People will look back at 2016 and continually make jokes about how bad it was for various reasons, but it was very good for gaming. There were plenty of fantastic releases across most platforms, the Wii U had a couple of highlights as it prepares to make way for the Switch, and the new VR platforms had impressive debuts.
It is very difficult for a group of people with very diverse tastes to decide what the best games of the year were, but that is what the contributors for FilmGamesEtc managed to do. Past and present writers ranked some of their favorite games across all platforms, and the results were compiled into a master list, which is featured below.
Game of the Year: Overwatch
Overwatch is one of the biggest gaming triumphs of 2016. The game is Blizzard’s first ever shooter, and it rose from the ashes of the studio’s canceled MMO, Project Titan. A lot could have gone wrong, but the end result is masterful. The gameplay is fast and fluid, and strikes a fantastic balance for casual and hardcore shooter fans alike. Winning a match with a well-coordinated team is immensely satisfying, and getting destroyed by one makes you want to jump back in and give it another go. Blizzard’s DLC plan for the game ensures that all future maps and heroes will be free, and several of each have already been added since launch, so gamers will probably be playing Overwatch for years to come. All of this is presented with Blizzard’s signature level of polish, and proves yet again that the studio’s revered status in the gaming community is totally justified.
The only thing that may be more impressive than Overwatch’s gameplay is the game’s diverse cast. There are currently 23 characters that belong to a wide variety of races, body types, religions, and sexual orientations, and the player base has shown a monumental love for all of them. The abundance of Overwatch cosplay, fan art, and memes is probably a good indicator that the game’s heroes will become just as beloved as those found in Blizzard’s other properties.
Blizzard took a massive gamble with Overwatch, the studio’s first new IP in nearly two decades. It paid off in spades, and gave us the best game of 2016.
PS4 Game of the Year: Ratchet & Clank
From Aaron Potter’s review of the game:
“Ratchet and Clank is a truly incredible gaming experience. Rather than just polish something that had already been done, Insomniac rebuilt this story from the ground up, allowing gamers to revisit and re-experience a familiar world in an all new light. While Ratchet and Clank may not be the biggest, or most in depth game out there, it is one that I think is far more enjoyable. I don’t remember the last time I had this much fun just running around and beating up enemies left and right. Whether you are a fan of the series or not, Ratchet and Clank is definitely worth a play.”
Note: Ratchet & Clank also won FilmGamesEtc’s Platformer of the Year and Best Visual Design awards.
Xbox One Game of the Year: Gears of War 4
From Adam Charlton’s review of the game:
“The story behind Gears of War 4 is a heart pounding thrill ride filled with its fair share of destructible environments and beautifully shot backdrops. In a way we can really connect with these new characters for we are also the outsiders looking in.”
PC Game of the Year: Overwatch
From Kyle Flory’s review of the game:
“Overwatch is a game that I see myself playing for a very long time. It is an excellent shooter that puts a lot of emphasis on teamwork, and is simply a ton of fun to play. On top of that, it is wrapped in the practically flawless presentation that Blizzard games are known for. This initial package has a great selection of characters and modes, and it will be exciting to see what is added as time goes on. But in the meantime, if you’re looking for a great team-based shooter that you can play with friends, it doesn’t get much better than Overwatch.”
Note: Overwatch also won FilmGamesEtc’s Multiplayer Game of the Year award.
Wii U Game of the Year: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
From Joseph Ocasio’s review of the game:
“Even nearly 10 years later, Twilight Princess still remains an incredible game. Sure, some of its mechanics and technical limitations haven’t aged well, but those are just minor complaints to a fantastic Zelda adventure. Whether this is your first time experiencing this darker version of Hyrule or you’re a returning player, Twilight Princess HD is a must buy for any owner of a Wii U. So yes, Twilight Princess, now in its HD incarnation, holds up quite well.”
