NG+ Game of the Year 2015: Jason's Games of 2015

GOTY 2015 Jason

For all intents and purposes, 2015 was a fantastic year of sequels and sales, at least if the hype is to be believed. The first big year of titles since the last two platforms entered the console race, the “next gen” consoles seemed to finally hit their stride. That is, until you get into the minutiae of the games themselves, and then it hits you: You’re no longer the target audience of these franchises anymore.

To expand, perhaps the most telling sign of this for me is that in a year with new Metal Gear Solid and Fallout games, they didn’t even enter into my thought process for GOTY consideration. That’s not to say that they are inherently bad games, especially from a gameplay perspective: Fallout 4’s improved shooting engine and streamlined mechanics were a welcome addition, and The Phantom Pain is emergent sandbox sharpened to a fine point. The issue is that both games, with their rich universes, come across as completely sterile when compared to their predecessors.

The games that succeeded for me this year, like any year, are those that own their universe and their flaws. Therefore, Earth Defence Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair on Playstation 4 stands out for me as the best example of an imperfect game in many ways being better than itself. The muscle of the PS4 removes the game’s signature (and frankly endearing) visual lag when big things go boom, and it still allows for co-op strafe shooting bug killing antics. EDF remains perhaps my favourite series that very few people play.

Rocket League

That said, sometimes it’s not about the universe, but about nailing the basics. And when you set out to make a game about cars playing soccer, you better nail it. Rocket League does exactly that, with its relatively simple mechanics hiding a deceptive level of depth. It’s the Cinderella story of the year: Going from relatively unknown indie game to eSsport in short measure. It’s also just a top game.

With my misgivings about this year’s titles aside, there’s a studio worth mentioning that has absolutely shone this year, not that you’d know it from their sales. Avalanche Studios had the double duty of Mad Max and Just Cause 3, and both of them were just fantastic. Mad Max nailed the wasteland, the roar of V8s scrambling across the desert, and the pure terror of being caught in a super storm. Yeah, the Batman-lite fighting was clunky, and I will never forgive “Dinki-Dee” until I die, but Mad Max is a game I pumped far too many hours into.

Just Cause 3 is a different beast. Another sandbox game, but this time set on the verdant island chain of Medici. Rico’s new wingsuit makes the spectacular movement of the previous game even more entertaining. It’s the perfect blend of Mercenaries, Saints Row 2 and Spider-Man 2, and like Mad Max, is a perfect “too much stuff to do” game.

Witcher 3

Finally, I think the most obvious thing I’m going to say in this piece is that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an absolutely deserving GOTY and you should play it. CD Projekt had a lot riding on this one, and they nailed a great mix of exploration, universe and combat. Not many games take you seamlessly from a moral quandary over the fate of a group of orphans to the sudden intensity of an attacking wyvern with as much style, and The Witcher 3 nails it.

I guess that covers the games I consider the best of the year. That doesn’t mean you should leave it there: Yo-Kai Watch, Life is Strange and others await you. But don’t be surprised in the new year if you see me playing a lot less AAA games. I’m really not the target audience anymore, especially if they keep putting in that fucking auto-aim that I can’t turn off god damn it.

NG+ Game of the Year 2015 – Matt's Top Three

GOTY 2015 - Matt

2015 was a year full of prosperity, anticipation and surprise hits. After two full years on the market, I can now say without a shred of hesitation that I am proud to own a PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. While E3 2015 brought about some surprises we await next year and beyond, this year I found myself still playing catch up for all of the games I regret not playing, even in the last few weeks of December.

As I spend my next few intimate weeks with the sultry and sweet stylings of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward and Rocket League, here are my top 3 games to cap off the incredible year that was 2015.


Bloodborne

3. Bloodborne

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Bloodborne]

I paid extra attention to many titles that released earlier in the year, as it seems easy to forget what an amazing start 2015 had. FromSoftware’s Bloodborne definitely held a huge stake with that notion. A brooding, murky Victorian playground that plays with you more times than you can play with it, every victory and sense of accomplishment in Bloodborne is quickly dashed as a strong sense of fearful apprehension sets in.

