2015 was an incredible year for gamers. The next-gen platforms really started to gain traction this year with tremendous sales numbers and some truly quality releases. This article is a round up of some of the best games this year. There are certainly games that we enjoyed immensely that have been left off of this list, however, this is not comprehensive, nor does it represent any kind of order; it’s just a handful of the games that made an impression on us.
Bloodborne – In a year that featured many sequels or spin-offs, Bloodborne stood out as a brand new intellectual property. Exclusive to the Playstation 4 and developed by From Studios, Bloodborne pits the player in brutal combat scenarios with nightmarish creatures. The winding streets of Yharnam feature a gorgeous Gothic aesthetic that sets the ominous tone of the game. This game, like the Soul’s series also developed by From Studios, is notorious for its difficulty. While it is not a game for everyone, those looking for a deep challenge and dark story should look no further than this title.
Super Mario Maker – Super Mario Maker is exactly what it sounds like. Nintendo has given the power of creation to the players resulting in funny, complex and sometimes downright sadistic Mario levels. The creation tools span many generations of Mario allowing players to imagine classic levels with new textures, or create new levels that ooze 80’s and 90’s nostalgia. While the basic premise of the game is not new and we have seen creation tools handed to the players in platforming games like Little Big Planet, this is the first time players have ever been able to create their own worlds in a Mario game and the creation of new content will be ongoing for some time.
Halo 5: Guardians – Any round up of quality games in 2015 would be remiss if it did not mention Halo 5. Featuring as one of the premiere, exclusive games in what Microsoft claimed to be the “best games line up in Xbox history,” Halo 5 is the first Halo game on Xbox One. The Halo: Master Chief collection did release on the Xbox One in 2015 but it was a compilation of previous Halo games, not featuring any new content. A compelling, new single player campaign, new characters and fresh multiplayer additions keep Halo in the conversation for top games of the year. Multiplayer has been where Halo has shined in the past and it continues to do so with this installment. To top it off, the DLC maps will all be released for free! Halo 5 is a must buy for anyone who owns an Xbox One.
Fallout 4 – Fallout 4 is an immense game set in the ruins of Boston in a post-nuclear apocalypse. While the actual square mileage might fall short of other games like The Witcher 3, the interactivity between various parts of the game are what create the depth for the player. In old Fallout games much of the junk that the player was able to interact with had very specific purposes; Fallout 4 gives players the ability to scrap junk for the component parts and use it to build all kinds of things from weapon and armor upgrades to building materials for a settlement. Adding this to the fact that ammunition is scarce early on, the game takes on a kind of survivalist feel. This is not to say the game is realistic in any way, you are still fighting mutated fauna, irradiated human-ghouls and injecting strange chemicals to slow down time.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – For many gamers, this was their first foray into the world of The Witcher, a deep RPG rooted heavily in the Scandinavian tradition that produced it. The first Witcher title was exclusive to the PC and while the second game was also released on Xbox 360 the game went unnoticed by many gamers. The player is tasked with slaying mythical beasts and deciding the fates of entire villages through their actions; the Northern Kingdoms prove to be a bleak place full of brutality. Unlike Fallout, the weaponry here is of the high fantasy order where swords and magic dominate. While the story gets bogged down a bit in terms of it being overly fetch-quest based, there is enough compelling content in terms of side quests to keep players engaged for many hours.
Rocket League – Rocket League was the most surprising game in the bunch. It popped onto the radar as a free game for Playstation Plus subscribers. The premise of the game is accurately summed up by the clunky title of the original game upon which Rocket League was based: “Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars.” The only part of the game that the title doesn’t fully articulate is that, while engaged in a demolition derby, the player is also trying to put a giant soccer ball in the opposing net. The fact that each match is short and frantic, full of both luck and skill brings players of all kinds back for more car-soccer action.
Until Dawn – Until Dawn was a bit of a sleeper hit this year. For whatever reason, Sony did not sink a lot of marketing money into promoting the game and it did not make a huge splash in terms of release sales. This game is perfect for the people who go to the movies and scream at the screen when characters in horror movies make ill-fated choices. Tasked with making decisions for a bunch of teenagers that are being chased by a psychotic killer, the player must navigate the effectively used horror tropes to guide them to safety at dawn.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition – Microsoft purchased the rights to the Gears of War franchise in 2014 making it an exclusive staple in the Xbox lineup going forward. The Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is technically not a new game, being a remaster of the original Gears released on the 360 in 2006, however, this version of the game featured all kinds of upgrades to the original. New animations, textures and single player missions make the campaign worth a revisit. Beyond the additions to the campaign, the multiplayer was remastered to run at 60 frames per second, making the gore-fest the clearest it’s ever been.
Forza 6 – Forza has been an increasingly important game for Microsoft; the Xbox One has already seen two iterations of Forza: Forza 5 and Forza Horizon 2. Back with new cars, new tracks and new conditions to drive in, Forza 6 gives the most well rounded experience in racing games. Plainly put, Forza has taken over the mantle of best driving game from Gran Turismo. It is hardcore enough for those looking to tune every part, or it’s casual enough for the pick up and race-without-brakes kind of player. With an addicting leveling system, tons of customization options and DLC planned for the future Forza 6 will remain in rotation throughout 2016.
Xenoblade Chronicles X – The Xeno series is not new. The first game, Xenogears, released on the Playstation console in 1998 to critical acclaim. Noted for approaching deep philosophical topics, the series has been a heavy hitter since this initial release. Those who owned a Wii might be familiar with this title; Xenoblade Chronicles came out for the Wii in 2012 and quickly became an elusive must-have for owners of the console. Those looking for an open-world RPG on the WiiU, Xenoblade Chronicles X delivers. Even though it is running on a modestly powered console, the world depicted here is massive; the beautiful landscapes and sense of scale that this game approaches are ambitious regardless of platform. The game has a deep progression and customization system; the combat is diverse and dynamic; this top-shelf JRPG should not be missed.