So I kinda lied about my article series. The problem with my honorable mentions is that three of them are mods. Which goes against my “Must be full games or DLC” rule. For arguments sake, here are the three mods in question:
- Third Age: Total War, Divide and Conquer
- Warhammer: Beginning of the End Times
So instead, this will be just going straight into the Top 10 games on my list for 2016. Some might surprise you. But before I go into my list, I’m happy to share a couple of plans for 2017 on the blog. I will be going through a Nostalgia trip in looking back at the games I played as a kid, measuring them up to what they are like today in modern systems (I’ve already installed them all, with varying levels of stability. Later Windows systems really mess with some games I loved…sadface.)
This list was pretty hard to narrow down to just ten, and even harder to rank them. Some are so close they can virtually be called a tie. Now, these are the rules, just in case peeps don’t know them;
- This is my own personal list. Everyone has their own preference.
- It has to be games I’ve physically played. This is why stuff like Dishonored 2, Call of Duty 1512, Assassins Creed the 92nd, Homefront Revolution amongst other stuff isn’t in my gaming lists this year. If I haven’t played it, I’m in no position to talk about it! This is a shame, because I feel Overwatch and Final Fantasy would be rather high on my list otherwise.
- My criteria is how much I ENJOYED playing the game, not graphics or other professional opinions etc etc. Enjoyment is what matters ultimately. Of course, that kind of stuff like graphics/gameplay etc will always have some influence.
Number 10: Doom
I don’t play FPS’s much as a whole. Call it a drain on my soul from watching how mindless masses go towards Call of Duty. (Not an attack on the series nor those who play it of course. But come on, it’s virtually the same game every year. Beggar’s cannot be choosers though, and people are free to play what they want. I don’t judge them. Unless it’s Rome II. In which case I cannot fathom why you would be mad enough xD)
There are games of the FPS genre which I have enjoyed however. Far Cry series and Fallout 4, Borderlands II and Bioshock Infinite were among those I did enjoy playing, and yes, Fallout 4 is an open world FPS with minor RPG elements. I’m counting it. However, the first one I ever played was Doom, back in the 2000/2001 period when I was in primary school, hammering through Pokemon Red and gathering a reputation in the school as someone unlikely to lose in Link Cable battles. (The glory days!) Doom was a game I enjoyed, but wasn’t really very good at. As I moved onto RPG and strategy games, Doom and most FPS’s were left in the water, and I didn’t play any of the old Doom-esque games at all.) Then Id/Bethesda released Doom this year, and I decided to give the game a shot.
I was pleasantly surprised. New Doom has exactly the same feel as the old one. It’s a fluid, violent and fast-paced FPS, which is what a shooter should be all about. I found it refreshing for a good while, longer than the majority of shooters (Fallout 4 being the exception, although as it’s a massive game, it shouldn’t really count in my tally here). Runs pretty well as well on most systems, and it’s clearly well-made with few major flaws. The campaign was what I always go for, because I never really play multiplayer. While it got a little bit dull towards the end (repetitive), there were enough secrets and little tid-bits hidden throughout for me to play some levels again. Overall, a pleasant experience, and deserved to get the number 10 spot. Unlike Stellaris, this wasn’t a grind to play at all.
Number 9: Firewatch
One of my surprise stories this year, I had a lot of fun playing this game. It came out rather early in 2016, and I rapidly found myself drawn to the world. It’s a lonely experience, serving as a very personal story from start to finish.
If I could compare this game to another, I’d say it’s like Telltale games. If they were good. Yeah, I said it first. Most were terrible, I’m sorry. And there’s no quick-time events. Thank god, they are a hellish game mechanic. You don’t really do all that much in Firewatch, to be honest. You follow the story, explore the rather beautiful ingame world, climb towers and talk to people over the radio. The world is simple, but rather nice looking, and I truly loved just exploring the world. This is even better now they added a Free Roam option upon completing the main story. There’s no handholding, no map or UI to tell you what’s happening. All you have is a map and compass, and it’ was a lovely change.
It’s not even a survival game, just a powerful story-driven experience. Good, because there are an over-saturation of survival/sandbox games. Most of which are shite. This game shouldn’t work because there really isn’t much to do, but it does. It’s a catharsis to delve into the world and amble around the landscape, and while the world isn’t huge, it’s not small either. It’s just right, and the voice acting is the game’s biggest strength.
However, the story is extremely short. It’s no more than 4-5 hours from start to finish. The Free-roam option is a god-send, because now I can go back to this enjoyable amble of a video game and explore the world properly.
