EGMR Awards 2015: Best Online Experience
Even if day one patches force games to have a bit of an online experience, nothing can beat those games which aim to deliver a fun and enjoyable online experience to players. While gamers often stick to what they know year after year, we sometimes see something fresh and exciting appear that is able to to steal our attention away from our favourite MMOs. 2015 was a good year for new things, whether it was updates to tried and tested formulas or something we didn’t know we wanted until we played it. The following games made sure we banded together online for fun, competition and the desire to break our controllers out of frustration all in the name of the best online experience.
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Online multiplayer has become a checkbox practically every game needs to tick, even if it’s just a tacked-on team deathmatch shootybang. Some developers are still trying to offer us new multiplayer experiences, however, and this award is where we take note of the games that have really pushed to further online multiplayer. To be in line to win our best online experience award, a game needs to be a fresh experience that doesn’t just tick online multiplayer off the publisher’s checklist; it must jump in fully and wow us with its innovative ideas.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III
Another year, another Call of Duty. Even if Black Ops III didn’t do much to change the way we play online shooters, it brought with it the refinement we’ve come to expect from one iteration to the next. Black Ops III obviously brought with it the series’s hallmark multiplayer to keep players no-scoping as well as Treyarch’s beloved Zombie mode. While most players will hope into the frag-fest that is Call of Duty multiplayer, the Zombie mode is a co-op dream that demands players work as a team in order to not fall to the zombie horde. Even if naysayers will claim it’s the same thing year after year, there’s a good reason why people eat it up every year. This is why Black Ops III is able to offer one of the best online experiences of 2015.
Dragon Ball XenoVerse
Dragon Ball Z was a gateway drug to anime for South African youth. There was something wrong with you if you weren’t glued to SABC 2 to watch the next installment of Goku’s adventures at 5 p.m. every weekday. Even if nostalgia would have been enough to make Dragon Ball XenoVerse successful, the game managed to exceed all expectations to deliver something special. On top of being a glorious game, XenoVerse offered something that we haven’t ever seen in a game of its type. One would have expected online battles and co-op to be where XenoVerse drew the line with its online features, but instead it took it one step further. XenoVerse offers a MMO style online play that allows for players to interact in interesting ways that we’ve been secretly missing in other games. While XenoVerse may not stand out against the rest of the Best Online Experience nominees, it is more than a worthy contender with its enjoyment being respectfully over 9000.
Halo 5: Guardians
The grandpappy of console shooters has joined the latest generation and while it’s not exactly how veterans remember Halo, it has managed to re-invent itself into a game players struggle to put down for long. Halo 5: Guardians may have players divided on the single player campaign but that hasn’t affected to multiplayer community. While 343 had some massive shoes to fill taking over the Halo franchise, they have managed to tastefully make the inherited series their own. The changes made to the multiplayer have produced one of the best online experiences available on consoles and has taken the multiplayer of the franchise to a whole new level. While Call of Duty lives by the motto “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, Halo has spun the tried and tested formula on it’s head to make noticeable improvements in order to exceed any and all expectations on the online front.
The little game that could. It seems like Rocket League came out of nowhere to take the world by storm and oh how the game deserves it. The formula for Rocket League is simple, take soccer but instead of athletes, have cars play the beautiful game. The result is an adrenaline filled game with more wow moments in every five minute match that an most large sporting events. Combine this simple yet effective premise with various modes and modifiers and you have a game that can not only be enjoyed casually with friends but also competitively online. While the game may seem rather simple at the beginning, players quickly start to discover more advanced techniques that they can carry into matches to carry out even crazier goals than they may have thought possible. Rocket League offers one of the best online experiences because it presents the players with a rather simple premise and then lets them see what they are capable of. We’ve all been impressed by amazing plays and disappointed when the match hasn’t gone our way in Rocket League but one thing is for certain, the excitement that fills players is experienced by everyone who picks up the game.
Star Wars: Battlefront
Oh how great it is to be able to run around as a Stormtrooper in a video game and actually feel like one (authentic aim notwithstanding). While Star Wars fans were worried at first that DICE was going to deliver Star Wars: Battlefront as a re-skinned Battlefield, Dice has gone on to deliver one of the most authentic Star Wars experiences in years. From Tatooine to Hoth, players feel like they’re in a galaxy far far away when they hop in to a match in Battlefront and that alone is enough to solidify it as one of the best online experiences of the year. Battlefront does enough too separate itself from the shooter crowd to stand as a unique game, independent of what we’ve seen over the years. The solid gameplay as well as the incredible presentation deliver an experience that is every Star Wars fan’s dream and exactly what is needed to convert players into Star Wars fans.
Let’s get the more controversial one out of the way first. Even though Call of Duty: Black Ops III is able to stand testament to the franchise’s legacy and delivers exactly what players expect of it, 2015 just offered so much more. Instead of having to accept what we’re used to, this year has provided us with some new and exciting experiences that mean while this title does do everything right, it’s not enough to stand out against the other nominees.
Nostalgia may have had something to do with our enjoyment of Dragon Ball: XenoVerse it’s not all the game had to offer. The MMO style setup gave us something fresh and new to enjoy for many hours but it eventually fell off. Even if we thoroughly enjoyed our online time with it, we can’t see ourselves coming back to it for much longer.
Even if Halo 5: Guardians was a return to greatness for the series, there are still some things it just hasn’t done right in the online department. While we absolutely adore the online multiplayer and its rejuvenation of the almost stale franchise, it has fallen into thee trap of trying to mimic aspects of other popular shooters. It is ultimately a great experience, but still doesn’t separate itself from a great selection of titles that have come out this year.
Star Wars: Battlefront gave us a online experience that we have been longing for since we were introduced to the Star Wars universe and while it absolutely delivers on that, the severe lack of content doesn’t give it the longevity a game of its nature demands. While it will be an absolute blast for a good couple of hours, there just simply isn’t enough to keep you playing.
Rocket League has caused our controllers to become one with our hands. I’m not sure whether or not it’s because we’re nervous driver or if the last couple of clutch seconds at the end of a match are too much for the plastic, but we’ve struggled to put down the controller while playing Rocket League. The best part of it is that we’ve loved every second of it. While the other nominees have brought us a lot of joy, something about Rocket League keeps us coming back for more. The easy to learn, difficult to master gameplay has its hooks in us and quite frankly none of us want it to let go. The uniqueness of the game and the regular content updates make Rocket League the best online experience of 2015 by far and we can’t wait to see what the new year brings to it.