This year has been breathtaking and nerve-wracking for gamers. Some overhyped titles failed to deliver, but there were some pleasant surprises out of the blue. Now it’s time for players to decide who gets the esteemed Golden Joystick award, and it’s hard to predict which game will rule the ceremony and overshadow all others. The fierce gladiators have entered the arena, and each one has its weapon of choice.
Masters of the Universe
As someone who had many sleepless nights with MOBAs, I must say that Heroes of the Storm caught me by surprise. A fast-paced action involving familiar faces from the Blizzard universe is on par with that in other popular team brawlers. The famous developer also manages to offer a touch of originality (environmental objectives) and simplicity (no items). I don’t see Heroes winning the award, but if that does happen, I won’t complain.
I would say the same for Elite Dangerous, a game that expands the gaming horizons beyond the known borders. More an open-galaxy than open-world game, it offers countless thrilling hours of space exploration and combat. A game of this scale has never been made before, as you can wander around a 1:1 model of the Milky Way. This is, however, also an Achilles’ heel- I was often bored with all that emptiness and long distances.
Walking in my shoes
When a game aims to establish itself as a spiritual successor of Baldur’s Gate, the level of expectation is extremely high. Obsidian stood up to the task with Pillars of Eternity and delivered a nostalgic, yet modernized gaming experience full of exhilarating exploration and memorable characters. It’s one of my personal favorites, as it captures the magic, depth and ingenuity of the all-time RPG classics.
Turn-based strategy fans have also been treated with something special this year. Endless Legend is full of substance and style, grabbing the attention of even the hardcore Civilization fans like me. With imaginative factions enabling completely different play styles, this 4X strategy game delivers on all four fronts, and ensures endless hours of resources gathering and dynamic warfare.
Both Pillars and Endless legend could be robbed of the award because of the next competitor. Rockstar has gotten us used to genre-redefining titles, and GTA 5 had big shoes to fill. With its action-packed missions and three unique characters, this game sure is a blast to play and one of the main favorites this year. It’s the most entertaining candidate on the list for me, and if that was the sole criterion, I would bet on Rockstar without hesitation.
There are some other titles that shouldn’t be overlooked. With Cities: Skylines, Paradox has done the unimaginable: It has surpassed the legendary Sim City. This landscape builder is a breath of fresh air in the genre, as it features many unconventional design solutions. I didn’t give it the attention it deserves, but that is about to change.
Kerbal Space Program is an enthralling intergalactic adventure, but it’s unlikely to beat the fierce rivals. The same goes for the excellent The Talos Principle, a title introducing immaculate graphics, brain-busting puzzles and raises questions about the humanity. At last, there’s Sega’s Alien Isolation, a dread-soaked and heart-stopping adventure both cinemagoers and gamers can enjoy.
Pillars of endless fun
All gamers are invited to take part in upcoming party, and each one can find its cup of tea. Some are still steaming hot, while others are best served cold. Games like Invisible Inc and Her Story are solid and fun games in their own right, but I don’t think anyone is expecting them to steal the show. For me, the holy trinity that is in the spotlight this year is- GTA 5, Pillars of Eternity, and Endless Legend. To be fair, Heroes could also take the award by storm.