Because everyone posts a list of their top games I decided to do one as well. But my list is going to be a little different. Rather than just ranking games that came out in 2016, I am going to rank my top 5 games (in no particular order) that I played in 2016. This means the game could have come out this year, last year, or ten years ago as long as I played it this year. The reason I am doing this is because I have a limited income (like most people) and therefore usually buy my games when they come on sale, rather than when they come out. Also because most games are “living games,” they have massive updates and changes post-launch (e.g. World of Warcraft, Path of Exile, League of Legends, DOTA2), it does not really make sense to refuse to list these games. DOTA just had its first mega update in almost 11 years that so radically changed the game players are calling the game DOTA3 now; wouldn’t it be wrong to not include it simply because the game did not actual release this year?
The games I decided to include is based on how much fun I had during my time with it, not on mechanics or popularity. This means this list is very subjective but I will try to explain why I enjoyed each game so much and why you may or may not like it enough to buy. If anything, making this list made me actually think about what I found enjoyable and why. So now that we have that intro out of the way…
Top 5 Games (that I played) of 2016
No Man’s Sky
Just starting with my most controversial pick. Yes the game is hugely bugged/glitchy with poor performance issues. And yes pretty much everything the developers said pre-launch was a sack of lies. But, they game just resonated with me so much. I love space games, Star Trek, and Star Wars and I have been searching for a space game that gives me that feeling of exploring the universe. No Man’s Sky comes closest to that. Walking around on an alien planet, getting into your ship, flying into space and directly landing on another planet with no load screens just filled me with awe. It was like gazing up at the night’s sky for the first time. I loved the Science Fantasy rather than Science Fiction direction for the art style. While there is almost nothing to do in the game, I enjoyed wandering through space and gazing at its beauty. Now if you are wondering, I have played Elite: Dangerous and did not have the same feelings. I think this is because you can never leave your vehicle. It felt like I was the ship/lander rather than a person inside it. If Elite: Dangerous does add the ability to walk around habitable planets or space stations I will be taking another look and it could dethrone No Man’s Sky in my heart.
Now if you read all that and are thinking about buying this game, don’t. Even though I adore this game, it is not a finished project in any way and there is very few rewarding gameplay elements in it. Even though the recent Foundation Update was a huge step in the right direction (adding base/freighter building, some new quests, better technology progression, performance enhancements, etc) I honestly cannot say you will love this game or even find it mildly enjoyable. Even if you are obsessed with space and sci fi games as I am, I still would not recommend it.
Rebel Galaxy is all the gameplay mechanics No Man’s Sky needs to be a good game. This game came out in 2015 by an indie developer and I only picked it up this year when it was on sale. Oh boy should I have gotten it sooner. If Elite: Dangerous is the space flight/combat simulator, No Man’s Sky the space exploration simulator, then Rebel Galaxy is the space frontier simulator. The game is you flying your space ship doing missions to make more money and upgrade your ship (just like pretty much every space game on the market). There is a main quest and storyline but the game encourages to take breaks from it to do these side missions. What make’s Rebel Galaxy special is that it makes you feel like a space cowboy, you have pirates to fend off, contraband goods you can smuggle around, space police to out run if you get on their bad side etc. If you want to feel like you are actually on the final frontier this is the game for you. Oh and the sound track is just phenomenal. It can best be described as “space country western.” It fits the game so perfectly and enhances the experience.
So to recap what you can do, you can upgrade your ship, do bounty hunting, do trade missions, buy and sell cargo at different stations to turn a profit by analyzing the market, follow the main quest involving an ancient AI, get ambushed by pirates, respond to distress signals, get ambushed by pirates who lure you in with distress signals, join the pirates and raid cargo ships etc. It is the only space game where space felt alive and active. Other people complain how repetitive this game can become but honestly there is so much you can always find something else to try out.
