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Robert Lashley: It’s the End of the Year as We Know It, and I Feel Fine

Columns By Robert Lashley on December 24, 2015

It’s the End of the Year as We Know It, and I Feel Fine

I’m sitting here on Festivus writing my second to last column for the year and I would like to thank each of who visit the site. We couldn’t do what it is that we do around here without all of you readers out there stopping by and taking the time to read our reviews, musings, and predictions on games. I know time is limited and as I get older I realize just how precious of a commodity it is. So again, thank you.

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Even though it is Festivus I’m going to skip the traditional airing of the grievances and air on what I think were some of the better games, or expansions, to come out this year. Some are MMOs, most are RPGs, and a few of them are something else. While it was undoubtedly a weak year for MMORPGs it was a strong year overall for games. Whether you agree with my list or not I hope you managed to find something out there that you enjoyed.

Elder Scrolls Online: This one finally made its way to the console and is probably closer to what you should have expected when the game was first released. Can we be bitter that it wasn’t better when it was first launched? Sure. But if you are looking for an Elder Scrolls experience in MMO wrappings it’s hard to argue that ESO doesn’t now provide that to you from the convenience of your desk or couch.

Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward. This expansion didn’t do much to break new ground in the MMO space but if you loved A Realm Reborn then you will more than likely find a lot of enjoyment in Heavensward. Beautiful environments filled with FATEs and standard MMO quests. FFXIV is one of the best theme parks out there.

Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae. If Konami can get away with calling Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes a game then there is no reason that we shouldn’t be able to call this one a game right, right? Right? All kidding aside while this was not a complete game the demo did serve to finally prove to us unwashed masses that Final Fantasy XIII Versus was not vaporware after all. In grand Final Fantasy tradition this demo takes the combat system in a whole new direction. One of the greatest aspects about the Final Fantasy series is that its caretakers are not afraid to innovate with the franchise and FFXV is carrying that torch forward in a big way.

I have a confession. This one might be a grievance. I think Fallout 4 received too high of review scores. I’m one of the unfortunate ones that ran into a bunch of, while not always game breaking, strange bugs. Added up I think they were more than enough that they should have drug the overall game score down. This entry was also a little too much shooter for my taste. So pardon me if I believe the reviews claiming it is the best game ever to be a tad bit sensational. All that said though Bethesda did one heck of a job keeping a game of this scope relatively under wraps for as long as they did. Then being able to release it so close after announcement. While the story may have come up short the world Bethesda built does showcase why Bethesda is one of the best there is when it comes to building an open world. Just don’t let them write your dialogue.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Don’t try and make sense of the story. You will only hurt your head. After the first hour I felt like someone had drugged me and I was left wondering what the hell just happened. That aside this tactical espionage game pulls in elements of those open world RPGs that most of us love so much and blends them with a sneak’em up, shoot’em up series that we may not regularly play.

The Legend of Zelda: Tri-Force Heroes. This newest entry into the Zelda franchise leaves both the titular character and our beloved hero Link on the shelf. Instead we are treated to three aspiring heroes that are trying to prove their mettle. While the puzzles and action are traditional Zelda staples the game really shines with the multiplayer which has had limited use in the series. Sure you can use your totems to tackle the challenges in single player mode but I spent a lot of time playing this game with my two oldest children on our 3DS’s and we had a ton of fun.

Monolith Soft proved without a doubt that it is possible to make an open world RPG on the Wii U with their title Xenoblade Chronicles X. This JRPG on steroids has some of the deepest systems you can find in a RPG much less on the Wii U. The visuals are fantastic and the Skells (giant robots) are a blast to pilot and kill things with even if it might take you a tad too long to unlock them.

What list would be complete without the Witcher III? With its fantastic story, player choices that had legitimate consequences on the outcome of the game (beyond just who you shagged), beautifully flawed characters that are morally ambiguous, and Gwent, this game was fantastic. Sure Geralt turned like a ship at sea (until they provided us with a patch to fix it) and combat could grow stale but this game has so much going for it that those minor flaws were easy to overlook. I’ve heard critics talk about how they couldn’t get into the game because they didn’t like Geralt. I think that only speaks to CD Projeckt Red’s character development skills that Geralt could be so well fleshed out that you actually despise him.

Star Wars Episdoe VII: The Force Awakens. I know this isn’t a game but it was still amazing. Go see it… then go see it again.

Robert Lashley / Rob is a Staff Writer and jack of all trades for MMORPG.com. When he isn’t blinding people with the glare from his head in front of a camera you can chase him down on Twitter, PSN, XBL, and Nintendo @rant_on_rob.