Just as I was mellow on proclaiming bad games, so to am I chill on my favorite ones. Maybe with age my emotional reactions have settled or maybe my brain doesn’t catalog “Best” and “Worst” like it used to. There’s just one new pile in the middle of my mind palace labeled “Good” and everything falls near it. If that is what my brain looks like then these are the five games sitting closest to the top of the pile.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PlayStation 4)
Duh! Anyone who caught anything I said about games this year should’ve seen this one coming. While I have decided that Peace Walker is a more authentic Metal Gear game, Phantom Pain takes most of its gameplay concepts and blows them out to bewildering proportions. Building up Mother Base, developing hundreds of items and stealing everything and everyone in sight with Fulton balloons remained immensely satisfying. Kicking around the open world could’ve used more variety after the first 100 hours but I was still there at 200 hours replaying missions and finding new things to do. Then there’s the soundtrack which was one of my favorites of the year, the harrowing one-on-one FOB infiltrations and even the class-based multiplayer mode that I spent a dozen hours with.
Spelunker World / Minna de Spelunker Z (PlayStation 4)
Duh again! This game was the major reason I wanted a PlayStation 4 to begin with and it has not disappointed! I’ve loaded it up almost every single day since April, I’ve been through all the levels on the Japanese version and I’m doing it again now that it’s available in English. The music is infectious and catchy, the gameplay is daunting like platformers used to be, and the slow progression is satisfying to surmount. Playing the Japanese version alone, despite my evangelizing for friends to join, also added to the mystery about how things work and what does what. I really can’t explain my fascination with this game any further.
Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair (PlayStation 4)
EDF 4.1 was an absolute shameful joy to experience the first time through. Why shameful? It’s really just a remix of 2014’s EDF 2025, but the minor changes and improvements kept making me grin. Things like new NPC dialog, a spider robot and light sourced explosions mean nothing to you. To me they stack up like layers of icing on a cake I already loved to eat. We also bought a second PS4 so Katy and I could play online together just like we did with EDF 2025. Where boring couples play World of Warcraft together, we destroy giant insects and protect the citizens together.
Fallout 4 (PlayStation 4)
Nothing could have prepared me for the shock of wondering if I even enjoy playing Fallout 4. I was super excited when Bethesda finally showed off the game’s features at E3 but digging into it myself… *crickets*. Having logged hundreds of hours with Fallout 3 and Skyrim within the last four years, I may not have had nearly enough time to rekindle the excitement.
As I continued to play and explore I finally found my enjoyment in the richly detailed world and encounters. The interactions with NPCs still fall flat but the writing and delivery are better than ever. It’s not every quest but several of them have tugged at my heartstrings, in concept if not execution. The settlement system, the crafting and base building are all fun to interact with even if they seem pointless at times. I’m nowhere near finished with the game so it’s hard to guess how I’ll feel when I’m done. It may sound mostly negative in this post but it makes the list because the impressive, endearing and fun stuff has, so far, outweighed the repetitive and flat moments.
Rocket League (PlayStation 4)
It’s been well established here on GameLuv that I am not a fan of multiplayer or sports games. I’m not competitive and I’m not driven to win. Rocket League took that ethos and threw it right out the window. For two months it was practically all I played. From spastically chasing the ball to sternly playing my role, from free-for-aller to team player, I got deep down into it and it was a little scary. I didn’t join a clan or anything but I was motivated and frequently shaking from performance anxiety and narrow saves alike. Oh yeah, it’s got a fantastic soundtrack too and it was the first PlayStation game I ever got a Platinum trophy in!