Before we begin, a quick reminder about how things work around here. Each year, we poll our community members for their favorite games of the year, but instead of limiting it to just what released that year we open it up to any game that was new to you. We're all busy, and we can't keep up with every new thing that comes out, and sometimes what really captures us is a game that's a year, or five years, or ten years, or twenty years old.
So not everything that made our top ten for 2014 actually released in 2014. Well, technically that's not true, but... Well... You'll see.
10. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U & Super Smash Bros. for 3DS
Punting Pikachu into oblivion never gets old. But punting Pikachu and fifty other Nintendo characters into oblivion in rock-solid online matches with no tripping is about the best thing since sliced bread. And having your own amiibo punt you into oblivion in match after match after match? That’s just humiliating.
9. Wasteland 2
Wasteland 2 might not be the Fallout sequel we got, but if I may be so bold, it was the Fallout sequel we deserved. Gritty and darkly beautiful, Wasteland 2 was one of an embarrassment of traditional Western RPGs that finally released this year. I’m not a PC gamer anymore, nor do I play Western RPGs, but if there were any game that would pull me toward that platform and that genre, it would be this one. (Well, and our #3 pick.)
“So awesome it made me consider giving up Mario.” - ClockGN.com
8. The Last of Us Remastered & The Last of Us: Left Behind
Also a clear winner for Most Depressing Game of the Year, and perhaps still the most compelling reason to buy a PlayStation of any stripe that Sony cares about, The Last of Us earned a spot on our top ten list again this year but didn’t quite clinch the Classic Game of the Year award. (More on that a little later.)
7. South Park: The Stick of Truth
Ubisoft does what Nintendon’t, releasing a Paper Mario game that’s wildly popular with gamers. All they had to do was to lovingly cover it in a vulgar, censored-in-Europe sheen of South Park. And I’m sure it helped that Obsidian finally made a game that’s not a buggy mess.
6. Mario Kart 8
- Console Exclusive of the Year
Imagine my surprise when I tallied the final votes this year and discovered that we had not one but two Wii U games in our community’s top ten. This is not—let’s be honest—a community that has traditionally been big fans of Nintendo platforms; our Conference Call crew have sold their Nintendo consoles or complained of them gathering dust; one poster accused the Wii U Catch-All thread of sounding like a “support group”.
And yet when Mario Kart 8 came out this summer and turned out to be the best Mario Kart game yet, you all took notice. And while the Gamers With Jobs community of Nintendo gamers is small, their passion for what was one of the most thrilling, fun, and polished experiences of 2014 earned it a spot in the top ten. In fact, Mario Kart 8 fell just one point shy of tying for fifth.
5. Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls & Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition
What do you get when you drop the least popular part of your game, retool its balance to be more in line with what fans expect, add a generous helping of new content, and release gorgeous, wonderfully playable versions of four of the major consoles on the market? A lot of happy players, that’s what, and our community’s appreciation for the Diablo 3 expansion-slash-ultimate edition is evidence of that.
(And I may be alone in it, but I’ll always lament that the final release of Diablo 3 shied away from the unicorns-and-rainbows pre-release footage that got the internet in such a tizzy. I’ll pour one out for you, My Little Demon Pony.)
4. Dark Souls 2
- The Dark Souls of the Year
SHUT UP ABOUT IT, ALREADY.
Okay, yes, it's awesome. Maybe not as awesome as Dark Souls, mind, but it's still Dark Souls so it's still awesome.
3. Divinity: Original Sin
- Indie Game of the Year
There’s a temptation to view this year as a sort of changing of the guard. High profile games from heavy hitters like Bungie, Ubisoft, and Respawn failed to impress while indie efforts, many of which began life as Kickstarter pipe dreams, gathered hype, momentum, and genuine enthusiasm all year long. Games like Wasteland 2, Transistor, Shovel Knight, Kentucky Route Zero, The Binding of Isaac Rebirth, Endless Legend, and Banished really seemed to catch our community and carry them through the year. It felt like something special, something significant; like we’ll look back on 2014 as a signal year when it felt like things really changed.
