Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2015 Games of the Year

A few years ago, I did my own "Games of the Year" list, where I talked about not the games that were released in that year, but those that I myself played that year. A friend of mine suggested doing the same thing in an email thread that we share with some other gaming buddies, and so a few of us shared our experiences from 2015.

But for those of you who aren't on that email thread, I figure I spent the time writing up everything, so I might as well share it. Here's my list for 2015. Also, you can see on the sidebar that I'm trying to keep track of the games I play this year, in the hopes that I maybe do this kind of post again at the end of 2016.

Honorable Mention: Rock Band 4
The newest iteration of the Rock Band franchise was...fine? I haven't gone through the whole campaign, but after advertising it as a "Rock Band RPG," it strikes me as being pretty similar to Rock Band 2; hardly a role-playing game. If you're interested, I wrote about what I thought a true Rock Band RPG could be like on my blog.

10. World of Warcraft
So here's the thing about World of Warcraft. Before Warlords of Draenor turned it into a glorified smartphone game, it was already a glorified smartphone game for me. I'm not good enough to raid or PvP, and outside of that, it's just gold-farming. I don't dislike gold-farming per se, but as I play it more, I'm realizing that it's less of engagement and more of a habit. I'm thinking 2016 won't have WoW on its list.

9. Heroes of the Storm
If we were considering sheer volume of time, Heroes would rate higher on this list. I played pretty often with Chip and Nick, the quicker matches being less of a commitment than games like CS:GO or League of Legends. The lack of items and summoner abilities takes a layer of complexity off the game, but it does have some unique heroes like Cho'Gall, Murky, and The Lost Vikings. Heroes is good for at least an occasional diversion.

8. Card Hunter
If I had only played the first 5 or 6 levels of Card Hunter by the time I wrote this up, it'd be higher on the list. It's a fun card-based game that functions like D&D. The problem is that the game kind of over-complicates itself over time. While you start out with a weak 15-card deck, as your characters advance in level, the deck gets stronger, but also bigger. Anybody who's played any Magic knows that the smaller the deck, the happier you are. Still, it's fun enough that I'll keep it installed at least.

7. Creeper World 3: Arc Eternal
There were, apparently, two previous Creeper World games, but I never played them. This was an impulse purchase for I want to say like $0.79 during one of the Steam sales. It's not an overly complex game, but it does offer a new take on tower defense style games. I enjoyed playing it as much as I did, and I could see myself getting back into it. Unconventional tower defense games are almost as much fun as...

6. Defender's Quest: Valley of the Forgotten
...conventional tower defense games. Defender's Quest was another game I purchased during a Steam sale over the years. I began playing it before last year, but I jumped back into it when I had a stretch of regular Twitch streaming a little while back. It's a bit of a grind, but my kind of grind. I haven't finished the "new game+" yet, and it's an easy game to stream, so I expect to play it some in 2016 as well.

5. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
There was a stretch there in 2015 when CS:GO was my game of choice. Missions were an interesting addition, and it swayed my focus on a day-to-day basis. As always, I watched for interesting investments, though the time of quick profits has passed. I haven't played it in a while, but it was a huge part of my year, and I'd be surprised if I didn't get back to it at some point this year as well.

4. Magic: The Gathering - The Deckbuilding
So here's the thing about Magic. I didn't play a ton of matches of Magic. But "playing Magic" means different things for different people. For me, deckbuilding is far and away my favorite part of the game. I bought some sealed content and spent time all throughout the year building and rebuilding decks. I love trying to figure out the interplay between the various cards, and talking about it with other people or reading about it. Magic was definitely a big part of my gaming 2015.

3. Dead Rising 2: Off the Record
I remember playing a demo of the original Dead Rising and running out to buy a used copy at GameStop the same day. I played the shit out of it, and I continue to play the shit out of Dead Rising games. I didn't buy Dead Rising 2: Off the Record right away, because it's basically a remake of the original Dead Rising 2 with different cutscenes. Still, it was a lot of fun.

2. NHL '16
I'm always a fan of NHL games. I actually played a fair amount of NHL '13 this year as well, but it seemed silly to include two hockey games. NHL '16 was part of the bundle I got when I bought my Xbox One, because I knew I'd play it. I haven't tried Franchise Mode (or whatever it's called these days), but the Be A Pro, Hockey Ultimate Team, and just exhibition games are all crisp and fun. Hockey is great.

1. Dungeons & Dragons
D&D is the best game ever. I've always liked cooperative games with a lot of freedom, and no game satisfies that hunger like D&D. It's a fun game to play with friends, it's a great environment for humor and creativity, and it still incorporates battle-based challenges. It takes more time to set up a game than other games, and requires coordination with your group in order to make things happen, but with Tabletop Simulator and now (the superior) Roll20, it's a great time to play D&D.

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