2016 has been a pretty rubbish year. Whatever your politics are, the world is more volatile because of Brexit and Trump’s election. We have seen the deaths of many icons such as David Bowie, Prince, Gene Wilder, and Carrie Fisher. Fortunately it hasn’t been a bad year for games. While I would never suggest that 2016 has been a great year, we have seen some great games. What follows are my favourite games of the year. They aren’t necessarily the best games of the year (though they are up there) but they are my favourite games of 2016. Before we really get into it, I just have to share a couple of games that just missed being on my top 5.
Gears of War 4 – The Coalition took control of the Gears of War franchise with the confidence and swagger of a developer who has always been in charge of this IP. This latest entry pushed the series forward while respecting what had gone before.
Tom Clancy’s The Division – While this game has its haters, I’m not one of them. This game hooked me in the way that Destiny failed to do massively. The gameplay was great, the story was interesting, the online systems were solid, and I loved the visual style.
Inside – Playdead’s follow-up to Limbo received rave reviews and it deserves all of them. The only reason it’s not in the top 5 is that it didn’t captivate me the way that the other games did.
No game this year got all of us in the Xbox wing of Enthusiast Towers talking about it like Oxenfree did. This 2.5D supernatural mystery game may only last around 5-6 hours but it will stay with you for a long time and will make you want to start it all over again as soon as you’ve finished it. The game brilliantly weaves together a ghost story, a coming-of-age tale, and elements of family & friendship. It is a game that needs to be experienced and then spoken about at length once you’ve finished. This is the debut game from developer ‘Night School Studio’ and marks them as someone to keep a keen eye on.
4. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
I played through Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at the end of August. At that time, the news was awash with people talking about racism, the militarisation of the police, and terrorist attacks. This game bravely broaches these topics while still being a top-notch action game. Not only does this game make you think, it can also be played in completely different styles. If espionage and subtlety are your thing, it plays as a brilliant stealth game. If you prefer to go in guns blazing, you can pretty much play this as a first-person shooter. Add some great role-playing elements to this alongside a great futuristic setting and you have a fantastic game.
3. Action Henk!
While this game may seem like an unlikely entry in this list, I will remind you that this is the list of my favourite games of the year. I would never try and argue that this is a perfect game; but it had me coming back time and time again. Even now, it retains a place on my hard drive because every time my friends come over we end up losing hours to it. Playing like a running version of Trials, it is incredibly easy to pick up and yet really tough to master. It is one of those games that perfects the ‘one more try’ effect and will have you playing for much longer than you originally intended to.
2. Titanfall 2
Sequels are always supposed to build upon what has gone before, but few games do it with such aplomb as Titanfall 2. What the first game lacked was a singleplayer campaign and enough multiplayer content to keep gamers playing. Respawn have given us a short, yet brilliant, singleplayer campaign and enough multiplayer maps and modes to keep us busy for months to come. The superb movement of the first game is just as good before and there are even more traversal options with the introduction of the grapple. The robots have been given more variety and greater customisation options to make your Titan stand out in the crowd. This game may have been somewhat lost due to its release being sandwiched between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, but in my book it stands head and shoulders above those giants.
1.Forza Horizon 3
My game of the year last year was Forza Motorsport 6 and Microsoft has done it again. Forza Horizon 3 is a sublime racer. It is incredibly accessible for anyone who has even the slightest of interest in cars. If you’re a seasoned racing pro this brilliant game still has you covered. I can’t think of a game that spans such a wide ability range and is amazing across the entire gamut. It looks absolutely gorgeous and if you have a HDR capable television, it is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The amount of content in the game is incredibly extensive and the outlandish showcase events have some truly memorable moments. The geography of Australia may not be 100% in the game, but it provides some great variety that has only been increased through the release of the Blizzard Mountain DLC. Playground games have created a game that deserves to be in every Xbox One owners game library and may even drag PlayStation racers over to Microsoft’s side.
Well that’s my top five games of the year. Do you agree, disagree, or have anything to say about my choices? Feel free to shout out in the comments section below.