Rapid is the guild leader of the Giantbomb.com Warframe Guild (Giant Bomb Alliance), a fan of the site, and a luminary of every community he is a part of. Bug him about how to get involved or what hes up to on twitter @JWRapid
HoTS – Heart of- I mean Heroes of the Storm (With Jefflr)
If you had told me in 2014 that in 2015 I would ever dabble in the genre that is anywhere tangentially related to League of Legends, or DOTA 2 I would have looked at you with the hardest Saitama’s stare ever, this one probably followed by this one. I usually distance myself from online competitive games, not because they are not fun or lack meaningful progression or narrative which usually are the key major elements of any game I am looking for when I decide if I want to play a game. The reason that I especially shy away from the MOBA genre is the difficult learning curve, the time commitment of learning the heroes and of course the usual hostile interactions one hears about when engaging with MOBAs. I care not I get told I suck and other profanity, (because I know already) from some random jerk on the internet. Since I do not play much online competitive games, it is combined with the sense of even if I am playing a decent match that I could be better, or my teammates probably wish they had someone better on their team. So what made me have fun with a game like HoTS? It is how Blizzard has managed to address the issues I wrote above. The game is much more simplified (streamlined) everything from how the the UI, gameplay mechanics, and presentation and how the progression is doled out has been well designed to ease me into learning this MOBA. Playing it casually with the Jefflr crew (Jeff Gerstmann’s Mixlr community) has been the most fun I had with the game. The game came out in 2014 or is not done… argh who can really tell if a game is ever done in this age?
Marvel Future Fight
Although I was forewarned against playing this mobile game by one @rain_one for some reason I still felt inclined to download it and try it. Before Future Fight I had been playing another Marvel Heroes mobile game, Marvel Contest of Champions and was constantly frustrated feeling at odds with the free to play systems in that game. In both games you manage a roster of Super Heroes and Villains from the Marvel universe. Contest of Heroes is a pseudo-fighting game where you perform swiping gestures on the phone to do combos. Future Fight is a top down brawler, the game feels akin to the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games back in the PlayStation 2 era. You use your obtained Heroes to go on missions and strengthen their stats by leveling, ranking their star rating, and making them more powerful with gear / items.. However, I have reached a point in the core story mode progress of both games where the enemies are so high level compared to mine, it is difficult for me to progress through the game without spending money. Although, Future Fight gives you more options in the number of ways one can obtain items to level up Heroes without paying for higher level characters where as in Contest of Champions I felt whether I got to rank up my character was all based on luck and waiting for special events to drops specific kinds of items to continue to level up my heroes. The game always felt like it was preventing me from playing the game with its energy cap. In Future Fight there is still a degree of luck, but I feel the game better compensates you for your time spent playing the game. While Future Fight technically did come out this year, it is on the list more as an outlet for me to say it’s not terrible. In all honesty you probably be better served playing Marvel Heroes 2015 that feels most like a game. However, for something on the phone that looks and plays half decent Future Fight is okay.
5. Tales from the Borderlands
Probably the “biggest surprise of the year” for me is how much I enjoyed the story of Telltale’s adventure game set in the Borderlands universe. While I am big fan of the original Borderlands, and Borderlands 2 I have always revered the franchise for its co-op loot driven first person shooter game play. Story and narrative in Borderlands always served as a backdrop for my shooting and looting. The characters in Borderlands have personality but never any depth or backstory.Telltale did a great job setting up and pacing the development of characters like Rhys, Fiona, Sasha, Gortys and Loader Bot all whom you spend the most time with and learn way more about in subsequent episodes. These wacky and misguided protagonists grew on me with each episode. They aren’t really even vault hunters like the ones you usually play in the core games. As a result, every situation these characters are thrown in feels dire, and there is a sense of urgency. These guys seem like they actually should not be able to survive for more than an hour on Pandora but yet by some miracle they keep on trucking, with bloody scrapes, and bruises. Much like the other Telltale adventure player choices are arbitrary all in all, but me wanting to find out what happens to these characters next kept me interested in continuing the see through the episodes. The game is also consistently funny, the humor is not referential as it is more situational. The humor comes from the dialogue and interactions between the main characters faced with bombastic challenges and misfortune in their adventures. Telltale also does a great job in making use of cameos from the iconic characters in the main game like Scooter, who plays quite a significant role in episode 4. Overall, the game tells a great narrative and Episode 5 is by far the highlight of the entire season.
