Stevivor’s GOTY 2015: Leo’s picks

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2015 was the year I actually started to like playing video games again. 2014 was a garbage year filled with re-releases and pretty average titles so it was east to be jaded, but 2015 proved to be just the medicine I needed.

What was strange though was that my favourite titles of the year are those that normally I would avoid. RPGs, titles that take hundreds of hours to complete and oppressively hard kill simulators. These were what kept me playing through this year. So in no particular order, here are the three games I loved most in 2015.

Bloodborne

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The internet, circle-jerk, fart sniffing, jizz fest over Dark Souls had put me off that series entirely and when Bloodborne was revealed to be pretty much in the same vein I was less than barely enthusiastic. However, after I played a demo at a Sony event in November 2014 everything changed. The opening moments of Bloodborne were available to play, right up until the first boss and even though there was only one station, I hogged that thing for a good hour. Eventually I managed to face off with Cleric Beast and even though I got myself stomped into a fine paste, I finally understood those internet wankers and their incessant chants of “Praise the Sun”. I was hooked.

When March finally rolled around and I got my hot little hands on a copy of Bloodborne, I did something I haven’t done for a very long time; I played and played and played. As soon as I got home from work it was game time. I even got up early a few times — 5am early — to sneak in some play time before work. Eventually I finished after about 63 hours and immediately began New Game Plus. I didn’t get too far in on my second go because one of the other games on my list took me away from Bloodborne, but when “The Old Hunters” was released I jumped straight back in. For better or worse.

Bloodborne was the start of an increasingly satisfying game year and even now, almost a year later I’m still not done with it.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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I was fortunate enough to have The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 3 weeks prior to release and goddamn did I play a lot of that game. Before my review I played around 80 hours and was somewhere between a third and a half way through the story and still had dozens of side quests to complete, areas to explore and game to play.

I said it in my review and I stand by it, “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the most grown-up video game I’ve ever played. Not only because of the confronting and frequent violence, its (both male and female) nudity, gratuitous cursing or endemic brutality. It’s a combination of these elements and an unrelenting look at a diverse range of adult themes that make Wild Hunt as confronting and satisfying as it is.”Wild Hunt does the brave thing of not pandering to an audience. It has its lore, its world and it sticks to them, which is why its such a rich experience.

Wild Hunt, like Bloodborne was a game I devoted myself to. After work, before work, all weekend, all night; those were Wild Hunt hours. Never before have I played a game with such a complete and realised vision and that’s why gamers flocked to it. CD Projekt Red set a goal and they never compromised.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

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I was one of the chorus of jerks complaining about Lara’s latest adventure being Xbox exclusive, but after only a few hours with Rise, I knew that Xbox One was the right home.

Rise of the Tomb Raider improves and expands upon the reboot in almost every way. While the story in the sequel is barely there at best and garbage at worst, the moment to moment gameplay, exploring and ability to live inside Lara’s skin are impeccable. I wrote in my review, “This is the defining action-adventure game of this generation. It is frequently incredible and occasionally flawless, but always a damn good time. Where Tomb Raider succeeded, Rise perfects. It treads a well-worn path where countless others have gone before and takes detours that lead to places you never thought of. It’s at once a reinvention and refinement of the genre and stands proudly as a enormous achievement in game design.”

I lost myself in Rise of the Tomb Raider and never wanted to be found. In a time where shooting dominates the AAA gaming space, it was refreshing that Rise showed some restraint. There are of course set pieces that require Lara to blast her way to victory, but for the most part, Rise is about one woman, battling the environment in an effort to complete her father’s legacy and it left me breathless.

Honourable Mentions
  • Fallout 4 – Because come on, it’s Fallout.
  • Hotline Miami 2 – A dizzying, Tarantino-esque ride through a bloody mess.
  • Destiny: The Taken King – I was late to the party, but better late than never.