Bloodborne invokes the fight/flight response in players better than most games can, with a combat system that rewards aggressive pursuit and spacing of enemies and mechanics that are tailored specifically for moving around foes with utmost agility. It’s what sets it apart from the Demon’s and Dark Souls’ parry/turtle-heavy style — quite frankly, it’s a system I prefer a lot more.

Bloodborne forces you against frightful enemies, but never lets you forget that you can gnash your teeth back like a rabid animal; that is…if you ever have any hope of escaping the gothic nightmare unravelling before you.


Undertale

1 (tied). Undertale

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Undertale]

For the longest time, I had been disenfranchised with the state of indie game development. Some developers had seen it as an avenue for depicting video games in a more earnest light, while forgetting the part where a degree of skill or reflexes are required. Thankfully, not only have I been brought back down to earth, but sent barrelling to the Underground with the little surprise hit known as Undertale.

While definitely not skimping on the narrative side, Undertale approaches RPG tropes and spins them on their head with a fantastic blend of humour, sincerity and terror. Take combat: Your success rate in dodging enemy attacks isn’t contingent on your character’s stats like a traditional RPG; instead you actively navigate yourself around pellets, flames and onomatopoeia materialising as enemy attacks in a bullet hell fashion. I love how these battles play out; they flip the table on turn-based conventions while offering engaging and endearingly frustrating tests of skill.It’s a game that prefers pacifist resolution instead of outright attacking your enemies and is accommodated through reading your enemies and choosing a unique set of actions that allow you to befriend and spare them.

How you play determines the way the story unfolds, and the Undertale’s success lies in how well the jargon and the combat system integrates with the narrative. A standard tale of humanity vs. inhumanity is enhanced with a lovable cast of characters, shattered fourth-wall and a heartfelt tone that turns Undertale into an incredible experience that made me laugh in spades, cry uncontrollably and will haunt me for years to come.

Go play Undertale as soon as you can.


Metal Gear ii

1 (tied). Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain]

Fans of Radiohead will be happy to know that there are no alarms or no surprises here. Despite the media circus leading up to (and following) its release, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain remains one of my most cherished and prolonged experiences with a video game in 2015.

Say what you will about the narrative and what little significance it holds within the entire Metal Gear mythos, but the sparse use of cutscenes and exposition serve as a response to the many criticisms of previous Metal Gear games and their infamous reputation as interactive movies. The Phantom Pain starts off with a clean slate and moves its focus to the essence of stealth, reconnaissance and the freedom to approach any situation as you see fit.

The Phantom Pain contains one of the most in-depth and satisfying stealth experiences you’ll ever get in the Metal Gear series — or even any stealth-action game. Questions emerge from the moment you decide your mission loadout: Approach a situation lethally or non-lethally? Go in fast or disable power generators, mortars and satellite dishes so that no back up platoons arrive? It’s focus on adaptability and improvisation helps cater to any playstyle and ensures entertaining anecdotes told around the campfire by mutual Metal Gear enthusiasts.

Not only that, but the base building foundations made standard by Peace Walker are expanded upon, allowing the development of departments, weapons and gadgetry. You’ll need them for the PvP-inspired invasion of other player’s bases in the name of resource collection and nuclear deterrence; the latter proving to be more of the harrowing brand of social commentary Hideo Kojima is well known for sneaking into his games.

Despite everything that happened around its release, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain remains a fantastic romp from start to finish, and it’s a game I highly recommend if you’re willing to love it for 100+ hours (which is exactly what I did).


Come back tomorrow for more of the New Game Plus crew’s favourite games of 2015, or catch up on Jamie’s, Trey’s and Donald’s games of the year. For our overall Game of the Year, watch our 2015 Game of the Year Special.

NG+ Game of the Year 2015: Donald's Top Five

GOTY - Don i

I’m going to assume you quickly flicked through my list before reading this introduction. You would’ve noticed, then, a number of notable absences. Let me tell you why I haven’t included some of these games in my personal top five.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: I recognise that it has a massive, textured world. I know that The Bloody Baron is one of the best characters this year. However, everything about the game’s size and systems is downright intimidating. And this is a personal peccadillo, but 99% of fantasæ bores me senseless, and little about The Witcher threatens to put it in that 1%.

Life Is Strange: At the time of writing, I’m still at the tail-end of Episode 3. I would have played more, but there’s only so much stress I can take from the game’s moral choices. Maybe it speaks to the game’s effectiveness that I overthink every choice so hard.

