I’m not a big one for award shows. My interest largely lies with the new releases that get teased alongside and I didn’t even cover that this year. Er, or last year either. Last time it looks like I did was for the 2019 awards. And I’m not changing tack now! That moment has gone. But, given the year we’ve all had I started to think… It wasn’t all bad. What would be my game of the year?

Nothing immediately jumped out at me, actually.

For one — perception of time this year has been extra difficult and that’s never been a strong suit of mine anyway. So what even came out this year? I’uno!

Had to look it up. My short list for games that actually released this year ended up being:

Game of the Year — That Actually Released This Year

Runner up: Outriders

Outriders

After the recent New Horizon update, Outriders was certainly the title that released this year that I spent the most time with 57.6 hours spent ingame, with potentially more in sight over the break. Some friends and I continued pushing through the challenge tiers and made it right through to CT15 but still haven’t finished the final expedition.

So it was a close thing to be sure, but when I consider which game I had the most fun with this year? It wasn’t quite Outriders.

Winner: Tales of Arise

Tales of Arise

Tales of Arise wasn’t entirely without issue. It has some really sketchy ‘DLC’ available for a start, and the end of the game did walk a fine line toward making the entire thing feel like it outstayed its welcome…

But even with that in mind? Tales of Arise was a joy to play, balancing RPG with a fairly detailed action-combat system with a good set of characters layered over the top. I still haven’t jumped back in after seeing the credits roll to dive into either the end game content or the new game+ mode — and I may never — but I’ll always think fondly of my time with the game. All 50.4 hours of it. :)

Game of the Year — No Matter When it Came Out

But wait, there’s more! I tend to play at least as many, if not more, games in a year that aren’t brand spanking new releases. If I throw out the release year consideration and look to what I played this year, does the picture change?

Probably!

My shortlist for this one ended up including (in addition to the ones already mentioned for having released this year):

Runner up: Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines

While I haven’t put in nearly as many hours this year as I did last year (103 hours last year, a bit under 30 hours this year) — Cities has become something of a classic for me. Something very unlikely to be removed from semi-regular play until Cities: Skylines 2 finally comes out. Given we’re still awaiting official recognition of such a project even existing yet — that wait is likely to be a while yet.

There was some speculation with the very long gap between DLC packs (well, between substantive DLC packs) that Cities 2 was in the works. Recently the Airports DLC was announced, probably just to thumb the nose at people making these claims… but… Surely Cities 2 is in the works, right? Right?

Winner: Black Desert Online

Black Desert Online

I rather thoroughly burnt myself out on BDO at the start of the year in playing through one of the Seasons, but I can already feel that it wasn’t a permanent burn out. The itch to return could occur at any moment. The call of the seas, or perhaps to perfect my node and worker network — or heck, just the super fun action combat of a new class might do it.

I spent just under 150 hours in BDO this year and the breadth and scope of the game really makes me appreciate the lack of such in any other MMO I might consider playing.

Next time I go back — I hope it isn’t so close to the tail end of a season, so I can just take my time with it a little more. :)

So That’s Me…

What about you? Any stand-out favourites for the year as a whole? I had to go back and review what I’d even played this year rather than having them at the tip of my fingers — but reflecting on them now…

Well… Let’s just say, most of the games in my lists here have every chance of dislodging my randomly selected game of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla in no time flat. I noted in a comment to Pete already, but my first few hours of AC:Valhalla haven’t really agreed with me so far… Although as I also acknowledged, that might be somewhat because I was chasing down map markers as opposed to just ‘playing’.

But then… Given some of those mapmarkers can have skill unlocks behind them, it’s a tricky spot to balance!

We’ll see… I think some of my go fishing / play all the things and see what sticks mood might be returning. I’m OK with this if so though — part of this whole random selection ‘thing’ was just to get back into gaming again, so mission accomplished on that front. :)

Footnotes

  1. I wrote this as a guest post for Magi, but then ended up barely covering it here!
  2. This one is cheating a little — I barely touched the game on PC; my experience is with the PS4 version when I couldn’t wait any more.
  3. Although this specific edition actually DID release May 6th this year, Metro Exodus first released February 2019.

Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

5 Comments

Nimgimli · December 23, 2021 at 3:35 am

As I mentioned, I have like 100 hours in my AC Valhalla save and I still have a ton of map markers that are undiscovered. I wouldn’t obsess over getting them all!

I think I probably had the most fun with Watch Dogs Legion this year, though I wasn’t blogged for the first half of the year and my memory is so bad I might’ve played something else and liked it more!

I did play a good amount of Elder Scrolls Online, but that’s a regular in my rotation that comes up over and over.

And 100 hours of Valhalla probably means something, tho I still prefer Odyssey.

    Naithin · December 23, 2021 at 8:28 am

    Watch Dog Legions is still sitting somewhere pining at me to be played too. I bought 3 or so Ubi titles in fairly rapid succession (WD:L, AC:V, Immortals: Fenyx Rising) and then proceeded to barely touch any of them. Hah.

    I think I certainly will take your advice: re just skipping the points of interest unless they happen to get in my way. See how I like things then. :)

bhagpuss · December 23, 2021 at 7:56 am

For new games it would be Valheim, followed by New World. Oddly, even though Valheim is only in Early Access and far from finished, I now find it very hard to get enthused about playing it again. It seems “done” to me, somehow. New World, on the other hand, should remain as interesting as any mmorpg over many years. I also liked Bless:Unleashed a lot.

For older games I guess it’s EQII, if only because the new expansion is one of the best for a while. I’ve probaby played more GW2 over the year, though, even though it’s very static at the moment. Single-player it would probably be Disco Elysium, which isn’t that old but also wasn’t new this year. I thought it had problems but it was engaging and if not as original as some reviews would have it, certainly not run-of-the-mill.

    Naithin · December 23, 2021 at 8:33 am

    I think with a new expac, it’d be fair to include EQII this year as a new release if you wanted to.

    And yes, I remember your coverage of Valheim so not surprised to see that one right up there! Ditto for Disco Elysium actually, which is one I keep jumping into but then getting distracted.

    But not because I wasn’t enjoying the game — I was! Just pulled in too many other directions whenever I give it a shot.

    I’ve seen some reviews state that it replaces Planescape: Torment as the best narrative driven CRPG which is a pretty big call — but not yet in any position to make that comparison for myself.

    Glad you’re still finding enjoyment in New World too. For how rapidly I bounced off it, I do suspect it has some real solid legs behind it if they can survive this initial rough launch period, fix up the worst of it, then get back to producing more content.

    If in 6m to a year, an expansion is announced… I think I’d be rather interested, yes.

Game Grazing Lately – Dragonchasers · December 23, 2021 at 4:53 am

[…] on Time to Loot Nathin asked readers what their personal Game of the Year was and… I couldn’t remember […]

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