And at the forefront of that change, catching seemingly everyone by surprise, was Divinity Original Sin, a Kickstarter-funded traditional Western RPG from Larian Studios. It seems like an instant classic, not only because it was a game in a classic style but because it was just that good. So please, don’t wait for the Steam sale; don’t hold off for the Humble Bundle where you pay $2 for this and a plastic baggie of indie diamonds. Larian Studios made something special. Reward them for it.
2. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
The storyline might have J.R.R. Tolkien spinning in his grave, but Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was this year’s biggest surprise and suggests that between this and their success with the Arkham games, there’s something really wonderful in the water at Warner Bros. Interactive. Headlined by the novel new Nemesis system, Shadow of Mordor mined some of the same territory as strategy games like Crusader Kings 2 where an intelligent application of mechanics and just the right amount of randomization allows players to tell their own stories with their own dramatis personae of twisted characters. No one gets the same experience with Shadow of Mordor, and every nemesis is lovingly, beautifully customized by your own failure.
1. Dragon Age: Inquisition
- Most Overall Votes
- Most #1 Votes
There was a moment, back when I was first counting votes, that I thought that Dragon Age would lose to Shadow of Mordor. Anyone who has paid the slightest attention to the Gamers With Jobs community over the years knows that, second only to the High and Holy Valve Software, we love no developer so much as we love Bioware. But Dragon Age has been controversial with a love-it-or-hate-it second installment, and Bioware’s star has perhaps dimmed in the wake of Mass Effect 3 (but you get to choose the star’s color: red, blue, or green).
But really, nothing stood a chance. By weighted score, by total votes, and by #1 votes, Dragon Age: Inquisition dominated the polls and waltzed into the top spot, likely covered in improbable splashes of gore. My red-headed Mage Femquisitor is totally romancing this game on her next run.
Honorable Mention: Transistor
Typically, we don’t break down votes by platform, and the Wii U and 3DS releases of Super Smash Bros. are similar enough that I felt comfortable combining their votes into a single entry. However, there are other sites and publications who have felt like the slight differences in modes and maps between the two games qualified them to be counted separately. If we were to split things out in that way, the #10 game in our poll would be Transistor from Supergiant Games.
Classic Game of the Year: Super Mario 3D World
It was harder this year than in other years to figure out which game was our classic game of the year. Normally, the title is awarded to whichever game ranked highest that was released last year or earlier, but this time around things got a little … complicated. Diablo 3 released on PC in 2012 and again on consoles in 2013, but the overwhelming majority of the votes cast for it this year were for the "Reaper of Souls" expansion (or its console equivalent, the Ultimate Evil Edition) both of which released in 2014. Similarly, The Last of Us originally released in 2013, but its rank was buoyed by the 2014 "Left Behind" DLC pack and a 2014 PlayStation 4 remaster that included the new content.
Which left, somewhat awkwardly, and to my great personal pleasure, Nintendo’s Super Mario 3D World as the highest-ranked older game that didn’t get a re-release or expansion in the last year. A four-player 3D Mario game for the Wii U from the creators of Super Mario Galaxy 2, Super Mario 3D World is a joy to play and one of the very best games in the Wii U’s small but rich catalog.
Handheld Game of the Year: Bravely Default
Lately, people have been calling Bravely Default the best Final Fantasy game of the year, but I’d argue it’s more like Final Fantasy’s darker, more retro, and almost infinitely more playable cousin. If you loved JRPGs in the SNES era but gave up on them when Squaresoft crawled up its own Nova Crystalis Rectum Pluralis in the PlayStation 2 era, then Silicon Studio has a game for you.
Mobile Game of the Year: Hearthstone
This is a bit of a stretch because Hearthstone is available on PC, as well, but reading through the comments that people posted about the game, as well as following a smattering of conversation about it here and there in IRC, it sounds like many people are playing this primarily as a mobile title. With a fair setup for monetization, intelligently streamlined CCG gameplay, and some card effects that you just couldn't get with a physical card game, Hearthstone is a great mobile game and a great card game in general.