All those years, all those average and terrible Transformers games, and Platinum finally shows the world how it’s done. A capable action game, this becomes an emotional experience with the OTT levels of fanservice present in almost every facet of the game, from the use of original voice actors to “authentic” menu screens.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
A very, very good Assassin’s Creed game. Maybe the best one yet. I can’t remember the last time so many of the series’ usually disparate elements — movement/combat systems, mission design and lead characters — all came together in the one title like they do here. Also: Evie Frye is just the best.
The world needed a big, modern and most importantly fun city-building game following the disaster that was SimCity, and in Cities: Skylines, that’s exactly what we got. While the management side of things isn’t as strong as its building, Skylines’ mod support has been wonderful, with fans adding everything from new buildings to the ability to build across an entire map.
It’s not a new Syndicate, but then, maybe that was for the best. Satellite Reign takes the fundamental premise of Bullfrog’s classic and makes it feel fresh, its open-world design and more tactical combat making this *gasp* in many ways an improvement on its inspiration.
Turns out that turn-based espionage was indeed as fun as it sounded on paper. A cool cast and some very cool moves showed that there’s a lot more flexibility to this genre than just shooting at aliens or hacking at ogres.
There was a moment earlier this year, after Rocket League had been released and before other, big 2015 games hit, that Rocket League was everything. Those were some exciting times, as esports and sports games came closer together than they have ever been before.
Batman: Arkham Knight
You know what? The PC version of this game always ran like a dream for me, so I was lucky enough for my memories of this game to be about the game, and not the (far more common) narrative of refunds and apologies. The Batmobile was great, but Mark Hamill’s performance was one for the ages.
Reminder: this is my list! Not yours. You go make your own instead of bitching about [game not here] and we’ll all be happier!