Top 10 Video Games I played and enjoyed from 2015: Honorable mentions

Each year everyone has their top 5 or 10 game list they build. Sometimes it’s put on a major website like IGN or Polygon, other times fans make their list and put it on their own respective site for the enjoyment of having people look at their opinions, like I am doing. The one thing we all have in common though, is the Honorable mentions list, as these games barely made it off the list after much though/arguing and even though not in the “top # games of 2015” there is still a need to mention them. As with every list, these are just my opinions and while I didn’t play every game this year this list just represents what couldn’t make it into my top ten.

Fallout 4

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Fallout 4 is a game many people have on their top 10 list. It is a new entry into the series and is a hell of a lot of fun. The shooting in this game is substantially better than its predecessors, yet it still retainsthe V.A.T.S system for those who like it. The character customization is awesome, as you can look online to see a ton of really well done remakes of actors, characters, and wtf-ery, case and point I have a ‘Dick Tracy” character, while my friend is running a Nicola Tesla character for the fun of it. Once into the game, there is a big world to explore and if you enjoy the nitty gritty of base building, weapon upgrades and min maxing your stats, Fallout 4 will have you covered.

The reason it did not make my top 10 is because I didn’t find it had the focus or powerful draw of say Witcher 3 or Destiny. Blasphemy you might say, but Fallout 4 was best when you were exploring an area with both immediate danger, and the promise of more danger AND exploration right around the corner. Playing on PS4, I found the game to be sluggish at points while walking aroung and really sluggish sometimes when big battles happened. The load times of the game were atrocious, which REALLY took me out of the experience every time I played it so using the fast travel system was not my first choice if a destination was close enough to walk to. I want to re-iterate, I don’t think the game is bad, its just a poorly optimized experience.

Lego Dimensions

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I really enjoy Lego games, and brick in which I built my childhood in general. It is fun to bash around in a world like Middle Earth or next to the Avengers tower as cute and fun Lego versions of their respective characters. Lego Dimensions keeps that fun tradition alive with its mix and match of both building lego’s, ie the portal and all vehicles that come with certain character packs, and the traditional ‘lego game’ gameplay that has been around for a while now. Dimensions has a plethora of worlds to jump into already, then you add the character packs that add new worlds, like the DC universe, Simpsons, and Ghostbusters, you then expand your gaming time and fun by hours. I am looking forward to seeing some avengers for Lego dimensions as I wan to fly around as Thor if possible.

The downside to Lego Dimensions is twofold, one which you cannot actually fault the game for. I was moving, so I had packed a lot of my stuff up minus my consoles, so the Lego dimensions game took a back seat near the end of the year. Before my move however, I found myself REALLY invested in the game for the first couple of weeks, as it would be in my weekly rotation of things to chip away at, which was blast. However after that, I found myself less and less interested in the game as new games were coming out, my backlog started to peak my interest more, and my Gandalf broke (the base with the RFID chip). The Gandalf issue is probably the majority of the reason as it stopped me from progressing in some area’s while I got it replaced. Once the original trio were back together again I just had other interests sitting at the forefront of my mind. Still really enjoy this game, and will be going for the platinum this year as its at the top of my backlog list.

Axiom Verge

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Metroidvania returns in winning form! Axiom Verge instantly reminds you of the Metroid/Castlevania days with its beautiful art style and tight platforming. as you navigate mind blowing levels as you battle bosses with a unique weaponry and look for secret area’s throughout the map. This game hits a lot of the same nostalgia beats like Shovel Knight, and it pulls them off with similar excellence. When I was heavily into the game, I was obsessed with looking for secret rooms, and trying to figure out the best way to traverse the map to be quicker as I jumped back and forth. A must have title for Metroidvania fans, and one I am looking forward to going back to.

