Since we’ve already tackled a list of the most promising games releasing in 2016, it wouldn’t be a proper New Year’s without a year-end recap of The Best Games of 2015. Gamers have a lot to be thankful for this year, with many great games releasing over the past 12 months. This list breaks down the year’s best games by console, plus a special section for the year’s best board game.
Obviously, choosing only one game per category leaves a ton of great games that didn’t make the cut. (Sorry, Splatoon, but you’re always in our hearts!). If your favorite game of the year doesn’t appear on this list, be sure to let us know about it on Twitter or Facebook! Alright, let’s get to it:
Best Console Game – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 is hands-down one of the greatest adventure RPGs of the past generation. Few games can so satisfyingly stamp an exclamation mark on the culmination of a trilogy while also creating a singular experience that can be equally enjoyed by newcomers. With its breathtaking visuals, incredible narrative, and assortment of game-altering decisions that make the experience personal and unique, Wild Hunt takes players on a thrilling ride from start to finish. The game still has one massive expansion left to release in early 2016, so now is the perfect time to either get back in the saddle, or ride along for the first time. Given how incredible The Witcher 3 turned out, it’s almost unbelievable that developer CD Project RED promises their next project, Cyberpunk 2077, is their most ambitious to date. It’s hard to top already making a game of the year, so good luck to the team.
Best Nintendo 3DS Game – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
The Nintendo 3DS has actually had a pretty stellar lineup of consistent content. But the news of Monster Hunter crossing over from the Sony portable space and onto the 3DS in the form of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate caused an uproar that might literally have been heard around the world. Despite the series typically releasing on other platforms, the latest Monster Hunter to release in the US quickly found a home — and a rabid fanbase — on Nintendo’s newly updated portable system. The latest version of the 3DS is more powerful, and that extra processing power really comes into play when taking MH4U online to hunt down giant monsters with friends. While series regulars will feel right at home, the game’s thorough, if not long-winded, tutorial provides newcomers with everything they need to start hunting beasties with their besties. (Yeah, that last sentence happened…)
Best PS Vita Game – Code:Realize – Guardian of Rebirth
Without meaning any disrespect to Code:Realize, it says a lot about the state of a game console when the best software released for the platform within a year’s time is a visual novel. But the fact that Guardian of Rebirth is light on moment-to-moment action or gunplay and still manages to captivate so many fans is a testament to the quality of the storytelling. Code:Realize is billed as a romantic fairytale (otherwise referred to as an Otome game, which literally translates to “maiden game”) set in a steampunk, Victorian-era London. While it’s not exactly my cup of tea, it’s hard to ignore the impressive scores given by both critics and fans. (In fact, the game is currently the highest rated PS Vita release of 2015 according to Metacritic.) It might not be a typical purchase for many gamers, but Guardians of Rebirth still deserves recognition for its accomplishments.
Best PC Game – Kerbal Space Program
If space is the final frontier, than Kerbals are the final frontiersman. After a space age in Early Access, Kerbal Space Program finally got an official 1.0 launch version this year. At its core, KSP is about letting players build a space-worthy craft. But thanks to its three distinct game modes, there’s quite a bit more depth to it. Sandbox mode is basically a free-play mode where players can build anything they want; without any other worries or objectives. Career mode is far more complex, asking players to manage an entire space program; including crew management, administrative functions, and even taking contract work to secure funds for repairs and upgrades. Finally there’s Science mode, which has players experimenting to create advanced technological upgrades and further the boundaries of knowledge. If you love building in space, KSP is for you.
Best Board Game – Pandemic Legacy
Pandemic is a name most board game enthusiasts will recognize. The series is a few years old, but this year’s release took the board game world by storm. Some herald Legacy as the best cooperative game ever made. While that’s a pretty bold statement, I will say it is incredibly fun. Legacy is heavily story-based, and the game is basically made to be played over the course of a year. Diverging story paths and new threats emerge as the game goes on; so you’ll need a dedicated group willing to commit to at least a dozen game night sessions. If the game has any flaws, it might be that it’s simply too spontaneous. As new objectives come into play, players do everything; from recording new rules on blank pages of the manual, to physically destroying game cards, making the experience quite tense.
Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Their Respective Owners (See below for details)
Additional Images (in Order) also Courtesy:
CD Projekt RED / Website
CAPCOM / Website
Aksys Games / Website
Squad / Website
Z-Man Games / Website