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Game Informer Best Of 2015 Awards

by Jeff Marchiafava on Jan 06, 2016 at 10:35 AM

From sprawling open-world opuses like Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3, to small indie darlings like Undertale and Rocket League, 2015 contained no shortage of excellent titles to keep gamers busy. We ended last year fighting over our Top 50 list, and it's time to share the results.

The latest issue of Game Informer contains our full Top 50 list, but today we're giving you a peek at the award winners, including our picks for the best platform exclusives, genre standouts, multiplayer experiences, and much more. So let's get to it!

Best PlayStation Exclusive: Bloodborne

The punishing trials and tribulations of the Demon/Dark Souls series made From Software a household name for gamers who love (and occasionally hate) a good challenge. Bloodborne builds on From Software's demanding formula with faster action, evolving weapons, and a cornucopia of horrific Lovecraftian mutations. From Software won't be abandoning its dark fantasy roots anytime soon, but Bloodborne proves the developer is right at home in the horror genre as well.

Best Xbox Exclusive: Rise of the Tomb Raider

Microsoft's exclusivity over Lara Croft may not last forever, but it provided Xbox owners with its best adventure of the year. Rise of the Tomb Raider improves on nearly every aspect of 2013's already excellent reboot, with a larger world to explore and more varied combat. Even better, the sequel placed a greater focus on the titular tombs, making the desecration of archaeological sites fun again.

Best Wii U Exclusive: Super Mario Maker

Gamers have been dreaming about the prospect of a Super Mario Bros. level creator for decades, but who thought Nintendo would actually listen? Not only did the developer give players a LittleBigPlanet-like set of tools to create their own challenges, they're actually simple enough that anyone can use them. The Nintendo-created content included in the game is fun, but the real treasure is the nearly infinite amount of user-created levels just waiting to be played.

Best PC Exclusive: Undertale

We saw a number of games developed by one-man teams in 2015, but Undertale takes the cake. The retro-infused RPG charmed us with its old-school nods, but the novel combat mechanics and surprising player choices rise above the nostalgia. Throw in some hidden battles and secret twists that change your understanding of the game, and you have a must-play experience – and our pick for the best PC exclusive.  

Best Handheld Exclusive: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Hunting down and defeating gargantuan monsters just never gets old. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate makes it easier than ever for would-be adventurers to get in on the fun, without sacrificing the wealth of combat and depth that the series is known for. Despite being on a handheld system, the addictive progression loop will keep you on the couch for dozens and dozens of hours.

Best Mobile Exclusive: The Room Three

The Room helped popularize the "room-escape" puzzle genre in 2013, and Fireproof Games has been enhancing the formula ever since. The third entry in the series introduces interconnected puzzles, which give more meaning to the collection of unique and creative brain teasers. Even if you do escape, the multiple endings will have you coming back for more.

Best Action Game: Bloodborne

The G.I. crew spent a lot of time debating whether Bloodborne should be classified as an action game or an RPG, but once the choice was made, crowning a champion was quite easy. Impeccable controls give players a fighting chance during Bloodborne's intense and demanding combat, while the creative enemies and upgradeable weapons compel players to keep exploring the gorgeous and haunting environments of Yharnam.  

Best Adventure Game: Life Is Strange

Telltale has long been the king of the modern adventure-game genre, but a few new challengers toppled the developer's reign in 2015. Life Is Strange presents players with myriad life-altering choices with an eccentric mix of small-town life and supernatural events. The relationships and consequences stay with you long after the credits roll, making Life Is Strange an easy recommendation for fans of narrative-focused games.

Best Cooperative Multiplayer: Destiny: The Taken King

Destiny had plenty of detractors when it initially launched in 2014, but a continual stream of additional content and improvements have won over many critics. The Taken King put an even greater emphasis on co-op with new strike missions, the King's Fall raid, and weekly bonus challenges, which make teaming up with friends more fun than ever before.

Best Competitive Multiplayer: Heroes of the Storm

MOBAs are notoriously unfriendly toward new players, but Heroes of the Storm manages to accommodate newbies without compromising the competitive depth. Throw in a ton of beloved Blizzard characters and Heroes of the Storm's mash-up fights nabbed our Best Competitive Multiplayer award with ease.

Best Fighting Game: Mortal Kombat X

The tenth installment of Mortal Kombat doesn't stray far from the series' bloody roots. Instead, it continues to hone the experience with the tightest mechanics yet, a fun and humorous story mode, and a stable of new and returning characters. Thanks to current-gen visuals, Mortal Kombat X's gory finishers add eye-pleasing insult to wince-inducing injury. Now if only NetherRealm would bring back babalities!

