While the whole editorial staff contributed to our 2015 awards, we wanted to allow everybody the opportunity to publicly name their personal top 10 games of the year. While many did play the majority of releases in 2015, please remember that unlike our main awards, the editors are not naming the *best* games, but their personal favorites out of the selection they played.
10. Fallout 4
(PS4 / XBO / PC, Bethesda)
Like many, I binged on Fallout 4 as soon as it came out. It is actually the first game that I’ve preordered for years. I loved it. Well, for the first 10-20 hours or so. Then suddenly, I didn’t want to play it anymore. It just didn’t quite click with me. Then other games came up, I got stuck back into NBA 2K16, etc. However, with the addition of a few specific mods, the game came alive again. It just took a few little fixes for me to thoroughly enjoy myself once more. As a result, it has leaped off my mediocre experience list and scrapes its way into my Top 10.
9. Prison Architect
(PC / iOS / Android, Introversion Software)
This was the first game that I reviewed for Hardcore Gamer. It is also a game that I spent a lot more time with after the review duties were completed. Prison Architect surprised me in a few different ways. Going in, I did not expect to be faced with choices involving morality. I was also not expecting to enjoy myself to the extent that I did. The game saw me undergo a kind of transformation over my time with it. Initially a benevolent jailer, I would make sure my inmate’s cells were efficient yet comfortable. Then, by the end of my time with Prison architect, I had became a monster. I got to the point where I was doing things like specifically targeting legal department upgrades that would allow me to legally reduce cell sizes in order to cram my inmates —who I had now grown to despise—into the smallest area possible. Good times.
8. Tales from the Borderlands
(PC / PS4 / XBO / PS3 / 360 / iOS, Telltale Games / 2K Games)
This game was nice. It was comfortable. It was fun. I don’t think you can really make a better recommendation for a video game. Played from the comfort of the couch with my girlfriend, I would play through Tales from the Borderlands in the hour or so before bed. A fantastically directed combination of morality, punchlines, snap decisions, and the irrepressible Gortys; TftB was a great experience to have and to share. This game is/was very much in the GOTY discussion for 2015. So, with barely any negatives to consider, it had to be on my humble list too.
7. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin
(PC / PS4/ XBO, FromSoftware / Namco Bandai)
While technically a 2014 release (Dark Souls II), SotFS is worthy of being a ‘Remastered’ title in its own right (in my opinion at least). As a Souls fan, I was somewhat disappointed at FromSoftware’s initial attempt at a sequel for their acclaimed Dark Souls. I played a portion of Dark Souls II and quickly became disillusioned with the comparatively easy difficulty. However, in 2015 FromSoftware remedied their mistakes by releasing Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin. A combination of GOTY Edition and reboot, Scholar was a fantastic revamp of the original. Along with updated visuals, SotFS made Dark Souls II more difficult, more thoughtful in its design, and far more focused on lore and story. The changes FromSoftware had integrated suddenly made the game enjoyable for me. Now, with at least a hundred hours played, and many times that number of deaths; Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin is an easy pick for my Top 10.
Bloodborne is a title that I’ve held off on until very recently (mainly because I wanted to complete #6 before playing) In fact, I launched it for the first time during this holiday season. Having just finished Scholar of the First Sin, I flew straight into Bloodborne with the enthusiasm of a Chihuahua in a handbag shop. Bloodborne’s art, the sounds, the environment, the game-play; it’s all straight up awesome. It’s hard to say anything that hasn’t already been said about this fantastic game. Bloodborne is easily one of my favorite games this year. Also, it gave me the opportunity to drive one of my friends into madness by constantly spelling the title as ‘Bloodbourne‘. Some people have issues. Not me though.
