With every year that passes there are many events that either shake up the world of gaming or go by completely unnoticed. These are the things that make a year memorable (for better or for worse) and become the callbacks to years long gone. 2015 happened to be a rather exceptional year with more than its fair share of moments and announcements that lifted it above and beyond and made for one truly great 12 months.
Even when compared to the greatness that was 2013, 2015 shines with ease. Why, you ask? Let’s take a look at the numerous reasons right now.
Devs Listen, Fans Win
It’s not every so often that you get to see a game completely overhauled due to the requests of fans. But when it does happen it is a truly great thing. This year saw two very powerful instances of developers listening to their fan bases and making really great experiences from the feedback. We got Destiny: The Taken King and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
For many, it’s easy to write off Destiny. The game came on the wings of lofty promises and yet none were fulfilled, not at first at least. But 2015 turned out to be the proving grounds for Bungie and its newest game. After tons of feedback the team released The Taken King which not only came with the game’s best expansion to date, but also transformed the game as a whole. Loot, vault space, exotics, missions structure, and combat were revamped and fans got a lot of what they’d been asking for over the months since the game’s release.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate came up after the poorly received Unity. Fans were fed up with the fluctuating quality of recent series entries, and were also tired of the cookie cutter protagonists. Taking in a bunch of feedback and adding some much needed creativity led to what is easily one of the best games of both 2015 and the series.
It’s amazing what can happen when a team takes the time to listen to the people it’s creating for. Not too shabby at all.
Games! Games! Games!
Every year you get someone saying: “this year had the absolute best games ever!” And while many times it’s hyperbole, there are times when the year just legitimately had some really amazing games that will be remembered. 2015 started off strong with Dying Light and just kept on going until there were more Game of the Year contenders than the previous years of the decade could have hoped to produce. And the contenders came in all forms.
Action games, sports games, shooters, indies, RPGs, amazing expansions, adventure games, you name it and 2015 had it. Games like Bloodborne, The Witcher 3, Rocket League, Life is Strange, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and MGS V kept the months rolling with hit after hit. Splatoon reimagined competitive shooters with its fresh take on team-based warfare, and Super Mario Maker let players create their own levels in one of gaming’s most beloved franchises. Every platform had great exclusives, and third parties really kicked it up a notch as new IPs and fantastic sequels hit store shelves.
There was a single month that went by leaving a hole. While some months certainly had more games than others, each one delivered something to keep players invested as they awaited the next highly anticipated release on the horizon. The year was so good in fact that the inevitable delays of the year couldn’t even put a major damper on anything. Sure we lost The Legend of Zelda Wii U and Quantum Break to the void that is 2016, but everything we did get to experience was stellar.
By now it should be no surprise that the Xbox One didn’t have the most amazing 2014. After spending a year redefining what the box was for, and changing a message that rubbed pretty much everyone the wrong way, the green machine needed to return to fighting form. That’s what 2015 was about, and the team lead by Phil Spencer succeeded quite well.
A dedication to games and keeping gamers in on the conversation led to a huge turnaround that not many saw coming. A stream of great games had a lot to do with it, but most credit should be given to some solid showings at major events throughout the year, particularly E3 and Gamescom 2015. It was revealed that the Xbox would become backwards compatible with certain 360 disks and digital titles, and the company was allowed to show off a chain of stunning upcoming exclusives. With nobody to stand against them at Gamescom, they were able to make one thing clear without any noise to drown them out: they were for the gamers.
This isn’t just great for fans of Microsoft’s home console, but for all gamers. Team Xbox pulling it together means that no other company can rest on their laurels. It’s a strong competition once again, so they’ll have to work hard for your money. That means better deals, better content, and companies that listen. Who can argue with any of that?
VR has been thrown around a lot over the past couple of years, and while it seemed cool it didn’t look as if it would be a tangible reality for the average consumer any time soon. Yet, a bunch of other companies deciding to throw their hats into the growing space means that the future is a lot closer than it was a year ago. Sony for starters have gone absolutely HAM with pushing PlayStation VR and getting games made for the upcoming peripheral. What was once a toy for devs, YouTubers, and those willing to fork up exorbitant amounts of cash is now coming to the masses at a still high but much more manageable price.
This opens up a lot of possibilities for some of the most anticipated titles of the future. Sports games, racing games (looking at you Grand Tursimo), and No Man’s Sky could all offer much grander experiences through VR. And, because of the strong push this year, we may actually be able to see what that looks like.
Dreams Do Come True
Coming into 2015 there were a lot of games on many wishlists out there. Games that you just couldn’t help but believe would never happen. It’s not because they were bad ideas or anything, in fact these were the prospective creme de la creme. A remake to outdo all other remakes, sequels that needed to happen, and new IPs that showed hope but then vanished into thin air. Just when everyone had finally given up on so many of these the gaming industry, 2015 had to go and happen.
The Last Guardian, Shenmue III, Psychonauts 2, NieR Automata, and Final Fantasy VII Remake were all games that were confirmed to be in development after being desired for years. Three of these happened to be on the exact same stage within the span of an hour, can you say mind blown? Sure, Half Life 3 is still somewhere out in space, but after a year like 2015 where the gaming fairies decided to drop all of their pixie dust at once any is possible for the future.
Kojima is Free
After a rather public falling out between Kojima and Konami everyone was in awe at how weirdly low Konami was willing to go when dealing with their most famed developer. After the whole fiasco that went down at The Game Awards many were waiting with bated breath for his official departure from the company and to see what he would do next. Being the man that he is, he wasted no time getting everyone excited.
Kojima immediately founded his own studio and made a deal with Sony for a brand new franchise. The genius is free to work on whatever he wants, and it will be interesting to see what he’s capable of when not bogged down by a contract. It was a rough year with a bright end.
The Future is Bright
It took some time but the big three finally have big wheels in motion as they move their companies into the future. The PlayStation 4 has a solid foundation and with VR hitting in the near future we will see some amazing things. Microsoft has kicked off its chain of big exclusives, and with constant changes to both the Xbox and its ecosystem we can only expect greatness. Nintendo has suffered a bit, but they seem to once again on the cusp of innovation. It’s never been a better time to be a gamer, and the recent releases and ideas that have permeated the industry are proof of that.
2015 was an awakening of sorts. Everyone and everything is finding its place, and these are all good things. I’ve a feeling that as great as this year has been it was only a taste of what’s to come. What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.