How do you top a year that gave us Bloodborne, The Witcher 3, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Life is Strange, Until Dawn and Ori and The Blind Forest? Well, you don’t, but you can get damn close and that’s what 2016 did in spades.In many ways, 2016 was a year of sequels to some very popular games but it also featured some of the freshest, unique games to date like Playdead’s Inside or Abzu from Giant Squid.
After all, 2016 gave us the once fabled Final Fantasy 15 and The Last Guardian, 2 games that we’ve basically waited a decade for. It was an incredibly strong year and 2017 looks to be no slouch with some heavy hitters on deck for the early months. I’m looking at you Nioh and Horizon: Zero Dawn. To close this wonderful year out, let’s take a look at the 5 games I enjoyed the most playing this year. Leave your thoughts down below.
5. Dark Souls III
It’s been a rather bountiful last 2 years if you’re a Souls fan. With the vastly improved Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, Bloodborne, and this year’s Dark Souls III, we’ve had all the punishment we can handle. Dark Souls III was an exceptional experience; to me it was the true sequel to Dark Souls.
I’ll never forget going toe-to-toe with the Deacons of the Deep or Nameless King. Soul of Cinder was also a pretty epic fight. If this is truly the final chapter of Dark Souls, it went out with a bang and almost beat out Dark Souls for best in the Souls series.
4. The Last Guardian
Even when Trico doesn’t follow your every command or the camera frustrates you to no end, The Last Guardian presents such a simple and meaningful experience that it’s hard to not think about the game when you’re away from it. I’ve caught myself countless times thinking about Trico while I was at work and that meant the game succeeded in making me care about this world and its characters. It’s also a gorgeous game seeped in mystery around every corner.
It’s a hallmark of Fumito Ueda’s work, everywhere you look is grandiose and intimidatingly sprawling.
3. Dishonored 2
What a treat this was. Even with my expectations raised fairly high coming off the heels of 2012’s excellent Dishonored, Dishonored 2 managed to outdo its predecessor in many ways. Playing as Emily Kaldwin was a neat twist to the gameplay and she didn’t feel like just a female version of Corvo, she had her own convictions and motivations. Not to mention an entirely new arsenal of toys to play with.
She was also a total badass, an unrelenting badass; at least the way I played which was utter chaos. Although no level in Dishonored 2 matched the incredible Lady Boyle’s Last Party from Dishonored, it was still packed with gorgeous visuals and impeccable art direction. Slicing throats and pick-pocketing never felt so elegantly devious.
2. Battlefield 1
With so many great shooters on the market, Battlefield 1 managed to deliver a solid campaign mode and a tremendous multiplayer suite. Fan favorites like Rush and Conquest make a comeback but the new Operations mode takes things to the next level. Operations reminded me of Killzone’s 2 Warzone mode where you cycle through various game modes in real-time, only a lot more cinematic.
The whole setting of World War 1 is a refreshing take and there’s nothing like being pinned down in the trenches in a pile of mud while some crazy sword-wielding soldier on horseback is headed your way. Battlefield 1 feels raw, hopeless at times, and incomparably tense especially during the final moments of a Rush match. It’s the game I’ve clocked the most hours in this year and I don’t expect that to change going into the new year. It’s an extremely well-made game and it has the infrastructure to stay that way for a long time.
1. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
A while back I wrote about what made Uncharted 4 different from its predecessors. Uncharted 4 is not about big set pieces or explosions, it’s about the characters and the situation they’re in. There’s a sense of dread and unease that permeates through Uncharted 4 like you feel something terrible is afoot which creates tension with the characters. It’s a beautiful game that closes the chapter on Nathan Drake in a profound way. We get to learn even more about Drake, which is a testament to Naughty Dog for continuously fleshing out characters for such a long period of time.
Uncharted 4 is not only the best game to come out this year, it’s also one of Naughty Dog’s crowning achievements. It’s been one heck of a ride for the Uncharted series and we can’t wait to see what Chloe and Nadine are up to once Uncharted: The Lost Legacy launches next year. Oh, did I mention Uncharted 4 made me shed a tear at the end? Because it did, big time, and it was glorious.