The games you forgot came out in 2015
2015 was a great year for games. It’s easy to remember Fallout 4, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Destiny: The Taken King, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, Bloodborne, Undertale, and other similarly great releases. But what about the other games? The ones you don’t fight over when it comes time to talk ‘game of the year’. The ones that you’ve probably played but don’t consider them 2015 releases.
These games may have had good critical receptions, they may even have been commercially successful, yet for some reason, most of us forgot they came out this year. Either they came out very early in the year and their momentum didn’t carry them through, or because of the gluttony of great titles we’ve seen this year that set the bar so high, or they simply weren’t memorable experience.
Read on for a list of games that nobody talks about any more, to the point you sometimes need to check if they had in fact come out in 2015.
I know it may be hard to be believe, but Evolve, the multiplayer class-based shooter from Left 4 Dead developer Turtle Rock, came out in February. All that buzz around launch with the whole pre-order skins business, and the backlash that followed it for weeks after, that was all this year! It even had a re-packaged Ultimate Edition come out this November.
We even played it, and wrote our impressions, and much like the rest of the internet, we weren’t too impressed. For one reason or another, the game kept sliding and sliding in player numbers, until it pretty much vanished.
A game like Evolve lives and dies by the number of players that stick with it once launch hype is gone. Unfortunately for Evolve, this number is in the lower tiers. On PC, the game is nowhere to be seen in the Steam’s top 99 games list. If you know anything about Steam or PC gaming, you’ll know that if you’re not in the top 20, you’re pretty much dead.
The same can be said for PS4 and Xbox One, and although we don’t have any hard data, looking over Reddit, NeoGAF and other gaming forums, you very rarely get anyone encouraging people to buy it – even when it’s on sale.
Sure, you can always play against bots, but that sort of defeats the entire purpose of the game, and it’s hard to imagine Evolve will be on anyone’s Christmas lists.
Saints Row 4: Gat Out of Hell
Gat Out of Hell is an expansion to Saints Row 4 that came out in January, alongside the release of Saints Row 4 on PS4 and Xbox One. Although new consoles were still young and their owners didn’t have too many games to play, Gat out of Hell was poorly received, and reports of poor performance of Saints Row 4 on consoles didn’t help either.
I have not played it, though I wish I had. I can’t tell you a thing about it, positive or negative, but neither can most people. That’s because it was dropped like a hot potato pretty soon after release, never to return.
Volition is one hell of a talented team (yes, I am aware GOOH was developed by High Voltage), and hopefully they’ve been quiet because they’re busy working on something new and innovative. The team that delivered Saints Row 3 and the Red Faction games is capable of more.
The Order: 1886
Some call it the Knack of 2015, though at least in the case of The Order: 1886 it has graphics to rely on. Unfortunately, that’s about it. The Order: 1886 was one of the few games that were almost universally panned by critics.
The game had one thing going for it; stellar graphics that some would argue are the best out of any console game so far. But graphics and lighting, as dazzling as they were, weren’t nearly enough to cover for the lacklustre story, boring combat encounters and general lack of depth. Remember that stealth section?
The Order was a well-polished game and its delay from 2014 benefited it greatly in that regard, but despite its deluxe look it always made everyone wonder what could’ve been, which is a conversation for another day.
You may see The Order on some ‘best looking games’ list, but nothing more. Some of the other games vying for the title may not look as good as it did, but will probably end up winning just because they didn’t lack substance.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2
Revelations 2 was on everyone’s tongue for a hot month. Some praised its episodic structure or its old-school combat and enemy design. Others got hooked on its Raid mode and all of its RNG madness. Now that all episodes are out, you won’t find many people talking about it it anywhere.
Critical and fan reception were good, if not exceptional, and for a few weeks after launch talk of story events or Raid mode adventures were common, only for it to all die off even before the rest of the series was finished.
I’ve played Revelations recently and it’s still a fun game. It suffers from relying on some archaic mechanics and combat that only die-hard fans will appreciate. Ultimately though, it didn’t grab everyone, but offered a good distraction for the early parts of the year.
