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Top games of 2015
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
In The Witcher 3:Wild Hunt the volatile setting was the player and its inhabitants felt real. From the swamps of Crookback Bog, to the grimy alleys of Novigrad, to the frozen islands of Skellige, the journey was through the Northern Kingdoms which sets the stage for one of video games' most engrossing epics. There were political turmoil, civil war, supernatural elements, and a vibrant wilderness with creatures both beautiful and grotesque to be explored. This was a world that seemed to have life, and carry on without us, indifferent to our motivations as the witcher Geralt. We may have been powerful, but we were still only one person.
The Witcher 3 doesn’t change the gaming landscape with innovation or visionary style, but it shocks you with its scale and wins you over with exact execution. You can explore the countryside on horseback for hours, passing by ruined landmarks and abandoned settlements cast in gorgeous sunlight. Its fighting system is challenging and robust without inspiring the frustration of a game like Bloodborne. There were plenty of characters with personality and perspective, many of whom could play the lead in games of their own without a batted eye. And dozens of hours after you discover White Orchard’s just a tiny piece of the game’s pie, it keeps fighting to impress you. Games this generous are gifts.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
The game is the eleventh in number and final installment of Metal Gear series and the fifth within the series' timeline. It defines itself as a sequel to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and a continuation of the story line established there, and a prequel to the original Metal Gear series. The game is an open world action-adventure and stealth. It carries over the tagline of Tactical Espionage Operations first used in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, set in 1984, the game follows the avaricious leader Punished "Venom" Snake as he ventures into Afghanistan and the Angola–Zaire border region to bring the revenge on the people who destroyed his forces and came close to killing him during the climax of Ground Zeroes.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a separated composite of two previously announced projects. The first was Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and the second was The Phantom Pain. As in Peace Walker, The Phantom Pain features a base-building system that allows players to develop weapons and items from their home base. Recruitment of enemy soldiers and prisoners has also returned for this purpose, allowing the base to grow through organization. The player is given the option to access their base from their real-life smart phones and other devices via a companion app. Unlike in Peace Walker where players can only see Mother Base from the air, they can control Snake as he explores the complex on foot.
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Fallout 4 is a complicated game, but one who’s greatest pleasures are simple and plentiful. You get thrown on a new, mysterious location, and gifted with a ping and a little experience bump. You target a raider’s head in V.A.T.S. and separate it from its body with a bloody sharp click. Playing it for a while made you feel like popping a sheet of bubble wrap piece by piece.
The combination of these little details and a powerful narrative hook — you’re a parent and you just want to find your child — give Fallout 4 sturdy bones. That’s important, because this is a game that occasionally groans under the weight of its ambition. (Or maybe it’s all the junk you have to drag across the wasteland?) The game’s demands might border on excessive, but they never compromise the twin thrills of exploration and discovery.
Bloodborne hostile nature is a large part of its game play. The successor to the Dark Souls series, it’s a game where every victory is nerve wrecking. The bosses are grotesque monsters that will take every pound of your skill to defeat and the standard enemies — the plague-inflicted inhabitants of Yharnam — can kill you. The plot doesn’t put you in the role of a super-powered hero capable of taking down dangerous beasts with ease. Instead, it casts you as a regular person and throws you into a gothic world of violence and despair.
Bloodborne isn’t like most modern games. It doesn’t ease you into the experience; slowly taking you through the rules and giving you time to understand its unique systems. Bloodborne forces you to learn how it works, and then tests your knowledge in the most brutal ways possible.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
The inside stuff of Batman: Arkham Knight remains one of the most seductive in all of gaming: spend a lot of time brawling, blasting, and winching, and with a single tool belt and tank you can liberate an entire metropolis. You can spend hours soaring above Gotham’s skyline, tuning into radio dispatches from friends and foes alike. Arkham Knight’s treatment of that truth is heavy-handed, but that doesn’t make it any less satisfying.
