The triple-A gaming industry is increasingly becoming a bloated, unsustainable behemoth, with games and publishers alike collapsing under their own massively expensive weight. In the same year, then, as the shameful slap to the gaming community’s face that was Assassin’s Creed: Unity, it’s incredibly encouraging to know that there are some developers who don’t feel the need to rush their product to market, lie to consumers about its content, and to generally trap us with false promises like Wile E. Coyote stuffed with syphilis and pure evil.
Frontier Developments funded Elite: Dangerous almost exclusively through Kickstarter, released an easily accessible beta as early as possible complete with dev diaries and insanely regular updates, and generally tried their damndest to include consumers as much as possible, regularly mining the related sub-Reddits and forums to see what the fans wanted.
Compared to the failures perpetrated by the likes of Ubisoft and EA, they couldn’t have done more to achieve consumer satisfaction, short of David Braben hand-delivering every copy with a complimentary blowjob. And the best thing is, on top of all that, it’s a bloody fantastic game.
Game Of The Year 2014: Elite: Dangerous
Elite: Dangerous is one of those games that you dream about, but never expect to see. A space sim with an entire galaxy of around 400 billion star systems to explore is a sci-fi nerd’s dream, especially when you’re seeing it from your own personal starfighter.
Not only that, but you have the freedom to be whatever you want, however you want. Make money and progress by fighting, trading, exploring, or any mixture of the three. Ally yourself with a faction and dedicate yourself to a greater cause, or simply live on the fringes, looking out for number one.
As a huge fan of the likes of Star Wars, Firefly and Farscape, I could barely contain myself when I got my hands on this game; it’s impossible not to feel like your favourite spacefaring hero the minute you set foot in your ship and start tooling around the galaxy. The inclusion of Oculus Rift support means that you can actually be there in the cockpit too, which is just the coolest thing ever, and impossible to describe if you haven’t experienced it.
A word of advice though: take a leaf out of Peter Quill’s book, and bring your own music. There’s no feeling quite like dropping out of hyperspeed into the middle of a battle just as the solo to Back In Black kicks in, and a nice ambient electronica soundtrack complements Frontier Developments’ stunning visuals perfectly.
David Braben and his team have hit out of the park with this one, and have managed to do so whilst maintaining a refreshing level of openness and honestly. This game is absolutely fantastic, and if you’re any kind of sci-fi fan, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Honorable Mention: Wolfenstein: the New Order
In a world where the dirt-brown linearity of games like Medal Of Honour and Call Of Duty dominate the shooter genre, Wolfenstein: The New Order was a breath of fresh air when it arrived back in May.
Gone is the regenerating health and arbitrary two-weapon maximum; instead, Wolfenstein goes back to its roots, piling you with enough guns to both arm and sink a battleship, and refusing to coddle you with any namby-pamby modern mechanics. You got shot? Grab a medkit and walk it off, pussy.
As befits the franchise that spawned the genre, Wolfenstein is a classic, no-nonsense, run-and-gun shooter, complete with pickups and insane weapons. There’s even a scene where you pilot a Nazi battlemech, and if that doesn’t grab your attention then you’re probably clinically dead.