In 2014, I put a good amount of time into exactly two 2014 releases, as I tried to play catchup with previous years' titles. As such, I present you this ridiculous list of my favorites from 2014:
5) Divinity: Original Sin (PC)
I don't have nearly the amount of playtime with this as the rest of my list, and perhaps if I did, it would rank higher. All I know right now is that I had zero interest in Divinity until I broke down and bought it to play with a couple of friends. Thanks to a handy mod that allows three of us to play together, the cooperative and strategic nature of battles is amazing fun, and that's on top of what's already a solid, highly-polished RPG backed by wonderful music. I can tell there is a lot to this game, and I'm sure it'll be awhile before I see it all. What sold it for me was teleporting to the side of my friend to find him, invisible, stealing literally every single painting from a town vendor to fence for gold and fund our adventuring. Not that I condone theft, but it did
allow us to keep the townsfolk safe, so the moral gray area this situation provided worked out best for all.
4) Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Patch 2.3 (PC)
The second-most recent update to FFXIV came with a cool, if obnoxious, battle with Ramuh, which is saved by the awesome music. Being able to buy our own private rooms was a great way to personalize our experience, and while Syrcus Tower isn't overly complex, it's fun and gorgeous in every visual and audio aspect. Plus we finally got in-game emotes for petting, slapping and hugging our friends. Trust me when I say that these have become a staple of Eorzean adventuring.
3) Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Patch 2.2 (PC)
The first on-time major patch to FFXIV (2.1 was slightly delayed), 2.2 was the first of three big updates the game would get during 2014. It brought with it the first new tier of gear for crafters and gatherers, both things I adore doing in-game, a completely ridiculous list of new items
, the highly challenging second tier of the Binding Coil of Bahamut, and most importantly, it introduced Leviathan as a primal battle (one of my favorite battles in the game). It also introduced the all-important glamour prism system, which has proven to be invaluable in allowing players to not be forced to traipse around in hideous gear. Cause it's all about how you look, right?
2) Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (3DS)
I was a bit late in getting into the first Theatrhythm, and I don't know why. Maybe it was the bizarre art style that I now find endlessly endearing, but I didn't play it until the iOS port came along. After buying a bunch of music, I started over on the 3DS version. The sequel contains everything from the first (okay, except that FF Vs XIII song), and integrates a fully-fleshed out quest mode that began on iOS. It's Theatrhythm honed to perfection, and before even factoring the bountiful DLC tracks, Curtain Call comes with over 200 songs. And now that they're adding music from the likes of SaGa, the amazing Bravely Default soundtrack, Chrono Trigger and more, there's no telling how long this game can continue to surprise and delight.
1) Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Patch 2.4 (PC)
Here's a shocker: my favorite gaming experience of the year is FFXIV? I may not have
Eternally Bonded with my best friend yet, but 2.4 was the biggest update the game had seen since release. It's not just that the rogue and ninja classes were added — the kind of update most companies would save for an expansion. It's that the new classes came along with all of the other expected updates: new dungeons, the gorgeous Ironworks gear, a hilarious FFVI cameo-laden questline, the wonderfully-scored Shiva storyline and battles, and, of course, the long-awaited conclusion to the Binding Coil of Bahamut story, in the form of four new challenging battles. There's a lot more to 2.4; so much that I'm still working through all that's new. It's enough that I almost wish 2.5 were further away to let me catch up. But it's hard to argue with that much stuff on top of everything else in FFXIV for $13/month.