Why The Witcher 3 Is My Game Of The Year - Game Watch 2015

2015 has been one of the strongest years for games in recent memory. With a deluge of seemingly universally-loved franchises getting a new instalment, choosing a top game is quite a challenge, and I don't envy sites with multiple writers as they debate as to which receives the coveted Game Of The Year Award.

Happily, I'm the only writer here, and - for me - the choice is easy. As you've seen, my game of the year is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

I haven't done a formal review for The Witcher yet, so I think it's important to explain exactly why I love it so much, but first I'd like to give a bit of background.

Up until May 19th this year, I'd cited The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as being my favourite Western-RPG: it holds a very special place in my heart (and always will) due to the fact that it brought me into the more-mainstream audience of games, and helped me understand just how far gaming had come. But, most importantly, it taught me two lessons.

The first is that games aren't all cute, 2D platformers (as I naively thought at the time, despite being aware of the "blockbuster" franchises of Assassin's Creed and Call Of Duty); there could be more to these experiences than just an Italian plumber.

The second is that it told me why I should play games: to experience an awesome story, "live" in an incredible world, and "be" this character that feels real and grants me the ability to escape from real life for a few hours. Of course, if that was every game

If Skyrim did that for me, and showed me a base level of what that feels like in 2011, then - four years later - The Witcher 3 perfected it. Not only does Geralt as a character feel real, but - over the course of your adventures with/as him - you get to know and appreciate him as a character and person.

The story is fascinating and interesting, the cast who lend their voices to the game are top-notch and the combat is insanely fun, to the point where I went out searching for random wild things, just to fight them. However, the real star of The Witcher is its world. It's open (no surprises there), it's vast, immense, gorgeous, and - more than any other game I've ever played - it feels lived in.

I keep repeating - both in my head as I write this, and in this piece as well - is that it feels real: one gets a sense that things have happened here before, and that they will continue to do so for many years. From the darkest, most vile streets of Novigrad to the incredibly detailed grandeur of Kaer Morhen, The Witcher's world is a pleasure to exist in.

More than any other game that has come out this year, I think The Witcher - and, thus, CD Projekt Red - deserve a Game Of The Year Award. With how lovingly crafted everything in that world is, how memorable the overall game continues to be and how I continually want to step back into it - I think this is not only Game Of The Year, but the best Western RPG ever made.

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Congratulations to the whole team at CD Projekt Red on creating a truly extraordinary game! 

And, to all the developers who made 2015 so special: thank you. 

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