The years just keep rolling right along and so do their games. These next ten months of 2015 are still chock full of ’em. Welcome to BagoGames’ Gaming Head-to-Heads, where we do battle in the only way we know how – by debating games ’til we drop, but certainly not until we’ve convinced ourselves otherwise.
In round one of our mighty tribute to 2015’s must-play gaming list, we talked about everything bloody and cute under the sun, if not steampunk and remastered. Now? We’re talking round two of our glorious head-to-head mashup. Read on for everything you need to know about ten more of our biggest games of 2015 and hopefully some of yours too.
Rise of the Tomb Raider Vs. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Patrick Kennedy | Rise of the Tomb Raider
Patrick says: Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider saw a beloved gaming icon reimagined for a new era and while the 2013 reboot saw a darker, grittier adventure where Lara’s adventure was about her mere survival, Rise of the Tomb Raider’s set to take survival gaming to the next level. An enhanced crafting system, intense combat, vast areas to explore – the game’s got every new dynamic you need for making gritty gameplay grittier. Locales are more organic still, and we’ll finally see our visits take place over day and night extreme weather changes.
Rise of the Tomb Raider will see Lara on a journey to uncover an invisible city and the secret of immorality while outrunning a shadowy organization. It may all sound like a simple narrative like any adventure game, but Lara’s journey is more than just battling bears and masked mercenaries – she’s battling her own harrowing post-traumatic stress. This alone makes for endless gameplay possibilities. With Lara’s mental health at stake, every decision she makes could alter certain gameplay aspects and create even more nerve-wracking tension where it’s already through the roof. Rise of the Tomb Raider will surely be the mature, gut-wrenching take on Lara Croft rethinking the way we play and write adventure games.
Tim Gruver | Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Tim says: It’s been a hard twenty years to watch so many of Playstation’s mascots fall by the wayside, but for the past eight of them, it’s been easy to love Nathan Drake. I ask myself just why I’ve been so excited for just fifteen minutes of gameplay footage the minute Uncharted 4 was revealed and it always comes back to why I love this series, its gameplay, its stories, its epic set pieces, and the man at its center. I’m equal parts excited and skeptical of whether another Drake could ever be so cool, but if Troy Baker’s voicing him, I’m onboard.
What excites me even more is playing this Drake in the world he’s finally deserved. Uncharted 4 can’t help but remind me of the The Last of Us‘s brutal hand-to-hand combat and the more visceral edge the game’s combat’s always needed. It may not be open-world either, but the island locale looks bigger and better than anything we’ve seen thus far – it beats moping around in sand dunes after all. Uncharted 4 means freedom, the freedom to progress through the level almost any way you want to, which is what the developers look like they’ve done here. And that can only excite me as much as the people I’m with on the ride.
Biggest JRPG Time-Sink
Xenoblade Chronicles X Vs. Persona 5
Eleni DiCarlo | Xenoblade Chronicles X
Eleni says: Japanese role-playing games are often time sinks for gamers who love to explore, want to experience the story or are completionists. Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade Chronicles X is going to one of those games you will sink a good three hundred hours into or more. Once the game begins, the player’s asked to create their avatar and the options are endless. Your avatar can be as realistic or animated as you want. Changing scars, freckles, hair color, skin tone and voices is giving players a chance to add their own creativity to Xenoblade Chronicles X. This allows players to create their favorite characters or celebrities to fight for their lives after most humans have been destroyed in the game’s world.
X offers a massive open world where you can find strange creatures from the developers’ imagination. Once starting the game it will be hard for any player to resist wanting to discover all the animal species or finely craft every Art. Combat and defensive skills are called Arts and as your avatar progresses through Xenoblade Chronicles X, more Arts are learned and can be crafted in the Art Palette. Not only can spend time exploring this sci-fi world with very little humans but plenty of beautiful landscapes, you will be carefully crafting your Arts to use in battle. You want to make sure your Arts maximize your avatar’s fighting. Between the customizable avatars, Arts and extensive open world, Xenoblade Chronicles X’s guaranteed to suck the players’ hours away without them noticing. So if you are in the market for a JRPG that will consume your game time for a few hundred hours then Xenoblade Chronicles X is the one for you!