Splatoon: I don’t have the luxury of being able to stick to a single game. Much of the Splatoon community does. This means that every time I casually hop into a game, I’m immediately dominated by people four or five times my level. I really adore the game’s style; I’ll just have to be content with watching it behind perspex glass.

Fallout 4: War never changes and neither has Fallout.

With that out of the way…


Expand

5. Expand

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Expand]

From the very first time I saw Expand on the PAX Australia show floor last year, I could tell it was something different. It was a quiet, minimalist oasis from the rest of the brash and ostentatious show floor. It well and truly had me entranced.

When the game was released this year, it continued to surprise me. It was still based on meditative navigation through circular mazes, but the experience was constantly evolving. The maze morphed into shapes I did not expect, the new obstacles notched up the difficulty so gradually that I barely noticed how tightly I was gripping my controller by game’s end. The intensity of Expand’s final sequence exceeded even the most traditionally action-centric titles this year.

Much like its mazes, Expand began as one type of experience and ended up as something else altogether. Throughout, it kept me entirely enraptured.


Her Story ii

4. Her Story

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Her Story]

Full motion video is usually a sign that a game should not be taken seriously. This year only confirmed this theory many times over, from Guitar Hero Live’s cock-rockers to Need for Speed’s impotent cocksureness. Her Story was a robust rebuttal to this trend.

Ostensibly a murder mystery, Her Story quickly becomes so much more than that. Even after I had been floored by the game’s revelations, when I went to quit the game, it had one more for me. Full credit here goes to Sam Barlow’s script and Viva Siefert’s subtly effective performance.

Adding to this is the non-linear method of storytelling. Even though every player is poring over the same series of clips, each of them will come away with a unique experience. It is as close to emergent gameplay as narrative-driven gaming has reached.

Her Story is a powerfully effective experiment in video game storytelling, and the perfect example of why good writing fits in any medium — even full motion video.


Tales from the Borderlands

3. Tales From The Borderlands

The Borderlands games always secretly had some interesting writing. Borderlands 2 in particular frequently slipped in some clever gags and quiet moments of character; shame they were buried in an audio log beneath a mouldy pile of dated memes. Tales from the Borderlands is the first time the writing has been allowed to stand on its own, and here it shines.

All of this has to do with the cast of original characters. The work done to flesh out Fiona, Rhys and their respective cohorts made the game’s moments land so much better. The jokes became laugh-out-loud funny, the quieter moments became so much more meaningful than the previous games ever were.

Unburdened by internet humour, this game made the Borderlands universe worth caring about. And just to tip it game over the edge, it has some of the best introductory title cards in the business.


Ori and the Blind Forest

2. Ori and the Blind Forest

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Ori and the Blind Forest]

On paper, Ori and the Blind Forest had all the potential to be insufferable. It ticked off all the latest indie trends: It’s a Metroidvania, it is staggeringly earnest, even the graphics are actually factually bespoke. It’s the kind of game that could’ve been served in mason jar by a bearded Brunswick bartender. It was all this, of course, but it was so much more.

Let’s not dismiss the breathtaking presentation. Just take a look at any screenshot and tell me you don’t want to use it as your phone wallpaper. And then set the soundtrack as your ringtone. And then wipe the tears off your screen as you’re reminded of the gut-wrenching introduction.

But Ori’s true beauty lies in the feel of the movement. The game has you triple-jumping, wall-jumping and bashing off enemy projectiles onto tiny far-off platforms — usually all in one sequence. And yet the controls feel so organic and satisfying. Even ignoring the Metroidvania hooks, I would just jaunt around the environment just for the heck of it.

Ori and the Blind Forest ended up being the antithesis of precious cliche. It took all the run-down tropes and crafted them into one of the most beautiful and mechanically-tight games in recent years.


Metal Gear i

1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain]

The Metal Gear Solid games are all about the spectacular moments: The infamous bait-and-switch in Sons of Liberty, Snake Eater’s protracted battle with The End (or not, depending on your actions), or the needlessly essential bare-fisted throwback in Guns of the Patriots.

Here’s the ugly truth: Every Metal Gear moment, each and every single one of them, was considered and scripted by Hideo Kojima. Even the expoits or supposedly emergent moments (yes, even this one) are but another case of Kojima, yet again, playing us like a damned fiddle.

