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GameSpot's Top 25 Games of 2015

Game of the Year 2015 Countdown: #5 - #1

What are the five best games this year? Which one takes the grand prize of being GameSpot's Game of the Year? Find out now.

After hours of debates and much gnashing of teeth, our global team of GameSpot editors have finally come up with this: the best video games of 2015, in ranked order. Our list of the best 25 games of the year has been informed by the wide array of tastes, experiences, and preferences of dozens of GameSpot editors around the world. It's a varied and eclectic list, spanning everything from the year's biggest AAA releases, to smaller, personal gameplay experiences, and everything else in between. We'll be counting down to number one over the next few days, so keep it locked to GameSpot as we unveil our choices. For today, we finally reveal our top five choices, including the coveted Game of the Year.

5. Super Mario Maker

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When we think of Nintendo, we automatically think of Mario. He's graced Nintendo's consoles for decades, and his adventures continue to be memorable. But for many of us, it's the likes of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World that stand out. With top-notch visual design and best-in-class physics, these games set the bar for other 2D platformers in the 1990s to hit. With Super Mario Maker, Nintendo made it possible for us to not just revisit these worlds, but to shape them to our liking.

Though Super Mario Maker is built on the past, it perfectly utilizes hardware and online connectivity, making it one of the most "modern" games on Wii U. It leverages the GamePad's touchscreen to make level creation a simple, drag-and-drop affair, and an online database stores everything the game's community has produced, from cute and charming romps to punishing torture chambers. This has proved to be a hit, with communities rallying around individual levels or creators, leading to meaningful exchanges between people who may or may not own a Wii U. Super Mario Maker is infectious in the best way possible.

4. Bloodborne

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Bloodborne is an unforgettable experience that sucked us into its gothic fantasy world. With its fast-paced combat, haunting narrative, and devastating boss fights, the game compelled us to play it, even those of us who hadn't played any of From Software's "Souls" games in the past. When it crushed our confidence, we yearned to get farther. When it gave us victory, we felt enraptured over the challenge we'd overcome. Make no mistake, the city of Yharnam is filled with countless horrors and monstrosities, but Bloodborne gives you the tools and systems you need to stand a chance.

And it's those tools and systems that’ll keep you coming back for more. As an action-RPG, Bloodborne lets you choose your own progression paths, adjusting your statistics and weapon loadouts to make the game's brutal combat work for you. At the same time, its systems infuse the game with the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired themes that take shape in its world, lending a sense of meaning and significance rarely felt before. Everything about Bloodborne screams for your attention, and it's well worth giving, even if that scream happens to be a terrifying shrill that sends shivers down your spine for years to come.

3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain redefines stealth games. It breaks the mold of the genre by going open world. In doing so, it gives us the freedom to tackle missions using our own strategies, allowing for hundreds of memorable moments thanks to its emergent gameplay. Whether we choose to remain a ghost on the battlefield or take it on guns blazing, the game lets us create our own vision of Big Boss's legacy.

Though we lost ourselves to Phantom Pain's layered gameplay systems, it also features a gut-wrenching story that, in typical Kojima fashion, subverts our preconceived notions of the series, whether we are fans of it or not. It's a game that exceeds our expectations, using melodrama to tell a story of loss that shows us what living out the legacy of an iconic character can mean to us as players. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a masterful piece of artistic storytelling and refined stealth that you won't find anywhere else.

2. Rocket League

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Rocket League is ostensibly a soccer game, but without referees and an overabundance of rules. Instead of traditional players, teams are comprised of RC cars, and they battle for goals by driving and flipping into a massive soccer ball, praying they hit it at just the right angle to send it into an ever-so-small net. It is as ridiculous as it sounds, but therein lies the charm. Rocket League matches can be orderly or chaotic depending on who's playing, but no matter the state of a match, everyone has a blast.

