We rounded up all of our favorite games of 2016 and compiled all into the list below. Enjoy!
It’s that time of the year again and you know what that means! All the gaming sites are going to go out there and tell you what the best games are of the season. It’s incredibly cliche but also a ton of fun, so deal with it because we (Jonathan and I) are going to throw our hats into the circle as well.
We’re going to try something a little different this year, this time we aren’t handing individual awards. Instead, we are going to list some of our favorites, although they line up with particular categories if you pay attention.
Before we get into the games, we just wanted to throw a thank you out to the console that has made the most leaps and bounds within this last year.
Platform of the year: Xbox One
There was some serious debate on this, primarily because Jonathan is a PlayStation fanboy. In all seriousness, Xbox One is still the B-tier system in many households but the team did a massive amount of soul-searching this year and changed a bunch of things to make themselves much more consumer friendly. Last year they introduced backwards compatibility, but this year they grew the program to include so many of their most requested titles. That’s pretty big since I still need to bust out the PS3 if I want to go back and play some of my favorite titles from the system, that or I have to buy the HD remakes.
Then there is Xbox Play Anywhere, where you can buy the game for either Windows 10 or Xbox One and play it on either system. Progress carries over, so you won’t ever need to feel like you have to delay anything you’ve accomplished. It’s a perfect marriage of coexistence with home consoles and PC platforms. I can’t wait to see what the consoles do in the next year to further blur the lines.
► Xbox One
Our favorite Games of 2016
Dark Souls 3
This was the first Dark Souls game that I actually sat down and played completely through. I loved the story told within the game and found myself entranced by the maps and found the bosses to be some of the most fair-yet difficult bosses in the series. Jonathan ended up enjoying his experience so much that he ended up playing through the game three times just so he could get a platinum trophy. As the final Dark Souls title in the series, the only setback was that the first DLC for the game seemed to fail to capture the grand scale that the initial game set.
Final Fantasy XV
Hail to the king! Final Fantasy XV, while a significant departure from the traditional Final Fantasy gameplay style, it makes me also realize that Final Fantasy hasn’t been traditional in (ironically) XV years. With the awesome Norse mythology undertones and the overall plot of a bachelor party road trip going very awry, I do have to admit that Final Fantasy XV offers one of the best stories in a Final Fantasy game since Final Fantasy VI. It’s not perfect, but it’s fleshed out enough that my annoyances over plot points that are glossed over end up being minor in the grand scheme of things.
When I heard there was going to be another Doom game, I rolled my eyes. The last great Doom was played on my old PC when CD-ROMs were still new tech. Well, that’s what I thought at least. Turns out this new Doom was an absolute return to form and did what the last Doom couldn’t capture the balls-to-the-wall action of fighting Hell’s minions while understanding that FPS games have changed. It keeps getting better too. This Doom is in for the long haul.
Overwatch did BIG things in 2016. Blizzard has done a great job with their title, even though I’d love for some single player action. There’s no denying that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in games and there always seems to be something that feels fresh enough that I’m not feeling too burned out. I’d love to see more characters, I mean, League of Legends has like 175 or so now, let’s catch up! Read our full review here.
How do you make Civilization even better? You improve the graphics and make everything continually more awesome. Civilization is a franchise that simply stands as its own entity at this point because it’s a staple for anyone who enjoys the Strategy genre, as well as the gateway drug to harder and more in-depth games in the same vein.
Forza Horizon 3
Forza Horizon 3 is the best and most complete racer we’ve seen since the tremendous Burnout Paradise. Racing is clean, solid, and absolutely gorgeous in Forza Horizon 3. While previous iterations in this series have been nothing short of stellar, Horizon 3 really drives it home by how much content it offers that is simply more than just “racing”. From snagging pictures of scenic Australian landmarks, to bucket list challenges that put you behind the wheel of unlikely vehicles doing unlikely things, there’s not a single racer on the market that holds a candle to what Forza Horizon 3 brings to the table.
Destiny – Rise of Iron
I quit Destiny at the end of year one. I uninstalled it, sold my physical copy and vowed to never play it again. I got the collection for review this year and begrudgingly reinstalled everything and jumped back into the game to see that Bungie made a whole bunch of changes that helped the game out. Then I got into the Rise of Iron content and felt like I was playing a fully fleshed out MMO game. Rise of Iron did a lot to make Destiny a worthy game of this award, especially since it’s like two years old. Honestly, Rise of Iron could have been its own stand-alone title, it’s that good and made me look at the game in a brand new light.
Batman: The Telltale Series
We can admit when we’re wrong. Telltale has had a habit of simply releasing the same game with new IPs for a long time now, but something is very different with their Batman series. Not only is Batman’s adventure told in an extremely interesting way, the overall feel of this game is more complete than other Telltale experiences. Here’s to looking forward to their 2017 Guardians of the Galaxy game as Batman totally reinvested us in their work.
Killer Instinct Season 3
How do you continually improve on one of the best fighters currently available on the market? You add crazy guest characters from Gears of War and Battletoads, an amazingly great soundtrack produced by Celldweller and Atlas Plug, and then you completely revamp the single player experience. Killer Instinct’s Shadow Lords is the closest thing we’ve seen to Soul Calibur II’s fantastic Weapon Mode. With unique goals for each fight, an obscenely difficult challenge system, and powerups to keep you coming back for more, there’s not a fighter on the market that feels more “complete” for fight fans who aren’t strictly focused on competitive play (all while continuing to have great success in the pro fighting circuit.)