Sadly, the reason this is in the honorable mentions is primarily due to my lack of travels. I play my vita mostly when I travel, or late at night in bed. With my move across the country it got a lot of use, but I was engrossed in other games so Axiom Verge didn’t get any more play. The issue I find with having this game as my constant Vita title (I feel its more at home on Vita), is due to the lull you can get into with traversing the map. As good as it looks, and as enjoyable as the combat is, sometimes I feel that the game lags in pacing when there is nothing to combat, or very few enemies to combat. The boss battles are fantastic, and are the highlight of the game for me, I just find I need a bit more stimulation to play this game constantly

Dragon Ball XenoVerse

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What can I say about Dragon Ball Xenoverse that hasn’t already been said. . . . oh a lot? Alright then lets get at it. This game, much like j-stars victory vs or any other anime inspired beat-em-up is a staple in my roster of games. I love the sillyness and the fan service a lot of these games have, and it allows me to fight with and against my favourite characters from their respective universe. The reason I choose Dragon Ball over the others was its character creation and world hub where you could see other people. Its such a ridiculous premise to have all these people in one area and doing missions that it makes me smile, even now as I think about it. Such a fun title, and one I plan to revisit this year.

As much as I get enjoyment from this game though, I found after a heavy investment of time right off the bat I found myself eyeing other games both new and in my backlog to give me a fresh experience. Dragon Ball Xenoverse is fun, but I found that playing it for too long was actually a detriment to my enjoyment. As more and more games game out, or existing games were put in the forfront of my mind, my Vegeta clone languished more and more, until I uninstalled the game for more room, to play Shadows of Mordor. If you like the crazy fighting games, I highly recommend this game, and any of the other anime fighters out there, especially since they are cheaper now due to the passage of time.

With that, the look back on 2015 is over. Lots of great games I didn’t even get to mention as well as some “triple A” games that I didn’t think lived up to the promise, but I try not to dwell on the negative. 2016 has a metric ton of games coming out that I want to play and I look forward to writing and talking about them here.

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Top 10 Video Games I played and enjoyed from 2015: 5 – 1

We have returned, and its time to get into the top five games I enjoyed the most in 2015. As with the 10-6 list, these are all subjective to my preferences, and what I played. obviously I didn’t play every game and these are just my opinion. With that said, lets crack that top five

#5 – Bloodborne

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If there is a game type that has ever frustrated more than the Dark Souls series, I do not know of it. Punishing difficulty, madding hidden enemies to jump out and kill you, and the need for slow and methodical exploration (at first) gives these types of games a special place in peoples hearts. Bloodborne takes what the Dark Souls series does best and adds in its own unique layers. The game for one is faster than Dark Souls and many other ‘Souls inspired’ games, such as Lords of the Fallen. Having a quicker combat pace is both a boon and a hindrance as you feel like you have more control over the character and it seemingly gives you that false sense of security. . . at first. Enemies also turn, jump, and swing with more zeal compared to its comparative rivals, turning what seems a simple fight into a frenzy of dodges and blunderbuss interrupts as you try and regain your positioning, all while dodging a ranged enemy you didn’t see earlier who is taking pot shots.

Bloodborne kicks my ass, I am one of those people who is not very good at it, and I have a hard time grasping the mechanics and remembering how best to exploit them. I like grinding block & swing style combat games, which is not what this type of game is. That being said, I still really enjoy trying to advance my character through the levels and I am slowly chipping away at the game. With the first boss down, I am now working on re-learning the mechanics of the side-step dodge and the blunderbuss interrupt when I mess up my positioning. There is DLC out for Bloodborne which people have been very positive about, albeit there is still a huge difficulty curve to it. If you like to punish yourself and test your mettle, Bloodborne is a good pick up, and will give you hours of near madding enjoyment.

#4 – Rocket League

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The sound of a turbo kit whine, the rumble of a V8 big block growling to your right and a giant soccer ball directly in front of you as the timer counts down, and at zero six super tiny cars race towards their spherical objective in a cacophony of colourful boost stream, front flips and vertical lift. Rocket League is game that on paper sounded fantastic, but should have failed on execution. Having micro machines drive around in an arena playing soccer is a ludicrous concept that friends talk about when they are spit-balling idea’s late at night however the Psyonix team took this premise and cranked out one of the best critically received games of 2015. This game is pure enjoyment to play. You are having a good time, even if you are losing (unless you are trying to play competitively) as you zip around the field trying to beat your opponent to the ball, leaping into the air for ill-timed attempts at ball return and the occasional explosion of your opponent (or yourself) when someone boosts into ludicrous speed!

