2015 brought exciting and long-awaited entries to wonderful franchises like Fallout and The Legend of Zelda, surprising indie smash hits like Rocket League, and must-play platform exclusives like Blooborne and Super Mario Maker.
Here are the best games that we couldn’t put down this year.
Rocket League is a soccer game that you play with rocket-powered battle cars. It sounds crazy, and it is — but it’s also insanely fun, and probably one of the best multiplayer games of 2015.
Play as an ice cream truck, RC car, a monster truck, and even the Back to the Future DeLorean as you boost, jump, and flip around an enclosed pitch trying to put a giant ball into the opposing team’s goal. Use your boost to blow up opposing players or just ram them out of way when they least expect it, and unlock new parts to pimp your ride.
Rocket League became an instant success when it made its debut on PlayStation 4 and PC back in June, and despite being a simple game, its addictive and exciting gameplay makes this a title you just can’t put down — even at 2 a.m. — Killian Bell
Developer Techland’s open-world zombie title was easily my biggest gaming surprise of the year. It’s a lot less I Am Legend than I’d hoped, since it has a bunch of non-player characters for you to interact with. But it’s still a ridiculously fun (and just plain ridiculous) combination of satisfying melee combat and free-running.
The story isn’t the best thing ever, but it doesn’t have to be. Once you’ve run toward one zombie and then run up that zombie before using its shoulders to push off and leap high into the air before landing on another zombie and smashing its head in with a hammer that has a butane torch duct-taped to it so that it does fire damage, you won’t care about context or motivation. You’ll just be really pumped you did that.
Dying Light also builds in some real terror with a mechanic that has the most dangerous and powerful monsters coming out at night to hunt you. A good pair of headphones during these sequences is an almost ideal recipe for a panic attack and some cold sweats. — Evan Killham
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
I know it’s not exactly fashionable to be a Call of Duty fan anymore, but I don’t care.
With Black Ops 3, Treyarch has struck the perfect balance between the traditional, ground-based warfare we’re normally used to getting from the Call of Duty franchise, and the faster, more acrobatic gameplay that we got with last year’s Advanced Warfare. The game’s new movement system ensures that online matches remain fast-paced and action-packed, without the unpredictability of those exo-suits.
Black Ops 3 brings back the pick-ten class system that worked so well in Black Ops 2, and the smaller, simpler maps that made titles like Modern Warfare 2 so enjoyable. It also introduces specialist characters which all boast their own unique abilities, the best zombies mode we’ve had to date, an arena mode for more competitive play, and the much-loved theater mode.
Oh, there’s also a campaign, of course.
If you had a break from Call of Duty to avoid Advanced Warfare, it’s time to come back. You won’t regret it. — Killian Bell
This post-apocalyptic role-playing game from developer Bethesda drops you into the nuclear wasteland that used to be Boston and just kind of lets you walk around and find your own path. It does have a plot, to be fair — you’re looking for your kidnapped son — but the real joy of a Fallout game is in exploring the world and discovering its secrets and side missions.
I’ve had eight-hour sessions that didn’t advance the plot at all, and I didn’t care because I’d stumbled into a fully realized mini-story hidden on the other side of a hill, or an entire town full of zombie-like Feral Ghouls that each had its own specific name. Very few series put as much work into their worlds as Fallout does, and just about everything you see has a unique and interesting story behind it. It’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had getting lost. — Evan Killham
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D
Long-time Nintendo fans will know that The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D for Nintendo 3DS is a remake of a classic Nintendo 64 title that was first released in 2000. But whether you played the original or not, this is simply a must for fans of Zelda or the RGP genre in general.
The story sees you, as Link, trapped inside the world of Termina, which will be destroyed by the moon in 72 hours. You’ll have to collect over 20 masks and wake the Four Giants, helping the many citizens of Termina along the way, to prevent that from happening.
Brimming with Nintendo charm and playable almost anywhere, with remastered 3D visuals and enhanced features, Majora’s Mask 3D packs hour after hour of enthralling gameplay. If you have a Nintendo 3DS, this game should be in your collection.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
If Fallout 4‘s radioactivity and everyperson hero don’t do it for you, you can get equally distracted in The Witcher III, which puts you in the stat-laden shoes of Geralt of Rivia, a professional monster slayer.
And that is every bit as awesome as it sounds.
You have another “where’s my kid?” sort of quest ahead of you, but your distractions in the fully fleshed fantasy world include taking on contracts to kill beasts, investigating crimes, and joining bare-knuckle fight clubs. It’s also one of the most beautiful-looking games ever made, and you’ll constantly find yourself just marveling at its grotesquely beautiful creature designs and stunning environments. — Evan Killham
Super Mario Maker
There’s no greater platform game than Super Mario. You can pick up any title from the series — even the 1983 original — and still have fun playing it today, no many how many times you’ve completed it before. But with Super Mario Maker, you don’t have to play those games over and over.
Now you can create your very own Super Mario levels using hundreds of objects, enemies, and power-ups. It’s as easy as dragging and dropping these things on your Wii U gamepad, and the more you play, the more tools and content you unlock.
The result is a Super Mario game that never gets old. Not only can you design and play your own levels, but you can also download levels created by other players around the world. It’s the ultimate Super Mario game, and it’s only going to get better as Nintendo adds more content.
Platform: Wii U
You Must Build a Boat
One of the most addictive games I’ve played on iOS this year — and just as good on Mac and PC — You Must Build a Boat cleverly fuses a match-three puzzle game with an endless runner for surprisingly spectacular results.
Matching tiles helps guide your character through each level, and knowing which tiles to match at the right time will get you to the end faster. For instance, matching swords and staffs helps you take down enemies, matching keys will open treasure chests, and matching shields makes it harder for enemies to hold you back.
You’ll take on quests before each level and collect rewards for completing each one, and as you progress, your boat will become bigger, and you’ll recruit monsters to help out with different tasks. Increasing the size of your boat ensures you can power through the strong currents and make your way through the map.
You won’t have played anything like You Must Build A Boat before, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll become hugely addicted to what is a charming, wonderfully simple, yet incredibly challenging puzzle game.
Platform: PC, Mac
What’s your pick?
With so many incredible games released in 2015, it was impossible for us to include all of them in this list. These are our favorites, but we’d love to know what yours are. Let us know down in the comments which console and PC games made your year!