‘Tis the season for lists of the “best” (and “worst“) games of the year. But these often aren’t the same games we actually spend the most time playing-even though this is the statistic that arguably matters most in defining the success of a game (besides sales, of course).
We queried remeshed staff and contributors to identify those games that captured most of our gaming time and attention in 2015-even if they were problematic, or weren’t even released this year.
Not all of us played every game on this list, let alone played them all frequently, but to kick off the list, there was one game that was the clear winner among us for most-played game in 2015….
Dragon Age Inquisition
The latest entry in BioWare’s popular action RPG series, Dragon Age Inquisition was the hands-down winner for the game we spent the most time playing, with at least five out of fifteen of us citing this game as their most-played game this year.
“This technically came out in 2014, but I’ve spent the majority of 2015 in the world of Thedas,” says contributor Emily Kelley. “The game can take up to 100 hours to complete—and I played four playthroughs this year.” Contributor Sarah Rodriguez echoed the sentiment, saying “I have at least 400 hours into the game and three playthroughs… and I want to do at least one more! The DLCs added this year gave the game some great closure, while getting me excited for the next game in the series.”
Released with only two months left in the year, Fallout 4 had to work hard to be one of the games we put the most hours into in 2015, but it succeeded. Between building settlements, following side-quests, and completing the actual story, Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic RPG can take up to 200 hours to complete-and some of us are already on our second playthrough.
The 2013 first-person shooter is a personal favorite of mine. Although I spent some time this year playing Black Ops 3 and Advanced Warfare, I always return to Battlefield 4 because of the strategy required, the variety of vehicles and tools available, the emphasis on teamwork, and the variety.
Tired of shooting people? Spend the next match playing as an engineer, carefully planting mines to take down enemy tanks. Bored with that? Dodge missiles while flying an attack helicopter over Dragon Valley, or play as a medic in the close-quarters combat of the Metro and revive as many of your teammates as possible without getting killed. The game’s depth keeps the game fresh, match after match. (The slightly more mature nature of the community helps, too, as you generally have to deal with far less abuse or stupidity on coms.)
Nintendo third-person shooter Splatoon was the darling of the WiiU this year, winning over critics and players with its innovative gameplay, excellent soundtrack, and unique style and presentation. “While I prefer the single-player campaign,” says staff writer Courtney Holmes, “the online multiplayer keeps on being awesome, no matter how many times I play.”
Bungie’s sci-fi first-person shooter Destiny was already a favorite with many players, but the release of The Taken King expansion in September just added to its playability by bringing some much-needed gameplay improvements, as well as new weapons, enemies, and loot, and a tighter storyline.
Sony’s horror game Until Dawn was the sleeper hit of the summer, and I spent hours of time playing and re-playing each episode, trying to keep all eight characters alive. (That annoying fact that you can’t skip cut scenes also contributed to time invested in the game.) While Until Dawn’s depiction of women is problematic, it’s a fun game nonetheless-and that rare single-player game that’s even more fun to play in a group.
What can we say about this uber-popular game that hasn’t already been said? From creating maps to joining co-op gameplay to participating in building challenges, there’s always more to do in Minecraft.
Blizzard’s online free-to-play collectible card game is addictive for many, including our editor Nicole Tanner. The game stays fresh through frequent cosmetic changes via events like The Winter Veil and ongoing gameplay tweaks and improvements like the addition of co-op play.
Life is Strange
Whether we loved Life is Strange, or were frustrated by it, DONTNOD’s episodic story driven game definitely captured our attention. As each new episode was released, we rushed to play out the next part of the story, and then analyze and discuss.
The Sims 4
The Sims 4 had a rocky launch in 2014, but has grown in popularity since then as EA has added new functionality and features through expansion packs like “Get to Work” and “Get Together.” Gameplay stays interesting thanks to extensive community created mods, building and legacy challenges, and the constantly updated gallery of player-made creations to peruse and download.
This remaster of the 2007 historical real-time tactics game Bladestorm: The Hundred Years War has received mixed reviews and has been besieged with technical problems, but it’s found an audience nonetheless. Contributor Jen Allen explains, “Bladestorm Nightmare has demonstrated to me (again) that the Hundred Years War is fertile ground for a gripping strategy game.”