Here it is, the final award! If you need a refresher on the previous winners this year, make sure to click here.
It’s hard to believe but we’re finally at the end of 2016, a year which, well, certainly had its fair share of moments, right? On the gaming side of things, a ton of high profile titles finally launched giving fans plenty of talking points through out the year.
While the future continues to look bright for the gaming industry, fans of games were also given a huge amount of excellent content to play this year. The games below represent titles that had the biggest impact on me, whether it was a title I couldn’t wait for, or a surprise gem that came out of no where. One thing to note here is that I generally love each and every game listed below and picking one to stand out from the rest was an absolute nightmare.
So before we jump ahead into the promise that is 2017, let’s have one last look back at the year and some of the standout titles from 2016.
and the nominees are…
Was there any real doubt? Arguably the biggest game release of 2016, Overwatch continues to be a steamroller as we enter into 2017.
After a wildly successful beta, the game launched and continues to be a first person shooter force thanks to an easy to grasp gameplay system, a diverse and colorful cast of characters, and a constant stream of new and free content. While the initial offering of content was somewhat limited, Blizzard has not shown any hesitation with adding more whether it’s through seasonal events, new maps, new characters, and a completely revamped Arcade mode. Seriously, there’s something for everyone here. Plus, Overwatch has given fans more stories through different types of media such as online comics, and stunning CG animations as well.
I mean, at this point, is anyone surprised that we’ve gotten another well crafted and compelling game from Blizzard?
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
The Uncharted franchise is well known for its excellence and the trend continues on the PlayStation 4. In addition to sporting stunning visuals, the same addictive gameplay of platforming, and third person action is on full display here. Naughty Dog is at the top of their game with Nathan Drake’s final adventure.
Seriously, if playing through Drake’s story and find out what happens to him isn’t enough of a draw for you, Uncharted 4 is easily one of the best action games out there featuring some intense moments, fun combat situations, and even great dialogue between the characters. With a fun and frantic multiplayer side and an upcoming story expansion, Uncharted 4 will likely be in rotation for quite a while.
Forza Horizon 3
I’ve already covered this game quite a bit in my other categories but it does bear repeating: Forza Horizon 3 is not only just a gorgeous, open world racing game, it’s also one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had.
Seriously, the diverse environment of Australia is really a playground of opportunity, letting players streak through the streets of urban cities, fly over the sandy dunes of the outback, or dodge trees through the lush jungle areas. There’s so much to explore and do, you could easily be playing this one for a month straight and not get bored. Add in some of the downright insane events such as racing a train, or racing with or against friends and you have the makings of a great time.
I’ll fully admit, I was someone who enjoyed the first game. Sure, it wasn’t the technical marvel that everyone thought it would be and it did have its own set of issues but for what it was, the game was a fun open world title.
Cut to the sequel and I was on board initially, but not super hyped over it. Maybe it was because of those feelings that the game blew me away after playing it for the first time. It’s almost as if Ubisoft stripped out all of the elements people didn’t like and replaced them with things that made more sense. The open world of San Francisco and the surrounding areas are vibrant, lively, and a whole ton of fun to explore. There’s a ton of things to do and see, a rich palette of colors bringing the game to life, and the characters are compelling and fun to root for. The missions are fun, the AI are incredibly diverse, and multiplayer is seamlessly integrated into the experience.
If you’re someone who hated the tone and style of the first game, give this one a look. This just may be the experience Ubisoft was aiming for all along.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Titanfall. I mean, who doesn’t love acrobatic and fast moving characters being able to call down and ride inside of giant metal sky monsters? The first game was a fun concept, ultimately undone by a lack of content, something the team was aware of and tried to fix through its multiplayer DLC.
With Titanfall 2, everything is there right from the start. Not only is the frenetic and fun gameplay still there, but Respawn has added in more of everything. There’s more multiplayer modes, more customization options, more titans, more weapons and gear, and more ways to play.
For many though, the addition of a dedicated single player campaign is a game changer. The best part here is that it’s not just a traditional first person shooter. This one tries to do more than let you shoot at nameless soldiers through interesting and evolving gameplay mechanics like time shifting, light puzzle solving, and platforming elements. Sure, there’s plenty of shooting, but between fantastic storytelling, fun gameplay mechanics, and awe-inspiring set pieces, this is a game everyone should experience.
It’s clear that Dishonored 2 is lovingly crafted, taking what worked really well in the first game and just building on top of that in some really interesting ways. This one is a treat for any fans of stealth action games for sure.
This time around, Arkane is giving fans two characters to pick from and both offer very different experiences. Corvo is back if you want, but this time around, Emily Kaldwin is also a playable character and better yet, she comes with a whole different set of powers like the fantastic domino ability, linking multiple enemies together, sharing the same fate. The thing that I love about Dishonored 2 however is the sandbox of opportunity players are handed in each level. Each environment has multiple ways to get things done, letting the player figure out how they’d like to complete each objective. The end product is usually different for everyone and results in some insanely creative ways of getting things done. This element makes replaying the game almost a must just to see what other things are possible.
The return of the first person shooter behemoth also marked a drastic change of pace for this genre. While these sorts of games have continued to march towards a sci-fi/future soldier style, Battlefield 1 is taking things back to the past and exploring the horrors of World War I.
While the weapons and technology may not be nearly advanced than what was seen in the last few games in the franchise, the addictive multiplayer gameplay returns in all of its glorious objective based forms. In addition to the standout modes like Conquest and Rush, DICE has also added a dynamic and evolving game mode called Operations, where an attacking team is trying to push back a defending team. Each round changes based on the events during the battles.
Considering the material they’re working with, DICE has taken more care with the single player offering as well, opting to focus on smaller character driven stories. I particularly liked this method as I found each story memorable and genuine rather than playing as a faceless and generic army dude along for the ride. With Battlefield 1, we get a better idea of just how the war affected people not just physically, but psychologically as well.
Remedy is known to take their time with its games and the end result is typically always worth it. High production values, a willingness to try things, and state of the art technology typically make their games something to remember. To this end, Quantum Break fits right in.
Quantum Break throws third person conventions right out the window in favor of an almost movie like presentation. Not only are high profile actors like Shawn Ashmore and Aidan Gillen on hand to play prominent roles, Remedy has also weaved legit 20 minute TV style episodes in between each chapter in the game. It’s an odd thing for a video game, but in the grand scheme of things, I enjoyed it. Gameplay wise, Quantum Break centers around the ability to mess with time giving the protagonist a ton of time manipulation powers that really make you feel powerful. In addition, there’s a ton of memorable holy crap moments that happen throughout the story centered around time essentially breaking. It’s certainly a visual showpiece and worth a look if you’re into strong single player titles.
and the winner is…
Winner: Titanfall 2
This one was way harder than I imagined as many of these games are still in my active rotation. I mean, the other day I stayed up way later than I should have running 3v3 with a couple of friends in Overwatch. I’ve also been completing weekly challenges in Battlefield 1, just started sliding around the slopes of Blizzard Mountain in Forza Horizon 3, and am finding a lot to love with the new Survival mode in Uncharted 4.
With that said, the game that I can’t seem to pull myself away from on a nightly basis is Titanfall 2. Yes, I’ve written a lot about this game in the past couple of weeks but it remains true. The multiplayer in this game is just insanely fun and the progression system feels spot on. While earning XP in some of the other games can seem a little slow, Titanfall 2 isn’t afraid to dish out the experience even after playing a single match. It rewards me for my time. As a person who isn’t able to play for hours on end these days, I’m extremely thankful for that.