2015 Gaming Year in Review

Inspired by the spirit of new year’s eve and Belghast’s excellent Gantt chart of gaming, here’s my own 2015 gaming year in review. Not having a consistent MMO home for the year resulted in a huge amount of jumping about between titles; so let’s start with a grand list:

(Almost) every game I can remember playing this year

  • Alien: Isolation
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Clicker Heroes
  • Cookie Clicker
  • Crossy Road
  • Crypt of the Necrodancer
  • Dark Souls
  • Diablo 3
  • Dragon Age: Origins
  • EVE Online
  • Fantasy Life
  • Final Fantasy V
  • Final Fantasy VIII
  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Hammerwatch
  • Hotline Miami
  • LA Noire
  • League of Legends
  • Minecraft
  • Papers, Please
  • Path of Exile
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Pokémon Omega Ruby
  • Quadrus
  • Risk of Rain
  • Shop Heroes
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization V
  • Spout
  • Terra Battle
  • Terraria
  • Torchlight II
  • Trove
  • World of Warcraft

…that’s a lot of games, so let’s just talk a bit about the ones that made the most impact on my year and hand out some fake awards. In no particular order:

Best MMO that’s really a lifestyle choice: EVE Online

2014.11.02.13.25.26

Playing EVE isn’t like playing a regular MMO. It’s like being part of something bigger. In the words of CCP Seagull:

I have this view on EVE as the world’s largest living work of science fiction […] That’s what we’re trying to do in the world now – really make sure that EVE is coherent, ambitious, beautiful.

I spent a lot of time playing and emailing and tweeting and writing about EVE this year, and I’ll no doubt go back to it at some point. My sturdy Minmatar industrialist has done mining and production, PvE and PvP, lived in nullsec and wormhole space, and there’s always more to explore out there. EVE is a gorgeous, complex, living game.

Most time spent building obscene fertility idols: Minecraft

Screenshot 2015-10-17 18.01.57

Earlier this year I set up a private Minecraft server so that Kateri, her nephew and I could all play together in a shared space, and it’s been brilliant; some of my best gaming time this year. We’ve built farms and castles and road infrastructure and it’s been a wonderful way of connecting. Yesterday, we all got together over Hangouts and defeated the Ender Dragon together, which was wonderful.

Lifelong Love Affair with a Franchise Award: Final Fantasy and the Four Job Fiesta

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One of my favourite gaming projects of the year was taking part in the Four Job Fiesta, a charity playthrough of Final Fantasy V using only randomly assigned jobs. I got a pretty decent a selection — Knight, Summoner, Bard, Samurai — and raised $100 for Child’s Play while playing an entry in the series I’d never experienced before. I’ll definitely be doing it again next year.

I also played a decent amount of Final Fantasy XIV; but later in the year I made the switch from a PC to a Mac laptop, and until the Mac native client is rewritten and released, that’s necessarily gone onto the back burner. Still, it’s a great theme park MMO, and I’d be happy to get back to it some day.

Gold Award for Most Fun Smashing Things in the Face, Over and Over Again: Diablo III (and Torchlight II)

Screenshot 2015-08-30 23.17.08

Diablo III really is my evergreen game of choice, and I got back into it in a big way this year. I started playing in the seasons, and started playing Hardcore characters. I learnt a lot about the Witch Doctor, and I’ve pushed myself further through it than ever before.

The new Season’s Journey interface has been a big help for me learning how to tackle the end game, and season four saw me reaching a personal best of Greater Rift 38 and running bounties on Torment VII. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can reach GR40 and beyond in the new season.

Kateri and I have also been playing Torchlight II, and having a lot of fun smashing things up together as (differently built) engineers. I feel like Torchlight is a really solid entry to the action-roguelike genre, but… it doesn’t compare favourably to Diablo III. There’s too many things missing or unrefined, but it’s still undeniably fun to clear dungeon maps together, causing ridiculous explosions of flame, monster guts, and loot.

Slightly Disappointing “Too Many To Mention” Awards for the Also-Ran Games

  • Trove is a great little MMO-lite mashup of Minecraft, Diablo and the Lego universe games, and well worth a look; I had a lot of fun smashing cute monsters and building my cornerstone base.
  • Alien: Isolation played in the dark and with headphones is so tense and scary I could only manage it for a few hours at a time.
  • I bought a Nintendo 3DS basically just to play Pokémon Omega Ruby and it was great, except I really couldn’t get into the habit of keeping the 3DS on me. I’m going to play more emulated old handheld games on my phone next year.
  • Guild Wars 2 was fun while it lasted. If you just look at its features on paper, it should be a game I really love, but yet again it failed to grab me for any length of time. Really pretty, though.

Gaming in 2016

As well as having Diablo III’s fifth season to look forward to, Kateri very kindly bought me two games this Christmas that I’m eager to dig into: Crypt of the Necrodancer and Pillars of Eternity.

Necrodancer seems like a really fun game to play in small bursts, and I’m hoping I’ll develop a good enough sense of rhythm to actually finish it. If not, I’ll just listen to the Shopkeeper sing for hours and be happy with that!

Pillars of Eternity is a game I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, a kind of modern spiritual successor to the Baldur’s Gate series. I’ve already played a few hours and it seems like it’s going to be something that sucks me in for a long time. It looks great, the plot is brilliantly written, and the combat is tricky and tactical and very satisfying when you pull off a perfectly executed plan. I want to start over sometime in the new year and blog and screenshot my way through the campaign.

In conclusion

Games. I played a lot of them this year, and most of them were pretty good! Between seasonal Diablo III and Pillars of Eternity, I’ll probably play fewer titles next year, but who knows? Let’s just have fun in 2016.

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