3DS Game of the Year: Pokémon Sun/Moon
Mobile Game of the Year: Pokémon Go
PlayStation Vita Game of the Year: Severed
The PlayStation Vita isn’t seeing a ton of original releases nowadays, and DrinkBox Studio’s Severed could realistically be the last high profile game for the system. Thankfully, it turned out to be pretty great. It combines the classic dungeon crawling gameplay of something like Shadowgate, the vibrant visual style of Guacamelee!, and touch-based gameplay that adds to the experience without feeling gimmicky. It has become apparent that games like Severed are what make the Vita special, and a focus on them may have led to more success for the device.
Best Shooter: DOOM
From Jamie Goodchild’s review of the game:
“DOOM, especially the single-player campaign, is a beautifully modernized love letter to the series’ roots. It’s, frankly, a joy to play a game that just assaults you with solid gameplay straight out of the gate. For the most part the game is fast, exciting and doesn’t hold back in being an enjoyably, no-nonsense fps. Although the multiplayer somewhat dulls the edges of an, otherwise, sharp final product, I would highly recommend DOOM for the stellar single player alone.”
Note: DOOM also won FilmGamesEtc’s Best Original Score award.
Best Action-adventure Game: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
From Ryan Rothrock’s review of the game:
“Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is an absolutely fantastic game, and the perfect way to end the series. It gives fans of the series everything they have come to expect from an Uncharted game and more. With new gameplay mechanics and new characters, this entry has something for new and old players alike. While this may be the last time we ever see Nathan Drake running through a jungle or lost city with Elena and Sully by his side, it’s great knowing that the series ends on such a high note. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is, in my opinion, the best in the series, and one of, if not the best game of this console generation.”
Note: Uncharted 4 also won FilmGamesEtc’s Best Story award.
Best Strategy Game: Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
Civilization VI has delivered the most content-complete launch package in the history of the franchise, and is just as addicting as previous entries. The numerous options that are presented to you while planning your Civilization are almost overwhelming, but a comprehensive tutorial and advisor system help point you in the right direction if you’re lost. Civ VI is more of a refinement of previous systems as opposed to Civ V’s major overhaul, but it’s not wise to fix what isn’t broken. Civilization VI serves as the pinnacle of the turn-based strategy genre, and the team at Firaxis Games has crafted the game, and series, to beat.
Best RPG: Dark Souls III
From Will Mazgay’s review of the game:
“Dark Souls III does have some minor issues, but the core gameplay—both PVP and PVE—is absolutely phenomenal. If you are a Souls veteran, expect the same blistering combat and atmospheric terror that the series is known for. If you’ve never tried a Souls game before, be prepared for a stiff learning curve. Much more than skill, Dark Souls III requires patience and perseverance to get through. If you’re not willing to push through the hair pulling frustration of defeat to enjoy fleeting moments of victory, then perhaps its best to stay away from the grey ruins of Lothric. However, for the sadists out there who are looking to put their metal to the test in an absolutely merciless environment, come on down.”
Best Puzzle Game: The Witness
Puzzle games appeal to a very specific group of gamers, and those gamers will love The Witness. The game world is absolutely stunning, and the puzzles are far more varied than early trailers suggested. In traditional puzzle game fashion, some of them will drive you insane, but you’ll feel like a genius once you figure them out. An average playthrough for the game seems to take 20 hours, so if you have the patience and want a rewarding gameplay experience, The Witness is a perfect pick.
Best VR Game: Batman: Arkham VR
One of the VR platform’s biggest strengths is the level of immersion that it can bring to a gaming experience, and no game demonstrates that better than Arkham VR. We’ve played games for ages that were supposed to make us become The Batman, but this one actually succeeds. A stellar opening sequence has players donning the suit and cowl, and later portions have them utilizing the skills that gave Batman the nickname of “World’s Greatest Detective.” There were a lot of impressive VR games released in 2016, but Arkham VR does the best job of showing the potential of the technology.
Best DLC: The Witcher III: Blood and Wine
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was one of the best games of 2015, and the game’s final DLC pack, Blood and Wine, brings enough content to fill a completely new game. It has several new features, including a winery for Geralt to use as a home base, and roughly 20 hours worth of content between the main storyline and sidequests. CD Projekt RED has had a very consumer-friendly approach to DLC since the first Witcher game, and to be frank, Blood and Wine puts most paid content add-ons to shame.