Pull 2016 out of the oven, 'cause it is done. Maybe you're breathing a sigh of relief. Maybe you're not. 2016 has been … well, let's just say it's been intense for a lot of people, for a variety of reasons.
The year certainly hasn't been boring, which brings us to our question this week: How would you rate 2016 strictly in terms of the quality of games released from January through December? Has it been a good year for you? Did you have a hard time finding enjoyable titles? Talk to us!
2016 was a good year for games, but maybe not by the standard gamer rubrick. Lots of quirky, niche, offbeat titles to be found, but the big-budget space felt hollow. Strangely so; at this point in the console cycle, devs should be firing on all cylinders. I wonder if the added burden of incremental upgrades and VR platforms took a bite out of resources? Or maybe it's just that the growing costs of working in gaming's upper percentiles pushed most of the intriguing games to 2017...
In any case, fans of role-playing games, portable systems, mobile games, and Steam indies had plenty to enjoy this year. And, heck, 2016 actually did give us the eternally vaporous Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian — no small feat. Anyone looking for cutting-edge concepts to push the medium's mainstream to the next level, however, was bound to have been disappointed by 2016. But assuming we don't all die in nuclear fire on Jan. 21, there's plenty to look forward to next year!
Was 2016 a good year for games? Yeah. I think so. Was it a great year? Almost, nearly, but not quite. Bottom line, I think that most years feature a number of truly classic releases that go down in the annals of gaming history, and 2016 is no exception. It's just that we didn't see that many of them over the last twelve months.
As is almost always the case these days, there were plenty of sequels and remakes that were lauded by critics and fans alike. I certainly enjoyed playing the likes of Titanfall 2, Doom, and Ratchet and Clank, but it's not like they necessarily pushed gaming forward per se. They're just really solid releases that provided many hours of quality entertainment. Perhaps the one exception for me was Forza Horizon 3, which is just so comprehensively brilliant that it might very well become one of the classics of this generation - at least, for racing fans.
Other standout titles? I think Overwatch might also be retrospectively viewed as one of this era's greats. It's an FPS, sure, but it came as a real breath of fresh air for the genre thanks to its incredible roster of unique characters, and dynamic, team-oriented gameplay. The Last Guardian is also a wonderful title that I believe will long stick in the minds of those who played it. But for me, the real standout gaming experience of the year was Playdead's Inside. Despite it being fairly short, I found the disturbing, dystopian platform-puzzle-adventure a truly compelling experience that kept me absolutely riveted to my screen from start to finish - and I thought about it for weeks after completing it. No other game has had that kind of impact on me so far this generation.
Ultimately, I think 2016 delivered enough good stuff to please most gamers, from fans of small indie releases to those who love the biggest blockbusters. It just wasn't a really pivotal year for gaming. Maybe that'll be where 2017 comes in?
There's enough depth and breadth in the gaming market that I find it's easy to say yes. Depending on where your preferences lie, I think there were enough offerings that "good" or "great" weren't enough to stand out. This is the year that the long-lost souls of development, The Last Guardian and Final Fantasy XV, finally released. This is a year with Forza Horizon 3, one of the best racing games ever. It's the year with Overwatch, a worthy rejiggering of the formula that led to Team Fortress 2's success.
Doom and Hitman came out of nowhere and surprised everyone by not only being good, but being goddamn great. Titanfall 2 likewise showed us the folks at Respawn Entertainment can craft a single-player campaign that stand up against the all-time greats. Mafia III stumbled, but the tale of Lincoln Clay was damned enjoyable. I keep banging on this year with Shadow Warrior 2, XCOM 2, Civilization VI, Dying Light, World of Warcraft: Legion, and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Do your feelings lie on the Japanese side of the pond? Fire Emblem Fates, Tokyo Mirage Sessions, Pokemon Sun/Moon, Dark Souls III, Trails of Cold Steel II, Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, Zero Time Dilemma, and Dragon Quest Builders all offer a warm welcome.
Perhaps you wanted some quirky, smaller titles? Thumper, Punch Club, Oxenfree, Darkest Dungeon, The Witness, Superhot, Stardew Valley, Necropolis, Hyper Light Drifter, Offworld Trading Company, Dead by Daylight, RimWorld, Inside, Firewatch, Atlas Reactor, and Through the Woods. That's just the stuff I can think off.
There's always innovation, fun, and excitement out there. You may not have time to look for it and it's a crowded world out there, but there's always something to play. I'm currently jamming with Let it Die and Astroneer, two great games that I'm flip-flopping between. Gaming always delivers, folks.
I've been back and forth on this question. On the one hand, I don't think anything on the level of Witcher 3, Rocket League, or even Metal Gear Solid V came out this year. A lot of this year's top games—Last Guardian, Dishonored 2, Battlefield 1—were in that A- or B+ tier where they're very good but not necessarily classics (some may disagree on Last Guardian). This year's best game, in my opinion, was a multiplayer shooter without any kind of single-player campaign. It will be an amazing platform for a long time to come, but it's hard to put it in the same category as a traditional game like Witcher 3.
On the flipside, this year really hit on a nice range high-quality games. It was a banner year for shooters, strategy games, and Japanese RPGs, and games large (DOOM) and small (Stardew Valley) managed to be unexpected hits. Pokémon was great. No, it was not the Year of VR as some supposed, but it did manage to establish a little bit of a foundation with hardcore enthusiasts and early adopters. So in that sense, it was definitely a "good year."
With that said, I think next year has a chance to be much better. Persona 5, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Nintendo Switch, Dragon Quest XI, and Mass Effect Andromeda all have me way more excited than anything that came out this year. But that's how it always is with the hype cycle: next year always looks amazing until stuff starts getting delayed.
I guess we'll see, won't we? In meantime, I've still got plenty of strong games in my backlog.
Many aspects of 2016 sucked monkeys, but I have no problem with the scope and quality of the games we saw this year. I was never hurting for great gaming experiences, and RPGs in particular really cleaned up across the months. I mean, Dragon Quest VII and Dragon Quest Builders were both wonderful, Pokemon Sun and Moon are my favorite Pokemon titles since the original Red and Blue, Pocket Card Jockey proved weird but highly addictive … wow, the Nintendo 3DS in particular really shone this year, didn't it? What a victory for such an awesome little system. Here's to more great things for gaming in 2017!