Dan and Panzer are the gruesome twosome that make up No Goblin, an absurdist developer responsible for games like Roundabout and 100ft Robot Golf. In the spare moments they're not making games or filming their friends playing weird dress-up, they also mastermind the Sarge Club portion of Giant Bomb's annual Extra Life shenanigans, head up the Men of Game Dev calendar, and do weird things like getting engaged. Congratulate them by tweeting at them @deliciousbees and @panzerskank, respectively.
2016 is a year that we remember about four months of. The rest is a haze from shipping a video game. Those four months were pretty good, though!
The #10 Award For Best Music Experience That Also Supports VR
Panzer: There’s no way I could avoid putting Rez Infinite somewhere on this list. I’m one of those really annoying hardcore Rez fans and putting it into VR is the best way to win my heart all over again. Also Area X lived up to the hype and is completely glorious and incredible.
Dan: My pick is Thumper. This is the bit where I disclose that the Drool guys and I worked together on Rock Band. They are wonderful dudes, and to see them completely knock it out of the park and make something that even my beaten and shriveled up rhythm-action heart can enjoy and admire is incredible.
Panzer: Thumper would definitely make my honorable mentions too. That game is some real messed up shit, and I mean that in the most intensely flattering way I can. The idea of rhythm-horror as a genre is so goddamn cool!
Panzer: I’m pretty sure I cried at least twice during this game. It’s everything the previous two Team Ico projects have been building up to, and boy howdy is it a stunner. I love the ruined city of the Nest, I love everything about Trico, I love the boy’s story and his relationship with Trico. It does break my heart to say that it has some serious control and camera issues, as well as one specific type of terrible puzzle that was very clearly jammed in to extend play time (barrel carrying), which is why it’s so low on the list.
Dan: STORY SPOILERS: I’m pretty sure that you are actually The Last Guardian of the local butterfly barrel supply. I can’t believe you failed at your guardian duties so hard. Now there are no butterflies in this town. I hope you’re happy.
Panzer: So Dan and I pretty much ollied the fuck out of working for a weekend in the middle of E3 demo crunch to play this game from morning to night. I think we blasted through without stopping at a point in our own game’s development where we were working about 15 hours a day with no weekends. I have no regrets.
Dan: I’m so mad at how amazing Uncharted 4 looks. Same goes for their performance capture. Elena’s performance is so ridiculous. I quit video games. It’s not fair.
Panzer: Not only does it look and sound amazing, it plays so smooth and sweet. I love climbin’ around and looking for secret baubles in a lost city before killing 800 men.
Dan: Ludonarrative Dissonance is great and I’m glad that Nathan Drake literally murdered all of those men and women and is now the world’s most notorious murderer/adventurer.
The #7 Award For Best New Old Game
Panzer: I had to physically drag myself away from Skyrim: SE to write this damn list. It’s all the content I loved in Skyrim but now it’s even more pretty! My play-throughs of Elder Scrolls games are largely spent exploring and looking at scenery so this is a huge improvement for me specifically. I even got it for free because at some point years ago Past Panzer paid $2 for the DLC in a steam sale. People say it’s more buggy than regular edition, but honestly both versions seem equally buggy in that special way only Bethesda can manage, and I love it.
Dan: I’m going with Doom. Doom shouldn’t exist. It’s easy to make a game that invokes what Doom is about--Serious Sam made a living off that alone--but 2016 Doom feels like it it has Doom’s heart and soul directly in the center. To make something that feels not like a “Doom remade for 2016” but instead “A modern Doom game” is wonderful. It would be even more wonderful if the multiplayer managed that too, but hey, we can’t have everything good.
The #6 Award for games that the other person thinks are Game of the Year
Dan: So after writing this list, we realised that our #6 picks were actually the other person’s #1 best game of 2016.
Panzer: Whoops, oops, shit oops. Dang it.
Panzer: We didn’t want to write about these same games twice in the same list, so our hot takes have been relocated further down the list at number one.
The #5 Award for Most Styyyyyyyyyyle
Dan: Watch Dogs 2. I know, I’m shocked to see Watch Dogs 2 on here too. The secret is to avoid firing a gun as much as possible. When you go full buggy/drone and avoid gunplay it meshes up perfectly with the “goofy hacker troop” tone perfectly. It’s almost criminal to allow players to have guns in this. If Watch Dogs 2: Brotherhood removes guns, I would be ALL IN.
Panzer: I’m still reeling that Watch Dogs 2 took such a huge dramatic turn from that first garbage game. I really, really enjoyed everything about WD2, from the ridiculous little car that commits crimes for you to the selfie collectables.
Dan: And that Style! That Styyyyyyyyyyle! I want to swim in that style. Please draw me a full warm bath of that goofy ironic city hacker aesthetic to just soak in.
Panzer: On a completely different page in terms of style, Pokemon Sun/Moon is my choice and god damn is it so good. The Hawaiian style is so polished and the entire thing feels like a tropical dream. Also I get to pet my fun boys and feed them beans before riding a rental Charizard into the sun. I got nothing to even add to that, it’s just perfection.
The #4 Award For Most Relaxing Game
Dan: I wasn’t expecting this, but TrackMania Turbo became my go-to zone out game during the worst parts of crunch. I’m a man who has a wallet full of ManiaPlanets and appreciates a good Buck Bumble/Super Mario World mashup, so I wasn’t sure if a console-friendly unmoddable TrackMania would ever beat that.
