Best of 2015

The top ten very best of 2015.

Honorable mention to Rare Replay which could not participate but warranted the creation of another list, the Best Rereleases of 2015. If it had qualified it'd have been 2nd.

List items

  • I've never stopped playing Heroes of Storm over the course of this year. I love everything about the way it's designed, the way new characters and battlegrounds are added, the way the developers are open with the community, everything. The first time I knew Heroes was special was during AGDQ last year and I realized I really wanted to play Heroes instead of watch as much of AGDQ as I could. I love how it uses talents instead of the janky overly complicated mess that is items and gold. I love how matches last around 20 minutes instead of 40. I love how they're focused on various objectives which intersperse teamfights throughout matches. I love to coordinate, I love to save lives. I love to come back from behind, I like to never give up, never surrender. I love telling teammates they did a good job. I love the thrill of the kill and the bitterness of being killed. I love learning new heroes. To sum it up I love Heroes of the Storm.

  • This is the perfect Level Creation Tool. It's accessible, people are making great stuff on it and, most importantly, I'VE made great stuff on it. In the months after release I put together 24 levels which I'm super proud of. In the Holiday Season I plan to do 8-12 more. I'll occasionally replay all these stages and feel happy. Super Mario Maker gives you enough tools and enough ways to combine those tools to make loads and loads of great ideas manifest as the community has shown. As Dan Ryckert has demonstrated. Frankly, Super Mario Maker with its combination of solid physics (better than the original games even) and usable tools puts every other level maker before it to shame.

  • Goddamn what a rad ass game. This game is more successful at mixing mechanics and characterization than any other game I can think of. The way its basic gameplay is about engaging with an enemy and pacifying them is just fucking brilliant. The amount of personality both in combat and out of combat is absurdly good. I love nearly everything about the game, it got such a good warm heart! Making friends with monsters you'd kill in any other RPG is the best. I also love that Toby made a route that I'll never ever go down where you DO kill everything and become history's greatest monster killing all your friends from the pacifist route. It's chilling to think about, I love that that's always there. Absurdly cool.

  • This is the best adventure game I've ever played. It's super cool how Max can Groundhog Day her way through conversations, saying the wrong thing then rewinding to say the right thing after getting laid into. That feels really good. It also feels really good to just sit on a bench and ruminate on stuff while an acoustic guitar plays. The game is just very well realized on a basic atmospheric level. In addition to getting the basic feel right, it's also really well plotted throughout. They started strong and stuck the landing. Really fantastic stuff.

  • A remarkable open world game which stands in contrast with games such as Fallout 4. Wild Hunt doesn't just create a 200 hour game, they create a 200 game where every hour is significant. The quests and places just have that hand crafted quality you just don't get in other open world games. There's a variety to it too that other games just don't bother with. There's combat, yes, but also detective work, deduction, preparation and being a grumpy but wry hardass. It's the sort of game you hope becomes the template of Open World games to come. It doesn't try to do everything, but it tries to make everything it does matter.

  • A little game about putting together factory lines is right up my alley. Such an amazingly cool game, not merely because it itself is cool but because in playing it you put together machines that make you feel cool as fuck yourself. I loved the feeling of getting into a level, figuring out what it wanted you to make, and figuring out how to put a machine together that accomplished it. Then, after admiring my handiwork in motion, I'd go back to the drawing board. It was time to optimize! Try to solve it again only as fast as possible, or using as little space as possible! I'm way into this.

  • I was surprised by how on point this release was. I played the prologue and was filled with doubt. "Is this for me anymore? This isn't as solid as Heroes." Once out though I played it and found there's a lot of great stuff here, even beyond the very solid campaign. To my surprise I also enjoyed the Coop Missions a great deal, especially because they give you the sort of overpowered stuff the campaign has. Get this, a level 15 Artanis starts with 200 supply. I want that! It's really cool how StarCraft II is still compelling in 2015.

  • A perfectly solid Metroidvania which I enjoyed beating a few times. Love the feel, love the look, love the way the story and world unfold. It's super well done. I loved the melee range weapon you get early on and the yoyo weapon you get later. Both feel really really good.

  • This game nails the open world bits. It nails the balance between open world running about and crafted bits to enjoy. The pacing and variety in those two open world areas was spot on. Sadly the game is bookended by linear Uncharted like sequences which, honestly, I think just aren't for me. Still, the middle of this game is perfect.

  • (Test Fire) While when Splatoon launced I didn't terribly care for it due to how its loot system seemed to give others unfair advantages and I really didn't have the time to earn unfair advantages, I really really really enjoyed the 2 hours of Test Fire I played before it came out. I'm giving the tenth slot to honor those two hours of fun I had.