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RPGamer's Best of 2015 Awards

7thCircle7thCircle Proofer of the RealmRPGamer Staff
edited January 2016 in Latest Updates
Some years are bumper crops for the top RPGs, and some years are famine years. RPGamer's staff played, rated, and ranked the cream of 2015's crop. Please enjoy consuming the results.

RPGamer's Best of 2015 Awards
The lesson here is that dreams inevitably lead to hideous implosions.
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Comments

  • Alex FullerAlex Fuller Managing Editor RPGamer Staff
    I am sad that Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters didn't get some love (maybe for Original), but can understand that with a, erm, limited number of people playing it and it perhaps not being the most accessible thing out there.
    "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."
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  • ultranessultraness Member Full Members
    edited January 2016
    Trails of Cold Steel has been my favourite game (not just RPG) of 2015 thus far...but I have yet to play the Witcher 3, and I haven't finished Trails in the Sky 1 so I haven't played its sequel.

    I was not disappointed by Xenoblade X. It's a really flawed game, but I completely expected it to be as flawed as it was, based on everything I heard about the game prior to the release. The only thing I find disappointing about it, really, is the music. I expected more from the composer, based on his older work I'm familiar with.
  • Shannon HarleShannon Harle qt = π RPGamer Staff
    I started playing Witcher 3 a week ago but didn't get very far 'cause I got kinda overwhelmed with the inventory and crafting... wRPGs tend to do that to me ehe. But I definitely want to start playing Trails. I only have the first one, but maybe I'll like it enough to get SC? A little sad about Disgaea 5 being such a disappointment though. All the news around its release made it seem like it was NIS' swansong if it didn't sell well. All-in-all I'm glad at all the thought put into this list and will probably play all the Best of 2015 games in 2016! And then 2016 in 2017. ;w;
    Currently Playing: Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS), The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (PC), Atelier Rorona ~The Alchemist of Arland~ (PS3)
    "I blame myself for underestimating the beast that is sex appeal..." - Agnes Oblige
  • RealityCheckedRealityChecked Member Full Members
    Lovin' the Trails love. Shout out to FC, which is the ice cream sundae to SC's cherry.

    Witcher isn't my style, but I may need to at least try it based on the high praise.

    Interesting to see this XC is as polarizing as the first.

    Has RPGamer ever considered a 'best character' category?
  • AncientRuneAncientRune Member Full Members
    edited January 2016
    you know im getting tired of everyone comparing XCX to XC because if you want to be technical XC is Monado Beginning of the world which basically seperates it from XCX as it was likely never intended to be a Xeno game in the first place (this is a minor nitpick though)

    im not surprised that it was hit or miss with the staff as it is completely different than any Jrpg before it and it feels like the resistance to it is sums up why Jrpgs have been stuck in mediocrity the last couple of years, even its creator hints that he thinks that way.

    i think the best comment that can sum up XCX was posted in another thread. He basically said XCX is not the follow up to XC that we deserve and in a way i kind of agree. he may be right perhaps it isnt but its IMO the jrpg that we need as we as fans we dont deserve anything.

    As for the Witcher 3 which i am currently playing I can see now why it gets such high praise even as a former hater of the series. It has some really good stuff and is a high quality wrpg with very few flaws. However so far outside of a few of the excellent sidequest (looking at you bloody baron) nothing really stands out and everything is just good and is pretty much balanced at a high level but no at an exceptional level. Comparing it to XCX which has a lot of things that are hit a miss depending on who is playing there isnt a single thing TW3 does better other than fluidity of the story which is likely the majority of the reason XCX is so hit or miss. XCX has a better soundtrack, better battle system, better world and imo better sidequest content. That may be just me though because all those things form many seem to be hit or miss with XCX as seen with how much some people hate the soundtrack.

    Sorry for my Xenoblade X ranting I just think that many people aren't giving enough credit for what it is rather than what it wasnt and what they wanted it to be. Thats why I posted the comment about it being what we need rather than what we may have wanted.
  • 7thCircle7thCircle Proofer of the Realm RPGamer Staff
    edited January 2016
    Has RPGamer ever considered a 'best character' category?

    We've had Best Story and Best Dialogue for a while as two similar awards. In years where the same games win both, such as this one, we drop Best Dialogue. I think if we added Best Character we'd have the same outcome. In all likelihood, people who thought The Witcher had the best story and dialogue would have nominated Geralt as the best character, and Estelle for those who thought Trails SC had the best story. We try to keep awards with a variety of winners instead of having several similar ones repeatedly praising the same games. For example, we dropped Biggest Surprise this year because it had nearly the same winners as Most Overlooked.

