GotY 2016

List items

  • In a year where I was completely over most AAA multiplayer shooters, Overwatch managed to pull me in one more time with personable characters, tons of positive feedback, and fun seasonal events.

  • Flawed though it may be, Pokemon GO delivered a feeling that I hadn't experienced since Red and Blue Versions came out on the GameBoy; the feeling that the world is a big, magical place filled with incredible sights and wonderful chance encounters.

  • Enter the Gungeon was as close to 'perfect' as any game came this year, with razor sharp analog aiming, whimsical humor and a deep, challenging world packed to the gills with secrets.

  • Pokemon Sun/Moon was just the sun-soaked vacation I needed this Autumn. It's colorful and filled with Good Feels, and shakes up the traditional Gyms and Types systems just enough to make Pokemon a compelling play yet again.

  • Gears of War 4 hearkens back to what made the series so cool in the first place: a small, atmospheric campaign that pits close friends against overwhelming odds. The stop-and-pop gameplay borders on repetitive sometimes, but the action setpieces are fantastic and feel classical (in a very good way) in how they vary the game's pacing.

  • Arkane has crafted one of the year's most dense and compelling game worlds, but its dark corridors and treacherous politics weren't always my first choice for unwinding after a long day. Still, I found myself compelled to find every last secret in a game where exploration is often its own reward.

  • In its weird idiosyncrasies, Final Fantasy XV presents perhaps the most convincing game world I've inhabited. Its often-inane fetch quests and sterile towns can't hold a candle to The Witcher 3, but when Prompto snaps an impromptu photo, Ignis makes small talk while you drive, and Gladio cooks dinner while the others play cards, it's hard not to feel that this is a living world filled with authentic characters.

  • I didn't get to play much of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, but what's here is clearly a colorful and complex spin-off of classic SMT/Persona mechanics in the context of a fun story. It uses the Wii U GamePad in some really neat ways, too.

  • As I mentioned earlier, I have little patience left for online shooters. Titanfall 2's campaign, however, never outstayed its welcome and kept throwing out fun new ideas. It's not revolutionary, but it was a fun night and a half of game time.

  • I've always loved Forza Horizon, but the formula started to show its age with the third iteration. Luckily, the recent Blizzard Mountain breathed new energy into the series with accurate snow physics and 50 nail-biting new events.

  • Uncharted 4 marks a high point for story in the series, but its over-reliance on stealth scenarios coupled with a lack of any stealth mechanics to speak of crippled large parts of the game.

  • A stealth sandbox with a sinister sense of humor, the only reason Hitman isn't higher on my list is that I only technically played the first episode. Agent 47's antics were still fun to watch in various GiantBomb videos, though.

  • A fun and gorgeous reminder of the gung-ho enthusiasm that many AAA developers seem to have lost over the last decade, filled with varied events and colorful locales.