Until now it felt like Kojima was constrained by the narrow hallways of the previous games. The Phantom Pain, with its wide open worlds, is the first time Kojima’s wild imagination has had room to breathe, and the possibilities he has conjured for us is near-limitless.

Whether you want to silently fulton every soldier on base, go in guns blazing or, I dunno, send in a wild grizzly bear to do your dirty work, It sincerely feels like the entire spectrum of infiltration and exfiltration has been accounted for.

The quiet savior for this heightened sense of agency is the Fox Engine. For the first time since Sons of Liberty, a Metal Gear game is running at a smooth 60fps, and in a franchise first, the controls are no longer Snake’s worst enemy. It’s the best the franchise has done to make you feel like a proper stealth soldier.

All of these combine to create the ultimate stealth sandbox, one where I had endless opportunities to engineer my own unique Metal Gear moments. And whether it be The Accidental Grenade That Saved The Day or The Hours Of Planning Only For A Single Dart To Fell A Bear or the countless other moments of barely-scripted genius, these moments were among my favourite of 2015.

I have no doubt that these were all envisioned by Kojima. However, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the first game big enough for Kojima’s madness.


Come back tomorrow for more of the New Game Plus crew’s favourite games of 2015, or catch up on Jamie’s and Trey’s games of the year. For our overall Game of the Year, watch our 2015 Game of the Year Special.

NG+ Game of the Year 2015: Trey's Games of 2015

GOTY 2015 - Trey

I, uh, didn’t really play any of the big titles this year. Yeah, I know, that makes me a fundamentally bad person and I acknowledge that. No Witcher. No Metal Gear. No Fallout. You know, none of the important games.

But Trey, were there even any other games out this year? I certainly didn’t see any.

Yeah, turns out there were other games. A whole bunch of them in fact. Yeah, I know.

So while everyone else spent the year dedicating their gaming time to making sure everyone knows that they play popular games, I was at home frantically grinding my way through games because someone has to and I am a hero like that.

So here are the major new games that kept me busy during 2015. Available now in the bargain bins of all good gaming stores.


Dragonball Xenoverse

Dragon Ball XenoVerse

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Dragon Ball XenoVerse]

A new console generation isn’t official until it has a Dragon Ball game, we all know that.

Continuing the Budokai trend of emphasising the brawling over the straight fighting, you create your own Dragon Ball avatar and save the universe from power-creeping enemies and… stuff.

Dragon Ball XenoVerse is a game that is fun and really hits the core of what a game based on a franchise should offer: All your favourite elements with just enough unique parts to make it fresh. It felt like glorified fanfiction, pandering to fans in every way possible, but in the best way imaginable. In was also a brilliant kickoff to the revival of Dragon Ball as an animated franchise.

Rock the dragon. Do it.


FF Type-0

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD]

There are many reasons why Final Fantasy Type-0 had a cult following despite its unavailability in the west. It had an action combat system that relied on timing and counters and a story that was both politically and emotionally charged, taking cues from just about every Final Fantasy game in the series.

There were a lot of strange things about Final Fantasy Type-0 as a re-release, not least of which was its push as a full next-gen release. Fans were probably right to be cynical despite the fact it is easily probably the best Final Fantasy release in 10 years.

But now that the game has come down in price the prospect of it as a purchase is much more reasonable, so I invite anyone who loves action RPGs, Final Fantasy games or just wants something a bit different to give it a crack. Niggles aside, it is an experience will stay with you for a long time. That ending, unf.


Onechanbara

Onechanbara Z2: Chaos

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Onechanbara Z2: Chaos]

Okay, hear me out on this one. Yes, it is from a series from which only the most perplexing installments get released in the west. Yes it ticks every box that ought to upset right minded gamers in 2015 with blatant sexualisation, 2edgy4u dialogue, horrific enemy AI, and a main story run time of maybe a few hours depending on your skill factor.

But the game is just fun.

Combat is frantic but has an immediately graspable flow. You discover that although everyone is dressed Dead or Alive costumes rejected for being too tasteless, these characters are all oddly empowered and in control. And all the fun unlockables take exactly long enough that you only just start feeling the game has overstayed its welcome; it’s a game that doesn’t hold your time to ransom for the sake of it.

