GameSkinny staff's 2015 Game of the Year picks
Oh, hey there, GameSkinny community!
It's that time of year again; we're talking Game of the Year awards. Same as last year, we're going to sit down and pick out some of our favorite games of 2015 and tell you a little bit about why we love them!
Today, I'm joined by some familiar GameSkinny faces and some lesser-seen faces from our Atlanta offices. Let's get to it.
Kate Farrow - Community Manager
Stephen (our CEO) made me play Fallout 3 because I had never played it and it's possibly his favorite game series in the entire universe. I fell in love with the game and instantly hopped aboard the Fallout 4 hype train full speed to Bethesda (Our Lord and Savior) Land. I have not been disappointed in the least playing Fallout 4. I've been mesmerized, intrigued, terrified and totally invested in the game due to all the care they've put into the details.
You can tell that this game is made by people who love what they do and pour their passion into their work. Glitches...they just happen when you're working with something where you can't predict or address every foreseeable action a player might take. Bethesda fixes their mistakes. They've done us right with Fallout 4.
Honorable Mention: DragonVale. It's actually 4-years-old and a mobile game. However, it's the only mobile game I've continued to play for more than a month or so without getting bored with it. I think I've played it for 8 months or so at this point. It continues to engage me with updates, events, new goals and challenges that are difficult, yet achievable. Plus, the goal of the game is dragons: gotta hatch 'em all. So many types! I've never played any other mobile game as consistently as I play DragonVale.
Editor's Note: Picking a 4-year-old game for her Honorable Mention makes Kate a dirty cheater.
Brian Schaaf (Rothalack) - Developer
Heroes of the Storm
Okay, you got me, I'm just a Blizzard fanboy. But, really, HotS has taken one of the most hardcore genres out there and stripped it down to pure fun. I like to say: for every mechanic in LoL, there are two mechanics in Dota. I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if you added it all up, HotS has one fourth the mechanics as Dota. I've been watching competitive Dota 2 for about 3 years now, and I watch because it just blows my mind.
HotS has been my chance to actually play the genre and be very good at it without dumping the insane commitment needed to be good at Dota.
I've been playing HotS since very early Alpha and am up to 1000+ games played. The only thing I do not like about HotS is matchmaking, it is pretty bad at the moment. Once they fix up matchmaking, it will be a nearly perfect game. My favorite parts of HotS are the heroes and the art style. I love how when you start a match, your hero always has a dialog with another hero. Just look at this little lore-filled exchange between Tyrande and Illidan.
Tyrande: Setting you free was my biggest mistake.
Illidan: And loving you is mine.
I cannot wait to see the game continues to grow, and I can't wait to see the game get to 100+ heroes.
Honorable Mention: Speaking of pure fun, props to Rocket League. This game came out of nowhere and surprised everyone. I was really excited to see a pro scene develop with big tournaments, but that hasn't seemed to reach full steam yet. I'd really enjoy watching some high-level tournament play and crazy aerials.
Kushick Paul - Minecraft Intern
Out of all the great releases in 2015, I'm going to have to pick Bloodborne. I've been a fan of From Software since Demon Souls, and they did not disappoint with their new-gen installment. The gameplay is absolutely amazing. No more sluggish, tank-like movements - instead, when you engage in combat everything feels so fluid as you sidestep everything that comes at you until you can finally close in for the kill.
Or be killed, because it's REALLY HARD. But the challenge adds to the overall enjoyment. Bosses feel like bosses and trophies feel like real accomplishments. The environment is stunning, and the story is enthralling. And, in true From Software fashion, everything is delightfully cryptic. Bloodborne is just perfect. It's been a while since I played a game for 6-8 hrs in a single sitting, debated sleep, and repeated the process over again the next day. 10/10. Would play again.
Honorable Mention: Goes to Witcher 3. Great game, but maybe too big for its own good.
Kathryn De Shields - Social Media Manager
When it comes to this game, obsessed is an understatement. I'm a sucker for an awesome narrative with dark/macabre elements, and Undertale doesn't disappoint. This 16-bit, bullet hell RPG is a must play for anyone who loves quirky characters, a haunting story, and high fantasy. Every decision carries weight and culminates in an ending that lingers in your mind long after the computer is turned off. The puns, jokes, and downright odd observations/descriptions make for some great laugh-out-loud moments that offset some of the creepier scenes in the game.
With approximately six hours playtime, I'm on my third run through the game and am just as engaged (if not more so) as I was during my first playthrough. I was floored to discover that in restarting the game, the characters REMEMBER YOU and some of the decisions you made in a prior run. (This fact still trips me out when it occurs.) However, that is the tip of the iceberg in terms of Undertale's complexity. I guarantee: if you play it, you'll be filled with determination to unlock all the dark secrets that lurk within the game.
Auverin Morrow - Associate Editor (Weeknights)
Pillars of Eternity
It's so hard to pick a GOTY this year. We got Witcher 3, Fallout 4, Life is Strange, and so many other fantastic titles. It's been a good year for gaming. But honestly, I think I have to go with Pillars of Eternity. I can't remember the last time I got to play a truly great isometric RPG, and Pillars just blew me away. The lore and the world is so rich, and I kept creating different characters because there are so many different ways to play.
Plus, it's possible to play Pillars as all bears, and that's pretty amazing.
Honorable mention: I'm tempted to say Witcher 3 or Fallout 4... but I need to give props to Life is Strange. That game deeply moved a lot of people, myself included.
Jay Ricciardi - Senior Editor
Pillars of Eternity
It is very tough for me to see the same game on this list twice - the editor in me in screaming in frustration at the missed opportunity to create a more diverse list! However, I simply can't not give my Game of the Year pick to Pillars of Eternity.
I've always loved the isometric RPGs of yesteryear and am a huge nut for Kickstarter projects, so I was already primed to enjoy Pillars - and, hot damn, I'm so glad I gave it a chance. Everything that should be good about an RPG is simply stunning in this game: the writing, the characters, the voice acting, the world, the dialogue trees, and the gameplay are all a blast.
I adore the humble origin story (from horrible gastric distress to heroic deeds), I love the number and depth of viable roleplay options beyond 'walk in front door and kill everything', and I just can't get over how rich the world is.
Every time I stopped to learn about each random NPC's backstory with the 'Watcher' mechanic (see screenshot) I was floored by the quality of writing and world building. Pillars of Eternity easily claims my Game of the Year spot.
Honorable mention: Heroes of the Storm has taken up a lot of my time this year and with good reason. It's the most innovative and creative take on the MOBA genre and is, at least, two steps ahead of Dota 2 and League of Legends. I've played a LOT of League over the past five years, but I don't think I can ever go back.