This year has been a difficult one for me with gaming. I’ve purchased a lot of games but haven’t had a lot of time to play them. Like many years, when I do play my games, I’m normally playing games that tend to be really lengthy or never ending. This year, however, I’ve spent even less time with games than normal but have also made even more game purchases than normal. I’ve also only managed to beat a very small fraction of the purchases I’ve made.
Trust me, my backlog is like an uncontrollable beast that can’t be beaten back. At this point, I’m just playing what I can when I can. My top 10 list reflects this. Several of the games on this list are definitely not from this year, but I did play them this year. That’s all that counts, right?
10. Splatoon – Splatoon is a game that I liked more than most other shooters released in the past few years, but is also a game that I felt could have been much more. I’m not happy with the lack of local multi-player options, the limited control options, not being able to group up with friends online for non-ranked matches, and a few other things. However, despite my complaints, it has been one of the games I’ve spent the most time with this year. The way it plays, how fluid it moves, and the art style – it’s so different yet so refreshing. Like most other shooters that came out this generation, it does feel like it’s missing things that $60 shooters last gen had. However, unlike most other shooters this generation, it feels unique and so fluid that it’s hard not to give this game some recognition.
9. The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited – When I tried the initial release for about a month last year, I put it down never to be played again. However, like Final Fantasy 14 with A Realm Reborn, they changed many things about the game, launched it on Xbox One and Playstation 4, and added Tamriel Unlimited to the title. Those changes fixed most of my initial complaints and got me hooked for a few months earlier this year. When I stopped playing this originally, I swore to never touch this one again. I’m glad I didn’t stick to that because the current game is so much better and well worth playing.
8. Halo Reach – Halo has been a series that I haven’t invested much time in. I didn’t own an original Xbox and, on my 360, I only played Halo 3 and ODST. I enjoyed the Halo games that I did play with friends at their houses, but its never been a series that I’ve gravitated to on my own. However, I’ve been meaning to go back and play them, and I found this one at the store for cheap. So I jumped on it and got two friends to play with me. I wasn’t disappointed in the least. The campaign was hard and intense. The story was sad and hit me in the feelers. From what I played of previous Halo games, I remember campaigns being good, but this one definitely knocked it out of the park for me.
7. Super Mario Maker – Honestly, this isn’t a game that was really on my radar at all. Don’t get me wrong: it looked good, but it wasn’t something I intended on getting anywhere near release. The day before it released, however, I got a sudden desire to play this one. I’m so glad I acted on that. This game is, by far, my favorite 2D Mario game and creation game. I never thought I’d have this much fun with unofficial Mario stages, but I’ve had a lot of fun with this game. It’s literally a concentrated stream of new stages presented to you every time you boot this game up. It’s a complete blast.
6. Borderlands 2 – This is a game that I was meaning to check out for a while and finally did earlier this year. Much like the original, I highly enjoyed my time with this one. The art, sound, and shooting are all on point. But the big draw for the Borderlands series is always the sheer number and variety of weapons you get and the ridiculous world and characters. In these areas, Borderlands 2 exceeded my expectations. From weapons that literally scream “bang” each time you shoot, to macho arena-men that love explosions, to egocentric bad guys who get too busy talking about themselves when addressing you…. This game oozes character, and I laughed the entire time while playing it.
5. 7 Days to Die – I wasn’t really expecting to like this game as much as I did. I threw it up on my Steam wishlist, and a friend of mine actually gifted it to me. While the game is far from perfect, it really hooked me. Scavenging and base-building to survive the hordes of zombies is nothing new, but it works especially well in this game. I couldn’t tell you exactly why I enjoyed this one as much as I did, but I absolutely enjoyed this one a whole lot. Whether it was crafting, scavenging, or raiding zombie infested towns with friends, I had a blast during all of it.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes – When I first saw this game, I knew it was going to be more of a simple, filler game. I also knew that I was really going to enjoy it. What I didn’t know, though, was how much I was going to enjoy it. This game really took me by surprise. I had so much fun getting into and adventuring through dungeons with friends. I also enjoyed throwing my friends over cliffs against their wills. It was hilarious and so much fun.
Furthermore, the characters you meet and the outfits you get are completely absurd. I love it! The king’s cry gets me every time. The phrases you get from the lady in Madame Couture’s had me rolling. Some of the outfits are so corny yet so awesome. I laugh so much each time I play this one. I love this game.
3. Xenoblade Chronicles X – Since it was revealed back in 2013, I’ve been clamoring to play this game. As expected, it has taken up the majority of my game-time since release. Compared to the original Xenoblade, there are things I like more and things I like less. However, this is a very different game than the original in general, and none of its negative aspects have hurt my enjoyment of this title.
To put it lightly, this game’s world is absolutely amazing. The fact that this was done on Wii U is pretty impressive. It’s huge; there’s a ton of wild life; and pretty much everywhere you move your camera is screenshot-worthy. Also, the way the story is told, you’re not the center of everything, and the game isn’t focused on a small group of people. Rather, there are a bunch of different characters that you use, which gives the feeling that you’re part of humanity’s struggle, not the predetermined savior.
Additionally, the amount of content in this game is mind-boggling. Sure, many of the side-quests are throwaways, but there are a lot that aren’t; many of them help you to have better understanding of the world around you. Furthermore, the amount of depth in the underlying systems in this game can have you spending hours just trying to understand everything. This isn’t a game that I would recommend to just anybody, but if you’re like me and love a lengthy RPG with a lot of content and depth, this is it.
2. Elite: Dangerous – I’ve known of this game for quite some time but was holding off on buying it till I performed hardware upgrades on my Mac Pro, as it’s a demanding game. Back in May, I finally made those upgrades; and during the summer, I decided to pick this one up. Admittedly, I was completely lost. This game has so much going on in it and so much freedom that without a friend there already playing, I’m not sure I would have stuck with this.
I’m glad I did though. Once I got a flight stick and got the hang of things, I got hooked big time. This is probably the closest most people will ever get to real space travel. Exploring the star systems can literally take several lifetimes. Throw in trading, factions, political squabbles, bounty hunting, pirating, wars, etc., and you have a base game that’s literally one of the biggest games ever created. They just added planetary landings in a recent expansion and will add multi-crew ships, player avatars, ground combat, and other notable things in future updates and expansions. I can’t wait to try it all out.
1. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate – Words cannot explain how excited I was for this when it was announced for localization. When they announced the special edition 3DS to go along with it, I nearly lost my mind. I immediately fumbled around for my wallet, so I could order it within the first five minutes of presale. Words cannot express how much I’ve enjoyed this game. Like all games, it’s not perfect; but it’s easily the best cooperative experience I’ve played – not just on 3DS, but on any system this generation.
The new mounting system has added another layer of depth onto a combat system that is almost entirely about strategy, accuracy, and timing. Also, the amount of creatures to fight, armor to make, and missions to undertake is staggering. Throw in free DLC in the way of new missions, gear, and monsters, and you now have enough content to sink in well over 400 hours of playtime easily.
One thing that has really upset me about this generation is how the amount of content in a $60 purchase seems to be shrinking, and the depth of games seems to be getting streamlined. Likewise, a lot of content that would be in a $60 purchase is now broken into DLC or other add-on content, with some full-priced games having basic functions of a game locked behind paywalls.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is the opposite of this. The amount of content in this $40 handheld game rivals any $60 game in my library including full on MMORPGs. Combine that with solid gameplay, deep mechanics, free DLC and the fact that it’s a single player, local multiplayer, and online multiplayer game, and you have my clear winner. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is my favorite game on 3DS, my undisputed game of 2015, and my favorite game of this generation so far.