I wasn't surprised I enjoyed Bloodborne, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Bloodborne. It all starts with the atmosphere, as the streets of Yharnam ooze with filth while a sense of hopelessness grips you from the moment you enter the bleak world. The subtle shift in gameplay, which forced me to rely more on offensive tactics than defensive ones, sets it apart from the Souls games preceding it. Yet all the while, it still maintains the incredible sense of discovery and accomplishment that made the Souls games so great. Despite my immediate love for the game, it wasn't until I went back for the platinum trophy and DLC I realized how well it not only holds up, but in most cases towers above, the other games I played in 2015.
2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Fantasy has long been one of my favorite genres to explore, both in literature and film, as well as gaming. The Witcher 3 created a sprawling world of which I truly felt a part. My actions impacted the world and the lives of those in it. Not only that, the characters are strong enough that you care about their problems and how they end up at the end. Your choices have weight and they matter. It also helps that the game is drop-dead gorgeous. The one flaw I have with the game is with its controls, specifically, the combat. After playing something like Bloodborne, the combat here feels repetitive and too simplistic. The fact that Witcher is #2 on my list is a testament to just how great the game despite those flaws.
I'll start by saying I'm not a Metal Gear guy. Having long felt the series was overrated, I almost didn't even try MGSV. The reviews sold me and I gave it a shot and boy am I glad I did. While many of the long-time Metal Gear fans seemed disappointed by the lack of story, I was thrilled. For me, the focus on gameplay was a welcome change. It shocked me how quickly I was pulling off advanced maneuvers and that I actually cared about building up my base, a segment of the game I had planned to skip. I even found myself itching to replay missions in order to try out a different tactic to see how things played out differently. While I've never been a big Metal Gear fan, I've always been a huge fan of stealth and stealth tactics in games. With MGSV, I had more fun with a stealth game than ever before, and that's why it's easily my favorite Metal Gear game of all-time.
I spent more time with TTK than any other game on this list. I've been a fan since day 1, but TTK improved on many of the problems we had since early in year 1. Bungie has nailed the shooter mechanics from the beginning, but struggled in other areas. TTK addresses many of those shortcomings by providing a better story, varied missions, and an incredible raid. With stronger support following its launch, TTK could've been even higher on my list.
5. Rocket League
Rocket League sold me from the moment I picked up the controller. It's one of those games where you instantly know what to do in a classic "pick-up-and-play" sense. Yet, the more you play, the more nuanced it becomes. I have no doubt were I still in college, I would have played this game religiously with dorm mates. Rocket League is the one game on my list I regret not being able to play more. I have fun every time I play, but so many other games have pulled me away. That still doesn't prevent me from recognizing Rocket League as a truly great game and one of the best of 2015.