Best Battle System
Shadowrun: Hong Kong's battle system is the third major refinement of the system first introduced in Shadowrun Returns. It's a turn-based thrill ride with enough options for even our finicky staff. Managing cover, ammo, action points, special abilities, equipment, and spell timers provides a lot of moving parts, but the interface insures it never becomes overwhelming. There's plenty of depth for our tactical junkies so we can feed pride after putting one over on the competent AI; however, our more straightforward brawlers aren't left out either, with plenty of toys that go boom, zap, or thud. Each of the story characters is balanced to reward different playstyles. Choosing the best team for each mission is an important part of the narrative and a key tactical decision.
As characters advance, they can be tweaked into specializations or kept general. The story characters can select one of two themed advancements per level, allowing them to be customized while maintaining their individuality. The protagonist is even more customizable, drawing on all the abilities from Harebrained Schemes' previous Shadowrun games with additional options for the new outing—especially in the fields of magic and cyberware. When it comes to the best combat of the year, the Sixth World's finest have handily stolen the award, erased the security tapes, and dispatched the guards without triggering the alarm.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate's combat shows just how far small tweaks and changes can greatly improve a game. Adding more verticality as well as increasing character maneuverability make hunts feel more dynamic and exciting. The new hunting grounds are specifically balanced around players' improved mobility, making them fantastic playgrounds to battle monsters in. Tutorials have been revamped as well, getting vital information about combat to players quickly and letting them get to actual battles as soon as possible. A large variety of weapons with vastly different playstyles make sure players have plenty of options depending on individual preference. All in all, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate provides one of the best action RPG battle systems out there.
One of the best things about Final Fantasy XIV's battle system is the fast-paced, real-time combat. Monsters don't wait for you to do something; you have to immediately react and think quickly. It's very fluid once learned, and the game gives plenty of time and content to master it. Heavensward introduces new, well-designed skills to existing classes along with three creative new classes. The impact is bigger than a few tweaks and changes. The same battle system we already love lets us enjoy re-mastering favorite classes with new strategies and techniques. It wisely gives fresh experiences to a lengthy MMO, and the excellent combat is a top reason to keep playing this game over the years.
by Zach Welhouse, Mike Apps, Sarah McGarr