Of all the games I went into expecting nothing, this is the one I walked out of having enjoyed. I know everything that is wrong with it, but this is one of those times that you can enjoy it despite that. Don’t believe me? Give it a try.


One Piece Pirate Warriors

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3]

Another day, another Musou/Warriors game release, ey. Uh, yeah, pretty much.

Not a staggering jump from Pirate Warriors 2, it nonetheless cleaned up a lot of elements and introduced a new take on the tag-team system. The characters and voicework are well done and the draw distance on PS4 is pretty damn amazing; your super attacks literally go off into the distance and can take out hundreds of people in one go.

The cast isn’t huge, only about 50 (with only about half of that actually playable) in a series with hundreds of characters, but the scenarios were really damn on point: They somehow managed to recreate a lot of the major elements of the arcs within a single battle in ways that were pretty satisfying. This is a game that has a deep understanding of the source material.

If you like One Piece, this game is worth the time. If you like Pirate Warriors, you’d been waiting for this. If you like Musou/Warriors games, this is another to play if you aren’t already.

Dreamin’. Don’t give it up. (I’m sorry.)


Dragon Quest Heroes

Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below

Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Wo(Editor’s note: Nope) is new franchise in the Warriors/Musou stable in an already busy year for Koei Tecmo.
And good news, it is pretty legit.

It carries over the cutesy aesthetic of a lot of the older games, the game includes some popular characters from across a handful of the games and since the designs are based on Toriyama you can go Super Saiyan because of course you can.

In a world where there are now over half a dozen Warriors spinoff titles running, it is harder for each title to justify its existence and keep the formula fresh. But that is exactly what Dragon Quest Heroes manages to do: You never forget you are playing a Warriors game but it is unique enough that you don’t feel as if it is just a sprite swap.

An interesting new addition to the overall Warriors/Musou franchise and one that will please fans of Dragon Quest as well.


Xenoblade Chronicles X

Xenoblade Chronicles X

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Xenoblade Chronicles X]

Okay, technically this game had a huge amount of hype leading up to it, so I guess it is not an edgy weeb game despite its appearance (though the mixed response to it helps)

Xenoblade Chronicles X is a huge game in just about every sense. It has a huge open world that is actually full of stuff and things to do and is well designed so that you have to learn the terrain to get around. An entire city full of people to get to know, more people to find and a story that at the end of the day is about them. It has about a billion sidequests; heck, even the damn story missions are sidequests. And then there are the giant robots that rain down destruction, which is are exactly as satisfying as it sounds.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of weird quirks to the game that will make a lot of fans write it off as the greatest crime against humanity ever, but all of that pales in comparison to the sheer scope and execution of the exploration in the game.

It was worth it just to get lost in a world of alien politics, high concept sci-fi wank and giant robots. Seriously. Giant robots. And they transform.


Special Mention: Samurai Warriors 4-II

So Samurai Warriors 4 was my game of the year last year, if only just in terms of pure hours sunk. So why only a special mention?

Well, the “–II” is sort of misleading, as this really is just an Extreme Legends style release. Most of the original content is the same, with the weapons and, perhaps more significantly, the item system getting an overhaul. The addition of story sequences unique to each character is a welcome bonus, but ultimately the game plays out much the same. Though the removal of the sprawling conquest mode will relieve completionists.

It’s not quite a full or unique release so it is hard to call it a proper new entry, but it is still a great game. Honestly speaking, it had more than enough content to get me sucked into the game yet again.


So that was my list of major games. This is not even factoring in smaller Steam releases, the multiple re-releases, mobile games and etc. 2015 was a huge year, even factoring out the major releases, and 2016 looks to to continue that trend.

 

Come back tomorrow for more of the New Game Plus crew’s favourite games of 2015. For our overall Game of the Year, watch our 2015 Game of the Year Special.

NG+ Game of the Year 2015: Jamie's Top Five

GOTY 2015 - Jamie ii

What a difference a year makes. This time last year, I was lamenting how 2014 was a disappointing year for games. This year? The turnaround is nuts. Choosing one game, let alone five, to represent the year as a whole, was actually pretty damned challenging.

Seriously, this took way longer than it honestly should have.


