The past year has been interesting for gamers. We saw the current generation of consoles find their footing and evolve. Meanwhile we were treated to mutiple broken AAA games with failed launches resulting in disappointnend fans. Big games from big publishers like Assassin’s Creed Unity and DriveClub. Not everything was bad though. If it wasn’t for an excellent stream of great indie titles I wouldn’t have really played anything. I’m going to break it down by platform.
Let’s talk about Xbox. Ever since it launched the Xbox found itself living in the PS4’s shadow month after month without being able to pick up any sales momenteum. In the past year Microsoft has repositioned what kind of system the Xbox One is. Taking it from being focused on media and television with a heavy emphasis on Kinect to now being all about games. Thankfully in May the company decided to drop Kinect as a mandatory pack in and lower the price to match that of the PS4. Those choices combined with a smart price drop and fantastic bundles for the holidays helped the Xbox finally outsell the PS4 by the end of 2014. Microsoft has also been putting out significant firmware updates each month that improve performance and add great features like a robust media player and the ability to snap Skype video with a game. It’s no secret I wasn’t a fan of the Xbox at launch and returned it because I couldn’t justify the price or find value in Kinect. On my launch system the dashboard would chug for no apparent reason and the games weren’t compelling enough to justify the $100 premium over my PS4. Now, however, I can say I will be getting a Xbox One for Christams and am very excited to play the Master Chief Collection and Sunset Overdrive as well as check out the new features. Maybe 2015 will be the year Xbox turns the tide in their favor.
Now lets talk PlayStation. The PS4 enjoyed immense success in both sales and publicity. Things started to falter a bit in the year for Sony with the 1.70 system software update that broke save files from auto-uploading to the cloud for people like myself. Continuing the trend of bad updates was the 2.0 release that broke rest mode for a lot of people, again myself included, causing some user’s hard drives to become corrupt due to having to force shut the PS4 down. Where the PS4 shined in my opinion was with it’s wealth of indie titles like Never Alone, Fez, Veolcity 2X, Dust: AET, and Rogue Legacy to name a few. Sony’s underappreciated handheld didn’t get any AAA love (which is probably for the better) and it didn’t suffer the firmware issues of it’s big brother but it did have a pretty solid lineup. Some of my favorites were Veolcity 2X, _FEZ, CounterSpy, Hohokum, Child of Light, and Pixeljunk Shooter Ultimate. I love my PS4 but Sony can’t take their initial success for granted and needs to crank out stellar games and release some meaningful OS updates in the coming year.
Out of the three platform holders I was most delighted by Nintendo. While the speed of the Wii U’s OS is slow it’s way better than when it launched and the quick menu is a nice touch. The Virtual Console offerings are still weak compared to what is on the Wii and the lack of cross-buy and cross-save are glaring omissions for a company with such strong IP. For all it’s shortcomings the Wii U did see the best lineup of games. We saw heavy hitters like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros Wii U along with new IP like Captain Toad Treasure Tracker and some great indie titles Shovel Knight and Stealth Inc. 2. Not only that but Nintendo has the future lineup I’m most excited about with Yoshi’s Wooly World, Splatooon, Mario Maker, and new Zelda and Star Fox titles all coming in 2015. On the 3DS front we saw minor updates to the software and another year of stellar games like Super Smash Bros 3DS, Shovel Knight,Fantasy Life, Xeodrifter, and Bravely Default. 2015 could be Nintendo’s year like 2014 was in my opinion.
Overall if you’re into big AAA games 2014 may have been disappointing for you. But if you’re like me 2014 was full of marvelous games spanning all platforms from studios not bound to shareholders and big publishers. Time to push on another year.