Welcome to the next installment of the Refined Geekery Best of 2015 series. Today we are going to look at the best Playstation 4 games of the year. Playstation has had a wonderful year this year, including a few memorable exclusives, indies, and third party games. Now I know when people see this, their first reaction is going to be “Where the hell is Bloodborne”. I’m sorry, I tried it, but it just wasn’t for me. That is not to say that the game is bad, but I couldn’t get past the games opening hours, so it would make no sense for me to include it in this list, no matter the accolades in the press. Also missing are some really cool indie titles that fall short sadly because I have chosen to limit the list to 5. Though they are not on the list, I really want to highlight both Volume and Helldivers. These were amazing games and were it not for such a strong pedigree of games this year, they would most certainly have made the list.
So without further ado, here are my top 5 games of the Playstation 4 in 2015.
5. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Kojima’s swan song to the Metal Gear franchise is one hell of a game. Beyond its straight up colossal scale is a depth of gameplay systems that makes every person’s experience with the game unique and entirely there own. Whether it be your ever expanding roster of companions, the excellent weapon customization, or the addictive meta-game of managing your Mother Base, The Phantom Pain’s surplus of gameplay hooks keep you addicted to this enormous and all-encompassing game. There are definitely some story concerns (the second half feels somewhat unfinished with repeating levels and a less structured narrative) and a definite swing toward the misogynistic (those two incredibly gross Quiet scenes), but they do little to take away from the quality you are witnessing on screen in almost every minute.
4. Life is Strange
French development team Dontnod has created something incredibly special with Life is Strange. While it’s initial impression leaves much to be desired, by the end of the second episode, you will be so deeply invested into the game’s narrative that you will forgive what is easily some of the cheesiest and out of touch dialogue this side of Nickelodeon. What I mean by that is though the game’s writers can’t craft a conversation between two teenagers worth a damn, they have still somehow created one of the most touching and powerful narrative games of the year. How is this possible? I can’t really say, but Life is Strange was one of the most touching experiences you could have with a gamepad in 2015. The story of Max Caulfield, an introverted aspiring photographer studying at a prestigious art school in Oregon, is enthralling as she navigates the tumultuous hallways filled with cliquish peers, and psycho classmates. Her relationship with Chloe remains one of the best developed friendships we have seen in the video game medium. As such, when decisions need to be made that carry with them significant impact, the weight of those decisions is felt on a regular basis. Thankfully, Max has the power to rewind time… oh yeah, did I mention there was time travel?
3. Fallout 4
I am about 50 hours in to Fallout 4, and I don’t even feel like I have scratched the surface of everything I can do in this game. Fallout 4, like Skyrim before it, is so enormous that I don’t even know if I will ever actually ‘finish’ this game, and I am okay with that. I know that before I walk away satisfied, I will have dumped at least twice the amount of time I have already put in, building my settlements, liberating others, aiding the people of Diamond City, and fighting the good fight to make this post-apocalyptic version of Boston the most habitable a nuclear wasteland can be. My investment in the world is so great that I feel any clearing of a hardware store or comic shop is a victory for civilization. It is a depth of world-building that only a developer like Bethesda could make and I have given myself to its embrace wholeheartedly. And then there is the crafting. No game has presented its junk with so much value like Fallout 4 has. It’s pickup system will have you scouring for hours if not days for those proper materials to make your next big upgrade. Does one of your communities need a generator but you are short on aluminium? There is no greater feeling than finding a few lunch trays just laying around in a broken down school, knowing that you are bringing the lives of your little digital residents one step closer to civilization.
2. Rocket League
Rocket League was my game of the summer. I played few games as much as I did Rocket League this year, due much in part to the timing of its release, not to mention the fact that it was free with a PS Plus subscription. And yet, it was its compelling moment to moment gameplay that truly made this game one of the best of the year. Rocket League is unadulterated fun. In many ways, it is the video game as concept broken down into its purest form. Simple in its mechanics, the concept of soccer playing cars works due to its marriage of chaos with tightly honed controls. It is strong enough in its basic gameplay to bring the non-sports gaming crowd into its highly competitive multiplayer ecosystem. Rocket League provided easy and addictive gaming to more casual players while supplying the hardcore with some of the most thrilling and challenging multiplayer experiences of the year.
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
When the current generation of video game consoles was announced, and with it an onslaught of open world games, few felt as anticipated as the third and possibly final game within The Witcher franchise. CD Projekt Red had blown away everyone’s expectations with their last outing, the beautiful and complex Assassins of Kings, and opening up the series to new and more powerful hardware seemed a thrilling proposition. Red’s penchant for dramatic, engaging story content, embroiled in moral nuance was only greater served by the horse power this generation yielded, creating some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring visuals to date. And yet, visuals alone do not a great game make. No, what separates The Witcher 3 from all other games this year is just how compelling and ambiguous your journey is throughout this hundred-hour-plus epoch. The characters that live and breath within the games varying landscapes feel so fleshed out, each with ambitions and believable, emotional motivations. It is the kind of world building that makes you pause before each and every decision, knowing that for every positive you create for one person, an equally negative effect will be felt somewhere else. It is mature story-telling of the highest quality and as such it is the best Playstation 4 game of the year.
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