I haven’t done one of these in a long time. But this year, with the little bit of extra time I have over the holiday break I thought it appropriate to bring back.
These are the best game I’ve played this year. I will say that I haven’t played every game this year. There are several that are still sitting on my shelf or in my Steam Library that I will hopefully get to soon. But this list represents the opinion of a true “everyman.” I’m not a paid reviewer, which means these games caught my attention enough to purchase and play through from beginning to end. Well, I say “end”, but two of my top three don’t exactly have endings, and that is okay. The list is in no order. These are just the best that I’ve come across. This is one of those years in gaming that will hopefully be looked back at like wine snobs look at certain vintages and talk about how the additional sunlight helped bring out the grapes…flavor…or something like that. Suffice to say, this was a damn good year for games. Here’s my top three.
I’ve fallen out of love with most sports games. However, I have fallen in love with this game. I don’t buy sports games anymore because I typically don’t care about annualized games that don’t improve drastically on the gameplay from year-to-year. Most sport games overly complicated, aren’t user friendly, and try to throw more and more content at you to try and cover up that most haven’t changed since the days of SNES.
Rocket League, though, is a breath of fresh air. It’s soccer, but with cars. It’s easy to pick up and learn even for someone new to a sports game, but has infinite playability. I’ve never played this game with any of my friends despite a few of them owning this, but I don’t care. Every goal that I score makes me want to get up and do an end-zone dance. Other version of football, I know, but you get the point.
Each game is fast-paced and the skill level of those around you can vary from game-to-game, but that adds an additional level of challenge to the game when you cannot speak to those around you. I never play with a headset, and most people don’t either. So you have to try and read your team’s movements the best you can and signal each other with a very small amount of pre-programmed sayings using a controller’s D-pad or a few programmed buttons on your keyboard.
It has extremely good replay value, but hits me in the soft spot like few games have. I spent a lot of my childhood playing games like Dusty Diamonds All-Star Softball and Mutant League Football. This game reminds me of those quirky “sports” simulators on the NES and SEGA Genesis—infinitely replayable, quick to pick up, but would take forever to master.
Honestly, a lot of the best games on the market right now are on the Wii U. From Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart last year into new IP’s like Splatoon this year it’s been consistently one of the best consoles of this generation.
But what makes Splatoon hit the Best Of list this year is its execution. It’s a neat concept, that is easy to understand and keeps you coming back to your Wii U every time you think it’s okay to disconnect and wait for whatever the NX is supposed to be. Any level of gamer can play this. You can have kids that are just starting out in gaming to adults who are creating complex strategies (and complain when the “sniper” class isn’t holding down their position) all playing in the same arena.
The control scheme takes full advantage of the Wii U’s hardware in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s gimmicky. If you’re like my wife and often have a hard time with traditional FPS control schemes, this takes it to another level by giving you the opportunity to “feel” the physics of the game, something other FPS games cannot. It’s fantastic, but it doesn’t stop there.
“Games as a Service” is a term that is generally used by the EA’s and Ubisofts of the world to justify cutting off significant amounts of content and making you pay for an additional Season Pass to get the game. In the past, and with the way I run with my Battlefield Crew in the future, I am guilty for paying for these to finish seeing all the content in the game.
However, Nintendo doesn’t make you pay extra for these in Splatoon. They just keep releasing content for the game. Are these huge updates? No, but they’re enough to keep the game feeling fresh and interesting.
And I want to reiterate these updates are free. That’s not just because it’s customer-friendly, but it solves for a very frustrating trend that happens in a lot of online multiplayer games. Let me paint the picture for you: You and your mates are about to sit down for your nightly session of Battlefield when, low and behold, another member of your group shows up after a few weeks away! Everyone is excited to chat with their friend and have a few good games. But what’s this? While said friend was away EA released an expansion pack. Most of the “regulars” have this expansion and have been playing the new maps and game mode for a few days now. But the friend does not. And does not have the scratch to purchase and download the new expansion. Should we get mad at him for not forking over additional money to keep playing the game that he already bought? Absolutely not. That is exclusionist and petty. So the group plays the vanilla content until that friend leaves for the night and they can go back to playing the new content. But in Nintendo’s world, those same friends are just waiting for a free download and they’re playing alongside the rest of their friends. If more companies acted like this, said friend would only have to chat with everyone while he waits for a download to complete before jumping into the action. No one is left behind, everyone enjoys the game.
(Side note: just what the hell is Battlefield going to do until BF5 comes out late next year? Hardline did not take off like they expected, Battlefront is a waste of time and energy, and DICE doesn’t seem to be working on anything else until then. A little worrying, honestly.)
Of course. Yes, of course this is on my GOTY list. The immersion of the story alone makes this on the list. Like other Fallout games there is a moral choice system and a litany of endings you could get depending on some of the choices that you make. However, this is the first installment of the game (or any with a multiple ending scenario) that actually made me pause the game and walk away from it before I moved forward toward an ending.
This is also the first game since Saints Row 2 that I actually felt a connecting to the character. It was my story that I was telling, but at the same time taking in the events of what this character has been through and what their motivations would look like in the story that was unfolding. The story was gripping to me, and the wonderful dialogue options and ability to just generally be a complete smartass through the game (given the character’s circumstances), was a nice touch.
The cities are memorable, the NPCs are unforgettable, and the crafting system is awesome. I was a huge fan of that in Skyrim and previous Bethesda games, but the amount of customization is awesome. This game feels like an epic adventure RPG. When you’re done with the first play you have a story to tell, and it is likely very different than the story someone else had with it. I know, because a small group of my friends bored our significant others a little bit at a party I was throwing this year because we were all comparing notes.
The game isn’t without flaws, but they are negligible and able to be overlooked for the story and gameplay they provide.