Matt's Favourite Games of 2015

IT'S BEEN A GOOD YEAR.

Easily one of my favourite years in gaming EVER, 2015 has spoiled us with twelve months chock full of dead good games. I look down my list and literally any one of the ten games would've easily been my number one game in a different year. Easily. In a year where a new Mario game AND A NEW BLOODY FALLOUT GAME didn't make my top ten, you know it's a good one. So big shout out to all of the games that were cruelly knocked off of my list in favour of these choices. Splatoon, Fallout 4, Super Mario Maker, #IDARB, Batman: Arkham Knight etc etc. You're all great.

As always, no re-releases or ports in here. So no Rare Replay, Uncharted Collection, Journey, God of War 3, Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Resident Evil etc etc etc. Just new stuff released in 2015.

List items

  • An absolutely unique masterpiece. 2015 marked the return of Hideo Kojima with (what we now know as) his final Metal Gear game and it's easily my favourite. Unlike previous games in the series, MGSV doesn't rely on endless cutscenes, overly complex heavy storylines or plots that only make sense if you've read the complete Metal Gear timeline wiki. MGSV succeeds so highly because it is pure fun from the beginning, to the end, and beyond. It introduces some of the most fun and satisfying gameplay mechanics seen in an action/stealth game and barely ever takes them away from you to bore you with cutscenes or complex military nonsense. The game is pure fun, stupid, tense, thrilling gameplay from the opening onwards and stands proud as some of the absolute greatest times I've ever spent gaming. Without writing an essay, we don't see many games like this... They just don't exist. They almost CAN'T exist with the budget, time and most importantly, with the singular vision of a mad genius required to craft a product like MGSV. And with Kojima now having left Metal Gear publisher Konami, we may genuinely never see another game like this again. I truly believe that.

    Yes there is some important plot running through the game about governments and nuclear futures but the game, for me, is summed up by scenes like when your one eyed dog (complete with sweet eye patch) is stealth killing an enemy soldier via the knife that it carries in it's mouth while you're airlifting a tranquillised bear out of the area of conflict so it can live in the zoo on your naval base in the Atlantic Ocean. Or when your mission is to stealthily tail a car that is escorting a prisoner across the African plains so you can learn where he's heading and stage an elaborate rescue but instead you just lob five smoke grenades at the convoy, run in and attach a balloon to the car, airlifting the entire thing up to your waiting chopper. Vehicle, prisoner, driver and guards included. Mission accomplished. The amount of ways you can approach any situation throughout the game is genuinely staggering. An almost perfect gaming experience for me. A+++

  • Of course Bloodborne is this high up on my list. A new Souls game releasing is a big deal these days and Bloodborne is especially notable for being the first Souls game from developer From Software to take on a new title and make some significant shifts to the gameplay. While criticisms of Bloodborne often stem from the game's apparent lack of character build options compared to other games in the series, I think it's also one of the game's strengths. Gone are the shields that allowed a careful player to turtle through the whole of Dark Souls. In their place is a gun, which is used almost entirely defensively. Complimenting this, your character is massively dextrous and you'll be leaping around the world, dodging attacks from massive, monstrous bosses and devious enemy controlled hunters. It took me hours and hours to unlearn mechanics that I absolute swear by in previous Souls titles. And I loved it! A worthy new entry to the franchise (or maybe a new franchise in it's own right?), Bloodborne is easily one the year's best.

  • MH4U sat at the number one spot on my list for the majority of the year. It's just SO GOOD. I really got in to Monster Hunter games with 2009's Monster Hunter Tri after dabbling with them in the past and never quite getting it. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate makes approaching the series easier than ever and it's absolutely a better game for it. Where this game shines is it's online co-operative multiplayer hunts, cruelly missing from the previous 3DS game. Jumping online and teaming up with three other hunters from across the world to take down big monsters is never ever not fun. I wish all of my Destiny-mad friends would pick up a 3DS and a copy of MH4U because it's literally THAT GAME but with nearly endless content, a loot system that is constantly rewarding every single time you take on a mission, and a HUGE amount of customisation and gear options to constantly dabble with. Shotguns, sniper rifles and pulse rifles are all well and good, but the difference between maining a Sword and Shield, a Hammer or a set of bloody Bagpipes in MH4U is like learning a new game. 14 weapon types that all require learning a new moveset and a whole new set of controls. And when the game is this fun, learning those moves is always a treat. Dead good.

  • Rocket League kinda came out of nowhere and took over gaming in 2015. A sequel to 2008's forgotten (and horribly titled) Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars shouldn't be this huge. It shouldn't have 9 million people playing it online. And no-one would've thought it'd be this good. Take football, add some remote control cars and you've probably got a terrible game. But Rocket League pulls it off with style due to it's tight controls, insane acrobatic physics and it's ease of entry for new players. It's a classic 'easy to learn, hard to master' game and it never feels unrewarding. Or if it DOES feel unrewarding, fuck it, queue up another game and play again. Matchmaking is fast, games are short and that equals hours and hours and hours and hours lost to flying through the air, somersaulting your way towards the ball... and probably missing. Just one more game...