Guitar Hero

5. Guitar Hero Live

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Guitar Hero Live]

2015 saw the return of both Rock Band and Guitar Hero, and they couldn’t be any more different. While Rock Band 4 played it super safe, Activision and Freestyle Games decided to start fresh with a new guitar and Full Motion Video interface. It was a recipe for disaster that played out much better than I expected.

The new guitar is great to play with and mastering the new fret layout is a satisfying challenge. Where the game shone was the music video streaming service GHTV. It was easily the coolest mode added to the genre in years, and I hope we see more of this going forward. Sure, there are arguments you could make about ownership of your own music, but it’s not something that’s especially bothersome to me (that gripe lies with the on disc tracks).

Seriously, give it a shot. It was by far the most interesting rhythm game of 2015, and an exciting push forward for the genre.


Her Story i

4. Her Story

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Her Story]

Her Story is a full motion video video game where you watch a woman being interviewed about her missing husband. To go into the story any deeper than that would be a detriment to the experience, because there’s nothing quite like it, and it deserves to be played.

The core of the gameplay is searching for clips, watching them, and using specific words and phrases to dig deeper into the mystery. It’s left up to the player to piece it together. What works is the writing and the fantastic subtleties in Viva Seifert’s performance that makes the mystery incredibly compelling.

In its two hours, I was given something truly unique and different. It gave me yet another reminder that games can do some really cool things with non-linearity and interactivity.


Super Mario Maker

3. Super Mario Maker

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Super Mario Maker]

I’ve always been fascinated by games which feature user generated content, but always ended up kind of turned off by the complexity and time required to make something truly great. Super Mario Maker gets around the complexity issue with ease, while also still offering enough to make something special.

Creating a level takes almost no time at all, the editor is stupidly charming, and there’s a real satisfaction in playing and testing your level to see what works and what doesn’t. The requirement to pass your level to even upload it is fantastic.

It also features my favourite new mode of 2015: The 100 Mario Challenge. Something about clearing sets of randomly uploaded levels remains weirdly satisfying to me, and it’s a great way to see what the community has come up with.

While better level and creator searching tools would’ve been appreciated, it’s a slight damper on a fantastic experience. Between this and Splatoon, it’s the perfect swansong for the Wii U.


Life is Strange

2. Life Is Strange

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of Life is Strange Episode 1: Chrysalis]

2015’s been a good year for choice based adventure gaming. If I had my way, this pick would be Life is Strange, Until Dawn and Tales From The Borderlands. All three are fantastic in their own ways and are worthy of your time and attention. Why just Life is Strange? Because it doesn’t feel like anything else released in 2015.

Aside from the cringe-inducing dialogue, the story just grabbed me. None of the mystery was over-explained (save for an awful cop out towards the end), the tone and pace was fantastic, and the fact that developer Dontnod didn’t completely ape Telltale’s style was refreshing. The game also made fantastic use of sunsets and sunrises in combination with its visual style to create some truly beautiful moments.

But most importantly, it clicked with me in a way that Until Dawn and Borderlands didn’t, especially with the fantastic ending.


The Witcher 3

1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

[Watch New Game Plus’ review of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt]

There were a lot of open world games released in 2015. Some good, some disappointing, but none of them hooked me like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Right from the get go, I was ready to see how Geralt’s tale ended, and unlike most game trilogies, it closed the loop in a satisfying way. It looks great, the combat works, I love CD Projekt’s commitment to patch every issue the game has. But these are just the tip of the iceberg for why I think it’s the best game of 2015; underneath all this was an amazing universe to explore.

Each of the three major story areas told their own individual story, all of which were better than most games released this year. Velen’s fractured family dynamic is fantastic and surprisingly frank. Novigrad is the game I wanted the entirety of Dragon Age II to be. Skellige and it’s tale of warring clans was the weakest of the three, but was still engaging enough. All three areas were designed so well that I wanted to seek out every nook and cranny and take my time with it. No other open world game this year did that.

In a year filled with timesink gaming, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is top of the class. Everything about this game worked and commanded my attention. If you haven’t played it by now, and you need a new world to lose yourself in, The Witcher is that game.


Come back tomorrow for more of the New Game Plus crew’s favourite games of 2015. And watch our 2015 Game of the Year Special.