2016 saw the release of a number of prominent titles from a variety of genres. Perhaps most surprisingly, first-person shooters have begun breaking out of their previously-established mold. Battlefield 1 sought out World War I as a setting in contrast to the increasingly futuristic settings of shooters. Titanfall 2 built on a strong foundation and stayed committed to its focus on mechs, despite being such a rare sight in western titles. Even Blizzard took a risk with Overwatch, a MOBA-style first-person shooter. Finally, DOOM stood out as a brilliantly-crafted blend of the new and old, to the surprise of many.
Favorite Game Released Before 2016, Played in 2016: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth
I was never a fan of Digimon as a kid, so I had little desire to pick this up until it was on sale – and being a turn-based RPG in this era is generally enough to grab my attention. Much to my surprise, the gameplay style was well-realized, the story fairly interesting and the overall package boasted a significant amount of content. Not knowing anything about the Digimon and their Digivolutions made each new addition to the party a unique experience. I’ll definitely be looking out for similar games in the future.
5. Final Fantasy XV
Despite being marred by substantial storytelling issues, Final Fantasy XV stands out for a number of reasons. The game does an excellent job of selling the player on the appeal of its main cast. Despite being cliché from surface-level observation, the flow of the dialogue and interactions throughout do an excellent job of endearing you to the characters. Even the most mundane activities are built on in a way that makes things feel relatable. Noctis is not the stick-in-the-mud many had him pegged for, and the journey is thoroughly enjoyable, despite its flaws.
4. Dark Souls 3
I first picked up Dark Souls 1 on a whim, almost entirely because I was informed that the deluxe edition was the same price as the standard edition. Why this motivated me to buy new game I knew almost nothing about, I’ll never know; however, it turned out to be one of my all-time favorite games. After the minor disappointment of Dark Souls 2, Dark Souls 3 was touted as being a return to form. Overall, it succeeds in the areas it needs to, whether it be from a lore or gameplay perspective. It occasionally relies too much on fanservice, but it’s ultimately an excellent game from start-to-finish.
3. XCOM 2
At face value, XCOM’s modern series is horribly bland in appearance. Yet beneath that art style – which can at best be described generic – is a fantastic strategy game. It’s a game that relishes in making choices count, and while it can deliver a degree of randomization in its combat, those choices are in themselves calculated risks. XCOM 2 embraces unexpected events and powerful choices, and it engages the player throughout the entirety of the campaign. In addition, the fact that content and decisions change based on the playthrough means that there’s incentive to immediately dive back in after completion.
2. Titanfall 2
Titanfall 2 stands as a wonderfully handled sequel, which takes the strong foundation of Titanfall 1 and adds nothing but improvements. The controls are intuitive and responsive, the game flow is fast-paced and the inclusion of Titans lends itself to an extremely unique experience. Special mention must go to the campaign as well, which did an excellent job of endearing the player to a robot, while keeping varied gameplay and satisfying set pieces. The inclusion of all non-cosmetic DLC being free for everyone is just the icing on the cake.
The entire concept of modernizing old shooters is effectively tightrope walking. Many people were rightfully worried that DOOM would butcher the series it was restyling. Luckily, DOOM is a spectacular success, which expertly blends the new and the old. The campaign is an absolute joy to play from start-to-finish, and the multiplayer is a solid distraction that includes enough intriguing elements to give the game some extra life outside of its campaign options. Overall, it’s the most refreshing, wonderfully designed and well-contained first person shooter I’ve played in years. I love everything about this game.
Honorable Mention: Overwatch, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Anima: Gate of Memories, Hitman, Battlefield 1.