A number of Game Rant writers give their personal takes on worthwhile games released in 2015 that manage to stand out amongst a sea of blockbuster releases.
There's no question that 2015 has been loaded with a variable cornucopia of noteworthy games. Everything from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to Fallout 4 have been making waves since their respective debuts, taking the industry by storm and scooping up a number of awards in the process. While these two titles have been the focus of headlines as of late, a number of other titles have been overlooked by the general populace. Fortunately, some of the writers at Game Rant have been able to go a little deeper with some of the smaller, yet equally as engrossing, pieces of software that arrived this year – largely since that's a significant portion of our job description.
That's why we've compiled a 'Staff Picks' post detailing a handful of titles that we felt were noteworthy from throughout the year. We certainly didn't cut down on blockbuster releases for this process, but we opted to give an informal shoutout to some titles that may have been overlooked. Without any further ado, here they are:
Rainbow Six Siege
By: Riley Little
As the most heavily tread upon genre in gaming, first-person shooters have fallen into a rather cookie-cutter way. 2015 proved to be the dawn of a new era for the tried and true gaming category, however, with Rainbow Six Siege in particular presenting some of the best raw gameplay I've ever experienced. This is thanks to the engaging atmosphere it creates within its multiplayer foundation, requiring players to work together intimately in order to breach or defend rooms.
Those that are constantly communicating with their teammates will find themselves winning far more rounds than those unfortunate enough to not own a mic, while picking Operators with the appropriate skills for any given situation is absolutely paramount. Best of all, the game will only grow in time, with all future maps set to be made available for free.
In short, anyone with a few friends willing to give the game a try alongside them will draw countless hours of enjoyment from Siege.
Life Is Strange
By: Denny Connolly
In a year full of massive open worlds like those present in The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4, it's easy to overlook some of the smaller, quieter games. Life is Strange definitely made a splash when the episodic adventure game first launched, but lots of gamers may have missed the title's charming characters, unique world of time travel, and compelling narrative.
With minor action, the game's focus is on character work and the impact that decisions have on the surrounding world. The balance between realism and a world of magic is tooled perfectly and Life is Strange draws players into Max Caulfield's world enough to leave them thinking about the impact of their decisions long after they finish each episode...
By: Boston Blake
I’ve really enjoyed the lineup of games released this year, as there have been myriad releases across the entirety of the medium that have been worth getting excited about. But there’s one game that sticks out as one of my favorites: Dying Light.
Of all the games I played this year, Dying Light was the one I couldn’t stop playing. For me, Dying Light has everything I love in a great game: open world action, first-person shooting, engaging storyline, weapon crafting and customization, fun Easter Eggs, and, of course, zombies. I enjoyed the challenge of the game and didn’t mind the occasional beating from zombies as I traversed the game’s gorgeous and dangerous landscape.
I recognize the game has its faults, but despite the issues it took a while to pry myself from the game to play others. Dying Light is one of those games I’ll continue to play over and over, and because of that it’s one of my favorite games of the year. Needless to say, I’m very excited to see what Dying Light’s developer, Techland, has planned for a sequel.
By: Sarah Fields
Although this year has seen a slew of brilliant new releases, Lego Dimensions is my pick of the year because it rewards fans of multiple genres, series, and characters who've always imagined what it would be like to see them assembled in one place. While Lego Dimensions, at its core, is yet another toys-to-life series that gamers could end up spending a small fortune on, the fully fleshed-out interactions between characters more than makes up for it.
While other toy-to-life products, like amiibo, are often just tapped onto the controller and then set aside, physically interacting with the Lego minifigs is a big part of playing Lego Dimensions. From assembling the Lego Gateway to combining minifigs with vehicles and setting them all on different pads depending on what powers you need to use, the constant manipulation of the Lego minifigs perfectly combines the classic physical Lego play many of us grew up with the virtual gameplay.
Lego Dimensions took on the complicated task of bringing together characters from other games, comics, film, and TV. The end result is a comical romp with solid gameplay and classic Lego interactivity, so it earns my pick.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate
By: Derek Nichols
Having been a big supporter of the Assassin's Creed franchise since the beginning, I was beginning to feel strain of releasing a new game every single year. With the dip in quality levels hitting a critical level thanks to a horrendous launch in 2014 with Assassin's Creed Unity, I was questioning whether I even wanted to explore 19th century London in Assassin's Creed Syndicate. With a brand new developer taking over with this year's entry, and a lot of positive buzz, I decided to give it a shot, and frankly, I'm really glad I did.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate has managed to provide a breath of fresh air to a series which had begun to stagnate over the past few years. Gone are the serious and wooden lead characters, replaced by a pair of twin siblings with Jacob and Evie Frye who manage to bring back a sense of fun and witty banter not seen since Ezio Auditore was featured in a trio of games.
