Anytime I'm asked to name my favorite games, I spend a while trying to figure out how to answer that question. Is it the games I remember most clearly? The ones I played the most? The ones that kept me up for the most late nights? I ended up with this criteria: if it's mentioned, no matter how old it is, do I feel compelled to sit down, reinstall it, and play it right then? If the answer is yes, then I'll consider it a favorite.
So, in no particular order, here are my top five favorite games for 2014:
Dragon Age Keep + Dragon Age: Inquisition
I'll be honest: I haven't finished DA:I quite yet. I got well into it and then work and life meant I wasn't able to play it for a bit over a week. I decided to hold off and play it over the holiday break, when I could dedicate significant time to it.
So why is it on the list of my favorites? There are a couple reasons. First, I feel the urge to play constantly and it's hard to resist. Second, I'd recommend it to friends, even without seeing the second half of the game--the first half is worth the price of the game, by itself. Third, and most important, is the combination of DA:I and DAK is an uncompromising statement of both a quality game experience and a comittment to retaining loyal customers. Solving the saved game problem ("Oh God, did I delete my save from Dragon Age: Origins? Is it in Dropbox? WHERE IS IT?") in such an elegant way must have taken significant development time. It's the kind of feature that gets cut on many development schedules. It's a huge accomplishment that it was completed alongside such a large game. So kudos to the Dragon Age team at Bioware!
Who's not addicted to Hearthstone, right? OK, I confess I'm somewhat less addicted now than I was before, but I spent a bunch of time playing Hearthstone. Because it's available on multiple platforms, I played it in almost all my free time for about 5 months. My one request to the team: get me hooked again with more PvE dungeon content please! Someday, someone will realize the world needs another game like Sid Meier's Magic The Gathering game... and deep in my heart I hope that folks who realize that is Blizzard.
World of Warcraft
Yep, there's a 10 year old game on my list for the best of 2015. Warlords of Draenor is a fantasic expansion, sitting atop an amazing accomplishment--a game that, through hard work and listening to customers, has stayed fresh, fun and interesting all these years. I was a more casual player before Warlords, but the one-two punch of garrisons and insta-90's is perfect for PvE lovers and completionists. It's an alt-aholics dream!
Divinity: Original Sin
I was a huge fan of the original Divinity, and instantly backed Original Sin when it popped up on Kickstarter. I generally don't play betas or early access game because I want the final player experience (plus I see enough beta content in my work), so I went into the final release with no idea of what was in store for me. Larian knocked it out of the park--the game was far deeper, larger and more interesting than I'd expected it would be. If you love isometric RPGs and you haven't played Original Sin, stop reading this right now and go get it.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
I miss old school, single-player, non-modern-military shooters. It's like a serious craving that just doesn't let up even though it's so rarely satisfied. To have that delivered in such a well-crafted package was a treat. Having that package break the mold of a brown-grey world with brown-grey enemies turned that treat into a delightful surprise.