It's a difficult game to master, but it's also incredibly easy to pick up. Anyone can learn how to accelerate and steer a car and, with a little practice, perform powerful flips that make for authoritative shots and passes. Rocket League makes the simple act of movement fun by removing boundaries and obstacles; instead of running into a wall, you drive up them with your momentum intact. In other sports games, your first engagements can feel like a chore as you test the limits of the mechanics and learn how to control different positions. Rocket League has zero barriers, allowing you to have fun from the start. It's one of the most accessible and unique sports games ever made, and the best competitive game of 2015.

To see what ranked 25-21, check out our feature here. To see the 20-16 list, click here. To see the 15-11 list, click here. For 10-6, click here.

 

1. Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

2015 was no stranger to impactful games. As the months passed, we snuck through Angolan jungles and the Afghan desert. We honed our skills in frantic vehicle-based soccer arenas. We survived the irradiated wastes of post-nuclear Boston. And we confronted the horrors of a mysterious Victorian nightmare.

But none of these experiences left as much of a lasting impact as that of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The expansive setting was a character in itself, and its inhabitants felt nuanced and real. From the swamps of Crookback Bog, to the grimy alleys of Novigrad, to the frozen islands of Skellige, our journey through the Northern Kingdoms set the stage for one of video games' most engrossing epics.

We explored political turmoil, civil war, supernatural elements, and a vibrant wilderness with creatures both beautiful and grotesque. This was a world that seemed to breathe on its own, and carry on without us, indifferent to our motivations as the witcher Geralt. We may have been powerful, but we were still only one person.

The Witcher 3 told some of the most immersive stories not just in 2015, but in any RPG to date.

We weren't without our allies, though. We had the cunning Yennefer, the wise Vesemir, the two-faced Dijkstra. And of course, we had Ciri. She was one of the most convincing characters to emerge from 2015, and in the end, The Witcher 3 was about Geralt's fatherly relationship with her. That we could see her grow, and watch her make choices of her own, lent an emotional thread to the entire experience. CD Projekt Red created vibrant characters that responded to our actions, and in doing so, added emotional weight to every choice we made.

This rang true in The Witcher 3's myriad side quests as well. Here we had vivid supporting characters and subversive plot threads rivalling those of the main story. Many RPGs encourage quest completion with new gear or experience gains. The Witcher 3’s quests, on the other hand, were compelling through the sheer force of their writing alone. The content on The Witcher 3’s periphery told some of the most immersive stories not just in 2015, but in any RPG to date.

Because in The Witcher 3, every detail in its landscape builds toward an immersive, convincing world full of exciting quests, where your actions can have real consequences. It was a year of numerous detailed worlds, but after all is said and done, and we look back on 2015, it was The Witcher 3's that truly felt alive.

Game of the Year 2015 Countdown: #5 - #1

722 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for timetraveler_x
Timetraveler_X

Xenoblade Chroncles X should be amoung the top 5. I play games on all consoles and this game is truly mindblowing in every way. It even been described by many reviewers as "one of those games that comes around once every decade".

Avatar image for Relvar
Relvar

wtf? Where was FO4 (the REAL GOTY)?!?!?!?!?!?!

Avatar image for ninboxstation
ninboxstation

Bloodborne should have been (at least) on Nr 2 (and for sure ahead of MGSV and Mario Maker..)... and if you played Fallout 4 on "survival" mode (as you should have, since youre a veteran) than F4 would have been in the Top 5 (or 2-3)...

and (!) Xenoblade Chronicles X should have been in the top 10-5 (if not higher), even if it felt a bit unpolished with a few flaws.. (and before Tombraider...)

otherwise, fine that TW3 won

Avatar image for G4mBi7
G4mBi7

@ninboxstation: Why are you repeating yourself? Just because people ignored your original post/opinion?

Fallout was okay but games aren't measured based on veteran difficulty, not are they reviewed on that difficulty. They are reviewed on normal. The game itself had too many bugs to be justified in the top 2. I gave it #3 in my list simply because it was better than anything else that came out this year.

