The 10 Best Games Of 2016
As we wrote about earlier in the year, 2016 truly has been a bumper year for first-person shooters and that's reflected in our final end-of-year list.
Overwatch, Doom, Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 all feature prominently in our round-up of the best in gaming this year, with one of them taking the top spot. Outside of this, mobile gaming went through some incredible changes, with both Pokemon GO and Super Mario Run crossing over into the mainstream consciousness.
Meanwhile, PlayStation's VR debuted, Microsoft's super-secretive Scorpio project was announced and we also had the first and incredibly baffling look at Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding. Still no idea what it's about.
So, what games were we playing this year? Take a look.
10. CIVILIZATION VI (PC)
Like it or not, strategy gaming lives on PC. It's never been truly and effectively ported to console gaming and it's a shame that a lot of players miss out on the experience. Civilization VI is, undoubtedly, the premier strategy game of our time. Its nuanced approach, sumptuous visuals and knowing humour meant for a truly rewarding game that didn't stiff on the complexities to make it more accessible. If anything, it embraced them and that made it all the more challenging and enjoyable.
9. FORZA HORIZON 3 (Xbox One)
It seems clear now that Forza is truly the racing franchise to beat in gaming, despite valiant efforts by Need For Speed and others. What makes Forza - and its latest offering here - so engaging is that it really does cater to every skill level and interest. If you're just looking for a casual sprint around a track, Forza Horizon 3 can tailor itself to meet that need. If you're looking for in-depth, precision driving with insane levels of detail and simulation, it does it fully and completely. More interesting is that it doesn't lessen itself by appealing to both. The game is expansive enough that it takes you in on either end of the spectrum.
8. SUPER MARIO RUN (iOS)
Now that we've had a few weeks to play with Super Mario Run, the experience hasn't diminished for us in the slightest. Quite the opposite, the Toad Rally aspect of the game is becoming increasingly addictive. At its heart, Super Mario Run understands that it cannot compete with a major, console experience - so it has to work within the confines of what it has. People might dismiss Super Mario Run as a lesser thing, but it takes real skill and ingenuity to work within strict parameters and create a quality game. Super Mario Run is fast, fun and effortless - just as you'd expect from the king of platform games.
7. PRO EVOLUTION '17 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4)
Oasis or Blur. Stones or Beatles. Star Trek or Star Wars. Tea or coffee. FIFA or Pro Ev. At some point, the binary nature of the question just becomes tiresome. Can't we accept that some have more than others? Isn't it all subjective? This year seemed to be the year that Pro Evo and Konami recognised that it was never going to beat FIFA '17 for licences, so the best thing to do was to try and create a focused, AI-driven game with attention to ball physics and intuitiveness. While FIFA '17's Story Mode was the big seller for that franchise, Pro Evo had a lot more going on - but somehow managed to underplay all these. Pick it up and give a shot - because it's much better than you may initially realise.
6. THE LAST GUARDIAN (PlayStation 4)
While The Last Guardian is by no means a perfect game, it is a perfect example of games as an artform. The music, the storytelling, the emotional depths that players can go to connect with the story, it all comes together on the screen in a beautiful way. More to the point, it feels alive and human. There is genuine love and craft gone into The Last Guardian and that shines through, despite some of the wonky controls, annoying glitches and ropey game mechanics. Flawed, sure, but so engaging and unique that it's hard not to be taken with it.
5. OVERWATCH (PC / PlayStation 4 / Xbox One)
Blizzard Studios may have cornered the MMOPRG market with World of Warcraft and the RTS market with StarCraft, but its first foray in the world of first-person shooters was an exciting blend on old and new formulas. More interesting, however, is how Overwatch just seemed to exist so perfectly in the subset of first-person shooters as if it had been there for years. The idea of making a hero-based first-person shooter seems so obvious now that, in retrospect, it's a wonder why nobody thought of it sooner. Yet, here we are - absolutely loving it.
4. BATTLEFIELD 1 (PC / PlayStation 4 / Xbox One)
Battlefield 1's use of World War I as a setting was definitely inspired, but what made it all the more engrossing was just how chaotic and frightening the game felt when in the heat of battle. The use of sound design, game physics and music really pulled you into a catastrophic fight for survival that's quite unlike any other first-person shooter you're likely to play in some time. Multiplayer, as well, added a huge amount of lifespan to the game and the sheer level of skill and detail that went into was just as compelling.
3. UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF'S END (PlayStation 4)
Uncharted came to a end with a bang. The use of spectacle and place put the game into a new level and the smaller, finer points - like making Nathan have slightly noticeable lines on his face when he's older in the game - made for an immersive experience. There's very few games that would go to that level of attention, and do it purely for the sake of continuity, yet with Naughty Dog and Uncharted 4, it feels natural and expected. The PlayStation 4-exclusive game of the year, hands down.
2. DOOM (PC / PlayStation 4 / Xbox One)
Doom really could have gone terribly. If the developers had adopted the norms of first-person shooters and tried to fit Doom to that thinking, it would be just another bland experience. Instead, they correctly judged that what made Doom great then and great now was simplicity. You pick up a gun, you shoot it until the bullets run out and you pick up another one. You don't need to zoom in, you don't need to worry about recoil or mods, you just pick it up and aim it at the scary thing until it's a pile of goo. Doom was blackly funny and was almost post-modern about how it approached the entire genre. Few games will have you cackling as you play. Doom is one of them.
1. TITANFALL 2 (PC / PlayStation 4 / Xbox One)
There are so few games nowadays that recognise or understand that an emotional bond can form with the characters on screen in the same way people connect with performances in a film or a TV show. Titanfall 2's single-player campaign made us feel genuine concern and friendship for a talking tank on two legs called BT-7274. It's no surprise that the developers took their cue from buddy-cop action films to get the relationship right. This carries over into the multiplayer section, where players can develop and create their own Titan to compliment their own strategy and style. While the single-player campaign may have been brief, it definitely had the strongest impact for a first-person shooter in a very, very long time. How often do you care this much about what happens to essentially a vehicle in a game?
Story by Brian Lloyd | 15:07 | Sunday 1st January 2017 | Games