We play video games for the experience of playing them, the stories they tell us and the stories we make for ourselves. This year has been brimming with quality games of all shapes and sizes, scopes and scales.
Memorable gaming moments can come from anywhere, not just the very best games. We've already adjudged our ten favourite games of 2015, so now we want to look at the best moments they and many other games provided.
[WARNING: Spoilers follow. Each game is clearly marked]
The Witcher 3 - Family Matters
Family Matters is an extensive questline that weaves in and out of the first 20-30 hours of CD Projekt Red's mammoth fantasy RPG, and it's arguably the highlight of the entire game. This story it tells is gruelling, deals with mature subject matter with balance and – as one of the game's first major quests – works superbly as a scene-setter for the game's grim world.
Metal Gear Solid 5 – Blood Runs Deep
The story of Metal Gear Solid 5 went off the deep end so spectacularly that it's qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games, but around the half way point of Chapter 1 of Kojima Productions' game provides one of a brilliant game's most brilliant moments. Blood Runs Deep sees Big Boss sent to kill prisoners who he discovers to be child soldiers. Following the discovery Boss turns things into a tense and thrilling rescue mission.
Rocket League – GOOOOOOAALLLLLLLLL
The world went Rocket League mad in the summer with millions of players dedicating their hot and stuffy evenings to Psyonix's thrilling car football game. It was simple enough to enjoy but took time to fully get to grips with and had a hidden depth for players to master. The euphoria of scoring a goal that required some amount of skill is definitely among the best moments of the year.
Her Story – Reflection
In Sam Barlow's Her Story the player is cast as an unidentified person sitting at an old computer terminal searching through and piecing together old video files relating to a murder case. Through the character's eyes the player sees the computer desktop and reflections of ceiling lights on the screen. A sudden flicker of one light reveals the character's obscured reflection. You don't see much, but it heightens the tension and mystery – and you won't forget the chill in a hurry.
Super Mario Maker – Creation
Super Mario Maker is, obviously, about making Super Mario levels. You go in, learn the basics and know exactly what you're about to attempt to accomplish. And yet when you accomplish that, and put together a functional, somewhat challenging level, there's a thrill like few others. Nintendo fans have waited a long time for such a game, that allows them to try and emulate the work of Shigeru Miyamoto and other legendary developers. To make something even vaguely reminiscent of such great work was incredible.
Star Wars Battlefront – Walker Assault on Hoth
You may have noticed that Star Wars came back in a big way in 2015, and for gamers a big part of that was the return of Star Wars Battlefront. Many have argued about the games' overall quality – we loved it – but few can deny it is a stunning recreation of the cinematic world. Running through the legs of an AT-AT on Hoth in the public beta was awe-inspiring.
Rainbow Six Siege – Action Hero
Ubisoft's tactical shooter is tense and methodical like no other this year. It's built around careful thinking and thoughtful actions, often with games balancing on a knife edge. Sometimes risks need to be taken. Sometimes you could think to yourself "screw it" and breach a window two stories up, killing a previously unseen foe with a headshot, at distance, as you enter. That's what I did. It was awesome.
Life Is Strange Episode 4 – Life or Death
Episode three of our game of the year was a little disappointing but ended on a fantastic cliffhanger as protagonist Max discovered an ability to travel back in time, altered history and then returned to discover the consequences of her actions. She found her friend Chloe wheelchair-bound and dying. In episode four's opening act we discover how different she is, before she asks Chloe to help euthanize her and end her suffering. Few adventure games have offered such a poignant choice.
Batman: Arkham Knight – The Ending
Overall we found Arkham Knight to be a bit disappointing, but it's ending is a wonderful conclusion for Bruce Wayne and Batman's story – left open just enough for some fanboy speculation. It took place inside the mind of Bruce Wayne as Batman and The Joker fight for control after Scarecrow has injected the Dark Knight with fear toxin. It's a creepy, scary and unforgettable sequence.