Choosing a GOTY has become more difficult each year, not because there are a lack of contenders – in fact quite the opposite – but because there are too many good games releasing each calendar year. The problem is that the big AAA releases seem to gravitate towards the same release windows (May, Sept-Nov) and make it virtually impossible to play every single one unless your sole job is to play video games, which unfortunately is not me (man’s gotta put food on the table). This means that some of this year’s bigger and better titles may be absent from my list because I simply (much to my shame) have not played them. These include titles such as Doom (I’m currently playing it), Dishonored 2 and Titanfall 2. However, I believe that I have played enough games to flesh out a top 3 list, which is probably going to raise a few eyebrows, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
3 – Firewatch: When Campo Santo released their debut title back in February of this year I don’t think anyone could have anticipated both the popularity and success (nominated for 5 Game of the Year awards) that the title would achieve. Prior to the game’s release many were dubbing the title as ‘just another walking simulator’, and while this is true in some respects, the game’s exceptional writing, voice-acting, art style and ability to elicit an emotional investment to the lead character’s plight outweighed the lack of traditional gameplay (i.e. doing stuff). An essential playthrough if you’re into story-driven slowburners. DYEGB rating: 8
2 – Watch Dogs 2: We all know about the much-maligned Watch Dogs, the game whose pre-game hype effectively made it impossible for it to live up to gamers’ lofty expectations, which is no fault of the gamers as Ubisoft cashed in on every bit of hype it could. Watch Dogs 2 improves on everything that the predecessor did right and wrong. One of its greatest successes was introducing a much more interesting protagonist in the form of Marcus Holloway. He’s got personality and is generally a well-written character – if at times cliche and cringeworthy – and it all plays into the less serious vibe that Ubisoft have depicted, which thanks to the game’s San Francisco setting is done very well. Further aiding the enjoyment is the game’s mission design, which in most cases gives the player the option of either a stealth approach or going in all guns blazing. Overall Watch Dogs 2 is a just a genuinely fun game to play, which at the end of the day is why we all play games, to have fun. DYEGB rating: 8.5
1 – Quantum Break: Let’s be honest here, some of you will scoff and scowl at this being my number one pick, after all Remedy’s time-bending TV show-video game hybrid is possibly one of the most polarising titles of 2016. It’s quite literally a title that you love or hate. Now (obviously) for some reason I Ioved it; the whole TV show mixed with a video game that varied depending on the choices you made really resonated with me. I love new IPs or when devs try new things instead of recycling the same ideas each iteration, which is a common occurrence in the industry today and I bought everything Remedy were selling. For me Quantum Break had an excellent story – one that I was genuinely invested in, had excellent voice-acting (I was sceptical when they announced Shawn Ashmore as Jack Joyce but I was impressed with his performance) and I thought the gameplay, although slightly repetitious, was highly enjoyable and fulfilling. DYEGB rating: 9.5
This year we have seen a myriad of solid releases. We’ve even seen two games release which were believed to be myths, Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian. For me, the year really kicked in with Dark Souls 3 back in April, though an honorable mention goes to Ska Studios’ Salt & Sanctuary which was essentially a 2D Dark Souls. I have certainly managed to achieve the title of hating most AAA games, so this is a rather tricky category for me. Well…here goes.
