Bunneh3000’s Best of 2015
Shooter of the Year – Halo 5
Now before all of the CoD-faithful kill me, mind you I’ve always been more of a Halo fan than Call of Duty. With Halo making its Xbox One release, I never really was interested that much with continuing the story of Master Chief and his love of Cortana. I played through the campaign and essentially had the same criticism that most other diehard Halo fans had… the ‘TRUTH’ was a joke and you spent too much time fighting the Forerunners.
With that said, the subtle additions to the multiplayer were fantastic. The speed of the game is more fast-paced and the game actually feels like … well… Halo. That is a most welcome thing considering most people thought that 343 and Bungie tried too hard to make Halo 4 like CoD. Now, the addition of the ground punch, the sliding, the quick jetpack dodge, and the shoulder charge add just the right amount of tools of the trade to make the game feel like a noticeable step forward. Thankfully, that wasn’t all.
The Warzone mode is 343’s attempt to have a meaningful Big Team Battle mode. The addition of third-party AI enemies and the use of requisition cards has Halo players actually attempting to utilize some sort of strategy and tactics! Learning the ins and outs of each Warzone map are key and timing of the spawning of power weapons and vehicles are key as well. Thankfully, successful completion of ANY other multiplayer game provides requisition points that allow for you to buy more ‘cards’ that grant anything from weapon and vehicle spawns to character customization. Throw in that 343 plans on adding more weapons and cards and maps FOR FREE and you have a game the is sure to battle with CoD and maybe even Counter Strike (though doubtful) as an eSports fav in 2016.
Early Access Game of the Year – Ark: Survival Evolved
Those who’ve followed any of my podcast appearances or my Twitch channel know that one of the biggest responses I’ve gotten over any game has been Ark: Survival Evolved without question. When the developer first released the ‘in progress’-Steam-Early-Access build earlier this year, it was quite clear that the concept was definitely buzzworthy. Their brilliant move of making the purpose of the game a mystery while releasing a trailer that had forts and Jurassic Park written all over it tattooed with the appearance of a dragon backhanded the gamer populace with excitement. So when my naked character spawned on the gorgeous island coastline that trademarks the beginning of this game, Twitch viewers and gamers simply lost their minds. As the questions built up and the possibilities opened up, people’s imaginations ran wild.
Over time, the developer has increased the possibilities by expanding exploration, crafting, animal types, recipes, farming, taming, training, and such to make this a game that many wish weren’t on an island! Now that they’ve committed to console release and an actual date for release, it will be interesting to see what the gaming community will do with the finished product.
Without question, this indie game is one that I’ve found is just as highly anticipated if not moreso than No Man Sky!
Most Disappointing Game of 2015 – Evolve
In a category that contains the likes of Mad Max, Star Wars Battlefront, The Order 1886, or even Rock Band 4, 2015 definitely had the potential for a pretty mediocre year in gaming.
Throughout 2014, buzz grew and grew as the new 4v1 model for Evolve had people ready for more for so long. Knowing that the developers of Left 4 Dead were at the helm, we all thought there would be some crazy superb mechanic that would make it an online staple much in the same way that Left 4 Dead is as a franchise. Oh, were we wrong…
Evolve’s concept is actually brilliant on paper. One player is the overpowered giganto-beast much like playing a Godzilla or Pacific Rim creature. The other 4 players and technology-packed monster hunters that are forced to work together to bring the big baddie down. A healer, a tracker, an assault guy, and a support guy must all use their specialties at the right time and in the right way in order to quickly widdle down the mega-health bar of the monster. Of course, they have find it first.
The monster is tasked with eating other AI creatures and then evolving into a more powerful form. Each new form makes their attacks stronger and increases their health bar as well. While doing so they run away from the other players until they feel they are strong enough to handle them. Some skilled players will even use stealth tactics to ambush the team and isolate them one by one. Of course, to win the match, the monster must either beat them all in a relatively short amount of time or destroy the base core.
