Community Review: 2015 in Video Games

Community Review: 2015 in Video Games

Okay, the big guns are gone. So there aren’t necessarily any big new releases to discuss, so I thought it might be worth talking about the year that was. Where does it rank for you? Was this one of the best years for video games ever?

I’m going to say yes. I think 2015 was one of those years. Sort of like 2007, with Mario Galaxy, Modern Warfare, BioShock, Assassin’s Creed, Halo 3. The kind of year where major, AAA games really delivered in a major way.

Just consider the volume and the quality…

Dying Light
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
The Witcher 3
Destiny: The Taken King
Fallout 4
Super Mario Maker
Rocket League

All these games came out in a period of a year and they were all of such high quality. 2015 was one of those ‘faith in video gaming restored’ years.

It was also the year where it felt like this generation of consoles really gained momentum and became must purchases, not just for us — the people who live and breathe video game culture — but your friend who sorta plays games but not-quite-really.

I’m hoping it only gets better from here.

What are your thoughts?


  • I guess there were some heavy hitters but all I personally played was Taken King and Fallout 4. I guess if I was a fan of Dark Souls-style games or Metal Gear it would have been a very different year. Maybe I’m just more frugal now compared to 2007 where I felt compelled to buy every major release. Some great games this year, but hype-wise I’m a tad deflated.

    Loving Fallout 4 though.

  • It should have been a huge year for me, the games released were incredible and right up my alley, when they worked…. but my free time spiralled to zero this year.

    Don’t have four kids.

    End of advice.

  • 2015 was disappointing. Especially the first half but especially the second half.

    MGS5 – Unfinished and terrible story
    Fallout 4 – More of the same and every new feature sucks except for modding weapons
    Halo 5 – Weak ass story
    Rock Band 4 – Too expensive
    Game of Thrones – Same crap from Telltale
    Batman: Arkham Knight – Why is there a shit tank simulator in my Batman game. And why make the most obvious reveal so obvious?
    Mortal Kombat X – Was this even release this year?

  • I wasn’t really wowed by this year. I probably had more fun with episodic games like Life is Strange and Tales from the Borderlands than any of the big AAA releases. All the major releases this year felt like Summer Blockbusters to me. Perfectly fun, but also generic and safe and not overly memorable. Or maybe it was a great year and I’ve just become jaded and bitter lol.

  • If we judge the years by how popular the games that were released were this was a good year, 2007 was very nice as well, although the only games I particularly cared for were HL2:E2 (my all-time favourite game) and Mass Effect (still the best game in the trilogy, I don’t care how much better everyone thinks 2 was). I would also put 2004 up there, just for featuring the release of MGS3 and HL2. 1998 still holds the crown for me though (Half-Life, LoZ: OoT, Metal Gear Solid [Japanese release], Banjo-Kazooie and others), but realistically every year is better than the last; every game you could play in previous years can still be played (with the obvious exceptions of multi-player or online only games without server support and completely dead/impossible to find hardware).

      • I quite liked 3, the last 20-30 minutes were pretty disappointing and a lot of the problems I had with two were still there, but at least it didn’t feel like a poorly written side quest like 2 did. ME1 had, by far (obviously subjectively), the best world building and atmosphere (things that I value very highly; HL2 wasn’t as enjoyable for me as HL1 was because HL1 had an incredible atmosphere all the way though while the atmosphere in HL2 was a little patchy and inconsistent).

        • Yeah, HL2 had some seriously immersion-breaking, “We made a gaaaaaaame!” moments where it held your face to the screen and yelled, “We made a REALLY IMPRESSIVE physics engine and you will make bloody use of it for in-game puzzles and you will MARVEL at how ground-breaking it is. MARVEL!” On the whole, I still preferred 2, and not just for Ravenholm, or Alyx+Dog, or the beach, or the lighthouse/coastal towns, or that entry into City 17 and its gradual reveal of oppression.

          3 had the best story-telling of the ME titles in my opinion, thanks to how it drew on all the decisions from both previous games to generate a series of little denouements for so many side-plots, and ME3 had hands-down the best combat.

          The only thing it really lacked was the ‘questing hub’ and planetary exploration side of things. The freedom to miss things.

          Because they paid so much more attention to detail on their planets than they did in ME1 (which was basically letting an old 486 procedurally-generate planet maps from some fractals-based prototype shareware from a 90s demo disc one lazy afternoon), they didn’t have time to make very much of it, so everything was tightly scripted, destroying the illusion of freedom that ME1 had.