Once you get over the simple fun of driving around you begin to understand the games actually deep mechanics as it takes into account your cars angle, speed, the speed of the ball and the balls rotation when you hit it. Learning to control your boost, proper timing for wall climb jumps and Ariel combat bring Rocket League from a simple “racing-sport” game to a pretty serious and skilled competitive experience. In most team based games I like playing defensively or in goal while my allies do all the attacking, and being the goalie in Rocket League might be the harest part of the game, as you have to combine all of the skills above, along with the situational awareness to keep tabs on how reboundsoff the side and back walls will play out, and where the opposing team members are in relation to said rebound. This game is still going strong with (on PS4) upwards of twenty thousand users online. I am not sure if that also includes the PC players, who can play against their PS4 brethren, but even still it is a heafty number of players to battle against. Couple that with the cheap/free DLC for new cars, arena’s, decals and paints, you have yourself a great experience that you can enjoy in five minute bursts.

#3 – Heroes of the Storm

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If you are part of the Kinda Funny community, right now you are saying “Fucking MOBA nerd”, and laughing. All jokes aside, Heroes of the Storm is actually quite an entertaining game, as it takes all of Blizzards properties and picks characters out of their respective universe to battle one and other in a 5v5 team battle. Those familiar with League of Legends or Dota 2 will instantly see the parallels and, depending on your salt level, see why this game is enjoyable. As mentioned, characters from all of Blizzards properties battle each other, so you can have a Team of Diablo, Jim Raynor, The Lost Vikings, Jaina Proudmoore and Uther Lightbringing all fighting together for a common goal. The games classes break down into Assassins, Support and specialist in both ranged and Melee, there is also the tank class called Warriors. They feature characters such as the previously mentioned Lord of Terror, Diablo, Muradin Bronzebeard of World of Warcraft or the Holy Crusader of Zakarum Johanna.

To me, what makes this game such an enjoyable time sink is its ease to get into, compared to its competition, yet difficulty to master. Each of the heroes has their own difficulty curve and play style, which allows you to crush witless minions and mercenary camps with your own dramatic flair, but in that learning curve, you also begin to understand one of the main draws of the MOBA experience; the team fight. Quick reaction time, proper spell rotation, and cool-down management are all part of the games more competitive scene as players learn how to combine Ultimate abilities such as Nova’s orbital strike with Gazlowe’s Grav-O-Bomb 3000 for what is known as a ‘wombo-combo’. These team dynamics and combo’s make not only playing the game enjoyable, but watching the game, which has been VERY popular with games like LoL and Dota2, all the more entertaining. Seeing a Azmodan Dunk at max range get a kill on a fleeing Falstad who is hidden by Fog of War is a thing of beauty, or watching a Tassadar lay down a clutch Force wall to save his team from pursuit as his team retreats from a bad engage gets you amped to log in and try these high level tactics yourself. Heroes of the Storm is free, and besides variant skins, you can earn everything in game with their ‘gold’ currency that you get after each match. A fun game to pick up, and I highly recommend it.

#2 – The Witcher 3

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To say I am an RPG fan, is like saying Cheese burgers are good, a clearly obvious statement that regardless on how you make your cheese burger its still good. The Witcher 3 is like a triple cheese burger with Bacon onions, pickles, mozzarella cheese, Gouda cheese, BBQ sauce, Mayo, and an onion ring because why the fuck not an onion ring. To say Witcher 3 is stuff to the brim is an understatement. While I am chipping away at it, the game ha given me over thirty side quest in the beginning areas of the game, an inventory full of materials for crafting and a developing hatred of enemies who wield shields, though I do love to kill ghouls. The vanilla version of the game is a monstrous expanse that allows you to roam at will, and when you couple that with the additional content they gave away for free AND the two massive DLC’s they have, Geralt will have plenty of game to go through

Some criticism of the Witcher are that it is too dense, as its content overwhelms the player and that its combat isn’t as fluid or succinct as other games that have come out this year. As with opinions, I think all complaints can be taken as valid when they have some good reasoning behind them, as who can have a discussion about an opinion of “Game sucked, cause it sucked”. That being said these complaints, of which I find to be the two most common, are reasons why I actually love this game. Its combat is both deep and challenging, if you want it to be, and gives you the room to try out different combinations, armour types and signs, and this doesn’t even get into runes and mutagens which start altering your skill selection and and sign usage. Its breadth of story line options and sub-quests give this huge world so much more life as you move from town to town plying your trade, monster hunter, and delving deeper into this incredible world. If you enjoy RPG’s but cannot pick up every game that comes out, I HIGHLY recommend The Witcher 3 and its Season pass, as it gives you an incredible amount of content for its price.

