2015 Community Game of the Year - Results posted! Check the front page!

Okay, I'm going to put a list together quickly. It turns out I didn't play a lot of games this year, but rather played several rather obsessively.

1. Rocket League (PC/PS4)
I almost feel dirty putting this at number one as it's so simple and the scope is so much narrower than some of the others, it almost feels unfair. But what can I say? Sometimes somebody writes a song that only has 3 chords, and I can recognize the simplicity, but they do it so well, I can't help but love it. That's Rocket League. Three beautiful chords, arranged just so.

2. MGS V: The Phantom Pain (PS4)
Big Triple-A tomfoolery that's strangely self-aware, melodramatic, ridiculous, and self-serious all at once. I don't know how he does it. Oh, and the open-world, stealth semi-optional approach is just a joy to play. I haven't finished it yet, but I already enjoy it enough to put it in a place of honor.

3. Helldivers (PS4/Vita)
I picked it up on a lark because it was $15 and cross play with Vita. I played it on both and wasn't disappointed. I'm a sucker for couch co-op and crazy friendly fire scenarios and this game delivers in spades. As a bonus, the quirky "Starship Troopers" movie vibe is over-the-top fun.

4. Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS4)
I know I may have been late to the party. Not much needs to be said about this one. Great questing system, fun story, way too much to do. Party mechanics were solid, so the need to micromanage was minimized except in very difficult fights. I dug it.

5. Mortal Kombat X (PS4)
I didn't go super-deep into this one, but I did manage to become semi-competent with one or two combatants. I hadn't played a fighting game in quite a while (Mortal Kombat 3/ Street Fighter 2 era). There were some new mechanics with the focus attacks and the single player campaign was surprisingly fun, komplete with an actual story and everything.

I didn't vote last year, so I'd love to add in Shadow of Mordor (I did play the Bright Lord DLC this year), but it feels disingenuous. That would have been my GOTY last year, though, so I'll just mention it like this. Likewise XCOM: Enemy Within, but I had played a bunch of Unknown already, and it's really the same game, only moreso.

Lets do this:



1. Dragon Age: Inquisition
2. Rocket League
3. Trivia Crack
4. Tales from the Borderlands[
5. The Beginner's Guide
6. Her Story
7. Life is Strange
8. Destiny
9. Fallout Shelter
10. Batman: Arkham Knight


Honorable Mentions (Games that I haven't had time enough time to play to formalize my thinking, but so far I think that they are good): The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Fallout 4, Undertale.

1. Dragon Age: Inquisition (Jaws of Hakkon, The Descent, and Trespasser): I loved all three pieces of content, but this is my favorite game mostly for Trespasser. I loved revisiting Thedas, I loved seeing an epilogue to the world (which mirrors in many ways the prologue to the game) and I loved seeing the things that I built in Inquisition stand and adapt past the game (unlike in DAO and DAII). Jaws of Hakkon and The Descent are great pieces of content, but Trespasser put a great bow on my favorite game last year.

2. Rocket League: This is the best sports game I have ever played. It is simple, yet complex; frantic, yet controlled; and infuriating, yet fun. It captures all of the emotions that I want from playing pickup basketball or soccer, and has become the thing I do when I don't have time to do something more substantial. My only regret is that I don't have a more robust single-player game (for practice) and that I can't pay the developers for it.

3. Trivia Crack: Yes, I know. It is a free to play, IOS/facebook game, and it really isn't a great game. But I can't tell you the number of friends who don't play games that I played this game with. Trivia Crack was fun for the sole reason that there were so many friends that I got to play with that would not touch any other game on this list. And that is why it is here.

4. Tales from the Borderlands: Full disclosure, I have never played any Borderlands games. But this is easily my favorite TellTale game. I loved the world, I loved the sense of fun and adventure in the world (understandably lacking from the Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The Wolf Among Us), and the scope of the game--I felt like I was affecting the Borderlands world in ways that were more meaningful than in other TT games. Mostly, this was a game formula I loved, and in a game that was fun.

5. The Beginner's Guide: Again, a game that trusted me to enough to tell me a story and allow me to figure it out as I go. While, again, the cliche is obvious and I figured it out about halfway through the game, I think the execution of the games fourth-wall breaking was amazing. TBG has something to say, says that thing in an interesting way, and trusts me as a player (largely) to figure out what it is saying.

6. Her Story: There are very few games that I felt trusted me enough as a player to explore the story non-linearly, and while I guessed both of the overly cliche possible endings five minutes in, the fact that the games story is open to different interpretations that can be discussed and argued about for weeks makes this one of my favorite experiences.

7. Life is Strange: I love the TellTale design formula, and I like that other studios are riffing on it. LiS tries to explore relationships and consequences in a way most games don't venture near, and is largely successful. Although the last episode does go off the rails, and the choice at the end is very rote and uninteresting, I enjoyed the ride and enjoyed occupying a character (a vulnerable teenage girl) that I typically don't get to explore in games.

8. Destiny (The Taken King) Full disclosure: I played a good bit of Destiny last year, stopped right after Dragon Age Inquisition came out, and hopped back in for TTK. And after playing alot of TTK, I still think Destiny has the same strengths (great combat, interesting world and lore) and same weaknesses (not many good stories in the world, almost impossible to solo, terrible multiplayer that I am not good at). But Destiny makes the list because 1) I want t go home right now and shoot damn aliens in the head (more than dig into Witcher or Fallout) and 2) it still has so much potential to get better. And I want to race my Speeder...err...Sparrow.

9. Fallout Shelter: This for all intents and purposes was my introduction to the world of Fallout. I had a wonderful time building my little ant-farm of survivors, expanding my Vault (126), and exploring the Machiavellian aspects of building a world. I would probably still be playing this game if a) it worked better on my phone at the end game (I know they patched it, but it's too late for me) and b) if there weren't so many sexist tropes and gender exclusionary ideas (really, pregnant women can't do anything, women can't wear certain outfits, all of my characters are straight, all of my women can bear children, all of my men can father children, etc).

10. Batman: Arkham Knight: I hesitated to put this here, because I have serious problems with the representation in this game...that and stealth tanks. But for all the AAA popcorn games, this was my favorite. I still love the combat, the story was good (not great) and Mark Hamill is brilliant as the Joker.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

What games are eligible for voting? Anything you played for the first time in 2015.

RamblinRob wrote:

5. Xenoblade Chronicles X - I won't even get the chance to play it until 2016.
10. Call of Duty Black Ops III - I haven't even played it.

I'm a tool.

I wouldn't say you were a tool, but you are maybe violating the spirit (if not the letter) of the voting requirements. It's ultimately Clock's call, of course, but as much as I want to give XCX votes...

zeroKFE wrote:

I might not even have ten games to list.

I don't think that's abnormal for Gamers With Jobs. Even without excuses, we're a busy lot, not professional reviewers!

beeporama wrote:
zeroKFE wrote:

I might not even have ten games to list.

I don't think that's abnormal for Gamers With Jobs. Even without excuses, we're a busy lot, not professional reviewers!

It's abnormal for me.

I'm looking at it now, and I think I've only got 9 that I can genuinely list, with a few more that I really didn't play enough to count, but liked enough to put on a maybe list. Maybe I'll try to get to one or two of them before the end of voting, though.

1. Rocket League: I haven't finished it yet but it's the game I've put 256 hours into so far this year (and still counting. )

Short list, since I don't play as much as I would like to:

1. Rocket League
2. Transistor
3. Thomas Was Alone

Looking through my Xbox Achievements feed I didn't really play a lot of games this year so this won't be a top 10 list. I'm more of a completion than someone who feels like they need to be playing the new hotness all the time so they can be part of the conversation. I also ended up skipping a number of games this year that I probably would have gotten if not for financial reasons (Halo 5, The Taken King, and The Witcher 3 being the big ones).