Xenoblade was an okay game, lots to do but a disorganized mess. The game required a lot of polishing before being released, shouldn't be in top 10 in it's current state.

Bloodborne is on par with Mario Maker, worse than MGS 5, all the reviews say it, user votes say it, critics say it.

This is all opinions. Just because you don't agree with their score, doesn't make it wrong. I don't agree with you thinking Bloodborne was #2.

Avatar image for G4mBi7
G4mBi7

4/5) interchangeable for me between bloodborne and super mario maker

3) fallout 4

2) MGS 5

1) W3

MGS 5 and W3 got perfect 10 scores, i don't understand how you can justify giving the top 2 spots to anything else GS.

Avatar image for Ruen
Ruen

Are people mad that a sports game is ranked at #2 or that it's Rocket League?

Avatar image for G4mBi7
G4mBi7

@Ruen: arcade game, not a sports game really.

Avatar image for Ruen
Ruen

@G4mBi7: Just because it's not a traditional sports sim doesn't mean it's not a sports game.

Avatar image for G4mBi7
G4mBi7

@Ruen: It's as much as sport's game as League of Legends can be considered an actual sport.

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Zenwork21

Rocket league.. laughable gamespot..

Avatar image for Lizard_King89
Lizard_King89

Rocket league 2nd is laughable. No fallout 4 in the top 5 is even more laughable. At least they got the GOTY right and yes MGSV deserves to be in the top 3.

My top 3:

3.MGSV

2. Fallout 4

1. Witcher 3

Avatar image for veggie530
veggie530

Some of the greatest story telling games of the last few years.....

Rocket League.

Avatar image for asakapala15
asakapala15

Seriosly? MGSV? Fallout 4 should have placed there

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HipHopBeats

@asakapala15: I agree about Fallout 4. Personally, it's my GOTY for sure.

Avatar image for cooltoast
cooltoast

I'd personally would replace bloodborne with seige. its the only game where I watched the live action trailer where this beautiful home gets wrecked with intense close quarters gun fights and thought, "yep that's pretty much RS seige" while most non gameplay trailers resemble nothing of their actual game. That game with surround sound is chilling. The whole experience to me revolutionized FPS. Problem is people couldn't get over it not having a story campaign. As if half of these games have a story either.

Avatar image for iabstract
iabstract

@cooltoast: R6 is definitely my runner-up to Witcher 3 for GOTY. Absolutely love that game and as you said, the sound design, especially on defense, can be terrifying, trying to figure out where they breached, where they're coming from, what's a decoy, etc. Brilliant, brilliant MP gameplay. For all those who say it's just like Counterstrike, you have no idea.

Avatar image for thebastardsword
theBastardSword

Rocket League was ok but 2nd place? thats idiotic.
Wasnt even the best indie It is glorified Air Hockey... Fun for a half hour or so every ow and then but offered nothing past that. It should not have even been in the top 10.

Avatar image for iabstract
iabstract

@thebastardsword: In your opinion. I have plenty of friend who have put over 1k hours into it and still love it.

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ninboxstation

Bloodborne (and Fallout 4..., on survival mode if you're a veteran) should be on place 2 (and/or3) at least....

Avatar image for kcduckling
kcduckling

Damn, everyone is so up in arms about Rocket League at #2... seriously? Rocket League is the greatest multiplayer experience crafted in years. Anyone can play it but once you're good enough, there is a crazy amount of talent required for competitive play.

Avatar image for Lizard_King89
Lizard_King89

@kcduckling: If fun but in no way should it be in the top 5 let alone number 2.

Avatar image for thebastardsword
theBastardSword

@kcduckling: It's really not. Its fun for a little while if you are trying to kill some time but its really just a game based on nothing more than a physics engine demo meets 3v3 soccer... 2nd best really? Greatest multiplayer experience? It's a joke man, a Joke that 90% of us played and got for free, so if everyone is up in arms about it being number 2, thats because to the majority of us its not not even a top 10, maybe top 5 for an indie GOTY. The game felt like a mobile game for **** sake, and offered nothing more than one.