#1 – Helldivers

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HOW ABOUT A NICE CUP OF LIBER-TEA! I love this game. It scratch’s an itch for me that I didn’t really know until it came out. Diablo, Baulders Gate and the like had been my only real entry into the isometric style gameplay for quite a long time. After those days the RPG Market turned more towards first person and shooters, still a first person dominated genre, kept on trucking along. It wasn’t until August 2011 when Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team came out for Xbox 360 did I realize how much I had missed this style of game. The fast paced action of a shooter with the micro-rpg action of upgrades is in my wheel house. Fast forward to March 2015 and I am signing up to defend Super-Earth!. I realize that there are other games like Helldivers that have come out over the years, and other isometric games in general but for some reason they didn’t have everything I wanted in them, so died out fairly quickly for me.

What, in my mind, makes Helldivers such an entertaining and enjoyable experience is how the entire game fits together. First off, you have a good looking game, and while I normally do not care too much about the graphical fidelity of a game, as I prefer story/game-play over graphics, having this stylized look to it makes you more invested in your little diver as he could die at any moment. Speaking of dying, everything in this game can kill you. Want to call in some extra ammo because you are running low? Great idea, just don’t stand under that drop of it will crush you as it hits the ground and sub sonic speeds. Bringing a buddy to battle the Bug, Cyborg, or Illuminate hordes? You got the right mindset soldier, just don’t stand in front of them when they are firing as bullets hurt you just as much as it does the enemy. You’ve called down a chain gun turret to defend you as you extract because that’s how you get the brass to notice your moxy solider, however when the bullets start flying, you are just as likely as the baddies to start dying. With its terrain effects such as snow and water slowing you down, Volcano’s throwing lava at you to burn you to death and pits in the map which you will fall down, Helldivers punish’s you for your mistakes. It also rewards you for your successes.

Completing missions and planets give you experience which levels you up, and throughout each map there are resource samples which you collect. Every ten samples you collect you get a research point, which allows you to upgrade your weapons and your stratagems. Remember that chain gun turret I mentioned earlier, upgrade that and its turn speed increases, or you can start upgrading a rail cannon turret instead, so you have some anti-armour to back you up. Along with the planets themselves, the difficulty goes up with each planet, leading to some really ridiculous shit happening, for example I have solo’d a level ten planet with a ninja build, yet trying to four-man that same planet was a nightmare for the reasons above of team killing and dying to stratagem drops. That being said, this game is incredibly enjoyable, and is out on PS4 and PC, though I do not believe there is any connectivity between the two groups. You can pick up the full game with all its DLC for half the price of a regular game and there is still a small but entertaining community to play with. I personally almost have the platinum trophy for this game, and it is one of the few that I legitimately look forward to getting. Pick up Helldivers and enjoy the frantic good times. FOR DEMOCRACY!!!!!

Top 10 Video Games I played and enjoyed from 2015: 10 – 6

2015 was a year of mixed emotions for me. One the one hand, there where a ton of great games to play across multiple systems, I went to E3 and got to mingle with the ‘industry peeps’ and tried out new games, and my vita make a huge resurgence in my life as I have over 30 games on it that I chip away at. That said not everything came up milhouse as we had poor Xbox game sales compared to projections, PSN outages, and the #Fuckonami movement for all the bullshit that came out of there camp. These are only a few of the high’s and lows of 2015 but what really made this year great was the games. This list is the top ten games I enjoyed the most in 2015. I am breaking it up into two posts to keep it from being incredibly long. As with any list, this is just my opinion and what I had fun with. I didn’t get to play everything so I may not have the same list as you. Mild spoilers ahead.