Number 8: Watchdogs 2
Yeah. I’m as shocked as others. The original Watchdogs got a rocky launch and had been vastly dumbed down as opposed to earlier trailers back in 2014 (Ubisoft had a very depressing year in 2014). Ring a bell? (Glares round at Spore and No Man’s Sky, shuffling around my feet. Sorry guys. Spore is actually still a very decent game, despite how disappointing it was.) So much so that when the second got announced, I immediately just went “meh” at it, and refused to play it. However, Ubi have done rather well this year with some decent titles in Primal, Siege and the Division, so I felt as though I should give the game a chance.
I went into W2 without real expectations, and found myself impressed. It is a much better game than the original, and the cast is overall likable as well as the protagonist whom you play. Now, I don’t really have too much to say on W2, not as much as my other picks, just me being impressed with the game. It tries very hard for you to like it, almost as a belated apology for the appalling mess that was the original game. Now, it takes itself a bit too seriously, that’s for certain. The world while rather beautiful and sprawling at times comes with a fair few performance issues (while the game is far better than past Ubisoft games from performance, it’s still not amazing) It’s a very weird game which has a lot of very high positives, as well as some huge negatives. It almost reminds me a lot like the Phantom Pain of MGSV, actually. A good-ish game marred by serious issues. The missions get a bit repetitive and the game isn’t exactly difficult, the checkpoint system is terrible. How bad? It’s GTA IV bad. It’s a little unforgiving making one mistake and having to go right back to the beginning of the mission. Oh, and the AI sucks.
Sounds like pretty big flaws, right? Than why have I ranked Watchdogs 2 so highly? Because it was just so enjoyable. I had a lot of fun playing the game from start to finish, and the co-op system is excellent. Coming from somebody who hates multi-player, I came to like it quite a lot. The main character’s psyche is a bit off though. Somebody so hip murdering countless dudes GTA style? Come on. In the end, I felt the same about this game as MGSV. Deeply flawed, but very enjoyable. Of course, Metal Gear had much better game play, which is why it ranked No.3 on my 2015 list.
Number 7: Dragons Dogma: Dark Arisen
I love RPGs. Alongside Strategy and Simulation, they are my go-to when I play a game. So much so that 40% of the games installed on my computer are RPGs. Now, because many RPGs are rather sprawling masterpieces with a huge game-time, I don’t play my games as much as I’d like, because I’m so invested into one or the other. So this game coming out April 2016 came out as a surprise. I never looked into Dragon’s Dogma as a whole, but was convinced to give it a shot by a few friends. Now, this isn’t really a review as I’m yet to complete the game, it’s more an in-progress thoughts on it. But so far, I’m rather enjoying it, and it’s different
RPGs tend to have three main elements to it: The world, the story and combat. Very few, if any RPGs nail all three. Witcher 3 nailed the world and story, but combat and movement was janky at best, frustrating at worst. Skyrim was just a giant, ocean wide but skin-deep sandbox, big and packed of content but with the immersion of a tapdancing satsuma, Morrowind nailed world and story but it’s combat was terrible, the list goes on.
On the face of it, DDDA fails as an RPG. I found it a very strange experiment to the world of gaming, to be honest. It’s a game which lacks polish, especially in the visuals. The save-game automation was a little bit janky and keeps throwing me off, and so far the story and quests aren’t very inspiring. However, this game nails the combat system. It’s very customizable, fluid and it’s not janky at all like Witcher. It’s difficult to play, but not Darksouls difficult, and it’s rather rewarding. The world isn’t exactly as nice as Witcher (lets face it, no RPG has a world like Witcher 3), but it’s still rather nice and absorbing to get stuck into, and it looks pretty nice with the lack of polish. While I’m not too invested in the quests so far, I am invested in the gameplay, and I’ll keep playing through to the end. The AI recruitment pawn system was really cool as well, much better than follower systems of other games.
A flawed, but riveting experience for me so far, and I’ve liked it, which is why it gets my no.7 spot.
Number 6: Parkitect
The only Early Access vote on my list, Parkitect has led the way in a revival of the theme park builder dominated by the excellent Rollercoaster Tycoon trilogy from the 2000s. Parkitect is really a new-age nod to RCT1 and 2, and while it’s in Early Access, it’d be a little unfair for me to review it fully until it’s released in it’s final form. However, this is a game I have been enjoying a lot, and it’s only in Alpha so far!
It’s a 2d perspective much like the old RCT titles, unlike it’s competitors Planet Coaster and *vomits into a bucket* RCT World. Which is shit. Moving on.
There is a lot of charm to this builder, and even in it’s early release build, there’s rather a lot of content to get stuck into. Now, polish will always be an issue (The performance is particularly lacking in a large park, for instance, and the UI is pretty bad), but while it’s still in alpha/beta, this is something I’m willing to overlook. It’s a game which really builds on the retro theme of the original theme park builders, and I look forward to see what else they can do down the line.
That’s Part 1 of my Top 10 list, and the pre-ultimate part of my Gaming series for the end of year Roundup. Join me next week for the finale, where I go into my Top 5!