ScreenCritics Cole delivers his top 10 video games of 2016.
2016 was in many ways an important year for gaming. Not only were many long awaited virtual reality headsets released providing the first steps toward a future free of human interaction, but Sony and Microsoft also set a new precedent of mid-generation console upgrades going forward. In the midst of all these industry-altering hardware releases though some pretty fantastic games were released, and these were my ten favorites.
Honorable mentions: The Lab and Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives
I don’t personally own a VR headset, so my time with both of these games was very limited, so I don’t feel confident putting them on my list. I did want to take the time to acknowledge both of these games though as they have made me a believer in the power of VR.
A lot of the talk surrounding Firewatch after its release was about how disappointing the game was and that it failed to live up to the bar set by games like Gone Home and its other walking simulator brethren. Personally, though I thought the game was well done and in particular, the voice acting and conversations between Firewatch’s main characters were amazing. While the story falls apart in certain aspects, I think that as time passes and Firewatch becomes further removed from the unbelievable amount hype placed upon it players will realize what makes this game so great.
9. FIFA 17
2016 was the year FIFA’s ultimate team mode finally got its hooks in me. After bouncing off of the mode due to disappointing first encounters with past versions the loan player packs I received during my time with The Journey, FIFA’s serviceable albeit uninspired single player mode, were just the push I needed to be sucked in.
Being what often feels like the only person to have not played Limbo I did not know what to expect from Inside and was blown away by what I played. Everything in the game feels so beautifully and painstakingly made that it’s hard not to enjoy Inside. If you are looking for something that is beautifully dark and grotesque, I cannot think of another game from this year that can top Inside.
7. Uncharted 4
With Uncharted 4 Naughty Dog managed to capture everything you love and expect from the Uncharted series while also adding just a dash of The Last of Us. This addition adds a level of maturity and storytelling that the series was lacking and allows Uncharted 4 to stand out and often above the other entries in the franchise.
In a year where the future of gaming seems to be taking shape, a game that is willing to hang its hat on the idea that players still want to play games on the same couch together is refreshing. Playing through and perfecting Overcooked with a friend next to me is easily one of my most enjoyed gaming moments of the year and I hope other developers take note of the praise Overcooked is receiving.
I was worried about Doom following the game’s beta, but after hearing great things about the campaign I decided to give the game a chance, and I am sure glad I did. Doom is easily the most fun game I played this year based solely on the game’s excellent single-player mode. This mode strikes a perfect balance of just enough story to move you from demon filled room to demon filled room and the real reason you bought the game, the perfectly tuned gameplay. Doom’s gameplay and mechanics manage to make you feel like both the unstoppable force and the immovable object as you plow through enemies and inevitable ask yourself why great first person shoot campaigns are so scarce nowadays.
4. Dark Souls 3
After the release of a disappointing Dark Souls 2 and a phenomenal Bloodborne, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Dark Souls 3. Luckily what Souls fans got was a love letter to the original Dark Souls that made not only story connections back to the original but also featured locations and characters from previous games. While I wouldn’t say this is this is the best game in the series, it provided some of my favorite moments of the year and the franchise as a whole.
In my opinion, Overwatch furthers to solidify Blizzard as undoubtedly one of the best developers in the industry. Overwatch manages to not only be a great hero based multiplayer shooter for those familiar with first person shooters but also provide an accessible entry point for people who are new to first person shoots or video games in general. The game is easy to learn hard to master perfected and thanks to a regular stream of free updates, characters, and maps I can easily see myself continuing to play Overwatch well into the future.
2. Mafia 3
If this were a list of the most significant games of 2016 Mafia 3 would be number 1. The game does an outstanding job representing race and racism in America not only in its story and cutscenes but also through its open world mechanics. Mafia 3 is not afraid to force players to confront topics that are real and painful, and I sincerely hope that going forward AAA developers and publishers take more chances with games like Mafia 3. The best AAA video game in 2016 for me.
1. The Witness
No other game this year so deeply embedded itself in my mind as The Witness. I spent hours solving what initially appear as simple puzzles but in reality, are perfect examples of great game design. The Witness’ mechanics build upon themselves so intricately while still holding at the core the very first piece of knowledge gained from the opening puzzle. The Witness is a rare game so well designed that every time you find yourself stuck it is entirely your fault. This idea of failure as a lesson though is not enough to allow a game to stand on its own, what makes The Witness great is that after you have finally completed a puzzle you are rewarded not only with a sense of accomplishment but also with more knowledge that will help you later in your journey. Without question, my game of 2016.