    We can add Best Character next year and see how things work out. I'm always open to trying new things and seeing if they can stick.
    The lesson here is that dreams inevitably lead to hideous implosions.
  • Adriaan den OudenAdriaan den Ouden Δ Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground RPGamer Staff
    you know im getting tired of everyone comparing XCX to XC because if you want to be technical XC is Monado Beginning of the world which basically seperates it from XCX as it was likely never intended to be a Xeno game in the first place (this is a minor nitpick though)

    im not surprised that it was hit or miss with the staff as it is completely different than any Jrpg before it and it feels like the resistance to it is sums up why Jrpgs have been stuck in mediocrity the last couple of years, even its creator hints that he thinks that way.

    i think the best comment that can sum up XCX was posted in another thread. He basically said XCX is not the follow up to XC that we deserve and in a way i kind of agree. he may be right perhaps it isnt but its IMO the jrpg that we need as we as fans we dont deserve anything.

    As for the Witcher 3 which i am currently playing I can see now why it gets such high praise even as a former hater of the series. It has some really good stuff and is a high quality wrpg with very few flaws. However so far outside of a few of the excellent sidequest (looking at you bloody baron) nothing really stands out and everything is just good and is pretty much balanced at a high level but no at an exceptional level. Comparing it to XCX which has a lot of things that are hit a miss depending on who is playing there isnt a single thing TW3 does better other than fluidity of the story which is likely the majority of the reason XCX is so hit or miss. XCX has a better soundtrack, better battle system, better world and imo better sidequest content. That may be just me though because all those things form many seem to be hit or miss with XCX as seen with how much some people hate the soundtrack.

    Sorry for my Xenoblade X ranting I just think that many people aren't giving enough credit for what it is rather than what it wasnt and what they wanted it to be. Thats why I posted the comment about it being what we need rather than what we may have wanted.

    That's actually kind of how I feel about a lot of peoples' reaction to Fallout 4. It's core philosophy was very, very different from Fallout 3, and I think that bothered some people. Basically, Fallout 3 was all about morality, choices, and consequences. Fallout 4 was about exploration, discovery, and world-building. Both games did what they did very, very well.
    Maybe I'll log out and check my e-mail or something...
  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    *sees no Tales of Zestiria in any category* Le gasp, the first year without a Tales game in winner or runner-up places! Goes to show how many RPGs of high quality were released this year.
    "Yes, because apparently blindly jumping headfirst into a firefight without a grasp on the situation or any combat experience is a sign of genius these days."
  • 7thCircle7thCircle Proofer of the Realm RPGamer Staff
    edited January 2016
    Zestiria came in 4th for Best Music, I think. It wasn't close to anything else.

    EDIT: Oops, I was wrong. Heavensward was 4th for Music. Zestiria was 5th.
    The lesson here is that dreams inevitably lead to hideous implosions.
  • RealityCheckedRealityChecked Member Full Members
    7thCircle wrote: »
    We can add Best Character next year and see how things work out. I'm always open to trying new things and seeing if they can stick.
    Thanks for giving it some consideration. I agree with your points that it will often overlap with best story. Still, there will be some exceptions some years, and it would be good to see great characters stuck in 'lesser' games get a little attention. Also, even if there are repeats, it would be interesting to see a blurb about why each was selected. I haven't played Witcher, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say Estelle and Geralt are very different.
  • Adriaan den OudenAdriaan den Ouden Δ Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground RPGamer Staff
    *sees no Tales of Zestiria in any category* Le gasp, the first year without a Tales game in winner or runner-up places! Goes to show how many RPGs of high quality were released this year.

    Actually, it's more of a testament to how much Zestiria was lacking compared to the last two flagship series entries.
    Maybe I'll log out and check my e-mail or something...
  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    omegabyte wrote: »
    *sees no Tales of Zestiria in any category* Le gasp, the first year without a Tales game in winner or runner-up places! Goes to show how many RPGs of high quality were released this year.

    Actually, it's more of a testament to how much Zestiria was lacking compared to the last two flagship series entries.
    Well that too. Didn't feel as good compared to Graces F or Xillia.
    "Yes, because apparently blindly jumping headfirst into a firefight without a grasp on the situation or any combat experience is a sign of genius these days."
  • Shannon HarleShannon Harle qt = π RPGamer Staff
    omegabyte wrote: »
    *sees no Tales of Zestiria in any category* Le gasp, the first year without a Tales game in winner or runner-up places! Goes to show how many RPGs of high quality were released this year.

