It’s safe to say that the MOARGeek staff has a varied opinion on video games. A healthy mix of several consoles and PC titles show up on everyone’s lists, games developed by independent studios and big AAA studios such as Blizzard and Nintendo. Hearthstone, which officially released in March after months of beta testing, topped our group average by only by a slim margin and without being anybody’s solo top game. Here are our favorite games of 2014.
1. Mario Kart 8
3. Super Smash Bros. Wii U
4. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
5. Shovel Knight
Being the resident Wii U reviewer (and not actually owning any other consoles) my list is obviously packed with games from Nintendo. Mario Kart 8 topped the list simply for how much time I put into it without ever feeling bored, I never thought the Mario Kart series could be re-invented quite to this level, but Nintendo absolutely nailed it. Smash Bros. Wii U would be an easy pick to top any best games of 2014 list, even though it sits at number three on mine, but I can’t deny just how great Hearthstone is and has become since it officially released in March. Curse of Naxxramas and now Goblins vs Gnomes have kept the game fresh and never feeling too out-of-balance.
1. Shovel Knight
3. Super Smash Bros. Wii U
4. This War of Mine
5. South Park: The Stick of Truth
Although nothing really felt head and shoulders above each other this year; Shovel Knight was this year’s standout release for me. Classic inspired platforming with a creative quirk to it. Jazzpunk was the only other game I felt nestled into that description for 2014 as well. Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U exceeded expectations for a modern Smash Bros. release, and the 3DS version still serves as a watered-down portable version. This War of Mine gives players a unique experience, especially when compared to modern war “simulators”. It’s centered around the misery of war, instead of the glorification of its violence. There is nothing pretty about this game, and the consequence feels real, giving players a perspective other than that of down the barrel of a rifle. And South Park: The Stick of Truth brought me back to a time where a playing a licensed video game could be fulfilling in ways that allowed me to explore and experience an intellectual property virtually.
You’d think with the Xbox One and PS4 both approaching their first year would result in hands down favorites for those consoles, but to be honest I was somewhat disappointed with a lot of games that I was excited about for the Xbox One. It was a toss up but Heroes of the Storm edged out Forza Horizon 2 for the top spot. Blizzard’s foray into the MOBA world has been coming for some time and I got access to the Technical Alpha earlier this year and haven’t looked back. The matches are relatively short, the leveling is simple and the range of Blizzard Heroes you can choose from just makes the game… fun. Forza Horizon 2, Playground Games & Turn 10’s open world racing simulator with dynamic weather and detailed car models is a blast, especially with the recent release of the Storm Island. Hearthstone, another Blizzard title, launched earlier this year as well and is another fun short game from the World of Warcraft developer. In Hearthstone, players collect and build card decks and then face off against each other in this digital card collecting game. Two expansions, Curse of Naxxramus and Goblins vs Gnomes were both released this year as well, not to mention the long awaited launch on Android tablets. Rounding out the top 5 are a couple of other Xbox One games – Far Cry 4 (which is Far Cry 3 with a new location, characters and story – and there’s nothing wrong with that), and The Telltale Collection. I was going to list The Walking Dead: Season 2 in the fifth spot, the story lived up to Telltale’s first offering quite well however I just finished the first chapter of Game of Thrones from the Telltale Collection and I must say it was just as well done. I’m definitely looking forward to Borderlands, The Wolf Among Us and the rest of Game of Thrones from the collection – and the price couldn’t be beat at the time.
1. Valkyria Chronicles (PC)
2. Civilization: Beyond Earth
3. Goat Simulator
4. Mario Kart 8
5. Super Smash Bros. Wii U
I’ve been playing mostly PC games lately, and mostly older stuff bought on Steam Sales, but a few newer games snuck through. I put more hours than I could ever care to count into Valkyria Chronicles on PS3, so the re-release on PC made me very, very happy indeed. Honorable mention goes to Civ: Beyond Earth. Anything even remotely resembling a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri is OK in my book. How can you not love Goat Simulator? I can’t honestly answer that question because everybody loves Goat Simulator. I came late to the Wii U party, but I just couldn’t ignore Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros.
1. Don’t Starve (PS4)
2. World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
4. Heroes of the Storm
Don’t Starve is a phenomenal game, cleverly written, perfect execution of the storyline and the animation, I can’t say enough good things about this game. I love it. The next three are seemingly biased, but I do love the stuff Blizzard has put out this year (and can’t wait for Overwatch). Warlords kicked WoW back into full swing and the garrisons are just stupid addictive. The changes and streamlining of things was tough at first but it’s really incredible to see how far the game has come from vanilla to now seamlessly transitioning in and out of scenario’s, flexible raid groups, etc. etc. Hearthstone was obviously a hit and despite getting into the early technical alpha of HotS a few months back, it’s been everything I loved about DOTA 2 and more. I’m excited to see the finished product. Destiny is kind of a throwaway, mostly because I spent a lot of time playing older games like Skyrim and Borderlands 2, so I haven’t had much in the way of new-game playing, but it is fun for what it is (as long as you ignore the atrocious way they tried to do the storyline).