2016 was a year of highs and lows. We typically say that every year, but it’s not often you see the release of two games a decade in the making and an independent developer sued for false advertising (we’re looking at you Hello Games). Breaking from our past traditions of the typical Game of the Year, today we debut our Best of Awards where each year we give accolades to the greatest games of the past 365 days.
You’ll struggle to find a popular video game franchise from the 1990s that manages to deliver and remain relevant nearly 25 years later. When Bethesda Softworks first announced a reboot of the Doom franchise, we were a little skeptical. The basic foundations of the 1993 release were perfect for the times but today’s video game releases seldom reach high levels of success with dated mechanics.
To say Bethesda Softworks delivered is a huge understatement. Doom’s 2016 release didn’t rely on past experiences and nostalgia to make sales, but rather built on the original title’s best elements without complicating things or losing its founding principles. Disemboweling hell’s demons with an assortment of ridiculous and over-the-top weaponry is as fun today as it was in ’93.
You won’t find a turn-based tactical combat experience that can top XCOM 2. Firaxis Games managed to merge the strategically rewarding elements of turn-based combat with rogue-like mechanics and a gritty futuristic world to provide one of the best strategy games of all time. The quality of the game is matched only by the level of frustration when a poor decision results in the death of your most valued soldier. The ability to reload a recent save alleviates much of that, but that’s just dirty, right?
Dark Souls 3
In a generation of mediocre sequels and cheap remasters, Dark Souls III stands above the rest. For the third, and most likely last time, Dark Souls brings unyielding combat, soul-crushing boss battles and complex level design. Forget everything you thought you might know about Dark Souls and be ready for a faster, more intense combat system. Taking on the Cinder Lords is no easy task, and only the bravest and most seasoned warriors will be able to answer the call. Draw your blade, refill your Estus Flask and enter the abyss that is Dark Souls one final time.
The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the greatest RPGs of the modern era. CD Projekt RED’s dark and gritty roleplaying experience captured the hearts of fans with an expansive open-world, strategically challenging content, and legendary one-liners from the main protagonist Geralt of Rivia (voiced by Doug Cockle).
DLC is often little more than a poor attempt to sell a season pass. Seldom does post-launch content match the quality of that seen in the original release. The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine, however, showcased an attention to detail and love of the experience rarely seen in today’s fast moving industry. A more vibrant game world housed an even darker and more seedy underbelly than The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but matched the content, quality of story, and passion for the genre every step of the way.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV was one of the most anticipated titles of 2016, which is not surprising when you consider the decade-long wait fans had to suffer. Recent efforts from Square-Enix to reclaim the RPG genre may have fallen short, but Final Fantasy XV’s release marks a return to form for the company. Following the journey of a band of brothers was an emotionally driven experience every step of the way. Couple this with the adrenaline fueled combat, 80 hours of rewarding side content, and the promise of huge post-launch support, and Final Fantasy once again becomes a franchise we look at with a fuzzy feeling in the mid-region.