1. Dragon Age: Inquisition - I think I played something like 600+ hours of this game this year. Technically I played the EA Access trial of it late last year, but I didn't really start playing it until late January of this year. It is funny that I played so much of it because I didn't like the first game and never even tried the second one. Two full play-throughs of the main game (one Normal mode and one Nightmare mode including all the DLC) and a third partial play-through to unlock the main game achievements they added with the final DLC and I think I got my monies worth out of this one.

2. Fallout 4 - This is the new hotness right now but it is nearly everything I wanted out of a Fallout 3 sequel. About the only negative I have to say about this game is that it is so similar to Fallout 3 that it isn't as fresh of an experience as Fallout 3 was.

3. Mad Max - If I had played more games this year this probably wouldn't rank this high but I did enjoy it for the 60+ hours I put into it.

4. Pneuma: Breath of Life - A fun little short puzzle game with an odd story. It was a nice palette cleanser type game on a Sunday afternoon.

5. Rare Replay - So this one might be against the rules but F the police This was a nice trip down memory lane with some games that I hadn't played in ages and a couple I had forgotten about.

zeroKFE wrote:
Can I vote for an expansion pack? For the purposes of vote counting, votes for expansions are folded into votes for the base game. So for example, a vote for Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is counted as a vote for Diablo III.

So, I forget: how does the spirt of this rule apply to things like MMOs, where you get a series of huge content patches that constitute as much content as an expansion, or even a full new release?

I'll leave it up to you. The spirit of the rule was to let players vote for new content or experiences they had with familiar games while trying to avoid votes for games that are simply comfortable and familiar. Patches and expansions can change games significantly, and they're not always a for-pay thing you can get off the shelf.

RamblinRob wrote:

1. Fallout 4 - I like it. Everyone else likes it. It's going to be on the final list. It will be number one.
2. Undertale - It's gonna be on the final list no matter what. I still haven't finished it once.
3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain - I liked it but I didn't get to the end.
4. Pokemon Alpha Sapphire - I actually prefer the Ruby version that I have but people like the color blue so I put this instead.
5. Xenoblade Chronicles X - I won't even get the chance to play it until 2016.
6. Destiny - I hate the fact it's an online exclusive game and there are ads for it everywhere on the internet if you don't have adblocker on. Since the world seems to prefer it though...
7. Super Mario Maker - Literally the best Super Mario game to date. Unless you play on expert and try to get through everyone's cheap death courses.
8. Bloodborne - This game kicks ass.
9. Just Cause 3 - I'm still playing this as we speak and would put this higher on the list if it weren't for everything else overshadowing it. That said, I realize this game has flaws and suffers from a high amount of repetition. Even so - the freestyle open world gameplay and intense action is incredibly fun.
10. Call of Duty Black Ops III - I haven't even played it.

Just in case there's some confusion here: we're not asking you to predict other people's or the press's favorite games this year. We want to know the games you played and enjoyed.

Otherwise, I don't see the value in any of what I highlighted.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
zeroKFE wrote:
Can I vote for an expansion pack? For the purposes of vote counting, votes for expansions are folded into votes for the base game. So for example, a vote for Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is counted as a vote for Diablo III.

So, I forget: how does the spirt of this rule apply to things like MMOs, where you get a series of huge content patches that constitute as much content as an expansion, or even a full new release?

I'll leave it up to you. The spirit of the rule was to let players vote for new content or experiences they had with familiar games while trying to avoid votes for games that are simply comfortable and familiar. Patches and expansions can change games significantly, and they're not always a for-pay thing you can get off the shelf.

Okay, cool.

I think it's pretty safe to say that my game qualifies for this year then.

I don't have a list of 10 games to vote for - is that the rule?

My TOP 5 Though:

1. Witcher 3 (Xbox) - Most games, once I reach a point of exhaustion; drop off the playlist forever. It's a sharp drop between it being the bees knees and suddenly I can't push forward any more. W3 breaks the mold in that it calls me back, and I'm excited after a long fall hiatus to dive back into it. It's quality rose above all others this year. Once i drop a game, I generally leave it there, even if I never beat it. Also, I've heard the first expansion is excellent, so I'm expecting Blood and Wine to be even better.

2. Metal Gear Solid V (Xbox) - This game surprised me. I've never enjoyed the MGSV series - can't get into wacky story-lines like this. But the gameplay, enemy AI, and spectacular combat opportunities and freedom to engage missions any way you want is wonderful. I love pursuing the vast weapon choices to see which direction i want to go. Who'd have thunk I'd enjoy re-taking every stronghold over and over again?

3. Halo 5 - Some might say this is a relic of the past - but with multiplayer this good, I have to tip my hat to the perfection of the Halo 5 gameplay. I also think the campaign is excellent, with it's mix of sharp visuals, settings, soundtrack, sound effects, and a good dose of Buck with a smooth 60fps flawless framerate. Maybe I just never want to let go of this story. Halo needs to work on textures for the next game though - too many flat gray buildings in the halo universe!

4. Rise of the Tomb Raider - I can't wait for everyone to play this game - across all platforms. It's amazing - it just needs a bit more humor, but then again, maybe it would look too much like Uncharted. It's worthy of a system purchase to play it NOW. The game defining tombs are clever without being devious and backed up by gorgeous visuals. Combat needs a vast improvement next time though - it's not realistic for this 90lb woman to choke out a fully grown man this fast. MGSV has raised the bar for enemy AI and realism.

5. Cities: Skylines (PC) - The only PC game on the list this year - although I'm hoping with my recent games capable Notebook purchase that I can unlock the Steam Backlog this coming year.

It has been a strange year for me, I've played more older games with MODs than new games. I vowed to cut down on my game buying and was successful. I only added three but split it between video and cardboard.

1a) Metal Gear Solid V (PS4): Any non-Paradox game that take up a 100 hours of my time needs to be mentioned. I like Metal Gear games, but this game makes all the others seem weaker by moving towards a more open world environment. Easily my game of the year.

2a) Star Wars Battlefront (PS4): This game has brought me back to playing shooter games multiplayer (it was the Star Wars marketing). I'm 100% happy with this. Many have complained about the shooter game aspect of this, but I don't play shooters so I'm just having a blast with being a rebel solder - who has to face stormtroopers that can actually shoot.

3a) Cities Skylines (PC): I love a good city simulation and this is the best in a long time. The only downfall was the inordinate focus on the traffic simulation. A perfect game to play when I need some mild gaming meditation. Also making ridiculous highways.

1b) The Voyages of Marco Polo: Rarely is there a non-wargame that captivates my interest as much as this has. I find it competitive and the different personas make it a differnt play each time.

2b) Fire in the Lake: This may be my least favorite of the COIN games, but these are all excellent. I finally got to playing this (dragging me away from the others) and found it an excellent game (though a bad simulation). I fills a niche in these games that was missing (allowing "cubes" to fight each other and rangers.

3b) Star Wars Armada) I have not played this too much but have enjoyed what I have played. The ship models are great. I was planning to repaint them but found that I didn't need to (except for fighters). I want to get more play time and should go to some of the local events.

Notable cardboard mention: Food Chain Magnate, I only played a learning game and have my own copy coming soon. Expect it to be on next years list.

Yo Flint, over here

WyattERP: Nope, the rule (as stated in the opening post):

You don't need ten games but, please, rank your choices.

This was a terrible year for me playing new games. I got super sick last year and spent most of the first 5 months replaying old GBA games so I don't think those count. So here's my small list reflecting what little I played that was new or that I spent much time with (not counting MGSV as I only spent an hour with it).

