It took till about the middle of 2015 to get some good games going for the PC, but boy did it kick off to a great start! The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has earned “10/10” accolades from all sorts of reviewers including GameSpot, Game Informer, and even Angry Joe. The developers, CD Projekt Red, really hit the nail on the head in crafting a living, breathing, open world where your decisions matter and affect the story. In fact, they also nailed it on combat mechanics, character progression, and just about everything you could think of in a role-playing game. This third Witcher entry easily earns the #1 game of the year award.
Coming in on a close second is a decision between Fallout 4 and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Personally I chose Fallout 4 because I’m more familiar with the source material (I never played the previous Metal Gear games) and because I love open world role-playing games. Although the conversation tree could have used some more variety, Bethesda still made a great game with many improvements to combat, character progression, and perks.
MGS V also did great on many reviewer web sites, and earned status within the top ten games of the year. For the first time in a Metal Gear game stealth is not required quite as much, although sticking to stealth is rewarding as well. With strange and interesting characters, multiple ways to finish objectives, and a growing Mother Base, The Phantom Pain easily earns its place in the top ten list for 2015.
Blizzard had a great year for its games, including the release of its new free-to-play MOBA, Heroes of the Storm. Blizzard had some really unique methods in HotS (as it’s sometimes lovingly referred to), including team leveling and removing buyable items in favor of talents. Hundreds of thousands of people actively play this game, and it’s certain to enter the Major League Gaming scene soon.
Hearthstone got some great updates this year as well, including the ultra-fun League of Explorers expansion, another Hearthstone adventure. This is probably the most creative adventure of the bunch, and tells a humorous, fun story even though you’re only playing with cards; a feat that must be really hard to accomplish.
It’s hard not to mention the conclusion to the Starcraft II trilogy, Legacy of the Void. The campaign may have been a little repetitive at times, but it still delivered a fun, sometimes thrilling experience. Blizzard’s creativity is hard to beat, and this game was no exception.
The final great game worth mentioning here is a little independent project called Rocket League. This gem may be very simple, but its execution is superb. Players control cars in a soccer match involving a huge ball, and that’s pretty much it. But the physics and the unpredictability of the game, as well as the ability of each player to turn around an entire match makes this experience well worth its time.
2015 was not without its bombs as well. The worst of the worst included Rugby World Cup 2015, Raven’s Cry, Motorcycle Club, Alone in the Dark: Illumination, and the controversial Hatred. Both Star Wars Battlefront and Evolve seemed to serve up a great experience at first, but after only ten hours of gameplay players could see these games lacked depth and the fun quickly ran out.
Batman: Arkham Knight may have played just fine on consoles, but the PC version was an outright disaster. Its multiple bugs and especially its slow framerate were so bad that Steam even pulled it from the store for a while. Even now there are still technical issues with the PC version. Best to avoid this one for a long time if you really want it on your computer.
All in all, 2015 brought us a wide array of great games for the PC as well as console. Although a lot of them were either sequels or expansion sets, we still had a lot of fun with them.
With the advent of virtual reality, next year will likely blow us away. It will be interesting to see if the VR tech will succeed and change the lives of gamers everywhere, or if it will fade into obscurity again like it did in the ‘90s. Either way, we should be excited to see what comes next!