It is, of course, that time of year again, when we look at the hours upon hours of time spent in front of our TVs and monitors and try to sift through it all and proclaim “These fourteen hours! These fourteen arbitrary hours were the best!” I played an astonishingly small number of games to completion in the past year, and yet have an admittedly huge slate of things waiting in the wings already this year.

There are games missing from this list that may surprise you, especially since the absence of a few surprised me. South Park: The Stick of Truth captivated me, and I spent a solid twelve hours playing it one Sunday so I could finish it before the weekend was over. Yet I completely forgot about it until I saw it on Scott’s list. MGS V: Ground Zeroes was basically Hideo Kojima inviting me to look into the future and see what true next-Gen games have the potential of being, given the right guidance. No matter how much I love it, though, I can’t in good conscience list it here.

The end result is a list that I genuinely put time and consideration into, and games which arguably belong if for no other reason than they made a big enough impression – good or bad – to stand out against 365 days’ worth of gaming, reading, watching, listening, and living. On a side note, Thomas Was Alone is out for next-Gen consoles now. No, the rectangles don’t look any different. Yes, you should play through it again.

…Scott put Skyrim on his list. Was I allowed to put Fallout 3 on mine last year? Nope. Am I bitter? A little. Should he check under his car for homemade bottlecap mines before leaving the house? *Shrug*

Game of the Year

Titanfall (Xbox One)


If I were making a list of games that are the polar opposite of my 2013 Game of the Year (Thomas Was Alone), Titanfall would be pretty high up there. With the second-biggest hype train this year – the first belongs to a game appearing later on the list – this AAA, story-barren, multiplayer-only, glossy-graphics FPS won me over from the very first beta match I played. The wall-running and jetpacking mechanics have changed mobility in shooters for good, and this pilot still hasn’t gotten tired of hearing “Standby for Titanfall,” and then watching several tons of death plummet down from orbit.

I will admit that the longevity of Titanfall has slipped a bit in these later months, though that is in no way the fault of the team at Respawn. The monthly free content updates have brought excellent new features and play-modes, even if the promise of new titans remains unfulfilled. Interestingly enough, I have hated most of the new maps I paid for with the season pass, but don’t consider it a waste of money, because each new release at least got us playing Titanfall again for a while.

Runner-Up #1

Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition (Xbox One)


Diablo III has been a flashpoint for gamers over the past few years, largely due to PC-specific issues such as Blizzard requiring an internet connection at all times, the real-world-money auction house, and the genuine lack of endgame content at launch. Constant patches, updates, and the Reaper of Souls expansion have alleviated some of those concerns, none of which were ever a problem with the next-Gen console re-re-release I played.

Diablo III: UEE joins the ranks of Borderlands, Castle Crashers, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance as being a game where the co-op is so well-executed that it’s an integral part of the experience for me; I only played a few brief hours alone, usually just to grind out one more level before logging off, and rarely enjoyed it. If you have two or three friends and an itch for some classic dungeon-crawling, loot-grabbing, “oh shit, this new ability does what?!” action, this is the game for you.

Runner-Up #2

Dragon Age: Inquisition (Xbox One)


For years now, Erich and I have mocked people who tried to sway us toward Final Fantasy XIII with the promise of “If you just get past the first thirty hours, it gets really good!” I am sitting at the twenty-hour mark of DA: Inquisition and have loved every minute of it so far, but I’ll be damned if everyone I trust on games won’t shut up about how “the real game doesn’t even start until the twenty-five-hour mark.” The game offers a staggering amount of content, most of which is well-balanced and evenly-paced by having you participate in side activities as a prerequisite to unlocking main quest missions.

Inquisition manages to do what so many open-world RPGs – looking at you, Elder Scrolls – either can’t or won’t do, in that it never sacrifices “scale” in the name of “scope.” When you decided whether or not to go hunt ten rams in order to help feed and clothe refugees, the end result has a genuine impact on the greater narrative; to the same end, the large-scale, world-changing decisions you make generate real reactions and even consequences within your party, and leave you wondering if saving the world is worth losing a friend.

Biggest Surprise

Wolfenstein: The New Order (Xbox One)


My interest in The New Order was zero from the first trailer, and all the consecutive marketing leading up to launch did little but somehow make me less interested. When Beth told me she was going to pick it up, only our friendship kept me from being overly negative about it. I happened to be off that day, so she brought it over to see if my mind could be changed. The answer was simple: Yes. It could be changed.

The New Order doesn’t do anything particularly new or flashy; instead, it takes mechanics from a generation of solid shooters – Resistance, Half-Life 2, BioShock, Call of Duty, Rage – throws chest-high cover and health regeneration out the window, wraps it all up in a story that’s way better than I could have ever guessed, and loads it into an incredibly detailed double-barrel shotgun for maximum impact. Oh, and you get to shoot lasers at Nazis on the moon, which makes me wonder why you’re even still reading this.

Biggest Disappointment

Destiny (Xbox One)


Remember how I said I didn’t feel the Titanfall season pass was a waste of money, because at least it kept us playing Titanfall for a while? Yeah, the $30 I spent on the Destiny season pass might as well have been lit on fire as a sacrifice to Bungie. What fun I had with Destiny was only managed with my friends, and none of them picked up the pass; Hell, several of them don’t even own the game anymore! Those who haven’t traded it in aren’t really chomping at the bit to sacrifice money of their own, and I can hardly blame them.

Out of all the possible complaints, the best example of why Destiny is an abject failure in my mind comes from the fabled “loot cave” that dominated the servers for several weeks. All of the things that Destiny was supposed to deliver – tight shooter mechanics, cool gear, social participation with random strangers, big public events that pulled in everyone on the map – were realized in that small corner of the Cosmodrome for a few genuinely memorable nights. Then, as best any of us can tell, Bungie heard people were having fun, yelled “Hey you kids, get off our lawn!” and turned on the sprinklers.

Honorable Mention

Saints Row IV (Xbox One)


Yeah, yeah, Saints Row IV was on my list last year. You know how many shits I give? Z.E.R.O. You know why? Because it’s getting re-released on next-Gen in three weeks! With new content! So guess what that means, kids?! There’s a really good chance that Saints Row IV: Re-Elected is on my 2015 GOTY list, too! Murder time, fun time!!! FOUR MORE YEARS!!

Dishonorable Mention

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (Xbox One)


…*sigh.* This game is on here specifically so that my own, personal shame can be made known. It was 100% my idea to pick it up, and after the disappointment of Destiny, there were several weeks when my mantra was “It’s ok, we’ll have a new Borderlands soon!” It’s not that The Pre-Sequel is a bad game, truthfully. Rather, it’s just… not Borderlands, or even Borderlands 2 (which I thought was inferior to the first one.) We managed… four play sessions? It may have only been three. I don’t care. I’m literally bored from thinking about it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *