The Best Videogames of 2015

  • Publish Date: December 21, 2015
  • Comments: ↓ 21 user comments

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the best game of 2015

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
(Xbox One)
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
(Wii U)
Grand Theft Auto V
The Walking Dead [Retail]
Batman: Arkham City
Metacritic's Game of the Year
(Highest-scoring new title, min. 7 reviews)

For the past several years, our year-end report on the year in games has contained a note stating that if the newest generation of console hardware was going to bring about an explosion of great new games, it hadn't happened yet. Well, guess what: it still hasn't.

Once again, we are wrapping up a year in which many of the most-anticipated titles saw their releases pushed back to the following year, while others that did surface didn't quite live up to their advance promise. That's not to say there weren't some great games in 2015—there were actually 14 releases scoring 90 or higher, listed a little further down this page. But that total matches last year's number, which represented the lowest number of great game releases in a single year over the past decade.

In fact, just 9 console releases achieved a 90+ score. And two of those were expansion packs, while two more were ports from other platforms. So the list of "new" great console titles this year is a short one: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (on both PS4 and XB1), Bloodborne (PS4), and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4/XB1).

Of those, Phantom Pain received the highest individual score (for its XB1 version), making it our official game of the year for 2015. The belated PC port of 2013's Grand Theft Auto V actually scored a point higher, but that game is ineligible for our official year-end honor since it isn't a new title.

So, consider this an exceptionally long transition period to the new hardware. (Either that, or we are looking at the new normal, where greatness is a bit more elusive.)

Still, 2015 did have a few gems. In a moment, we'll reveal this year's best-reviewed games for each major platform. Before that, here's a quick look at how the various game platforms compared this year:

Console/PC Comparison - 2015
Console # of Scored
Average Metascore Great Games**
(90 or higher)
Good Exclusives**
(75 or higher)
PS3 PlayStation 4 276 115,143,18 70.5 6 11
Xbox 360 Xbox One 204 83,108,13 70.4 2 7
Wii U Wii U 80 33,34,13 67.1 1 9
PC PC 415 163,233,19 70.6 5 53
Handheld Comparison - 2015
Console # of Scored
Average Metascore Great Games**
(90 or higher)
Good Exclusives**
(75 or higher)
3DS Nintendo 3DS 75 25,42,8 69.0 0 22
PS Vita PS Vita 75 26,48,1 70.7 0 8

* Games with 4 or more reviews in Metacritic's database released between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015 (based on North American release dates, except in cases where a game has not been released in North America).
** Excludes games with fewer than 7 reviews.
All Metascore data for this and all other tables in this report is from December 16, 2015. The pie charts reflect the percentage of all releases for each console with Positive Reviews (receiving a Metascore of 75 or higher indicating), Mixed Reviews (receiving a Metascore of 50-74), and Negative Reviews (receiving a Metascore of 49 or below). Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

And here are 2015's best-reviewed titles, regardless of platform (iPhone/iPad games are excluded; they're ranked in a separate article):

The 90+ Club: The Best-Reviewed Games of 2015 (Any Platform*)
Title / Platform Publisher Genre Metascore
1 Grand Theft Auto V PC Rockstar Games Action-Adv. 96
2 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain XB1 Konami Action-Adv. 95
3 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt PC Warner Bros. Action-RPG 93
4 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain PS4 Konami Action-Adv. 93
5 Undertale PC tobyfox RPG 93
6 Journey PS4 Sony Adventure 92
7 Bloodborne PS4 Sony Action-RPG 92
8 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt PS4 Warner Bros. Action-RPG 92
9 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt XB1 Warner Bros. Action-RPG 91
10 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain PC Konami Action-Adv. 91
11 Shovel Knight PS4 Yacht Club Platform 90
12 Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 2 Wii U Nintendo Racing 90
13 The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth PC Nicalis Action-Adv. 90
14 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Hearts of Stone PS4 Warner Bros. Action-RPG 90

*Excluding iOS games. Games are ranked by Metascore prior to rounding. Only games with 7 or more reviews are included in this and every other list that follows.

Best 2015 games by platform

PlayStation 4

2015 Avg. Metascore 70.5
vs. 2014 Avg. 72.0
PlayStation 4

The Sony console's total of six 90+ games released in 2015 was tops among all platforms, and was also one higher than the PS4's total in 2014.

True, the average Metascore for all PS4 releases in 2015 fell by a point and a half compared to the previous year. That can be at least partially attributed to a large increase in quantity. There were over 130 additional titles released for the PS4 in 2015 than the year before, and only 42% of all PS4 releases this year were approved by critics (vs. 50% the previous year).

But that increase in quantity also brought something PS4 owners had been hoping for: exclusives. The previous year saw just four PS4 exclusives with positive reviews from critics. But 2015 was much better: 11 PlayStation exclusives scored 75 or higher, led by Bloodborne.

Xbox One

Xbox One
2015 Avg. Metascore 70.4
vs. 2014 Avg. 72.4
Xbox One

The 2015 numbers were not quite as good for Microsoft's console as they were for the PS4. The average Metascore for XB1 releases dropped two points compared to 2014, and 2015 saw just two two 90+ releases released for the Xbox (both of which were also available on the PS4). And just seven Xbox exclusives received positive reviews from critics—four fewer than were released for the PS4.

Wii U

Wii U
2015 Avg. Metascore 67.1
Nintendo Wii U
vs. 2014 Avg. 66.8

The good news? There were actually more games released for Nintendo's console in 2015 than there were in 2014. The bad? There still were less than half as many Wii U releases than there were for the other major consoles, and there certainly weren't many great ones.

In fact, just one Wii U release hit the 90+ mark in 2015. Unfortunately, that release wasn't even a new game: it was a Mario Kart DLC pack. (In 2014, by comparison, three Wii U titles scored 90 or higher, and one of those was Metacritic's Game of the Year.)

PC games

2015 Avg. Metascore 70.6
PC Games
vs. 2014 Avg. 70.4

Impressively, five separate PC releases achieved a 90 or higher in 2015—four more than did so the prior year. That total includes the year's highest-scoring release, period: Grand Theft Auto V, which finally arrived on PCs in what might be its best version yet.

In fact, 163 computer games received positive reviews (75 or higher) from critics. That total blows away last year's figure of 132, which was itself the highest total we could remember. There is no question that for the biggest selection of good games this year, PC had every console beat by a mile.

Handhelds: Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita

2015 Avg. Metascore 69.0
vs. 2014 Avg. 67.3
Nintendo 3DS

2015 Avg. Metascore 70.7
vs. 2014 Avg. 70.1
PlayStation Vita

We can assure you that both Nintendo's 3DS and Sony's PlayStation Vita continued to exist in 2015. In fact, the number of total games released for each handheld device remained roughly the same for the third straight year.

That said, unlike the year before, neither device had a 90+ release in 2015. The closest they got was OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood 85 for the Vita and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D 89 for the 3DS.

Here are the top 2015 releases for each handheld platform:

Best-Reviewed 3DS Games, 2015
Game Publisher Buy It Metascore
1The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3DNintendoAmazon89
23D Streets of Rage IIM2/Sega89
33D Gunstar HeroesSega/M289
43D Sonic the Hedgehog 2M2/Sega87
53D Out RunM2/Sega87
6Monster Hunter 4 UltimateCapcomAmazon86
7SteamWorld HeistImage & Form86
8Xenoblade Chronicles 3D NintendoAmazon86
9Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record BreakerAtlusAmazon84
10Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight AtlusAmazon83
Best-Reviewed PS Vita Games, 2015
Game Publisher Buy It Metascore
1OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwoodroll785
2Code:Realize - Guardian of RebirthOtomate/Aksys GamesAmazon85
3Terraria505 Games/Engine SoftwareAmazon85
4Grim Fandango RemasteredDouble Fine Productions84
5Child of LightUbisoft Montreal/UbisoftAmazon83
7SUPERBEAT: XONiCAtlus/PM Studios Inc./NurijoyAmazon82
8Joe Danger 2: The MovieFour Door Lemon/Hello Games81
9Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines Sony 78
10Persona 4: Dancing All NightAtlus/Dingo Inc.Amazon77

Bonus: The worst games of 2015

No year-end recap would be complete without a quick look the year's worst-reviewed releases:

What do you think?

What are your favorite games of the past year? Let us know in the discussion section below, or cast your vote for your favorites in our Best of 2015 Users Poll.

Comments (21)

  • devour  

    No game has gotten away with murder critically like MGSV has. It's entire mission structure is comprised of a few side-quest type objectives rehashed over and over. Then there's the "supposed" second chapter if it wasn't blatant enough already of how slapped together this unfinished mess is.

  • SirInternet  

    My favorite game this year would have to be Just Cause 3, that game to me is what games are supposed to be: fun. Fallout 4 was good as well

  • AXidenT  

    They're basing their decision on a score based off only 10 reviews? They didn't even seem to acknowledge that fact...

  • DR_PIT  

    I dont understand why is Userscore completely ignored in your GOTY pick. I mean the reason we all even come to this website is because we feel our opinions matter and you totally ignore what we say. I mean it would be ok if Witcher 3 and MSG5 were in a stalwart but you can clearly see MSG5 is in the 8th place on userscore while there is alot of titles like Undertale that should be in front of it. Papers reviews and scores are vastly dependant on game industry politics, which is why we have fore example the not a game 'Star Wars battlefornt' with score of 75 and again this is exactly why we come here because we can have a look at what real players have to say about the game, rather than poor professional journalists who simply cant put an honest opinion out there because its bad for their buisness.

    I mean essentially its the userscore that your business here bases on, this is why we bother to come to this website. Because our grouped opinions are the only thing that helps us tackle the nonsense Industries biggest companies try to pull every time they release a game and what you do with this kind of article is just denying what this website means to us. I think it i is just disrespectful to ignore us like this, why not change the website name to metacritic a division of EA or Konami ?

    THis is some serious **** gentlemen.

  • DonMega  

    Witcher 3 is the best. MGS could have won but the second chapter in the game ruins the whole experience

  • Simeon_  

    Bloodborne is my game of the year but I still haven't tried The Witcher 3 yet. Also, has anyone noticed that the PS4 seems to be getting much more reviews than the other platforms? E.g. MGS5 has 86 reviews for PS4 but only 13 for PC and 10 for XB1.

  • vahythelord  

    Sorry W3 ,,, MGS is the Best

  • herrmoekl  

    Witcher 3 wins without a doubt. If you bring together all the Gamers Sites GOTY lists like it was done with other media on metacritic, this would be a clear thing. Really don´t understand why this is done differently with Games....

  • moviefan2  

    my top five for the ps4, bloodbourne, fallout 4, the witcher 3, mgsv and batman. i would add that bloodbourne is only the 2nd game that i topped 300 hours of play. skyrim was the first. bloodbourne was in a class by itself. fallout 4 was great and i quit playing at 180 hours. i loved them so much that i platinum-ed both. i'm still suffering fo4 withdrawel at the moment.

  • g-0ff  

    Kind of a shame that Kill Screen had to go and put out that one rushed, awful, straight up wrong review of Undertale, or it would actually have topped this list.

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