Opinion: Sarah’s Gaming Hi-Lights of 2015.

So, as a way of ending off the year, I thought I’d write up a list of my personal favourite games of 2015. But, as I took a look at the catalogue of releases throughout the year, I begrudgingly realised that I haven’t actually had the chance to play many of the big titles. Maybe this is due to the stigma of getting older, and I haven’t got enough time to dedicate to my favourite hobby. Or maybe it’s because of a few certain, giant open world games that I am still dedicating most of my time to. I would probably say it’s the latter of the two.

So, instead of an article of my favourite games this year, I’ve instead complied a list of some of my favourite gaming moments of 2015. Whilst they might not have a right to be called the best games on their own, these are simply moments when I’ve really enjoyed being a gamer this year. Have a look, see what you think and then let us know what you’d include in your own hi-lights of the year.

Bloodborne

Bloodborne

So, I’m gonna start my list off with this heavy hitter by From Software. I’ve dabbled quite a few times in their Dark Souls series (with Scholar of the First Sin still sat on my shelf, waiting to be raged at.) but this was the first time I’d picked up one of their titles at launch and actually played it. The thing I love about this series of games is their tight gameplay, controls and the way that if you mess up and die, you can’t blame anyone else but yourself. I’m usually quite an aggressive player, in the sense that I don’t like waiting around and tanking, and I found that Bloodborne rewarded this kind of play style more so than the other titles. Plus, the moody surroundings in a more Renaissance setting created a fantastically dark and depressing atmosphere that only the Soul’s games can do. Whilst I miss the more medieval armour designs, I loved the fast paced combat and introduction of duel wielding guns and weapons at the same time. Certainly kept me on my toes. The moment that I’ll never forget for this game was looking down from the bridge of the first mob of enemies and just thinking to myself… ‘Crap.’ Then getting horribly, brutally and mercilessly destroyed. Ah…don’t ever change, From Software.

Witcher 3

The Witcher 3

So if I were to blame a game for missing out of most of this years big releases, then I would blame the Witcher 3. Ever since this game was announced at E3, I was excitedly awaiting it’s release. Having found an unexpected favourite game in the Witcher 2, I was unsure how this was going to top it. Well, not only did it top it, but it smashed it to tiny pieces and scattered it’s remains into a nest of waiting Nekkers. This is easily one of my favourite games of all time, let alone from this year. With vast expanses of open world, deliciously rich lore and fantastic, tactical combat, this was basically my perfect package of gaming. I spent far more time just riding around on my horse, exploring and taking contracts then I have actually carrying on with the story. So whilst I’ve put a lot of hours into this, I still haven’t gotten around to finishing the main game yet (for shame.) I have always loved games that bring an immersive and engaging storyline, with characters I actually give a damn about and the Witcher 3 delivers on all counts for me. Really really enjoying the experience, and so that’s why this game definitely gets a mention on my hi-lights for 2015. One of my hi-lights is literally just wandering round town and listening to the conversations between people. Absolutely brilliant attention to detail, which goes to show that CD Projekt Red really do care about the games they are developing. Also, offering us free DLC and expansions that are actually worth the money you pay for them, it’s a far cry from some developers who try to rinse money out of you for not so great content. But that’s a rant for another time. If you want a developer to get behind, these are the team.

Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™ - Press Demo_20150804174550

This is a bit of a weird one for me. I’m not normally a massive fan of the indie crowd (no offence to anyone that is – I simply spend far too much time playing huge games that I generally overlook the smaller ones) but I heard about the hype surrounding this game and figured I’d go take a look. I found myself pleasantly surprised by The Chinese Room’s first person, adventure/walking game. There has been a growing number of these type of games recently – you literally walk around, exploring and uncovering a story as you go. With this one, you’re exploring a small English village whose inhabitants have mysteriously disappeared. Through these strange orbs of light, you are able to see the story unfold through the eyes of certain villagers, whom you really get to know and relate to as the game goes on. It’s a really interesting mechanic that’s tricky to pull off and keep you interested, but I found that this one was really well paced, and following the villagers stories were both heartfelt, and often really sad. However, the real winner here for me was the setting. As a Brit, it’s not very often that I get a game set in our rural countryside, and I found myself gleefully walking round, taking in every detail of the village. Literally, I was getting excited at the fire hydrant signs. So, for me, this is one of my gaming hi-lights purely for the enjoyment I had just exploring the countryside. Although there were some blatant unrealistic aspects – the village pub was selling curry and a pint for £3. Dream on.

