It has been a good year and a great year for games. There were a shit load of games released this year. Look no further than Steam for evidence of that. Just under 40% of all the games that have ever been released on the platform came out this year according to Steamspy. Steam have been pretty heavily scrutinised for their release strategy and not without reason. I would happily bet that a lot of what was actually put up for sale is shovelware at best. But that’s not what we’re here for.
Here at UltraSuperMega we’ve decided to make up a fun list of awards to bestow on the worthy. Let’s take a look at some of the high points instead of dwelling on the negative. (I point out some negatives anyway because I’m just that kind of guy.)
What the Fuck? – Biggest WTF moment of the year.
Konami had a real pearler this year. Pretty much everything they did made most people scratch their heads at best. Metal Gear Survive, the Metal Gear Solid 3 Pachinko machine, banning Kojima from the awards ceremony he was nominated for, the list goes on. But all of that still pales in comparison to Randy Pitchford having an episode on stage when dicks and strippers were brought up during a re-release announcement of Duke Nukem 3D (a really fucking poor re-release I might add) and singing a little song for “his” “fans”.
Enjoy. Or don’t.
Just Stop. – A trend in gaming or series in gaming you wish would stop.
Bethesda. They weren’t really a nomination because no one would let me but ironically, the first 5 things we had in our list sum them up perfectly! Skyrim (I didn’t put that there), Remasters (not me), Releasing Broken Ass Games (not me but I supported the motion wholeheartedly), Large Day 1 Patches (also not me but seconded), Re-releasing the same content as a new game (see above). All of these things perfectly encapsulate what’s wrong with Bethesda. But we had to narrow it down so I went with releasing broken ass games as my number one. I dare you to google Fallout or Skyrim bugs and tell me I’m wrong about them and their quality control though. id and any other dev owned by Bethesda don’t count because they’re still smart enough and independent enough to use their own engines.
Choo Choo!– Hype Train Award
We had to pick a game out of all of the crazy hype generators this year. It was tough, there was 2 games with 10 year development cycles that have finally seen the light of day and marketing juggernauts that just don’t know how to quit. Somehow, a little indy dev got picked up by Sony with their seemingly “amazing” game with “limitless potential”. If you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about No Man’s Sky.
To be fair, Sean Murray shouldn’t have been foisted in front of a camera after the first few times because it should have been clear to anyone that a team of only 10 or so devs simply can’t use procedural generation to make a game worth playing. I mean sure you can make a “universe” but what are you going to have in it? Are you able to procedurally generate good gameplay as well? I guess not…
Have You Got Your Receipt? Award – Most disappointing Experience of 2016.
Shame on me. My nostalgia muscles flexed and I reflexively threw money at my screen. It was sucked up into the Kickstarter campaign for Mighty No. 9. The rest is history.
Kali Ma Shakti De Award – Best Indy game of 2016.
I’m going to cheat a little here when discussing my pick for best indy title. I’ve just finished up a review for my nomination so I’ll just point you to that to cover it while I spend some time to go over the rest of the items on my list.
Deadbolt was my second choice. Similar in spirit to Brigador, big on aesthetic, soundtrack and gameplay, but thin on coverage it seems. Grim Dawn a close third. There’s nothing like a good dungeon crawler and the guys at Crate Gaming have done themselves proud. I backed the Kickstarter and have been pleasantly surprised with every piece of news. The stream of content related to it still has long legs yet so keep an eye out.
John McClane Award – Against all odds.
My selections for this category made it in for totally different reasons. DOOM was on my shit list during its promotional stage. The multiplayer beta sucked, the people who were given demos of it sucked harder and there were no review copies of the game released. All of this seemed like bad news to me. Lo and behold, we got a good shooter. Hell, a great shooter.
Dota 2 added in the last legacy hero. I had a feeling Valve were working on some sort of mathematical scale where they would get ever closer to the end point but never actually cross it. Something like an asymptote, the last legacy hero would be so close to release but they’d be constantly buffing pixels on its ass and holding it back due to some inane bullshit but here we are with all of the old guard and a new hero on top of that. I’m impressed to say the least.