    Actually, it's more of a testament to how much Zestiria was lacking compared to the last two flagship series entries.
    Exactly. Probably the biggest thing about Zestiria is just how... meh it is compared to Xillia. I loved Graces f but much more for the gameplay than the story (though I didn't mind FRIENDSHIP). Think it also says something about Zestiria that I liked playing Symphonia 2 more than it. :P

    As for the XCX stuff... personally I think it had very large shoes to fill from XC and the other Xeno games. And tbf most of the Xeno games are EXTREMELY narratively driven. XCX kind of... isn't. It feels like Elder Scrolls in space with mechs. Sure the gameplay is much tighter than XC, but... I never got attached to any of the characters. There wasn't a strong narrative drive that made me feel like I was doing anything. I agree with the sentiment that it didn't live up to everything it could've been.
    Currently Playing: Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS), The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (PC), Atelier Rorona ~The Alchemist of Arland~ (PS3)
    "I blame myself for underestimating the beast that is sex appeal..." - Agnes Oblige
  • riulynriulyn Member Full Members
    No Vita category? It was my main system of last year and will probably be the same this year. Then again, so many games come out for both PS4 and Vita or PS3 and Vita and I usually buy the Vita version...

    Otherwise, I'm really behind in 2015 releases. I haven't even bought Zestiria. I'm only into the first chapter of Trails in the Sky SC (though my decision to play the whole trilogy in Japanese and the others before Cold Steel means...who knows when I'll get to Cold Steel...). I'm in Chapter 5 of XCX. I think the only 2 games I beat that were released last year are Tokyo Xanadu and Trails in the Sky FC Evolution... 2016 looks like an insanely packed year, if all things go to plan. It shall be quite a battle to see which one wins :)
  • JitawaJitawa Member Full Members
    This is one of the years where I feel I aligned very close to staff in terms of opinions on the releases. My only "quasi-" surprise was how well both of the Trails in the Sky entries were doing across the board. But... yeah...

    Witcher 3 was a really good game. Bloodborne is a great game. Xenoblade Chronicles X was definitely the best RPG on the Wii U (one of the only RPGs released there, really), but I can easily see the letdown factor in the lack of narrative, fairly shallow party members despite (or because of) the large cast, and some other issues. Pillars of Eternity was good. I logged some hours polishing off Heavensward. And... Fallout was pretty meh, but it's easy to see it as a "most played" title.

    Hmm, I think I usually have at least a few titles that I feel deserved better placement, but I guess this year it's more of a "Yeah, that makes sense and/or doesn't surprise me."
  • JitawaJitawa Member Full Members
    edited February 2016
    lolwhoops wrote: »

    Trails in the Sky Second Chapter and Trails of Cold Steel are two different games, not two Trails in the Sky games. Legend of Heroes is the series name. I say this because you don't need to play one or the other first, because the stories are more or less self contained, but if you do play them both you pick up on things that you wouldn't have otherwise.

    Play Trails of Cold Steel.


    Sorry. They might have lost me on their naming convention at some point. I actually have Trails in the Sky, and it's half-finished. I was gifted Second Chapter, so, I figured I should finish the first before I started it. Oddly enough, I actually have Legend of Heroes 1 (for the Turbo Duo), and the PSP entries too. I did in fact think that the Cold Steel bit was a direct sequel in some way - at least sort of.

    I was never sure if "Trails" was meant to be some sort of weird sub-series, because on all the former PSP entries the "Legend of Heroes" part of title is the more prominent bit. However, if you look at the titles for the "Trails" games, "Legend of Heroes" is in tiny print, and Trails in the Sky is in really big print. Which... I thought was significant or made it some sort of spin-off series?

    I'd also heard there's a third part after 2nd Chapter, and I assumed Cold Steel was it? And there was something like two part thing after that? Zero something?

    I feel like I used to know these things, and I've completely lost track of it at some point. I really wish they didn't remove all the numbering from the English releases. Sure, having Final Fantasy "SEVEN" come out after 3 was a bit confusing at the time, but at least you had the correct order going from then on. I started playing something else that released instead of finishing the first "Trails" I think (Xillia 2 I think?).

    Eh. Thanks for the correction.

  • Adriaan den OudenAdriaan den Ouden Δ Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground RPGamer Staff
    Jitawa wrote: »
    lolwhoops wrote: »

    Trails in the Sky Second Chapter and Trails of Cold Steel are two different games, not two Trails in the Sky games. Legend of Heroes is the series name. I say this because you don't need to play one or the other first, because the stories are more or less self contained, but if you do play them both you pick up on things that you wouldn't have otherwise.

    Play Trails of Cold Steel.


