This year wasn’t just full of games—it was full of really, really long games. Sure, there are the MMOs, MOBAs, FPSs, and other acronyms that tend to take up less of gamers’ time, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about a mini-map dotted with icons and empty spaces where you know icons will appear once you make it over there. I’m talking about endless side quests and a just-one-more mentality that keeps you up way past your bedtime and keeps you distracted at work.
These are the games you probably didn’t finish in 2015, because they were just too damned big—or any other reason. And now that it’s 2016, you totally should.
7. ‘THE WITCHER 3: WILD HUNT’
More than any other big open world game this year, The Witcher 3 is about the story and characters. This comes through especially well in the side quests, a place where developer CD Projekt Red raised the bar for the whole genre.
Each interaction in The Witcher 3 was crafted with care, which is staggering when you realize just how much stuff is in there. Each time you take on a quest, there’s a person there, someone who has experienced something. You listen to them, hear their story, and then go to work, sometimes simply tracking something, but often questioning others until you know the true nature of the situation. Every side quest in The Witcher 3 feels like part of the main quest and, as a result, feels crucial to the story. It’s tough to leave something that feels so crucial just hanging there, unfinished.
6. ‘METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN’
Hideo Kojima’s swan song for the Metal Gear series ended up as the best game he’d yet created. Instead of creating a linear narrative, Kojima and his team put together a bunch of interlocking systems that made for a fun, compelling gameplay loop.
Layer the game’s ranking systems and Mother Base staffing mechanics and you have missions that are not only fun to experiment with, but fun to go back to over and over again. And there’s something like 200 of these missions. Sure, they say they’re optional, but why leave something fun undone?
5. ‘FALLOUT 4’
There’s something about the way Fallout 4’s map icons appear, empty and transparent until you visit them, that makes discovering them incredibly satisfying. Each is filled with possibility—a small story, a cache of awesome weapons, a unique line of dialogue from your companion.
Plus there’s definitely a ton of good garbage to sift through in each of the game’s many locations, and you know you want to find a few more stimpaks or bottlecaps.
4. ‘BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT’
Batman’s latest outing you might not have finished for some less exciting reasons. This summer saw the game’s long-awaited release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, but the PC version was so busted that Warner Bros. pulled the game off the market completely until Halloween, and even now the game is still not performing as expected, even if you managed to get it running.
And then once you’re in there, there’s the endless supply of riddler trophies taunting completionists everywhere. Get at it.
3-1. ‘RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER,’ ‘MAD MAX’, AND ‘ASSASSIN’S CREED SYNDICATE’
Some games are sitting unfinished—or even unstarted—just because so many have come out so close together this fall.
Mad Max hit on the same day as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which has come to be one of the best reviewed games of the year; Assassin’s Creed Syndicate suffered from the reputation earned by last year’s game-breaking bugs and kept many people from buying it right away, leaving it as a Christmas gift or something to pick up on deep discount; and like Mad Max, Rise of the Tomb Raider came out on the same day as a much bigger beast: Fallout 4. While Microsoft has said they’re happy with the game’s performance, the game was certainly left on the shelf by quite a few Xbox One owners in favor of Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic to-do list simulator.
So what are you waiting for?
Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, and it’s been downhill ever since. He takes a multifaceted approach to gaming news and reviews, mixing business analysis, cultural studies, tech and design. Eric has written for outlets like Playboy.com, TechnoBuffalo.com, TabTimes.com, and Kombo.com. In his free time, he perfects his napping technique and pursues the elusive perfect cheeseburger.
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