Sounds like fun, right? Well, it is… for about two matches. The roles of the hunters make sense but because they are so specialized, taking one out severely hampers the team’s ability to do much of anything against the monster (especially if that player is the healer). Sometimes the person chosen to be the monster is not every skilled too which makes the match WAY to easy and quick. Flip that and if the CPU is the chosen monster, be ready for a near impossible match to win since the CPU is very difficult for an out of sync or casual team to take down.
For a long while, this was the only mode for the game. Eventually, 2K added a more of a sequential online mission structure, called Evacuation mode, where success or defeat of each objective based mission affected the upcoming round. Problem is they full sequence of missions takes a LONG time to play. Some of the missions lean too much on the monster’s side in terms of balance too. Again, the concept sounded great but the execution missed the mark somehow.
Then, there is the disappointing DLC. Each pack released provided maybe one map and a number of different hunters and a monster. While the content provided was expected from a quality perspective, the difference-making factor of what was provided missed the ‘what-this-game-needs’ mark by a longshot.
Unfortunately, the precedent that this game set for ‘online only’ games has the gaming community shaking their heads every time it is announced. As a result, games like Battlefield Hardline, Star Wars Battlefront, Titanfall, and even Destiny have the gaming community tragically split. While there are dedicated fans of each of those games, the potential for these games to rock the foundations of gaming did not come to fruition.
Indie Game of the Year – Beyond Sol
The selection of this game was quite hard for me. With so many different games that I had the opportunity to play this year (including Rocket League, Rebel Galaxy, Sword Coast Legends, and many others), I eventually settled upon the one game that I spent the most time playing.
Beyond Sol is basically the spiritual successor to the melding of Master Of Orion and Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators. You are a lone ship dropped in the midst of multiple factions and pirates duking it out for survival in some corner of some galaxy. You must build your own star port complete with defenses and other customizations and eventually dominate the entire sector. Others will be trying to do the same as your scavenge the stars for resources and battle other ships and fleets. I literally lost an entire weekend to this game in the midst of playing my other console games that I loved playing simply because of the building and exploration portion of this 4X action strategy game.
Without a doubt, this game was a big standout in the midst of a lot of great indie games for me. Mind you, I am partial to space adventures!
Biggest Surprise of the Year – Dying Light
Ok, so I probably flip-flop over this award a few times every 30 minutes so I basically had to slap myself to settle on this decision. Dying Light was a big-time bright spot early in the year as we all waited for the likes of Dragon Age: Inquisition and Witcher 3 to drop. The beginning of the year is typically so slow with quality game releases so seeing Dying Light do so well and play so well was a welcome surprise. Honestly I think the performance of Dying Light was the doom of Dead Island which has effectively fell off the face of the video game Earth.
I think what set this game apart was the excellent parkour aspect of the game as well as the crafting and difficulty. Of course, let us not forget the sickest melee of the year, the dropkick! The ragdoll physics of the zombies coupled with the melee attacks in this game were pure comedy! Difficulty-wise, when the sun went down, a significant portion of the game had you either running for your life or breathing hard as you snuck around without a flashlight. Immense fun and nerve wracking to be had for many hours of open world fun with zombies! Who could ask for more?
RPG of the Year – Witcher 3
CD Projekt Red has had an amazing year and they’ve done a superb job with Geralt’s latest journey into the realm of fantastical creatures and a captivating story. Without even playing the first two games, this RPG managed to pull me into this open-world adventure in a way that I had never anticipated. With gorgeous graphics and an addictive crafting system, I found myself cursing the overpowered beasties I couldn’t defeat on the first try and doing everything in my power to build myself and my equipment up so that I could return and enact my revenge!
The one moment that I realized how special this game was occurred when I encountered a mission where a baron wanted me to ‘dispose of’ a ghost that was haunting him. The ghost was of an aborted child of his and the entire ritual and mission that was required was heart-wrenching and stomach churning. The acting is superb and moments like that are rare when playing a game.