    Sorry. They might have lost me on their naming convention at some point. I actually have Trails in the Sky, and it's half-finished. I was gifted Second Chapter, so, I figured I should finish the first before I started it. Oddly enough, I actually have Legend of Heroes 1 (for the Turbo Duo), and the PSP entries too. I did in fact think that the Cold Steel bit was a direct sequel in some way - at least sort of.

    I was never sure if "Trails" was meant to be some sort of weird sub-series, because on all the former PSP entries the "Legend of Heroes" part of title is the more prominent bit. However, if you look at the titles for the "Trails" games, "Legend of Heroes" is in tiny print, and Trails in the Sky is in really big print. Which... I thought was significant or made it some sort of spin-off series?

    I'd also heard there's a third part after 2nd Chapter, and I assumed Cold Steel was it? And there was something like two part thing after that? Zero something?

    I feel like I used to know these things, and I've completely lost track of it at some point. I really wish they didn't remove all the numbering from the English releases. Sure, having Final Fantasy "SEVEN" come out after 3 was a bit confusing at the time, but at least you had the correct order going from then on. I started playing something else that released instead of finishing the first "Trails" I think (Xillia 2 I think?).

    Eh. Thanks for the correction.

    You're not wrong. The Trails series is kind of a spin-off of the other Legend of Heroes games in a way. The Trails games all take place in the same world, and they're all loosely (or directly) connected, and they're divided into sub-series as well. Trails in the Sky/Trails in the Sky SC are a single story, while Trails of Cold Steel is a new story that takes place about 2 years after SC ends, but with a new cast of characters, and set in a different country.

    You can play Cold Steel without any knowledge of Trails in the Sky, but having played them beforehand will help you appreciate the game a lot more, as there are a lot of little references to those games scattered throughout. Also, if you have any intention of playing SC, I do highly recommend playing it first, as one of the major characters in Cold Steel is kinda sorta a massive spoiler for one of the big twists near the end of SC.
    Maybe I'll log out and check my e-mail or something...
  • katicfliskaticflis New Member Full Members
    No Undertale? That seems like such a mistake.
  • Cassandra RamosCassandra Ramos Eternal Kyoshi Administrators
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  • Joshua CarpenterJoshua Carpenter RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    Yay for all the Trails love in 2015! Still stunned to get two Trails games in a calender year; hopefully the critical love turns into sales for XSEED so they have a reason to keep releasing them.

    Maybe I'll just have to skip the first 2 Witchers and try Witcher 3 at some point. I have never been a fan of any media with a western fantasy setting, but Witcher 3 has gotten so much attention I should give it a try when it gets cheap.
  • AncientRuneAncientRune Member Full Members
    omegabyte wrote: »
    *sees no Tales of Zestiria in any category* Le gasp, the first year without a Tales game in winner or runner-up places! Goes to show how many RPGs of high quality were released this year.

    Actually, it's more of a testament to how much Zestiria was lacking compared to the last two flagship series entries.
    Exactly. Probably the biggest thing about Zestiria is just how... meh it is compared to Xillia. I loved Graces f but much more for the gameplay than the story (though I didn't mind FRIENDSHIP). Think it also says something about Zestiria that I liked playing Symphonia 2 more than it. :P

    As for the XCX stuff... personally I think it had very large shoes to fill from XC and the other Xeno games. And tbf most of the Xeno games are EXTREMELY narratively driven. XCX kind of... isn't. It feels like Elder Scrolls in space with mechs. Sure the gameplay is much tighter than XC, but... I never got attached to any of the characters. There wasn't a strong narrative drive that made me feel like I was doing anything. I agree with the sentiment that it didn't live up to everything it could've been.

    This isnt pointed at you personally but that is the second biggest issue i have with an opinion on the game because that just isnt true. I will say that if you did not 100% the game I can see why there could be an issue as the main story was more a means to an end than strictly a vehicle for the narrative. If you take all the side quests and affinity missions into account there narrative is far stronger than XB and has things that give more hints to Mira and it inhabitants, there are also some story elements that can be completely missed even at 100% completion most notably in a mission where you have to kill a certain very high level beast to get some of its backstory and if you dont you miss out on it.

