The 10 Best Video Games of 2015

The best of the best from a fantastic year in gaming.

With 2015 drawing to a close, it’s time to look back on the games that made this year such a memorable one for gamers. Classic franchises returned for another installment, new IPs blew us away, and familiar faces returned to populate the immersive, open worlds we’ve grown to love. It’s been a long road, but why not ring in the new year with the best of the best before tackling what 2016 has to offer? 

10. Super Mario Maker

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Combining classic Mario platforming with the ability to create your own levels, Super Mario Maker was an instant hit among even more hardcore crowds. With several iterations of of Mario’s classic games for variety and drag-and-drop level creation tools, this new Wii U classic turned something as mundane as level creation into something fun for everyone. Even if you’re just a vanilla platforming fan, there’s plenty here to love.

9. Xenoblade Chronicles X

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The Wii U was in dire need of a meaty role-playing game to even the playing field for the platformers, adventure games, and other titles for the system, and Xenoblade Chronicles X is it. The sprawling adventure takes dozens of hours to complete, supports online play, and serves up a mature alternative to those still under the impression that the Wii U’s library is still full of “kiddie” games. Sci-fi junkies and open world lovers had plenty to appreciate within the world of Mira, while hardcore gamers flocked to this hit because of the ridiculously difficult nature of some of the battles. It’s a must-have for any Wii U owner and one of the best role-playing games of the year by far. 

8. Call of Duty: Black Ops III

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Say what you will about the Call of Duty franchise, but Treyarch knocked it out of the park with the latest installment of the Black Ops series, Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Combining an engaging narrative with the classic stop-and-pop gameplay that made the Call of Duty series famous, it’s a blistering and visceral study on future technology and war that left gamers breathless and clamoring for more. Plus, it’s all about the multiplayer here. Treyarch knows how to make a shooter, and we’re excited to see what they have in store for 2016. 

7. Bloodborne

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Bloodborne scratched an oh-so-familiar itch for pain among gamers with an insanely difficult love letter to the Dark Souls franchise, combining dark fantasy with some scathingly hard boss battles and throw-your-controller encounters that have to be seen to be believed. It may be difficult, however, but it’s still oh so satisfying once you finally conquer that one specific area that’s giving you grief. As hard as it can be, however, it’s still slightly more accessible than that of the previous games of the Souls ilk, making it great for new players looking for a taste of what made them so memorable in the first place. 

6. Until Dawn

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If you’ve ever wanted to play through your own personal horror movie, Until Dawn is the game for you. Combining the talents of actors like Hayden Panettiere and Rami Malek, this interactive slasher flick challenged the conventions of what we thought video games could be, while letting you choose whether or not your band of teenagers would live or die. Grisly deaths, psychological torture, and soapy drama were at the core of this excellent title, and it’s a game you’ll want to visit over and over again, even if it’s just to see the character you can’t stand get his just desserts. 

5. Rise of the Tomb Raider

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Lara Croft has undergone a startling transformation over the last couple of years, and she’s a stronger, sturdier woman than she used to be. The beloved treasure hunter returned in Rise of the Tomb Raider, the followup to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot a resolute adventurer, and gamers got a taste of just how rugged and determined she had become in 2015. Rise of the Tomb Raider is a cinematic treat with exotic locales, gorgeous visuals, and even a ravenous bear out to gobble Lara up. It’s an excellent release and an excursion you’ll want to go on, even if you’re not after the secret of everlasting youth. 

4. Halo 5: Guardians

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After a decidedly rocky few months with Halo: The Master Chief Collection, 343 Industries needed a boost from a fantastic Halo sequel, and gamers got just that with the release of Halo 5: Guardians. The punchy tale of an AI gone “rampant,” Master Chief is back on the scene after a long hiatus and ushering in a brand new chapter of the Halo mythos. The game as a whole delivered meaty gunplay, colorful new worlds, and a new direction for fans to explore. It’s time for the next round of Halo sequels, and there’s a whole lot to look forward to in the next few years. 

3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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Geralt of Rivia made quite a name for himself in the previous two installments of the Witcher franchise, but The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt took the series to dizzying new heights. CD Projekt RED’s mature and engaging role-playing game combines the best of western and dark fantasy to weave a narrative that reels you in like a binge-watching marathon of Game of Thrones. If you’ve never entered Geralt’s world, now would be an excellent time to do so.

2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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Few games live up to the hype that surrounds them. Most end up faltering in some way, if not being complete disappointments. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was one of the handful that revealed itself to be even better than imagined. For those that have followed the Metal Gear series for the past few years, it provided a satisfyng end and a way to sad goodbye to the characters and plot threads we’ve seen woven together over the last few games. With creator Hideo Kojima’s departure from Konami and the amount of work that went into making this stealth action title so memorable, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy and see why there are so many Metal Gear fans around the world. 

1. Fallout 4

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Surviving the wasteland left after a nuclear holocaust is no laughing matter, but Fallout 4 had us doing so with smiles on our faces. Bethesda’s fantastic post-apocalyptic role-playing game is two parts gritty ’50s Americana and one part future tech with hundreds of hours of gameplay that keeps you coming back for more. It’s rough around the edges, surprisingly relatable, and a veritable gaming icon, as far as 2015 is concerned. Fallout 4 is the best game of 2015, and if you’re just getting started with it, you’ll probably be playing it far into next year.