Winner: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
This year’s selection for the Game of the Year was far more contentious than it usually is, mainly because there wasn’t one title that truly stood out from among its peers. That said, our Best Xbox Exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider has set a new bar for the series by emphasizing the “Tomb” part of its namesake and expanding both the hardened survivalist action and open-world areas. We also can’t say enough of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which already won our award for best DLC with Hearts of Stone and whose developer, CD Projekt RED, has received our Best Developer Award as well, on top of four other nominations for the game.
But Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain won us over with the depth of its open world, its memorable cast of characters, and its state-of-the-art stealth-based action. Even though the multiplayer modes and the FOB invasion/insurance model tarnished the game after release, The Phantom Pain is still a fitting swan song for the distinguished series as a triple-A franchise and the clear dividing line for when Kojima brought the light to Konami and when it was unceremoniously snuffed out in a tortuous crawl of unsavory actions. We’re used to the Metal Gear Solid series releasing every several years at a time, so it may be a while before we begin to wonder where the series has gone. But there will be an inevitable moment that comes out of the blue when we feel that something is missing and our inner voices will scream toward the sky in collective exclamation: “Snake! SNAAAAAAKE!!!!”
First Runner-Up: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Second Runner-Up: Rise of the Tomb Raider
Nominees: Life Is Strange, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Fallout 4, Halo 5: Guardians, Bloodborne, Undertale, Pillars of Eternity