This week we're asking you to think back to the end of last year, when we asked you to pick your favorite game of 2014. Of course, not all of you might have answered that question specifically, but we're pretty sure that all of you had a "best game" of last year.
Now that you've had six months to look back on 2014, do you still stand by your choice, or has it changed? If it's still your pick of the year, what is it about the game that has stood the test of time? If it has indeed changed, what game is it now, and what was it that made you switch?
That's what's up for discussion this week, as we revisit our choice and decide whether or not it still deserves our personal "game of the year" award. And if you didn't pick a best game of last year - here's your chance to do so! Here's what the USgamer team has to say about the games they nominated as their favorites of last year.
I nominated Forza Horizon 2 as my Game of 2014, and the big reason for that was because at the time, I was playing it very heavily. However, not long into January I stopped playing the game and haven't really been back since, apart from occasionally tooling around, finishing up the Challenges, and buying a few cars here and there to complete my collection. I still stand by it as a phenomenal game, and one of the best arcade racers of all time, but if I'm going to be honest about it, I've spent a lot more of my time playing Hearthstone.
The trouble is that I wasn't really playing Hearthstone that much towards the end of last year. I'd put a lot of time into it during the middle of 2014, but once the end-of-year software rush happened, I ended up shelving it for all the shiny new stuff that came out, and I completely overlooked it when it came to my game of the year nomination.
So yeah. Retrospectively, I think Hearthstone should really be my Game of 2014, with Forza Horizon 2 as a close runner-up. Hearthstone is such a brilliant game, and one that really supports long-term play. Certainly more than Forza Horizon 2 does. Mind you, the way things are going, I could well end up nominating Hearthstone as my game of this year. I've played it more than any other game - I'm definitely ahead of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare at this point - and I can only imagine I'll play it even more when the new expansion comes out next month.
Yep. I really am a hardcore Hearthstone addict, so don't be surprised if I'm talking about if just as enthusiastically at the end of this year as I am now. Assuming I don't forget about it when this year's holiday software rush happens...
It's weird, because with distance you don't think about what adds up to the best game, you think about what game you still want to keep playing. I still think that Dragon Age: Inquisition is amazing, with good characters, great vistas, and solid tale. The problem is once I finished my version of the game's plot, I was done. I'll definitely play the next Dragon Age day-one, but if I had to pick a game that I continue to come back to, I'd have to go with Shadow of Mordor. Something about this Middle-Earth spin-off keeps drawing me back in for the occasional play.
Do I play it every day? Nope. Not even once a week. Despite that, Shadow of Mordor occupies the dark recesses of my mind. When I have a free moment in-between review and preview titles, I find myself wanting to play a bit of Shadow of Mordor. I had a similar experience with Just Cause 2 and Saints Row: The Third/IV. Was it pound-for-pound, the best of the year? Maybe not, but the constant draw is real.
Shadow of Mordor was a better Assassin's Creed than 2014's Assassin's Creed. Talion alternatively feels powerful and stealthy; I can run with swords drawn or pick off orcs one-by-one, it's just a matter of what I feel like doing. If I have some steam to blow off, running into a stronghold is a good way to pull in tons of enemies to work out my frustration on. The Nemesis System also ensures I always have something new to stab. Yes, you'll start to see patterns here and there, but otherwise the system is really good at keeping things fresh.
So, good job, Monolith. I didn't expect anything from your game and here I am at wishing I could play it more. That's probably the best recommendation I can give.
Nope! My Game of the Year in 2014 was Dragon Age: Inquisition, which was a much better game than most people gave it credit for (seriously, the weird hate that has developed for DA: I is much too strong). I chose it because it was an attractive, comparatively bug-free open-world game with startlingly beautiful vistas, some really great setpiece quests, a solid cast of characters, and lots to do. I still happily rate it in my Top 10 for 2014. But Game of the Year? No, probably not.
No, my retroactive Game of the Year is Shovel Knight, which is now one of my favorite games ever. I came to this realization when I sung Shovel Knight's praises in last week's community question, referring it to the platonic ideal of a game that deserves a perfect score. I've already written about it ad nauseum, but there's just so much to love. You can read more detailed thoughts in any of the dozen or so Shovel Knight articles I've already written.
As usual, hindsight is 20/20 when looking back on a given year. When thinking of a particular year, certain games can't help rising to the surface. When I think of 2011, I think of Dark Souls and Skyrim. When I think of 2007, I think of Modern Warfare and BioShock. Such games are memorable for a reason, and are generally the most worthy of praise.
Thinking back on 2014 after six and a half months, I can remember a handful of games, but none of them stand out as clearly to me as Shovel Knight, which is one of the best platformers I've ever played. It is my Retroactive Game of the Year for 2014.
My only regret about rounding up my Games of the Year for 2014 is that I somehow neglected Shovel Knight—sorry, little guy. And if you're wondering about all of my top picks from last year, I rounded them up in this Tumblr post, which contains plenty of handy links to pieces I wrote about these games.
I have to say, though, I still stand behind my choice for GOTY 2014: Dark Souls II. Now, on some circles around the Internet, it's common to see people being slightly hyperbolic about this sequel. (Yes, hyperbole on the Internet—I'm as shocked as you are.) Sure, it's not as revolutionary as the original Dark Souls, but really, that's a lot to ask of any game. Though I enjoyed the hell out of its predecessor, I ended up playing Dark Souls II for much longer, mostly due to how it sands down the slightly rough corners of the first game for a more playable but by no means easier experience. And hey, thanks to its central server, playing with other people online is no longer the fevered dream of a madman! That's always nice.
From Software definitely deserves a round of applause for how much work they've put into what could have been an adequate, disposable sequel. Instead of moving onto the next project, since Dark Souls II's release, they've listened to fans and continuously improved the game via tweaks both major and minor. And its DLC was about as far from a cash-in as you can get: Each chapter strives to present an experience not found in the core game, all while implicitly addressing criticisms from reviewers and fans alike. From took things even further with their HD remake of the game, which could have just been a superficial makeover. Instead, they changed the experience immensely, presenting a more difficult but more refined journey compared to its original release.
Ultimately, these are the reasons I'm so excited for Dark Souls II: From doesn't treat sequels lightly, and the presence of Hidetaka Miyazaki after his work on Bloodborne can only mean great things for the series. If anything is immune to sequelitis, it's gotta be Dark Souls.