4. Fallout 4
My experience with the Fallout series has been quite limited. Before Fallout 4 I had only dabbled in a few hours of Fallout 3 New Vegas when I was introduced to the series by a friend. The most experience I have had with a Bethesda made open world game was Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Although I have played over 100 hours of Skyrim I could not tell you the plot / narrative of Skyrim other than your character is Dragonborn and goes around the land meeting different races and guilds doing random task they request of her. I never really engaged with the main story or the lore of the Elder Scrolls universe. How I played Skyrim was to download a bunch of mod content, and then dink around the open world.
In contrast to that with Fallout 4, here I am 70 hours in the game with also a wiki open trying to read and listen to every log and terminal I find, and collecting almost everything that could be used to build up and expand my ever growing number of settlements. Probably one of best additions to Fallout 4 over Skyrim for me is the ability to scrap the junk I horde and use it to craft and mod weapons and items in the game. I am also enjoying more of the companions they seem chatty (sorry dogmeat) and hope the game will spend time developing these characters in the story. At the time of writing, I have been to Goodneighbor and just entered Diamond City and met with Piper and going to search for Nick Valentine. I am told Diamond City is where the game opens up and I am excited where Fallout 4 takes me next.
3. Warframe: The Second Dream (Update 18)
Those on Jefflr are probably rolling their eyes about now. “Oh of course Rapid would put fucking Warframe on this list!”
Oh you’re still here?
I guess it is a testament to the developers at Digital Extremes that because of the relentless development support and updates that they keep releasing for Warframe that even after two years of actively playing the game that it still can feel fresh in 2015. For those who have not been following Warframe like I have, people can compare it to Destiny, and the dramatic effect The Taken King expansion has had on the initial base game of Destiny which revitalised the game post launch by revamping major game mechanics, progression, and storytelling. For Warframe back in 2014 it had a major rework: overhauled UI, presentation, melee combat, and Archwing, a space combat game mode, all features that changed the face of the game since it’s open beta period. However, this year Digital Extremes have raised the bar even further by re-inventing and iterating on the game’s gameplay mechanics in a dramatic way with a redone parkour movement system, syndicate factions, expanded on Archwing by including undersea combat, quality of life changes, and the “spoilers” content in their latest Update The Second Dream. Without getting into details about the spoilers, the Second Dream content opens up a new gameplay and player progression system as well as gives the game a narrative identity. By the time I finished The Second Dream story content I feel that I have now a new perspective about the universe in Warframe and a greater sense of what is the role of the player in the world. Digital Extremes also keeps releasing new Warframes every few months that the roster of Warframes (with more than 30 unique frames it feels like the developers could eventually add a MOBA mode to the game in the next update if they wanted (please do not make Warframe MOBA mode Digital Extremes).
The Second Dream update give veteran players like me who have played more than 1800 hours of the game something completely new to grind but these revamps keep the game feeling new every year. A quote from the Second Dream that I feel is indicative of Digital Extreme’s philosophy to what they wish to achieve with the game is
“Dream… not of what you are, but of what you want to be.” – Margulis.
I hope the developers continue to push the game to be more polished, and in continue to reinvent the game in new ways next year.
2. Life is Strange
I wish I had time rewinding powers when trying to describe to someone who has never heard of Life is Strange why they should check out this game. I would keep attempting to redo my explanation until they finally got it.
“You see It’s like if you made an after school highschool tv drama into a game? No wait don’t go… It’s about a game about teenage girls in a weird preppy high school and the main character has weird time rewinding powers… wait wait but you see with those powers she needs to solve a missing person’s mystery with her rebellious but misunderstood best friend she has not seen in over ten years who-wait I’m serious the game is great! Really funny because it’s so quirky!”
As you can probably tell, my attempts at describing why the game is great are futile. At some point to understand why I am so enamored with Life is Strange is to experience or see the game for oneself. For the purposes of this list I will just highlight the aspects of the game that really stood out to me.
