What? Another list of top games from the year? Yes. Too bad.
This list has been a testament to my ability to (mostly) follow the resolution that I set way back in January. My initial rule was that if I wanted to buy a new game, I had to complete 2 from my backlog first. That worked out well for about half the year, until I revised it to completing one old game before buying a new one.
Due to this rule, my Top 5 games are not only curated from the massive amounts of fantastic games that were released in 2015, but also refined even further because for each purchase I had to pick carefully (or else I’d have a lot more gaming to do before I could buy again).
I’ve got well over 100 hours in The Phantom Pain, regardless of whatever shenanigans Konami has pulled this last year. I haven’t even completed all of the side quests or gathered all the collectibles (I have one blueprint that still seems to be eluding me).
TPP has the best gameplay in all of the Metal Gear series. Controls are tight, the AI is smarter than ever (and adapts to how you play the game), and gun customization and deployment sorties are a unique and well-defined. The story may seem a little weak though, so I’ve got my fingers crossed for some DLC or a sequel to tie up loose ends.
I’ve got some past experience with MOBAs, though I’ve never been a pro. I started with DotA All-Stars, the mod for Warcraft 3. From there I’ve tried a few others, Demigod, League of Legends, DOTA 2, and all felt similar, but just a bit too complex for me.
Enter Heroes of the Storm. HotS is easily the smoothest ride for newcomers. Shared experience and no shop mean that you can coast through a game while learning the ropes, without being penalized for making build mistakes. Of course, once you move past the amateur hour and really look into builds, character combos, and play strategies you open up a more complex battlefield.
Right off the bat, I’ll say that I’m not even done this title, and it’s not even the best in the Tales of series from Bandai Namco, but that doesn’t stop Tales of Zestiria from being a shining light in a year that’s been mostly devoid of solid JRPG titles.
Zestiria has an enhanced version of the Tales of Graces battle system (personally my favourite from the series), so it was great to come back to that after last year’s Xillia playthrough. The characters are really fun, and the transformations add an interesting new element to the battles. Overall, a solid JRPG with a fun story, unique characters, and classic Tales humour spread throughout.
I had actually originally decided that I was going to hold off on purchasing Super Mario Maker. The trailers and announcements all looked really fun, but I had a few other games that I was planning on buying first. That was until I played it over at my brother’s house and realized how amazing it was to play user-created Mario levels.
As a big fan of the original platformers (go Super Mario World!), the fact that there were hundreds, thousands, of new challenging, funny, unique Mario levels out there completely sold me on this. It also helps that Nintendo has been releasing patches that add all new items and functionality to the game (with more planned for the new year)
SimCity... This is what you should have been.
After being burned by the “back to basics” SimCity game in 2013, I was leery about trying another city simulation game. My fond memories of SimCity 2000/3000 had been dashed. I saw Cities: Skylines and something just clicked. I picked it up on Steam after watching the trailers and reading reviews. It was perfect.
This is how the “back to basics” should have been. It’s not overly complex, but it certainly doesn’t dumb-down the experience. It handles traffic well, zoning, special buildings, population happiness, taxation, city policy, you name it. If you ever loved the older SimCity games, then I 100% recommend this game.
In a surprise twist, I’ve actually got 2 PC games up there. It’s been a long time since I’ve really gamed on PC, but even I was a little thrown off when 2 out of 5 were on the computer.
It’s nice to see that the genres, consoles, and developers have varied so much for me throughout the year. It shows me that each of my consoles has had it’s time to shine, and that the year’s releases were diverse enough to keep me entertained throughout.
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Evan Chambers is a fellow video game connoisseur (specializing in the Nintendo variety). He occasionally writes other articles and reviews that you can find here, and sometimes he tries to Twitter, at @EvanChambers.