SPOILERS: I was right. If you’re looking for the best TrackMania game, it’s still the mess that is modded TrackMania 2 online. But, TrackMania Turbo is surprisingly close behind as a nice palette cleanser where you can just zone out and race on a bunch of familiar tracks for half an hour while pulling sick stunts.
Panzer: *Kicks down the DOOR* I am HERE to talk about STARDEW VALLEY it’s so RELAXING!!! It’s everything great about Harvest Moon games condensed down into one incredible package. My farm is beautiful and expansive. The children play between the unending rows of beer kegs while I go out to spend my millions of hard earned dollars on gifts for my dumb handsome husband. I am content.
Panzer: I’ve got a real serious Problem that I latch onto anything and everything Blizzard makes and love it with my entire heart until I’m a burned out husk of a person. Except for Heroes of the Storm. I guess I should probably clarify that. Anyway, WoW is really great.
Dan: Ten years ago I had A Hardcore WoW Problem. I had guild DKP from Molten Core. I had enough DKP that I spent it. On multiple occasions.
WoW Legion is great because it’s the most unpretentious, least hardcore update ever. It’s like all of the super overprotective people left to work on Heroes of the Storm or some secret Blizzard thing, and the people who were left were like “Holy crap, thank christ that’s over. Let’s make it so it’s fun to do everything. Everyone gets cool weapons and can do whatever quests whenever, plus here’s a thing that lets you see all the cool clothes you picked up”.
Panzer: There’s so much good stuff in this expac it’s nuts. All the new zones are just jam-packed with cool shit and secrets and treasures. Also there’s a giant lost night elf city where you commit acts of espionage and treachery.
2. The Witness
Panzer: This game is so incredible. It’s one of those games where once we finished we had leftover notebooks full of insane scribbles. We got so into this we actually had constructed paper models of the Tetris puzzle pieces scattered all over the coffee table.
Dan: I cursed Jon Blow’s name so many times this January.
Panzer: We actually cursed his name enough times that we started changing his name around just to spice it up. Gosh darn Jimmy Bimbam and his wizard’s mountain full of hell puzzles.
Dan: Ol’ Jonny Blow’s cast his puzzle magic spell on us again.
Panzer: JJ Blimdo’s piss quest to nowhere, featuring me and Dan yelling at a video game record player in an imaginary cave.
Dan: Knock knock, who’s there? It’s our buddy JB and his unstoppable puzzle machine.
Dan’s #1 Game: Hitman
Dan: My GOTY for sure, no contest. All the New Hitman Boys that showed up this year are all “Oh yes, it’s great, the episodic bit is why this is unique,” and I’m all like, “Oh man, you don’t even know why this is amazing”.
This is the same team that made Hitman: Absolution. Hitman: Absolution is rough. When compared to Blood Money, Absolution is a linear shooter where you have to shoot some awkward sexy nuns before they can give you a boner. To go from “sexy 47 shower scene” to something that surpasses Blood Money in tone, in mechanics, and more? A+ bonkers insane. Huge, huge props to everyone at IOI for that alone.
But there’s so much going on behind the scenes that make this so great! The natural feed into the ramp from Opportunities, to Challenges, to Escalations, to the Master Challenges? Having all of this online so that it’s easily updatable and refreshable? It’s meta system designer porn.
Panzer: As mentioned earlier, Hitman made my number six on this list, I love it so much. They let you do so, so much completely absurd bullshit and it owns. My favorite map is Hokkaido, simply because of the ridiculous murders this game enables you to do there. I think there’s like five completely unique animations where the robot surgeon tears that old guy apart, and you can completely miss all of them because you bypassed the surgery and slam-dunked his transplant heart into the garbage.
Dan: Oh man, and there’s so much more too! Elusive Targets! We are now Regular Hitman Streamers because we have a bi-weekly event where we broadcast out our Chef-Only Elusive Target runs. I’m raking in that big YouTube money now! $19.41 lifetime baby!
Panzer: I looooove elusive targets. God damn what a cool idea. We also started off real bad at these and spent at least three or four of them hanging from balconies trying not to eat shit and die, but I think we’ve gotten better recently.
Panzer’s #1 Game: Overwatch
Panzer: I was a big dumb TF2 addict all the way from its heyday up until about late 2014. Overwatch is if TF2 disappeared into a cocoon and remerged a beautiful, horny butterfly. The character designs are killer, and I feel like every character’s specific gameplay style builds even further on their personalities. The overall gameplay is also just so much tighter and more satisfying than TF2’s ever was for me. Remember having a team of 16 people, and sighing in relief when you saw one person go Medic? What the fuck was wrong with all of us? Now I get nervous when we don’t have a second healer for a team of six because teamwork is the only way to get anything moving in Overwatch.
Dan: I like that Overwatch lets my long dormant Quake rocket skills be useful again. It’s also why I can only play Pharah. I look forward to the three months in 2023 when Pharah becomes important to the meta and I become an eSports superstar.
Panzer: Don’t even get me started on the holidays and the costumes!! And the silly emotes? I have never been so excited about sitting in my entire life. Also, Dan, I am going to tell you here instead of with mouth words despite the fact that we’re in the same room, but they buffed her rocket boosters in one of the most recent patches. She can fly forever it’s amazing.
Dan: EAT IT SEAGULL I’M COMING FOR YOU.