Best Games 2016

Brodie Fogg 5 August 2016

best-games-2016

2016 has done an outstanding job of expanding our pile of shame. These are the best games we've managed to clock.

We're now two-thirds through 2016 and already we've already seen some outstanding games that will forever leave their mark on the industry and broader gaming culture. As we meander through to Summer, we await so massive titles like No Man's Sky, Mafia III and Dishonored 2. With those games on the horizon sure to impress, we thought it timely to update our 10 best games of 2016 list.

10. Pokémon GO

What is there to say about the harbinger of societal collapse that hasn't been said already? Pokémon GO is by no means a good game. Forgetting the unstable servers, a staggering amount of bugs and glitches, and Niantic's poorly handles updates, Pokémon GO is just rather dull once you look past the excitement of catching 'mons in the real world. However, no game left its mark on 2016 quite like Pokémon GO and aside from its many frustrations, the good that it's done is worthy of praise.

Not only has it brought the beloved franchise back into the public conscience, it's helped real people overcome issues with anxiety and depression.

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If you liked
Ingress, Invizimals
Release Date
6 July 2016
Developed by
Niantic
Published by
The Pokémon Company
Available on
iTunes and Google Play 

9. DOOM

DOOM review

Reboots can be tricky. Some are overhauled beyond recognition (see the abysmal Bomberman Act Zero), others try too hard to recapture the magic of the original without adding their own spice. DOOM is a reboot (or remake/sequel depending on who you're talking to) that balances fan service and innovation by offering up nostalgic nods to the past and improving upon every aspect that made the original a gaming icon.

One loud, dumb adrenaline rush from beginning to end

2016's Doom is a tribute to its hellish roots that manages to push the needle enough to sit comfortably beside its contemporary protegés. While its multiplayer left many wanting more, it's single-player campaign was one loud, dumb adrenaline rush from beginning to end.

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If you liked
Wolfenstein: The New Order, The Doom series
Release Date
13 May 2016
Developed by
id Software
Published by
Bethesda
Available on
PS4, Xbox One, and PC

8. Pony Island

Whenever I try to explain the appeal of Pony Island to friends, words fail me. Not because I have nothing to say. I could prattle on for hours about Daniel Mullins' absurd masterpiece to someone who has already played the game. But for those who haven't, saying anything is saying too much. Pony Island is truly a game that is best experienced going in totally blind. Pony Island could be vaguely described as a puzzle game with sections of twitch-based running. A more accurate description is a total mindf--ck that breaks firewalls and fourth walls.

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If you liked
???, The Stanley Parable
Release Date
4 January 2016
Developed by
Daniel Mullins Games
Published by
Daniel Mullins Games
Also available on
Steam

7. Dark Souls 3


Praise the sun! Hidetaka Miyazaki's third entry to the Souls series was bound to be a hit. While 2015's Bloodborne gave fans a gothic dose of that old Souls-style punishment, fans were eager to jump back into the unrelenting world of Dark Souls. Dark Souls 3 dumps players in Lothric, a world protected by the dying First Flame. Players assume the role of the Ashen One, an undead knight who sets out to return the Lords of Cinder to their thrones and keep the First Flame burning. Dark Souls 3 marries elements from previous souls games (like magic and focus points) and Bloodborne (charged, secondary attacks) .

Miyazaki has expressed some lenience this time around. Certain character moves are quicker than ever, allowing for smoother evasive moves and the ability to dish out more damage in a smaller frame of time.

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If you liked
Bloodborne, Dragon's Dogma
Release Date
12 April 2016
Developed by
FromSoftware
Published by
Bandai Namco Entertainment
Also available on
PS4, XBO and PC

6. Oxenfree

Oxenfree is possibly the closest thing we have to a Stranger Things video game right now. Better yet, it's a beautiful, heartfelt work of art in its own right. When five teens, each with their own quirks and angsts, escape to an abandoned island for a night of drinking and campfire shenanigans (teens, will they ever learn?), things go awry when a spooky signal leads them on a dark and dangerous adventure. Puzzles are solved using an old timey radio and dialogue choices occur in real time, making social awkwardness an actual gameplay element.

Oxenfree's runtime clocks in about four hours, so it's a tad on the short side in comparison to the other blockbusters on this list. But it's only as long as needs to be. I experienced some of the most moving and emotional moments I've ever witnessed in a video game during those four hours.

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If you liked
Gone Home
Release Date
15 January 2016
Developed by
Night School Studio
Published by
Night School Studio
Also available on
PS4, XBO and Steam

5. The Witcher: Blood and Wine

witcher-3-blood-and-wine

Technically, Blood and Wine is DLC for a game that came out in 2015, but at 20.5 hours long and enough to separate it from the main game, Blood and Wine definitely deserves a spot on this list. Picking up years after the core game, Blood and Wine takes on a journey to the vibrant, booze-soaked land of Toussaint. When a vicious and mysterious beast kills two of her knights, the Duchess of Toussaint, Anna Henrietta, calls on Geralt's expertise to track and hunt the elusive creature. As always, things aren't as straightforward as they seem and Geralt must enlist the help of an old friend, Regis, to uncover the true perpetrator.

A well-deserved rest for the Witcher who's seen and slayed it all.

Blood and Wine introduces armour dyeing, over 30 dangerous new monsters, over 30 new weapons, 100 pieces of armour and even Geralt's very own vineyard.

The trip to Toussaint is the perfect aperitif to The Witcher trilogy's intoxicating nine-year journey. Toussaint, a place untouched by war, is colourful, full of merriment and a welcome escape from the plagued lands of Temeria and Redania. This not only feels like a fitting end to the series, but a well-deserved rest for the Witcher who's seen and slayed it all.