  • I really liked Crystal Dynamic's previous Tomb Raider game (I put it at number 9 in my Top 10 of 2013 list) but Rise of the Tomb Raider is on another level. While Tomb Raider (2013) is often compared (fairly) to the Uncharted series, I think it's unfair to keep that comparison with ROTTR. This game is far less about shooting dudes in the head and more about exploring the wilderness, discovering ancient ruins, hunting wildlife to craft gear using the games extensive loot systems. The game is so dense with content. The completely excellent side tombs to be raided are well covered by this point, but I also loved the side missions and optional challenges Lara is given throughout the adventure. Run around this village catching escaped chickens and lob them into a pen, Ocarina of Time style. Swan dive into water off of five high platforms. It's simple stuff, but their addition alongside the new, large puzzle tombs (which all give you meaningful new moves and upgrades for completing them), the large open areas full of caves to explore, trees to climb and bounty to find and the compelling main plot line give Lara's new adventure a sense of scale and exploration not often seen in other cinematic action adventure games.

  • Super Metroid meets Princess Mononoke. One of those games that you look at and think that graphics will never get better than this. The animation in Ori is Disney/Ghibli level. It pretty much couldn't look any better. And the game plays like a dream! The controls is so tight, you'll be double-jumping across the world, ricocheting enemies' projectiles back at them, wall jumping with precision and it all feels just perfect. The story is compelling (with an intro that includes ALL OF THE EMOTIONS) through to the end credits. But again, in Ori and the Blind Forest gameplay is king. Metroidvania games are all the rage these days but Ori takes it a step further with incredibly tight platforming controls that are possibly unrivalled in 2015. Just colossally fun to play.

  • Another Game of the Year list, another entry for The Witcher 3. The game that has probably won more GOTY awards this year than any other is absolutely worthy of the hype. The Witcher 3 takes the mega detailed environments and fascinating characters of the previous titles in the series and dumps them all into a MASSIVE sprawling open-world adventure that has to be seen to be believed. So many games these days take place in detailed dank, dark, horrible places (hi Bloodbourne) and, while these games might be brilliant in many ways, they always strike me as places I just don't want to be in for very long. The Witcher 3, on the other hand, takes place in rolling fields with lush forests as far as you can see. Stunning oceans, bubbling brooks and rivers. And it's all open to explore on foot, horseback or boat. It's just a world that feels great to be part of. The world is full of detailed characters that are always a joy to interact with. Quests are almost always varied and thrilling. If, like The Witcher 2, this game was tightly structured with little exploration off the beaten track, it'd still be a great game. But the fact that the developers have taken such a fantastically crafted adventure and woven it into the fabric of such a massive environment rich with exploration, makes it such a stunning product.

  • A real surprise for me, Her Story is one of those games that was recommended by saying "you should play this game and not read anything about it". And that's totally right. It'll take you a couple of hours to play through it and you should do it in one sitting if you can. It's a murder mystery investigation thing on the surface but the gameplay is completely innovative and fresh. The story is fascinating and the whole experience will stay with me for years, I've no doubt. Her Story is one of those games that makes you realise just how fresh and exciting new gameplay experiences can be when developers get it right. It costs about a fiver (less in the current Steam sale!) and it's available on iOS but I'd recommend playing it on a computer if you can. Just set a few hours aside and enjoy it. It's fantastic and easily one of my favourite gaming experiences of the year.

  • Halo is always god tier multiplayer and Halo 5 has the best multiplayer of the whole series. The game came out just 8 weeks ago and I've played it for over 80 hours so far. I haven't even finished the campaign. That's not to say there's anything wrong with the campaign (it's good) but it speaks REALLY HIGHLY of the multiplayer. New PvPvE mode Warzone is like Battlefield on acid with the best bits of a MOBA tacked on. It's crazy fun. And classic Arena modes like Team Slayer, Capture the Flag and Big Team Battle are complimented by awesome new edge-of-your-seat fight to the death in Breakout. Halo 5 has the best gameplay of any of the Halo games. New mechanics help but, crucially, the game still feels like a classic Halo title. Piloting a warthog or a ghost is always fun, but new dashing, clambering and ground pound moves make you feel just as powerful and agile when on your feet. A wonderful experience top to bottom.

  • Axiom Verge, a loveletter to 1986's Metroid wears it's influences on it's sleeve. This game IS a modern Metroid. The game was developed almost entirely by one guy, Thomas Happ, and I don't know why Nintendo aren't biting his hand off to get him to make a true Super Metroid sequel. But its not good just because one person developed it. It's INSANELY GOOD on so many levels. Some have said that it's the best Metroidvania game ever made, surpassing the aforementioned Super Metroid and fan favourite Symphony of the Night. While I wouldn't quite go that far, I genuinely think that put next to 99% of Metroidvania games from any developer, Axiom Verge would come out tops. It introduces fresh mechanics to the genre that are worth discovering for yourself without me spoiling them. I spent probably two hours during my playthrough with a pen and paper in my hand, writing in a fictional alien language. I didn't expect that going in... But discovering the game's secrets (partly through alien languages, but through other crazy means too!) was always fascinating and exciting. Weapon design is through the roof crazy and the puzzles and boss battles are always thrilling and memorable. If you've ever even slightly enjoyed an 8 or 16-bit Metroid game or if you cut your teeth on the Playstation or DS Castlevania games, you should make it your aim to get this game and play it. It's a true modern gem.