          • Honestly it’s not even the physics puzzles that get on my nerve with HL2 (when I say get on my nerve it’s still one of my favourite games, just not to the level of the first), but the way each segment/ area/ chunk of the game introduces new mechanics which you never use again; like each chapter was a demonstration of an idea rather than an actual implementation of it within the context of a larger game. For me the oppression was almost stupidly over the top at points, I wish the whole game stayed at the level of the opening scenes in city 17 (in and of themselves not subtle either) rather than the blood spattered home interiors it became in some chapters. I guess I liked it when the combine were at least trying to justify their actions through Breen’s speeches rather than what it became later in the game, more 1982 than Brave New World sort of vibe at the beginning, which I greatly preferred. HL2’s peaks were individually better than anything in HL though; having actual characters for a start, but that sequence under the bridge during Highway 17 was and is mind-blowing, especially the way it cleverly foreshadowed the train’s approach when you’re going across it with a shaking of the bridge supports – adding tension under the bridge and giving greater context to an otherwise somewhat contrived sequence.

            I definitely agree with the points you make about the story endings in ME3, almost all of them were fantastic. ME3 kinda pissed me off with multiple decisions though; the illusive man turned even further into a cartoon character villain and got a cyborg ninja buddy to complete the dumb image (Kai-Leng was the dumbest character I have ever seen in any medium and the fact that some dickhead with a sword could just off as supposedly dangerous a character as Thane made no sense, space cancer or not), they decided every single sub-plot had to be wrapped up (I just couldn’t buy that both the Genophage and the resettlement of the Quarian homeworld couldn’t wait a fucking week to save the bloody universe even if the reasons each story represented weren’t too bad) and the whole game steered too far away from the space-opera-wish-fulfilment type of deal they had going on in the first game; the citadel DLC understood how to end the game (to my taste at least) far better than the actual ending did: on a really silly note, just like the wonderfully cheesy ending to the first. Finally, and the one that really pissed me off: they decided the last 30 minutes would be Shepard all on her lonesome, Shepard was only ever a conduit for the player and the real meat of the game was the relationships we made with completely fictional aliens (I would say the humans too, but the only one I might have liked amongst the mission buddies was Jenkins. Maybe the spanish beef-cake too if it weren’t for the first half of his arc and his awful character design, again going down a cartoony direction in a bad way). ME2 at least had an amazing final mission that involved all of your crew for the purpose of rescuing your other crew bringing all of the gameplay back to the driving force of the series, ME3 seemed to think anyone actually gave a damn about the reapers as lore (again done better imo in the leviathan DLC than in the actual game). Anyway, for me ME is the best Mass Effect and favourite in the series, ME2 was the best game but the worst Mass Effect which leaves it as my least favourite in the series (in ters of gameplay I experienced way less difficulty spikes/drops in 2 than I did in three) while ME3 was the compromise between the two.

            3 got a really bad wrap, if it just weren’t for the weak ending and Kai-Leng on a personal level the game would have been much more fairly judged, it’s a damn shame it wasn’t because it was a damn good game.

      • 3 was the best of the three. 2 was the worst. 3’s original ending is one of the best in gaming history.

      • 2 is pretty much undeniably the better game, but ME was the better Mass Effect if that makes any sense. If I judged games on their gameplay more heavily than I do for this sort of game 2 would take the crown, but the parts everyone else hated about 1 were the best parts for me; walking around on an essentially empty planet might seem like something lacking in “fun” but for me it was building a world that 2 and 3 neglected; looking up at an alien solar system sometimes gave me shivers that I just don’t get at any point in the other games. Sifting through endless piles of armour and weapon mods weren’t “fun” but it felt right for the universe. Then 2 and 3 decided it would be a good idea to leave the resource harvesting in the game as an awful mini game and it pulled me right out of the feeling of the universe the first game developed. I’ve got big hopes that 4 will more closely follow the ambitions that 1 aspired too, because a raw focus on tighter gameplay leads to a game like 2 which felt very rigid and formulaic to me; when I play 1 I sink 40 hours+ each time, when I play 2 I rush through it as quickly as I can. I fully accept that my opinion is not popular and has a few flaws of logic, but it’s one I’ve held (and defended) for a very long time.

        • Well said! I don’t disagree. I didn’t like 2 at first and I still don’t love the streamlined upgrade system etc. But something just clicked with me with that game… I thought it was brilliant. 1 was still very good though. Not a fan of 3. I think they jumped the shark with that one. More with the story than the gameplay.

