It’s list season, people! As the last bits of egg nog enter our bloated bellies, we sit and look back on the year that was. The 15th year of the 21st century was a bit of a sneaky year. We had some HUGE announcements (FF7 Remake!?), baffling news stories (Kojima vs. Konami), and some wonderful games. Despite these announcements and releases, many of them came out of nowhere. Let’s congratulate 2015 for having the beautiful subtlety of a ninja ghost. WiiU Continued to remind us how to have fun, PS4 finally started to mature and steal some of the spotlight away from its competitors, and lastly, The Xbox One got a Tomb Raider…a really good Tomb Raider. So let’s celebrate the best games of 2015, and finish off that nog. Happy New Year Everyone!
8. Xenoblade Chronicles X (WiiU)
If I were to say that you could get a seriously expansive and endless JRPG on a home console, you’d probably think it was for PS4. Well, in this case, you’d be wrong. Xenoblade Chronicles X provides gamers with a beautifully gigantic JRPG on the WiiU. It’s addicting, huge, and pushes the player to explore. While a bit “open world” for a JRPG, this game boasts serious playability. It’s easily one of the best games I’ve played this year. It’s length and size is impressive as you can easily dump 100+ hours into this game. While the open-world trend is getting slightly played out at this point. Xenoblade Chronicles X gives the player enough diversity to be entranced for days. It also feels a bit like an MMO, in a good way.
7. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Everything but WiiU)
If you’ve kept up on the Kojima vs. Konami nonsense that’s been going on this year, you’d be surprised that MGSV actually came out! It was everything fans wanted it to be (though its ending is weak and unfinished). Kojima was able to take all of the best aspects of Metal Gear and spin it on its head by making the game open world. While this is another open world game, it’s Kojima’s version of the open world. MGSV is incredibly similar to the tragically underrated Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, which is what makes this game do darn good. As always you can expect great voice acting, insane story telling, fantastic gameplay, and the cutest companion ever, D-Dog! Sick ’em boy!!
6. Undertale (PC/Mac/Steam)
A wacky, classic, retro RPG? Sign me up! Undertale is a perfect love letter to any RPG fan’s childhood. Even though Undertale is very nostalgic, it still takes new strides on how RPGs can be played. Through mixing up mechanics, Undertale mixes up the gameplay by adding shoot-em-up mini games during battles, conversation trees that allow you to skip battles all together, and undying hilarity. This game is bloody funny! If you have a few extra bucks and a Steam account, give this game a shot. It will cheer up your soul.
5. Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One)
Tomb Raider is back, and while I hate to be so cliche, it’s better than ever. 2013’s Tomb Raider was a perfect way to reintroduce us to the lovely Ms. Croft, who had been quite dormant since the early 2000s. Rise of the Tomb Raider shows us a much more nuanced side of Lara, and it’s the character makeover she’s needed for quite some time. While 2013’s Tomb Raider definitely gave us a more vulnerable Lara Croft, Rise shows us how that version of the character has grown. I prefer this new Croft to any of her previous incantations. She feels much more real than ever before. While this game has borrowed quite a bit from Uncharted, Rise of the Tomb Raider is the perfect companion piece to anyone who doesn’t own a PS4. The pacing is perfect, combat is incredibly fluid, and there is much to explore. Everything a tomb raider should want! I’m sad that I don’t have an Xbox One to play this game more frequently! Definitely one of the best action games of the year.
4. Splatoon (WiiU)
Nintendo just keeps surprising us! Now a shooter!? We all remember Rare’s Goldeneye for the N64 back in 1997 and how it revolutionized the console shooter. Splatoon has done the same thing! I remember first seeing video of Splatoon and thinking it was stupid. Then I refused to play it, because I thought it was stupid. Then I had an hour to kill at Nintendo World and decided to play it. My oh my, how my mind changed immediately. Who thought that Nintendo could make such a charming shooter! Who thought I’d ever say the words, charming shooter!? Splatoon has it all: addictive gameplay, brilliant multiplayer, and undying adorability. It’s also an original franchise…FROM NINTENDO! No Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, or Star Fox to be found here. It’s so refreshing, and just brilliantly fun. I never understood how much fun shooting “ink” could be! But in Splatoon you’ll shoot ink all over everything! Easily one of the best games of the year, and possibly on the WiiU.
3. Fallout 4 (Everything But WiiU)
Fallout 4 was fantastic. A gigantic open world that pushed the player to explore. In the end what we want from these open-world games are very strange and different places to go. Fallout 4 is also a time sink, as I have spent dozens of hours in the Commonwealth, fighting bandits, building settlements, and finding ridiculous power armor (which kinda looks like the Iron Man Mark I). While Fallout 4 does challenge the classic Fallout formula, it’s too good to allow these slight changes to hurt the overall game. It’s very good, though does leave something to be desired. The explorer in me wants to just spend all of my time traveling the wastes with my dog and learning about what happened to my civilization. Beautiful storytelling and world building are just a few of the many, many, reasons to play Fallout 4. The main reason…because it’s just that darn good.
2. Super Mario Maker (WiiU)
Easily could have been the best. Super Mario Maker is like Minecraft meets Mario. This is everything the Mario fan has wanted since 1985, the ability to create their own stages and share them with their friends. What makes Mario Maker so great is its accessibility. Everyone feels like they could make a great stage, and its ease and appeal stretch across all different types of people. Hop online and you can play stages from people across the world! Nintendo has made is so easy for anyone and everyone to build stages, even if the person isn’t the most hardcore of gamers. It is seriously an amazing time. As always, Nintendo’s attention to slight details is what puts this game over-the-top. Little musical flourishes, great sounds effects, and literally endless possibilities make Super Mario Maker one of the best games of the year (if not THE best), and easily the best game on WiiU. Nintendo’s dedication to this game has also given Super Mario Maker an incredible amount of longevity through brilliant updates via the WiiU network. With each update the game finds a way to get even better. Let your creative juices run wild and buy Mario Maker…and a WiiU if you must.
1. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (Everything but WiiU)
Ok, We’re sick of open world, right? Sure…But The Witcher III is far more than another Open-World RPG. It’s the best game of 2015. It’s expansive world feels as though it is a character in itself. What The Witcher III has over other games in its genre is that the characters in its world felt genuine. It was very unlike the normal insanity of other fantasy games. These characters were dirty, ugly, and products of their world. Geralt, the lead character, is a monster-slayer, but he himself is conflicted and nuanced. The Witcher III provides amazing storytelling and isn’t afraid to challenge the player on both a physical and mental level. The fantasy story we need right now, it’s a bit Game of Thrones, a bit Lord of the Rings, with just a dash of Batman thrown in there for good measure. It then adds the perfect aspect to its treacherous environment, grotesque creatures that all want to murder you. As a monster hunter, Geralt is forced to fight off many of these beasts to earn his keep, and CD Projekt Red designs them like none-other. It’s the perfect Action RPG, and we may not play another game like this for quite some time. The Witcher III is special, all fantasy fans should give it a shot.
There you have it! The best games of 2015. I hope you all enjoyed the wonderful games of 2015, and if you haven’t played any of these, be sure to give them a shot! I was a bit puzzled as to why the 3DS didn’t have a better showing this year, but 2015 was another great year for WiiU (though not as good as 2014). Also, the Open World game dominated. As we look forward into 2016, we can only hope that we get some games that can even stand in the same room with these. Enjoy the gaming, chompers!