No one really does much to commemorate the halfway mark of a year. Well, we’re going to change that. See, everyone loves picking their favorite games at the end of a year. We decided to get an early start.

Alright, admittedly it’s a little silly. But what the hell, it gives us a chance to highlight some of favorite games without having to wait another six months.

Below, you’ll find each of our picks for our favorite game from the first half of 2014. You’ll find a pretty wide range of titles, everything from role-playing games to competitive shooters. In fact, only one game got picked by more than one staff member. And if you click here, you’ll find the games we’re looking forward to later this year.

Enjoy! We’ll see you again in another six months.

Dan “Shoe” Hsu, editor-in-chief

Game of the Half Year: Don’t Starve (PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4)

For this “Game of the Half Year” recognition, I kept going over three games in my head: Titanfall, Watch Dogs, and Infamous: Second Son. I had almost decided on one (it would’ve been Second Son), when I remembered what 2014 release I really spent the most time with: Don’t Starve.

This quirky thing was sometimes more work than play: hunt and forage, craft weapons and appliances, stay warm, and scrounge up enough sustenance to see another day. But I was compelled by this mysterious world that gives you no other guidance other than “just live.” I would explore for the best places to trap delicious rabbits, I would do hit-and-run missions to grab the eggs of the mysterious one-eyed giants, I would cheer when I found rare materials, and I would pause the game every 10 minutes to look up another life-saving recipe that I could make from the weird assortment of food that I’ve gathered.

I love this game.

(And yes, technically, Don’t Starve first released in 2013 on PC and Mac. But I didn’t play it until it hit the PS4 earlier in 2014, so I’m counting it for this year for purposes of this award. C’mon, it’s the “Game of the Half Year” — we don’t have to be that strict on the rules, do we?)

Don't Starve

Above: Who cares if he has an ax? I’d run from those spiders too.

Image Credit: Sony

Dean Takahashi, lead news writer

Game of the Half Year: Titanfall (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC)

I really enjoyed Watch Dogs. The concept was great, but the game got a little tedious, stretched out as it was across an open world and 46 missions. Titanfall, on the other hand, delivered a great deal of fun in short multiplayer bursts. Respawn Entertainment approached the shooter with a fresh eye, adding some cool features like AI-controlled grunts who were the cannon fodder of the matches. Even if you couldn’t get a bead on a quick human player, you could always count on scoring some points by taking out some grunts. That helped democratize the scores in what would otherwise be lopsided multiplayer contests.

Such features and quick, easy gameplay made the game more accessible than other hardcore games. The only trouble was that the experience was short. After you hit 50 levels, there wasn’t much to do but start over. There’s more content coming, but a lot of the excitement is already dying down.

Jason Wilson, managing editor

Game of the Half Year: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (PC, iPad)

I played Hearthstone every day but two so far in 2014, and I was in a casino without my laptop or tablet on those days, otherwise I would’ve (I doubt the Nugget’s staff would’ve approved of that at the blackjack table).

What makes Hearthstone a must-play, every day, for me? I enjoy the daily quests to gain gold, but other games do that, so that’s not the big draw. For me, it’s tinkering with my decks, seeing the strategies others employ, and the competitiveness inherent in the collectible card-battler. I level up my decks, adding gold cards that you earn as you advance. I’m halfway to getting my first gold hero (you need 500 wins with a hero to get that). I laugh as I play my Deathrattle-themed deck, one which I formed before the Deathrattle-themed Curse of Naxxramus was even announced, and trigger off three or four explosions in one turn as cards die. The community (at least though I’ve interacted with) is great, and I enjoy talking with people online and in-person about it.

And it’s just damn fun.


Above: We can finally throw away those binders of Magic cards.

Image Credit: Blizzard

Jeff Grubb, news writer

Game of the Half Year: Titanfall (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC)

Fine. I’m that guy. I think the crowd turned on this one pretty quickly. Respawn’s sci-fi shooter had a ton of hype going into its March release, and it burned brightly … for a few weeks. Now, almost no one is talking about it. I even cooled on it myself (after about 100 hours), but then Respawn started churning out updates and adding tiny but significant features. Now, I think it’s definitely my game of the year so far.

It feels great to control, the battles are always dynamic and crazy, and it’s difficult to go through a match without at least one “Xbox, record that” moment. I don’t know if it’ll still top my list at the end of 2014, but it’s given me more enjoyment than anything else so far in 2014.