GeekDad, as we so often reiterate, isn’t just one guy. GeekDad is a collective. Like Chumbawamba. Only with better harmonies.
This means that our end-of-the-year list discussions are rife with varying opinions, spirited debate, skillful rebuttals, and the occasional knuckle sandwich. Ok, not really–they’re actually pretty civil.
Still, for this feature we cut directly to the chase.
I challenged our staffers to pitch their best video games of 2015. The catch? Each writer could only pick one title–be it console, PC, or mobile–to represent 2015’s finest offerings.
And here are the results.
Randy Slavey – LEGO Dimensions
LEGO Dimensions is one of those games where it’s almost guaranteed to fail to live up to the hype. For months leading up to the release date, every time WB opened their collective mouths, it was to proclaim some new, amazing feature or property that had been added.
The return of original voice actors, new movies, new features, new worlds. It seemed nearly impossible for all of this awesome to be contained in a single game. We were floored, then, when it not only lived up to our expectations but exceeded them by a wide margin.
I knew it would be fun, but I didn’t expect the Dimension Toy Pad to add so much to the gameplay. I expected the writing to be good, but they went well beyond good. I found myself laughing out loud many times. The properties included read like a who’s who of geek culture: Portal, Batman, Doctor Who, DC Comics, The Simpsons, Jurassic World, Back to the Future, Lord of the Rings, Ghostbusters, and more.
Gerry Tolbert – Heroes of the Storm
With the advent of Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs) in 2003 with Defense of the Ancients (DOTA), gamers across the globe were introduced to team-based, 3/4 view strategy games. Players take the role of an individual Hero with specific powers and abilities.
With this year’s HotS, Blizzard embraced what began as a mod to Warcraft III, pulling characters from their vast pantheon of games to build what they’ve called a Team Brawler. While League of Legends and DotA 2 are still wildly successful and fun to play, HotS scratches the MOBA itch for anyone who enjoys Blizzard’s stable of characters, while adding a few new mechanics (like team-based experience).
Five-person teams battle each other’s hero characters while simultaneously attempting to take down the opposing team’s Core–their base, if you will. With 45 different heroes from the worlds of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, and even The Lost Vikings, there’s a character for everyone. Combined with 10 active maps featuring unique mechanics, the possibilities are limitless. Such a fun game that consumes most of my current gaming time. If you haven’t checked it out: us.battle.net.
Jules Sherred – The Park
The Park by Funcom was my favorite game of 2015 because it wildly exceeded my expectations. Playable in two hours, The Park is a story-driven psychological horror that is more like a movie to explore, rather than a game. The basic premise of the game is that you lose your child in an amusement park and you need to find them. Of course, there is a lot more to it than that.
Funcom promised that The Park would be emotionally distressing to play. I’m not easily distressed when it comes to the horror genre, so my expectation was that I would find the game interesting without the distress. The Park managed to properly distress me, which I enjoyed, and it is because of this that it exceeded my expectations.
Will James – Fallout 4
I went with the PC version which, fortunately, has already had some patches and bug updates so I’ve not run into some of the issues I’ve heard folks complain about. Fallout 4 has not let me down one bit. From the intense character creator to the crafting to the creatures and places to explore, Fallout 4 is everything I’d hoped for and is my game of the year for 2015.
Michael LeSauvage – Rocket League
To be fair, you could accuse me of recency bias in this choice, given that I discovered Rocket League just last week. In my defense are the more than nine million players who have bought Rocket League since its release in July 2015.
In Rocket League you drive a nitro-powered car in an arena, playing a game of soccer with an oversized ball in five-minute long, 3v3 matches. You race around the arena, launching your car into the ball to hit it into the opposing team’s net. “Launching” is the right word here, as you’re able to jump with your car, and a clever rotation combined with your speed boost will let you hit while airborne, or, alternatively, miss the ball spectacularly.
How fun is this game? My very understanding spouse has turned on closed captioning for her evening TV watching because I can’t stop shouting from excitement. This, despite the fact that it is not a game in my traditional collection of first-person shooters and strategy games. I haven’t enjoyed a game like this in years: the game has a perfection in its duration, speed, physics, graphics, and teamwork that has gotten its hooks in me.
Rocket League comes packed with features. The game supports multiple team sizes and ranked play. There are a number of tutorials and a free-play mode to help you hone your skills. Developer Psyonix has also implemented cross-platform play with the PS4, ensuring you’ll never be short teammates and opponents. (I typically see 80,000 or more concurrent players in the evenings.) There is also a generous variety of vehicle models, paint jobs, and accessories to allow you to customize your car. This is further supplemented by some DLC packs, but nothing in the DLC fragments the community or provides anything other than aesthetic variety.
Rocket League is best played with friends, in local split-screen or online. Steam even sells a four-pack at a 25% discount! Pick it up and have a ball!
Z. – Splatoon
There are, by my estimation, two kinds of people in the world: those who think that Splatoon was easily the best video game of 2015, and those that, I can only assume, have never played Splatoon. This phenomenal squad-based, squid-based shooter is an unlikely Wii U gem with a passionate, international fanbase that is, even now, always ready to throw down in the ink-soaked arena.
To its credit, Nintendo has all but squashed the rampant disconnection errors and lengthy wait times that plagued the early “Global Test Fire” program, and a steady trickle of new content and themed events continues to bolster the strength and enduring charm of the title. With monthly Splatfest competitions, new multiplayer maps, a growing selection of weapons and equipable gear, and even the SplatNet portal for keeping tabs on your stats and to help coordinate play sessions with your friends, Splatoon has easily seen as much continued support and top-shelf DLC as similar first-party heavy-hitters Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros.–all of it free!
Most importantly, though, from its solid (if surreal) single-player narrative to its rapid-fire multiplayer mayhem, it is a new IP that channels every bit of the fun you’d expect from a classic Nintendo property. A true treat for the whole family, whether you’re indulging in a little head-to-head combat or simply cheering on your loved ones from the sidelines, Splatoon ably balances challenge and accessibility–not to mentioned peculiarity and polish–like few games before.
Those are our picks for 2015. What are yours? Feel free to share in the comments below!