Brian’s Top 5 Video Games of 2016
If you were to tell me last year that 2016 would have provided me with some of the most fun video games I would play in a long time, I would have called you crazy. 2016 will go in the books as one of the best years in gaming for the current console generation. I am lucky enough to own both a Playstation 4 and a Xbox One, so I was able to take part in some great console exclusives. Top 10 lists are too long for me. I think I may have played a total of 10 games this year so having a top 5 means more to me. Here are my top 5 games of 2016.
5 – Gears of War 4
My main concern when they announced Gears of War 4 was it was that it was coming off the heels of one of the worst Gears of War games to be released, Gears of War Judgment. That game wasn’t a sequel per say, but if you slap the GOW name on it it should live up to it, not so with Judgment. Once I took that thought out of my mind I remembered how much I enjoyed playing Gears as a kid in college. Horde mode is one of the most revolutionary multiplatyer game modes that I will continue to find enjoyment in. I will never touch the competitive multiplayer mode, as those players are very much above my level and I don’t want to put the time in to get good at it. The new Horde mode in GOW 4 adds classes and upgrades to make it almost a separate game in itself. My one gripe with it is you don’t upgrade your player fast enough for how long a horde mode lasts. You will dump hours into Horde but you’ll barley get enough credits to buy upgrade packs. The campaign is a delight and it’s the same cheesy one liners and bad-assery that old Gears fans know and love, and make newcomers want to go back and see how the story began. If you own an Xbox, own this game.
4 – Uncharted 4
The only Playstation 4 game to make my list and it’s a no brainer. My wife and I love the Uncharted series. The story of Nathan Drake is better than most Box Office smashes and with Uncharted 4 it only gets better. They squeezed every bit of power out of the PS4. The graphics are quite literally unbelievable. Many times my wife and I stopped playing just to take in the scenery and to pinch ourselves in the realization that we were actually playing a videogame. The storytelling is top notch and the gameplay is what you would expect from the series. The only knock against it if I had to give one is the predictable ebb and flow of the story line. You can tell where the story will go but you don’t care because the writing, acting and presentation comes together so so well. If you need a reason to own a Playstation 4, here is your answer.
3 – Doom
Oh Doom, why were you so good to us? This game gets the surprise of the year award if there was one. Bethesda shocked the world when they didn’t send out copies of this game out for review ahead of its launch, spawning lots of bad speculation about the game. Then Doom punched everyone in the face. Being speechless doesn’t help me write my thoughts on Doom, but I really am speechless. I’ll get the negative out of the way, which is the multiplayer. I haven’t put enough time into it, but with the other games on my list I didn’t need another multiplayer shooter. Doom shines as bright as the fire that rages from hell with its campaign. The movement speed mixed with the takedowns and an arsenal of kickass weapons make you feel like a ballerina dancing with the devil. You will not stop moving until you complete the level, then and only then are you able to breathe and blink. The level design is both a nod to the Doom of yore and an evolution of game design that very few games have shown in the new console generation. The unsung hero in this game however is its soundtrack. I bet my most played song on Spotify in 2016 will be Rip and Tear. The music ramps up and fades out with each big battle you put yourself in. There is a moment before each time you’re about to start a hive battle that you will put the controller down, crack your knuckles then say “let’s do this”, then the music kicks on. That feeling alone wins my moment of the year. Well done Doom, you devilish bastard.
2 – Titanfall 2
I am hoping you see this game as high up on other people’s list as mine. Titanfall 2 was a game I tried not to buy. Titanfall came with my Xbox One years ago and I had a lot of fun with, but its lack of campaign made the game collect dust when I got bored with it. I figured it would be more of the same, but boy I was wrong. EA and Respawn seemed to have listened really closely to the feedback of the first game and created a Titanfall game that surpassed everyone’s expectations. For starters the game comes with a single player campaign, a great campaign. Not only does the campaign gives a little personality to the Titans themselves, but it has some really mind blowing level designs and teaches you mechanics you will use in multiplayer in a great way. The story is kind of “meh”. You can play the levels separately and not need to know where you are in the story. The reason is it is this high on my list however is the multiplayer. I am addicted to it. Besides the game on the top of the list, no other game’s multiplayer is so accessible that you can have fun even if you come in last place. What the first game’s multiplayer lacked in weapons and upgrades is a thing of the past with Titanfall 2. Not only can you level up your pilot, you level up each individual weapon and titan, allowing for a seemingly unlimited supply of unlocks. The amount of customizations you can make to your pilot means you will rarely find a pilot with the exact same load out as you. Much like Doom, Titanfall 2 has a certain symphonic flow to it that makes you feel like you are pulling off some really cool feats. Wall running, sliding, grappling, punching all feels smooth and leaves you with a fist in the air after every match, win or lose. I also give extra credit to the game for being one of those games you can pick up and play a quick match in less than 10 minutes. The only problem with that is you can never play just one match, it’s too addictive.
