Well now that Christmas is over, it’s time to reflect on the year that has come to an end. 2015 was funny year for games – it was nowhere near a bad year; but neither was it a vintage one. In the end there were a number of really good games and not many great ones.
That alone made this GOTY extremely difficult for me, filtering those good games and ensuring that I picked the objectively great ones! In the end I am incredibly happy with my choices and I think that one of them will spark a debate.
Before we begin I will say that the rules for GOTY are:
1) I must have played the game.
2) Must have been released (in its entirety) between 01/01/14-31/12/14.
3) Cannot be a straight HD remake
Anyway, we have a game to crown #GOTY, so let’s get going!
A freebie on PS Plus turned out to be one of the best multiplayer experiences of the year (but not quite the best). The sequel to the unbelievably hard Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket Powered Battle Cars gained more than just mainstream appeal, it became a phenomenon!
Deservedly so as well, the people at Psyonix have outdone themselves, giving this installment more accessibility (it’s still bloody difficult) but with enough depth to allow the truly good players to excel! It is a simple concept, car football (soccer for our American readers) with added rockets that allow for aerial shenanigans. Although it only has (a maximum) of 8 players it is utterly chaotic! Often you’ll find yourself switching between camera angles to keep up and accidentally do the most amazing things – its rewarding in its confusion and liberating in allowing you to confuse and amazing in equal measure.
Rocket league is undoubtedly at its best when played with friends (what game isn’t?); this allows you to strategise and follow through a plan. But even at its most random there is an awful lot of fun to be had, scoring a goal has never been so hard-earned! In saying that though, saving a certain goal is also an amazing feeling, this game is perfectly balanced – every role is important and feels it!
Even the DLC has been great for Rocket League, from skins to mutations it brings retro sensibilities kicking and screaming into the new gen.
The best multiplayer experience of the year. At launch it was admittedly starved of content, but Nintendo being Nintendo they slowly drip fed players maps and weapons and in the process created the best multiplayer experience of 2015. While simultaneously delivering one of the defining games of the current generation.
On the face of things Splatoon is a family friendly shooter, below this fascia though lies a multiplayer game with depth and that unmistakable Nintendo charm and polish. By the end of the year it was made very clear that Nintendo had shown the developers with much more experience in the competitive multiplayer arena how to create a title that keeps players coming back. It’s incredibly well-balanced, the maps are superbly designed and the game is just FUN!
Battlefront often gets accused of lacking depth; but gets by one “being fun”. Splatoon is more fun than Battlefront, by miles! It is chaotic, but it never confuses. It is deep, but it never intimidates. It is colourful but it never patronises – which is some going for a shooter with no death or long-term consequences beyond losing the match.
Splatoon also featured the best use of the game pad in 2015 (and possibly ever outside of Nintendoland), it featured a mini map that showed the percentage of ground covered by your team, and the position of your teammates. By tapping on them you got transported to their position. This simple change made voice communication redundant (which is good because the game doesn’t have any) but promoted teamwork and cooperation. Something COD has struggled to do since 2007.
Overall, the games biggest weakness at launch turned out to be its greatest strength. By drip-feeding free content in regular intervals Nintendo kept Splatoon fresh and current – this is how the DLC model should be adopted; not through gouging or season passes.
An amazing experience.
Bloodborne is undoubtedly the best experience available on the next (now?) gen consoles. With Miyazaki returning as director he finally has his Magnum Opus and created a bonafide masterpiece!
It all begins with the beautiful art-direction, it is a mixture of Gothic-Horror and Steam-punk – everything about Yharnam just belongs – it feels and looks right. This is because the designers had a vision from inception – they are not interested in creating a game world here, they are making a legitimate world. Complete with a past, present and future – everything you see from the architecture, sets and props to the costumes you wear and characters you interact with (both in dialogue and combat) all contribute to the lore.
Through reading descriptions of items, listening to the dialogue of enemy and friendly characters, investigating the sets and their decorations and considering the bosses and the areas they can be found in – the player can begin to put together the pieces of the world. Of course it is all open to interpretation – but the more you learn the more possibilities you open. The game is playing you now; knowledge and obsession plays a vital role within the narrative and you are given an insight into the plight of the enlightened. Should you allow yourself to be of course.
Even for the casual players, those who want to fight bosses and see wonderfully designed areas that form the patchwork of Yharnam will not be disappointed. Bloodborne has a plethora of exceptional boss fights and unlike the Souls series it successfully avoids any that feel cheap or anti-player. There are bosses that will challenge even the hardiest of players and, when defeated, deliver a euphoric feeling of achievement unparalleled in the current gen.
I could go on forever about Bloodborne, but it truly is best experienced through play. You all NEED to play it. I loved it.
Game of the year – and it wasn’t even close!
What was your game of the year?
Tell me in the comments!