Welcome to my Alternative Gaming Awards 2015! My annual round-up of games I’ve played, enjoyed or tolerated this year. The official release date needn’t have been 2015, so no snarky, “Err, that was actually released in 2014″ please. It’s been an extremely fun year on my Playstation 4. Thank you to those who have kindly bought me games when my finances have been dire and thank you to old friends and new who make gaming a regular highlight of my year. I hope you’ve had a great year of gaming too. Now, on to the winners!..
Most Stressful Gaming Moment In 2015
There has been a lot of tense moments, from every single race on GTA Mondays to trying to complete the King’s Fall raid in Destiny’s The Taken King expansion. However, a stand out moment for me was during a Minecraft session with Tony. We were deep inside a mine, supplies were running low, there were enemies and lava at every turn and we’d been separated. I managed to find my way out but Tony was stuck below, his death looming before us. Was I worried about Tony? Not really. But he was carrying some good shit that I didn’t want to lose – diamonds, obsidian. I raced back to our lodgings and dug the map out of the storage chest. I could use it to guide him closer and tell him when to dig upwards, but he was far under the ocean where flooded tunnels could be his downfall. We eventually got him back home, in one piece and the relief was immense. I don’t think anyone ever has, or ever will be, that glad to see Tony.
As gamers, we experience many different worlds. Some are beautiful, like Skyrim, others are stunning but highly dangerous, like Los Santos. One game this year left me baffled as to why these virtual characters choose to live there. A game where every step leads to death. Where civil war rages. Where wildlife wants you dead. If you manage to dodge gun-wielding soldiers, leopards and bears, the eagles swooping from the skies, and the killer fish in the rivers, then it’ll be a bloody honey badger that finishes you off. If I ever have another honeymoon then it’s safe to say I won’t be heading to Far Cry 4‘s Kyrat.
The ‘I Don’t Know WTF’s Going On, Oh Sorry, Did I Kill You?’ Award
Now, I know I’m not the best gamer ever. However, with enough practise, I do get pretty decent at most games, especially shooters. I’ve not been too shabby at Halo Reach, Destiny and Battlefield. Once I get the gist then I’m pretty good. One genre eludes me though – top down style multiplayer games. This year I’ve attempted Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris and Magicka 2. I didn’t enjoy poor Lara but Magicka 2 (which was free with PS+), is a delightfully quirky game. It’s not often you have four people quietly chuckling at cut scenes. We’ve had around three or four sessions and are close to finishing, so I really should have the hang of it by now. I don’t. In the panic of combat, I forget how to make the numerous different spells. I’ll accidentally use ‘healing water’ on the enemy or throw ‘death rocks’ at my co-op buds. I am dreadful at Magicka 2 and contribute very little to our progress but it’s a game I’ve enjoyed sucking at.
Surprisingly Least Addictive Game Of 2015
I was late to the Fallout series but loved New Vegas and went back to play Fallout 3. Ever since experiencing the cold, dreary, joy of the Wastelands, I’ve been eager for a Fallout 4. When it was finally announced, I was SO hyped. I could not wait to get stuck into a new Fallout game, to hibernate for winter and explore post-apocalyptic Boston. It plonked through the letterbox and I loaded it up, created my characters, escaped the vault, started to explore and build communities. Then something shocking happened and my Fallout 4 disc has been gathering dust since launch week. That something is…
… So I was happily planning on weeks lost to Fallout 4, when a few days before its release, a pal suggested I may like Elder Scrolls Online. We’d been gaming together a lot but only shared two games in common and were starting to get a bit bored of them. ESO had been on my radar a long time ago but the reviews had put me off so I’d forgotten about it. Now it can be bought pretty cheaply, so I thought, ‘What the heck, I’ll pick this up and we can play it every so often together’. The trouble was, every time I sat down in the evening, I’d look at Fallout, then back to ESO, and ESO would always win. I have been addicted to Elder Scrolls Online for weeks now. I’m currently at level 40 and used the Black Friday sales to buy myself a horse with real life money. To be fair to myself, it is an awesome black pony with flaming hooves and eyes. The game itself is repetitive, exactly what you expect of an MMO – lots of running around doing fetch quests etc. There’s something about it that has its hooks in me though. I love the unexpected teamwork when a Dolmen drops or I’m struggling with a cave boss and another player appears and we tackle him together. I love being a sneaky Dark Elf who nicks everything that’s not nailed down. I loved the couple of times my friend and I have entered PvP and invaded enemy castles. This time of year can be stressful – Christmas, my eldest daughter’s birthday, plus I’m moving house in the new year. It is lovely to retreat in to Tamriel at the end of the day and it’s a rare game that I enjoy playing solo, not just with a friend.
The Ultimate Test Of Friendship
Many games require teamwork and it can test your patience if someone is lacking the skills to help you win and it can be embarrassing if you are that person. The Destiny raids require that teamwork and, on your fifth attempt at clearing a section, you’re having to patiently say, “It’s fiiiine, we’ll do it this time!” through gritted teeth. Destiny doesn’t win this award though. It has to go to one of my favourite games of 2015 – Rocket League. I don’t think I’ve ever been yelped at so much in a game before (except possibly GTAV).