1 – Overwatch
This game, man. This friggin game. The 40+ hour award goes to Overwatch. I will continue to pour hours of my life into this game because it is so damn good. When the game was first announced I ignored it because it came from Blizzard, a company who I respect but I haven’t played the games they made like Starcraft and World of Warcraft. I watched a few games of it on Twitch when it was in alpha and just didn’t understand it. Then the beta came out and it had my interest. Not that I am a sore loser, but I shy away from competitive shooters and I thought this was what Overwatch was. Turns out Overwatch is more than just a shooter, it’s an all-out brawl. The variety in the characters allows anyone and I mean anyone to pick up a controller and play the game how they want. From the standard shooters like Soldier 76 and Widowmaker, to stealth guys like Hanzo or Genji there are so many ways to approach the game. I, however, have gravitated far away from the shooting in this game and have become someone who on face value will sound boring but I make the biggest impact with, and that’s the Support player Mercy. You’re probably thinking “yay….you are a medic. You must have zero fun since you aren’t attacking.” I have put 30+ hours into this one character because I haven’t had this much fun with a game in a long long time. My job as Mercy is to make sure the other five people on my team stay alive, which results in me being out of breathe and unable to blink during the entire match. The hard work I put into playing support shows in the post-game awards. At the end of every game the top players are displayed for people to give kudos to. Usually they are from the winning team, but win or lose 9 times out of 10 I show up there as being an integral part of my team. I’ve had players thank me during and after a game for keeping them alive. The positive reinforcement I’ve gotten form the game is unlike any other game. When I take a break from Mercy I usually gravitate towards Torbjorn, a cranky old guy who builds turrets and gives extra armor to teammates, or Junkrat, a joker-esque character who shoots grenades, puts out bear traps and has an exploding tire on his back. The 20+ characters each with different abilities basically makes the game infinitely repayable. I really enjoy this game and I truly think everyone can find enjoyment of this game, whether you like shooting games or not you will feel like you are a part of every match. Overwatch is my game of the year, hands down.
Honorable mention: The Division
This was another game I put at least 40 hours in this year. I had a really good time with this game, important word being “had”. The Division was a great game but once I reached the end of the story there wasn’t much else to do. I had some great times battling through the post-apocalyptic cold and snowy NYC with friends, but the game didn’t offer much in the way of replayability. Recently they have released some addons that I haven’t tried. Maybe when I stop playing the games form my top five I will check it out. I still highly recommended this game if you can find it for a good price. it had an ok story with some really cool battles. Also “The Dark Zone”, such a cool idea.
Disappointments of 2016
Far Cry Primal and No Man’s Sky
I can’t remember a time when I bought a game and returned it in the same week. I did that twice this year. Far Cry 4 was one of my favorite games from 2014 so I didn’t think a new Far Cry could be bad, well this one was to me. Far Cry Primal was too basic for me (hence why they call it primal). Not having any weapons other than a spear and a bow and arrow deflated my interest after a few hours with this game. I know people who really like this game, but this one was traded in quickly.
I fell for the No Man’s Sky hype and I told my self time and time again I shouldn’t. After landing on a couple planets in No Man’s Sky I felt bored with everything. The concept of being able to find a unique planet and name it before anyone else in the world is great, but that buzz wore off quick. As far as space games go I was hoping it would b a more user friendly Elite Dangerous, a game I could pour hours in but it’s so complex. No Man’s Sky wasn’t for me and if you pay attention to gaming reviews, it wasn’t received well. A patch was just release for it that will hopefully help new players out, but for those who got the game when it came out they probably already played as much as they could handle and have moved on.
So that’s it. Hopefully you find something on this list that you think you would enjoy. It was a great year for games, but a really great year for shooters. There was a lot of great story writing this year as well. There are other games I wish I spent more time with that could’ve possibly made this list but for now these five games are world class in my eyes.