Today's Game of the Year 2014 staff picks are all about our favourite gaming moments for the last twelve months, be they specific moments in a particular game, a special happening a show or expo, or maybe even letting a new console into one's life. As always, let us know what your best gaming moments of highlights of 2014 have been in the comments below.
Jon | Crying Wolf
WARNING: THE WOLF AMONG US SPOILERS AHEAD
Sooooooo. Yeah. Okay. My favourite gaming highlight of the year is basically a Quick Time Event.
I know, right? We hate those things! Ninety-nine times out of a hundred they just ruin a perfectly good cutscene, but once in a blue moon, they can actually make a powerful moment feel even more impactful by letting us pull the trigger. Something that The Wolf Among Us managed perfectly.
Each episode of Bigby's adventure became as event as I poured a glass of red wine, turned down the lights and settled down for some quality storytelling, defining Bigby as my own character with his words and actions. Until Episode 4, that is, which psyched me up for a fight before rolling credits at the most frustrating moment. Thankfully Episode 5, Cry Wolf, tied up every loose end in the most satisfying and cathartic ways possible, crowned by a bloody and brutally physical brawl in which a fully-lupine Bigby tore apart an entire army of Bloody Marys and finished off his nemesis once and for all.
I stood up, punched the air and whooped uncontrollably for a full minute. It was awesome and felt like a huge achievement even though, technically, I didn't do a thing.
Matt | Buying a Wii U
A bunch of cool things happened this year. I got to chat with the developers of my favourite game of 2014 for several hours, for starters; that was glorious. You don't often get the opportunity to do that unless you're a big name freelancer or a writer for one of the top-tier sites. Sharing several pints with Obsidian's Josh Sawyer and Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Adam Smith and talking about rich narratives in entertainment and storytelling in games was another highlight too. It was one of those encounters you come away from feeling exhilarated and excited about the medium and those working in it.
I mentioned WildStar in my paragraphs on this at the six-month mark, and despite the fact that my interest in it kind of waned, it was nice to be a part of that groundswell of interest in a new MMO, though that game's future looks a little ropey standing at the tail end of 2014. Alien: Isolation deserves a special mention too, for triggering new depths of fear I never knew I had. Creative Assembly managed to make the Alien scary again, and after numerous films and games of varying quality, that's not an easy thing.
But my gaming moment of the year is a no-brainer, really. I already alluded to it in my shout for Game of the Year. It's the moment Bayonetta 2 convinced me to buy a Wii U.
That ten minute demo battle against the Masked Lumen floored me with its excellence. I picked my jaw up off of the floor, tried to maintain my composure as I left the preview event, and started researching bundles as soon as I got back home.
There's been no looking back, and I'm increasingly happy with it, delighting in the smorgasbord of quality games that Nintendo have steadily amassed. I have my PS4 and PC for third party titles and big-brand, Western franchises, and I have my Wii U for outstanding exclusives that I can't play anywhere else. And the best couch co-op games money can buy. It's the best purchase I made all year, and I can't wait to add Captain Toad to my collection come January.
Brendan | Trying Oculus Rift with Omega Agent
Back in May, I finally got my face into an Oculus Rift and knew within seconds that I wanted one despite being a consoles-only gamer. The most-impressive piece at Blackpool's Play Expo, was the on-rails flythrough of Fortresscraft, where I was able to look around on my tour through a facility. The 3D effect was a little blurry, but there was no denying the immersive quality. Click here for a longer recollection of that day.
That would have been my highlight of the year right there, but then I played Omega Agent with the Oculus at the Eurogamer Expo and it effortlessly destroyed anything else I'd seen at the entire show. The demo is in first-person and puts you in a classic Bond-style jetpack, controlled by a regular controller, with full head movement handled by the Oculus.
Starting on the ground, I pulled the trigger for a straight vertical boost and looked down as the world fell away below. Take. My. Money. This was arguably the most immersive experience I've ever had in a game. There wasn't much to do in the demo, save for flying, but boy was it fun. Hitting the accelerator and zooming forwards felt fantastic and freely looking around the 3D world with head movement alone works better than I would have dared imagine. Fingers crossed this time next year, I'll be let loose on an FPS title with either the Oculus Rift or Sony's Morpheus, preferably the new Mirror's Edge title. The Oculus Rift is the biggest threat to me investing in a PC rig. If you listen really hard, you can almost hear Carl chanting 'One of us! One of us!'
Carl | Titanfall with a Joystick
Yeah, it’s probably time to admit it – I tried several things with YouTube this year, and while a bunch of you were rather supportive of the ideas none of them really took off. However, that doesn’t mean I regret doing them, as I would have missed out on doing one of the toughest challenges I’ve undertaken in my gaming experiences for a number of years – playing Titanfall with a joystick and getting into the top half of the leaderboard.
One thing I didn’t mention in the video you can conveniently watch above that the amount of effort it took to get the damn joystick to work. It took me a day to go through several programs that apparently would do the job, only to realise they wouldn’t be recognised properly once Titanfall was running. In the end I managed to use a trial version of Pinnacle, which not only had a Titanfall preset already but worked like a dream. The lesson here? Something the paid stuff is worth paying for. Sometimes.
Anyway, the challenge itself was an absolute slog. While the video itself shows the first and last games in their entirety, I assure you it took many hours and many rounds to get there. That said, having the HOTAS setup in my hands as I was virtually piloting a mech was freakin’ awesome. Every movement I made felt like it had some weight to it. Firing the trigger felt like I was really there. The missiles? There was nothing more satisfying than flicking the safety cover off and firing a salvo at an enemy. That said, being on foot was a little more jarring, but eventually even I was able to freerun around the map with little difficulty.
Aiming was still a bitch, though.
In the end, I got my top half finish and the feeling of satisfaction was unparalleled. I bested the time I finally beat Seath the Scaleless in Dark Souls, and I’d go as far as to say it was more satisfying than when I beat the rare bosses on Final Fantasy VII. If you have yet to watch it, give it a gander if only to see my absolute frustration before my ultimate victory.