Games Of 2015: June

As the year rolled on, it became increasingly obvious that 2015 was not going to be filled with the lacklustre levels of quality that disappointed so many in 2014. June didn’t prove to be any more of a packed month than, well, June of any other year. But there was some definite highs — and a few very obvious lows.

Heroes of the Storm (PC, Mac)

Blizzard’s MOBA has undergone significant changes in a short space of time

It’s almost quaint looking at the screenshot above, remembering what Heroes of the Storm used to look like, the way things were framed. A lot can change in six months, huh.

It’s not that the game looks radically different, mind you, but it’s certainly a world apart from its original launch. The game has certainly found a solid pocket of support around the world, even if it’ll never touch the MOBA giants of Dota 2 or League of Legends. But it works on a formula that many, particularly those with an initial distaste for the MOBA format, find very endearing.

Wander (PC, PS4)

Wander stands out amongst all the Aussie games released in 2015, but for the wrong reasons

The best said about Wander is probably left to Emma, the game’s former community manager who wrote a lengthy detail of her experience back in August. “It always went without saying that Wander would never be a mainstream hit like the Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, or [the] Witcher series,” she wrote. “What we didn’t anticipate was that its idiosyncrasy would combine with a host of unforeseen launch-day bugs to bring down a storm of hate on the game, and thus the team.”

Her experiences are worth reading if you’ve ever gotten angry online about a game for its bugs, design quirks or idiosyncrasies. It’s not a reminder that you shouldn’t be angry about those, but that you’re communicating that anger to another human being — and even though they know otherwise, sometimes that can be very difficult to deal with.

Her Story (PC, Mac, iOS)

FMV games live or die on the quality of their performances

What made Her Story work for the hundreds of thousands of people who have purchased Sam Barlow’s database searching murder mystery? Is it the thoroughness of the performance from Viva Seifert in her debut acting role? Is it the way in which the game limits the amount of video your searches will uncover?

Maybe the game simply launched at the right time, in a window where it wasn’t surrounded by bigger, more attractive releases. There was one in particular that launched the same week — the day before, in fact — but it was limited to consoles and certainly didn’t offer an experience that could have starved Her Story for air.

Mark was very surprised by the game, while I’ve deliberately held off. I used to work in an office where it was my job to write briefs for clients that would be later translated into boolean search strings. I’d also read through transcripts searching for those keywords, read press articles, listen to broadcast radio.

I don’t want to play a game where the main mechanic reminds me of my previous job. I don’t harbour any ill will to my former colleagues or place of employment, but I know what I like — and the prospect of reliving work in a video game is not that.

Batman: Arkham Knight (PC, PS4, XBO)

Warner Bros record on PC soured even further with Arkham Knight’s release

Arkham Knight couldn’t have been more a tale of two worlds if it wanted to. On the console is a rich story, with lively characters, plenty of challenges and enough Batman to satiate any fan. The focus on the Batmobile was a mistake for Chris’s liking — and most — but on the whole, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Unless you were playing on PC. After an equally atrocious launch with Mortal Kombat X, Warner Bros were forced into more PC damage control when they pulled the game from sale on Steam — for a full season. It eventually went on sale again at the end of October, but not before Warner Bros was forced to offer carte blanche refunds to anyone who purchased the game and season pass on the platform.

Even the Collector’s Edition of the game, which was across consoles, got cancelled. All in all, Arkham Knight will be remembered more for its problems than its positives. That’s a shame for the developer — and particularly for Iron Galaxy, the studio who WB outsourced the PC port to.

Fallout Shelter (iOS, Android)

Perhaps the most successful thing to come out of E3?

The amount of people who became obsessed with Fallout Shelter is almost unholy. I’d be kind of curious to know what was a bigger success for Bethesda — Fallout 4 or their mobile spin-off. It seems a ridiculous proposition, but Fallout Shelter was everywhere. It literally seemed like everyone who was into games, on any platform, was playing at some point.

Every time I got on a plane after Fallout Shelter’s release, I either walked past or could see someone managing their vault. The game earned US$5.1 million in microtransactions in a fortnight. The internet was abuzz about Fallout Shelter glitches, hacks, upgrades, anything that could be done to make your Dwellers more efficient and powerful.

It’s probably been the best E3 announcement/reveal in a while. Bethesda’s certainly grinning — one wonders whether they might pull a similar trick with official mobile releases of DOOM or something else next year. They’ve certainly got form.

Quiplash (PC, PS3, PS4, XBO)

So wrong, yet so right

A huge gaming high — by instantly bringing out the darkest and most offensive humour from everyone involved. That’s Quiplash, where even the developers are using dead leprechaun jokes in the Steam screenshots as an advertisement.

Obviously, I like it a lot.

Those were the major beats of July, but other names that stood out: the PC port of D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die, Massive Chalice, the console launch of Elder Scrolls Online, PlanetSide 2 on PS4, and RONIN. What caught your eye in June?

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