Avatar image for iabstract
iabstract

@thebastardsword: You have no idea what you're talking about. I'm not even a fan but even I can recognize that Rocket League has tons of depth and skill involved. Quit being a whiny baby just because your game didn't win.

Avatar image for thebastardsword
theBastardSword

@iabstract: It has as much depth as a game of 3d air hockey. I can disagree with the editors picks if I want, so how about you quit being a whiny baby about that and deal with it.

Avatar image for kcduckling
kcduckling

@thebastardsword: a mobile game? Rocket League looks and plays great not to mention that you can actually play this multiplayer game at home splitscreen which most of the industry is moving away from for some reason, and what other indie game has so much polish while maintaining a robust individual or multiplayer experience?

Avatar image for thebastardsword
theBastardSword

@kcduckling: Yeah.. A mobile game.. You drive towards a ball until you push it in a goal.. Pretty sure mobile games have been more complex. Rich multiplayer experience, I guess if you mean when your team mates aren't accidentally helping out the other team, or droping out after the first 30 seconds of a match... Its fun for a little while but too simple and repetitive to even be on a top 25 list. Its' a good thing Flappy Bird didn't come out in 2015 or else Gamespot would have put that as number 1.

Avatar image for UltimateSol
UltimateSol

LMFAO..really ? Rocket League deserve 2nd ?

Avatar image for wexorian
wexorian

Well deserved witcher 3, as for rocket league it should not be in top 5 ,even how much fun i have with it :P

Avatar image for misty_falls
Misty_Falls

Did Rocket League really gave that huge impact this year? It still feels like "one of those" multiplayer games. It's fun and ehhh. Something that is really replaceable. But I'm glad it isn't Undertale,

Avatar image for AGx07
AGx07

Rocket League at #2? Seriously? I mean it's fun, yeah but to me it's the same kind of fun as something like Angry Birds. You enjoy it. You go back to it but you never actually question it's quality compared to other AAA console games. I mean s***. Skylines was better than that. If it's the dumb fun, Just Cause 3.

Avatar image for iabstract
iabstract

@AGx07: You may feel that way, but there's plenty of Rocket Leaguers that have sunk tons of hours into it. My roommate is in the the hundreds, some friends have put thousands into it. Game is fun and addictive.

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sorin_ro

what about Alien Isolation?is not even included in the top 25

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CrimsonVow

@sorin_ro: Friend, Alien Isolation came out in October 2014. Sorry to burst your bubble :D

Avatar image for sorin_ro
sorin_ro

@crimsonvow: yeah,my mistake. i played it in 2015 and really like it, i forgot it was released in 2014

Avatar image for Daelusca
Daelusca

Witcher is in my top 4, behind FO 4, Divinity and Tomb Raider, but as bad as the gameplay was I couldn't put it above those games, despite an atmosphere that was only rivaled by Tomb Raider. That MGSV is #3 is the real joke of this list.....great gameplay surrounded by a garbage story, repetitive missions, bad customization and the mess that was Mother Base...lolololol.

Avatar image for iabstract
iabstract

@Daelusca: Spot on about MGS5. I've had it since release date and can't muster the energy to play it because it's so silly and boring, and this after an opening chapter that completely sucked me in, only to throw it all away.

Avatar image for kingofheroes01
Kingofheroes01

@Daelusca Tomb Raider is also garbage and Divinity really? FO4 was still a disappointment as well

FOH with ur basic ass opinions

Avatar image for Daelusca
Daelusca

@kingofheroes01: Let me guess, bitter Pony that hasn't even played RoTR...no need to reply, the answer is obvious...go back to whatever shooter you're playing douche.

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Xbox1day1

Wait, so the race car soccer game beats out Syndicate??? Thats strange.

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Arsyad00

wish Bloodborne was first, each combat in that game was really fun.

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wide_ocean

Totally agree with Rocket League over Fallout 4. And I haven't even played Rocket League.