As we're coming up to 2016 and I've got all the various changes done on the domain and site, I thought I'd finish off the year as I mean to go into the next with an article, and what better than my review of gaming in 2015.
Well, there's no way around it, for me 2015 was dominated by Destiny. Obviously it launched in 2014 but I have been playing it almost exclusively throughout the year until December. What's kept me interested? Well it is first and foremost a very polished FPS, the core gameplay is terrific, the variety of weapons, gear and enemies is superb. The music, artwork, voice acting just add to what is a beautiful game to behold, I've never been so taken in by a game world...but all this aside, what has really kept me engaged is the community. I've met a great bunch of people both through work and online and spent the majority of my game time in parties on voice comms. The predominantly co-operative nature of the game engenders a great sense of camaraderie, even when the game deals you a crap hand, it's all taken in good spirits and everyone has a good laugh about it.
But alas, I have sunk a huge amount of time into the game, and after beating the last of the King's Fall challenge modes in December, I feel like I'm finally done with the game. The Taken King DLC was excellent, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing through it, but now, I'm out. There are too many other games to play, and too many things I need to be spending my time on (like this website!).
Other games I've dabbled in this year include Elite: Dangerous, which was a phenomenal experience on the Oculus Rift, but the emptiness of the universe and the huge amount of time required to get the most out of the game has meant I have barely touched it since launch. I backed the game well before launch and I have a lifetime pass, so I will be keeping an eye on future updates, particularly the atmospheric planetary landings which should turn a game with a lot of potential into something truly engrossing.
Star Wars Battlefront got some playtime in the run up to Christmas, after sinking so many hours chasing carrots in Destiny it felt great to have a game you can just drop into for 15 minutes and have a bit of quick simple fun. Glorious to look at and listen to, and in my view, mercifully shallow. I had a little dabble in Homeworld Remastered for old time's sake, and popped in to see how Star Citizen is going occasionally, but apart from that, that's about all my gaming this year.
Making The Games
A big year for engines, with Unity and UnrealEngine really duking it out for their slice of the market. Having spent time in both, it's hard to see past UnrealEngine for the hobbyist or indie, free access, a quality IDE, great Visual Studio integration, the language of pros (C++), and most of all, complete source code access. It's really a tremendous time to get into making games, compared to back in 2003 when I was at university and there were precious few engines around and you pretty much had to roll your own, to be able to get a AAA engine like Unreal for nothing and start making things on day 1 is invaluable.
I'll admit I've given Unity very little time this year, back before I joined Blue Byte and I was dabbling in mobile games, even when I wasn't doing anything terribly complicated I was running into bugs, and with no source code to look at you're stuck with hacky workarounds. At least it plays nice with Visual Studio now, and for mobile games it probably trumps UnrealEngine which is a bit more heavyweight.
The Gaming Community
After all the noise late last year things settled down and we've really started see more equal representation of races and genders in games become the norm, rather than the subject of headlines and countless, foaming-at-the-mouth comment section outpourings of bile. Long may it continue.
This is already a bit late, so I'm going to end it here, and start the new year with an article on what I'm looking forward to in 2016.