Best Combat of 2015: Xenoblade Chronicles X
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Best Combat of 2015

At its core, the combat in Xenoblade Chronicles X seems rather basic: you activate skills to deal damage and then wait for them to cooldown before you can use them again. But the system is actually pretty complex and — once you get the hang of it — a lot of fun. Positioning once again plays a role in the effectiveness of arts, but you also have secondary and tertiary cooldowns to consider that can make your arts more powerful if you wait a little longer before using them. One of the coolest things about the combat in Xenoblade Chronicles X is the Soul Voice system, which requires that you pay attention to what your party members need in order to boost damage and keep your team healthy. The lack of any real dedicated healing means that you can easily be steamrolled by enemies if you're not careful, but it also creates a risk/reward system that makes taking down powerful foes exhilarating. And when you finally unlock your first Skell and find out that you can do all of this from the cockpit of your own personal mech? Let's just say the sky is quite literally the limit.

Writeup by Caitlin Argyros

Read our review of Xenoblade Chronicles X



Bloodborne
Best Combat of 2015: Runner-Up

The combat of Hidetaka Miyazaki's Souls games have always been about risk and reward: learning the patterns of your enemies and knowing when to strike, and with Bloodborne, Miyazaki and his team have created a wholly new style of Souls combat. First and foremost, there is no shield available in the game (well there is one, but it's a joke): there is no blocking, only parries, dodging, and striking. To compensate, there is a remarkable dynamism and fluidity to the combat that is entirely new to a Souls style game, made most obvious by the arsenal available to you. Guns can be used for damage, but are most effective as interrupts/parries, at times giving the player an opportunity for a visceral (read: heavy damage) attack. Viscerals are obtainable against almost every enemy (bosses included!), allowing for a great deal of experimentation in the game's various encounters. Primary Weapons have two forms, allowing them to function as two very different weapons: the popular Ludwig's Holy Blade can cut quickly in its primary form, but with a tap of L1 it will transform into a two-handed-death-bringing greatsword that can stagger most foes. And you can transform it mid-combo! The dodge mechanic is much more agile than previous Souls games, making fights feel quicker and more personal and adding to the ease with which you can dart into and out of conflict. Add in a risk-reward system of regaining recently-lost life by striking enemies within a few seconds after being hit yourself, and the tension of combat is always high. Action junkies that like their combat demanding, difficult, and tense with a ton of depth (or just Souls fans wanting something a little different) need look no farther than Bloodborne.

Writeup by Chris Gebauer

Read our review of Bloodborne
Read our review of The Old Hunters expansion too!



Best Combat of 2015: Readers' Choice

Bloodborne

Xenoblade Chronicles X


General Awards
Genre Awards

And the winner is...
RPGFan