1. Rocket League
2. Codename S.T.E.A.M.
3. Splatoon
4. Bloodborne

1. Fallout 4 (PS4) - the finest duct-tape hoarding simulator ever created. The other parts are good too I guess.
2. Saints Row: Gat out of Hell (PS4) - a bit short but still really funny.
3. Diablo III (PS4) - technically I already played this on PC back when it first came out, but this was my first time playing through Reaper of Souls plus there have been a lot of significant changes to the base game since I played it last. I enjoyed it more on the console and had a great time though the endgame loot treadmill still gets old pretty fast.
4. Armello (PS4) - cute art style, solid gameplay (a few too many random elements for my tastes, but still entertaining), but pretty low replay value. Also the AI opponents are super dumb.

I think that's it? Only 4 new games, and two of those were basically just expansion packs. I also sunk a buttload more hours into Dragon Age: Inquisition and re-played Saints Row IV but I already voted for those last year. This has got to be the slowest gaming year ever for me.

TLDR List for Clock
1. Fallout 4
2. Destiny: The Taken King
3. Grand Theft Auto Online
4. Metal Gear Solid 5
5. Destiny
6. Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void
7. Dying Light
8. Star Wars: Battlefront
9. Assassin's Creed: Unity
10. Far Cry 4

This was absolutely the weirdest year for me. Usually I spend a little bit of time in a LOT of games. Each hot new indie title would instantly be in my steam library with just a few short hours played before I moved on to the next one. This year was the opposite, aside from Kingdom I can't think of a single one that I picked up. I was satisfied enough by the big triple A games that I played that I didn't feel the urge to impulse buy much else. Even the dreaded/anticipated steam sale only saw me picking up 3 games(1 of which I haven't even started but you know that drill).

Anyway here's my list, I added an honorable mention category for games that I've played but just haven't spent enough time in to really qualify it beyond 'This is fun'.

  1. Fallout 4 - This probably would've been lower on the list had it not been for the settlements and the mods that I added to boost it. But even at the base package(which I spent 21-25ish levels in before I added mods) there is a ton of content and lots of fun to be had. I spent hours just walking in random directions clearing raiders and super mutant nests. When I finally got to the glowing sea it was just reinforced how much I love this game and can't wait to see what new features are added when the official mod kit is released next year.
  2. Destiny: The Taken King - You might notice there are 2 entries for Destiny in this list. Listen I'm just as surprised as you are but I fell in love with this franchise. I'll speak more about the base game and the first 2 expansions below, but The Taken King is so different that it deserves it's own spot. Better quest lines, story and more varied content were all things that I loved about this update. Even now, months after release I'm still playing almost every day. Whether it's to participate in the new events that pop up or to spend time leveling my alt characters, I love this game.
  3. Grand Theft Auto 5 Online - When I found out the PC release date for this game I got so excited and the anticipation hit me so hard that I couldn't wait and bought it one Xbox One first, just so that I could spend time getting to know the world and developing my character. Then the PC version came out and all of my friends picked it up. Even as recently as last night we still get together to screw around, do some races and shoot each other. It has problems, the single player is a story of douchebags being douchebags and the patches sometimes cause weird bugs but when I can hop online and go to my 4 garages full of expensive, modified cars and then take those cars and run over my friends...well there's not much more I could ask for in a GTA game. Except maybe my own heliport or marina, calling Pegasus is stupid. Oh also maybe let me buy a mansion? Apartments are for poor people.
  4. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain - Up until the 4th title I would've probably called this one of my favorite video game franchises. Its over the top and dramatic story combined with solid stealth mechanics and goofy easter eggs drove me to replay them over and over again. Then the 4th one took it too far and just killed all of me interest...until I saw a 30 minute video for 5 from e3. Then I watched the same mission played differently during gamescom and then again on twitch. Reviews said the story was minimal and that was the final straw, I went all in and I'm 100% glad I did. Quiet is stupid but the rest of the game is great. Just enough story weirdness between hours and hours of skulking, bashing and fulton-ing. You can fulton a goat. Just tape a balloon to it's rump and up it goes. How many games can claim that?
  5. Destiny - While I thought the beta for this was just okay, I still decided to try out the full game proper during the Dark Below expansion. Mostly because I was taking advantage of the 'Buy it on the 360, get it on the XB1' offer. Initially I thought it was alright, halfway through the story missions I started to see glimmers(ha, destiny pun) of a rich world and interesting characters. Then...it suddenly ended. I scratched my head a bit for sure but something weird happened. I just found myself...still playing. I would log on ever day to do my bounties and work on leveling gear just to have it maxed out. Hell I farmed Hive kills with a crappy autorifle for hours just so I could 'have' the next step. When House of Wolves came out and I could max out any piece of gear I wanted? Well then I played even more. Actually participating in raids, trying to get max rank during Iron Banner events. Hell I did everything the game could offer me with all 3 characters. Not since Star Wars: The Old Republic have I invested so much time in an MMO. Even a half-assed one like this.
  6. Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void - I can't believe I almost forgot about this game. I've loved the franchise for a long time, with the Protoss being my favorite race. So an entire campaign dedicated to that seems tailor made for me.
  7. Dying Light - This is a recent surprise. I liked the Dead Island games enough but admit that they were seriously flawed. Dying Light is MUCH better than those, though it's also admittedly a little flawed as well. But never have I felt like I could so easily survive a zombie apocalypse and felt so terrified by the night. Add in the drop in/drop out co-op and interesting / difficult to obtain secrets and you have a great game.
  8. Star Wars: Battlefront - Oddly enough I expected this game to be much higher. I LOVE Star Wars, to the point that I literally wore out VHS tapes as a kid. I also love the Battlefield franchise. Even the Beta for this game blew me away with how much I absolutely adored everything that was going on. Yet when it came out I found myself playing other things. Don't get me wrong I think it's great but just don't play it as often as some of the other games on this list.
  9. Assassin's Creed: Unity - This one was a bit of a shock. I've always like the Assassin's Creed games, loved the pirate-y aspect of Black Flag and stayed away from this when it first launched because of technical woes both with the game and my computer. I finally got around to it this summer and loved that it brought things back to a more traditional Assassin experience. I also thought the Co-Op was solid and loved kitting out my Arno with tons of different outfit pieces and even playing with weird weapon combinations(Musket all the way).
  10. Far Cry 4 - This one was just like AC: Unity in that I couldn't get around to it because of computer problems. When I finally did I found exactly what I liked from Far Cry 3 and improvements on what I didn't like. Namely the characterizations were done better and the co-op was loads of fun.

Honorable Mentions

  • Elite Dangerous
  • Halo 5
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider

Hmm... My admittedly short list:

1. Fallout 4 (Xbox One) - Because how could we not? The game is a massive improvement over Fallout 3 and NV. The world is larger and more interesting, and while the story is a little on the hokey side, the voiced protagonist makes it work. The fact that it plays much better as a FPS now, though VATS is still an option, is also incredibly useful for those moments you run out of AP. The settlement system is just icing on the cake.

2. StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void (PC) - Yes, the story line is over the top redonk, and the Protoss are super rigged in multiplayer right now, it's important to remember that this is the final chapter in one of the finest RTS series ever created. The place this series holds in my heart cannot be denied.

3. Rocket League (PC) - So nice I even created the First Ever PC/PS4 Rocket League... League which was met with... mixed success. Still, it's a great multiplayer game, though much more fun with Goodjers.

4. The Witcher 3 (Xbox One) - This was my first game into the series, dispute owning Witcher 1 and 2 and never playing either of them. That said, the story isn't super dependent on the previous two installments, which made it easier to jump in and enjoy. The combat was fun, the story was entertaining, and the open world was interesting to poke around in, though I will say the game had a tendency to drag in the middle sections (though not nearly as bad as Inquisition did.)

I'm getting my money's worth out of my switch to PC gaming—not playing the latest AAA blockbuster on ultra with up-to-date drivers, but indies. So many indie games.

