Last time I tried this, I had mixed results. I managed to get two games right, but not their positions on the list. With a success rate like that, I just have to try it again! So, based on nothing more than pre-release trailers and sparse information, here is my guess as to what my top ten games of 2015 will be.
10. Tales From the Borderlands
Okay, so I’m cheating a little on this one. I have a little more than trailers to go on here, because I’ve actually played the first episode of Telltale’s latest. And honestly, I loved it. It’s genuinely hilarious, but in a way that didn’t involve over the top jokes and memes like Borderlands 2 did. Instead, it takes the frankly cynical universe of the main games, and populates it with some characters who don’t quite fit in on Pandora, including the slightly too nice to work for the Hyperion corporation Rhys (voiced by Troy Baker, who should probably be stopped at this rate) and his sort of partner in crime, a con artist called Fiona. One episode in and already the plot has taken quite a number of twists and turns, so I’m excited to see how the remaining four episodes play out.
So, why number ten? Simply put, because Telltale let me down a little in 2014. The Walking Dead Season Two was too unfocused to hit the heights of the first season, and The Wolf Among Us sort of fell apart after a strong opening and didn’t recover in time for its ending. I’m hoping that with its lighter tone Tales From the Borderlands will redeem the company somewhat.
Confession time, I’m not very good at Dark Souls. I’ve never managed to pass the Taurus Demon, which is literally the second boss of the game. But from what I’ve seen, From Software’s sense of architecture and world building is unparalleled. They don’t go the same way as pretty much every other company, sacrificing detail in favour of bigger but blander open worlds. Instead, they focus on providing a play space that is perfectly efficient for the game’s requirements. And I absolutely cannot wait to see those principles applied to the pseudo-Victorian setting of Bloodborne.
So, why number nine? Because I might not have the constitution or skill to finish the game. While I got further in the Eurogamer demo than I ever have in any of the prior Souls games, it was still punishingly hard. The gameplay is a lot faster paced now though, rewarding more risk taking and offensive strategies than the defensive nature of Dark Souls. I’m hoping Bloodborne is a little more my speed as a result.
8. Assassin’s Creed Victory
Last year’s Assassin’s Creed Unity did not make my potential top ten list because it hadn’t been unveiled at the time, and it did not make my actual top ten list because I didn’t get around to playing it until too late due to the issues and bugs at launch. Now I’m approaching the halfway mark of the game, and I’m actually quite enjoying it. The more open assassination missions are spectacular, and I like playing a city based Assassin’s Creed again. Hopefully, Victory can build on those missions and craft an even more compelling location in Victorian London.
So, why number eight? I really wanted to put Victory higher on the list, but I’m just not sure how much I trust Ubisoft. Watch Dogs was disappointing at best, and the Unity bugs at launch were close to unforgivable. I want to believe Victory will restore the franchise to the true greatness it’s capable of, but I need to see it first.
7. Batman: Arkham Knight
The two Rocksteady Batman Arkham games were some of the highlights of last generation, and the news that Arkham Knight is the last one excites me, especially after the shock ending of Arkham City. Much like From Software, Rocksteady is good at building interesting, interconnected play spaces, and crafting interesting combat scenarios to showcase their impressive melee system. Presumably, they’ll be going all out in Arkham Knight, hopefully taking advantage of the new technology to make this the best game in the trilogy.
So, why number seven? Again, I wanted to put this higher, but there is one problem. Arkham City was just not as good as Arkham Asylum. It was mostly down to the location being bigger, but not quite as densely packed or interesting, opting for a slightly more generic open world structure than the Metroidvania style that served them so well the first time around. With news that Gotham in Arkham Knight will be bigger than ever, I just hope it’s not diluted.
Soma is a difficult game to write about because lacking a computer capable of playing it, I have not yet had the experience of playing Amnesia: The Dark Descent or its follow up A Machine For Pigs. However, I have been assured that Frictional Games has a pretty solid handle on this whole horror thing, and playing Outlast and P.T this year has put me in the mood for more.
So, why number six? Mostly because I know very little about the game. However, its H.R. Giger inspired art is enough to get me very excited. I’ll be staying away from any potential story spoilers and going in as blind as possible.
5. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
So far, the new consoles have had pretty slim pickings in terms of Western RPGs. Sure, Dragon Age Inquisition was great, but with mid tier games like Bound By Flame serving only to disappoint and no information forthcoming on a new Fallout or Elder Scrolls, what am I to do? Thankfully, The Witcher 3 is finally coming. It made last year’s list, but was unfortunately delayed into 2015. Hopefully, the time taken to add extra polish will result in a world I can properly sink into for long stretches of time.