Severed is by far the most fun portable title of the year. Mixing up dungeon crawling with puzzles and adding a touch of Fruit Ninja to the mix, Severed makes for a unique gameplay experience no matter where you experience it. It’s not a very long game, but Drinkbox Studios did a great job telling an interesting story and changing combat just enough to keep it interesting when it starts to get stale.
If you had told me that a game about maintaining a farm and mining for precious ores was going to be my indie game of the year, I would have probably laughed in your face. Yet, here we are, awarding Stardew Valley for being best in class. Stardew Valley puts you on your own plot of land within a little township with plenty of wacky characters to meet and potentially romance. Farming is actually fun and the tools that you use to grow as you learn more about upgrading them. You get to crush a Wal-Mart adjacent and explore ancient temples. You get to battle monsters and go to parties in town. There’s always something going on in the world of Stardew Valley, it is exactly what an indie game should be!
Floaty-time-shooting has been done before and Quantum Break has that stuffed to the gills, but what makes this Microsoft release so intriguing is how the story is told. Throughout the game, you are treated to intermissions that unfold as episodes of a TV show. Honestly, they are good enough that I’m surprised they didn’t flesh them out just a little bit and throw them on Fox or something. While the Quantum Break story doesn’t focus on Jack Joyce specifically, it tells a compelling story that includes all the minor characters that hinder or assist you throughout the game. I loved the idea and the game wasn’t horrible either.
Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
I’ve already put an excited review out there for this mobile game, but I’m still absolutely hooked to it. As a matter of fact, I have my wife, my oldest son and J all playing it now. As I’ve already said, Brave Exvius takes a traditional turn-based Final Fantasy concept and throws in some “Gacha” aspects that allow you to get new units from other Final Fantasy games and also within the Brave Exvius universe. The game’s story has you following the group of Rain, Lasswell, Lid and Nichol as they travel the world and try to save the crystals from the dangerous Veritas. The game is completely free and the only monetization is for the pulls and in-game currency, which can be earned in-game as well. Available on Android, iTunes and Amazon Marketplace, you should do yourself a favor and pick this one up.
There was little to be convinced that Square Enix’s decision to make Agent 47’s newest adventure into an episodic piecemeal would be anything short of an abysmal disaster, but to our surprise, we found that 2016’s Hitman was exactly the opposite. The chapters were released with just enough time between them to allow us to easily return while taking breaks from other larger time commitment games. Let’s just hope this success doesn’t cause the Final Fantasy VII remake to fail.
I enjoyed the original Titanfall but I was quite disappointed by the lack of a viable campaign. When news of the next installment in the franchise came about, I was intrigued by the rumors of a full campaign. Then, when we finally got our hands on the game, I was absolutely blown away by the story. No longer were Titans just a vehicle for combat, but also a partner in battle with their own personalities. The campaign tells a story filled with tons of inspiration from sci-fi greats, but original enough that it doesn’t feel cliche. The online multiplayer feels fresh in an ocean of Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty (which incidentally is far improved). Titanfall 2 set out to change the world’s opinion of the title, EA certainly accomplished this and so much more.
Epic’s Paragon gets a spot on this list because it’s already improved so much since it opened up for play back in March. While the game has only been in a Beta state since August and isn’t technically a “released” product, the game has undergone some huge changes including simplified controls, a new map called Monolith, and gameplay that only continues to get better as it goes. This game should have been on your list to play in 2016, but 2017 is only gonna get better for this Third-Person online battle arena, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we see professional E-Sports teams jumping in once it’s released officially.
Street Fighter V
While mentioning “improved so much”, we can’t ignore Capcom’s quintessential Street Fighter V. While it’s true Street Fighter V was obviously rushed to market in order to be playable for the Capcom Cup and EVO this year, Capcom has been continually adding things to the base game in order to make it feel like a fully fleshed out game that was worth the obscene $60 we all paid for it back in March. Adding in a full roster of Season 1 characters and starting off Season 2 with Akuma, Street Fighter V continues to look to be the headliner of the fighting world going into 2017. They’d better watch their back for Tekken 7 though!
I’ve played Dishonored 2 a bit and I have truly enjoyed what I’ve played, but a buddy of mine has been absolutely LOVING it. I figured I’d let you hear how great the game is from its #1 fan, Jacob Nahin.
While Dishonored 2 launched from Arkane Studios and Bethesda Softworks with its fair share of issues for some (see: PC, especially framepacing and screen tearing), it was overall a delightful surprise this holiday season for console players. Like its predecessor, it offered players fantastic gameplay mixed with a thoughtful level design. The Clockwork level alone is worth the price of entry for its mission structure and artful take on what would otherwise have been a simple mission. Finally, since you can assume the role of another character with slight changes in the arc, but retain all of the powers from the first playthrough, the New Game+, released post-launch, adds a significant amount of game time actually worth playing for some very fun mayhem. For these reasons, it earns a place on the list.
In closing, I want to point out that this year was bookended with some amazing titles. Watch Dogs 2 was a great game, as was Rise of the Tomb Raider. We saw games like World of Warcraft return to form and the Third-Person MOBA craze begin to take effect.
2017 is gonna be a great year for video games!
Jonathan White also contributed to this post.