The year of our lord, 2016, was certainly one to remember. In the world of gaming, things really don’t get much better. There were too many games that came out this year that I wanted to play. I’m sure if I had a Playstation 4 or had more time, my list would be very different. But alas, what I played is what I played, and I’m not complaining. Enjoy!
- Tom Clancy’s The Division
I can’t help but think that The Division would be higher on my list if my group of friends all got it and played with me. Instead I played it mostly as a solo experience, only venturing out into the Dark Zone from time to time. Still the game does such a good job of making their recent-outbreak version of New York feel like a real lived in place. Buildings are filled with items and the streets are littered with debris. The leveling system was fun and often rewarding. The few times I did venture out into the PvP Dark Zone there was some fun tension. Plus I love anytime there is location based microphone hijinx. I just wish the enemies were a bit more original.
- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare might be the best Call of Duty in years but it came at an absolutely horrible time. The Call of Duty franchise is unique in the fact that three relatively independent studios are all working on their own game in the franchise. Treyarch, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer respectively. This unique development cycle leads to each game having three years to get polished and find a unique voice. On the other hand, if trends start changing in gaming overall the newest entry can look stuck in the past because creative decisions were decided four years ago. That is what happened with Infinite Warfare. Infinity Ward doubled down on a futuristic
sci-fi setting. During development, players were inundated with futuristic fps games like Titanfall and Destiny. 2016 broke that mold with Battlefield 1 but it was too late for Infinite Warfare. Because of this, the game feels bland and unoriginal just from the setting alone.
Apart from the setting, how the story is structured is refreshingly inventive. Optional side missions have been introduced that change the way your character progresses through the story. The narrative itself is pretty bland but it’s undeniably fun to be on alien planets playing a Call of Duty game. The multiplayer feels like a re-skin of Black Ops 3 and I lost interest pretty quick due to so many other quality shooters being out right now.
I know what you’re saying. “Hearthstone didn’t come out this year, it was released on March 11, 2014.” Yes I know that, but two major expansions and a piece of single player content were released this year so I’m still counting it. Plus this is my list so you can fuck off.
Major changes came to Hearthstone this year, in the form of Whispers of the Old Gods and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. Two major expansions that each added around 150 cards to the game. With the most recent expansion, my favorite class was fixed (Priest) and I can finally play the way I want to play. But this year also saw the addition of standard and wild playsets. This addition showed a real commitment to the long term health of the game on the part of Blizzard. I’m excited to move into 2017 and have a complete change in cards that can be used in standard play. The perfect game?
In a world almost devoid of rhythm games, it was so fun to have a unique entry into that genre. Sure, the game draws a fair share from Frequency and Amplitude but it has such a unique style that I don’t really care. Tension is hard to do in a medium where the person consuming the media controls the pace. Taking a bit of that control away and timing your movement to the music let the developers fill you with tension as the moves you have to do pile on top of you. Beyond that, the music itself if not music that I would ever really want to listen to but fits so well in the game that I can’t get enough. The tracks are upwards of 10 to 15 minutes and grow in intensity along with the level. Such an inventive and deceptively simple rhythm game. I only wish I had a VR headset to play it in.
- Battlefield 1
Another entry in the over-saturated shooter market of 2016. DICE at least had the foresight to know that future shooters were on their way out. Bringing the series to World War 1 was an amazing call and made me extremely excited to dive in. I’m a sucker for historical war stories and that is what the story mode provided. Instead of having one long story that follows a main character, Battlefield 1 had multiple smaller vignettes all from different perspectives of the war. This let you have a peek into multiple viewpoints of the conflict in a really interesting way. Yes, it also served as a quasi-tutorial but it didn’t really hinder me much. The frostbite engine continues to look fantastic and it’s just so fun to use those old guns.