Picking my top games for 2014 was a little harder than I expected. Most of my favorite games this year didn’t hit until close to the end of the year. My tastes in games tend to lean toward ones that offer open worlds, exploration, and a million things to do to entertain and capture my incredibly short and roaming attention span. Without further ado, here’s my choices for the top five games of 2014.
5. The Sims 4
While The Sims 4 may have offered us a lot of what we’ve come to expect from the series, there were some new features that added a new layer of depth. Being able to change the way your Sim walked added a greater personality to them, while being able to grab sections of the model and twist it to suit your own warped vision made it so much easier to create the perfect little minion. The best part was the fact that Sims could now develop moods as their days progressed and each mood would unlock special conversation options or actions. If your Sims were, for instance, in a flirty mood you would get options more suited to romance or seduction than playing chess or going for a jog. I would usually spend considerably more time building houses and furnishing them than actually playing with my paper dolls. These little options changed the whole game for me and I found myself actually caring about these tiny little people….until I got bored and began to kill them off, that is.
4. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
Good-effing-god, man! The unbridled chaos and mayhem in this game once you reached high enough levels is pure gold. I chose the Lawbringer class, and nine times out of ten you’d find me running into combat, guns blazing, until I ran out of ammo and hand to scramble behind cover in a desperate attempt to stay alive. But man, those 30 seconds were the best of my LIFE! Bullets ricocheting everywhere, bodies exploding, the uncontrollable urge to cackle and giggle maniacally as your screen just fills with loot. Ah, bliss. Just be careful you’ve got backup or you might find yourself running screaming for loot crates in a desperate Hail Mary for ammo. Story? There’s a story? Shhh, can’t talk now, mommy’s got people to ‘splode.
3. World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
If you had told me earlier this year that I would be putting a WoW expansion on my GOTY list I would have rolled my eyes and scoffed. Blizzard had repeatedly been disappointing me with what they offered to players of, arguably, one of the biggest MMOs of our time. Still, I knew I was going to be buying the expansion because I have a problem. Even ‘quitting’ as I had I knew I couldn’t not buy the game. It’s a compulsion, I swear. I’m really glad I gave it another chance, as Warlords of Draenor brought new life and excitement to a game that had fallen victim to laziness and was, honestly, coasting on its laurels for the past few years. Garrisons were a huge step forward in actually listening to the player base, and the execution so far has been remarkable. Add in rewards peppered throughout the landscape to reward you for going off the beaten path and quest lines that will likely make you shed a tear and World of Warcraft has once again become a game that’s not only entertaining to play but reminds us of what a top of the line MMO can do. Here’s hoping they continue the trend in 2015!
I will admit this right now, I am in love with Wildstar. It’s Firefly meets fantasy, peppered with bright colors. The housing system is so in depth that someone was able to build an entire grand piano out of nothing but rectangular beams. The story-line is entertaining and the combat system is immerse and so much fun that I traded in my tried and true healer class for a rogue-type for the first time ever…and I didn’t suck! Wildstar is all about doing your own thing no matter what that might be. Want to spend all your time at level 14 playing with your house? Go for it! Want to PVP to max level and seriously tear off some faces? You can do that too! Wanna run around the world ignoring quests and just exploring, gathering materials and occasionally smashing little critters? Awesome! Wildstar does not take itself seriously, and that’s a good thing. It will make you laugh, might make you cry, but the ability to laugh at itself offers a level of gritty humanity that’s missing in a lot of games. Did I mention that the developers are amazing too? Carbine listens to the players, respond quickly to issues, and genuinely care about how their game is received. Weekly live-streams keep the community feeling connected to the developers in a way that many more well-known MMOs simply don’t have the luxury of doing. Inside and out, Wildstar is an amazing game run by amazing people.
1. Dragon Age: Inquisition
If you didn’t expect this to be on my list, you don’t know me very well. Dragon Age has been a love of mine for some time and Inquisition is no exception (but I wish I could change those god awful pajamas). The story is good, but let’s be perfectly honest here, we’re playing for the romance. Cullen seems to be the resident pretty boy (and this game’s Alistair) and is by far the most popular romance option. Personally I’m torn between him or Blackwall. The thing that gets me about the relationships in DA:I is that unlike their predecessors there’s more dimension to the characters and their backgrounds that makes them seem more like people than bog-standard NPCs. Personal quests are more than just “Hey I found this item you vaguely mentioned once and remembered you like it” and characters don’t just jump into bed with you like that’s the whole point of it all. Bonus points to Bioware for their openly transgendered character Krem who helps Iron Bull lead his mercenary troop. The research and dedication they put in for a side character while taking great care not to make them a trope or a joke was incredibly respectful to the transgendered community. It’s heartwarming and refreshing. Still, we all know who we’d really like to romance…
Pokemon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby
Super Smash Brothers
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Far Cry 4