Some games come out of nowhere and completely surprise us with just how good they are right from the start. Typically these games come from the Indie sector as most triple A games are hyped to all hell before release just in case one lad in Cheshire doesn’t know about them yet. Today’s winner was just such an indie game which stunned us all by being really fun and that game is Rocket League!
Coming out in July this year, Rocket League immediately found an audience when it was given away as part of the PlayStation + monthly giveaway to members. Almost overnight Rocket League become the game people were playing with their friends and solo, always trying to pull off ever more impressive goals (Or just ramming into everyone you could.)
I myself found that I enjoyed Rocket League enough to keep playing for a couple of weeks, always trying to improve my skills as a goalkeeper (I was shit to begin with and I remain shit to this day)
The thing that most surprised me about Rocket League was just how big a hit it became from out of nowhere. Such a level of success for what I believe to be a relatively small developer would have been almost unimaginable for any single player game, but thanks to the chaotic multiplayer and the leg up this game received from PS+ this game has been one of 2015 most surprising hits.
Every year there are one or two games that I’m recommended by someone whose taste I trust that turn out to be pretty damn fantastic. Today’s winner of the “Biggest Surprise of the Year” goes to a game which I had all but written off as a daft idea but which I was persuaded to try out and by Jove am I happy I did because this game is fantastic.
Tales From the Borderlands was the other series that Telltale ran over this last year and it’s perhaps the polar opposite of the rather tepid mehfest that was Game of Thrones. Tales From the Borderlands took a world and setting that I had never really cared for and transmuted it into one of the most fun and unique sci-fi universes out there. With characters who I actually cared about and who I loved spending time with.
And the most surprising part of the whole package: It was bloody hilarious. Now the borderlands setting has always attempted humour, but it’s always been a slightly off-putting brand internet ready meme-baiting, where there was a clearly a hope that every punch line would become a T-shirt slogan. But here in Tales, the humour worked perfectly, using the absurdity of the games world and creating something hysterically funny.
The reason this game was such a big surprise to me was that I had no interest in playing anymore Borderlands games. The series shooter titles are extremely dull and repetitive to me* so having this world made accessible to me by creating an interesting narrative was exactly what I needed/wanted to be curious about another Borderlands game (Which there will be after Battleborn flops on release)
*Yes, I know this series has acted as a wonderful way for couples to bond together, so maybe I should go find someone to love then get them to play with me…… See what I did there?
This Award should have gone up on the 13th, but I had been away for most of the day and didn’t have the energy to put it up so enjoy today’s 2 for 1
As someone who does his best to keep abreast of all the most recent gaming news, trailers and release I’m prone to getting excited about things that I won’t be playing for a long time. This gives this excitement time to gestate within me until it reaches the point that the real thing couldn’t possibly live up to the idea in my head and very often I’m left a little disappointed by the finished product.
Today’s winner is then is a game whose very premise and creator had me salivating for its release and as time went by I found I just couldn’t bring myself to love it as I had hoped – So the winner is Telltale’s Game Of Thrones Series.
Yes, the first episode of this game was released in 2014, but the vast majority of it played out through 2015 so I’m classing it as a 2015 game so fully eligible. Over the last few year’s Telltale brought them up from relative obscurity into one of the best known Indie developers out there thanks to their wonderful story driven games such as the Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us. These games showed the world that Telltale could take well known and established IPs and make their own mark in a way that was often just as compelling as the source material.
So when it was announced that they were to be making a game sent in the world of GRR Martin’s Game of Thrones (Yes, I know it’s called a Song of Ice and Fire) I was pumped to see what such a creative force could do.
Unfortunately, what they turned out in their first season was a bit of a dry retreading of the life and times of the Stark family, but with the added issue that nothing they did had any effect on the rest of the world. Writing a compelling, new and engaging story in the world where the rules and events are so strict was always going to be a challenge and it’s one I’m not sure that Telltale were ready for. A sequel to this series has been confirmed and with more time to craft their own unique stories in Westeros I think they could do some great things in the future, it’s just that they didn’t deliver this time round.
Ok, let’s get one thing straight. I am a petty little man when it comes to many things in this life. This includes my relationships, my career and of course, video games. Most of the time I exercise these little issues on Twitter, but there is one so incredibly petty and stupid that I’ve had bottled up inside for some time that I’ve been waiting to unload upon you all for some time now and it is this;
In Fallout 4, I can’t see the gun I have equipped on my character’s back when in the third person view point and this really annoys me.
The root of this issues comes from my days in Fallout 3/New Vegas. When it came to how my character looked I was incredibly particular. I wore sub-optimal suits of armour if I liked how they looked, favoured the games many rifle weapons because I think there is something rather iconic about bolt action rifles such as the M1 Grand and Lee-Enfield. From time to time I would pull the camera out to look over how the gun hung on my characters back and I would smile as my character would cut the classic lone wander figure so perfectly.