The combat system trusted with heavy combos, that birthed a dozen action-adventure knock-offs remains fluid and physical, and the deep bench full of various Batman villains’ helps to liven up what would otherwise be boilerplate beat them up side quests. Like its predecessors in super furious Arkham series, Arkham Knight understands that Batman’s toughest battles are mental; there’s no villain more dangerous than the darkness rising in Bruce Wayne’s mind.
Destiny: The Taken King
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Saying destiny is an addiction was not wrong: it was a craving habit, one you couldn’t really justify and were always telling you that this was day of play, not going to work. Destiny: The Taken King brings an expansion that built on vanilla Destiny’s solid game play skeleton and fulfilled the promise of Bungie’s ambitions.
There are real characters and non-terrible dialogue, bosses that are more than just bullet wash, levels that wants you to do more than killing stuff while you scan doors and platforms, a leveling and gear system that rewards normal play instead of encouraging grinding, a robot companion with real personality. Add up all of those potentially humorous additions and toss in dashes of space lightning and flaming hammers, and the product is a game that’s better than ever and continuously evolving.
Halo 5: Guardians
Platform: Xbox One
It can be said that Halo 5: Guardians is one of the best shooters of 2015. Well it lacks split-screen co-op, but the marches forward this game makes it as the best hard core Halo in years. The energetic but strategic 24-player War zone mode is the best thing to happen to Halo since Halo 3: ODST's Firefight. It's a brand new take on the legacy of Halo formula, and it proves itself to be a better addition to the combination of single- and multiplayer modes that Halo 5 offers.
Meanwhile, the campaign drafts in a new, exciting way with its Chief vs. Locke theme. Even though it doesn't totally provide a satisfactory conclusion (Halo 6 is coming, and will presumably continue the story), it crafts a compelling narrative with many great hooks to keep you interested throughout.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate
Platforms:PC, PS4, Xbox One
Syndicateis said can be the one that brings the Assassin's Creed franchise back in action, and in many ways is similar to fan-favorite Assassin's Creed II. Characters Evie and Jacob Frye are a euphoric to follow around a city embedded with corruption and opportunity. Syndicate follows in the long-running Assassin's Creed formula, presenting the same scheme of a widespread city packed with quests.
But it also discards some well established mechanics, upgrading the series' escalation and traversal mechanics with a new rope launcher tool. You can hunt Templars, collect bounties, and gather up collectibles when you're not building your own street gang, the Rooks. With two protagonists who possess different skill sets, a gang to run, and the familiar host of Assassin's Creed goodies, it's easy to get lost in this version of 1868 London.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
In a world dominated by fast and sharp shooters with near-instant re-spawns, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege feels like a refreshing breath of ice cold air. Siege offers up plenty to do more than just shooting, from laying down barbed wire and reinforcing walls, upholding extensive tactics to setting up traps and planting explosive mines. Ubisoft's latest take on the gaming world has incredible tactical depth, with two teams made up of five uniquely equipped Operators, allowing for endless combinations of massacre. Its powerful cocktail of death, friendly fire, and health that doesn't regenerate which means warfare is tense and every bullet fired matters.
The game's warmongering environment makes situational awareness even more important and individual skill takes a back bench to teamwork. Even though Siege lacks a single-player campaign, the variety and depth of its mechanics allow for some brilliant moments that will keep you on the edge of your seat and coming back for more.
Just Cause 3
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Just Cause 3 makes some efforts to emerge on a serious note. Instead, it sets you free in a massive world with destructible surroundings and tools with which to create severe damage. It's more of a superhero like game than anything else, as you can glide over the landscape in your wing suit, grapple through the buildings, and parachute behind enemy lines in an effort to liberate areas from dictatorship through absolute force.
The pageant of domino explosions alone is enough to bring chaos during Just Cause 3's initial stages, but the many unlocks and challenges, as well as the finely-tuned controls, extend the enjoyment past the first several hours. Just Cause 3 is a game of experimentation, and each tool changes how you play. The results might not always work in your favor, but they're almost always entertaining.