Video games officially leveled up in 2015. After a few dodgy transitional years, the new consoles are finally delivering. PC gaming is thriving, and that phone in your pocket is a viable game machine. When it comes to both quantity and quality, 2015 was simply one of the best years on record.
That made picking our favorite a real nightmare, but eventually, a white-haired, demon-hunting warrior sliced through the contenders to give The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt our top honor.
A sprawling, open-world fantasy adventure fused with a tight, compelling narrative, The Witcher 3 is simultaneously epic and intimate, a truly impressive feat for a huge role-playing game. We burned countless hours searching for our protégé Ciri, battling massive beasts, playing the clever card game Gwent, and exploring every nook and cranny of developer CD Projekt Red’s gorgeous, glorious world. Suffice to say, it was time well spent.
Tapped as a Game of the Year contender the moment it was unveiled at the E3 conference in June, Fallout 4 had a lot to live up to. And while it came up a bit short of our admittedly overblown expectations, Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic RPG is still an amazing journey through a handcrafted wasteland bursting with enemies to fight, locations to explore, and duct tape to pilfer. More addictive than Psycho-Jet, this one.
Bigger isn’t always better, however. Wedged between these two open-world behemoths stands a game smaller of stature but equally compelling: Rocket League, the spectacular sleeper hit of 2015. Car soccer? Really? Spend more than a half-hour playing and it will hit you like a fender to the mouth. Easy to learn but tough to master, Rocket League’s simple design belies its best-in-class performance. This was the multiplayer game of 2015 and easily the game we logged the most time with.
More like what isn’t. While 2015 was jam-packed with killer games, it’s just the start of what’s shaping up to be a new Golden Age for gamers. A wealth of incredibly cool games are lining up to take over our lives next year, including the impossibly big space game No Man’s Sky, the breathtaking Uncharted 4, Microsoft’s time-bending Quantum Break, the sequel to 2012 Game of the Year contender Dishonored, and the long-awaited Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U. Rest those thumbs — you’re gonna need ’em.
More of Yahoo Tech’s Best of 2015 coverage:
Ben Silverman still thinks 1998 was the best year ever, but 2015 is right up there. Go tell him why he’s wrong on Twitter at @ben_silverman.