CD Projekt Red (Blood and Wine)
Blood and Wine is more than just an expansion to The Witcher 3. Overhauls to the menu, a completely new location brimming with impossible beauty, and enough content to very well be its own, full-fledged RPG, helped to show why CD Projekt Red is one of the best developers in the business.
Naughty Dog (Uncharted 4)
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End helped to once again prove that Naughty Dog is on a whole other level. Not only is this one of the most impressive looking games to date, but the gripping story and fantastic gameplay help to tie it all up in a beautiful package. Not many developers can consistently put out Game of the Year material, but these guys refuse to be stopped.
From Software (Dark Souls III)
The Souls series is one that has been a target for copycats. It’s like every other week you see a new RPG hoping to be looked at as the next ‘Souls game.’ But while other developers are busy trying to figure out the secret sauce, From Software went ahead and refined it even more, bringing a beautiful close to one of the most challenging series in gaming.
Bethesda (Fallout 4 Expansions)
How does a developer who made one of the biggest games of 2015 manage to be one of the best developers of the following year? By building onto that game and meaningful ways to the point where it has become so much more than it was. Fallout 4 continues to grow, and it only intends to keep doing so.
id Software (Doom)
Not many developers can so easily pull off the mindless fun gorefest that is Doom, but id Software did so with ease. Beautiful visuals, addictive gameplay, and a promise to continue support this breakout hit make id one of the best developers out there right now.
CyberConnect 2 (Naruto, JoJo)
Anime games aren’t always well done. After all, it’s difficult to capture the spirit of a cartoon and translate it to gameplay for players to enjoy to the same degree. Yet CyberConnect2 perfectly captured the look and energy of Naruto and made an amazing fighting game while doing so. Something definitely worthy of recognition.
Blizzard has dominated the MMO scene, has made an incredible MOBA, has a huge trading card game, and now has one of the best shooters around right now. If that’s not the sign of a great developer, then I don’t know what is.
IO Interactive (Hitman)
Changing the direction of a game isn’t easy. It often comes with a lot of confusion and backlash, and how a developer handles all of that can make or break it. IO Interactive has done a great job delivering their vision for an episodic Hitman Game. It’s full of everything fans of the series would expect and very refined.
Insomniac (Ratchet & Clank)
Just when we grew tired of remakes and remasters, Insomniac Games came with one that made us all salivate at its beauty and fun. That’s how you bring a classic back.
Creative Assembly (Total War: Warhammer)
Creative Assembly took Total War and combined it with Warhammer in ways that transformed both but still allowed fans of each respective property to feel right at home. It was a demonstration of talent and planning that isn’t to be overlooked.
Techland (Dying Light: The Following)
Techland surprised everyone with Dying Light in 2015. An open world zombie game with a focus on parkour and verticality wasn’t what anyone had in mind, but it worked wonders. The Following opened the gameplay up even more with larger areas (which had less safe points) and vehicles.
Firaxis Games (XCOM 2)
XCOM was a tough act to follow, but Firaxis games turned the dial up to 11 with a new campaign, new units, deeper strategy and a story that had you wondering what was really right. When a developer manages to successfully follow up a masterpiece, they deserve a bit of praise.
Atlus (Tokyo Mirage Session #FE)
While everyone’s looking forward to next year for Person 5, Atlus is showing the world how JRPGs are done with Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (co-developed by Intelligent Systems). This stunning crossover shows off the versatility and talent needed by a grade a developer.
Intelligen Systems (Fire Emblem: Fates)
Remedy Entertainment (Quantum Break)
Remedy Entertainment took risks with Quantum Break, risks that ultimately payed off in delivering a new approach to games and storytelling.
Campo Santo (Firewatch)
Firewatch is a simple game, one that doesn’t take long to complete and doesn’t bombard the senses with huge set pieces. Yet the amount of feels Campo Santo was able to squeeze into every beautiful screen is unparalleled. They are certainly a developer to keep an eye on.
Thekla Inc. (The Witness) [maybe]
Jonathan Blow could have easily followed up Braid with another platormer with some deep, hard to grasp meaning. Instead he, along with his studio Thekla Inc., created one of the most beautiful puzzle games ever seen. In fact, the game wasn’t just a collection of puzzles, but more of an enigma itself leading many in an attempt to uncover its secrets.