The Best Gaming of the Year
This year, massive worlds from the wastelands of Fallout 4 to narratively focused smaller titles like Her Story populated the gaming landscape. From the paint-spilled shooting of Splatoon to the return of Metal Gear Solid to another trip to Gotham, check out EW’s favorite games of 2015.
BEST: 10. Axiom Verge (Mac, PC, PS4)
In this love letter to Super Metroid, the retro graphics even include glitches, but Axiom Verge’s postmodern twist is that they’re intentional and can be manipulated to discover secrets. Getting lost hasn’t been this entrancing since 1994. —Aaron Morales
BEST: 9. Bloodborne (PS4)
Dark Souls mastermind Hidetaka Miyazaki’s latest is another difficult-core nightmare. This time, he gives you a gun; it never has enough ammo. But there’s an exuberant kick to the masochism. You haven’t truly lived until you die a hundred times just to finally kill one big monster. —Darren Franich
BEST: 8. Batman: Arkham Knight (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
In the gloriously loopy capper to Rocksteady’s trilogy, zeppelins park over skyscrapers, giant plants crash upward through Gotham’s streets, and Batman can’t get the Joker out of his head. Oh, and for stealth missions, you drive a tank. A wild, reckless, overstuffed delight. —Darren Franich
BEST: 7. Fallout 4 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Bethesda Software’s return to the wasteland brings welcome alterations. The engaging world is a joy to explore, and additions like the Minecraft-styled base building and new stories to follow make it easy to lose a few (dozen) hours. —Jonathon Dornbush
BEST: 6. Super Mario Maker (Wii U)
Nintendo made level creation fun in this DIY celebration, but what’s most interesting is the way creators can subvert our expectations of how the Mario universe functions, forcing players to adapt after decades of training and proving that Mario can surprise us even 30 years later. —Aaron Morales
BEST: 5. Tales from the Borderlands (Multiplatform)
Unlikely partners-in-crime Rhys and Fiona hunt for a valuable vault, confronting their pasts and becoming friends along the way in Telltale’s best episodic series yet. Hilarious, heartwarming, and delightfully dirty, this ride to the world of Pandora is well worth catching. —Jonathon Dornbush
BEST: 4. Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One, Xbox 360)
Crystal Dynamics put the tombs back in Tomb Raider — in all their awe-inspiring, mind-boggling, physics-based puzzling glory — and restored the epic scale and sense of wonder to deliver Lara Croft’s grandest, most ambitious adventure yet. Your move, Nathan Drake. —Aaron Morales
BEST: 3. Her Story (iOS, MAC, PC)
Her Story transforms the seemingly ho-hum task of flipping through police video records on an old computer into a fascinating hunt for the answers to an enthralling mystery. Viva Seifert’s performance anchors that search, revealing a story that sticks with the player long after the PC light fades. —Jonathon Dornbush
BEST: 2. Splatoon (Wii U)
Nintendo’s fresh take on the competitive shooter is all about surf and turf. You control an inkling — a kid who can transform into a squid — and paint the town red (and orange and green and pink), surfing in the ink and making a mess in order to color the most turf and win. Splatoon is about as different from other online shooters as you can get, and consequently, it’s the best one of the year. —Aaron Morales
BEST: 1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Multiplatform)
We used to talk about “The Citizen Kane of Video Games.” Maybe we’ll get it someday. But in 2015 we finally saw the Apocalypse Now of videogames. Director Hideo Kojima spent 28 years making Metal Gear games, and still nothing could prepare you for this. Massive open-world war zones become choose-your-own-morality tactical toy boxes. No one does madcap flourishes like Kojima: the junk-pop ’80s soundtrack, the piece of forehead shrapnel that juts outward like a devil’s horn, the Zorro-masked burn-victim supervillain named Skull Face. As hero soldier Snake, Kiefer Sutherland mo-caps stone-faced melancholy and grunts soap operatic dialogue into pulp poetry. Years late and miles over budget, the game reportedly got Kojima red from eternal benefactor Konami. So Phantom Pain stands as monument to everything that videogames’ unhinged auteur loved — and a Viking funeral for everything that his era represented. —Darren Franich
WORST: 3. The Order: 1886
Sony’s big exclusive wasn’t bad because it’s a shoddy piece of work — it’s just a massively disappointing, and surprisingly passive, one.
WORST: 2. Godzilla
Remember the 1998 Roland Emmerich flick? This was a bigger disaster.
WORST: 1. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5
A buggy, empty blight on the series that feels more like a name cash-in than the reverent and exciting throwback it should have been.