Tim Gruver | Persona 5
Tim says: It’s hard to imagine how much Persona’s suddenly in our lives again. It’s been seven years since Persona 4 entered the world and less than three if you’re still finishing Persona 4: Golden. With Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Persona: Dancing All Night, it’s a good – no, it’s a GREAT time to be a Persona fan entering the series for the first time. I’ll admit that I’m no veteran to the series. I’m just beginning to mow my way through the series (I’m told that’s the holy grail to start with) and the hype is real. Real enough to know just what the big deal is for 5 and beyond.
That JRPGs (and console JRPGs no less) should finally be taking center-stage this year is enormously satisfying to this gamer, but Persona’s something special even among the year’s Final Fantasies and Xenoblades. It’s cool, it’s contemporary, but most of all, it’s the most character-driven JRPG I’ve played in a very long time. The social links, the conversations, the blood-pumping choices – all of them make Persona a time-sink I can drown myself in. Forever. If Persona 5‘s trailer is any indication, there’s a lot to love already. The red-and-black visual hues give off a brilliant tone that tip-toes the line between 4‘s campiness and 3‘s dark heart. If I somehow finish 4 by the time 5‘s localized in the US, it’ll be a miracle if I finish 5 before I graduate college. (I’ve got two years left.)
Most Heroic Finale
Batman: Arkham Knight Vs. Metal Gear Solid V
Jerry Dobracki | Batman: Arkham Knight
Jerry says: Thankfully, gamers have been thrust into a time where licensed games are actually good. There was a point in the genre when licensed games were taboo and always a waste of money, this is no longer the case. Rocksteady’s brought Batman back from the video game mortuary and in such a great fashion. Arkham Asylum’s in my top ten games of last generation and I couldn’t believe the skill and heart Rocksteady pumped into the series. They brought the same magic to Arkham City, but that it hardly resonated as well as Asylum did for me. I don’t know why, I enjoyed playing the hell out of it, but it lacked that first time spark Asylum gave me.
I have a feeling that Batman’s first adventure on current gen consoles will rekindle that first spark. What excites me is that Rocksteady has penned this tale themselves, creating their own villain for the Caped Crusader to fight – the Arkham Knight. Plus, they’ve included a working Batmobile for crime fighting enjoyment. I know I got a glimpse of it in Asylum, but I didn’t get to drive it and wreak havoc on the crime ridden streets of Gotham. It does sting knowing that this will Rocksteady’s last installment in the Arkham series, but it gives me hope that they may jump onto another licensed game and revitalize that.
Tim Gruver | Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Tim says: A lot of stealth games make me feel disconnected between me ability and my character’s abilities. In Metal Gear Solid V, this all helps me feel like a trained saboteur while requiring you to do some work to earn it. You can order intel on areas and have ammo airdropped in. You can even airdrop a box and konk a guard on the head, knocking them out. Two years ago, I had trouble building up hype for a new Metal Gear. Metal Gear Solid V‘s trailers have been good, but I’m used to good trailers for Metal Gear. But an open-world MGS that lets me build an army I can see and command like my own armchair general? Yes, yes, and triple yes.
Red robot-armed Snake (Big Boss) in an Afghan desert – on horseback – and teaming up with Ocelot for revenge is exactly the tone the series’ has needed to go from its campy roots. The cutscene transitions seamlessly transition over to gameplay like the 24 episode I dreamed of playing. Snake’s horse even poops a bunch for crying out loud. Big Boss’s the hero we deserve and the hero we need, no just cause, only revenge in the kind of game the series’ has been building to all the time while we didn’t even know it.
Best Scare-Your-Pants Off: Until Dawn Vs. Silent Hills
Tim Gruver | Until Dawn
Tim says: Until Dawn sounds just like the Cabin in the Woods game that I’ve been dying to play for years, but if not for that, then Until Dawn sounds like something close enough. When I heard that Until Dawn was described as a “teen horror adventure,” In my experience, any entertainment with the word “teen” in it is just beyond stupid (an insult to those in that age group, by the way). I could be wrong, I thought – and now I just might be.
Learning more about this surprisingly promising survival/horror PS4 game, I’ve come to realize that I’m actually excited for a dumb scary game I can enjoy than the “so scared you go crazy Silent Hills” experience I can’t stomach. A character’s age and sex is irrelevant when it comes to quality storylines and great interactive experiences; what matters is that developer Supermassive isn’t treating this like a typical “teen” product. It’s a little campy, sure, but it has a distinctly horrific, legitimately frightening atmosphere. The way it’s shot and presented will make it stand out; provided the interactive elements are clean and enjoyable, we should have a scary good time.
