The PlayStation 4 had a strong 2015; two years into its life cycle, it remains ahead of its competitors in terms of sales and boasts an impressive library spanning every genre and supporting works from AAA blockbusters like Metal Gear Solid V to tiny one-man-made indie games such as Axiom Verge. PlayStation fans got everything they asked for: unique top-tier exclusives like Until Dawn and Bloodborne, a first go at DLC for titles including Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and a host of other content unique to the console, including Rocket League and Everybody's Gone to the Rapture. Within our embarrassment of riches, here are the games GameSpot calls the best of the best.
PlayStation 4 hit the ground running this year with Bloodborne. It hit the sweet spot for many Souls fans; Hidetaka Miyazaki's unique design sensibilities made wading through Yharnam's darkness feel like coming home. But Bloodborne also captured the imaginations of many who hadn't touched From Software's games before. Its dark fantasy, drenched in gore and colored by darkness, spun a chilling tale of pain and mystery. And the slow, subtle way the game lays out its revelations makes it nigh impossible not to fall for the intrigue. Story aside, its combat system was accessible enough for new Souls fans but still provided an excellent challenge for veterans, allowing us to get comfortable enough to feel confident but just tough enough to inspire us to get better at it. And we certainly had enough opportunities to: Bloodborne's never-ending stream of gruesome ghouls and violent adversaries kept us hunting into the long hours of the night, pushing ourselves to collect more Blood Echoes, attempt a boss battle one more time, or take time out to level up ourselves and our weapons. The constant danger and eerie atmosphere kept us coming back for more, making Bloodborne one of our favorite gaming experiences this year.
We've been salivating for Fallout 4's post-apocalyptic world since we first heard rumors that it was in development. Once Bethesda's latest RPG was in our hands, it did not disappoint. We spent long hours roaming the Wasteland, sometimes without a clear destination in mind, because we were in awe of Fallout 4's dilapidated, irradiated version of Boston. Dreary woods and clear blue skies, crumbled abandoned neighborhoods and cobbled-together settlements of survivors--it drew us in, creating a believable world we could comfortably invest ourselves in. The Wasteland is also rich with thrifty traders and fearsome foes, Deathclaws and drug dealers, potential companions and unknown killers. You can help or hinder your fellow Wastelanders, kill beasties and collect supplies, scrap everything around you and build it into new pieces for your settlements, and generally work your way up to becoming the Wasteland's savior. And while all this is happening, you're searching for your kidnapped son, desperately looking for signs of his survival amid solving everyone else's problems. It's a perfect mix of the familiar and new, combining the familiar VATS combat system with a revamped SPECIAL perks tree, along with settlement and crafting systems that allow you to leave your own personal mark on the Wasteland.
But Fallout 4 isn't the only all-consuming open-world adventure on PS4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt drops you into a lush, vibrant fantasy land rich with magic and danger. You step into the shoes of familiar Witcher protagonist Geralt of Rivia, who this time is on a mission that hits a little closer to home. You guide Geralt through a poignant story of longing and loss, as he seeks to keep close to his adoptive daughter, Ciri. Piled on top of Geralt's story is a host of sidequests and intertwined plot lines that deepen the narrative and taking world-building to new heights. Through its characters, The Witcher 3 really feels like a living, breathing world you could someday find yourself in. And it's all beautiful to look at, too: lush green grass swaying in the breeze, endless skies, shadows and light beams playing among trees, the sway and swagger of Geralt and company as they run through it all. It's a treat to look at. Not to mention all those romance options and unlockable risque scenes have become part of what the game is known for, and something we had fun uncovering. We'll admit, we worked hard to make sure we had sex on that unicorn.
Adding to the grand open-world experiences available on PS4 is Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Unearthing its mysteries and lore was one of our favorite things to do this year. Even if you know nothing about Metal Gear, The Phantom Pain's story of sacrifice and loss is a powerful one because of the ways it allows us to spend time with its characters. Big Boss, Quiet, Ocelot, D-Dog, even the soldiers we recruit--through teaming up for missions and building out Mother Base, we're doing more than simply doing what we're told within the world's constructs. We are forming a life, creating connections between Big Boss and those around him. The world is complex and engaging, holding our interest with the sheer amount of things to do. And when things get bad in Metal Gear Solid V, they get bad in a way that tugs at our heartstrings. It's hard not to care, not to become attached to Quiet or D-Dog and not to try and fulton every last animal away to your Mother Base sanctuary. The Phantom Pain is also a sendoff for Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima. It is evident that his heart and soul went into this game, and that his team worked painstakingly to execute their vision. Kojima Productions' efforts have been worth it: The Phantom Pain leaves a lasting impression on us that we won't soon forget.
Rounding out PS4's best is indie darling Rocket League. It came seemingly out of nowhere: Rocket League launched with very little PR hype or fanfare, and yet players discovered and sunk countless hours into matches. Something about using cars to boot giant balls around a soccer field is addicting, and we constantly feel challenged to improve, execute better tricks and master the game. And a plethora of small flourishes give Rocket League an undeniable charm: Putting a hat on the car, making rainbows come out the exhaust pipe, having the flag of your country wobbling around as you tear across the field. It's the game of choice for our staff's multiplayer sessions. We love Rocket League because it connects us in meaningful challenges. When a team comes together for that one magical moment where you carry a ball across an area, bouncing between teammates and off the ceiling and walls, then into the net--it's undeniably satisfying. It takes common video game elements and mashes them together into something totally, tantalizingly new.
To those who haven't purchased a PS4 yet: with a best-of list like this one, it's difficult to say that the purchase isn't worth it. And to those who already have one: we hope you, like us, get the chance to enjoy these games as much as we did.