This was one of the best years in gaming for me. Thanks to Wii U and my brand new PC (build), I was able to game more easily than in recent years and it produced some of the best gaming I’ve had in awhile. This year’s list was still being shaped up to the very last moments before posting this and I’m still not entirely set on where a few of these games rank. It was a high-quality year for me and one I enjoyed thoroughly.
Honorable Mentions: Hyrule Warriors & The Escapists
These games, for lack of better terms, didn’t make the cut because other titles bumped them off of the list. Hyrule Warriors is a great little game of fan-service and mash’um fun, but when it stacks against the rest, it can only go so high. The Escapists is a bit of a different story. I had fun with it, but it’s not the easiest game to grasp nor are the mechanics there to be competent 100% of the time. Often, I’d be in a vent system and get caught despite having all my bases covered. Those sorts of things keep it from being better and higher on my list.
10. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Originally I didn’t really love this game. It was sort of fun, but I had missed the initial craze and everyone I battled was way better than me, no matter what I did or which cards I used. I’ve played since my first go-around more recently and been enjoying it a lot more, which is great because it’s a blast. It’s more fun playing against friends, but the online modes available are really great regardless. The cards are gorgeous, the strategy it takes to successfully win is challenging and fun to figure out, and there’s nothing quite like finding a top-notch deck to dispatch your enemies with.
9. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
I wanted to like this game more. The quality is great, but the game suffers from some setbacks. Some of them are my own from nostalgia over the original SNES trilogy, but the game holds up and is still a worthy successor in the end. I feel like the Country series had certain requirements to fit into, but this new generation of Country games changes the formula. I don’t like that the classics are factored in with this new series, but I do enjoy the game still. It’s got serious positives: I love the sidekicks, the story is fun, and the levels are gorgeous – a few that come to mind include the burning savannah and a log-jammers-esque level. I’ll go back to this game soon and realize it should be higher on the list, but for now, it rests at 9.
8. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
I thought this would’ve been higher on my list. I was so excited for it and ready to enjoy the glory of the Nemesis system. When I got to playing, I did. I loved battling the Orc captains and going to war, but the game never built up for me. The difficulty right now is stagnated and I can easily dispatch Orcs, yet I know others have an impossible time with it (which is more like what I want). I really do enjoy the game and it’s a blast just running across Mordor slaying Orcs endlessly, but I want to see more of Nemesis in action and so far, I’ve gotten very little of it. Still: the look is amazing, the free-camera mode is superb, and the quality is there.
7. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
I almost didn’t have this one on the list, but thanks to a good deal at Best Buy, I was able to. If ever a Smash held up, this would be it. I enjoyed Brawl and the other two iterations of the series, but I honestly am enjoying this one beyond what those could offer. A lot of that enjoyment has to do with the online play capabilities. Smash is only fun when it’s with a few friends and the online works well enough to play with your friends and have that edge-of-your-seat close fighting that made me love the series. A few poor character additions (seriously…Dark Pit?) can’t detract from a top-notch and fun experience.
6. Far Cry 4
I never thought I’d put this game on the list. I liked Far Cry 3, but it wasn’t a fantastic game by any means. This iteration shocked me with how fun it was. The opening scenes, Pagan Min, and the beauty of Kryat are what make this game. The story is decent, but if the game didn’t have Pagan, it would suffer. A few sneaky surprises here and there seal the deal on the necessity of Pagan Min for its success, but I really enjoyed the game even without him. I was a fan of the outpost liberations in Far Cry 3 and they are even better in 4, especially with the more difficult fortress additions that really make you sit back, think on a strategy, then try to execute it. I simply had a blast with this game and that’s what it’s all about.