#10 – The Order 1886

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Whoa wait.. don’t leave!. I know this game doesn’t get a lot of love from the public or critical eye but I enjoyed myself with this title. Starting off with the obvious; this game is short. I was looking for all the collectible-s and it took me 11 hours, as I am slow and kept missing one of the collectibles in the later levels. The Order is also a bit shallow in terms of its gunplay, and while its not bad it is easy to call it uninspired from a weapons standpoint until you get later. The unfortunate trend in a lot of first person/third person shooters is to fill them with generic weapons with the spice of experimental weapons and the Order is no different. Where Galahad and the lads (great barbershop quartet name btw, your welcome) DO break away from the mold is with the science/experimental weapons they bring to the hunt. Of all the weapons in the game, my favourite has to be the TS-21 Arc Induction Lance, as there is something supremely satisfying with throwing lightening at enemies. Weapons aside, The Order 1886 has solid cover mechanics, a budding story into (hopefully) a classic monster hunter franchise and some of the best visuals put out this year.

While this mini review sounds like I am bagging on the game I truly did enjoy it. The criticisms of the game, while warranted, to focus a lot of the negative aspects or aspects people didn’t like. There is a lot to this game to enjoy and that enjoyment can start from the very first frame you get to see. As mentioned above, this game is beautiful and it is enjoyable to just look at the characters/scenery as you move through the game. The cut scene’s are also done with the in game engine, which tells you were the team spent the bulk of their time and money. The story had given Ready at Dawn & Santa Monica Studio a foundation to build a solid 12-20 hour single play game on. For those who didn’t play this game,. the story revolves around The Order as a continuation of the Knights of the Round table. They battle supernatural enemies and their allies, all while sustaining themselves on Blackwater, essentially a regenerative healing water that allows them to live longer than natural lives and heal from grievous wounds. The enemy in 1886 were Werewolves, and half breeds which were shipping hibernating vampires to the colonies. This premise screams to be fully flushed out, and with the graphics engine set, world built, and destruction raising up all around them, the Order 1887 (my own title..original I know) could launch us into battles both London for Queen, and to the colonies for country. If you are looking for a cheap game to kill a weekend on, pick this up.

#9 – Tales from the Borderlands

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You may consider this cheating as Episode 1 game out in Nov of 2014, but I have just recently picked this up and I have been having a blast with it, so I am putting it as my number nine. Borderlands and Borderlands 2 have been some of my favourite shooters in recent years. They scratched the itch for gear treadmill like Diablo 3 and the ridiculous shooting that is needed to have fun when the more serious shooters started to drag. When Tales from the Borderlands first came out, I dismissed it as a quick cash grab using the name as a boost. I had not played any other of the other Telltale games has they had not really interested me and at the time I was heavily invested in Destiny. Fast forward 8 months and it’s me picking up Tales from the Borderlands to change up the flavour of my day to day gaming.

What I found was a fun and highly entertaining story driven game that gives you control of the flavour you experience while playing. The comedic chops each character brings makes it enjoyable to actually listen to the story, as all too often after an hour or two I find myself trying to skip dialogue/cut scene’s in the majority of games, unless its the Witcher 3 or Dragon Age. Some of my favourite lines come off so quick and clean that you don’t realize the joke has been made until you are moving onto the next scene/set of dialogue. I personally love loaderbot and I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of the episodes (I am almost done episode 2) grow his character. Not much else can really be said about this series as I have not finished it, and I don’t think there is a need for in depth analysis for a relaxed, comedy fueled story. Great to pick up if you haven’t yet, or wait for the full TellTale sale when they heavily discount all their games as a bundle.

#8 – Mortal Kombat X

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If I knew how to phonetically spell Liu Kangs bicycle kick noise, I would have opened with that! Mortal Kombat X hit with a mixed bag in my group of friends, all of us enjoy a good fighting game, and MKX’s fatality trailers had us looking forward to breaking spleens and shattering spines. Mortal Kombat’s faction wars were a cool idea, and everyone loves a good tower run when they have a bit of free time however the game we got seemed to stumble a bit out the gate and miss that perfect combo of game-play and dlc. With faction wars not working initially, micro transactions for the fatalities, silly pre-order bonuses for Goro and a fairly weak Krypt, the game met with some fan backlash, even while it critically did well. Once players got over these hurdles and a few patch’s hit, Mortal Kombat seemed to fit much better into peoples games rotation, and was a constant in my group for a while at pre-parties/parties and lazy Sundays.

