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Final Fantasy XV

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 BattlebornOverwatch‘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 FantasyFinal Fantasy VIIVII 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.

The Fanboy Report

Brazilian grandma has been accidentally praying to a Lord of the Rings Statue

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Saint Anthony and elrond

Image: Facebook

Lord of the Rings fans know how their love of one of the great fantasy series of all time can border on the obsessive. But an Elderly woman and Brazil took that love to an extreme, having spent years praying to a statue of one of the Lord of the Rings characters. Only, she had no idea she was doing it.

It turns out what she thought was a statue of the catholic saint Anthony, was actually an action figure of Elrond Half-elven. And it was a particularly cheap action figure that can be picked up on eBay for $9.

And while Saint Anthony is a 13th- century saint and doctor of the church, prayed to for his assistance in finding lost articles, Elrond is master of Rivendell, and entirely fictional, which probably makes praying to him slightly less effective.

The woman’s granddaughter discovered the mix up after visiting the elderly woman and put the photo up on Facebook with a caption explaining how her grandmother had spent years offering devotion to it. The internet immediately went nuts over the mix-up.

She told Buzzfeed that, “We tried to explain right away but she didn’t understand at first. The next day we explained again and she understood and we got her a new figure of Saint Anthony.”

That makes sense since it is probably quite a task to explain to an old woman in rural Brazil that she has actually been praying for the divine intervention of an elf.

It’s interesting to imagine how a woman in Brazil ended up praying to a figurine of Elrond, and we can make some guesses. The statue is clearly modeled on Hugo Weaving, who played Elrond in the recent Lord of the Rings movies. And since she has had it for years, she probably got it shortly after the movies came out.

So somehow, a figurine that was probably given out during a promotion of the movie made its way to Brazil, where someone noticed its similarity to the robed figure of a catholic saint and sold it as an item of religious devotion. As far as the old woman goes, she probably isn’t that upset, since I would be surprised if she had ever seen the movies and it’s probably the thought that counts when praying anyway.

This post originally appeared on FanboyReport.com as “Brazilian grandma as been accidentally praying to Elrond”

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The Fanboy Report

The guide to playing video games with your partner

If it feels like you only have one chance to get your S.O.’s introduction to video games right, your gut may be correct.

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If your S.O. agrees to watch one of your favorite movies, they are committing four hours of their life – tops – to see why you love it. If you want your S.O. to play one of your favorite video games, you could be asking around a hundred hours of their life.

If it feels like you only have one chance to get your S.O.’s introduction to video games right, your gut may be correct.

The good news is that it can be done, and that there’s pretty much a game for everyone. You just need to find a game that your S.O. will be interested in that will make the learning curve worth it. Before I recommend genres and games*, though, there are some things you need to not do.

The Don’ts

Your S.O. will choose to play games differently than you. Just because they’re inexperienced doesn’t make it the wrong way. If you try to micromanage their game play they will either give up or bludgeon you.

Don’t try to make all your favorite games your S.O.’s favorite games. It’s nice if things work out that way, but don’t be a jerk who cuts off other gaming options due to your own preferences. That kind of behavior will drive your S.O. away from gaming entirely.

Don’t throw your S.O. in the deep end and expect them to swim. First-person shooters, PvP, and raiding are not 101 video game experiences. The fast-twitch responses and familiarity with controls necessary to enjoy them just aren’t there yet for most newbies. (Oh the joys of looking at the ceiling while walking into a wall and getting shot in the back.) Once your S.O. gets the hang of things, you can come back to them.

RPGs

via GIPHY

RPGs are a great choice for those who love stories. The controls are relatively straightforward and the narrative arc is the main focus instead of sheer player ability.

The Final Fantasy series is classic, and the early games allow for a slower, more deliberate battle system if necessary. Heavy Rain is a gritty and emotional mystery. Telltale has several excellent games based on comics, TV, and even other games like The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Tales from the Borderlands. For anime lovers, the Persona series is an easy win.

Beat ‘em ups

via GIPHY

Perhaps your S.O. is the kind of person who’ll skip cut scenes and wants to be actively playing most of the time. In this case, RPGs are too slow and your S.O. will feel like they’re being railroaded. For consistent action, a kind of beat ‘em up may be the ticket, and even better if it’s co-op.

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is a romp of wrecking your enemies and surroundings. It’s kind of ridiculous, but thoroughly enjoyable. The Lego video games offer lots of destruction opportunities along with humor and puzzle solving embedded in familiar fictional realms. Many people have a soft spot for Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings, which can be a great initial hook. If all your S.O. wants is the efficient demolition of as many things, people, and monsters as possible, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is the game you’re looking for, with the addictive touch that Blizzard Entertainment is known for.

 

Puzzle/Platformers

via GIPHY

Maybe your S.O.’s thing isn’t narratives or joyous, wanton destruction, but there’s a lot in between. Puzzle games and/or platformers are rarely vaunted the way other games are, but they provide a good mix of challenge and satisfaction.

Little Big Planet is full of cute things, customizable options, stage building, and teamwork. Catherine is an intense puzzle/platformer with a creepy story about mysterious deaths and a commitment phobic protagonist. Portal is an iconic puzzle/platformer that’s wonderfully creative and makes you feel like the smartest person to ever smart once you get it right. (Or like a monster. I’m sorry companion cube!!!!)