  1. DiRT Rally (2015, GBR, Codemasters, Win)
    I heard y'all like Dark Souls well this is the Dark Souls of racing games. Ditches the dudebro trappings of Dirt's past, and launches straight into sim territory then straight into a tree. Technical, demanding, unforgiving, beautiful looking and glorious sounding, this is the most authentic rally game, and one of the best racing sims, ever.
  2. Assassin's Creed (2007, CAN, Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft, 360)
    The flaws are well-documented, if over-emphasized, but the ambition and focus—what Assassin's Creed offers as it is—is largely overlooked. Since the series went the GTA/collectathon route subsequently, this remains the best, and only, Assassin's Creed game. Better late than never that I played it, and deserves this spot even now.
  3. Her Story (2015, GBR, Sam Barlow, Mac)
    Strong acting and a focus as tight as it is confident makes for a truly deductive mystery game that trusts it can leave everything to its players to solve to their satisfaction. The perfect FMV game, and the case for how and why FMV is relevant.
  4. The Beginner's Guide (2015, USA, Everything Unlimited Ltd., Mac)
    Davey Wreden's follow-up to The Stanley Parable is a disarmingly personal work, that clearly draws from Wreden's experience with TSP to paradoxically argue why things shouldn't get too personal.
  5. Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist (2015, GBR, Crows Crows Crows, Mac)
    William Pugh's follow-up to The Stanley Parable is a delightfully funny companion piece, that draws from Pugh's experience with TSP to switch sides and show the player what game design is like from the side of the designer.
  6. GRID Autosport (2014, GBR, Codemasters, Win)
    This is just what the doctor ordered. Cleanly presented, straightforward racing, with an emphasis on circuits and the actual sport part of its name: practice, qualifying, team objectives (contra the misnomered Forza Motorsport). No gimmicks, no cutscenes, no piss filter. Its simcade handling is just another plus since I have Dirt Rally to fatigue me; and with hard AI, no assists, and no flashbacks, fighting for points is still a challenge.
  7. NEON STRUCT (2015, USA, Minor Key Games, Mac)
    Plays like Thief, looks like Deus Ex, sounds like synthwave. While the gameplay is familiar (gratefully so for taffers, if a bit lighter) the aesthetic and music stand alone, and there's a thoughtful story about surveillance and privacy in there too.
  8. Hacknet (2015, AUS, Team Fractal Alligator/Surprise Attack, Win)
    The Dirt Rally of hacking games: authentic, immersive, and won't hold your hand (don't forget your terminal commands). I feel like a hacker sat at his PC, not a Hollywood hacker, playing this game.
  9. The Yawhg (2013, CAN, Damian Sommer & Emily Carroll, Win)
    After 10 minutes, I thought it was a nice little optimistic story generator; after another 10 minutes, fate brought about a melancholic tale of ineluctable tragedy and the inability to escape the past. To have two such different experiences out of such a deceivingly simple little premise is remarkable. Lovely writing, and fantastic art by Emily Carroll, as usual. Criminal that I didn't play it until now.
  10. Door Kickers (2014, ROU, KillHouse Games, Mac)
    Pure tactical takedown action: planning, loadouts, go codes, bullet penetration, it's a top-down SWAT 4 that out-Rainbow Sixes Rainbow 6 Siege.

Honourable Mentions Simulators Played
Car Mechanic Simulator 2015
Shower With Your Dad Simulator 2015
Surgeon Simulator 2013

Dishonourable Mentions
Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious. Just give me my free 1000 GS, Ludacris.

Most Caps in the Title
GRID Autosport
DiRT Rally

Thanks for Playing!
the static speaks my name

Dr. Langeskov is free! Why is no one else playing it?

1) Farming Simulator 2015 (PS4)

I thought for certain that this would be a passing fad for me, but no. The core loop of the game is intensely satisfying and there's so much more left to discover. The only reason I haven't played more of this one is that I'm trying to model good sharing and turn-taking skills for my kids.

2) Metal Gear Solid: 5 (PC)

So, that came out of left field, huh? Never have I ever played a Metal Gear game before this. I've put 30 hours into the game and I think I'm still at 2% completion, mainly because I'm trying to get the ability to attach vehicles to a weather balloon so I can kidnap and brainwash recruit more people at once.

3) Super Mario Maker (WiiU)

Just the act of creating is so satisfying, so intuitive, so egregiously Nintendo that I had to give this game a spot in the top five. I hear the level browser is crap, but I haven't actually tried anyone else's levels.

4) Yoshis Wooly World (WiiU)w

Cute, cute cute? Cute! Cute cute cute cute!

5) Tearaway Unfolded (PS4)

Speaking of charm, holy moly what a sweet game. Excellent use of the full capabilities of the DualShock 4, and a fun game to boot. Also, if you play while connected to PSN you can collect actual papercraft models that you can download, print and build in meatspace!

6) Splatoon (WiiU)

Why are there three Nintendo games on my list? And this one a Multiplayer shooter?

Who am I and what have I done with myself?

7) Godzilla (PS4)

Yes, I liked this better than Fallout 4, and I like Fallout 4 a whole lot.

8) Fallout 4 (PS4)

My only regret is that I can't play on the PC and therefore cannot mod the game to get rid of the encumbrance limit.

9) I Am Bread (PC, PS4)

While climbing the walls in the game, I noticed the bookshelf contained such titles as “Yeast Of Eden,” “Encyclopedia Breadtannica” and “Catcher in the Rye.”

I bought it twice. Frankly, I'm surprised it didn't make my top spot.

10) Shooty Skies (IOS)

I almost forgot about this one! The folks behind Cross Road made an endless Vertical Scroll shooter, and it's amazing! Go play it!

EDIT: stricken from the list

Xeodrifters (PS4)

For a free PSN game, I sure got a lot of play out of this one. I'm a sucker for pixelart graphics, and this one really nails the look, feel and sound of those old games.

Were those in order?

Going to have to go back and reread a bunch of these when I have more time.

I'm going to be last minute, as usual, as I try and catch up to all the gaming I've been slacking off on. December is surprisingly busy.

What makes this difficult is, going over the games I have played this year, I really can't think of how to sort them. I liked them all, but with few exceptions (in fact, perhaps only one exception), none of them really stand out as being clearly top-10 worthy. So, that's gonna make this tough.

UPDATED 12/30.

11. The Binding of Isaac - Afterbirth - PC/PS4
Isaac is the game I've played the most since it released. Rebirth brought more to do, and this brought boatloads more, some say to the detriment of the game's balance, but I'm of the "more is more" when it comes to Isaac persuasion.
10. The Room III - iOS
I am a SUCKER for these games, and this was the best, deepest one yet. There are books that people obsess over so much they have to hit pause on the rest of their life so they can finish them. I'm the same way with The Room games and their puzzles.
9. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 - Multi
I'm a Call of Duty nerd, and moreso a Black Ops nerd. I love the fast-paced multiplayer and zombie modes and this delivers those in spades. The campaign is not as bad as everyone says it is, and it's just icing on the cake for me anyhow.
The game that proved that third-person MOBAs could be compelling, and this is a ton of fun on the couch, controller in hand, playing with others. More action-oriented than other MOBAs, which serves it well, and great character design/approach, with the various gods across the various pantheons having abilities that suit them.
7. Dark Souls II - Scholar of the First Sin - Multi
I skipped this on PC hoping that a definitive edition of sorts would land on consoles, and this did not disappoint. I still haven't completely finished it, but I love every ounce of it.
6. Destiny: The Taken King - Multi
I had written Destiny off, then The Taken King pulled me back in, and that's not an easy thing to do. Great expansion, and I had a lot of fun running Iron Banner, Raids, etc. with Goodjers.
5. Halo 5: Guardians - XB1
People are bent out of shape about the campaign, but it's honestly great. And it happens to be the best Halo multiplayer ever. Period. If you're into Halo at all, you owe yourself this game.
4. Heroes of the Storm - PC
Shockingly, this might be what I spent the most time playing in 2015. Everyone has personal feelings about the MOBA genre, but I find the style of game to be fun, and Blizzard's iteration adds characters I know and love, their graphical/sound polish, strips away complexity in the form of items/runes/etc. and serves as an incredibly fun way to spend my time. Looking forward to playing this more.
3. Ori and the Blind Forest - XB1
Everything else has already been said about this game, and it's all true. Every bit of it. This is a beautiful game in every respect.
2. Rise of the Tomb Raider - XB1
It's such a good TR game that it's taking effort for me to not have an internal debate over it being GOTY. Graphics/environment comparable to Witcher 3, fantastic sound design, and a compelling story (though told mostly through discoveries/collectibles, which appeals to me and not everyone). Improves on the great Tomb Raider self-titled in every way.
1. Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt - Multi
Like a few others, I was not overwhelmed by The Witcher 1 or 2, mainly because of my lackluster PC gaming rig and my frustration with the gameplay. The Witcher 3 owned me from the jump, however. An incredibly satisfying open-worldish RPG, coming from someone who's not a zealot for either genre. Looks beautiful, sounds incredible, plays amazing, with a fantastic narrative. My GOTY.