3 – Gears of War 4: In the previous generation, Gears of War 2 was one of my favourite games. I used to spend hours playing horde with my friends using splitscreen (a feature which is becoming increasingly uncommon in this generation). With this in mind, of course I was going to be excited for Gears of War 4, but it also came out while I was on holidays in South America, so I had to watch people enjoy it while I was off catching Zika virus. But I digress, Gears 4 definitely didn’t have the strongest story, but it wasn’t a bad story either. It didn’t try to be something it wasn’t and felt very familiar to returning fans of the series. I know Kieran (who reviewed the game for DYEGB) had a few gripes with it, but I feel they definitely bothered him a lot more than they bothered me. Having horde mode again, but this time more fleshed out, with splitscreen was a massive selling point for me as I love sitting down with someone and playing the game with them, like the good old days. DYEGB rating: 8
2 – DOOM: This year has seen a lot of solid first-person shooters, but DOOM just stands out compared to all of them. We haven’t seen a Doom game since 2005 with Doom 3 Resurrection of Evil, so of course a new iteration would’ve been welcomed. What we got was spectacular. DOOM was a cut above the rest with its breakneck pace, outrageous violence and gore, superb soundtrack and gratifying glory kills. The game knew exactly what it was right from the get-go and never strayed from that path. May was definitely the month of Fighting Like Hell. I would highly recommend this title as it is a superb, mindless shooter that as reviewer Kieran aptly described as ‘not just violent, but a celebration of violence’. DYEGB rating: 9.2
1 – The Last Guardian: This is a game that has seen a rather… prolonged development cycle. After delay after delay, we finally got our grubby mitts on Fumito Ueda’s latest work since Shadow of the Colossus. The Last Guardian had great visuals, albeit with some poor optimisation on the regular PS4. It definitely was not without its faults. However, with the way the game is designed, it takes you back to the golden age of gaming where you had to figure things out yourself and only received subtle hints if you were stuck for too long. The isolated design of the game meant that the boy and Trico really were paramount and their bond was the true point of the game. I haven’t enjoyed a game so much since Bloodborne. Well done Fumito Ueda and everyone else at genDESIGN for creating such a beautiful game. DYEGB rating: 9
It has certainly been another good year for gamers everywhere in 2016 with a huge range of genres getting some very worthy new titles to add to the collection. As a gamer, I have certainly toned down a little with how much varied content I have been playing however and stuck mostly to my (new) one true love which you can read about below at the very well deserved number one spot…
3 – Ratchet & Clank: A beautiful, thrilling and fun-filled reboot that was not only on par with the original PS2 classics but actually better in a lot of ways. It took what made the classic 3D platforming so memorable back in the day and amped it up with juicy gunplay, great characters and some of the sexiest graphics to grace the PS4 to date. Some minor quibbles aside (end-game was a bit stale and the story was woefully short), it still did just about everything right in delivering a damn fun video game. DYEGB rating: 9.8
2 – HITMAN: Agent 47 has forever held a place in my cold, dead heart. The reboot/sequel took the best ideas from Blood Money (Still the best Hitman game to date) and added splashes of story and those newer themes present in Absolution to create a hybrid open-world Hitman experience with hundreds of cool ways to do pull off that perfect kill. While it isn’t perfect, it was certainly a game with hours of stuff to do post-release and brought back that classic Hitman feel fans had been longing for. I really enjoyed the more fleshed-out darker story surrounding Absolution and was hoping the new title would follow this new style of Hitman experience, but alas we really only got a very, very brief story experience with the 2016 outing. This all comes down to personal preference however because as a game – HITMAN 2016 rocks.
1 – Overwatch: What do I really need to say that hasn’t been said already?
Blizzard’s latest IP blew everything out of the water this year during awards season and captured the hearts of millions. It is one of the greatest multiplayer shooters to be released in years and 2016 was only the beginning of what we can expect for the title, with things like the Overwatch League launching in 2017 that will see fully fledged Esports teams being trained and paid for the big time. Also seeing the crowd reaction at Blizzcon during the Sombra reveal was quite simply, magical. DYEGB rating: 9.7
I felt like I got back into good form in 2016 – I had felt gaming take a back seat in many ways in 2015, thanks to big ‘real life’ developments and other such garbage like that. A great many narrative-driven experiences surprised me this year, as well as a few massive industry flops that I hope will serve to shape some expectations in 2017. Remember kids, if a game is a colossal failure, something positive CAN come from it if lessons are identified and learned from!
My main spot will likely come at no surprise to anyone, but I was happy to see that my main nominations really were games that took me by surprise. It’s easy enough to become jaded in the realm of gaming – if only because the industry lends itself so well to repetition and uninspired copy-catting for little benefit. 2016 hit me with a couple of really fresh concepts and stoked a fire of excitement for 2017. So let’s see what we have going for us…
3 – Steep: A positive sleeper hit for me. This game came from nowhere, impressed me, then didn’t stop delivering. It has been an age since I had encountered a game that is so genuinely rewarding to simply…stuff around in. I can play for an hour, achieve nothing and STILL come out the other side having enjoyed myself. Keep shredding that powder Steep. I am excited to see the content Ubisoft Annecy has in store for you in 2017, especially when I saw the word ‘free’ used in conjunction with some of their release plans. DYEGB rating: 8.5
2 – Dishonored 2: A game series I all but missed in its original release had me scrambling to fill in the blanks after only a few minutes on the streets of Dunwall. The sequel captured me, engrossed me, and had me hungry for more in moments. I am a vehement hater of stealth mechanics in games, and finally I found one that distilled the ‘stealth’ experience to its most rewarding components and let me thrive. Couple this with the living world of Karnaca, villains that beg for you to put them in their place and powers that serve as tools to shape your gameplay experience in bold and exciting ways and I just can’t recommend Dishonored 2 enough. DYEGB rating: 9.5
1 – Overwatch: No brainer. Overwatch came at a time where a void in the online multiplayer experience was starting to become more and more apparent. Games like League of Legends had whet the appetite of many towards character and ability-driven combat, but shooters like CS:GO and all the war-likes you can imagine (Battlefield, Call of Duty, blah blah) had birthed an extreme selection of keen trigger fingers. Add to this the old guard of Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament gamers, and you have a community of people desperately seeking a new battleground to hone their skills. Enter Overwatch, a divine shooter and activated-ability driven experience, polished to a brilliant shine in a way that only Blizzard truly can. What followed was a community that has every bit of passion a game needs to conquer and continue to grow, well beyond 2016. I can think of no more deserving title. DYEGB rating: 9.7
Careful, I’m about to become a wet blanket. If I’m honest I saw too many games this year that had a massive amount of hype surrounding them that turned out to be (in my opinion) less than incredible. Don’t get me wrong, many games were amazing and I certainly appreciated every one I played at least to a minor extent, but I’m thinking I’ll hold out until next year to moisten the nethers to the same magnitude as the games that 2015 had to offer.
