Because I have to publish this list somewhere.
If you haven’t listened to the latest Vidjagame Apocalypse, do it — that podcast serves as Laser Time’s definitive favorite games of 2015. This is my personal list, and you’re going to see more like it over the next week or so. I don’t think it needs much of an intro either. You guys like games, right? Me too. Here are the 10 I liked the most.
10. Rocket League
Prior to 2015, I really didn’t play many online multiplayer games. Rocket League broke that dam when it launched in July. This isn’t just the best PS+ game I received this year, but the rowdiest I’ve gotten while playing online. Sure, I grew up playing soccer, but don’t tell me the rest of you footy-haters didn’t sink tons of time (and goals) with this one.
9. Until Dawn
Until Dawn had something of a troubled development cycle, so it’s excellence is somewhat surprising. On top of that, it borrows mechanics from just about every horror game and plot elements from just about every horror movie. But it’s because of those tropes that I love it. Until Dawn throws everything at the wall, ensuring that something sticks for everyone who plays it. You’ll identify with one of the teens almost immediately (shout out to Chris and Emily!) and be taken aback by at least one of the jumpy, supernatural, or dark scare moments — guaranteed.
8. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 is topping multiple people’s game of the year lists, but not so for me — I think the combat is atrocious. That said, everything else about Geralt’s third adventure is perfectly executed. The world is gorgeous and full of mountains, valleys, and forests just begging to be explored. The characters are unique, and often funny or intimidating. The quests are engaging, and stay out of “eh, do this menial task” territory. And Ciri? Ciri just rules.
As of the time of writing, I have not yet finished Undertale (just picked it up during the Steam sale). You may think it’s not right to include an uncompleted game on this list, but I take a different stance: the meager few hours I’ve put in were enough to make me say, “This is one of the best things I’ve played all year.” Undertale is an irreverent take on RPGs, and it grabbed me from the first encounter. It’s blend of turned-based combat with shoot ’em up elements is a step forward for the genre. Also, Sans and Papyrus. Hilarious.
6. Rise of the Tomb Raider
I’m on record as calling 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot “a better Uncharted than Uncharted.” The flip side of that statement is that it wasn’t much of a “Tomb Raider.” Rise remedies this: the Metroidvania elements make it fun to enter new areas, and when those areas hide a tomb, you really feel you’re unearthing an ancient secret. The game’s layout of a few large hubs connected by action-driven linear levels are a perfect combination. Lara Croft is my favorite video game heroin, and I don’t think that will ever change.
5. Batman: Arkham Knight
Full disclosure: this is the only Arkham game I’ve played. Boo me if you want, but chances are if I had played the others, it wouldn’t be on this list. It made me feel like Batman — a feeling most of you already got with the previous games. For me, it was a real rush. And although the twist is obvious, the plot around the titular Arkham Knight fits perfectly within the Dark Knight’s world.
4. Fallout 4
It may seem a bit hypocritical to rank this above Arkham Knight given my comments above (I played many days’ worth of Fallout 3), but I think that speaks to just how much I enjoyed Bethesda’s latest. It’s been a long time since I’ve explored an irradiated America — I bet most of you would agree with me that New Vegas doesn’t count — so getting back to the Vaults and settlements was a blast. I can’t say I care much for the crafting elements, but the sense of discovery I get wandering the Commonwealth reminds me of why I play video games. I’m looking at you, Crater of Atom.
I will totally admit my Souls fanboy-ism right now, though in my defense, Bloodborne is only #3 on this list. Remember what I said about the sense of discovery in Fallout 4? Multiply that feeling by 50 here. Over the course of several playthroughs, I got to discover the bizarre provinces that make up the Lovecraftian world of Yharnam. From a lore perspective, nothing else tops this one. Mutated beasts, galactic visitors, and a whole lot of fantastic combat — I may even play a rogue when Dark Souls 3 hits because of this game — made Bloodborne an absolute treat.
2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
It may be the weakest link in the Metal Gear story (though I do love the ending), but The Phantom Pain plays better than any other game in the series, hands down. The term “emergent gameplay” is a bit cliche, but it perfectly sums up my adventures here. There were so many tricks to discover as I took out soldiers across Afghanistan and Angola, and I got to share those stories with friends and learn how they approached each scenario. It’s certainly one of the densest, most open-ended games I’ll ever play.
1. Super Mario Maker
Number one with a bullet. Nothing has brought me more video game joy this year than crafting courses (and playing ones designed by others!) in Super Mario Maker. Whenever I visited my family, I made sure this game was with my Wii U so I could create even crazier stages with my brother. And the stages I encountered taught me more about how Mario games work than over 20 years of actual Mario games did. You can throw Goombas straight up into the air? I had no idea. You can put a warp door one square up, forcing the player to find a way to reach it? Devious.
[Play “The Final A-Tony-ment” and let me know what you think! 5F4D-0000-0123-93DF]
Wow, 2015 was an amazing year for games — I didn’t even mention Majora’s Mask 3D or AlphaBear! I’d love to know what your favorite games are, so feel free to copy-and-paste your comments from that VGA episode and drop them here! Let’s make 2016 a good one.
Tony edits all of Laser Time’s contributor content. Follow him on Twitter and tell him why his list is wrong. He won’t mind.