What puts MKX at my number eight slot isn’t the story, and as I think many would agree, story isn’t the driving force for this game. What brought me in for a couple months, and kept me practicing with the frost master was the styles of combat you could choose from. There is something incredibly satisfying about mastering each fighting style and THEN learning how each style stacks against the rest of the roster. As a subzero player primarily I (grand)mastered the ice clone to battle against my friends Scorpion with Ninjitsu (I believe that is the teleport variation). Violence aside, the game is quiet a bit of fun to play alone if you are into fighting games, but it does truly shine when you are playing against another person. Online, for me, was a decent experience as I got a couple of hard fought wins, but many loses. Funnily enough the loses had no “stupid lag moments” for me as the game ran smooth, and I was just out skilled. If you are waiting for Street fighter V or Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat X will definitely tide you over.

#7 – Shovel Knight

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Oh, let. me count the ways I almost threw my Vita across the room when I narrowly missed a jump, or got hit by a projectile I didn’t see. Shovel Knight is a game I am STILL working on, yet love so much. The art style, the music, the difficulty. . . the game is just a fantastic throw back to the side scrolling platforming games of old which were friggin hard. If you enjoyed any of the Megaman collections, Shovel Knight will fit right into your wheel house. As I said above, I play it on Vita (#Vitamasterrace) so I am on the lookout for Kratos. If you are on Xbox you get to battle against the BattleToads. Shovel Knight is a tale of redemption for our hero as he battles his way across the land and up the tower rescue his friend Shield Knight.

Shovel Knight, as a game, is pretty spot on when recreating that hard platform gaming of old, and as you couple that with the Megaman collections, Super Meat boy and the slow rise of Rogue-like popularity there are a lot of side scroller’s that can punish you for your mistakes. While only a few bosses in, I have found each to be an enjoyable challenge that culminates from the level they are part of, which again harks back to the classic side-scroller’s of our childhood. Since this game has come out for multiple platforms there is almost no reason you shouldn’t own it. It even has its own Amiibo for the WiiU version which looks fantastic.

#6 – Destiny: The Taken King

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You may consider this cheating as Destiny did not come out this year. I however like to think of the expansion, The Taken King, as a strong second leg of the franchise as it brings many of the pitfalls from The Dark Below and Houes of wolves back from the brink of mediocrity. As many know, the first two expansions for Destiny came out with mixed reviews. The Dark below had its dragging content and seeming lack of focus, while House of Wolves made steps in the right direction with etheric light and higher tier content, it too eventually stagnated on a rotation of weekly’s and skolas runs. With a lack of new raid, in HoW and new real new content advancement, the game and its players seems to wind down in interest.

Then came the King, or rather the Taken King. This new DLC really jump started the experience for a lot of people again with its hefty, in Destiny’s terms, story content, revision to the light level mechanic and its introduction of a third element for each class (Titan Master Class ftw). Also coming in TTK were new weapons, which led to the brief annoyance by some over the lack of the OG Thorn, Last Word and Gjallerhorn, and the retooling of existing weapons ‘year two’. New Ships, armour, shaders and emblems also showered down from the digital heavens as players worked through crucible and vanguard ranks to unlock them. Then came the raid, and damn that was a crazy time. Watching streams of players trying to hit worlds first as they fell to their death on the jumping puzzles, learning the War priest and getting crushed by the sisters were entertaining for many hours. Doing them myself really brings out the ‘try hard’ mode as you don’t want to be the guy who dies first, or who messes up a Golgoroth orb rotation. TTK has continued to expand upon its original content, with mixed reviews. We have the Iron Banner still running, now with new gear and Trials has also made its way back into rotation with its own set of bounties (I still suck at it though). A new game mode, SRL: Sparrow racing league was also introduced, and from all accounts seems to be pretty entertaining, I have not tried it as I was moving at the time.

As we wait for new content to emerge from the Bungie camp, the community currently sits at a crossroads. On the one hand, the game is pretty enjoyable with friends, and there is enough content to keep you busy throughout the week if you like to do everything. The flip side of that coin is if you do not like to do everything, you may find yourself logging on less and less, much like I have, as you don’t enjoy certain aspects or find the same content over and over again to be a bother. Couple this with the micro transactions currently in game AND the possibility of new major DLC being cut into smaller microtransaction chunks leaves some with a bad taste in their mouth. However for the moment, Destiny is still a fairly vibrant community, and jumping in now (or re-jumping in after a break) gives you a lot of options to have fun with.

Up next is the 5-1 games of the year and then some honorable mentions. Stay tuned!