Top Games of 2016
Let’s be real.
This year’s Call of Duty wasn’t perfect but it surely didn’t deserve the hate it got online. Featuring remarkably high production values and the type of over the top moments that the series if known for, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare took the series to literal heights it’s never been to before. Once you got passed the fact that you were supposed to hate it, it was at worst a functional but forgettable shooter and at best a Hollywood style popcorn flick that kept you busy for a weekend.
Episodic games aren’t supposed to work this well. With Hitman, Square Enix has taken the best of the previously released games and sifted through the issues to make something that feels both fresh and familiar at the same time. Gone are the transgressions of previous games like Absolution in favor of the classic gameplay that made the Hitman games so fun to begin with. It’s a literal virtual playground of death and destruction that encourages you to be creative in all of the best and worst kinds of ways.
Much like it's predecessors, Forza Horizon 3 is not a racing game. Sure, there are cars and you'll benefit from placing first in the occasional competition but Playground Games latest is firmly in the simulation territory. It's a loving simulation of the relationship between man, machine and the open road and it's absolutely stunning in almost all regards.
With the third game in the series, Forza Horizon 3 isn't the huge leap forward that previous games were, but like a car fresh out of a tune up, it adds just enough to make it the best game in either Forza series yet and a must play for fans of cars and adventure games in general.
With Forza Horizon 3, Playground Games and Turn 10 studios have created the ultimate virtual road trip. There's great tunes, scenery, adventure, friends and of course, the open road. Through it all though it never loses sight of it's focus, the bond between man and machine. It's a fantastic racing game but an even better adventure and simulation game. Forza Horizon 3 is an astonishing accomplishment and most importantly it's a lot of fun to play.
With Dishonored 2, developer Arkane Studios is using the Walt Disney approach. In the 50s and 60s when Disney knew an attraction in Disneyland needed updating he wouldn't try to reinvent the wheel, he would just "plus it" and add to it. Dishonored 2 get's similar treatment from it's predecessor, it's not that much different but is rather a finer tuned version of what came before.
The level design is fantastic, the gameplay is quick and responsive and the entire package feels much more refined. Dishonored 2 is more of everything you loved about the first Dishonored, and that's a very good thing which makes it one of the best games of the year.
Nearly every single step in Dark Souls III felt like I was heading towards my greatest battle and walking away, or more often than not failing to felt like another scar to talk about or another tale to tell to my fellow travelers. Much like it’s predecessors, Dark Souls III is incredibly challenging and brutal while being rewarding at the same time, but you already knew that.
What may surprise you though is how open the world is and just how gorgeous it can be. Not all of it’s new ideas land as successfully but Dark Souls III is unquestionably a fantastic experience that plays like a love letter to it’s very devoted fan base. If Dark Souls 3 is the last in the series, it’s going out on one hell of a high note.
Final Fantasy XV is game meant for both long time fans and new players alike and it’s a conflict that while it makes a valiant effort, never really comes to terms with finding a happy medium. Final Fantasy XV is a game that’s full of a lot of moving pieces and the vast majority of them are entertaining as hell, but they rarely ever come together to form the cohesive package that they should, that fans have been waiting years for. You’ll still have a lot of fun hunting monsters thanks to the stellar combat but Final Fantasy XV is a game whose individual parts are better than the entire package.
Gears of War 4 won't surprise anyone. It relies heavily on the established formula that the original trilogy perfected in the last console generation. No, Microsoft and The Coalition haven't reinvented the wheel for the latest chapter in the long running shooter series, but they have evolved it. Gears of War 4 succeeds wildly at creating something that feels both new and familiar at the same.
It's a thrilling ride that constantly keeps moving you from one gigantic action set piece to another. Perhaps most importantly it delivers the tight shooter gameplay that fans of the series have gotten used to, but delivers just enough to make it feel like something with an identity all it's own.
It's hard to describe a game like Stardew Valley to someone who's never heard of it but here goes. It's a farming game where you don't really even have to farm and you can do whatever you want. Also, there's apparently witches. I'll work on it, but for now just know that you absolutely need to play this game oddly enough for all of the things it does right and even all of the things it attempts to do right, which still turn out extremely charming.
Stardew Valley is easily my favorite game of the year and if you'll excuse me, I think someone just posted a job they need done around town...
Have you ever had two friends that you know would be great together if only they'd meet? Those two friends are the Total War series and The Warhammer series and not only have they met, they've had a baby. Awww, it's got it's father's lore and look at that, it's got it's mother's addictive gameplay and huge battle systems.
When games combines with other games it's rarely this good, but Total War: Warhammer manages to not only be the exception to the rule, but save for a few small hiccups it allows two series seemingly stuck in their own rules to create an identity all it's own. Fans of Total War may not be fans of War Hammer and vice vera but they may be after playing this.
It's a remarkably fun game that combines the mythos of the established Warhammer franchise with the systems of the Total War franchise and the result is something that somehow feels familiar and new at the same time. You've never seen the Warhammer universe from this angle before and Total War has never felt quite like this.
When something takes ten years to come out, it’s hardly ever worth the wait, but Owlboy is different. Retro styled platformers are a dime a dozen these days, but Owlboy is different. You may think you’ve played Owlboy before but trust me...Owlboy is different. Coming right out and saying it, Owlboy is a fantastically fun and creative retro platformer.
It’s not perfect, but for every misstep it takes, it makes up for in heart and originality. Plain and simple, you need to play Owlboy. After a nearly ten hour wait, Owlboy is more than worth it. It’s a clever, fun and often heartwarming tale that blends genres seamlessly. This is one of those games that this time next year you’re going to be hearing a lot about and that’s ok because it deserves all the success it can.