While some have this game high above most others this year, I did find myself tiring of the running back and forth over the huge maps to find question marks only to encounter yet another beastie I couldn’t defeat. Sometimes I could but in the midst of trying to ‘chase‘ the main missions, I often felt a bit exhausted with all of the running around. This is probably because the game really makes you want to travel over the map rather than fast-travel due to how well they developer made the world feel as if it were alive. The combat is fluid and fun and requires skill at times too. Wrap all that up in an open world action RPG bundle and you have a game that does what I wished Dragon Age: Inquisition had done. While Inquisition was good, the storyline kept it from being the epic I had wished it to be.
Meanwhile, Geralt has become a new hero that I hope to adventure with quite soon in the future.
MMO of the Year – MechWarrior Online
I shall preface this by saying Mech games touch me in that warm and fuzzy place almost everytime (and get your mind out of the gutter with that statement you Nasty McNasty). With the purchase of a gaming PC this year, I spent quite a bit of time playing a number of MMOs. I attempted Elite: Dangerous and found the game to be a bit… well… boring. I jumped into Neverwinter Nights and while I was at first blown away with the experience, I eventually tired of the fact that I didn’t have a clan or company to adventure with on a regular (trust… I will return to that game though). Elder Scrolls Online even had a quite moment in time as they tried to get me to spend a meager 25 bucks to join their online ranks to no avail. I even jumped into Star Wars Knights of the Republic and found the experience lacking the Force! In the end, nothing brought me back for more (along with the means to get me to spend money) like MechWarrior Online did.
MechWarrior Online is the manifestation of one of my fav PC games back in the day…MechWarrior (of course). Over time developer Piranha Games has added a number of features and (more importantly) mechs to fill out the full roster of full metal combatants that have ever wielded a PPC!
Game of the Year – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
I have purposefully not done much of a review or video discussion of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for a reason. I honestly wanted to beat the storyline of this game or at least spend a significant amount of time with the online aspect of this game before I could really give my full opinion on it. As I’ve played through this game, I’ve totally underestimated the amount of content as well as the concept of the game itself. While I’ve never been much of a Metal Gear Solid fan due to the infuriating stealth missions of old as well as the legendary half-hour-plus unskippable cutscenes, the reveals for this game instantly had me placing this game on my 2015 ‘must-have’ list.
Metal Gear Solid V, for me, is the ultimate successor to one of my favorite games of all time, Mercenaries. The game itself tends to unfold before you. Mission by mission, the game opens up the amount of destructive possibilities that can occur in this game. Step by step, not only do you gain access to new weapons and customization for your home base, but you also build your mercenary team and skillset. Your ‘buddies’, or characters that you can with you on missions, even get customizable weapons, armor, and abilities as well. Then, just when you get comfortable, the game throws a boss mission at you (which are always hard). Now, I can’t say that I know ANYTHING about the storyline or that the storyline is even remotely interesting for someone who isn’t knowledgeable about the Metal Gear franchise, but I will say that it pulls you along.
At a certain point in the game, you gain access to even more ‘bases’ to customize and protect called Forward Operating Bases. The more of them you build, the more resources you can cultivate and use which also affect your single player game in a positive way. Kojima perfectly balanced the interaction of the online component of these bases with the single player so that you do feel somewhat vulnerable when not online and in turn making you want to at least logon once a day. You can invade another player’s online base and try to steal resources and personnel as well as build up your own defenses against others within a similar ‘ranking’ that seems pretty intricate in and of itself. The balance in the way it is all set up is amazing and is quite fluid and understandable.
Then, as if you were playing a Rockstar game (okay, that comparison is a bit of a stretch) there is the MGS Online game as well. Here, your customized character that you created at the beginning of the single player game makes their appearance as a merc that must gain money and experience to build their lethality as well. Considering most of these matches are objective and stealth based, these games are typically not anywhere near as fast paced and chaotic as a CoD or even Gears of War match, it still manages to have a decent sense of personality that is its own.
Of all of the games that I’ve played this year, this was the one that I know I want to keep playing and will keep playing long into 2016.