Until Dawn

Until Dawn 1

I hate horror. I really, really hate horror. I get freaked out so easily, and horror games are the literal stuff of nightmares for me. Yet, I would go as far as to say that this was my favourite game to be released this year. Pretty big claim, huh? Well, I am a big fan of games where you get to change the outcome of things (everything released by Quantic Dream and Telltale games are instant winners for me) and I have to say, I was intrigued by the concept behind this game. It’s basically like playing a teen slasher film, only your actions determine who dies and who survives. It’s one of those games where your previous actions can have really far reaching effects for the other characters, with a huge focus on the butterfly effect. You play as all eight characters, getting to alter their relationships with people and their general character traits throughout the experience. The gameplay is pretty simplistic, with quick time events making up the brunt of the action scenes. It’s also one of the most beautiful games I’ve played this year – the attention to detail is just amazing. I spent a good ten minutes staring at one character’s woolly hat just internally screaming at the bobbles on the wool. For me, the hi-light of this game was simply the awesomely haunting atmosphere and tension that I experienced whilst playing. This is the first time in a very long time that I’ve screamed out loud in pure terror whilst playing a video game. At a clock. Seriously.

Destiny: The Taken King

Destinystandard

A bit controversial, this one I suppose. I played Destiny when it was first released last year, and really wasn’t that impressed. So I got rid of the game and thought nothing more of it. However, a few of my friends were still hammering away at it, so I decided to give it a try again when the Taken King Expansion was released. And I am so glad I waited until the expansion and didn’t waste my time with looking for all the exotics, like the other poor souls. So whilst I feel Bungie and Activision screwed over everyone who had been playing since day one, I think that the Taken King expansion was what the game should have been at launch. I think the gameplay is solid as far as FPS’s go, but the story and actual missions need a lot of work. But this game makes it on my hi-light reel purely for the multiplayer element. I’m not much of an online gamer, but I had a really good time playing alongside my friends in the campaign and getting my butt kicked in Crucible. And as my most played multiplayer game this year, I had a great laugh with it…involving many self destructs via grenades. Also, the Nightstalker is so freaking cool. All the orbs….

Fallout 4

Fallout 1

Come on. Did you really think I wouldn’t include this game on my hi-light reel of 2015? I was practically screaming at the E3 announcement and it’s the first time I’ve put a pre-order down for a collectors edition of any game. I absolutely adore Fallout. And whilst Fallout 4 is incredibly similar to Fallout 3 in regards to mechanics, gameplay and environments, I don’t think that’s a bad thing because Fallout 3 is one of my favourite titles. More of the same. That was all I wanted. With prettier graphics, and a bad ass crafting system, Fallout 4 has dominated my PS4 since release, and probably will continue to do so until probably the middle of next year. I’m loving every second of trudging across the wasteland with my angry red haired mercenary who only helps people that pay her caps up front. Truthfully, I haven’t spent that much time with the settlement building options of the game, purely because I see myself as a true lone wander who locks herself away in an abandoned gas station. But, I have had great fun with the weapons modifications and power armour building – an inclusion that I think was much needed. So, the hi-light of this game for me has been returning to the wasteland. It feels more gritty, more difficult than the previous instalments – I feel like I’m actually dealing with survival in a wasteland. Also, the return of the brilliant Fallout radio. Nothing beats blasting the heads off super mutants to Bingo Bango Bongo.

Well, these have been some of my gaming hi-lights across 2015. I’ve spent far too much time exploring the worlds of Geralt of Rivia and the wastelands of Boston to manage to play all the other amazing releases of the year. So, let us know what you’d count amongst your favourite gaming moments of the year, and here’s to another awesome year of gaming in 2016!

Sarah
As the newest member of the team, Sarah makes her contribution by writing articles related to gaming. She also co-hosts on the podcast gaming segments. Apart from FC, she appears on Youtube videocast GameOn TV.

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