After spending days locked in fierce debate, our global team of GameSpot editors and video producers has finally assembled a ranked list of the 25 best games of the year. Our list is informed by an array of tastes and preferences, reflecting our team’s diverse gaming backgrounds and opinions. From the biggest triple-A offerings to the smaller indie experiences, there was an abundance of games we loved this year. We’ve been counting down our top 25 games of the year over the past week, and today we finally reach the top five. For now, here are our picks for 5 to 2.
5. The Last Guardian
Trico is undoubtedly the heart and soul of The Last Guardian, and he may also be the most believable character ever represented in a video game. It’s a big claim, but in a medium where we’ve grown accustomed to maintaining control over key allies, Trico’s independent nature is a refreshing taste of reality. Granted, it’s not always easy to appreciate how aloof or distracted Trico can be, but it’s part and parcel of collaborating with a wild animal. These moments also lend greater impact to The Last Guardian’s touching narrative.
While the player is chiefly responsible for searching for passageways and solutions to puzzles, Trico often subtly clues you into into the possibilities around you. And when you’re confronted by the game’s haunted suits of armor, Trico steps up to fight tooth and nail to protect you, eventually overcoming his own fears in the process. Trico is your safety net, your trusty sidekick, and yes, occasionally a pain in the butt. But like most animals we consider friends in the real world, you take the bad with the good; a compromise Trico makes uncommonly easy to accept. – Peter Brown
4. Dishonored 2
Dishonored 2 is a satisfying return to the turbulent Empire of the Isles. Its gritty yet vibrant locales are abundant in details of a history gone by, either overheard in a passing conversation, read in notes found in desk drawers, or intuited from the surrounding structures. Every nook and cranny encourages and rewards investigation.
The open-ended design of Dishonored also returns, and it’s more satisfying than ever. With a vast array of weapons, tools, and abilities, the game embraces experimentation and ingenuity. I can cast Domino on a pack of approaching guards, plant a stun mine, and effectively eliminate all of them in one fell swoop. Or I can toss a cooked grenade at them, teleport to a nearby lamppost, and jump down on any survivors for a drop assassination. Dishonored 2 always leaves it up to the player, and that’s precisely why it’s so compelling. It’s a toy box of possibility that never betrays our creative desires. For that reason, it’s a game we can’t help but revisit time and time again, if only to try out something completely new. – Matt Espineli
3. Titanfall 2
Titanfall 2 is everything a sequel should be: bigger, bolder, and more refined. It addresses the criticisms leveled against its predecessor, alleviating past frustrations with measured, well-executed improvements. The newly added single-player campaign is tightly paced, swiftly moving from one clever and memorable set-piece to the next. On the other hand, its multiplayer offers a bevy of abilities to unlock that alter combat and movement in meaningful ways. There are also six new Titans to pilot, each with distinct loadouts that require skill and expertise to fully master. These additions expand the tactics of battles, elevating the formula far beyond its predecessor’s thrilling yet limited base. Every moment introduces both a new factor to consider and a new tactic to implement.
All of this culminates in an infectious combination of speed, complexity, and nuance that has fundamentally shifted our expectations of shooters. It has made us crave the euphoric high we feel wall-running as we plot ways to build up enough energy to summon our Titan and take on a battalion of assaulting Titans ahead. It’s undoubtedly one of the finest shooters we’ve played in years. – Matt Espineli
2. Uncharted 4
Where do you go from Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception? By the end of his third adventure, it seemed Nathan Drake had seen it all: El Dorado, the Tree of Life, and the fabled city of Ubar. He had gained new companions, lost old friends, and watched as the world’s secrets emerged, only to bury themselves once more as his journey came to a close.
But Naughty Dog returned to Drake’s story anyway. And in doing so, the respected developer crafted not just the best Uncharted, but one of the most insightful, momentous, introspective stories in this year. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End uses Drake and his supporting cast to form a narrative about sacrifice, obsession, and the importance of storytelling itself.
There are no superfluous cutscenes here and no unnecessary gameplay sequences. Every character, every stealth scenario, every action set-piece and tangential conversation serves to drive Uncharted 4’s story forward. It’s ambitious in its pursuit of a cinematic story, but its narrative doesn’t stop when we’re controlling Drake–the momentum carries over as we guide him through a grounded and exhilarating world.
The most impressive thing about Uncharted 4 may be how it addresses its predecessors, three games that garnered critical acclaim in their own right. Finally, we feel as if we know Nathan Drake. Not just his mannerisms and defense mechanisms, but also how he sees the world. Uncharted 4: Among Thieves is the series entry we didn’t know we needed. But, looking back, it’s the entry Uncharted can’t exist without. – Mike Mahardy
GAMESPOT’S TOP 25 GAMES OF THE YEAR
GameSpot will be unveiling its picks for the Top 25 Games of the Year all throughout December. Click here to see the full schedule.