Right off the bat, allow me to say that I didn’t get to as many games as I’d intended over the course of 2016; I missed playing some major releases.
That being said, I feel confident that my top spot would remain the same as it is now, and I take some comfort in that.
Over the course of the year, I completed 36 games, and that includes one demo that I played exhaustively to find various secrets. The list (in order of completion) is as follows:
01.07.16 Rise of the Tomb Raider
01.12.16 The Order: 1886
01.24.16 Call of Duty: Black Ops III
01.24.16 Mario Kart 7
01.25.16 Actual Sunlight
01.27.16 Three Fourths Home
02.28.16 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
03.09.16 Dying Light’s The Following DLC*
03.15.16 The Division*
04.01.16 Saturday Morning RPG
05.06.16 The Park
05.09.16 Neverending Nightmares
05.12.16 Uncharted 4*
06.07.16 Borderlands 2
06.17.16 Gone Home (Console Edition)
06.23.16 Dead Island: Definitive Edition
06.30.16 Dead Island: Riptide: Definitive Edition
07.04.16 Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Demo*
07.18.16 Pokemon Go*
07.18.16 Clash Royale*
10.23.16 The Bunker*
11.10.16 Rise of the Tomb Raider (PS4)
11.10.16 Rise of the Tomb Raider’s Baba Yaga DLC*
11.12.16 My Name is Mayo*
12.02.16 Pokemon Sun*
12.27.16 The Simpsons (Arcade Cabinet)
* Released in 2016
As you can see from this list, I only completed 19 games that were released in 2016. I missed out on completing some of the major releases that I’d hoped to get to before December 31st (e.g.: The Last Guardian, Titanfall 2, Dishonored 2), but one game stood far above all other 2016 releases, and I can’t sing its praises enough.
Without further adieu, here are my top 10 games of 2016.
I love shooters and I was looking forward to one with a faster pace and over the top gameplay.
Doom didn’t disappoint on either of those fronts.
I hadn’t played a game quite like it, but I quickly found the frenetic pace and the intense environments appealing. But I won’t lie, towards the end of the game I felt it started to drag a bit. And I found the final boss in particular to be tedious and potentially glitched (certain types of ammo weren’t dropping for me as I’d read they should).
All in all, I enjoyed Doom, but I was more than ready for it to be over about 75% of the way through.
I had such high hopes for Firewatch. When it was released, and I started in on it, I was (and still am) enamored with the stunning art direction. I loved the premise of the game.
However, the reality of it fell a bit short.
The game seemed to have difficulties with frame rate at times, which baffled me. Some of the movements were janky and never seemed to improve.
But my biggest beef with the game was the story. I felt it started strong and was weaving quite the tale…and then the end came.
I’m not sure about the development of this title, but it felt like the ending was rushed. It just didn’t tie anything together in a satisfying way, and yes, I’m aware that’s subjective. I felt let down by the concluding hour.
It seems funny to put a game at number eight on my list that I’ve long since traded in, but stick with me for a moment.
When The Division released, a good friend and I dove in and we played the hell out of it. I mean we were all about the game for a solid week. Every night, staying up far too late, we were trudging around New York trying to do all we could to improve a dire situation.
We tried out the Dark Zone and it was sort of okay…at first. We started coming across some truly scummy players who would act like they were on our side right up until the extraction and then they would turn on us and take all our items. We found people who would shoot us just enough to not go rogue, but to keep us stuck in the Dark Zone so we couldn’t leave.
Basically, it just encouraged the worst kind of troll behavior.
I had read that Ubisoft was going to patch the game, but was basically going to make it even easier for the trolls to troll and I just couldn’t get next to that. The next day, I traded my copy in. I didn’t feel like supporting a game that rewarded such awful behavior.
But that first week was a heck of a good time.
I had needed to replace my withering Windows phone for years (I had it for nearly four years). The updates were no longer installing, it wouldn’t hold a charge, and would just die at random.
But, I am a notorious cheapskate when it comes to phones and didn’t want to sink the money into a new, relevant phone.
Then Pokemon Go happened.
It was the impetus I needed to finally change up my mobile device.
I had no idea how fun it would be to catch Pokemon everywhere I went, and I certainly could never have predicted how interesting it would be to interact with people out and about who were also looking for Pokemon, but it was amazing. I’d never been able to so easily interact with others about a game.
The player base seems to have died off a bit, but Pokemon Go was still a phenomenon I’m grateful to have taken part in.
This game was a complete surprise.
The story was fairly interesting and the world quite beautiful, but where this game shined was the gameplay. Once you obtain a particular suit (that allows you to traverse the environment in rather amazing ways), the game becomes a beautiful playground of movement.
I’d never before wanted to leap across chasms, but in Valley, I could.
It also presented an interesting option to either take life from the land, or bring it back. I, of course, chose to bring life back and, I have to say, being able to bring life back to a fallen animal or a withered tree was mesmerizing.
Abzu is an experience I almost didn’t have due solely to my own shortcomings; I struggled terribly with the control scheme.
I eventually got to a point where I could sort of go where I intended to, but it never felt intuitive.
That being said, I’m so glad I pushed through because Abzu was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had in a video game.
The art direction was incredible and various moments of the game left me moved in a way I wasn’t expecting. The ending sequence was nothing short of glorious.
The first Pokemon I played was Pokemon X and I adored it. I spent over 70 hours in Kalos and regretted none of it.
The last time I checked, I had over 100 hours in to Pokemon Sun, and I know that number will only grow.
I loved the new island setting, and I loved how streamlined various aspects of the game were. Vast improvements were made.
What I wasn’t expecting was to be so moved by the story.
This is my favorite Pokemon to date.
What can I say about Inside that would do it justice? On a technical level, it has incredibly smooth gameplay; everything felt deliberate.
But it was the overall experience that still lingers with me. The oppressive atmosphere, the confusing and subtly threatening moments, and the last thirty minutes in which I found I was often holding my breath unintentionally because I was moved and not even sure why.
Inside is worth every quietly terrifying moment.
If you’d told me last year that I’d rate a multiplayer-only game so high, I’m not sure I would have believed you.
But there it is and I stand behind it.
There are so many things that just work about Overwatch. The array of characters, the smooth gameplay, the game design itself; it all gels into one of the most addictive and rewarding experiences of the year. I find myself drawn to it again and again, and for good reason.
Overwatch makes you feel empowered.
It may sound funny from someone who writes as much as I do, but I find words often cheapen experiences. Some moments are huge, powerful, or epic even, and when words are introduced to describe them, it makes the experience feel small and trivialized.
I will attempt to write about the power of this game, a game without words, and its effect on me.
From the moment I started the game, I was all in. Variable State’s take on wordless storytelling, the aesthetic, and the technical marvel of the experience were unmatched.
And there were moments.
It’s difficult to cite specific moments without ruining various aspects of the game, but I can easily think of several that left me with intense feelings. A toy tossed on the ground. An unconventional meeting. And a montage that conveys the price of power in a way I didn’t know was possible. It was concise and went right through me.
It was incredible.
I love that the story left certain things up for interpretation. I love that each of us could walk away with a different take on what happened and what it meant. I love that the experience is unique for us all.
I can’t praise Virginia enough. It was a master class of not only a game, but an experience of any medium.
And there you have it. My composite of 2016.
I look forward to all that 2017 has in store.