With a brand new progression system, redesigned mission types, compelling characters, and a fun environment to play in, Assassin's Creed Syndicate manages to provide the most focused and fresh experience the series has seen in a while. If you’re someone that has been feeling let down by the franchise, Syndicate just might be what the doctor ordered.
Pillars of Eternity
By: Rob Gordon
2015 was a year filled with huge, big-budget role-playing games, but amongst all these giants of the industry there was one game that proved to have that quality without anywhere near the resources of its peers. That game is Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity, and it served as a near-perfect return to the isometric RPGs of old.
The title is more than just a love letter to the computer RPGs of old, in spite of similarities to the likes of Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment. Pillars of Eternity delivers an entirely new world for fantasy fans to explore, with a deep story complete with interesting characters, unique classes and races, and such a huge level of lore that it's impossible not to become involved. It's rare that an RPG delivers such immersion with an entirely new property, but Obsidian has done it.
Perhaps the best part is the romantic way in which the game was created, with the developer turning to KickStarter to help create a personal project that would have been rejected by publishers. We all love an underdog, and Pillars of Eternity proved to be a dark horse choice for game of the year.
Destiny: The Taken King
By: Weston Albert
My personal Game of the Year has to be Destiny: The Taken King. That's because I haven't really played much of anything else in 2015 (my backlog is enormous). I'll admit, I'm a bit of a Destiny fanboy. It's almost the only game I've played since September 2014, but The Taken King expansion fixed so many of the problems from the game's first year.
It has a stronger narrative and cutscenes, with writing that has been improved tremendously. Meanwhile, the new quest system set up a nearly never-ending chain of activities to do, as it added new raid-lite mechanics into Strikes and even Story Missions. The minute-to-minute shooting and mechanics of the game still feel as good as always.
Now that the content gap is growing for Destiny, maybe I can get started on that backlog of mine, but there's no way I can look back on 2015 and not pick Destiny: The Taken King as my personal Game of the Year.
Tales From The Borderlands
By: Cody Gravelle
For all the pomp and circumstance of Telltale Games' other massive licenses like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, it was the developer's take on a narrative with its origins still in video games that truly stood out from the rest. Tales From the Borderlands didn't get as much mainstream press as its other Telltale counterparts, but it featured some of the best comedic writing ever in a video game paired with a compelling story and characters who felt right at home in the Borderlands universe.
While other games with roots in science fiction have spent multiple series entries brooding on the significance of robot life and thought, Tales From the Borderlands takes the simple Loader Bot, gives it two or three lines an episode, and transforms it into one of the most likeable and humanized interpretations of artificial intelligence in recent memory. The team that worked on Tales From the Borderlands deserves more recognition and the game itself was snubbed by most major games awards, but the title remains the most complete and fulfilling offering from Telltale Games yet that punches well above its weight class.
By: Anthony Taormina
As a fan of the Dark Souls games, I was both excited and wary of Bloodborne. On the surface it looked like From Software was dumbing down some of their combat to make for a more accessible game, and after playing Bloodborne it's hard to argue that the game isn't more accessible. But, after some thought, I realized that's a good thing.
Now, more players know about From Software and are likely looking forward to the release of Dark Souls 3. Yes, Bloodborne may not have the nuance and character builds that Dark Souls does, but it succeeded in being a solid game that eases players into the punishing world of From Software. The game's brilliance is that it convinced a lot of players who said "I don't like those types of games," that they do actually like these types of games.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
By: Dalton Cooper
For awhile, I couldn't decide if Rocket League or Fallout 4 was my game of the year for 2015, but then Rise of the Tomb Raider came along and settled that argument for me. After playing through the second installment in what is turning out to be quite the epic reboot saga for Lara Croft, I was left in awe, and I can't wait to see where this story is going next.
While Rise of the Tomb Raider's timed Xbox One exclusivity, combined with it releasing on the same day as Fallout 4, may have kept its sales down, it's a title that I think any gamer should consider playing. It has an engrossing storyline filled with well-written and imaginative characters, rewarding progression and crafting systems that encourage exploration, and some of the smoothest combat and platforming I have ever experienced in gaming. Furthermore, the game offers a slew of excellent puzzles, as well as a number of tombs that are challenging for both veterans and newcomers alike.
That's a wrap! Thanks for checking out Game Rant's staff picks for noteworthy games of 2015. Do you agree with any of these writers about their go-to game of 2015? Which title do you feel deserves more attention? Get at us in the comments.