To make things easier for Clocky, here's just the list - the gory details follow:
10. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Premium Edition
9. Reassembly
8. Planetbase
7. Grey Goo
6. Mini Metro
5. Assassin's Creed Syndicate
4. Anno 2205
3. Valhalla Hills
2. Rebel Galaxy
1. Dragon Age: Inquisition

Before I get to the list details, I feel like I should mention what's not on it, because like 2014, this was another year full of gaming disappointment for me. There were so many well-crafted popular games released this year that I just couldn't stand. Not having a PS4 has shut me out from some of the better releases, too. And before anyone yells at me for listing games I didn't like in a Game of the Year thread, I prefer my posts in these threads to be more of a "BadKen's year in gaming" thing, where what I didn't like, and what I didn't even want to try are just as important as what I did.

I bounced off The Witcher 3 fast and hard. The same thing happened to me with Witcher 1 and 2, and for the same reason: I loathe Geralt. I have a really hard time playing a game with a protagonist I can't stand with voice acting that grates on me every time he says something. So many people say this game is the second coming, though, so I may go back and try again. Maybe I was just too in love with the characters and squad-based play of Inquisition. Maybe the Witcher 3 quests will pull me in enough to put my irrational loathing for Geralt aside.

After seeing gameplay video of Quiet in action, there is absolutely no way I am ever playing Metal Gear Solid V.

Rocket League was fun for a while, but like most multiplayer games, I eventually just stopped having fun watching everyone else in the game play so much better than I ever would be able to.

The janky look and feel and unorthodox "features" of Betheseda games are keeping me away from Fallout 4. Since the fiction never really did much for me, I never played the earlier Fallout games either, so I don't feel like I'm missing much.

I bounced off The Sims 4 pretty fast, too. I liked the look, but something about the game just made it feel soulless compared to everything I enjoyed about The Sims 3. The lack of content that was widely berated didn't really bother me. I always felt like I had plenty to do. Maybe I'll enjoy it more after picking up a few expansions on sale someday, since Sims expansions often make the sims themselves more interesting.

I had high hopes for Homeworld Remastered, but I ran into so many game-breaking bugs playing the Homeworld part of the game that I just had to shelve it. It didn't crash or anything, but a bunch of things just didn't work the way they were supposed to work, and it ended up being an exercise in frustration rather than a graphically enhanced trip down memory lane. It is very pretty, at least.

Sid Meier's Starships is just weak. I realize it is supposed to be a minimalist game, but there just isn't enough game there to interest me and keep me playing.

I had a lot of fun playing the alpha and beta of Heroes of the Storm, but when the unwashed masses stormed the gates it got too unpleasant for me. It suddenly became massively competitive, even in supposedly non-competitive game modes, and that just sucked all the fun out of it for me. I didn't enjoy the heat, so I got out of the kitchen.

The trend towards multiplayer-only games has kind of left me in the dust, too. I would have really liked to have played single player versions of Star Wars Battlefront or Rainbow Six Siege, but alas, it is not to be.


And now... my list:

10. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Premium Edition
Somehow I missed this back in 2013, but I had a lot of fun with it this year. Something about the gameplay just scratched an itch I didn't know I had. The art design and moment-to-moment gameplay are just plain fun. It's nothing epic, the story is a little corny, and the "Sexy Robot Trip" DLC outfit is ridiculous, but I enjoyed this one.

9. Reassembly
One of many smaller games I played and loved this year. I love the "colorforms" colorful flat geometric shapes style of ship design, and exploring the big space arena with a huge variety of enemy ships is entertaining. It does wear out its welcome after a while, but it has a high ratio of hours of fun per dollar spent.

8. Planetbase
Apparently this was the year of "city builder" style games for me, and this is a fun one. It's simple, but provides a variety of challenges, and it has a great look and feel.

7. Grey Goo
This criminally underrecognized game is one of the better single player RTS games I've ever played, from one of the best RTS studios. I think the main reason that it failed to grab much attention is the blah title. Or maybe it' s just that nobody pays any attention to RTS games any more. That's a pity, because this is a very good game. The thoroughly asymmetric factions play more differently than any other RTS I've ever played. The pacing is perfect: not too slow, not too frantic, and there is plenty to keep you constantly busy and adapting to the changing battlefields. The game is insanely polished - as shiny as any Blizzard release, for sure. I'm not really into the multiplayer, but Petroglyph has given the game solid multiplayer support ever since the release, despite what appear to be lackluster sales.

6. Mini Metro
Just out of early access in November, this is the best time-waster type game I've played in a very long time. The design is bold and spare and beautiful. Mini Metro (originally "Mind the Gap") is a curious combination of relaxing and exhilarating. The soothing sound design keeps you from tearing your hair out as more and more "passengers" (simple geometric shapes, matching the shape of their destination) appear until eventually there are more than your transit system can handle. The thing I love most about it is its purity - it is so simple, but it has a design that really shines in the context of a video game.

5. Assassin's Creed Syndicate
I am a huge Assassin's Creed franchise fan, but I nearly skipped this game altogether. The early gameplay videos I saw really turned me off. The refined swordplay has been replaced by flat out brawling. Because of the new combat design, the interface is crowded with button indicators and hard to see health indicators that are colored and patterned to indicate how you need to attack. The game is full of un-fun carriage driving, which messes up the city design by requiring wide roads, making it harder to traverse the city without the silly and unrealistic zip-line device. The writing is as lazy and formulaic as it gets. Still...

It's Assassin's Creed. You get to parkour around, stab people in the face, and foil the dastardly plans of cartoonishly evil Templars. This is probably my least favorite Assassin's Creed game, but I just love the core gameplay too much to quit it.

4. Anno 2205
I've been playing Anno games since Dawn of Discovery (1404 outside North America, because USians can't comprehend a date that old). As a city builder fan since the original Sim City, I find this kind of game very appealing. Anno 2205 does a great job of refining the gameplay of the Anno series, making things easier to understand without dumbing it down so much that it's boring. The different environments provide a variety of challenges. The guided story gives you concrete goals to aim for (but you can still sandbox it if you want). The best change (in addition to the removal of the Warehouse Manager Deluxe aspect of previous games) is that combat is very much self-contained, and is largely a source for rare resources. In 2205, the combat doesn't interfere with what I consder to be the core of the game: building your population and managing resources.

