Game of the Year 2014 Users' Choice

Last year in gaming was a troublesome one. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of very good games to play throughout the year and I never felt like there was a lack of quality content out there. However all the broken games, delays and letdowns left a slightly negative impression. There were also very few games which truly stood out. I'm pretty sure that we'll all forget about most of the games on this list in the coming years, with maybe the exception of debuts like Titanfall and Destiny which are likely to be around in one form or another for the next decade.

I delayed writing this list into 2015 because I started playing The Banner Saga and immediately realized that it would make my list. There are games worth mentioning which didn't quite make it into this list, like inFamous:Second Son, Gang Beasts, Super Time Force and The Jackbox Party Pack. I also have still not played many of the most popular games from last year, like Shadow of Mordor and Advanced Warfare. I intend to right these wrongs during the first quiet months of this year.

Before getting to the actual list however I'd like to quickly give some special mentions.

Best Open World: Sunset City (Sunset Overdrive)

Runners up: Southern Europe (Forza Horizon 2), Kyrat (Far Cry 4)

Best Moment: Ferrari 250 GTO time trial (Forza Horizon 2)

Runners up: Rushing a room with two automatic shotguns (Wolfenstein: The New Order), Entering Canada (South Park: The Stick of Truth)

Best Value: EA Access

Runners up: The Master Chief Collection, The Jackbox Party Pack

Best Party Game: The Jackbox Party Pack

Runners up: Nidhogg, Gang Beasts, Mount Your Friends

Best Audio: Nidhogg

Runners up: Destiny, Forza Horizon 2, Valiant Hearts, Transistor

Best Looking Game: Destiny

Runners up: Forza Horizon 2, inFamous: Second Son, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Sunset Overdrive, Valiant Hearts, The Banner Saga

Best Weapon: Sword (Nidhogg)

Runner up: Automatic shotgun (Wolfenstein: The New Order)

List items

  • The Stick of Truth is the most perfect game to come out this year in many ways. It almost perfectly replicates the visual look of the TV-show. It's pacing and length were spot on, so that after going through all the side-quests I finally started to feel like I'd had enough South Park. The turn-based RPG gameplay is surprisingly deep and well thought out and it’s all just as funny and daring as you’d expect out of a Parker and Stone production.

    Even though this game may be designed especially for fans of South Park, I can't imagine how any RPG fan wouldn't be able to enjoy it. Even if I wasn't a fan of the series I see no reason why The Stick of Truth wouldn't deserve recognition for absolutely nailing the historically tough task of creating a game based on a licensed property.

  • Forza Horizon 2 is pretty close to being a perfect sequel. It didn't mess with the formula introduced by the first game, a big map in which you can explore your automotive dreams. Instead the game just lets you explore even more of the world by going off road, a larger world at that.

    The driving feel is honed even closer the the main Forza franchise, although it still feels slightly numb even with all the assists turned off. The car selection is pretty complete, there's great music on almost all of the in-game radio stations and the game even found a good use for the Kinect in it's auto-GPS system Anna. Forza Horizon 2 was the game I played the most out of this entire list and it'll probably be the game that I keep coming back to the most next year.

  • This year saw a lot of great couch-multiplayer games, but none were as pure and engaging to me as Nidhogg. The gameplay is very simple, yet deep and varied enough to allow skilled players to keep duking it out for tens of minutes per game. The game could have used a few more maps, but that's pretty much the only improvement I'd want for this game. Grab a friend, beer and an extra controller and you're bound to have a fun (and loud) evening.

  • Valiant Hearts mostly succeeds in telling a somber and serious story without making the player feel hopeless. There's some heartfelt moments and humor along the way which make the serious subject matter easier to absorb. For players which really want to dive into the awful aspects of the first World War, the game offers some very interesting collectibles which tell the story of the people who had to live through all this awfulness.

    A great visual style, some great musical moments and forgiving puzzle gameplay really make the Valiant Hearts feel like a game which a lot of people put their hearts into.

  • Sunset Overdrive was a game which I very much respected at distance before I played it. The colorful aesthetic and focus on humor are admirable, but I wasn't sure if the game was for me. After playing it I was able to put all my doubts to rest.

    Yes the humor is rarely perfect and the shooting isn't challenging at all. But the fantastic traversal and combo system was engaging enough to make me forget about most of the flaws of the game. If there's one game on this list which I could recommend to absolutely anybody it's Sunset Overdrive.

  • The thing I respect most about Wolfenstein is the balls it took to put out a game in 2014 with a linear FPS campaign and no multiplayer whatsoever. This singular focus towards creating a campaign experience may be the reason why Wolfenstein turned out so great. The story is surprisingly engaging with interesting characters and the setting of a 1960’s Nazi-dominated world creates a nice backdrop for all the drama to unfold over.

    The guns are loud and fun to shoot, the mission and map design are varied and it all looks and performs nicely on modern consoles. I feel like I hadn’t quite played a game like this since the great PC shooters of the early 2000’s, and I hope that the game did well enough so that we can see more honest shooters like this in the near future.

  • This year was a great one for games which are all about having fun, and gosh-danged if shooting grenades at soldiers while rushing through a mountain village on top of an elephant isn’t fun at its densest. Far Cry 4 is pretty much just more Far Cry, and that’s a great thing. More weapons, more animals to hunt and get hunted by, a better story and characters and a way to play stronghold missions with your friends.

    The world of Kyrat is a great place to wonder, and during the two or so weeks I was playing this actively I found myself jumping in maybe thrice a day to just walk around, hunt and kill for a few minutes before continuing with my day. As great as Far Cry 4 is it is true that the series does needs to bring in changes in the future if it aims to remain exciting and entertaining.

  • The Banner Saga is a bit overwhelming and confusing when you first get into it. The lore is thick and you're assumed to care about characters which you've only just been introduced to. The tactical strategy gameplay is deep in a good way, but tutorials the game gives you don't really go all the way in explaining it all.

    However after you get over that first hump The Banner Saga really draws you in precisely because the world and gameplay are so engaging. Uniquely beautiful aesthetics, some good music and nice pacing act as a glue which binds world to the gameplay.

  • This game re-ignited my enthusiasm towards multiplayer shooters. The new movement abilities were a real step forward for the genre and the battles between lumbering mechs and small soldiers were extremely well balanced.

    I can’t quite stress enough how fluid the game feels at 60fps, even compared to the likes of Call of Duty and Halo 5. What ended up cutting my interest towards the game was the lack of progression rewards in the form of new weapons or mech abilities. Still Titanfall lays an extremely strong groundwork for a sequel and series to follow.

  • I was kind of looking forward to Destiny as most probably being my favorite game this year. It didn’t quite pan out that way. A non-existent story, dearth of characters, confusing loot system and dull mission design led to a pretty disappointing experience. However, even as a disappointment Destiny is still one of the most memorable games for me this year.

    The graphics and sound design are absolutely beautiful with an overall high standard for content quality shining throughout. The shooting itself is pure Bungie, with a focus on using the right mix of weapons and using your surroundings to your advantage. Overall even with all its flaws Destiny is a great experience just as long as you lower your expectations considerably before jumping in.