Saturday, December 5, 2015

Best Games of 2015

I am a little early this year, but what the hell, I think I can call it already. Yes, it is time for the highly anticipated "Best games of the Year" post. For a quick recap, feel free to look at the previous years winners and discussion, as I have been doing this for a while now.


Best PC Game 2015 : Fortresscraft Evolved

I'm getting right down to it here, with no suspense. "FCE" for those in the know, could be considered a minecraft clone, at least, that is what I first thought when I purchased it in early access. But really, it is quite a different game to Minecraft, although I think it is every bit as good.

The game is in very active development, and so may in fact change a lot (and get better, or possibly worse). I think so far though the game has improved dramatically with each version, and is a whole lot of fun. The survival has a very fine "just one more thing" level of play which can see you playing for a lot longer than you might have imagined.  

After 150+ hours playing I think I can say : this is a great game! I am a veteran of Minecraft, FTB, MITE and various other custom maps and challenges particularly in survival mode. FCE is similar, but different, to all of these and is centered around your base. You get most of the tools you need from the beginning, and from there it is up to you to build your base around the ore you find, and to automate it. Automation is really cool - you can do things the hard way, yourself, or build a conveyor belt and laser power and it does it all for you! You can just stand there and watch it go, and I often do! After a while you will have to deal with mobs too, so base defenses come into play. There is a tech-tree for you to discover which unlocks a lot more of the game, and the "limits" are not what you are used to - there is no bedrock, you can just keep going and going. Super-dig and build-to-me features are "wow" as is the x-ray vision mode, grappling hook and jetpack.

You might think that after all those hours I have done everything there is to do in this game. Well, I have played out a few worlds but no, I still have plenty of things I want to try.

If you loved Minecraft, but are a little over it and want something similar with a fresh spin, this game may well scratch that itch. 

Runner Up 2015 : Fallout 4

For many gamers, this will be their game of the year, and I think well deserved. I am playing it actively now and after almost 120 hours I still feel like I have only just scratched the surface of what it has to offer. It has some new and interesting mechanics over the previous fallout games, as well as some carry over things. It is somewhat of a mixed bag, as I will explain, but mostly it is great.

I will say that one issue with Fallout is that you might, like I did, be inclined to upgrade your gaming rig just to play this game. For me, this involved a new power supply and video card. For my son, he got a PS4 to upgrade from his PS3, to play this and other games. So this game might be a negative in that it is likely to cost you more than just the sticker price of the game itself!

Without turning this into a full review of the game, or somehow giving out spoilers, I want to say that every gamer should play this game. When Bethesda release a game, and it does not happen that often, it should be a serious contender for purchase even if you only buy one game a year. The other franchise they have is the Elder Scrolls, which with Skyrim shows you the quality of their work. There are similarities in the way these games play too. Only read on further if you don't mind minor spoilers!!!

Anyway, some of the new things that Fallout 4 brings to the table are a junk -> crafting system which enables you to use crap you find to upgrade your weapons, armor and base. This is a system I like as it rewards the slower player who explores all the maps and collects things - which is how I play. If you are a twitchy run-and-gun then you would probably find this boring/unnecessary. I am constantly getting to a full inventory, but with the power armor, as well as the armor "pocket" upgrades, you can still carry a bunch of stuff.

Then there is a the whole base-building mechanism that is new. This allows you to scrap in-world objects for resources and instantly build new things, such as buildings, furniture, defenses. It is a whole optional mini-game in itself really.  In practice, you need to do this to build up settlements. Is Fallout trying to be, gasp, some sort of Minecraft clone too? Well, I don't think so, but it is a step in the direction of world building / crafting in the Fallout world, rather than just killing everything in sight. It took a while to get the SPECIAL points in Charisma enough to get the "local leader" perk to fully use this mechanism, and I am still working out how it all works. Overall though, I like it and it enables you to become more of a community builder rather than just a lone gunman. Not everyone will groove to this though.

Not played, but possibly very good : Witcher III
I just wanted to mention that this game looks good to me, but I have not played it so I can't really comment.

Best iOS Game : None!
I really have not been taken by any game in particular this year on the iPhone. PvZ v1 is still a go-to game if I have 10 minutes to kill. Note that the original PAID version does not work well on the latest iOS or larger screens sizes BUT the PvZ "free" version DOES work perfectly.  Put up with the ads, or pay the fee, and play it with this app. I played once through again just to get access to the "It's raining seeds" minigame which is my clear favorite.