Finally, I suggested maybe we talk about the solidification of a little piece of vapourware called The Last Guardian. Who would have thought that the running joke of E3’s for the last 5 or so years would actually see the light of day.
In Your Shadow Award – Most Underrated release of 2016.
I get why the other guys voted for what they did but their choice still made millions. The guys who made Brigador have considered closing up shop. I hope they get a chance to see at a second title released under their banner because I can guarantee at least one purchase.
Test of Time – New life breathed into an older game with patches/content or one that you just can’t let go of.
This category had the most entries and I nominated about half of them. As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, this was a great year for games and not just the release of new titles. So many old gems were revived and re-shined in ways I never imagined.
Dota 2 saw the biggest changes it has ever seen over the course of the year culminating in the release of version 7.00. Grand Theft Auto’s online mode has been given so many additions that it’s easy to forget that they’ve totally neglected the extra heists they were supposed to add to the single player mode. Who can blame them when they’re making so much money from shark cards, I guess. Terraria STILL isn’t dead. Minecraft has seen another major patch and a good one since being acquired by Microsoft which calmed many doubters I would think. The Binding of Isaac is poised to receive another big patch in the very first days of the new year.
Other than just balance patches and incremental content updates we saw remakes, re-releases and modernisations that are actually totally welcomed in my opinion. Battlezone was given a refresh that catapulted it into modernity with widescreen support and higher quality lighting and textues, being re-relased as Battlezone 98 Redux. Titan Quest got its own Anniversary Edition which was handed out to owners of the game and has been consistently patched since its relaunch, addressing drop rates and item inadequacies as well as bugs. Dragons Dogma: Dark Arisen was thrust onto the PC with 4K support and silky smooth framerates which were sorely missing on the original console version. Perhaps it should have skipped last gen and been held onto until this gen’s consoles were out (or just been developed with PC in mind in the first place.)
The winner in my eyes, after all said and done, was a game that comes from across the Tasman Sea. Path of Exile is an ARPG that has some features I always wished for in Diablo 2 as a kid, customisable skills and huge character trees on top of interesting (though at times useless) gear. The content that’s pushed out every 3 months or so is of an ever increasing quality and the Breach update is no exception. I’m looking forward to a list of changes almost as long as Dota 2’s in the new year however as Grinding Gear Games gear up to release their own penultimate version, 3.0.
You Keep Doin’ You – Developer of the Year.
We ummed and ahhed over this one for a bit but tightened the rules up enough to get some sensible answers. I put Grinding Gear Games down thanks to their continued effort on Path of Exile, even if they are a little tonedeaf at times. I couldn’t help but nominate id who still manage to blast out solid shooters in spite of being intrinsically linked with Bethesda and threw CD Project Red a bone because I want the same level of effort they put into the Witcher series to continue as they shift over to Cyberpunk 2077, a setting which to me is sorely underrepresented in the video game world.
2017’s Game of the Year – We predict 2017’s game of the year based on information we have now.
I try not to buy into hype. I just can’t see the benefit of letting it get to me. If I expect nothing then I’m rarely disappointed. That didn’t stop anyone from putting in games which already have me wary but I couldn’t put anything forward to topple their suggestions so the list stayed as they put forward. There isn’t any firm evidence that a new Armoured Core game is coming but if it did, it’s likely I’d pick it as my GOTY. It’s a series From Software are willing to experiment with as evident in the drastic changes between 3, 4 and 5 in the series.
I do hope that the Kickstarter I put in for put up by the original devs of Descent can see its completion in the new year though. A different type of robot shooting but an entirely worthy one if the gameplay teaser released alongside the campaign is anything to go by.
Game of the Year – Best Game Released in 2016.
Our rules kind of broke down at the end of our session but I think it’s good that we have a clear winner in this category even if I don’t have any interest in it. I picked Brigador, but considering the fact that no one but me played it, no one but me supported the motion. C’est la vie. It still stands out to me as a project undertaken with the utmost passion and clarity of vision that yielded impeccable results. Mat would likely say the same thing about Uncharted 4 and who am I to deny him. I’ll likely never enjoy it because I don’t really have time for movies with so many good games getting around.