2 – Overwatch: My picks for the best games of 2016 will be pretty predictable, but we will start off with Overwatch. What can I say? It’s a well formatted game with lovely aesthetics and massive replay value. DYEGB rating: 9.7
1 – Battlefield 1: Again, I don’t feel like I need to explain my logic here, Battlefield 1 is an amazing game. I’ve racked up many hours on it on multiple platforms and an easy conclusion is to simply say that the game is worth its weight in gold. Fun, pretty, lots of replay value and a top-notch story makes a darn good game, the best of 2016 in my opinion. DYEGB rating: 8
2016, huh? What a year. Ebola vaccines for good, lots of famous people dying for bad. Video games seemed unaffected by the slew of bad news the year had to offer (with a few very notable exceptions), churning out great game after great game! Let’s have ourselves a good ol’ retrospective, shall we?
3 – DOOM: “Ahhh! Chainsaw! The great communicator! Allow me to communicate to you my desire to have your guns!”
First impressions of this game back at E3 2015 were lukewarm at best, much like Wolfenstein’s reboot. But much like Wolfenstein being a very pleasant surprise, DOOM was a violent, fast, heart-pounding masterstroke of old-school shooter design. Its multiplayer ended up being less than stellar, but DOOM’s single-player catapulted itself beyond the expectations of just about everybody. Let’s hope that the inevitable sequel follows up with even more blood and guts. Rip and tear! DYEGB rating: 9.2
2 – XCOM 2: If there’s one success story from the shitshow trend that was procedurally-generated games, it’s XCOM 2, with each level providing a different series of covers and enemies, but still providing the same aesthetic style. Rock-solid combat that only XCOM (or X-COM for you purists) can provide complimented by a unique map each time provided some of the most nail-bitingly tense gaming hours of the year. The story could definitely have used more work, but the absolutely stellar gameplay and above-and-beyond mod support made XCOM 2 a game worth playing beyond 2016. DYEGB rating: 8.5
1– Overwatch: Back in my Team Fortress 2 days, I was a fuckin’ machine. I clocked nearly 3000 hours in that madhouse over the course of six years, and countless more in the painfully vanilla Xbox 360 version. Over the years, many games came boasting that they would be the ‘TF2 killer’. Each and every one of them fell behind and eventually died. TF2 remained the premier arena shooter for nearly a decade, but something was missing. The competitive scene for the game had always existed and enjoyed varying degrees of prosperity, but always felt empty. Little to no official support from Valve relegated it to something like underground dogfighting. Then along came Blizzard with a brand new game! And it was an arena shooter (sort of), just like TF2! Better yet, it was similar to TF2!
…it was really similar.
When I first heard of Overwatch, my reactions were thus: “why is this just Team Fortress 2”, “why can’t I just milk my cat” and “this game doesn’t look very good”. But, as if by an act of God, She arrived. Her wings carrying her goddess frame across the battlefield as she healed her teammates just like I had done for over 900 Medic hours in TF2. Her bright but still slightly stern Swiss voice making my…knees shake. Her perfect face and precious smile illuminating my mind. Her delicate yet firm attitude, the way she moved, the way she carried her staff, and the fucking skins that made me sweat uncontrollably. Her name was Mercy, and Blizzard had specifically crafted this woman to be my wife. If any of said developer’s employees are reading this, I need to come to your house and cook you dinner as a sign of gratitude. Hey, nothing’s free.
Oh yeah, and the game’s pretty good too. DYEGB rating: 9.7
Agree or disagree with any of our selections? Let us know in the comments below.