5. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
While not quite in the same league as stealth game veteran Metal Gear Solid, the Assassin’s Creed series from Ubisoft has made a name for itself creating vivid, slavish historical settings with an incredible eye for detail. This time around, the game takes players to 1800s London, offering up an intricately crafted city for players to murder people in. The name of the game is Assassin’s Creed, after all.
As you work your way up the ranks in the Assassins’ secret organization, you can build your power as a gang lord and work neighborhood by neighborhood to win the hearts and minds of the townsfolk. The sights, sounds, and smells (okay, VR is on the way but we might not be ready for smells yet) are a wonder to behold, and the latest Assassin’s Creed game is a technical marvel that will keep players running across rooftops, sneaking up behind prey and slipping a knife into backs for years to come.
Remember when The Simpsons invented Rocket League? pic.twitter.com/jB3jAEevDL
— Adriel Wallick (@MsMinotaur) December 8, 2015
4. Rocket League
Rocket League came out of nowhere to be the big sleeper hit of the summer that everyone was talking about. The game got a big push from being featured as the free download of the month for Playstation Plus subscribers in July, but it also benefited from word of mouth on the PC platform and spent a good amount of time on the top of the sales charts on Steam.
The devilishly simple but addictive concept behind the game boils down to an intriguing elevator pitch: a game of soccer played with remote controlled cars. It sounds insane and difficult to imagine, but the way that the developer executed on the initial idea makes it just crazy enough to work.
The controls are a bit sloppy, making the game welcoming to newcomers, but ball handling becomes second nature with practice. The game’s developer, Psyonix, has also been very generous with new car skins and unlockable content which allows players to cosmetically tweak their vehicles in fun and new ways. Part soccer game, part RC demolition derby, plus a free, downloadable hockey mode on the way… what’s not to love?
Rocket League available for PS4 and PC
FromSoftware, the developers of such cult classic videogames as Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, has earned a reputation for creating some of the most brutally challenging but rewarding role playing games on the market today. The expectation is set early: you will be dying frequently. That challenge has always been a big part of the fun.
This time, however, there have been a few tweaks and updates to the formula and setting presented in FromSoftware’s earlier offerings. Players have a brief window of opportunity to regain lost health by hitting enemies who have recently hurt them, which very slightly increases survivability over the previous games. The setting and creature designs are gorgeous, horrifying and disturbing, with an atmosphere lifted from a fever-nightmare version of 1960s Hammer horror films.
For those who can stomach the challenge and have the patience and interest to learn the obtuse menus and item systems, this game provides an immersive, gory experience which leaves the player feeling a strong need to shower afterwards.
Bloodborne available for PS4
2. Fallout 4
Bethesda Softworks successfully transported many of the game systems and mechanical aspects of its rich, open-world fantasy RPG Elder Scrolls series to the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Washington D.C. 2077 in 2008’s smash hit Fallout 3. Continuing in that tradition, Bethesda released Fallout 4 this past November into the eager hands of their fans.
This time, the game is set around Boston. It still boasts a vast variety of environments to explore and characters to interact with, converse with, fulfill quests for and sometimes kill. A complex weapon upgrade system allows players to customize weapons to within an inch of their lives, and a huge number of perks can be unlocked to allow for an array of play styles.
If you want to be sneaky and take out enemies from a distance, you can build that character. If you want to be a hulking brute who charges in fist-first, those options are there. If you’d rather wander the wasteland planting farms, raising livestock and helping to support fledgling settlements with supplies and raw materials, it’s in there too. This series is famous for sucking players in and making hours seamlessly disappear. Fallout 4 lives up to and builds on that reputation.
Fallout 4 available for PS4, Xbox One, and PC
1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain follows Big Boss, aka Snake — who looks exactly like, but is a different character from, Solid Snake, the hero in the first few games of the series. (Seriously, there are whole wikis about this.) Snake sneaks into war-torn Afghanistan, circa 1984, with stunningly anachronistic technology seeking revenge on some ne’er-do-wells who blew up his secret mercenary headquarters.
The story is there for those who want it, but at the core, this game is made up of some of the most challenging, fun and rewarding open-world stealth available. Sneak around, quietly kill enemies and liberate prisoners. The game boasts huge environments, companions, and a progression system which unlocks new weapons, tools and character skins.
The Phantom Pain marks the series’ swan song, as Hideo Kojima has stated that he will not be making another game in the series. The longevity of the Metal Gear Solid series is an achievement in “game developer as auteur” games; Mr. Kojima has been making Metal Gear games since 1987. Thankfully, it’s not necessary to play every one of the games in the series to get enjoyment out of this latest installment.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain available for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC
That’s our list, but of course, there were tons of other games that came out this year. What were some of your favorites? Any that didn’t make our list, but you think our readers should know about? If so, please add them in the comments below!