Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is wholeheartedly a journey full of secrets and nostalgia and contains a plethora of treasures within. From the set-pieces to the graphics, from the characters to the narrative payoffs, Uncharted 4 is a final chapter that ties a beautifully crafted bow around the Nathan Drake saga, in ways that I could have hardly have imagined or hoped for. It’s greatness that must be experienced, not told. It’s greatness from small beginnings, a phrase that encompasses both Naughty Dog and the Uncharted franchise in one fell swoop that is blissfully accurate, charmingly so. Previous to playing Uncharted 4, I don’t think that I could have let go of Nathan Drake. I could have never said goodbye to this character that I had grown with over almost 10 years. I never wanted to say goodbye. I couldn’t say goodbye. Now? There’s only one thing I can say now, with the most content and sincere warmth and honesty; see you around, cowboy.
Written by Kevin Atteridg
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a landmark title for the PlayStation 4 — a culmination of expert storytelling, solid gameplay, and breathtaking visuals that push the PlayStation 4 to its limits. Every moment, from its explosive set-pieces to the quiet emotional peaks of its story, is meaningful and comes together to make Uncharted 4 the best game in the series. Combining the action-packed legacy of the previous titles with a renewed focus on story-telling, Uncharted 4 holds not only the franchise’s best narrative but also some of its most fun gameplay moments. Just like the previous Uncharted games, Uncharted 4 is also carried by its charming cast of characters. Nate, Sully, and Elena are back and are joined by several new characters who manage to hold their own among the already solid cast. From start to finish, Uncharted 4 is a heart-pounding adventure that kept me enthralled throughout every minute of its epic story.
Uncharted 4 also holds the best multiplayer the series has yet seen; building upon the already action-heavy combat of the story, creating a thrilling fast-paced multiplayer suite that fully commits to the most hectic moments of the game’s single player. The excellent single player campaign and multiplayer suite combine to make Uncharted 4 one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had all year. If Uncharted 4 is truly the last chapter in Nathan Drake’s story, then it could not have had a more perfect conclusion.
Written by Kelson James Howerton
As it stands, Uncharted is a series which holds a very special place in my heart. I am deeply invested in the characters, and was so enthralled to accompany all of them on one last journey. Naughty Dog has a knack for really managing to keep you on the edge of your seat with all of the set pieces and action moments. During the lulls in action, the game is bolstered by a superior narrative that keeps the player engrossed in the minutia of the story, right up until the very end. And don’t even get me started on the ending of the game! Obviously, I don’t want to go into any spoilers for those of you that haven’t played this fantastic game yet, but suffice it to say that it was an emotional rollercoaster full of fan servicing and pure awesomeness. It was truly a special adventure, and a great send off for one of my favorite cast of characters in a game, ever.
Written by Nikhil Chowdri
Blizzard has seemingly done it all. The studio has produced excellent MMOs, RPGs, RTSs, and even card-battlers. Each of Blizzard’s titles are masterfully crafted and lovingly polished, and Overwatch, Blizzard’s first foray into the first-person hero shooter genre, is no exception. On the surface, Overwatch is a relatively simple concept. Two teams of six battle each other across a handful of maps in one of four game modes. However, the beauty of Overwatch is found in the intricate design of each of its 23 playable heroes. Each hero, from the turret-building Torbjorn to the mech-piloting D.Va, is uniquely designed to perform a certain role within a match. Because of the diversity of Overwatch’s eclectic cast of heroes, the game is accessible to all players and caters to a variety of playstyles. Furthermore, every hero and their respective abilities are interconnected in some way, opening the door for a wide array of synergies between heroes. These synergies work to create some of the best team-play I’ve ever experienced in a multiplayer game.
The spectacular design of Overwatch’s heroes exceeds just mechanical design, however, as each hero is also aesthetically detailed and diverse and have distinct personalities and relationships with each other. Even the game’s maps have character and feel like lived-in spaces, rather than just empty arenas. From head to toe, Overwatch is a marvel of a game that in every way attests to the level of polish Blizzard puts into each of its games. Even after spending nearly 50 hours with Overwatch, I’m still learning new things about the game and new ways to play its heroes, and with Blizzard routinely adding new heroes, maps, and events, I’ve been given no reason to stop playing even after all this time. Overwatch is not only one of the best games this year, but is also a game that will hopefully be discussed for years to come.
Written by Kelson James Howerton
DOOM is a game that had so much going against it before launch, with the widely denounced Doom 3 souring thousands of fans, but big ups to id Software for truly delivering the most thrilling, purely joyous action game of the year. DOOM is a delightfully gory, fast-paced, dance of death that completely understands what it is and who it is for; action junkies. From the gritty thrumming metal soundtrack, disgusting yet beautiful graphics, and just the right amount of nostalgia and fan service, DOOM is almost the complete package. The one thing that didn’t quite work was its multiplayer suite; I certainly wasn’t a fan of the time I spent with it. Despite that small hiccup, DOOM still manages to be one of the best games of the year.
Written by Evan Buck
Inside is an emotionally staggering experience that doesn’t let up. Its somber ambiance and grotesqueness proudly professes itself, demanding the attention of the player. From the frantic chase sequences to the fine-tuned puzzles to the symbolism offered in the final moments — there can be a lot said specifically about the last 10 minutes alone — Inside is truly a beautifully despondent experience. Developer Playdead knows how to craft an evocative game.
Written by Jeremy Winslow
The Last Guardian is a once in a lifetime game, and coming into our game of the year conversations I couldn’t get The Last Guardian out of my head – this game is nothing short of amazing! The bond I formed with this fictional digital creature/bird dog still has me confused. I never thought I could develop these types of feelings for something I knew wasn’t real. Trico is one of the most impressive characters I have ever witnessed in a video game. The fact that the creature acts like an actual wild animal within the game can cause some annoyance early on, but by the end of the game I realized something; that is why my connection was so strong with Trico. I grew with him as the game went on. He learned what my commands were as I learned the best way to command him. No game has ever made me feel the way this game did when the end credits started to roll, and I don’t believe any game will ever make me feel like this again.
Written by John Murray