Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Naughty Dog knows how to make a game–that is undeniable. What they did with the final Uncharted was a master craft in storytelling, visuals, game play and voice acting. I actually grew to care about the characters in this series as I played through each sequel, and I was genuinely concerned for all their well-being throughout my playthrough. This game had it all. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and just couldn’t wrap my head around how gorgeous all the settings were. I was sad to see this series end, but I’m excited to see what Naughty Dog has in store for us with The Last of Us Part II and whatever else they may be cooking up.
Runner Up: The Division
Blizzard’s Overwatch wins Best Game of 2016 for it’s fantastic art style and gameplay. This game breaths life into it’s characters by giving them distinct personalities. Instead of one-dimensional playable characters, Overwatch‘s cast includes a variety of dynamic individuals who are charming to experience the game through. To match the personalities, the developers crafted maps with such detail it makes the players feel as if they are immersed in the game’s world. Having holiday-themed events complete with character skins and scenic maps makes Overwatch all the more special. Halloween offered elements from the classic Frankenstein tale and the Christmas event features a map decorated as if Charles Dickens himself designed the scene. Players can easily see the care and heart that went into crafting Overwatch.
I will admit I pretty unsure of what to expect from DOOM. Having set my hopes so high for Duke Nukem Forever (yeah I know), I wasn’t expecting this to live up to the potential hype and to fail on arrival thanks to ID Software’s previous game Rage. But I was wrong … so very, very wrong.
Doom is unbelievably energetic, ultra-violent and highly enjoyable with its epic combat combing both traversal tactics and hard core gunplay with sickly sweet gore system. The world is impressive from the labs of Mars to the bowels of Hell, everything looks amazing and Mick Gordon’s soundtrack is nothing short of phenomenal. Doom not only makes a fully glorified return but reminds us how gaming can be so much fun. In particular it makes the FPS genre fun once again. I do love games like Fallout and Dishonored, but Doom is just what gaming needed. Something pure, uncompromising and above all, entertaining.
VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action
This was a weird one that somewhat came out the blue. I admit that I originally wrote this off as a title that would be about wooing anime archetypes using a shell the player was to project onto. Demos I tried didn’t exactly lift this impression from me, what with experiencing the obnoxious Streaming-Chan character in the EGX Rezzed 2016 demo and the ridiculous corgis in the prologue. So when I got it for free from someone I know, I set my expectations way down. I even begun digging a ditch to put my expectations in. So it was surprising when the protagonist was their own character with an arc, motivations and flaws. I was also taken-back that characters, even the mind-numbingly goofy ones, worked as their own people and as illustrations of the world outside the bar. It was even more surprising it went all Papers Please on me and told me to keep an eye on how much money I was making serving drinks, for bills outside the bar. This was as well as to be careful what drinks I serve as it can have repercussions.
That isn’t to say there isn’t flaws. Ones like a somewhat lack of agency, anti-climatic ending (that actually fits) and lack of replayability. Perhaps in a slower year this would have gotten just a high-five and celebratory stapler, but it’s the only real game I’ve been frothing to tell people about this year. At least in a good way. Which is the main measuring stick I have of which game was the best. So well done Valhalla, (or “VA-11 Hall-A” if you’re trying to fail the Turing Test) on having writing and ludo narrative implementation so excellent you served as my only real moment of post-game excitement this year. Ugh.
The Division has had a fairly up and down year. The ambitious open-world shooter from developer Massive reached for the stars in what they wanted to accomplish, but have been stifled by numerous bugs, glitches, and issues of player abuse. However, Massive has done a great job at fixing issues, balancing out problems, and working to find the best balance they can for the game. The recreation of New York is hands down one of my most favorite gaming worlds in quite some time. I have a soft spot for the Big Apple, and their version of it is one of Ubisoft’s best recreated cities. The quest for loot has also been fun, as there are numerous ways to play the game, get loot and level up, and take on the variety of challenges the game has to offer. The recently released DLC, Survival, is also incredibly enjoyable and intense, and adds even more to the game. I have played plenty of games this year, but The Division is definitely my favorite, and has steadily shaped into a fantastic shoot and loot game. I look forward to seeing what comes next for the series.
Runner Up: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Well that’s it. The year of 2016 has flown by and while we may not have been able to play every title out there we look forward to what is to come in 2017. What do you think of our Game of the Year choices? Do you have a different one in mind?