Year in Review – Part 1
Well, we’ve passed the halfway point of 2015 and like any responsible gaming outlet, it’s time we take a look back at the year that has (so far) been 2015.
The second quarter of 2015 started out with barely a whisper.
Mortal Kombat X, the tenth game proper in the infamous fighting franchise, released on April 14th. NetherRealm Studios’ highly anticipated game released to several major bugs on PC, including some that prevented fans from playing online. The game was also marred by needless DLC and characters who were featured in the story mode, but unplayable other modes. Modders were able to bring several of these characters to life, but neither NetherRealm nor WB have announced releases for any of these characters.
MKX reviewed quite strongly on consoles, scoring an 86 and and 83 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 respectively. The PC version scored considerably worse, ending a whole 10 points lower than the Xbox One version, at 76. The game also sold remarkably well, beating out April’s competition for the number one spot on the NPD Group’s sales report, and was the second best first month of sales for a fighter behind Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Mortal Kombat X, thus far, is the best selling game of 2015.
Also releasing on April 14th was the oft delayed PC version of Grand Theft Auto 5. Not much more can be said about Rockstar’s runaway success other than the PC version seems to have been worth the wait. Reviews hailed the PC GTA5 for getting virtually everything right as far as ports go, arguably making the PC version the definitive version. As of May 2015, it was announced that Grand Theft Auto 5 had sold over 52m copies across all platforms (Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, and PC). Expect those numbers to continue to rise.
Other Stuff: Broken Age Act 2, Titan Souls, Dark Souls II: The Scholar of Sins
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood continued what The New Order started nearly a year earlier. The FPS royalty, which arrived a year earlier, revitalized interest in the stalwart franchise by introducing a story worth caring about and mixing it with old-school shooter tendencies. Gamers and critics loved it, and naturally Bethesda wanted to follow that up as soon as possible. Enter The Old Blood. The Old Blood acts as a prequel to The New Order. Set in 1946, B.J. Blazkowicz attempts to enter the titular Castle Wolfenstein in order to obtain some documents which would help the rebels fight back the Nazis. The Old Blood received largely positive reviews from critics, landing around the 80 mark.
Project CARS, the long-awaited crowd-funded, indie racer finally made it’s way to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in May. A Wii U version was nowhere to be seen, despite promises from developers that the game was coming to Nintendo’s struggling console. A few months later, it was announced that a Wii U version would not be coming out, angering many fans who felt cheated considering they’d helped to fund the game based on the promise of it releasing on Wii U. Despite the controversy, the game sold relatively well, crossing the million-sold mark within a month. Reviews were positive overall, scoring around 80 on MetaCritic. Critics lauded the game’s realistic driving controls.
Far and away the biggest release of May was CD Projekt Red’s RPG The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. Acting as a launching point for gamers new to the series, the game follows Geralt of Rivia as he tracks down his kinda-sorta daughter Ciri. The game recieved rave reviews from fans and critics alike, scoring a 94 and 9.2 respectively on MetaCritic. The Witcher 3 was just the ninth game ever to earn a 10/10 from Gamespot, joining the ranks of The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time and Super Mario Galaxy 2. It also sold like gangbusters, crossing the 4m sold mark in just two weeks.
Finally, May saw the arrival of the Wii U’s next great exclusive, Splatoon. Splatoon is Nintendo’s answer to multiplayer shooters. It’s approachable enough for children and adults alike to enjoy, but also deeply rewarding. Splatoon scored relatively highly amongst critics, scoring an 81 on MetaCritic and a slightly higher 8.4 from fans. Some critics were pleasantly surprised by the depth of the single-player content, considering Nintendo had been pushing the multiplayer component so hard.
Other Stuff: Invisible Inc., Magicka 2
June saw the release of the super controversial shooting spree simulator, Hatred. To the surprise of no one, the game reviewed very poorly, with critics and fans. The game lies in a pit, currently sitting at 43 from critics and 4.6 from fans. Previous speculation that the game would likely be… less than stellar and that the game’s infamous history was merely a marketing scheme proved to be accurate.
Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard’s answer to the MOBA craze, released to the public after months of beta testing. The free-to-play MOBA put you in the shoes of your favorite Blizzard characters, from the Diablo series, to the StarCraft series, to everything in between. The game was a fan favorite for it’s decision to largely negate much of what makes the MOBA genre, well, the MOBA genre. The game’s decision to forgo focus on traditional MOBA mainstays in favor of more objective-based gameplay split fans of the genre, but ultimately helped to bring in players who were otherwise intimidated by games like DOTA 2 and League of Legends. Blizzard’s efforts largely paid off. Heroes of the Storm earned an 85 on MetaCritic from critics. Fans were far more divided, with the game landing around 7.0.
Bethesda’s divisive MMORPG, The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, finally came to consoles in June. This came shortly after the PC version dropped the required subscription fee in lieu of an optional premium subscription version and a buy-once-play-forever type of purchasing option. Console versions scored slightly lower with critics than the PC version, hitting the mid-to-low 70s, though the game sold very well, coming in second for the month.
ESO came in second behind Batman: Arkham Knight, the supposed last game in the series from Rocksteady Studios. Batman continued the unfortunate trend of shoddy PC ports of otherwise great consoles games. The port was so disastrous, in fact, that WB Games made the decision to pull all sales on PC for the time being. As of this time, you can still not purchase a copy of the game. At the very least, console owners got to enjoy what many consider the pinnacle of the series. Arkham Knight walked away with a MetaCritic score of 87 on the PS4 and and an 86 on the Xbox One (63 on PC). This was enough to shoot Arkham Knight to be the best selling game of June 2015 and became the fastest selling game of the year, overtaking The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.
From June 16th through the 18th, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as E3, was held in Los Angeles, California. Huge games such as Fallout 4, Halo 5, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End took center stage as millions of gamers tuned in via streaming services such as YouTube and Twitch.TV.
Other Stuff: Massive Chalice, Lego Jurassic World, Payday 2: Crimewave Edition