The depiction of friendship between Max and Chloe is one that is heartwarming and well depicted in each episode so much so that I could feel a genuine connection between the two characters.
Friendship is often a mechanic in most games, a stat or a numeric gauge that when filled to some threshold the relationship status between characters will change. Either this person likes you, or he or she does not. If the characters are meant to be friends they are shown as they get along. If they are not friends, games are often explicit and the characters will bluntly state,
“Hey were are not friends.” Max having complicated relationship with all the characters really kept the interactions fun and interesting.
What makes the game special is it remains grounded despite the supernatural events happening around the characters. These afterschool special teenagers have to worry about life. From the mundane things to situations they cannot control. Despite the player’s ability to rewind time, the game gradually leads us the player to accept that they cannot have a perfect outcome, and we ultimately have to decide one way or the other. The moments of school drama contrasted with the craziness of what is happening in Arcadia Bay create a great atmosphere and tone for the game. A really memorable experience overall.
1. Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain
Things I knew about David Bowie before Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain, the things I knew about David Bowie
- A British Singer
- The weird sorcerer in that kids movie in the 90s (Labyrinth)
- Sings that really depressing song “Ground Control to Major Tom”
- Appears in the game Omicron
- Sings the “Tunnel Song” in Perks of Being a Wallflower starring Emma Watson
- Is Gay?
Things I now know about David Bowie post Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain
- Originally sung the “The Man Who Sold the World”
- The song is called Space Oddity which he wrote after a tragic breakup with his ex-girlfriend
- Tunnel Song is called “Heroes”
- Has created multiple personas through his pop idol career one being “Ziggy Stardust”
- His son is Duncan Jones who directed Moon and the upcoming World of Warcraft Movie
- His eyes are two different colors because he was punched in the eye fighting over a girl
- Is Bi? As an Experiment?
- Ok Ok this list is getting dumb…
Thanks Kojima I guess?
As a 90’s kid I guess MGSV The Phantom Pain has served as a vehicle for me to list to some good early 80’s music. It also help me understand a reference made in Life is Strange, “She Blinded me with Science!”
Anyways, I have fond memories of at a friend’s house the night trying to beat the original Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation 1. Since then the only other Metal Gear games I have played are MGS3 Snake Eater and MGS4 Guns of the patriots. I kept up with the Metal Gear Solid franchise through watching the cutscenes online, and diving deep into wikis. The Metal Gear Scanlon premium feature on Giant Bomb had definitely reignited my interest in the franchise. But by this point I forgotten how Metal Gear plays like. After playing Ground Zeroes I was pleasantly surprised how well MGSV modernize controls and made it easier to feel like a stealthy badass. The Phantom Pain expands on the arsenal, adds cool buddies each which greatly vary the way I approach the missions. Although I am still disappointed that there are not as many cutscenes in Kojima’s last Metal Gear Solid game if the game did not play as good as it did I probably just have watched all the cutscenes. Instead I am building up my Mother Base to its max capacity, strategically fultoning enemy soldiers, animals and vehicles to indoctrinate them to join Diamond Dogs. Metal Gear Solid V does a great job of straddling the line between being a big enough open space for me to roam around in and approach missions in a variety of ways while being compact enough that the open world locations feel dense and populated with stuff that matter to gameplay. In recent years, I have felt frustrated by big budget games seemingly all set in an open world for the sake of having an open world, like it has become the sort of standard thing to do. Dragon Age Inquisition’s empty feeling open world led to me to feel like I was playing a single player MMO, which left me more frustrated and dissatisfied when I had to trek across the every stretching unpopulated landscapes in the game. Sure it looks nice but there was nothing to do or see other than the landscape.
That’s not to say there are not big areas to trek through to get to your objective in MGSV but the areas where you do engage in the infiltration and core gameplay always have enemies, vehicles, spotlights, and resources to keep you preoccupied. The game has also Kojima’s signature brand of weirdness and plenty hidden easter eggs that even as an open world game still feels very Metal Gear. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is one of the most innovative open world games I have played in a while.