10. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
The Old Blood is the stand alone prequel to last year’s highly acclaimed Wolfenstein: The New Order. While considerably shorter than The New Order, only around six to eight hours or so, and being more akin to an expansion than a stand-alone, it is by far one of, if not the best shooter to come out this year. In big explosive shoot ‘em ups like Black Ops III and Halo 5, there’s no element of pacing at all. In The Old Blood, the mix between thrilling action and suspenseful stealth sets a marvelous pace and sets up some incredibly tense scenes throughout the story. The shooting gameplay is some of the most crisp and satisfying in any game, and the scenes and vistas that the game sets up look gorgeous. Look to buy this one when it inevitably goes on sale during this holiday season, and then go back and play the New Order again.
If you’re not a fan of Dark Souls, Bloodborne will irritate you and beat you down until you snap the disk in half in a blood rage. That being said, for fans of the Dark Souls series, like myself, Bloodborne is a perfect treat all about calculated strategies for fights in between endless hours of exploration. Discovering secrets and hidden place produces the two best kinds of rewards: world lore and useable items. Trying to find both in the same area is like chasing the dragon for me. Bloodborne is set in a gorgeous dystopian Gothic city which looks like a horribly beautiful version of a Lovecraftian Transylvania. This game is by far and away the most challenging on this list, but produces the most satisfaction as well.
8. Heroes of the Storm
Blizzard’s free-to-play MOBA is going up against some major competition, specifically the established franchises of Dota 2 and League of Legends. But the game succeeds thanks to its ability to add enough variance to the MOBA genre, while also acting as a nostalgic callback to heroes and villains from the developer’s premier franchises of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo. Heroes of the Storm features dynamic maps that contain objectives aside from the obvious tower destruction that either bolsters your allies or hinders your enemies. You can also unlock all the heroes by playing without paying, and the game doesn’t require you to play for an absurd amount of hours in order to do so. The difficulty curve of Heroes isn’t nearly as high as the ones for Dota 2 and LoL, so it’s the perfect game to pick up, for free, if you want to test out the MOBA scene.
7. Rocket league
It’s soccer with cars. Do I need to say anymore? I guess I’m obligated to. With their most recent free additions of car parts and community flags, and new games modes and stadiums, Rocket League is an addictive product whose slowly growing competitive scene will continue to produce unfathomable highlights as it continues to grow. Rocket League has grown into one of the most highly streamed games on Twitch, and it’s a game that anyone can pick up and get into right away.
Undertale is by far the hardest game here to describe on paper, but one that deserves a lot of praise. A heavy but comical take on the JRPG, it does a lot of surprisingly innovative things with the genre, and draws you in with the characters and mystery that surrounds you. There’s a simplicity to the actual gameplay that almost seems foreign when you compare it to traditional games, and the choices you make when exploring or “fighting” have legitimate impacts on the world around you, and you can see the outcomes develop throughout the game. Simply put, it’s a game that’s hard to describe, harder to hate, and impossible to put down.
5. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
The Phantom Pain is Kojima’s masterpiece. It’s a simple as that. The Phantom Pain grants the player an enormous amount of freedom when it comes to planning and executing on missions, which is a drastic step away from popular games that set you down a linear line. Even the first Assassin’s Creed game, which encouraged the player to take on assassinations in their own way, didn’t have this much room for creativity. Alongside its captivating story and darker themes, the Phantom Pain is an exceptional ending to Kojima’s career at Konami, and I hope his next project at his new studio can live up to the standards he has set.
4. Fallout 4
The premier post-apocalyptic RPG shooter is back in a big, Bostonian way. This game has been out for just barely over a month and I’ve already logged 116 hours into it. The old-timey Fallout noir is there as always while you as the main character track down your missing son who was kidnapped from the Vault you were in. There’s just so much to appreciate about this game. The as always satisfying gun fights complete with the V.A.T.S. system. The endless hours you can spend exploring areas that have no relevance to the plot or even any quest. The Minecraft-ish settlement building segments, which although seem scary at first, can quickly become addicting. While I take a couple of issues with the game’s ability to “roleplay” while calling itself an RPG, specifically how in certain situations you have to do things a certain way to advance the plot, it’s still an incredible, immersive video game.
3. Dying Light
In a nutshell, Dying Light is everything the Dead Island franchise should have been when it comes to combat and post-apocalyptic zombie atmosphere. It’s addition of a parkour system, which I didn’t even know I wanted in a zombie game, only heightens the experience. The freerunning ties in very well with the game’s progression system, as it is your only means of survival in bad situations early in the game, but can be transitioned into offensive means once you’ve leveled up. With a diverse crafting and looting system and a deep skill tree, alongside a dramatic and captivating story, Dying Light is the premier zombie game of this era.
2. Mad Max
I was initially shocked this game didn’t get any mentions at the Video Game Awards. But looking back on it, I guess I can understand why, given that a lot of the game’s mechanics come from other games. Some say the combat is part Assassin’s Creed, some say part Arkham, some say part Shadow of Mordor. And direct tie-ins for licensed products are frowned upon, I guess. But here’s the thing: Mad Max is an exceptionally fluid, beautiful looking game that can suck in you for hours at a time each time you play. Despite taking place in a desert wasteland, it still all looks gorgeous, and each region feels different. Your character and car genuinely feel more powerful throughout the game, and the increase in enemy and camp difficulty scale accordingly. Customizing and outfitting Max and the car is incredibly satisfying, and watching strongholds improve over time thanks to your efforts feels very rewarding.
1. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
The world of Witcher III reeks of desperation and fear, and no amount of beautiful landscape can take that away. That being said, it’s a captivating form of desperation and fear that you can see etched on the faces and hitched on the voices of every person you meet. Each area you explore, and there are an incredible amount of them, feels different from the last, and it helps you better understand the plight of one person, or a family, or a city trying to survive in this unforgiving world. There’s something almost Game of Thrones like with the stories you uncover, with some limited to an incredibly personal level, and other with outcomes that affect the entire landscape. The combat has been improved from Witcher II and feels immensely satisfying, and the magical abilities feel more powerful than ever. Last year we went nuts over Dragon Age: Inquisition, saying it might be one of the best RPGs ever. But as great as that game is, I think the Witcher III is a few steps better.