Best Racing Game: Dirt Rally

Codemasters' latest racing game might not contain the breadth of a Gran Turismo or Forza title, but its singular focus on rally racing pays dividends for fans of the hair-raising specialty. Dirty Rally does a remarkable job of capturing the intensity of rallycross races and daunting hill climbs, where every hairpin turn and gravel-laden jump can send you careening off to certain doom. If you're completely in control, you're not going fast enough.

Best Role-Playing Game: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher series was overlooked by many RPG fans, but all that changed in 2015. The transition to an open-world format instilled The Witcher 3 with an even greater sense of player freedom, while the story and characters lived up to the high standards CD Projekt Red set in previous installments. The final chapter of Geralt's adventure was the must-play RPG of 2015, and that's saying a lot.

Best Platforming Game: Super Mario Maker

Mario has always managed to hop his way to the top of the platforming genre, and this year is no exception. Not only do Super Mario Maker's simple-to-use tools give every player the ability to create interesting levels, the game does a great job of surfacing that content without any hassle. Whether you're taking on the 100 Mario Challenge or playing your way through the offerings of your friends list, Super Mario Maker spoon-feeds you as much platforming fun as you can stomach.

Best Puzzle Game: Boxboy

Don't let the virtually nonexistent graphics fool you: HAL Laboratory's rectangular protagonist serves up a plethora of clever and challenging puzzles. Boxboy consistently builds off of its core premise with creative new mechanics, while deftly incorporating platforming into its puzzle solving.

Best MMO: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

Good things come to those who wait. While the Heavensward expansion requires grinding through a slog of FF XIV's tedious quests, the new goodies serve as a just reward. Challenging endgame dungeons and hunts, new jobs, and a plethora of crafting options offer players a ton of variety and fun activities when they reach the level cap.

Best MOBA: Heroes of the Storm

Most MOBAs require a great deal of knowledge and expertise in order to be competitive. Not Heroes of the Storm; Blizzard's take on the genre allows players to dive right in and start having fun, with fast-paced matches that focus squarely on teamwork and constant action. Blizzard clearly isn't afraid to experiment with the MOBA formula either, offering up more maps and modes than competitors, alongside unique heroes such as the two-player-controlled Cho'gall.

Best Rhythm/Music Game: Rock Band 4

Rock Band 4 doesn't break a lot of new ground, but it doesn't really need to; as it turns out, getting together with your friends and jamming on plastic instruments all night is still a fun time. Rock Band 4 comes with a solid play list, but support for the series' back catalog of 1,700 songs will ensure your rock-star fantasies will continue until the break of dawn.

Best Shooter: Destiny: The Taken King

2015 was a rocky year for shooters, as anticipated titles like Star Wars: Battlefront, Evolve, and Rainbow Six Siege all fell short of fan expectations. That didn't matter much in the Game Informer office, as most of our shooter fans were still hopelessly entranced by Destiny. The Taken King only strengthened their addictions with an overhauled leveling system and enough new maps, missions, and weapons to keep them grinding well into the new year.

Best Simulation Game: Cities: Skylines

EA's bungling of 2013's SimCity left fans clamoring for a proper city-building sim, and developer Colossal Order was more than happy to fill the void. Cities: Skylines allows players to live out their urban-planning fantasies with full control over zoning, transportation, public services, and more.  

Best Sports Game: Rocket League

The term "sports game" doesn't typically call to mind rocket-fueled cars, but Pysonix's unorthodox take on soccer captivated the gaming community. Whether you've mastered aerial trick shots or you're permanently stuck on the JV team, Rocket League allows everyone to experience the thrill of competition. In that sense, Rocket League is just like every other great sports game – but with more explosions.

Best Strategy Game: StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void

Blizzard finally completed the StarCraft II trilogy in 2015, and the Protoss campaign didn't disappoint. Not only did Legacy of the Void wrap up all the loose ends, it revitalized StarCraft II's multiplayer offerings with new modes, missions, units, and tournaments.

Best Remaster: Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

Majora's Mask was already one of the greatest Legend of Zelda games of all time, but Nintendo spared no expense bringing it to the 3DS. A number of the original game's problems were finally fixed (including streamlined time traveling and rearranging Clock Town for the better), alongside new improvements such as a controllable camera. You can also play the game in 3D, if you want.

2015 Game of the Year: The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

The debate over G.I.'s game of the year was as contentious as ever, but at the end of the day, The Witcher 3 reigned victorious. In a year full of viable contenders, The Witcher 3 raised our expectations for what an open-world game should offer in terms of depth, polish, and most importantly, activities. Whether you're hunting down monsters, solving murder mysteries, or just playing Gwent with the locals, The Witcher 3 is chock full of compelling side content that goes far beyond the repetitive fetch quests and collectathons we've come to expect from open-world games. Superb writing and surprising twists extend far beyond the main storyline, making all the question marks that litter your world map worth exploring.

Want to see what other games made our Top 50 list? Check out our 28-page Best of 2015 feature in the most recent issue of Game Informer