6. Fallout 4

game

This is a tough write-up. Why is Fallout 4 Game of the Year? Why is a post-apocalyptic RPG with an irreverent sense of humor and a doo-wop sountrack Game of the Year? I know that no matter what I write, someone is gonna say, "Uh, you forgot about how cool it was when I built a giant treehouse for my impressive collection of power suits. Or when I saw Kellogg's memories at 3 am and had an emotional breakdown. Or when I spent quality time with Curie who loves me most of all." Besides the annoying tone I just assigned to that hypothetical person, this anticipated response is actually why I find Fallout 4 so rewarding.

I can explore the Commonwealth for hours, yet when I talk to another player (read online discussions) about the game, I always learn something new. All these small details stuffed into Fallout 4 make it both a private and shared experience. In my travels, I stumble on funny scenes -- like finding the remains of a mutant porpoise munching on a man and recognizing it as an homage to Jaws -- and feel like Bethesda and I have a secret inside joke. On the other hand, I can look at NSFW Nick Valentine fan art for days and participate in the communal love for everyone's favorite synth detective.

It's a perfect game for how most people play games these days -- playing a bit themselves, reading subreddits devoted to the game, maybe watching a friend play (watching a video on YouTube) -- because somebody else sharing their experience of Fallout 4 with you can't spoil your own special experience. -- Chloe Cole

 

5. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

metal gear solid v

This might be the best unfinished game ever. It's impressive just how tight and polished MGSV feels, considering that the plot (which was already sparse) falls apart in the obviously-incomplete second chapter. But even that can be forgiven in a game with arguably the best stealth sandbox ever created. Though there are just a couple of open world areas with little going on between enemy bases, the possibilities still seem endless. You can go the regular Far Cry route and pick off guys one by one with a sniper rifle, or you can send your rocket fist in to do the talking. You can storm in on a mini-mech, or go offsite to plant a dozen inflatable decoys and really mess with a bear. Somehow, this unfinished game has multiple awesome games inside of it.

Is the FOB stuff a little messed up? Yeah. Did the microtransactions added in later kind of make things worse? Definitely. But at its core, this game straight up feels great to play, almost more than any game this year. The only people that could possibly be disappointed with MGSV are the ones who come to the series for the story. And uh, there's probably a lot of those. -- Tristan Cooper

 

4. Her Story

her story

Her Story is a very simple game about a very complicated murder mystery. It's surprising how compelling it is considering the gameplay consists of two oft-despised activities: 

1. Playing with oddly specific search terms to uncover important information.Like the way you had to get real creative with key words to find books through your high school's antiquated library search engine.

2. Watching an important video in 2 minute clips. Like the way you illegally stream Inside Out on YouTube because you aren't going to leave your apartment and pay $15 to watch a tiny blue blob feel sad.

I was surprised how clearly the game communicates a complex backstory and how deftly it executes a few chilling moments. Her Story does away with the storytelling gimmicks many narrative games employ (there's no exposition-heavy graffiti you have to read, there are no tape logs hidden amongst debris you have to collect) and lets you take control of the investigation. It doesn't tell you what to look for. It doesn't tell you if you're getting "warmer" or "colder." It doesn't even tell you if and when you've solved the crime. That's the key to what's great about Her Story. You're not playing an investigator. You are an investigator. -- Chloe Cole

 

3. The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt

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Open-world games are more prevalent than ever, but rarely do they feel different than what's come before. The scope and theme of the landscape can change, but in the end, it's. CDProjekt Red changed all that by creating a giant place that is actually worth exploring. In a lesser game, getting off the beaten path and discovering a hidden cave might lead to a crappy collectible or one of seventy impossibly dull racing missions. But in The Witcher III, coming across something as simple as an abandoned house might bring you face to face with a troll. And that troll won't necessarily be your enemy, but instead has just been trying to make ends meet by fooling the local townspeople into believing he was a subterranean god. These detailed and delightful sidequests are just as meaty as most of the main game, which is pretty epic on its own. In a time when open-world games justify their sequels with the word "more," The Witcher III aims for "better." -- Tristan Cooper

 

2. Undertale

undertale

AUGH, why is this game SO. DAMN. GOOD? Is it because the game continually assaults you with charming and interesting moments throughout its entire (albeit modest) running time? Is it the small cast of memorable characters that feel as familiar as your own friends? Maybe it's the replayability that makes you question your choices within this game and every game you've played before it? Just believe the hype, play the game, and listen to the soundtrack on repeat for the rest of your life. It's a truly beautiful experience on par with indie classics like Journey or Bastion (all while working with a MUCH smaller team/budget). Some people are a little put off by the low-fi/homestuck/tumblr aesthetics, but if that's the only thing that's stopping you, then you're truly missing out. -- Jake Young

 

1. Rocket League

rocket league

More often than not, it's the simplest games that end up being the most fun - there's a reason why games like Tetris tend to have such a long shelf-life, and it's because they have concepts that are immediately gettable, simple to learn, but difficult to master. And of all the games of 2015, none fits into that category better than Rocket League, which took the brilliant idea of soccer (or "football", if you prefer a word that makes sense) and combined it with nitro'd-out cars.

And that's it - it's really that simple. While lots of people will deck out their cars differently, everyone's starting from about the same place, and no one has any particular advantage. The only "power-ups" are speed boosts, which are plentiful and really only useful if you know what you're doing. In essence, each match is quick, no one has any particular advantage over one another (except 'skills'), and it's the most stripped-down, fast-paced, perfect competitive game of the year.

Really, my only criticism of it is HOW DID THEY NOT CALL IT "SOCCAR"? -- Andrew Bridgman

 


 

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