          God I loved ME2’s story. It was just brilliant.

  • 2015 was the year of broken dreams for me in a big way.
    I bought an XB1 for Halo Master Chief Collection, and it was so damn broken I ended up returning the whole thing. Then Halo 5 comes out with no split-screen, The Crimewave Edition of Payday2 completely broken, so many games with framerate problems , massive day one patches that would eat my entire internet quota and take days to download has kept me away from going back to the bone.

    The Arkham Knight debacle on PC, the ongoing frame-rate problems with games, both console and PC (farcry, you broke my heart), and for a while there, just the seeming acceptance that having to download 20+ GB before you can play a game you just bought on disc, and that might not work right for weeks, became a problem across the board.

    Also the death of splitscreen and local lan play, and the disappearing “solid single player offline campaign” made me wonder if gaming will remain in my future. I don’t have the time any more to play online enough to get good enough not to get slaughtered and consequently have bugger all fun. Many of my best gaming memories are with mates by my side on the couch in split-screen or system link, going right back to Gauntlet on the 4 interconnected Lynx consoles on the flight from Sydney to LA.

    VR was meant to be coming this year, but got pushed out to 2016, and game support outside of a few space and driving sims isn’t looking great.

    And then there was the Wii-U, the games worked straight out of the box, and were well polished and tons of fun, plus I could play them on the controller screen with the headphones on when the rest of the fam wanted to watch a movie. If not for the Nintendo, my year would mostly have been a write-off for gaming.

    I also had very little free time this year, so messing around with patches, graphics card drivers, games that didn’t work out of the box were just too frustrating and time consuming to mess with, so this stuff probably pissed me off more than it did other people.

    • This year I switched to console gaming. AMD just bought out new drivers, and now my TV doesn’t work with my computer. So I can’t watch movies. Have to rollback. FFS.

      There’s a lot to be said for the consoles just working 99% of the time.

  • Fallout 4 made it a good year for me all on it’s own. But I also enjoyed Dying Light.

    Considering I haven’t played Witcher 3 yet, if it’s near as good as people are raving about 2015 will gravitate to a great year (but I’m still cautious, I liked Witcher but Witcher 2 gave me the shits)…

  • Bought a PS4 to play Bloodborne, which I loved, and then that was followed up by the Witcher 3, which was also fantastic.

    For the first time ever I’ve had the problem of having too many games to play, and not enough time. I’ve even developed a “pile of shame” filled with MGS5 and Nathan Drake Collection, which are both on hold until I finish Fallout 4.

  • Without highlighting any one game in particular, I felt that 2015 was a big year for PC games. The last couple of years has been a bit void of really big, innovative, fresh, new etc titles. This year has seen a lot of great games come out, including those that are reboots of old classics, those that are continuations of a series, and those that are completely new.

    Additionally, a bunch of big Kickstarter-funded games matured from a development-state into a released state this year. So 2015 is a good year for independently published (not necessarily indie) games too.

    And finally, we saw big publishers finally take note that we won’t accept majorly broken games anymore with the Batman: AK debacle. A bunch of other companies broke tradition in proactively delaying their releases so they wouldn’t repeat the AK blunder.

    • When you consider that the problem prior to Arkham Knight was always about how PC release is a good six months or more after the console release, I almost feel sorry for WB in trying to do a simultaneous release where conventional (AAA publisher) wisdom was that you need to delay the PC port. Seemed like there was at least one good intention there.

  • I’m actually of the opposite opinion and felt that 2015 was a year in which AAA video games lost momentum and sort of went into cruise control. It really started to show that developers are struggling to balance taking advantage of more powerful console technology with delivering content that doesn’t exceed budgets or time constraints.

    It was a year in which most of my most exciting game purchases were the non-AAA titles and more than a few re-released games. As unpopular an opinion as it will be, Bloodborne was my most anticipated game of the year and the biggest let down, mostly due to me expecting it to be more a tough as nails Platinum style game rather than just a streamlined Souls game.

    In summary, 2015 wasn’t a bad year for video games by any means and I have a lot of good games to show for it. There just isn’t anything about it that makes me feel like the games industry grew and started taking the next step in gaming. It was just “more of the same” really, a gap year in gaming until next year which promises a lot of exciting innovations.

    Now, if you look at the behaviour of people and companies in the games industry… 2015 was a terrible year. Especially with respect to the government’s view on the Australian industry.