So, why number five? Last time around, this game made it onto the number six spot on my list, meaning it’s only risen in my estimation since. Honestly though, I’m just excited to be getting some proper RPGs finally, what with the genre seemingly taking a year off from the release of the new consoles up until late 2014.
4. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
My number five pick from last time out makes the jump up to number four. Hotline Miami is, to me, the ultimate twitch puzzle game. It rewards patience as much as risk, allowing for a mix of carefully planned out routes through levels, and all out run and gun when things do get frustrating. The neon gore aesthetic only serves to accentuate the whole thing when mixed in with the 80’s saturated electronic soundtrack, and the mere thought of just having more Hotline Miami levels to play leaves me salivating.
So, why number four? As I said, Wrong Number has jumped up the list one. Mostly this is because of the new character announcements since a year ago. Each sounds more unique than either Jacket or Biker from the last game, and I seriously cannot wait to give them a go. Especially the chainsaw and pistol wielding twins.
3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
I didn’t name Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes as one of my top ten games of 2014. Not because of the way it plays (indeed, it is the best playing MGS to date), but simply because it didn’t have quite enough content to justify it making the list. Ground Zeroes was the equivalent of the game’s Tanker chapter or Virtuous Mission, and as a result it was short. Very short. However, it provided enough of a taster to get me very excited for the main course. Taking the gameplay foundation of Ground Zeroes and bringing back the larger environments, crazy story beats, and madcap bosses that MGS is known for could result in the series’ strongest game to date.
So, why number three? Because I love Metal Gear Solid. But an MGS game has never been my favourite of the year. MGS1 was beaten by Thief: The Dark Project, MGS2 was beaten by Silent Hill 2, MGS3 was beaten by Project Zero 3, and MGS4 was beaten by Dead Space.
2. No Man’s Sky
Perhaps the most interesting and esoteric game on the list. What exactly is No Man’s Sky? Truthfully, I’m not entirely sure. I know that it’s a procedurally generated universe, where the main gameplay seems to be to fly from planet to planet and explore, building new ships and new weapons along the way. But other than that, I know nothing about whether it will have a story or an objective. And honestly, I prefer not knowing. Something about the mystery surrounding No Man’s Sky is refreshing in a time where games are hyped to death, and all mysteries spoiled long before release day.
So, why number two? Because No Man’s Sky is my jam! I grew up on this sort of game, starting all the way back at the Collector’s CD-ROM edition of Star Wars TIE Fighter and graduating to games like Freelancer and X2. I haven’t played a good game in the space sim genre for such a long time now though, and I’m about ready for another.
1. Persona 5
This did not make my potential top ten list last year because I didn’t think there was any chance of it coming out in 2014. And I was right! What I did say was that it would probably make it onto this list, and possibly high up depending on games announced since. Here we are, and the simple truth is that nothing announced for 2015 excites me more than Persona 5. Especially with the excellent news that I’ll be able to pick it up for PS4 rather than going back to PS3 to play it. I know next to nothing about the story or setting, and frankly, that’s how I like it.
So, why number one? Aside from the reasons outlined above, Persona 4 Golden is easily one of my top five games of all time. The turn based combat was simple enough in its systems that I could easily understand how it worked, but challenging enough to be interesting. But where it really shone was in its story and characters. If Persona 5 can come anywhere close to having a cast I enjoy spending time with as much as Yosuke, Chie, Yukiko, Rise, and the others, I can see myself putting another hundred hours into this series.
So, what didn’t quite make the list? With limiting myself to only ten, there had to be a few omissions. Here are the notable ones.
Dying Light – This made my list last year, but the Eurogamer Expo demo sort of soured me a little. It had a few frame rate issues that grated on my nerves slightly. The game has been getting solid reviews though, so I’m willing to be proven wrong.
Evolve – I don’t really go in for multiplayer games, and Evolve just seems like a DLC platform masquerading as a game. No thanks.
Game of Thrones – There was only room for one Telltale game on the list, and as weird as it sounds, Borderlands just appeals to me more right now. Game of Thrones is just so serious, I just can’t see it being quite as fun.
The Order: 1886 – While it looks gorgeous and has an amazing style, there doesn’t seem to be much separating it from something like Gears of War. I’ll still be picking it up at some point, but nothing about the actual gameplay excites me as yet.
Until Dawn – This would be my number eleven pick. I love the concept of it being a Heavy Rain style teen slasher game, since that gameplay is way more suited to a campy horror than a serious story. I just hope it can live up to the premise.