Jerry Dobracki | Silent Hills
Jerry says: Survival horror’s in my blood. It ruins my veins much like the T-virus would, but I’ve been disappointed in the genre for awhile. A few games have gone back to the tension and isolation scares of the first Resident Evil and Silent Hill’s, but nothing’s scared me recently as much as P.T. I played the “demo” at 2pm when the sun was out and the game still gave me goosebumps to the point where I had to pause and wander around my house because I was so freaked out. The only other games to have done that to me were Resident Evil and Silent Hill. I got through Resident Evil when I was younger and continued loving that series, but I couldn’t beat Silent Hill as a teen. I remember fighting my way through the town and finally getting to school, where the enemies were little babies. I threw the controller down, turned the system off, and didn’t revisit the game for fifteen years. Those crawling babies freaked the hell out of me and I couldn’t keep playing.
Kojima and Del Toro seem to be on the same route for Silent Hills. The sounds that seemed to surround me in P.T., the creepy girl in the bathroom; heck, even the door slightly opening made me jump. The weird fetus thing in the bathtub made me walk around the house and the countless deaths I incurred made my heart race. Keep in mind that P.T. was only a demo. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the game has in store for me. The Evil Within made my heart race quit a bit, but I think it’ll be child’s play compared to what Konami has in store for us.
Most Gorgeous Open-world
Zelda Wii U [Working Title] Vs. The Witcher 3: Wildhunt
Eleni DiCarlo | The Legend of Zelda: Wii U [Working Title]
Eleni says: The game that Legend of Zelda fans have been craving is on its way to the Wii U. Nintendo’s promising a world without limits and enough to keep players busy exploring for hours. But the exploring isn’t what will draw players to Zelda Wii U. The gorgeous look of the Hyrulian universe is magnetizing and it’s the closest thing to a living painting. Even the enemies that have been revealed so far have an elegant beauty to them. Using soft colors, instead of the over-saturated paint games often have, gives Zelda Wii U a tranquil feeling. The focus on blue and green hues with golden lighting invokes an idea that you can hear the spirits of Hyrule along with the wind in the grass and the soft rustle of leaves in the trees.
Since the very first game, the Legend of Zelda series has always been meant to satisfy the explorer in all of us. Burning random bushes, blowing up walls to discover hidden passageways and swimming under bridges are all memories Zelda fans share. Now the developers of Nintendo are bringing loyal fans an entire new kind of world to discover. As Link, players will experience the true beauty of Hyrule. We can walk to the mountains and look in a field for a new flower. This year’s going to push the Legend of Zelda farther than it’s ever been before with an extensive, gorgeous open-world. Old and new fans will be enchanted by this promising world that finally offers the true aesthetic beauty of Zelda and Link’s universe.
Patrick Kennedy | The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Patrick says: The Witcher series has been growing stronger with each entry, honing its gameplay and storytelling to bring the ultimate RPG experience to gamers. If there’s one element that truly heightens The Witcher 3: Wildhunt above all the rest, it’s the world – or rather, its open-world. A beautiful expanse of rolling hills and crumbling castles, the Wild Hunt‘s stormy seas and lush forests look incredible. Whereas Dragon Age breaks up the world map level by level, making it seem disjointed, Wild Hunt creates a seamlessly endless world to explore and one that feels gigantic in size. There are no invisible walls or single paths to take in order to travel from point A to point B. Players will travel through a diverse world with a multitude of different terrains all connected together in one, seamless world.
The world’s such a stunning place it almost feels like it’ll melt your eyes. From the dense forests to the corpse ridden swamps, it has a life all its own, where nature lives and breath on their own accord among so many races and peoples. Only hours and hours of exploration will reveal more of this world to us and the secrets it harbors keep. From its snow covered mountains, enormous cities, and creature-infested wilderness, you’ll engage with a living, breathing world the likes no RPG has seen before – something The Legend of Zelda should envy a great deal.
Did we miss anything? Have another game you want us to talk about? Share your thoughts with us down below and tune in next month for when we go to space and back with a few more indies along for the ride and some open-world insanity to boot.