  • There were some nice heavy-hitters for me this year. Bloodborne was a masterpiece, Undertale was an absolutely exceptional game and Mario Maker is probably going to stay relevant well into 2016 if they keep adding bits and pieces. That’s not a lot in terms of quantity, but games that really sweep me off my feet (or, in Mario Maker’s case, cling to relevance without being an outright multiplayer game) are pretty rare.

    Aviary Attorney is coming out this week, and if it matches Ace Attorney’s writing, I think I’ll be up to a count of 4 big hitters, with a heartwarming “we made this game with public domain assets and pocket change” story to boot.

  • This was definitely one of those “restores faith in games” years. While we’re still no where near over it, gamergate put a massive damper on last year in particular, there weren’t that many good games to come out, the launch of the modern consoles still didn’t have much to show for itself… I didn’t even own a new gen (Wii U excluded) console until this year, and I’m meant to be the “hardcore gamer”.

    There were just so many fantastic experiences to come out of this year. There were the massive ones, like you mentioned Mark, but there were so many clever other ones as well – Undertale, Everybody’s gone to the rapture, the beginners guide, her story, pillars of eternity. Even games you didn’t think would be that good turned out well – yoshi’s wooly world, axiom verge, Ori and the blind forest, fallout shelter.

    Even things like backwards compatibility, the ever closer steps towards VR, Sony’s insane fan service announcements. Damn man.

    I loved this year in gaming so much that I decided to write a 120 page book in the past few months about it rather than actually playing the damn games that I wanted to! Which I will be emailing you about, so heads up ;P but seriously, yes, this is one of those years.

  • Excellent year! I’ve been having a grand old time!

    Witcher 3 owned (and will continue to own). Tales From The Borderlands made me smile from ear to ear, though Game Of Thrones was less exciting. Until Dawn is fantastic. Phantom Pain was ok until I ran out of time to play it. Same as Fallout 4. Still have Ass Creed Syndicate, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Halo 5 left to pick up.

    I have never been happier with my pile of shame, TBH. All quality stuff, even if I have fuck-all time to play them #goodproblems

  • I have enjoyed many games this year. I haven’t actually finished many (expansive open worlds!) but I’ve loved many of the big ones.

  • Really, really didn’t play enough games this year. Well, I played a lot, but didn’t really finish anything. Destiny/WoW/Guild Wars 2 were huge time sinks. I did smash Dying Light, and that was fantastic. Really underrated game. Although is it? I never heard much about it from other people. After Dead Island, I was just expecting another Dead Island game and to be bored stupid, but it was really great.

    Picked up Bloodborne the other week, (late to the party, I know) and am loving it thus far. I finished Demon’s Souls a long time ago, but could never entirely get into Dark Souls or Dark Souls 2. Bloodborne is just gorgeous. Having a blast. Plus being a serial Uchigatana user, the no shield and aggressive gameplay style of Bloodborne fit really easily. Still a tough as shit game, but I’m loving it.

  • After getting over my destiny addiction a month after ttk hit ( not salty at all, had a great time with it and am kinda grateful the end game was so average as otherwise would probably still be playing it ) I got stuck into a lot of games and had and am still having a ton of fun. There was witcher 3 which was amazing, a little too big and amazing tbh, I rushed thru a lot of it to finish it off. Then I played thru dead rising 3 as it came with my xbone bundle, cool game very underrated I thought.I like game of thrones I played thru the first 4 eps and will finish it soon. Halo 5 was a little limp in terms of the campaign but I find the smooth as multiplayer more than made up for that imo, and I’m still playimg it now. Transformers devastation was a fantastic game for anyone into 80s animation,sure it was short but it was fairly cheap.
    And then fallout 4. Man it’s huge. It’s not perfect by any means but I’m still playing it heaps and exploring the whole map. I reckon it’ll give me another month at least.
    I’ve got dying light on its way in the mail bro and I can get our co op hit, and I’ll be getting forza 6 and rise of the tomb raider over the holidays too.
    All up its been a great year I thought, however something seems to be missing from all these games that I can’t put my finger on.

  • BLOODBORNE!! I loved this game and it’s even got me chasing the platinum

    “MGSV” sooo much fun. I fought a bear

    “Life is strange”was a great journey. A beautiful art style and I loved those characters

    “Destiny the taken king” I thought I was out but you pulled me back in. I had a lot of fun with my new titan and those new missions.

    “Yakuza 5” thankyou to whoever made this finally happen

  • I guess it’s been a good year. I don’t know. A lot of the games that are being touted as GOTY I thought were average. For me Bloodborne is the best game of 2015.

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