Casual Games

via GIPHY

If your S.O. has been burned by gaming or gamer culture before, low-risk, highly enjoyable digital fluff maybe in order. “Good” games reward skill, persistence, and risk taking. After a stressful job or getting a baby to sleep, may be a “bad” game is what your S.O. needs.

Artifex Mundi makes loads of puzzle games that are not particularly challenging or logical with plotlines that are all kind of the same; yet these games are relaxing and satisfying. Hatoful Boyfriend is a hilarious mess of a dating game involving a world where birds are the dominant species, but you’re a human looking for love anyway. Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mystery of Little Riddle is a delightful episodic game where you improbably solve murders by solving puzzles to gain circumstantial clues.

None of these games came close to winning game of the year, but that’s not the point. Even with a bit of casual gaming, your S.O. will be able to connect with some of your video game experiences. That’s, after all, what you wanted in the first place.

* Sorry it’s so PlayStation heavy, but it’s what I have, and I wouldn’t recommend anything I haven’t played. **

** Yes, I played the pigeon dating game. It is exactly as advertised.

This article originally appeared on Fanboy Report as “The guide to playing video games with your girlfriend.”

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Breaking down Rogue One easter eggs

Rogue One is so overstuffed with allusions and references to the Clone Wars and original series, you may have missed some of these major Easter Eggs.

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, then you know that there’s a new Star Wars film. Rogue One, the first of the Disney sanctioned Star Wars standalone films, is in theatres and making a boatload of cash; a $155 million boatload, to be exact. Chances are you’ve probably already seen the standalone space heist film, or are planning to do so during the holiday weekend. Who knows, maybe you’re one of those Star Wars obsessives that plan on seeing the film at least three times, so as to bask in its total and unequivocal escapist glory.

We’ll avoid major spoilers in this post –remember, this movie bridges the gap between the Clone Wars and A New Hope – though the outcome has been around for nearly half a century now. For those who don’t remember, the iconic opening crawl of Episode IV: A New Hope references the events that take place in Rogue One.

Let’s not get into the specifics, per se, but let’s talk shop about Rogue One. The big concern for most going into Rogue One wasn’t whether or not the film would make money (Star Wars prints money at this point), but whether it would provide proper fan service while bridging the gap between the prequels and original series. To put it in layman’s terms, we’re talking Easter Eggs.

If you were one of the fortunate folks who didn’t have to sit through an entire film of fanboys of The Force gasping at every allusion or reference to the Clone Wars or original series, then you may have missed some of these major Easter Eggs. Here just a few of the Eater Eggs you may have missed upon your first viewing of Rogue One.

Blue Milk

This was a blink and you’ll miss it tiny, minuscule Easter Egg that came in the beginning of Rogue One. If you’ll remember in A New Hope when Luke’s aunt served him what’s known as Bantha milk (aka “Blue Milk”), everyone thought it was the most clever thing ever. Fast forward (or rewind?) to Rogue One, and in young Jyn’s home, a pitcher of blue milk can be seen. That’s it, small Easter Egg.

Bail Organa

Alright, this was a pretty obvious Easter Egg, that featured actor Jimmy Smits of the prequel series (one of the few good things) making an appearance as a member of the Rebel counsel. If you don’t remember, Senator Organa and his wife adopt Leia after the events of the Clone Wars and raises her as his own. Chances are the Bail Organa scenes were added in the infamous reshoots, because in the film his scenes feel a bit jaunty.

Evazan and Ponda Baba at Jedha Market

Oh yeah! Take us back to Mos Eisley Cantina, why don’t you? No clarinet-y music on the trade planet of Jedha, but, when Cassian and Jyn Erso were looking for Saw Gerrera, they bump into the two swarthy fellas who can be recognized from the Cantina scenes in A New Hope. Both look just as ugly as they ever did.

Red Squadron

This was a cool Easter Egg. The dog-fighting X-wing fighters have always been a fan favorite (and should eventually get their own film, if you ask me), and Rogue One did not disappoint. The film featured the famed Red Squadron (but no Porkins!) along with the new Blue squadron that featured female pilots! Good on you Rogue One, some equality in the galaxy for once!

Yavin Base

The familiar locale of the Rebel base was first seen in A New Hope, and it was back in Rogue One. When the rebels help Jyn Erso escape they take her back to their jungle base of Yavin Base, where we see familiar faces in Mon Mothma and Bail Organa for the first time.

Grand Moff Tarkin

This was an important Easter Egg, even if the actor who played Grand Moff Tarkin in the original trilogy had long been dead. How did they get the character back, you ask? Well with some near perfect CGI – but he still had that weird uncanny valley that happens when CGI is good, but not quite good enough. Anyway, it was nice to have Tarkin their to menace the already menacing Director Krennic.

Whills

The Whills might be the most important of all the Easter Eggs found in Rogue One and it wasn’t even a reference from one of the original films! When Cassian and Jyn are on Jedha and we see Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus for the first time, Cassian references the fact that they used to be part of The Whills, otherwise known as guardians of the Kyber temple on Jedha. The Journal of the Whill is referenced in the novelization of The Force Awakens, and could certainly make for a cool standalone idea when Disney runs out of ideas.

This article originally appeared on Fanboy Report as “Breaking down Rogue One easter eggs”.

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