3. Valhalla Hills
From the lead developer of The Settlers 2 and the Cultures games comes ... another Settlers game, this time with Vikings. This one is really polished and a great modern take on the Settlers style of game. I dare say it's a better Settlers than The Settlers 7. It has an interesting metagame, too, where the goal is to promote your Vikings so they can enter Valhalla. They get points towards this from doing things in the game and from fighting wildlife, invaders, and guardians of the portals between island maps. It's very pretty, and the interface is clean and easy to understand. The only downsides are that there is a lot of repetition and not really very many alternative ways to build settlements. The layout of the maps keeps things challenging by restricting where and how you build and how much buildings cost. It only just came out of early access, but I've been playing it constantly since I bought it. I even put aside Anno 2205 (which I have a lot of fun with) to play more Valhalla Hills.

2. Rebel Galaxy
It may not be Elite Dangerous, but I enjoy it much more than I think I would enjoy that game. The straightforward arcade-like controls make it a breeze to play, for one thing. Rebel Galaxy is pretty much exactly what I have always wanted in a modernized version of Escape Velocity. It has a lot of nice features that differentiate it from Escape Velocity, though. The atmosphere and entertaining voice acting are two examples. One of the best things about it for me is that I can just kick back and play it with a controller, and it works really well. I have spent many nights losing track of time chasing down one more mission or one more bounty.

1. Dragon Age Inquisition. At 924 hours (and nearly all of that playing various Inquisitors in single player), this game fits firmly in my all time top ten list of time spent playing a game. I love everything about this game except for one thing (we'll get to that in a moment). All the DLC is outstanding. I love the characters, the incredible dialogue writing, and the voice acting. I love the graphic design. I love the unorthodox open world exploration-based story telling. I love the crafting system and the variety of items. I love the variety of spells and abilities, the way they work, and the way you can use them to create teams with great synergy. The one thing I didn't like: the main antagonist is an incompetent, poorly developed character that looks ridiculous. Fortunately there are enough minor antagonists to make up for the game's uninspired Big Bad.


And to wrap up, here's a list of games from this year on the pile that I really want to spend more time with:

Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China
Assassin's Creed Rogue
Cities Skylines
Legacy of the Void

If you made it this far, thank you for reading my novel.

BadKen wrote:

924 Hours

*slow clap*

1.) Far Cry 4 - I actually forgot this came out this year. But when I realized it did, I remember how much joy it was to play this.
2.) Rocket League - I didn't put in nearly as much time as I would have liked to but I think this is probably the most fun game to come out this year.
3.) Rainbow Six: Siege - Mostly from playing the various alphas and betas. This game is great.
4.) Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes - Shut up. Don't you judge me.
5.) Halo 5
6.) Star Wars Battlefront
7.) Sleepy Dogs
8.) Pay Day 2
9.) IMAGE(http://www.katanazero.com/images/screens/screen1.gif)
10.) Nuclear Throne - I Played it, s'alright. Watching boogle play it was pretty fun as well.

1) Fallout 4
It feels like Bethesda had me in their sights with Fallout 4. I was expecting to like the game, but I was not expecting to get as absorbed as I have. I will refrain from sharing the shocking played time number, which I pray includes at least a few idling minutes, but I'm still happily loading the game up even after finishing the main story. Okay, I may have finished it twice, but I simply couldn't accept my first outcome. I will attribute all of this to the fact that the game has serious longevity due to the great changes they added. While I think there's room to improve on almost all of the additions, I've found that with some early mods I'll be able to spend all the time in the the world forcing my perimeter wall to line up perfectly. Once someone comes out with the 'working movie projector' mod, the residents of my drive-in theater will be in for a treat.

2) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Wild Hunt was another giant open world epic in which I got lost, but it was an entirely different sort of lost than Fallout 4. Where Fallout 4 provided amazingly good story telling through subtle details like skeletons clutching teddy bears, Wild Hunt delivered in amazing quest lines. The Bloody Baron quest line will likely be one of my favorite gaming memories for years. The depth of the developers' achievement is demonstrated by the fact that that single line of quests was just one of many. It seemed like every location had a story to tell, and it was like discovering a wonderful short story from a favorite author every time. Also, Gwent.

3) Cities: Skylines
What a terrific answer to recent city builder games. I got lost in a few cities, and have returned to it many times over the year to tinker. For me, it triggers a very zen state as I work to build a city that is both beautiful and functional, and it does it while looking amazing at the same time. What puts the game over the top, though, is the support after the fact in the form of changes from the dev and the community. It's going to be a staple that I pull out for years when I want my fix.

4) Dying Light
Dying Light was a surprise for me. I was craving an open world game when it came out, so I bit on a deal - that was a great decision. The world wasn't as large as some of the other games on this list, but the interesting movement and combat drew me in and kept me engaged from the start all the way to (almost) the end. In particular, I loved the change between day and night. Without the shift at night, the zombie setting would have gotten old. Instead, I found the heightened awareness on the time to add a terrific edge to my game play sessions.

5) Pillars of Eternity
Full disclosure, I backed this game. Fuller disclosure, I loved this game. If I can't play an open world masterpiece, I will instead long for this style of game. It helps that it's a brilliant example of its kind.

6) Divinity: Original Sin
I wasn't able to get to this until this year, but I am glad I found time to dive in. Most of my fun came from playing with the game system and skill interactions, which made up for what was a somewhat mediocre story.

7) Freedom Force
I've owned Freedom Force in various formats, but haven't ever given it proper attention. Now that I have, I wonder what took so long. This beauty has aged well, and I encourage anyone to go back and give it a spin.

8) Tell Tale's Game of Thrones
I've finished the first episode of the game, and decided to wait for the holidays to chew through the rest. I plan to tackle Tales from the Borderlands as well. They've now convinced me that I should give them the benefit of the doubt with their adaptations of other IPs into their own game, and I'm really looking forward to what they can do.

9) Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
When I started playing the game, I was sure it was going to be one of the top games on my list, but I stopped playing after learning of their online functionality, and haven't gone back yet. I suspect that the bits and pieces of angry prose I've seen is an exaggeration, but it's been enough to make me prioritize other games rather than pushing through to the end of the game. That said, I still put in over 40 hours and loved what I played at the time, so it deserves to be on this list.

10) Batman - Arkham Knight
If I had started playing this game on my PS4, it would be high on my list. Instead, I started on the PC version, and you can count me as one of the disgruntled masses grumbling and frowning at PS4 screenshots, wondering how in the world the PC port could be so bad. A refund and PS4 purchase later, I was happily clearing Riddler trophies and marveling at the way they used familiar characters to tell what I felt was a pretty great story. Then I drive the Bat Tank. Then I drove it again. Then I drove it underground. Then I stopped playing for a week. I eventually fully rinsed the game, but there were too many bad memories to give more than a 10 spot to what should have been in my top 3.

1. Rocket League - It's the Best League in the World!
2. Star Wars Battlefront - Kind of annoying with the unlock system, but aside from that it's good fun. Besides, I can't resist the light sabers and the pew pew.
3. Super Mario Maker - Only played this a few times as I don't actually own it, but it was awesome screwing around with different levels and the editor.
10. Heroes of the Storm - I don't think it deserves the 7 points for being 4th place but I did get a month or two out of it so deserves mention for a point.

1. The Last of Us (PS3): This is the main reason I picked up a used PS3 at the beginning of the year. Great story and characters really pulled me in. Even though the environments were linear it still tricked me into believing there was a rewarding sense of exploration. Stealth could be aggravating at times, but still enjoyed it along with the combat.

2. The Witcher 3 (PC): Geralt is one of my favorite characters in a video game. Beautiful world free to explore. Every quest is well written. Combat is good enough. Turn off those damn question marks!

3. Dying Light (PC): I was leery buying this after not liking Dead Island, but Techland made a tense zombie infested world that I loved to visit but am glad I don't have to live there. Combat felt a bit sloppy at times, but I loved hopping on their heads to stun them. Unlocking skills definitely improved the combat. Campy story that seemed self aware at it's silliness made it all the more enjoyable.