“Libiiiii! How could you miss that?!”
“Libiiii! I had that perfectly lined up!”
“Libiii! You’re meant to score in the other goal!”
On the flipside, I’m also yelling at teammates for being rubbish or friends on the other team for being too good and saving my attempt on goal. However, I can’t recall ever having a Rocket League session that hasn’t been a laugh. We’ve got our own catchphrases – “WHAT DID YOU JUST DOOOO?!”, “Denied!”, “BOOM!”. We’ve got moves named after each other – Libi’s Mid-Air Snatch, Doing A Chris. We take the piss out of idiots in the chat box – 2ez, tg, va gina power. It is brutal, we rarely cut much slack for each other, but basically, if you can still be friends after an evening of Rocket League, then you can be friends for life.
Sluttiest Clothing 2015
I’m letting modern feminism down here but I am happy to run around in a game scantily-clad, if there is a choice to do so. I appreciate when games don’t force female characters into bare-all ‘clothing’, when there is a choice to roam around in full army gear, a business suit or armour that will actually protect the wearer. I do like the ridiculousness though of storming round Los Santos in a bra and stockings or tiny shorts with a tee saying ‘Smells Like A Bitch’. GTAV should be the winner, but it’s pipped at the post by a different game. It’s very easy to be a floozy in GTAV Online, but in Elder Scrolls Online, it’s quite the challenge. My pal makes my ESO armour for me and we’ve dedicated hours in pursuit of the sexiest armour possible for my Dark Elf. We have to hunt for the materials, travel to various work stations scattered around Tamriel, he has to make several different designs of chest armour then wait while I try them on and make my decision. Then there’s choosing what shoulders, legs and boots go best. He has the patience of a saint. So, ESO may not have the most revealing outfits, but wins due to sheer effort required.
Worst Gaming Experience
This is a toss up between two games. I’ve heard the final product is greatly improved but I was disappointed by the Rainbow Six: Siege beta. Alphas and betas aren’t meant to be demos, they will have problems, I’m aware of that. One problem that can’t be fixed though is that I’m rubbish. I spent Rainbow Six: Siege either alone, scared and about to die, or dead and just watching the action. The winner however, goes to a game that a friend has bigged up for what seemed like decades on PC, but finally appeared on PS4 this year – Planetside 2. Free to play but not even worth that. We would struggle to get together in the same place, have trouble squadding up, after one death I couldn’t find my friends again, it looked crap, flying vehicles had trouble flying, games were poorly populated, and so on. Perhaps I should have been patient and given it more time but there’s dozens of other shooters I can play which are far better.
Most Embarrassing Gaming Experience
I decided to try some games that are huge but I’ve never played before. For budget reasons, I figured I’d start with something that’s free – Candy Crush Saga. I went in all smug, thinking it’ll be a Bejeweled/match-three rip-off. It is, of course, but I went down a terrible, awful path. I was playing Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda, Farm Heroes Saga and Diamond Digger Saga. I never spent any real money on any of them but would skip between the different games while lives recharged. They are addictive. They’re polished, well made games. I phased myself out of playing them and now my phone is free of all King games. I’m clean and I’d like to stay that way.
Destiny remained a constant during the bulk of 2015. The Taken King release revamped a lot of the mechanics and added new quests and a huge new area. It wasn’t perfect, the levelling was crazily fast until it reverted back to being a grind/luck situation. I played through the new raid a few times but got fairly rubbish loot, which was frustrating for the effort involved. I had numerous friends online regularly playing it, until one day, almost everyone stopped. We just stopped. It was an overnight thing. One day we’re all arranging raids, doing our daily bounties, weekly strikes, the next, tumbleweed. It wasn’t just my group who seemed to stop, but everyone on my friends list, those I’ve never crossed paths with in Destiny (except Chris, Chris is still playing and probably always will be). It was quite bizarre, like somebody somewhere flicked a switch. I think several things converged – A few AAA games were released which finally drew folk away, some realised they had gotten about as far as they could with the levelling, some were becoming tired of Bungie/Activision’s antics with talk of microtransactions etc. I will still dabble with Destiny, especially if free content is released but, for now, its hold over most of us has vanished.
Hype Award For 2016
Every few weeks during 2015, I would search Twitter and websites looking for a release date for No Man’s Sky. It currently has a release date in June 2016. I love the thought of this game, the huge scope of it, being the first person to land on a planet and naming everything. I want to be excited, I want it to be amazing. Please please please Gods of Gaming, let this game live up to the hype.
That’s about it for this years Alternative Gaming Awards. I’ve also enjoyed playing Tropico 5, although I’m not as keen on the way they’ve done things this time, with only having two islands that you keep building on. I will likely start from scratch now I realise this is the case as I do love being a tyrannical leader. I also got Just Cause 3 for Christmas and looking forward to getting stuck in, once my addiction to Elder Scrolls allows it. Plus I’ll revisit Fallout 4 as well. Then there’s the new gaming goodies that 2016 will have to offer. Here’s to a Happy New Gaming Year!