Welcome to my Five5 series, in which to celebrate the launch of 2015 in Gaming I will be posting 5 articles over 5 days, each with my top 5 games of a particular topic. I'm also giving away a Star Wars PS4 bundle to one random person who buys the AU$3 book - which you can grab by clicking the button below. Enjoy!
While gaming isn’t all about the big blockbuster releases and there is an incredibly diverse range of content out there for those that are looking for it, most of the world only sees the marketing for the major titles coming out of the biggest developers. While some of the bigger games can be hit and miss while others might be grinding on that diminished returns stone, this shortlist is the group of 5 that I think you should pay attention to.
Among the highest in the “most anticipated game” category, Fallout 4 finally made it to our homes this November. The 100+ hour post apocalyptic wasteland adventure was essentially exactly was what expected of it. Fallout 4 is the sequel to to Fallout 3 - warts and all - which is exactly what it should be.
Fallout 4 is that familiar post apocalyptic world, filled with mutated creatures and twisted people, strange locales and even stranger tales. The main fun you have with Fallout 4 isn’t necessarily from the story - though it definitely isn’t bad, by any stretch of the imagination - but from exploring the wasteland and seeing what you can find. The major addition to this iteration is the ability to build out your own settlements, creating your own real home in the desolate lands of Boston. An added bonus to this Fallout is that Bethesda has removed the level cap - meaning Fallout 4 can actually become the game you play for the rest of your life, should you want to (I almost do.)
Personally, I haven’t even put the disk for this game in my PC yet. Fallout 3, New Vegas, Oblivion and Skyrim have been some of my favourite gaming experiences ever, so I've been hyped for this game for a damn long time. When I purchased the game, I realised that I only enjoyed Fallout the way it was after it had all been patched to the point it needed to be at, after all the DLC was out, and most importantly, when all the greatest mods were available to toy with. I’m very much looking forward to picking this game up in a year or 2, when all the hype is gone, the mainstream have forgotten all about it and I’m able to just sink as deep as one can go in a game like this.
The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3 seems to be the game that has set a whole new bar for world and quest design in modern day Western RPG’s. Diverging from the linearity of the first two games, The Witcher 3 manages to find the perfect balance between bringing new players into the game without having to go back to the originals, and still holding on to the rich and engaging lore that the fans love.
This 200+ hour game touts an enormous world for you to explore, yet never feels like empty space. The world was essentially designed around the quests written for it, rather than the world built then filled in with Stuff. Even the game within the game, Gwent, was loved by the fans of the series.
CD Projekt Red’s efforts on supporting the game post launch show just how dedicated the company is to it’s products and it’s fans. With a whole bunch of completely free DLC released post launch as well as a willingness to go in and change fundamental parts of the game thanks to feedback from the community (such as the movement system), thrown in with the bold move of offering a completely DRM free option of the game on PC, Projekt Red proved that you can look after both your studio and your fans if you are willing to - with 6,000,000 copies sold within the first few months and multiple game of the year accolades under their belt.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
The Metal Gear franchise has always been a special and weird one, even for gaming. This years The Phantom Pain is the kind of game that is worthy of the various 10/10 scores it gave out, as it surely does a few things a little… differently, than others.
While some hardcore fans of the series were a little disappointed by the wrap up ending the game gave out, the story does continue to be a strange but fantastic one. What makes this Metal Gear different however is the open world sandbox gameplay - something Metal Gear never has had before. Boy, does it take that template and do some things with it. The best part of hearing/reading about this game are simply the stories that come out of it - taking an enemy, tranquillising them, then having your horse poop on their face; finding a random goat, attaching a Fulton balloon to it and extracting it to your base, only to find it actually their when you get back. Phantom Pain takes the promise of the “go do what you want” idea that open world games often give, and fulfills it.
Thankfully, you do not have to know the lore (can you even really know it?) in order to jump on to this game’s bandwagon. Definitely a strong pick for a truly fun game that you can spend way too much time playing around in.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
The 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise was surprisingly good, giving the franchise an important facelift and bringing it into the modern age. 2 ½ years later saw the release of the sequel to that game, refining the winning formula down to bring out the best of what it had to offer while at the same time providing some new and more interesting additions (yes, I mean there are actual tombs to raid this time around.)
It’s a real shame that this game was hindered by 2 big factors on it’s release. The most important being that of it’s actual release date - Why Microsoft chose to release Rise of the Tomb Raider on the same day as Fallout 4 is a true mystery. Secondly, was the who - thanks to Microsoft’s (perceived, at least) financial input into the game, it was tied to the Xbox One and Xbox 360 at launch, with a PC port set for early next year and a PS4 version a whole year later.
Hindrance aside, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a phenomenal game. Much like the first game, it sees you hunting down a lost treasure, facing off against a crazy religious cult and fighting scrappily through with your makeshift arsenal. Lara is a bit more seasoned this time around, and is much more confident in herself and her abilities. Rise of the Tomb Raider is very much worthy of being a must play for 2015.
Let’s be clear - the Souls’ series most certainly isn’t for everyone. These games are fricken hard - and yes, Bloodborne most definitely is a Souls game. Bloodborne is truly a refinement of the formula that made Demons Souls a cult hit and Dark Souls a household name, albeit with it’s own clever twists on the same tried and true mechanics.
The great thing about Bloodborne is that while it is so difficult, it is fair. The punishment dealt to you is your teacher, and with that you will learn to become a better player. The sidearm style switches things up in a way that Dark Souls could never do, getting players to break free of the shield and sword mentality and keeping the battles moving. Oh by the way, one particular notion that is kind of a given but is actually rarely mentioned online, is that yes, this game contains a lot of blood. Though that might sound disgusting, this game is actually quite visually enthralling - the world building and monster design have a weird grotesque beauty about them.
If you’re the kind of person that loves a true challenge from your games (or are just a little sadistic) Bloodborne is a fantastic game to sink your teeth into.