2016 was an amazing year for gaming on so many levels. The diversity of games that we have seen released this year has truly been a great sight to see. The way I judge how good a game is very different to a lot of people out there, It purely comes down to how much of my precise time a game will force me to sacrifice to play it.
Game of the year
Saying that, there were a number of games that really caught my attention and forced me to lose sleep over to play. The first one of the year was easily The Division, however, knowing what happened to the game post launch I can not nominate it for the game of the year. After that, there was not a huge amount that really stole my time like The Division could.
This was until Forza horizon 3 launched. I lost my life to this game night after night. If I had a spare moment at all I was playing this game. Forza Horizon 3 was so much more than just a racing game, in fact, it was rarely even a racing game. This was the best flowing and most fun game of 2016 by far for me. I just never really felt the grind and it always gave me just one more thing to do. It also had amazing integration with your friends and being cross platform it was even easier to play with your friends. Also, Forza Horizon 3 was a beauty, just absolutely amazing graphics that tied you into the world even more.
I can’t talk about the best games of the year without throwing Final Fantasy XV in the mix. I have not finished this game at the time of writing this article but what I have played has left me wanting a lot more. It is all I can think about playing right now and if I wasn’t so busy I would it would be ruining my life as you read this. The story so far is fantastic but it is the world that they have built in the game that makes it shine above so many others out there. The world is so diverse and is full of things you could only imagine in your wildest dreams. Yet, stuck smack bang in the middle of this amazing fantasy world is the strangest boy band and their sweet car. The last point that makes Final Fantasy XV truly a contender for the best game in 2016 are the monsters. The sense of scale and the fear of God these monsters can put in you are second to none.
What the Fuck?
In a year of so many highs, it is really hard to remember a lot of the lows. Some honourable mentions would have to go to Final Fantasy XV having a big release date announcement only to delay the game a couple of months later. The painful Ubisoft press conference at E3 will also be up there for me, and the Smell o Vision gadget they have since used to promote the new South Park. The way Pokemon Go seemed to cut across boundaries and go completely mainstream was one of the most amazing things to live through, I have not witnessed that kind of chaos and media coverage any time before.
My leader, however, is the way Konami tried to hop back on the horse with the Metal Gear series. Metal Gear Survive had me scratching my head for weeks, I still don’t know who needs this game or what Konami was expecting when they announced this game with what was the worst trailer I have ever had to sit through watching. I believe that they have burnt their bridges in the game industry and this will be the next train wreck in a long line of train wrecks caused by Konami over the past 12 months.
I would love to say that it has been smooth sailing for gaming in 2016 but there is a lot of things that do really just need to be stopped if we are to become a better industry. I really don’t like the fact that I have to pay full retail price for digital copies of games still. This just doesn’t make sense to me at all. You pay a premium not to have a physical copy of the game on day one or soon after release is just crazy. Games have no reason to be more expensive digitally then they are in the stores. The bare minimum should see the game having a 20% discount if you preorder it.
Other trends that I would love to see vanish from the industry include this silly resolution race the consoles are having at the moment as they are totally getting diminishing returns at this point, please spend the money on improving other aspects of the console like hard drive size rather than how many pixels can fit on a screen.
My biggest gripe for the year was with the new golden child, Hideo Kojima and his new project “Death Stranding”. I don’t want to see another crazy trailer about that game till it is 6 months from launch. I don’t want another press conference that includes this game till 6 months from launch. In fact, I don’t want to hear or see anything about this game until it is 6 months from launch in 2019. This game will be a shoe in for the Choo Choo award in the year that it finally releases.
Yes, the hype is out of control these days as the face of games media changes ever so quickly. I do admit that No Man’s Sky will win this award as the hype for that game was so far above and beyond what it should ever have been. However, my nomination goes to the worst marketed game of 2016. Watch Dogs 2 really tried to build it’s hype up to the levels of some of the others in this category with the amount of advertising about this game. All I could hear leading up to the release of this game was just how great an open-world it was and how much you could mess around with it. However, all the hype was about useless content like going to strip clubs, dressing your character and building up your wanted level. Things that I thought were now a long forgotten part of our history in the gaming industry.
Have you got your receipt?
I have not regretted many of my purchases this year but Street Fighter 5 was definitely one. I bought into the hype and purchased this game only to never play a second of it. I still am unsure what lead to the purchase of this game but still, to this date, I have zero interest in playing this game at all.The only other one would have to be the Skyrim remaster. I had a weak moment the other week and it was better than 50% off, so I picked it up and I will be extremely surprised if I ever play this game in the future. It also represents the 3rd time I have bought this game in it’s near 6 year existence.
Kali Ma Shakti De
There were a number of amazing indie games this year, of which I didn’t play any of them. The two that stuck out for me that I did play though were Part golf and Darkest Dungeon. Both games did something very different and that’s what made me fall in love with them. Darkest Dungeon really went all in on the stress mechanic and made you think about what you were putting your heroes through as you were grinding dungeons for loot. Party Golf made you have to sit on a couch again and play against your friends. This was a design decision that took balls but they really made it work. If you can get friends over to your house then Party Golf should be the only game you need to have fun all night long. For these bold game design decisions and how they pulled it off, I am nominating both for this category.
