2015 was an interesting year for gaming. While some people saw it as the year that current generation consoles finally became worth their salt (looking directly at you, Xbox One), there were plenty of compelling titles for both console owners and PC gamers.
Whether you’re a fan of the major AAA titles you know and love, or would rather devote your time to new and interesting indie titles, 2015 had a little for everyone.
In alphabetical order, here are our 15 picks to sink your teeth into.
Through its ‘Arkham’ games, developer Rocksteady created a mythos that manages to meld the many universes of Batman — the comics, the animated series, the former Tim Burton films and the more recent Christopher Nolan films — into one coherent, deeply unsettling mood.
The fourth installment follows Batman as he chases down Gotham fear terrorist Scarecrow. The plot and puzzles are good enough to satisfy any discerning player, and the continued DLC featuring some of the biggest names from the comics make it a game worth coming back to.
Do you hate yourself? Then ‘Bloodborne’ is the game for you!
This PlayStation exclusive is full of the merciless gameplay gamers have come to expect from developers FromSoftware, instigating controller-throwing rage fits at frequent intervals. However, its difficulty doesn’t dampen its enjoyment — the sheer horror of finding out what’s lurking around the corner or the adrenaline rush from a last-minute dodge. A developer favorite and a game unparalleled in its challenge, ‘Bloodborne’ also packs a satisfying reward and eternal gamer street cred for those bold enough to beat it.
Okay, yes, this isn’t a full game released in 2015 like the rest of the titles on this list. But one could make a very sound argument that the major expansion to Bungie’s 2014 ‘Destiny’ was the glue that finally brought the entire game together.
With tougher enemies, more strategy, smoother progression and a host of clean-ups overall, ‘The Taken King’ is a full expression of how good ‘Destiny’ can be.
Packing enough excitement to woo even those who had tired of the games mechanics, this DLC shows that it’s never too late to polish a game up and make it what it ought to be.
There isn’t a lot about the latest installment Bethesda’s post apocalyptic open-world odyssey that hasn’t already been said throughout most of the fall.
Sure, you have to sometimes forgive the glitches and the spottiness of the game’s bombed-out Boston, but what’s left is a compelling game that does its best to give players multiple ways of approaching each situation.
You can go in with guns a-blazing, but the strapped resources and later consequences might dissuade you from doing so. That’s what has made so many fall in love with ‘Fallout’: you can always choose what you want to do, and experience unique repercussions.
I stayed up until 2am with a notebook in had, scrawling down the one-sided testimony of a young woman whose husband had gone missing. Crawling through tape after tape, trying to figure out the next keyword so I could unlock a new video and figure out what the hell is going on, and how it all happened.
You’ll never find the answers you really want in FMV indie ‘Her Story,’ and no amount of diligent searching will give you closure. But the game’s low barrier to entry and general unease make it surprisingly compelling — even if it’s so difficult to know who is really telling you the truth.
The sequel to the 2012 hyper-violent, hair-trigger action shooter doesn’t stray much from its precedessor: you’ll still be mowing down faceless henchmen with your chosen weapon, spraying their candy-colored blood across neon pavement in time with the pulsing techno beats of the game’s excellent soundtrack.
But in doing so, it also pokes so perfectly at the monsters we become as we consume violence and power fantasies, turning us into maniacal, gore-hungry fiends. And so, ‘Hotline Miami 2’ is as much about the meta-game and how you feel walking away from the violence as it is about punching a dude’s face to death.
The reason that so many laud this episodic venture from French developers DontNod entertainment is how the choices you make ripple forward. Protagonist Max seems like your average whiny teenager, but when she is thrust into drama throughout each episode, her choices are presented with care.
The artful use of the butterfly effect means that the superficially right choice may twist into becoming a very, very wrong one, and serve to further complicate Max’s intentions. While it doesn’t execute everything perfectly — players might be put off by the grating dubbing or particularly nitpicky stealth scenarios — the compelling story that unfolds makes ‘Life is Strange’ a dark, absorbing tale.
For every piece of familiarity found within Konami’s stealth action shooter, ‘Metal Gear Solid V’ serves you a surprising new twist on the mechanics you know and love. Abandoning the enclosed spaces and encampments of previous games for an open world, the game often incentivizes going in with guns a-blazing.
But it remains counter-intuitive to the overall mission of building your very own army. With a brutal story and plenty of ways to play, this game was a repeated favorite among TNW staff.
The effortless platforming found in this Moon Studios game is really a function of the game’s precise controls: bounding through the forest as Ori is both art and technique, which the game has both in spades.
Difficult, but not brutally so, the game has plenty of personality and beauty at every turn, so there’s plenty to keep you driving forward until the end.
‘Ori & The Blind Forest’ is a great win for Microsoft, and a must-have for any Xbox One owner.
Since the reboot of the story of Lara Croft in 2013, developer Crystal Dynamics has tried to craft an empowering adventure that actually makes the heroine at the center of it very human.
Now that Lara’s backstory has been cemented, ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ gets back to the classic stuff: navigating treacherous caverns in search of mystical treasures.
The world is open but there’s a linear progression to keep the story on pace, and the puzzles and action are well balanced. Xbox gamers will have a full year exclusive with this one, so Playstation owners will have to stay patient.
It’s weird to think that one of the most runaway indie successes is basically just car soccer, but ‘Rocket League’ is that and so much more. Although the goals are straightforward — hit the ball, score the points, win the game — there’s a surprisingly deep (and super fun) metagame around competitive play.
Although you can play one on one, this one is always better with friends — and don’t be surprised if you spend at least part of the game laughing so hard you can’t breathe.
Splatoon is somewhat of an astounding rarity: who knew that the next big iteration on first person shooting would come from Nintendo?
The gameplay is fun to pick up and easy to learn, making even FPS newcomers enjoy the fast-paced online matches. As long as Nintendo continues to provide great support, ‘Splatoon’ could be a long-term fan favorite.
While you could say that this is the year’s best Mario game, it would deeply undermine the unbounded creativity locked within ‘Super Mario Maker.’
For any kid (or full-grown adult, no judgement) who has imagined their very own Mario level, Nintendo gives players a bevy of tools to make it happen, and more.
Providing support for four different Mario game styles, as well as many stages, ‘Super Mario Maker’ is a powerful tool and a great time.
Geralt is back, and just as badass as you want him to be. Traversing the Northern Kingdoms to take out contracts, stab some baddies and work out conflicts both internal and external.
The beauty of the scenery found within the open world is often juxtaposed with the brutality of Geralt’s everyday life and those found within the towns he visits.
There’s a lot of violence and drama to be had, so don’t be surprised when this game sucks you up for hundreds of hours.
Although by the very nature of its existence on mobile, ‘You Must Build a Boat’ is supposed to be casual. Trust me when I say it is not: once you get started playing this match-three RPG that beckons you to enter scary dungeons and fight all manner of monsters, you won’t be able to stop.
Developer EightEight Games has somehow filled the act of matching three icons with depth and strategy, and this game is perfect to play on the go. And you will miss your train stop because of it.