1. Given that Dragon Age: Inquisition was our Game of the Year for 2014, you might conclude that we're biased towards sweeping fantasy RPGs, but that's not the case, and in fact CD Projekt Red's grand adventure gets the nod this year for the sole reason that it was the best title released in the last twelve months. Last year Dragon Age and Alien: Isolation went toe-to-toe for the honour of GOTY, and while we didn't go as far as settling it on a coin toss, it was a close run thing. There was no such debate amongst the editorial team this year, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was the obvious choice for this year's prestigious award.
Why then did we like this game above all others? There's a multitude of reasons, so let's start from the top and work our way through. First and foremost we admire what CDPR managed to achieve, and the huge step forward that they took when considering their third game against their previous work in Assassins of Kings. You can chart and compare the studio's progression to that of Bioware and their own work within the realm of fantasy, but for our money in 2015 the apprentice outdid the master, and CD Projekt Red came of age with a thunderous and triumphant role-playing game.
The world of the The Witcher is rich and vibrant, and thanks to its literary roots is comes blessed with deep and compelling lore. This manifests itself in a superbly realised game-world that is overflowing with interesting side content. There's a moral ambiguity to everything that differentiates this series from its peers, and where some games give you a choice between black and white, right and wrong, The Witcher serves you up several shades of grey and asks you to choose from a variety of unappealing alternatives.
The characters that you meet along the way add so much to the experience, and the writing is great. There's so much nuance to their composition and execution, and as a result our interactions with these characters are incomparably memorable. Even more compelling than the people you encounter are the monsters that you hunt throughout your adventure, their various designs are wonderfully done. Wild Hunts throws you up against some supremely terrifying beasts.
When it comes to fighting the creatures of this world, there's a rich combat system that gives the player plenty of options, fusing magical attacks with agile movement, and the system is layered with customisable character builds that offer opportunity for specialisation. The combat, however, might not be for everyone, and with such a rich narrative experience running alongside it, there'll be plenty who sign up because they want to sample the story and atmosphere. With that in mind there'll be plenty who take the difficulty down a notch and play the game very differently to their combat-focused peers. One of The Witcher 3's strengths is that it caters for all sorts of players, and there's so many different experiences that can be taken away.
On top of a rich and diverse world we've also been given a handsome game, with the vistas (of which there are many) continuously impressing thanks to stunning views that come with a watercolour feel. The animations, for the most part, are great, and they breathe life into your enemies - both human and monster - all of which are beautifully realised. On top of great character and world design, and the fantastic visuals, there's a superb soundtrack playing in the background. The whole thing has been carefully and expertly pulled together, and thanks to post-launch updates it's now in better shape than ever before.
If you haven't already sampled the delights of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, there's never been a better time to do so. CD Projekt Red has meticulously crafted an action-filled story-driven role-playing game that stands head and shoulders above all others. This huge game has so much to offer so many people, and as far as we're concerned, it was 2015's finest video game.