4.Massive Chalice (PC): The strategic game was a bit light, but leveling up my characters to get a new mix of skills was rewarding. Each enemy felt distinct even though there wasn't a large number of different types. Voicework added personality to the game that would have been a much drier experience without it. Not a game I'd play a lot of times, but it offered a great experience.

5.Invisible Inc (PC): Another game with fun tactical battles and varied skills. Perhaps greater replayability than Massive Chalice, but wasn't quite as awesome during that first playthrough.

6.Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin (PC): One of my favorite series. No game has better melee combat in my opinion. Love learning the enemy patterns and exploring the environments.

7.Pillars of Eternity (PC): Interesting story and good combat system, but not without its flaws. The difficulty was uneven. I'm hoping they made a good balance pass for when I play the expansions.

8.Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain (PC): One of the best stealth implementations. Rewarding when you can pull it off, but let's you fight your way out when things go bad. The story was strange. Hated the home base crap, but luckily I was able to ignore most of it. Wasn't a fan of the cast of characters, especially the whiny guy who hurt his leg (forgot his name).

9.Darkest Dungeon (PC): I put in 30 hours before deciding to wait for the official release to get things balanced out. oozes personality with interesting enemies and heroes.

10.The Talos Principle (PC): Great puzzles!

There were still a bunch of very good games that didn't crack the top 10!


State of Decay: Year One (PC)
Age of Wonders 3 + DLC (2014)
This War of Mine (2014)
Big Pharma (2015)
Mad Max (2015)
MLB 15 The Show (2014)
Uncharted (2007)
Shadowrun Returns (2013)
Child of Light (2014)
Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville (2015)
Life is Strange (2015)
Thea: The Awakening (2015)
Crowntakers (2014)
Galactic Civilizations 3 (2015)
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (2014)
Crysis 2 (2011)
Far Cry 3 (2012)
Victor Vran (2015)
Cities: Skylines (2015)
Valiant Hearts: The Great War (2014)

Wish I skipped these ones
Prison Architect (2015)
GTA V (2015)
ESO: Online (2014)
Alien Isolation (2014)
Sorcerer King (2015)
Risen 3 (2014)
Legend of Grimrock 2 (2015)
Cook, Serve Delicious (2013)
Small World 2 (2013)
Spelunky (2013)
Anno 2205 (2015)
Strata (2014)
Star Ruler 2 (2015)
Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey (2014)
Triple town (2012)
LEGO Batman 2 (2012)
Poker Night at the Inventory (2010)
Castle Crashers (2012)

1. Monster Hunter 4 U: This game finally broke my handheld time played record that I never thought would be broken. 210 hours on Disgaea DS. MH4U got near 300, and if I went back and finished up the last armors that I never got around to getting, it would definitely surpass it. Might do that some over the holidays when travelling. My first MH-series game, and I found a lot of depth and had a lot of fun with other goodjers.

Also the greatest part of the game is it's really 10 or so games in one. Just change your main weapon and suddenly you're playing a whole new game. Sure some of the monsters are the same but the way you approach them is different, your moves are different, the controls change. Everything is fresh and you're a n00b again and have to learn. Really fantastic.

2. Elite: Dangerous I wanted this all year. Finally got it over the Thanksgiving steam sale and I've pretty much played nothing else since. Scratches that old itch I had from playing X3:TC a few years back. No station building in this one, but the flying and combat systems feel a little tighter. And playing in the real Milky Way, with at least accurate star representations is pretty damn satisfying. In a geeky moment last week I noticed I was just a jump away from Wolf 359, of ST:TNG "Best of Both Worlds" fame. So I hopped over and took some screenshots of the star, just because.

3. Tales of Graces F: First Tales game I finished (sorry, Symphonia). I wanted to jump right in to Tales of Xillia after that, but figured a palette cleanser was best. Look for that game to hopefully make next year's list. And then maybe Xillia 2 in 2017... hehe.

4. Persona Q: Haven't finished this one yet, but being portable I still make progress every few days. Really great seeing the P3 and P4 cast again. Miss some of the relationship stuff from the persona series, but this is much more of an Etrian Odyssey game with persona characters and demon compendium. It still works, just different.

5. Shadow Complex: Wanted this forever but never had a 360. Now that it's finally on PC (and free) I had to grab it immediately. Didn't quite finish the other day. Maybe I should wait until I do and it would get even higher on the list. But I loved all of it so far. Scratches that Metrdoidvania itch in all the right places.

6. Reassembly: This was my space jam to kill the time until I could get Elite. For just a couple bucks I had a ton of fun with this. Still tempted to go back and try a game as other races. Something very satisfying about building your own ships, and then connecting to other players and knowing your ships are out there, somewhere, and the ships you are fighting were created by someone.

7. The Marvellous Miss Take: What a charming little game. I loved the art style immediately and the theiving and stealth gameplay was a lot of fun too. Still need to finish, but I spent a few hours with this one night and that was enough to put it on the list.

8. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor: It's Batman Arkham, in Middle Earth. Fun. I really enjoyed the nemesis system, and glad I got this on PC instead of PS3. Without that it probably wouldn't have been nearly as fun.

9. Heroes of the Storm: It's like someone played LoL and DotA and some other MOBAs, made a list of all the annoying crap, and then did a game without that. No terrible camera angle where one side has an advantage. No chatting with other team, so trash talk is out. Can even mute own team by default so you don't get berated. You queue as the hero you want to play and matchmaking gets you an even team instead of getting paired up and whoever calls first or insta-locks or any other crap that makes a team hate each other before the game even starts.

On and on... skins you can earn and buy with in-game gold, not everything has to be bought. Daily quests that give you lots of bonus in game gold. I could go on and on. It's not higher on the list just because it's a MOBA and eventually I get burned out and need a break. But when I go back it will be to this and not LoL.

10. Guild Wars 2: Wish I could put this higher. Had a blast with it when the big sale hit and a bunch of goodjers started and others returned. Really enjoyed it, as much as almost any MMO I've played. But when I MMO, the pile suffers, so I've taken an extended break. At some point I think I'd like to get back in and at least get one character to max level though.

Stuff I played that didn't make the list: Defense Grid 2. More Defense Grid. Not bad at all, but didn't grab me like the original. Starcraft 2. Not finished. Barely started. Liked what little I played, but other things called to me. The Banner Saga. Hated it. I love SRPGs. Disgaea, Fire Emblem, Valkyria, etc. But this one annoyed me with many of their choices, and I now no longer care about the sequel. Fallout 3. Barely started this. Interesting but other stuff calling to me. Realized I wouldn't finish before Fallout 4 anyway, so I'll get back to it later. Fractured Space Fun MOBA-style space game. Still in Early Access or Beta when I got it, so maybe next year. Mighty Switch Force Great little 3DS platformer. Only room for 10 games though.

OK, I guess I'll delurk for this, it's the best possible reason.

The Clocky EzList (explanations below):

1. Witcher 3
2. Technobabylon
3. Life is Strange
4. Stick of Truth
5. Pillars of Eternity
6. Fallout 4
7. Sunless Sea
8. Infinifactory
9. Thea: The Awakening (I may move this higher, I just bought it yesterday.)

I didn't play that many new games this year, for whatever reason. Most of them just weren't that interesting, and AAA in particular has been nearly a wasteland for me. Even the indies mostly haven't grabbed me, so I was only able to come up with nine games this year. Maybe I'll think of (or buy) a tenth before the 31st.

OK, so, on to the actual list:

1. Witcher 3 (PC) -- What a freaking brilliant game. It's not really "role playing", in that you don't choose much about Geralt. It's more "role assumption", but if you're willing to live within that constraint, the game is unbelievably huge, and bloody brilliant. It had a very, very satisfying story arc and an outstanding finale. As far as I'm concerned, CD Projekt raised the bar, and redefined what computer RPGs even are. I personally rate it as the single best RPG ever done.

