The Top 3 Games of 2016
3) TitanFall 2
Refreshing, energising, exciting and willing to constantly mix things up and introduce new gameplay hooks simply because they are fun. The story for TitanFall 2 may not be memorable, but playing through the campaign absolutely is. A tour de force in level design, TitanFall 2 continuously throws interesting elements at you. And rather than let an element play out and become repetitive, the game makes the brave decision of taking it away from you, leaving you on a high.
I don’t get Player vs Player games. I may dabble in the odd Halo or Call of Duty match, but I don’t think I’ve prestiged ever.
I do get Overwatch. Overwatch makes PvP gaming accessible, and fun. Blizzard have built a masterful game, where the voice cues, the UI, the characters themselves are all so inviting. It is an easy game to get into and enjoy. But there are layers in the characters’ abilities, and how they interact with your teammates that brings depth. Depth I surprisingly want to learn.
On top of this there’s a layer of joy to the world of Overwatch that is delightfully fresh in an era of grim dark apocalyptic landscapes. In the brief dialogues the characters engage in, the map dressings, and supported through comics and amazingly jaw dropping animated shorts, they have somehow created a world more alive than most other story heavy games managed to do in 2016.
While there may not be too many surprising revelations in the games released in 2016, we were spoilt with quality. Uncharted 4 managed to, while sticking to the tropes already established, keep its formula fresh and add a new layer to the characters, while also carrying Nathan Drake to what feels like a natural end. Inside revisited some of the aesthetic of Limbo, but complicated the puzzles and the ideas behind the game, delivering something worthy of debate and discussion. Mafia III faced racism head on, and addressed it with a level of maturity rarely seen in Open World games. Forza Horizon 3 is the best racer on the current generation, and easily earns a place among the top racing games of all time. It was a good year for games, and a vast variety of games.
TitanFall 2 is great, and Overwatch may be one for the ages. 2016 is the year that hopefully marked the beginning of a new renaissance for First Person Shooters, after years of polished levels of acceptable. But they are representative of a single type of game, and in recent years gaming has embraced so much more. My games of the year are typically games like Journey, The Last of Us and The Witcher 3, that grab you with a strong story or explore a theme deeply. Games that, after the credits end and you put down the controller, you’re still working through them in your head.
Taking all this into account, my game of the year is:
There are games that came out this year that make you think. There are moments of brilliance, moments of unreliable narrators and explorations of ideas that rarely see the light of day in the gaming space.
And then there’s DOOM. DOOM is un-apologetically DOOM. From the opening seconds it knows what it is (DOOM) and it does not forget that fact for a lengthy and amazing campaign. It ramps up quickly and keeps ramping up, forcing you to learn the game, master the movement and the flow of combat. Soon you find yourself welcoming each new arena, knowing it is going to throw more and more huge demons at you, and you’re going to rip and tear until it is done.
It is a game built on simple blocks. Move, keep moving, shoot, weaken an enemy and glory kill if you need health or chainsaw kill if you need ammo. Repeat. But the way it teaches you to play while you’re having fun, increasing the difficulty of each encounter, and the feeling of satisfaction on taking out a map full of enemies, there’s nothing else like it in the gaming landscape.
DOOM never strays from what it is, never complicates things just to mix them up, never throws you a new gimmick to keep things fresh. What DOOM does is be DOOM, and it is so good at being DOOM, and so confident at DOOM, you are soon only ever thinking about DOOM.
There are games in 2016, and then there’s DOOM.