2015 sure was awesome! Almost every month had one game that stuck with us through to the end of the year, and it was difficult to find enough time to keep up with the stream of hits. We recently finished counting down through our top 25 games of the year, which we determined via voting, debating, strangling…wait, not that last one. Let’s just say it was difficult to pare down the list of games to 25 candidates, let alone determine where to place them. It’s a good problem to have; when there are so many good games to consider, and so many people in one group moved by an array of games, you know it’s been a great year.
For further evidence, you need only glance at the number of high scores in our reviews section. Over 20 games earned at least a 9 in 2015, with three games taking home the coveted 10. When you consider that GameSpot has only awarded a total of eleven games a “perfect” score since our doors opened in 1996, there’s no denying that we lucked out.
Reflecting on scores and awards is valuable, but it doesn’t answer one very important question: what were the most popular games of 2015? It’s tough to say, but in an effort to answer the question, we’ve compiled a list of the ten most-read reviews on GameSpot from the past year. In reverse order, these are GameSpot’s best reviews, based on the number of unique readers, of 2015.
10. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
“In its undead modes, and the first 10 hours of multiplayer, it excels. But in its campaign, it merely crawls forward. Black Ops III doesn’t offer anything remarkable to the series, but does just enough to maintain the Call of Duty status quo. The franchise, however slowly, continues its inexorable march.” Score: 7/10
9. Battlefield Hardline
“It wasn’t that long ago that the ability to eject from a fighter plane and seamlessly continue the battle on foot was one of the most awe-inspiring things you can do in an online shooter. That’s why many gravitated to the series in the first place, and Battlefield Hardline isn’t short of similar transitional vehicular moments. You can spawn in a chopper, do your part as a gunner to take out valued targets on that ground, and then jump out with a parachute so you can capture a marked car. This isn’t Iwo Jima or an Arabian oil field–but it’s still pure Battlefield.” Score: 7/10
8. Dying Light
“I am rooting for Dying Light‘s success, even as I shake my head at its avoidable foibles. I understand it, I get it, and so I find pleasure in it even as it disappoints me, even when I land between a fence and a rocky cliff and get stuck there, even when I don’t grab a ledge or pole after a jump for reasons that I can’t quite understand. My dearest Dying Light, I am so grateful for your specialness, for it shines through even when I am prepared to damn you to hell.” Score: 7/10
7. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
“The game is a triumphant return to form for the franchise, and presents a beautifully structured tale with heart and soul to spare. Ziplining through London is thrilling, and the game allows you to organically discover missions and leaves you open-ended solutions lets you to create a meaningful, personal experience within its world. Coupled with strong, loveable leads and a seemingly endless procession of ways to leave your (fictional) mark on London’s history, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is a shining example of gameplay and storytelling.” Score: 9/10
6. Batman: Arkham Knight
“What Batman: Arkham Knight does well, however, it does really well. Gotham is a dazzling playground where neon lights pierce through the rain and mist; all it takes is a single glimpse to tell you that this is a city in need. Moreover, many individual elements are so carefully constructed, and presented with such flair, that appreciation is the only reasonable reaction. Yet most of these elements–excellent acting, wonderful animations, moody soundtrack–are ones that Batman: Arkham City also excelled in, making Arkham Knight’s missteps all the more noticeable. Rather than escape the pull of the games that spawned it, The Bat’s newest adventure refines the fundamentals; it is a safe but satisfying return to the world’s most tormented megalopolis.” Score: 7/10
“The finest treasures are found within the city of Yharnam and the forests, lakes, and purgatories beyond it. Only Bloodborne would be so bold as to bury an entire factional player-versus-player mechanic within an optional region, which is in turn buried within a series of oblique steps you might miss if you aren’t exploring every nook and cranny, or ignore the game’s enigmatic hints. I finished Bloodborne in less time than I did Dark Souls II, yet I treasure it more in spite of its few missteps. In death there is life, and in blood, there is redemption. More hyperbole, yes, but for a game this theatrical, only hyperbole will do.” Score: 9/10
4. Star Wars Battlefront
“I can’t help but smile when the Boba Fett guns down three fighters in a row from his Slave I ship, or a snowspeeder careens past with flames trailing in its wake. The first 10 hours are packed with these moments, and it’s worth playing just to watch them unfold. But Battlefront doesn’t go much deeper than its ambitious surface appeal. It front loads its best content, only to fade in quality as the hours roll by. Star Wars Battlefront‘s skin is beautiful, but its legs are shaking, and threaten to buckle with time.” Score: 7/10
3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
“There has never been a game in the series with such depth to its gameplay, or so much volume in content. The best elements from the past games are here, and the new open-world gameplay adds more to love on top. When it comes to storytelling, there has never been a Metal Gear game that’s so consistent in tone, daring in subject matter, and so captivating in presentation. The Phantom Pain may be a contender for one of the best action games ever made, but is undoubtedly the best Metal Gear game there is.” Score: 10/10
2. Fallout 4
“Fallout 4 can be an intoxicating experience. You’re often forced to sacrifice something–a relationship, a lucrative opportunity, or your health–to make gains elsewhere. And the deeper down the rabbit hole you go, the more you wonder: what if I chose a different path? You second guess yourself, not just because you had other options, but because you aren’t sure if you did the right thing. The fact that your decisions stick with you after walking away from the game is a testament to the great storytelling on hand. Fallout 4 is an argument for substance over style, and an excellent addition to the revered open-world series.” Score: 9/10
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
“And make no mistake: this is one of the best role-playing games ever crafted, a titan among giants and the standard-setter for all such games going forward. Where the Witcher 2 sputtered to a halt, The Witcher 3 is always in a crescendo, crafting battle scenarios that constantly one-up the last, until you reach the explosive finale and recover in the glow of the game’s quiet denouement. But while the grand clashes are captivating, it is the moments between conflicts, when you drink with the local clans and bask in a trobairitz’s song, that are truly inspiring.” Score: 10/10