As 2016 fades into the rearview, we can still hear the Internet, and the world, chanting their mantra, “2016 sucked!”. Fair enough. There was a whole lot of not great that went on this year. However, there was also a lot of good, particularly in the realm of video games. And so we bring you our picks for the top 10 best video games of 2016.
Now before we dive into the list proper, it is worth noting that these choices are entirely subjective and in no particular order. If your favorite game of 2016 doesn’t make our list then that doesn’t mean its a piece of shit. It just means it was far, far shittier than any of the games we picked.
So without further ado, the Top 10 Best Video Games of 2016:
That Dragon, Cancer – Most Likely to Make You “Get Something in Your Eye”
That Dragon, Cancer may be the only game on this list that we have a hard time recommending everyone play. It is also a game that is inseparable from the development behind it. That Dragon, Cancer recreates the experiences of Ryan and Amy Green after their third child Joel was diagnosed with cancer at twelve months of age. Joel was only given four months to live but managed to survive for four more years. Initially That Dragon, Cancer was created by Ryan as a way to deal with his grief and stress, but when Joel passed away, it became a living memorial to his son.
While technically unimpressive, the brief story it tells and emotions that the Green family shares with you are a wonderful, terrible experience. The game can simply be summarized in the word “impactful”. That Dragon, Cancer will challenge you in a way no other game has before, and it stands as a testament that video games are more than just a form of entertainment. They are art.
Civilization VI – Best Map in the History of Gaming
The debates/arguments/bloody-bare-knuckled-brawls over the best Civilization game can be . . . heated to say the least, and we won’t try to argue that Civilization VI is the greatest Civ game to date (it is). No matter where your loyalties lie within the franchise though, any turn based strategy game player will be able to see that Civ VI brings many new, innovative ideas to the genre, not to mention the incredible voice work of Sean Bean.
However, the absolute best of these new mechanics is their map. It is gorgeous, beautiful, and it makes you truly want to explore the world. Where other games will simply show unexplored territory as a black abyss at the edge of your range of vision, Civ VI instead presents the world as a blank piece of parchment. As you explore it, you quite literally write down the map. It’s simple, it’s creative, and it is the perfect example of how Civ VI brings new life into the series through a few delicate changes.
Firewatch – Game Most Likely to Make You Actually Consider Going Outside
Part walking simulator, part psychological thriller, Firewatch drops the player off in a beautiful pastel version of one of the remote corners of the Yosemite park (circa 1980 something). Your job? Watch out for wildfires. Which translates to a lot of walking around in a beautiful environment while chatting over the radio with a fellow firewatcher a few miles west of you. You are completely isolated, alone, and if something were to go wrong, no one could come to help you.
Firewatch is another game that is more art than entertainment, and what makes it work so well is how beautiful of a world it drops you in. You instantly “believe” in the world around you, and when strange things start to happen, the player feels just as anxious and confused as the character in the game. A masterpiece of setting, characters, and storytelling, Firewatch leaves us longing for a simple walk in the woods.
Monster Hunter Generations – Most Repetitive (but still Amazing) Gameplay
If you’re not familiar with the Monster Hunter franchise then it means you live somewhere called Not-Japan. We here in Not-Japan have little idea of the phenomenon that is taking the biggest weapon you can carry, beating to death a veritable god of a beast, and then harvesting its body parts to fashion armor and even bigger weapons. But in Japan, this franchise is a freaking juggernaut.
Why? A mix of societal preferences and the popularity of portable consoles. But with each new installment of Monster Hunter that is brought over to our Western shores, the Not-Japan fanbase manages to grow a little each time. The latest entry is Monster Hunter Generations (originally Monster Hunter X in Japan) that brings backs fan favorite monsters from past games and throws in a new Fighting Style mechanic to further customize your hunter. The result is a huge step forward for the series that is perfect for both old and new players.
Dark Souls III – Most, Best, Greatest Souls
Dark Souls III, where to even begin? This game is incredible and is appropriately the culmination of everything that FromSoft has been building towards since Demon Souls was first released in 2009. The world is the second best designed in the series (nothing can beat the interwoven vertical beauty of the first Dark Souls), the plot is filled with mysteries just waiting to be discovered, and the combat is . . . the combat is perfect.
Dark Souls III combines the best of everything that came before it. The boss variety and level design of Demon Souls, the interconnected world and setting of Dark Souls, the PvP of Dark Souls 2, and the smooth, faster-paced combat of Bloodborne are all melded into one game. Dark Souls III may be the end of this corner of the franchise, but it went out at its absolute best.
