Greetings, readers! It’s the end of the year and it’s time for the ever popular round up of the best games of the year! Odds are you have listened to my guest appearance in the Backlog Battle Podcast in which I revealed my top 5 games for the year 2016, but in case you haven’t here are the best games (and a few honorable mentions) for my top games of the ending year – which saw some very high profiles games (and patches/expansions) being released!
5. Life is Strange
It was on a sale, and I had seen a lot of positive vibes about this game – mostly about the relationship between main characters Sam and Chloe. What I had not seen was the fact that this game wasn’t just a high-school life drama adventure game but a time-altering high-school drama adventure game; the mechanic surprised me and made this game 100% more interesting than it’d have been otherwise. And yeah, this game came out last year… but I played it this year so… there!
Time powers come with a price: visions of an incoming catastrophe that maybe only you can stop. But the real horror may be far more mundane than an apocalyptic event, dancing between a missing girl mystery, balancing your newfound powers, living high-school life and interacting with a cast of characters that go from a shy religious girl to a man who is alive only by your meddling with time.
4. Uncharted 4
How can this game not be in a GOTY list? Uncharted 4 is a fantastic game on several fronts: a technical marvel on the PS4, great story and a heck of a send off to one of Playstation’s most well known heroes. The quest for the mythical Libertalia takes Drake and his long-thought-dead brother around the world one more time in search of treasure, adventure and a lot of ludo-narrative dissonance (#sorrynotsorry).
One could argue that Uncharted 4 is basically a better looking Uncharted 2. Gameplay-wise it’s still very much an Uncharted game – not a bad thing per se – but there’s no revolution like the jump from 1 to 2 was. Still, if you found yourself buying a new PS4 in 2016 and could only choose one game, you cannot go wrong with Uncharted 4 (or Bloodborne).
Overwatch. Overnerf. A game that since its launch has had more changes than a porn movie script in the hands of a Jehova’s witness. First we can use multiples copies of the same character in all modes, then we can’t in Competitive. We can use multiple copies of the same character in Competitive, then we can’t in Quick Play. Torbjorn’s turrets are targeting too quickly, so they nerf their damage… and nerf Symmetra too just because… but hey we later overhauled Symmetra because no one uses her because gee I wonder why. Oh and that butt? Nope, too sexy. We’re changing it to another… slightly less sexier pose.
But for as much as I complain about this game, it is genuinely fun. Playing with friends is a lot of fun! Trolling, making jokes, and having a good time is something Overwatch is great at. So yeah, they change stuff every now and then but it’s for the good of the game’s balance. It also has that good old Blizzard pedigree so you can be sure the game’s gonna look, feel and play good.
2. Final Fantasy XV
10 years wai… what? 3? Oh, who cares. No matter how long it actually took to make, Final Fantasy XV took its sweet time to come to our hands and in the end, it was very much worth the wait. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s fantastic at what it’s doing.
After surviving the trailers (that showcased a lot of stuff that didn’t actually end up in the game) and getting to control Noctis and his band of merry men I was fascinated with just how much this game offered to do – I spent dozens of hours in the first areas of the game alone, exploring and hunting to my hearts content. As things grew more serious and more linear I was treated to a story that escalated quickly… perhaps a bit too quickly. But in the end I sat back and watched satisfied as the title screen appeared again, with that good feeling that few games can give you at their end.
We still have more XV to go in the future. DLC packs to clear up some story, lots of discussion about characters and plot points that weren’t particularly well explained, and a few story tweaks to polish things up and… a carnival? Whatever the future holds, XV isn’t done yet, and I’m looking forward to what it may hold.
1. Pokémon GO
A mobile game as my GOTY? I must have gone raving mad, haven’t I? Well, kinda. As a fan of the good old couch+controller+tv combo I find the idea of a future full of mobile games and devices disgusting, but I cannot deny how this little game has changed the way we play this things… and by “we” I mean my family.
No other game this year has altered my daily commute just so that my wife and I could spin that pokéstop that is just a few meters off the way. No game made us jump in excitement together when we saw the black-silhouette of a new Pokémon show up in the map. And there are very few (almost non-existent) reasons to wake up on a Saturday morning to go take a walk at the boardwalk… just to refill pokéballs. It’s a game that has changed our routines far longer than any console gamer has this year… or pretty much any other year.
And all of this despite the fact that the game is a case study on fucked up decisions. A game about collecting Pokémon that makes it deliberately impossible to finish that collection unless you have the means to travel around the world, and even locks some Pokémon that are still not released. Promises made at launch have still to be fulfilled, such as the ability to trade with other trainers or even battling them. The tweaks to certain game variables that make life difficult or impossible for commuters and people living in rural areas that sometimes end in the joke that Pokémon GO is a game built to be played only in San Francisco (home of the developer). And the ever present messages that pop up whenever you move past a certain speed while you are in a car and FUCK YOU NIANTIC I KNOW I AM DRIVING JUST LET ME ALONE PLEASE GOD DAMN IT.
The Division: Great open world, empty or pointless end game. A shame. Heard the new patch fixed a lot of problems but it’s a case of too little, too late.
Severed: Great game from Drinkbox. Played it on my Playstation Vita and I enjoyed it very much.
Destiny’s Rise of Iron: It’s a sort of small expansion so didn’t feel right to consider it a full game, but it was still an incredible one. Tons of quality of life changes and cool content that will have to hold until the sequel launches in 2017… hopefully.
Final Fantasy XIV’s patch 3.4: This isn’t even an expansion… it’s a patch… but it contained some of the best content XIV has seen so far, with the conclusion to the intriguing Warriors of Darkness storyline, the end of the Alexander raid and more quality of life changes. And also Hildibrand. Always Hildibrand.
And so the year ends! 2017 is looking like another great year for gamers. Horizon, Persona 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, Destiny 2 and many more that hopefully won’t be delayed. How was your year? What were your top 5 games? Feel free to comment or tell me on Twitter.
Happy New Year to all!