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Best of 2014

2014 was a very strange year. I ended by year long reign at Screened with the sudden information that the site would be shuddered. Then I found myself on the moderation team here on Giantbomb and have been spending my evenings banning spam bots.

Going through the year's releases I was surprised at what all I had played and surprised how little of it I considered GOTY material. Halo: MCC and Fable Anniversary are good examples of remakes that bank on nostalgia that do just enough to enjoy but not enough to honestly stand out. The games that did make it to this list stood out and took me out of what was often times a stressful and worrisome year for me.

The year is done, this list is done, and I'm off to dive back into the worlds that filled my off time so much.

List items

  • Whereas Inquisition pulls you along with a myriad of great features Mordor straps you in and refuses to let go. The upgrades almost feel game breaking and while the story isn't enthralling it does have me looking up Lord of the Rings wiki articles. Now excuse me while I brand every captain I can get my hands on and expand my orc army.

  • I readily admit to not being deep into Dragon Age but after trying several times to get into DA: 2 with no success. Inquisition feels more like a direct, modern, sequel to Origins. Ideas like power, influence, the online keep, and the many areas to explore and enjoy is enough for me to know I'll really love this game. Bugs be damned this is a 100+ hour game that I want to become lost in until winter abates.

  • Magic: The Gathering played a big role in my high school career. I'd skip lunch to play the trading card game with a few friends in front of our next classroom. Hearthstone added the effects, fanfare, and complexity of gameplay I enjoy in card games. I do miss the physicality of the cards but the ease at which anyone can play and enjoy a genre that was once categorized as too hard.

  • Revisiting the 2009 Wolfenstein revealed a good game that maybe got overshadowed at the time. I'm hoping New Order doesn't get lost to time as that decent Wolfenstein game. It rethought the setting, the tone, and focused the gameplay to a tight balance of shoot-em-up and a dash of stealth. The game rewarded you for how you played and was self aware enough to be both serious and ridiculous.

  • Moving a game from puzzle to first person shooter isn't easy. While I may like this franchise I wasn't ready to fork over $40 to find out. Then it went out free after Sony's PlayStation event and I spend 15 hours shooting plants and zombies in the face. The game feels balanced with a great sense of art and style. In a world filled with brown military shooters this one shines like a polished emerald.

  • Dark Souls 1 was a game I owned but Dark Souls 2 was a game I played. I didn't beat it but I finally understood it. It was still frustrating but the confusing map and difficulty were now a challenge that I savored.

  • I don't play phone games. Those times where you sit on a bus or are trapped waiting on a friend I am just as content to check Twitter or patiently wait before playing a game. Yet Castle Doombad was simple enough yet still provided a challenge that had me reaching for my phone before my controller. Coming from Adult Swim it shouldn't have surprised me that the art was amazing and the gameplay was enjoyable.

  • Before Metal Gear Scanlon my history with Metal Gear was 0. Ground Zeroes was my starting point and with its tight gameplay, diversity of choice, and strange and subtle humor has me hype for MGS: V.

  • I had dangled my feet in the water of this game before having enjoyed Minecraft and Terraria in the past. It took the free PS Plus, PS4, edition of this game to really get my attention for more than 5 minutes. Don't Starve has that wondrous feeling of discovering what is the right way to play and truly experiment with gameplay and design. Figuring out that digging up graves was causing me to go insane was a strange "ah-ha! of course!" that made me know this was a game for me.

  • Dota 2 isn't a game you should play. It's depth and complications is a double edged sword that cuts you more often than not. It's saving grace was a group of friends who was willing to join in, laugh at ourselves, and generally hate the game we were having fun playing. Dota is a game of frustration and strategy that you should never play.