5. NBA 2K16
(PS4/XBO/PC/360/PS3, 2K Sports)
I’ve had mixed feelings about this year’s iteration of 2K’s celebrated NBA series. The game that I’ve perhaps played the most this year; I was incredibly excited before NBA 2K16’s release; then disappointed at the execution of the much vaunted ‘Spike Lee Joint’. Although, even with the poorness of the execution, I am incredibly pleased that 2K have made an attempt at injecting something new into the stagnating sports genre. Regardless of the poor start, I was once again sucked into the world of MyCareer. Just like every year, I spent an inordinate amount of time creating a player and molding him into a superstar. Eventually, after growing bored with the MyCareer game mode, I began to focus on other aspects of the game. I’m currently burying my head in stat sheets and scout reports as I approach midway through the first season of a heavily customized MyLeague that began with a fantasy draft. Something I have never done before and something that I am enjoying immensely. I’ll continue to play NBA 2K16 into the foreseeable future. If nothing else, it’ll help me distance myself from the hell of being a Sixers fan in the real world.
The Witcher 3 was a strange one for me. I have never been a particularly big fan of The Witcher series. Both 1 & 2 were played for a period and subsequently discarded in boredom. This caused me to hold off on playing the latest iteration until very late in the year. In fact, if it wasn’t for a friend who shares many of my gaming inclinations having such a high regard, I probably wouldn’t have played it at all. Now, I’m through a solid chunk of the game and I’m yet to find something that I haven’t enjoyed. In fact, the experience that I have had has been immensely entertaining. Much of what was missing in my initial hours of Fallout 4 is completely present in Witcher 3. I spend the majority of my time chasing question marks in isolated swamps, and I love it. The Witcher 3 is truly a great attempt at a medieval pest control simulator. It also led to an entertaining situation —for others— that had someone catching a glimpse of the screen and thinking that I was watching porn, not playing a video game. Good times.
3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
(PC/XBO/PS4/PS3/360, Kojima Productions/Konami)
I was pretty tight on money in the week that MGSV was released. I tried to convince myself that it could wait. I didn’t need to play it straight away. It would be fine. I lasted about three days. Three days of friends, family, and the media telling me how awesome it was. I saw gifs of people sliding around on cardboard boxes, or my friends would tell me about having unlocked the ability to make vehicles crash by getting their horse to crap on the road. So I stretched and bought it. It was totally worth eating toast for a week. Enough said.
2. Grow Home
(PS4/PC, Ubisoft Reflections)
Another surprise. I really can’t express how much I loved this cute little game. With its jenky controls, its one dimensional gameplay, and its limited scope — I loved it. I loved every flawed and yet cuddly aspect of this hidden gem. I think Grow Home may even have been the only game that I completed 100% in 2015. It was a game that I was smiling throughout the entirety of my time with it. I smiled as I began moving and experienced the little red robot’s leaning turns for the first time; I smiled when I saw the first sheep; I smiled as I began climbing and experienced the intuitiveness of the climbing mechanics; I also smiled as I rode giant phallic plants towards glowing islands of energy. It is a weird, beautiful game that I guess you either love or hate. I’m obviously of the former. Grow Home very nearly pipped top spot in my Top 10. Its only downfall was replayability.
1. Kerbal Space Program
I have no idea how this is my number one. A game about shooting little green beings into outer space and inevitably exploding, is somehow rated higher than such behemoths as Witcher 3, Bloodborne, and Metal Gear Solid to name a few. Yet, I would be kidding myself if I tried to say that I enjoyed any of those games more than I enjoyed Kerbal Space Program. From building my first rocket and having it explode on the launch pad, to finally completing a trip to the Mun (KSP’s Moon) and back (without experiencing a great deal of death), I took so much satisfaction and enjoyment from this awesome game. Starting out with vast misconceptions about the depth and scope of KSP; I strapped a bunch of rockets to a pod, put a little green man inside, and pointed it at the Mun. That particular approach didn’t work. Now, when I launch my guys, I think about stuff like what my apoapsis is, how long I need to burn prograde, and asparagus. Seriously, ‘asparagus’ is a technical term in space stuff; or maybe just in Kerbal Space Program. Whatever. All I know is that before I played KSP, I had no idea what those words meant. Now I do. That’s something, right?