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If you liked
Dark Souls, Skyrim
Release Date
19 May 2016
Developed by
CD Projekt RED
Published by
Bandai Namco Games
Also available on
PS4, XBO and PC

4. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

Uncharted™ 4: A Thief’s End_20160508134103

There was never any doubt that Uncharted 4 would be anything short of amazing. What we saw in the lead-up to the game's release looked like the kind of clips reserved for tech demos designed to wow. But Uncharted 4: A Thief's End was a rare case of a game actually delivering on the eye-melting visual fidelity it promised.

Uncharted 4 reunites Nate with his estranged brother Sam Drake, who was presumed dead after a botched job many years back, who comes bearing a lead  on pirate king Henry Every's treasure - a mythical plunder the Drake brothers fantasised about as youngsters.

Similar to what Uncharted 2 did for the PlayStation 3, Uncharted 4 pushed the PlayStation for to its limit, establishing a graphical benchmark for all titles after it to compete with.

Uncharted 4 is a visual and technical triumph and definitely worth your time.

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If you liked
Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Last of Us
Release Date
10 May 2016
Developed by
Naughty Dog
Published by
PlayStation
Also available on
PS4

3. Firewatch

When Firewatch was first announced in 2014, it immediately drew in anyone who laid eyes on its warm, breathtaking visuals. The first game from San Francisco-based developer Campo Santo, Firewatch is first-person adventure set in the Wyoming wilderness, one year after the 1988 fires in Yellowstone Park. Oft lumped in the walking simulator sub-genre, Firewatch is a, for lack of a better term, walking simulator where players assume the role Henry (voiced by Mad Men's Rich Sommer) who has been assigned to man an isolated fire lookout. A series of mysterious and unnerving occurrences push Henry to explore the national park to find answers.

The real magic happens in the conversations between Henry and Delilah

With a voice at the other end of a walkie talkie (Cissy Jones' Delilah) accompanying him, Henry uncovers increasingly suspicious details about the park's past.

You could sit in silence and drink up Firewatch's comforting scenery for hours, but the real magic happens in the conversations that play out between Henry and Delilah. Campo Santo's Vanaman and Rodkin provide the stellar script that allows their two leads Jones and Sommer to bring us two of the most complex, conflicted and loveable characters we've ever had the please of playing with.

On the surface, Firewatch is a story about the futility of our choices and new beginnings, but beyond that there's a much deeper message about accepting responsibility no matter how hard it is to swallow.

More information

If you liked
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Telltale Games
Release Date
9 February 2016
Developed by
Campo Santo
Published by
Panic
Also available on
PS4 and PC

 2. Inside

inside

Playdead takes the cake for quiet achiever of the year. I can remember hearing whispers about Limbo's spiritual successor back in 2012, then nothing until two years later when Microsoft officially unveiled Inside at E3 2014. Even then we heard but a peep from the developers themselves. I never had any doubt that whatever Playdead followed up with would be anything short of amazing, but as time went on it began to feel like it would never happen.

Then out of nowhere at this year's E3 expo we got an official release date and my excitement skyrocketed and continued to do so as I finally got to sit down with the game come July.

Inside tells the speechless story of a boy escaping a dystopian prison. A 2D puzzle-platformer at its core, Inside offers absolutely no exposition or instruction forcing the player to pick up on new gameplay elements and small plot details through some experimentation and attention to detail.

I played in Inside it two sittings. The first with people who have no interest in video games and even they were captivated by the game's moody synth-like soundtrack and sombre themes.

They were glued to the screen, asking many questions that I had no answer to. Who's that? What's this place? I didn't know, but there was something special about that. Gamers and non-gamers experiencing this beautiful slow-moving piece of art in unison, both giddy with child-like curiosity.

Even now having complete the game, I still don't have those answers. I have opinions, oh-so-many opinions, but everyone will take something different from the game's polarising ending.

We gave Inside a score of 9 out of 10 when we reviewed it.

More information

If you liked
Limbo, Abe's Oddysee 
Release Date
29 June 2016
Developed by
Playdead
Published by
Playdead
Also available on
PC and Xbox One

1. Overwatch

overwatch

I'm not the most enthusiastic person when it comes to competitive gaming. With the exception of Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. (both which can be enjoyed in silence), going toe-to-toe with someone screaming through a tinny microphone doesn't appeal to me. But after two months of constant play, I can say Overwatch has sunk its hook and pulled me close, like an aggressive Roadhog looking for love.

Overwatch's diverse lineup of heroes and villains are pitted against each other in tense 6v6 matches where success rests not only on your own skills as an FPS veteran, but how well your team can balance the roles of offense, tank, support and sniper. Each character and class is completely unique in personality and play-style and a lot of the fun comes from picking a character you've never tried before and mastering them through hours of trial and error.

At release, Overwatch was understandably criticised for its overall lack of content. There are only four modes, played over 12 maps and because you have absolutely no choice in what level or mode is chosen, it can sometimes feel like you're playing the same match over and over again. However, Blizzard's stunning craftsmanship of this infectious title excuses those shortcomings and even has the naysayers coming back for more. The map design can't be faulted or exploited and the characters are so well-balanced that failure only ever rests on the player or their team, no matter how much they kick and scream.

Overwatch currently holds the highest review score ever given on finder.

More information

If you liked
Team Fortress 2, Battleborn
Release Date
24 May 2016
Developed by
Blizzard Entertainment
Published by
Blizzard Entertainment
Also available on
PS4, XBO and PC

Looking for last year's games? Check out the best of 2015 here.

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