This was it. For most people, this was what 2015 was all about: the month that Fallout finally launched. There was, of course, plenty of other titles to get emotionally invested in, but Fallout 4 was the big one.
If you looked a little harder though, there were plenty of smaller titles worth remembering. Lots, in fact. So let’s go for a trip down memory lane.
Football Manager 2016 (PC, Mac, Linux)
The gargantuan management franchise rolls on
Amidst the Call of Duty fans getting their annual fix, the frothing about Fallout 4, lamentations on Lara’s ill-advised timing and the under the radar qualities of Legacy of the Void, Football Manager pushed out the yearly update to their steady series.
It can be easy for the gaming media to ignore or forget the Sports Interactive franchise, even though it is one of the older brands in gaming whose relevance has only grown in time. Footballers and basketballers might play FIFA or the NBA 2K series to wind down, but the coaching staff and scouts don’t borrow EA or 2K’s database when they want to search for new talent.
Football Manager has this unusual alliance with reality that is fascinating, so much so that it warranted the creation of a documentary into the game’s links with real world football. On top of that, the mobile port of the game is astoundingly good fun (although you’re probably best off going for a version that’s a little older instead of the latest release).
Rise of the Tomb Raider (XBO)
When I said I wanted to get closer to a PC launch for RoTT, this wasn’t what I meant
Rise of the Tomb Raider will finally be coming to PC in a couple of weeks, and that’s excellent because the second game of Lara’s adventures since the reboot will finally have the clear air it deserves. It’s launch in November was completely covered in the shroud that was Fallout 4, however, and the fact that it launched as an Xbox One exclusive was all the more heartbreaking.
But the timing didn’t affect Rise of the Tomb Raider’s end quality, which was nothing short of impressive. The game was a clear improvement on Crystal Dynamics’ previous efforts, with Evan describing it as an upgrade “in nearly every way”. “In this game, I was able to plan and execute better, thanks to a plethora of options that let you blind or poison enemies from afar. The feeling of being a cunning predator was a welcome change for me, especially after enduring the emotional rawness of the last Tomb Raider,” he wrote.
Star Wars: Battlefront (PC, PS4, XBO)
Like Tattoine, there was a desert of content
Ahh, Battlefront. The imagination runs wild with possibilities of what you could have been, but the reality that hit home for many during the beta unfortunately rang true when the game finally launched in mid-November.
While I had plenty of fun — and many friends I know enjoyed their time as well — the problem with DICE’s reboot of the iconic FPS was that the fun simply didn’t last long enough. That window of time was even shorter for those on PC, with users being directed to foreign servers or having an inordinate amount of difficulty finding a full match outside of the most popular two or three modes.
Credit where credit is due though: the game is technically outstanding and its launch was relatively trouble-free, at least compared to the nightmares of other PC ports. Battlefront will undoubtedly live on as an excellent tool for benchmarking in the years to come as well, although will probably be of little comfort to the developers who worked so tirelessly on the project. A shame, really.
Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void (PC, Mac)
The pinnacle of APM spamming returned
I’ve written at length about Legacy of the Void already, perhaps too much. So I’ll just leave a short line about how Legacy overcame the impossible and got me back onto the ladder. It didn’t last long — some things cannot be overcome — but the fact that the final chapter in the SC2 trilogy achieved that much was, at least in my eyes, admirable.
Need for Speed (PS4, XBO)
So green, so gorgeous
I had little hopes for Need for Speed following Rivals, although the prospect of returning to its Underground-esque roots did spark a modicum of interest. And in the months since its launch, I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed Need for Speed more than I expected I ever would.
That’s not an immense bar to clear, mind you. And a large amount of that enjoyment is coming at the game’s own expense thanks to the hilariously rubbish, over the top performances that accounts for acting in the FMV sequences. Need for Speed: Undercover and Maggie Q had a more believable delivery, so much so that it’s impossible to take anything seriously.
And once you reach that point, it becomes kind of fun. There’s still a frustrating element where the steering seems to lock up (even with assists disabled), but otherwise it’s the dumbest fun I’ve had with the series in years.
Fallout 4 (PC, PS4, XBO)
What’s left to say about Fallout 4? Probably a great deal once Bethesda ships the Garden of Eden Creation Kit (GECK) later this year, since that’ll further the possibilities for mods and total conversions that we’ve already seen over the last few months.
Until then, I’ll just leave you with this giant animated dick. It’s pretty great.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (PC, PS3, PS4, 360, XBO)
Responsible for more terrible beer
There’s a case of Black Hops beer sitting in our office. It’s been sitting there for a couple of months now. Nobody has touched it. I hope nobody touches it. Reports from the field are that it’s terrible, even amongst beer lovers. It’s description as a “midnight pale ale” seems like a giveaway though, since the imagery of midnight seems to be at odds with that of a pale ale.
But I digress. I actually enjoyed the multiplayer aspect of Black Ops 3 when I played it at conventions late last year, and the competitive community is thrilled to bits. What happens with the Call of Duty World League this year will be interesting too; Activision are certainly throwing a hell of a lot of money at it.
Anno 2205 (PC)
City building, with an eye to space
The Anno games tend to fly under the radar a little. But it was nice to see another Anno release dot a year which bore plenty of good offerings for city builder fans (Mini Metro and Cities Skylines come to mind), even though the public reception was less than warm.
Users have strewn the Steam page with complaints about a lack of depth compared to Anno titles previous and the lack of multiplayer upset others. Personally, it’s not the kind of game that I’d drop down on — I found 2207 to be more of a logistics simulator than a city builder, neither of which is really an appetising prospect for someone with a soft spot for 4X games.
Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival (Wii U)
Why was this game made
If only someone took the design of the board in Amiibo Festival and pounded it into the head of the Mario Party designers. Alternatively, if the Mario Party designers just scrapped the board entirely and turned it into a weird 1v4 game where someone plays a DM in the form of Bowser with mini-games … that would be cool.
As for Amiibo Festival? I watched over an hour of gameplay and nearly fell asleep, so take that as you will.
That’s it for November, but other releases included the PS4 relaunch of Beyond: Two Souls, a PS4 and XBO re-release of Deadpool, Snoopy’s Grand Adventure, Yo-Kai Watch, Sonic Lost World, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, the PC version of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Mordheim: City of the Damned, Sword Art Online: Lost Song and the final episode of Telltale’s Game of Thrones episodic series.