Games & Apps

Best of 2016: Our Favorite Video Games

2016 was a great year for video games. Last year, virtual reality continued its slow march towards mainstream acceptance and has started to become widely available. In addition, we saw the launch of some great new series and had the pleasure of playing some highly anticipated sequels. These are my picks for the best games that I played in 2016. These are the games that I either dedicated a large amount of time to or found myself coming back to even after I had completed them.

This list is in no specific order.

Dark Souls III

Dark Souls 3

Platforms – Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer – FromSoftware

I have been a souls fan since Demons Souls released back in 2009. You would think I would be sick of these games; after all, they all follow a similar formula. But each of them are filled with such unique thrills that all vary in just the right ways to get me – and many others – to keep coming back to the series. Some have criticized Dark Souls 3 of being “too much of a sequel” compared to previous entries, but you can’t deny the faster paced combat ala’ Bloodborne mixed with the vulnerability of Dark Souls helps make Dark Souls 3 a unique experience, and reason enough to grab a weapon and die over and over again.

 

Doom

Doom

Platforms – Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer – id Software

Doom stripped away superfluous dialogue and most modern shooter clichés in favor of fast, visceral, non-stop combat. It’s not quite “old school” first person shooter combat but rather it’s something new and more dynamic – something better. Overpowered weapons allow you to cut through the hordes of hell as the Doomguy, a being so badass that demons swap horror stories about him. If that sounds over the top, that’s because it’s supposed to: the developers had a level of self-awareness that paints everything from the story to the soundtrack. Instead of letting its subject matter bog it down into grim-dark territory, it manages to be fast-paced and fun.

 

The Last Guardian

The Last Guardian

Platform – Playstation 4
Developer – genDESIGN

The age-old tale of a boy and his air-dog is at the heart of this adventure game. It may have taken about 10 years to get to gamers, but it turns out it was worth the wait. Despite having controls that almost belong to the previous console generation; this beautiful tale will have you hugging your pets while crying your eyes out. At least that’s what effect it had on me. Even a few frustrating issues with the controls couldn’t keep The Last Guardian off of my best of 2016 list.

 

XCom2

XCOM 2

Platforms – Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer – Firaxis Games

There aren’t too many AAA squad-sized turned based strategy games anymore – especially none that are this good. XCOM 2 does everything a good sequel should: it takes the formula established in the previous installment and improves on nearly every aspect. Put yourself at the mercy of the RNG while retaking earth that has been conquered by aliens. Recruit soldiers, salvage alien technology, and then spend hours customizing your soldiers just to watch them die to unlucky dice rolls. That’s XCOM, baby!

 

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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Platforms – Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer – Eidos Montréal

The near-future cyberpunk espionage thriller Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the follow up to the much acclaimed Deus Ex: Human Revolution. You play as Adam Jensen, a mechanically augmented agent working for Task Force 29 searching for a terrorist organization in Prague. Various augmentations allow you to approach the amazingly detailed game from almost any angle: sneak in with non-lethal force, or run in guns blazing.

 

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Inside

Platforms – Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer – Playdead

Developer Playdead’s follow-up to 2010’s Limbo sounds almost too similar to its predecessor: it’s a side-scrolling platformer where you’re a boy stuck in a strange, horrifying world. The only way to interact with that world is to push, pull, jump, and climb. While Limbo’s story was in the realm of the supernatural, I can only describe Inside as a Cronenberg-esque sci-fi horror adventure with an ending so grotesque but empowering it left me speechless.

 

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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Platform – Playstation 4
Developer – Naughty Dog

The Uncharted series has been known for its cinematic storytelling and globe spanning, treasure hunting gameplay. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the poignant conclusion that gamers deserve after adventuring with Nathan Drake and company for the last 9 years or so. Uncharted 4’s new gameplay elements and characters were enough to make it the best in an already spectacular series. They even made the combat fun!

 

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Stardew Valley

Platforms – Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer – Eric Barone

Stardew Valley was a surprise favorite for me in 2016. I hadn’t heard much about it until after its release when it was sitting at the top selling position on Steam. It had been described to me as a something like Animal Crossing or Harvest Valley. I wouldn’t say those are inaccurate descriptions, but Stardew Valley is something more, too. Underneath a simple farming game is a large, interesting story that is slowly revealed as you play. All of it is brought together expertly with a beautifully warm pixel art style. To describe it as a farming game would be too simple, but to say more would be spoiler-y. Better just check this one out yourself.

 

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Overwatch

Platforms – Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer – Blizzard Entertainment

It’s hard to deny Overwatch’s impact on gaming. In 2016 there was a sort of renaissance in the hero-shooter genre, with Overwatch being the undisputed king despite games like Battleborn and Paladins vying for the title. Massive YouTube and Twitch interest has kept Overwatch on top of the pack. It’s addictive team-based play and Blizzard’s push for the Overwatch League is making it look like Overwatch will dominate for years to come.

 

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TitanFall 2

Platforms – Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer – Respawn Entertainment

Titanfall was one of the most popular multiplayer shooters of 2014. Titanfall 2 not only continued the tradition of being a great multiplayer shooter, it also added something incredible: an amazing single player campaign. All too often do shooters come out only to be accompanied by the phrase “tacked on single player” but you can’t accuse Titanfall 2 of that. Its ideas may not all be the most original, but the execution is superb and the single player is worth playing even if the multiplayer portion never appeals to you.

 

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The Lab

Platform – HTC Vive
Developer – Valve

The launch of commercial virtual reality is upon us. Unfortunately, VR games haven’t yet reached their full potential – most are glorified tech demos. I decided to include on this list the best tech demo VR has. I’ve heard several people describe The Lab as “the Wii-Sports of VR.” In this case that’s a game that really shows what room scale VR with touch controllers can do. The Lab certainly makes me yearn for what Valve could pull off if it released a full-fledged VR game. With the inclusion of amusing Easter eggs and some of the tightest VR gameplay I’ve experienced, The Lab is the game I keep coming back to, especially when I want to show others what makes me excited about VR.

Antal Bokor hails from the far northern suburbs and is the proud owner of a Steam Library so vast as to be impenetrable. His love for video games started in the 8 bit era with the arrival of his Nintendo Entertainment System and quickly evolved into a multi-platform passion. Antal is also a lover of game history and development, and can often be found saving various universes from a multitude of evils. You can find him on twitter, too, at @TheAntalBokor. 

Categories: Games & Apps, Review, Screens

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