2015 Shooter of the Year Awards
The past year was an interesting one for shooters. With games like Star Wars Battlefront, Evolve, and Rainbow Six Siege skipping campaigns altogether, fans of single-player experiences had slim pickings. That said, the online space got more interesting as Destiny cleaned up problems from the game's first year and Nintendo created a cute new franchise for those who prefer to color the world with paint instead of blood splatter. Here are our picks for the 2015 shooter genre awards.
Best Campaign: Splatoon
The campaign selection was meek in 2015, which gave an opening to a new face in the shooter genre to make its mark. Splatoon's campaign isn't particularly deep - it's essentially a collection of challenges - but the Mario-style platforming sequences and boss fights were more interesting than the competition.
Best Setting: Splatoon
Shooters are commonly decried for their dark and brooding color palettes, but when Nintendo stepped into the arena with Splatoon, things got a whole lot brighter. The "everything is rad" vibe calls to mind the aesthetic of late '90s video games, and environments like the pseudo-Shibuya hub world and the Splatfest dance parties give the game a feel all its own.
Best Character: Cayde-6 - Destiny: The Taken King
Fans and haters alike decried Destiny's lack of forward-facing world building and storytelling last year, and thankfully Bungie listened. This wise-cracking hunter vanguard brought some much needed personality to the Tower with his wry quips and flippant approach to facing overwhelming odds.
Best Graphics: Star Wars Battlefront
Battlefront may have been light on content, but it was flipping beautiful. DICE used photogrammetry techniques to port actual Star Wars props into the Frostbite engine. The result was stunningly realistic environments that looked like they were ripped directly out of the original trilogy. We can't wait to see if the studio uses this same process to bring Battlefield 5 to life this year.
Best Audio: Rainbow Six Siege
No shooter brought as much tension to the firefights via audio cues as Ubisoft Montreal did in Siege. From the hushed rush of footsteps on the other side of the door to a hackle-raising breach explosion, the studio masterfully created a competitive scenario that feels as tense as it does exciting.
Continue to read about the games with the best weaponry, gunplay, and multiplayer map, as well as our 2015 shooter of the year.
Best Weaponry: Destiny: The Taken King
Bungie introduced several new fan favorites to the Destiny world this year. Great-feeling physical weapons like the Touch of Malice and Sleeper Simulant became fan favorites in the Taken King, and the complexity of the quests to get these cool exotics made wielding them a badge of honor in its own right. The new supers like the Nightstalker's void bow and Solar Titan's Hammer of Sol were a blast to wield, as well.
Best Gunplay: Destiny: The Taken King
Gun controls are pretty much serviceable across the board in modern shooters, but the second you jump into a mission from the Tower it's easy to confirm that no guns feel as weighty, accurate, or powerful as the arsenal available to players in Destiny. Bungie's auto-aim prowess helped Halo pave the way for FPS on consoles, and with Destiny the studio is honing its considerable skill.
Best Cooperative Multiplayer: Destiny: The Taken King
Call of Duty: Black Ops III made a considerable push for this award with it's new four-player campaign and fantastic zombie mode, but the Game Informer office was dominated by Destiny meet-ups in 2015. From roaming aimlessly with a couple friends to jumping into the challenge of a six-person raid, Destiny offers a cooperative experience unrivaled in its variety.
Best Competitive Multiplayer: Call of Duty: Black Ops III
Truth be told most editors at GI had their best competitive experiences with Rainbow Six Siege in 2015, but netcode problems and a serious lack of mode variety and progression depth ultimately made it tough to hand this award to Ubisoft. Black Ops III, on the other hand, fired effortlessly on all cylinders with a considerable multiplayer suite. From its theater mode and CODcaster to the tight combat and depth of customization, Black Ops III is a fully featured competitive game.
Best Multiplayer Map: Chalet – Rainbow Six Siege
The latest Rainbow Six may have lacked mode variety, but when you only have to design a map for one specific mode, great things can happen. Siege features several well-designed environments for hostage rescue and bomb defusal, but our favorite is this mountainside luxury lodge that recalls a classic Rogue Spear map.
Shooter of the Year: Destiny: The Taken King
Haters gonna hate, but Bungie righted the Destiny ship in 2015, fixing many of the problems GI editors had with the loot and progression systems at launch. With its best-in-class gunplay, improved competitive play, and wonderful cooperative experiences, The Taken King was by far the staff's most played shooter in 2015.