I don’t need to tell you about Hardline. You know it came out this year, but you pretend like it didn’t. Not just you either, it seems most of its player base is gone, especially on PC where it’s played by a less than 2K players. That’s a shocking number for a concurrent, let alone peak!
The same can be said for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with both consoles’ player bases peaking at less than 15K players, combined, at the best of times. Hardline came out in March, and we liked it, and so did most critics, and even though there Visceral released a couple of free DLC drops for it, as well as two paid ones, interest died quickly and players looked elsewhere for a shooter fix.
They either went back to Battlefield 4, which remains a lot more popular on all platforms, or just decided to wait for Star Wars Battlefront. Even during sales where it was massively discounted, you rarely got healthy player spikes.
Nobody expected Hardline to be the start of another Battlefield off-shoot, but I don’t think anyone could’ve foreseen how sharp it would decline. Perhaps those suggesting to EA not to launch it at full-price were correct.
Mad Max had to have been the sharpest drop in interest we’ve seen in 2015, and it came out in September. As an avid Mad Max fan (Fury Road is the film of the year), imagine my excitement for this game, even more so knowing Avalanche’s knack for good explosions and wacky open-worlds.
Unfortunately, the game boiled down to a lot of busy work. The main problem is that its core wasn’t fun, so these meaningless collectibles and quests you go on felt even more cumbersome.
It almost felt like a game out of time, but with a 2015 coat. It’s a shame Avalanche spent all that time working on it.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China
The first in a trilogy of side-scrolling 2D stealth games from Ubisoft. The series was supposed to have two other releases this year (India and Russia), but were instead pushed to 2016 and very few people cared.
As for China, it didn’t particularly excel at anything. The combat was average and the puzzles and level design were a step below what we get regularly from Indie studios (hello, Mark of the Ninja). You won’t find anyone talking about it, good or bad, at the tail end of 2015.
This series also has the unfortunate effect of making everyone feel like there are 500 Assassin’s Creed games released every year, which harms the brand more that it’s probably worth.
The sequel to one of the most original, chaotic and utterly joyful games, Magicka 2 was supposed to be the one to make combining various elements to create magic spells, setting your friends on fire, and other similar hijinks work on a controller. And in a way, it did.
PayDay 2: Crimewave Edition
2015 was supposed to be the year heists penetrated the video game mainstream. With the release of Hardline earlier in the year and the console versions of PayDay 2 a few months after, fleeing the bank with a bag full of swag sounded like a lot of fun.
That’s of course until the game actually came out. Suffering major performance and network issues at launch, and some even to this day, PayDay 2: Crimewave Edition was sent to out die. Rather than revitalise the idea of heists and bring PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners some of the fun PC gamers have been having with the game, it soured everyone on the idea and the studio.
The year didn’t get much better for developer Overkill either.
Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live
A lot of people expected music games to come back in 2015. New consoles have been out for a while, and it’s been a good chunk of time since Activision made one every six months. Everyone was ready to dust off their old kits and join the fun once again.
Now that both Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live have been out for a while, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone cheering for them. Rock Band 4 was a very basic package on launch, delivering less features and content then Rock Band 3.
And Guitar Hero, despite attempting to shake things up with an entirely new controller and new focus on music videos, also failed to capitalise audiences. Whether that’s because they couldn’t use their old GH guitars or something else, we may never know.
Did anyone, apart from games journalists and the developers themselves, really want a music game revival?
The Crew Wild Run
The Crew, the car MMO from Ubisoft that came out last year, received a major new expansion this year in the form of Wild Run. I won’t blame you for thinking “people still play this?” The hype around the release of the expansion was almost non-existent, lots of major sites didn’t even bother reporting on it, and only avid players were anticipating it.
Wild Run also brought a graphical upgrade to the entire game, for free, to existing owners. Unfortunately, even after the upgrade, it doesn’t look anywhere near as good as modern racing games.
Perhaps I am being unfair to The Crew here. After all, it launched in a year with too many racing games. You have your sims in Project CARS, your Forza on Xbox One, and even Need for Speed made a return. Wild Run had no chance against any of these, though maybe this release wasn’t meant to be for the rest of us, but to keep its current players happy.