Damn does that look good.
But in Fallout 4 when I pull out from the 1st person view I am greeted by
Is this petty? Is this a stupid critism of an otherwise good game? Yes but that doesn’t stop it annoying me a little too much.
As a rule, I’m generally a single player sort of guy. I give many multiplayer only games such as Star Wars Battlefront and Evolve a wide birth thanks to my internet connection on my PS4 being a bit shitty and those games typically being too demanding on my mid-range PC. There are however a handful of multiplayer only titles that have caught my interest and today’s winner is one game that has had me playing it on a near daily basis for the last six months.
Heroes of the Storm is one of this MOBA game that all the kids and South Koreans love these days. Using heroes and villains from Blizzards huge roster of characters from many several IPs, the game is perhaps the most newb-friendly MOBA on the market and considering it’s free to play that’s all the more reason to pick it up.
The game differs from most MOBA games in how it has a range of different maps, each with unique objectives which help keep each match fresh. Instead of having you push three lanes as you would in say DOTA, you can complete objectives such as capture a point on the map or collect three orbs which appear and these will give your team an advantage in the fight.
It’s these objectives that help create organic team fights and situations where everyone on the team gets stuck in and has a whale of a time. I’ve been playing since it’s official release and the moment I stop writing this I’ll probably go play some more.
*Have just started playing Helldivers on the PC and I’m starting to love that. Could have been a contender if I had had more time with it.
In any year, it can be easy to forget what has and hasn’t come out that year, particularly in a year such as 2015 when there have been so many big name titles being released. A few days ago I awarded Dying Light the dubious honour of the “Remember this Game” Award. The award itself is a tongue in cheek way of reminding you that yes Dying Light did come out this year and yes that it was kind of great. Today’s Award goes to the other side of the coin, the game that came out this year that the world promptly forgot about after only a few days of its release.
And The Winner is…..Evolve For being so gosh darn forgettable.
As a game Evolve had a novel concept to it, teams of 4 human characters fighting against one human-controlled monster who would slowly evolve to be bigger, better and more badass. The game was clearly going for a modern Giant Citizen Kubato like vibe but failed on almost every level to achieve any grip on the gaming public.
Unfortunately, this core concept was mired in DLC based nonsense that so confused the living shit out of anyone interested enough to play it that the world quickly decided “You know what, I’ll wait for a sale or something” Unable as it was to get people playing it in a big way, this game quickly fell off the collective gaming radar. In fact you had completely forgotten this game existed until I just reminded you with this Award post.
It’s the Bloody Baron Quest line from the Witcher 3! What other quest lines this year was going to bloody win? Seriously, which!???? Answer me, coward.
Sure as shit not going to be anything Fallout 4 could muster, I hope I never see bloody Shaun again!
So yeah, the Bloody Baron Questline in Witcher 3 has some of the best writing and characterization that I’ve seen from any game ever. This one quest is worth the price of the entire game in how it takes you on a journey with a man who by all rights you should hate from the start when you learn of what’s he’s done.
But you can’t hate him, not really.
As you discover the truth of what has occurred and how it weighs on him you want to help this man. I never cared about Geralt finding Ciri or shacking up with one of two witches. I care about trying to help a foolish man find some sort of redemption for the things he’s done.
Yesterday we praised originality, but today was praise iteration in the form of Best Sequel of the year. Of all the “serious” categories, this one is perhaps the hardest to judge thanks to just how many sequels to long-running series have come out in the last 12 months.
When it comes to what makes a good sequel I’m looking for innovation, something that feels fresh and new but has a reassuringly familiar quality. Despite that second part criteria, the winner of this award is part of a long-running series of which I had never played until picking up this particular game.
The winner is, of course, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.
To say I’d never played a game in this series is a bit wrong, I did try Ground Zeroes but without any knowledge of the series I was quickly confused and unable to get into the game. With Phantom Pain though the game guided me slowly through all it’s various systems and before long I was big-bossing around the place like a pro. As a none MGS fan, I could have been put off by the amount of lore dumping the game does but instead the game handles its wider story in a way that never confused me (Ok some parts did confuse me a little)
The gameplay is a thing of beauty that fills every moment with possibilities and different courses of action to take. Plus it has D-Dog who is amazing in every way possible.
Other contenders for this award were Witcher 3 which actually got me interested in the Lore of the Witcher, although not enough to actually finish the game. Batman: Arkham Knight was also a contender, as was Fallout 4 but neither really showed that much innovation in terms of new gameplay to merit winning (Don’t look at me like that Batmobile)