Final Fantasy XV had no right to be a success. They did everything, and I really mean everything wrong on the way to launch day. 10 years in the making, re-did the story, announced a date and then delayed it till after the Black Friday Sales. They have put the strangest group of people together to be the heroes and they started the game with you pushing a car up a hill. Nothing in all that above would help a game to be nominated for Game of the year, let alone even be considered a commercial success. Yet here we are, the game is released and it is a success and people are saying it is the best in the series and should be talked about for Game of the Year.
I know Rainbow Six Siege was released in 2015 but it was in December after these awards would have been done if they were last year. That is why I will defend its nomination to the hills. Once again this game had no real single player mode, released in December and suffered late delays. None of this represents any hope for a title at all. However, now we have got the game heading into the second year of content and is supported by its largest online community to date and has an ever growing presence in the Esports community. This is definitely a game that has beaten the odds to become a success.
In your Shadow
With such a huge year for gaming in 2016, there were bound to be some games that didn’t really get the headlines that they deserved. I mentioned Darkest Dungeon before how it really was a great game and when it finally released and came to PS4 and it just didn’t really get the coverage and praise that the game should have got. It was a shame as everyone should get to play it at some stage to understand how much is involved in this game.
Titanfall 2 was probably the best and most fun shooter of the year. However, what should be a contender for the “what the fuck award” EA decided to release the game a week after Battlefield 1 and a week before Call of Duty. Any person could see that this was going to hurt the game. This is a massive shame as it is now the most underrated game of the year and if it wasn’t for the crazy discount it got over the Black Friday weekend sales I would have completely missed this game. Please do yourself a favour and go and play this game however you can.
Three days after the biggest release of the year dropped (Final Fantasy XV) a little game from Ubisoft released called Steep. I have played both Beta’s and the Alpha for this game and I guarantee that it is fun. Releasing at this stage of the year really did hurt the game. No one has time in their life or cash in their wallet to get this fun game and shred down the slopes. There is just not a lot of games like this in the market at the moment and if they are not supported by sales we may never get more like it again. Look for it when you can as it will be a great game to fill in your time over the Christmas break.
It’s Free real estate
I really didn’t play a lot of free games this year but there was one that I sunk a lot of hours into and is a clear winner in my eyes. Pokemon Go is a free mobile app and I have not spent a cent on it and put so many hours into it. I won’t go into why this game was so good as I believe there is enough content out there for that. However, as a free game, it really does not force you to spend money and allows you to play the game the way you want. It is a clear winner in my eyes for the award.
An honourable mention for the category is World of Warships on the PC. I did play this for a bit when it was in open beta at the start of the year and the slow, strategic gunplay in this game is really high quality. Once again I didn’t put any money into the game and it was easy to pick up and get into. I would recommend if you like slow gameplay and more strategy in your shooters then maybe download it and give it a go.
Test of Time
In my eyes, there was only one game that had a patch drop that improved it to a point where it was substantially better than it was before the patch. The Division had a rocky year for sure and a lot of people would say that it was a big disappointment for 2016. However, Massive and Ubisoft decided to delay all content for this game and rework all the end game content to breath life back into it.
Patch 1.4 simply changed the game and how people played it. It simply made the game better then it was at launch and got the whole community back playing the game again. On the back of this, only weeks later, The expansion “survival” then changed the game even further and really delivered a game people had been wanting for so long. I urge anyone who still has the game to go give it a try as it is a whole new game.
You Keep Doin’ You
I have some favourite developers out there in the world but this year I will use this category to nominate and defend two amazing developers that released games in 2016. Massive developed The Division and I was amazed by how open the developer has been through the whole process. They hold a half hour show on twitch every week to give everyone an update on where the game is at and what is in the plans for the future.
They also made the big call to push a whole timeline of content back to fix the game. However, they did this by flying in a heap of fans of the game and gave them hands-on time with the new patch and took their feedback on board in the process of fixing the game. If other developers would take on half of what Massive have done this year then there would be a higher quality of games across the board.
This is the big one, Hello Games is considered by many the worst developer of the year. In my eyes, they are one of the best developers in the industry this year. This extremely small team not only released a game that sold many of copies and had many hours sunk into it by the majority of people. Yes it needed work and yes the start was extremely hard and yes there was no drive to keep playing the game, but this can be said about things like Battlefield 1, Overwatch and many other titles made by much larger teams.
Not only did they do this but they released a day one patch that improved the game immensely and even now they have released the first of many updates to come. Most people would have packed up and walked away after the way they were treated at launch, but they didn’t, they knuckled down and worked on pleasing everyone. I do believe they did the best with the time frame they were given and once again please remember, this team is an extremely small team and I’m amazed that we even got what we did get from them.
2017’s Game of the year
Well, I was going to go on and on for this category about how I think the new Assassins Creed game, probably set in Egypt, would be a strong chance for Game of the Year next year. Also Horizon: Zero Dawn would be right up there in the running for it too. I am looking forward to next year’s lineup of games so damn much I will be doing a preview of the year ahead over the Chrissy break for you all. Then it hit me, Red Dead Redemption 2 will be released next year and it will win Game of the Year, case closed. Thank you all for your time.