    I will say the biggest flaw in XCX is that the narrative as a whole leaves a ton of things unfinished and forces you to to come up with your own interpretations of the content you are given which i can see how it can put people off. I believe that this wasnt an accident and was done out of necessity due to budget restraints and that Takahashi worked his way around them regardless

    One last thing i will spoiler just in case
    After hearing Takahashi interviews, seeing all the stuff in the secret art of mira book that was left out ( some that were removed during development and some that can be used later), and the fact that the game ended on a giant cliffhanger and the way the story was presented, there is no doubt in my mind that the narrative we got was done to set up the sequel and was planned by Takahashi

    Everything in the game has a reason for existing, even the gameplay elements are incorporated into the story which is why im so adamant about how great but misunderstood the game is.
  • TheAnimeManTheAnimeMan Member RPGamer Staff
    However if a game can be misunderstood due to creative control and elements ... that means it isn't a top contender. It may be a good game, but due to it's easily misunderstoodness it doesn't make it a great game. That is where the difference lies.
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  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    edited April 2018
    deleted.
  • katicfliskaticflis New Member Full Members
    edited February 2016
    I felt quite sad that Undertale won best original. I didn't think it was particularly good at all, and the fanbase is almost as bad as FF7s. Its part of a bigger problem in gaming though, and this isn't really the right place for me to expound on that.
    Is this that "it's popular so I have to hate it" mentality at work here?

    How much did you actually play it? You literally had bosses in that game that commented on your skills/playstyle/knowledge(ONE example: the final boss gets annoyed if you repetitively move your cursor while he's speaking), a boss who can actually respond to comments you personally input into the game, a boss that usurps your save files and a boss that physically knock outs part of the gameplay battle menu rendering it unusable. What other RPG even comes close to being as original? In 2015 or the past five years before that?

    Like, the fans annoy you so you can't admit it's original? you're kidding right?


    Edited to fix a BBCode error - Severin
  • AncientRuneAncientRune Member Full Members
    edited February 2016
    However if a game can be misunderstood due to creative control and elements ... that means it isn't a top contender. It may be a good game, but due to it's easily misunderstoodness it doesn't make it a great game. That is where the difference lies.

    I disagree, i get what you mean though. I however dont think that way, it has flaws no doubt but if you dont think XCX is a great game because a a few shortcomings but everything else is of the highest quality im not sure that you would think any game is great.

    oh and can anyone tell me what the battle system in Cold Steel is like because if its anything like Sky then i dont want any part of it
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    edited April 2018
    deleted.
  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed Full Members
    I had juuuust started Trails in the Sky SC when I filled out my ballot and was soon sad that I hadn't voted for it. Looks like I didn't need to, though!

    I feel like this year had a few great releases, a lot of games that were good but could have been better, and a few very niche titles that could probably have won a few more awards if more of us had managed to play them. That always happens, but this year I think it really stuck out to me because there weren't a lot of high-profile releases that turned out amazing.
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  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    As for the XCX stuff... personally I think it had very large shoes to fill from XC and the other Xeno games. And tbf most of the Xeno games are EXTREMELY narratively driven. XCX kind of... isn't. It feels like Elder Scrolls in space with mechs. Sure the gameplay is much tighter than XC, but... I never got attached to any of the characters. There wasn't a strong narrative drive that made me feel like I was doing anything. I agree with the sentiment that it didn't live up to everything it could've been.

    As much as I enjoy the game I can't completely understand being disappointed in this regard, though in XCX's defense I don't think they ever intended to give the impression that it was as narrative driven as past games.
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  • Shannon HarleShannon Harle qt = π RPGamer Staff
    edited February 2016
    Wheels wrote: »
    As much as I enjoy the game I can't completely understand being disappointed in this regard, though in XCX's defense I don't think they ever intended to give the impression that it was as narrative driven as past games.
    Can or can't understand? ^^; Like I do get that the game's main focus is the exploration and blazing a trail across a new landscape theretofore never explored, but tbf that's not my kind of game. I don't MIND exploration, but if you just give me a big open world with no driving force behind it besides "GO! Claim this land and learn!" then I'm not going to be very invested in it. That's just my personal taste when it comes to games - happened with GTA, Elder Scrolls, and XCX. So I'll fully admit that.

    As for whether it's a good game or not, and whether the other elements of it balance out what issues it has (like that soundtrack oh my GOD half the tracks... taste again), I'd say yes and no. I can say it's a good game with balance like that, but in order to be a great game - in order to be a game that's the "best" of the swath of games that came out - it needs to have strong elements in all categories. Which is why I agree with games like Witcher 3 and Trails getting top spots, because OVERALL they are great games. And where they falter, they don't falter very much.
    Currently Playing: Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS), The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (PC), Atelier Rorona ~The Alchemist of Arland~ (PS3)
    "I blame myself for underestimating the beast that is sex appeal..." - Agnes Oblige
  • NekobasuNekobasu RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    katicflis wrote: »
    No Undertale? That seems like such a mistake.

    It was my RPG of the year. It was also my "Dog of the Year," but apparently we don't give awards for those.
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