Overwatch – Best Salt Mine
Oh the salt! Of all the hero shooters to be released this year, Overwatch takes the cake as the most popular, most successful, most likely to have players working in a salt mine. While Blizzard has done a good job of cracking down on the toxicity and cheating that plague the MOBA genre, they have been able to do nothing to stop the levels of saltiness that pollute forums, message boards, and subreddits regarding the game.
But why are players so salty? Well that’s the problem. Get twenty Overwatch players in a room and ask them that question, and you will receive twenty different answers. “Bastion is OP!”, “F*cking Mei!”, “High Noon should be nerfed!”, and “Why did you nerf High Noon?!” are just some of the many complaints you will hear about the game.
Ironically, it is only because Overwatch is so loved, that it can produce so much hate. Just look at Battleborn, Overwatch‘s would-be competitor. It’s creators Gearbox wish that people played their game enough to complain about balance issues. Overwatch has cemented itself as king of the hero shooter genre, and here’s hoping it and it’s salty fanbase never changes.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Best Ending of a Beloved Character
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End advertised itself from the very beginning as the final installment lead by Nathan Drake. It’s right there in the title. The cover art shows him beaten down, bloody, and tired. This is the last adventure, the final quest.
Without going into any details, because this game deserves to be experienced firsthand, Uncharted 4 is amazing because the entire way through it plays to its strengths. It’s characters. Sure it has the same action set pieces that have always left the Uncharted franchise being described as “a movie you play”, but what has made this series great is its wonderful cast.
And in Uncharted 4, you, the player, have to learn to say goodbye to them. And it is sad, and it is happy, and it hurts, and you miss them, and yet . . . when they exit the stage, it’s in the exact way they were always meant to. Every moment feels earned and every story feels told. All you can do is look back and say, “Thanks Nate, for taking me along for the ride.”
Pokemon GO – Most Real World Causalities
While a large portion of the diehard Pokefanatics have left Pokemon Go behind already, there is no denying the impact that the mobile game had on the world for a few brief months. Catch Pokemon in real life using your phone. It seemed genius. Easy to play, fun to do.
Fortunately Unfortunately, there were some unintended Darwinian-esque consequences for playing the game.
With their faces in their phones, Pokemon Go-ers became oblivious to the world around them. People have been hit by cars, shot, mugged, fallen off cliffs, stabbed, punched, bit, and gone missing all while playing the gaming. If there has ever been an argument for video games causing violence, there has never been a better example than Pokemon Go.
The Last Guardian – Second Most “Holy Shit, They Finally Made It”
After nearly a decade of waiting by fans, the good people over at Team Ico could have delivered a fat, steaming turd shaped like a disc, and players still would’ve tried to shove it into their consoles. Fortunately, The Last Guardian is just a little bit better than that. Sure the camera can be wonky and the controls can be a little off at times, but at its core, The Last Guardian is a strong game.
First off, like every Team Ico game, it is gorgeous. The environments absolutely take your breath away and leave you eager to explore it’s puzzle filled world with your fluffy bird-dog. The puzzle themselves are clever and generally operate on multiple levels which makes you feel all the more satisfied when you finally solve them.
However, the game’s greatest strength is another tried and true staple of all Team Ico games. The emotion. Few games have the ability to make you feel as much as the Last Guardian does. The sense of wonder, the joy, the tension, the loss, that is the emotional rollercoaster that makes The Last Guardian what it is.
Final Fantasy XV – Most “Holy Shit, They Finally Made It”
Ten years. Ten years, we have been waiting for this one. Through the travesty that was not one, but three Final Fantasy XIII‘s. Through the disappointment of Final Fantasy XIV before it was “reborn”. Through trailers, delays, CG footage, more trailers, more delays, demos, demos, demos, we waited. And Final Fantasy XV has come.
And its not perfect, no game is, but it isn’t perfect in all the right ways. In a lot of ways it is reminiscent of how I felt playing my first Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy VII. VII had plenty of flaws, sometimes glaring flaws, but I loved the game in spite of it’s flaws. Because when it was good, it was so good you forgot about all the little things that annoyed you. You have that same feeling when playing Final Fantasy XV.
The core party may be the best in the entire franchise, the combat is rock solid, and the world just begs you to get lost in it. The game is ambitious, it is breathtaking, and even when it falls short you can’t help but love it. After ten years in development hell, fans were finally given the game we had all been waiting for, and it was more than we could have ever hoped for.