My only real criticism is maybe that it's too big... I've thought about a replay, wanting to explore some different choices, but I look up at that mountain, and I just feel tired.

2. Technobabylon (PC) -- a really marvelous point-and-click adventure game. I'd put it up against any of the classics; it's maybe not quite as good as LucasArts at their peak, but it's close, in a very different and far more serious way. (there's a little bit of humor, but not much.) Wadjet Eye is doing some fantastic work, and I hope more people clue in and start buying. Resonance, last year or the year prior, was also excellent, and well worth your time. I'm going now through the older Blackwell games, and they're not up to the newer standards, but they're still quite good.

3. Life is Strange (PC) -- this game had me on hooks for most of the year. I really loved it. The last episode was a fairly major fumble, though. It wasn't the ending that was the problem, it was getting there. It went... just... all weird and sh*t, and wasn't much fun. The end was painful and difficult and just perfect, but the runup TO that ending ... blech. Didn't like that episode. The game as a whole still rated #3, and with a stronger Ep5, would have grabbed #2 easily. It might even have gotten #1, but man, Witcher 3 was a juggernaut.

4. Stick of Truth (PC) -- I finally picked this one up when it got cheap enough. I got tired of South Park many, many years ago, and I wasn't at all sure I'd like the game, even with Obsidian at the helm. But, as it turns out, it was a ton of fun, with an excellent combat system and just freaking *hilarious* jokes all throughout. There were a couple of times I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe. And, of course, there was the usual South Park "staring in horrified fascination" effect, but that's what I thought the whole game would be, instead of just sometimes. So I definitely got my $10 worth.

5. Pillars of Eternity (PC) -- Man, this game was a mess when it shipped, just festooned with severe bugs. I got a ways into it, ran into a gamebreaking issue, and then as they released a sequence of patches, things just kept getting worse and worse. They were really blowing it for quite a long time there, and I ended up totally shelving that playthrough.

When 2.0 shipped, I picked it up again, along with the first DLC, and played all the way through from scratch. Most of the game was only okay -- I normally play RPGs for the plot, and I never really got into PoE's all that much. I didn't feel any particular driving need to go forward; the game was telling you that you weren't sleeping and you were going insane, but it wasn't SHOWING you. I knew perfectly well I was fine, and that there was no particular hurry. I went forward because that's what you do in adventure games. There were lots of little fun bits scattered about, but the fundamental structure of the story was dull.

The companions were medium-interesting, but I didn't hugely like most of them; I've seen them described as "co-workers, not friends", and that's a pretty fair summation. The voice acting was mediocre, and it felt like many of the writers didn't have a lot of experience with spoken dialogue, as opposed to written, and the actors had trouble with some of the delivery. (as would anyone: some of those sentences were extremely awkward.) And the party banter was pretty forgettable. I liked Eder, Nagani, and Pallegina, but everyone else was pretty blah, so I actually ended up just building a party of all-custom NPCs and rolling through the game as a combat sim. And that was fun! I really like the engine.

But then I got to the end, and they blew my mind with the finale. Oh my GOD that was a good story. Just wow, the implications. If they'd pulled that story forward, and made it into the backbone of the whole thing, it could have been one of the all-time freaking GREATS, as interesting for us old fogies as Torment was interesting to youngsters. Seriously. It's very cerebral, because they pack it into too little space, but given time to breathe and resonate in the world, for factions to form around those revelations and for the party to choose which ideas to back.... oh man, that would have been a HELL of a ride.

But, it wasn't, and I'll have to hold out for the sequel. If they continue to explore their endgame theme, it could be a monster, monster RPG. Watch for Pillars of Eternity 2, it could be amazing.

As is, if you like the mechanics, this is a fun combat simulator up to the end game, there are neat little vignettes throughout, and then the last two hours are very, very interesting from a story perspective.

6. Fallout 4 (PC) -- I've put a fairly ridiculous amount of time into this game, yet I don't feel that I've gotten as much out of it as I did out of the prior titles. Everything is so... cookie cutter and formulaic. It's more like Borderlands than Fallout, with lots of grinding, and with all the locations constantly resetting and going back to their untouched state. The named special weapons aren't actually all that special; the same stats can be generated on any item, from any Legendary creature. There just doesn't feel like there's all that much reason to explore. There's little bonus magazines, but they're so omnipresent that they don't feel that special. For all the game's size, there's not actually very much interesting to see.

And, dear Lord, they totally butchered the dialog system. They tore the heart of the game out, and replaced it with Twitter.

So, I've got a conundrum: I got a lot of hours out of this game, and some of them were pretty good hours, but most of it kinda sucked. It's weird how split I feel. With better dialog, more meaningful interactions, and a less bloodthirsty plot, I'd have rated it higher. There's a lot to like, but... it's just so nihilist at its core. It's repetition without meaning or (much) consequence.

7. Sunless Sea (PC) -- from early this year. Good writing, solid delivery, interesting mechanics. It's sort of steampunk with monsters. It's not quite Cthulu-esque, because the technology is unreasonably advanced, and there don't seem to be any Ultimate Evil Creatures lurking, but going mad from the shadows is a constant pressure, so it's at least skirting the same mythspace. I got a good 40 hours out of it, and they were high quality hours. However: I did use savescumming, because it would have taken a hundred or more to see what interested me otherwise, with a huge amount of repetition. If I hadn't been able to savescum, it wouldn't have been on the list this year.

8. Infinifactory (PC) -- from the same developer that did Spacechem. It's closely related to Spacechem, but in 3D. I don't like it as well as its predecessor, but I got my money's worth. I'm not sure I completely finished it, I think there was one level I ended up just shrugging on -- I was sure I could beat it, but it was just going to take too long to build the machine. The game kind of suffered from a lack of the same kinds of cleverness you could put into Spacechem. The author never fully understood why Spacechem was good (and neither do I, really), and whatever it was that made the first game so elegant seems to be missing in the sequel. One possibility.... in Infinifactory, you can always solve a problem by going large enough, it just takes forever to do it. In Spacechem, you were so space-constrained that you were forced to break your brain to come up with super clever solutions.

Still good, I enjoyed it, but play Spacechem first if you haven't already.

9. Thea: The Awakening (PC) -- I only have a few hours in this so far, but it looks damn promising. It superficially resembles Civilization, but I think maybe you only ever have one city, and then various groups that range out from there and have adventures. The conflict resolution is done with an odd card game, not quite like any I've ever seen, one that seems deep and strategic. Perhaps most interestingly, they use the same mechanic for multiple kinds of conflict; you're still playing cards in a Speech challenge, in roughly the same way, but which of your characters are strong, and which of your characters have utility powers, changes completely. The support team for the combat fighters becomes the lead team in negotiation, and then different characters again are strong in Hunting challenges (ambushing monsters) or Intellect challenges (something that requires brains; the only example I've seen so far is trying to save books from a moldering library.) So you can choose to specialize or be generalists, with the usual tradeoffs you'd expect. But, and this is a big but, I believe only Fighting can actually hurt or kill your characters, so being good at armed conflict is probably a real good idea. Fail a speech challenge, and you might not get something you want, but fail a fight, and everyone could die.

It seems to have a nice easy learning curve, but from what I can see, there is a truly amazing amount of complexity lurking, presented in a very accessible way. You realize you need to do X, and then you start digging into the UI to figure out how, and then you start thinking about equipping characters to accomplish that task, and then you start juggling inventory around.... and you very gradually develop a mental map of everyone in your kingdom, one person at a time, simply by thinking about what they're doing, making them equipment to do it better, and then putting it on them.

There is a seriously amazing amount of thought in the design of this game, and if it continues to be as good as it has been for the first three or four hours, I think it's likely to move a long way up my list.