So, you’ll notice I didn’t end up writing a top ten games of 2015 list. Partly because I didn’t have time to get around to it until February (by which time the 2016 train has fully left the station and is picking up serious steam) and partly because there weren’t that many 2015 releases I was truly passionate about.
For as much talk of how great 2015 was as a year for gaming, there were really only a few games I put any serious time into. I played some fairly rubbish games (The Order: 1886, Batman: Arkham Knight), one or two bitter disappointments (Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number), at least one that might be good but has left me fairly cold (Fallout 4), and there are some games I have yet to actually get to (Dying Light, Life is Strange).
Of those left, I made up a top seven. I’m going to present it here without commentary, so I can then move into the meat of my topic:
6. Until Dawn
5. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
4. Tales from the Borderlands
3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Of those seven, six appeared on last year’s potential list, which is a huge step up from the previous year’s result of only guessing two correctly. Still none in the correct positions, but I can continue to live in hope, right? This list was hard to curate, mostly taken from the list of 2016 games on Wikipedia. Specifically, I managed to narrow the list to eleven, and ultimately decided to cut Mass Effect: Andromeda because my gut tells me it will not see release until 2017. I hope the same can’t be said for the rest of this list…
10. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
The first Mirror’s Edge was not good. I know that sort of comment will get the torch and pitchfork crowd coming my way for blood, but it just wasn’t. The first few levels were pretty fun, and then after that it devolved into wave after wave of shit, from a full on shooter level in an office block to the bowels of a cargo ship.
Honestly, who makes a game based around free running and parkour mechanics, then sets a level inside a confined fucking cargo ship???
Catalyst looks to mitigate all that by removing the shooty bits and setting the game in a wide open city. Dying Light already proved that first person parkour can actually work in an open environment. Let’s hope this second go around at Mirror’s Edge can build on that and release something this time that’s not just wasted potential.
9. Final Fantasy XV
Lads on tour! Lads on tour!
No, but seriously, this is a Final Fantasy game about four dudes on a road trip in a car driving across a weird fantasy world complete with huge monsters. And probably a weird convoluted story about a prince or something, likely involving an airship in the latter half of the game. But until then, cars and monsters. Awesome!
8. Outlast II
The first Outlast was creepy as hell and even cooler than that. So much so that I wrote an entire blog post about it. All I know about Outlast II is that it will feature the same gameplay in an all new setting, with a teaser that makes it look like some sort of New England cult. And that’s all I need to know. I need a horror game on this list somewhere, and this one fits the bill nicely. Bring it on.
7. Danganronpa 3: A New Semester for Everyone’s Killing Life
After Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair, I hope they keep that subtitle. Obviously it’s translated directly from the Japanese title, but in my eyes it’s already perfect. Just leave it as it is and release it like that.
Honestly, after playing the first two back to back, the wait for this third instalment is agonising. I need more Danganronpa in my life. More batshit insanity from Monokuma, more weird murders to solve, another set of characters to fall in love with and feel sad about as they mercilessly kill each other off.
To be honest, this is the one I’m most worried about slipping into 2017, since it needs to be translated before it can come out here. But I’m holding onto hope I get to play it in the second half of 2016. If nothing else, I need an excuse to pick my Vita up again.
6. Horizon: Zero Dawn
A post-post-apocalyptic cavewoman fights robot dinosaurs with a bow and arrow? Guerilla Games should start adapting all my dreams!
5. Dishonored 2
There were two lead designers behind the first Deus Ex. The better known of them is Warren Spector, who wasted his time over the last few years releasing some crappy Mickey Mouse games nobody seemed to like. In that time, the other designer, Harvey Smith, quietly released Dishonored, the best pseudo-Thief game since The Metal Age, Square’s reboot be damned. And now he’s back with the same team for Dishonored 2.
Given I put so much time into the first one, having one of my favourite gaming experiences in recent years doing a total stealth, no kills playthrough, as well as one where I basically played through murdering as many people as possible, I’m looking forward to getting the same sort of mileage out of the sequel. Perhaps moreso, given that now there will be two playable characters.
4. No Man’s Sky
In the interest of laziness, here’s what I said about No Man’s Sky last year:
“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.”
This has fundamentally not changed. I haven’t looked at any more media they have released or read any coverage. I know next to nothing about No Man’s Sky other than it’s a space sim, a genre I’ve been sorely lacking in (though Rebel Galaxy is doing quite a nice job of filling the gap for now). One of my favourite games of all time is a space sim (Star Wars TIE Fighter) and I have a lot of fondness for the Descent series as well. If No Man’s Sky can deliver that on the massive scale they have promised, I will be happy indeed. Now please, enough delays, release this game into my waiting arms.
3. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
The original Deus Ex is my second favourite game of all time. The combination of an interesting cyberpunk world, cool story, player choice, and that soundtrack combine to form an experience that is still fresh 15 years on. By contrast, the second in the series Invisible War was a huge bucket of suck.
Thankfully, Eidos got things back on track with 2011 prequel Human Revolution and from the little I know, Mankind Divided will be in the same vein. I know nothing of the story or setting or anything else. I want to go in as blind as possible and hope they can pull it off again. If it’s as good as Human Revolution, I’ll be happy.
2. Dark Souls III
I have been trying to get into Dark Souls for years, ever since the first one came out back in 2011 (sit down Demon’s Souls fans, I know!) but the truth is I have never been any good at them. The combination of always being on the defensive combined with the general difficulty of them always managed to beat me down. Until last year, when I took a chance on the spiritual sequel (sidequel?) Bloodborne. In short, I loved it. The combination of satisfying combat, Lovecraftian design, and exciting lore made it easily my favourite game of 2015.
And the best part? Having gone back to the first Dark Souls since, the skills I learned in Bloodborne were totally transferable and I made it further than ever before. Not too much further mind, only up to the two gargoyles on the church roof (sit down Dark Souls fans, I know!) but it’s still progress. I still plan to go back to the first two games (and Demon’s Souls) but from my understanding, the story and lore are esoteric enough that playing them out of order won’t really spoil or impact much.
So yes, in a post-Bloodborne world, I am on board for Dark Souls III. Fully on board.
1. Persona 5
Atlus, please. Release this thing already, I need the sequel to Persona 4 in my life right now. Surely it has to come out this year, right? Right? Please!