Now the down side, there is no Z-axis in the game. This means you cannot move up and down, like your piloting a sea ship instead of a space ship. You will miss this for about five minutes. I know I was hesitant to pick up the game because of this but honestly there is so much to do in this game you will not miss it. I know it should be immersion breaking but it’s just not and I have no idea why. You can’t enter a planet’s atmosphere and you can’t leave the ship but given the price who cares? Add this game to your wish list today. If you are still unconvinced, just imagine flying your space ship loaded with cargo while this song from the soundtrack plays.
Oh Warframe you are always there for me. Warframe is a free-to-play game that originally came out in 2013 and has been receiving continual updates since them. Like game changing stuff. This is my “tomato soup game,” a game a play when I am feeling sick or depressed to help pick me up. It is not overly complicated, overly stressful, it’s just simple and good every time, like tomato soup.
The game is a 3rd-person loot shooter like Borderlands or Destiny, except with parkour. Like crazy awesome parkour. You play as a Tenno, a space ninja that utilizes a Warframe (essentially your class and abilities), a primary and secondary ranged weapon, and a melee weapon. You go on missions with up to three other people and basically kill things get the loot and repeat. What makes this game so special is that you can change your Warframe at any time (as long as you own your desired Warframe) and any Warframe can use any weapon. That means you have literally thousands of different ways to run through the horde of enemies. Jumping off walls gunning people down through the air to land with a devastating melee attack feels really good.
Now I know every freaks out when they hear free-to-play but this game has one of the best free-to-play systems I have ever seen. All non-cosmetic content can be earned through grinding and trading. The only time you need the premium currency is to obtain more inventory slots. If you are going to play this game for more than five hours you will need more inventory slots. The great thing is that premium currency is tradeable, you can trade loot for premium currency with any other player. There’s no auction house, so you will need to sit in trade chat unfortunately. I have over 200 hours in this game and I spent only $25 on premium currency and because of trading I still have more premium currency than what I know what to do with. And the only reason I purchased any currency is because around hour 50 I thought the developers deserved money from me, not because I was really in need of it.
The only downside to this game is that end-game is basically just min-maxing your DPS to do high level content so you can get better DPS to do the same high level content faster. I hit this 200 hours in so I am right now just waiting for them to add something else to do. Right now, I just log in occasionally to just farm materials and craft a weapon I do not own. Also, like nothing about the game mechanics is explained in game, so you will have to spend time looking things up on the wiki. Like seriously, just pull up the wiki on your phone when you first start because you will need it.
Go buy and play ICEY. No I am serious go buy and play this thing like right now. I’ll wait till you get back.
Did you play it yet? Fine, I’ll try to convince you otherwise. I am going to post a full review in a few days so I am going to be brief here. ICEY is a 2D spectacle fighter with a very strong story. As other reviewers keep saying, it’s Bayonetta meets the Stanley Parable The combat is strong, fluid, and satisfying, and the humor is amazing, which is surprising because the game was made in China and the subtitles had to be translated (yes the voice acting is in Chinese and I wouldn’t have it any other way). Every facet of this game is designed to play off each other part making it a very connected fluid experience for the player. And I honestly do not want to say any more here because I do not want to rob you of any part of the experience.
The game is short, I clocked in at about 4.6 hours but it was worth every penny. Days later I am still gushing about how fantastic this game. If I were to pick one game that came out in 2016 for Game of the Year, it would be this. Look for my full review in a few days.
Last but not least we have Overwatch, most people’s GOTY. The team based FPS that took Team Fortress 2 and added that Blizzard polish to make it something new and exciting. If you are living under a rock and have not heard of Overwatch, it is a class-based 6v6 FPS with map objective oriented gameplay. Each class (called heroes) has a primary weapon, two or more cool-down based abilities, and an ultimate which is charged by being a good player (doing damage, blocking damage, healing, claiming the objective whatever your role is).
What makes Overwatch good is that each hero has its own role on the team. Tanks actually feel like tanks, dps feels like dps, and supports feel really good to play. I mean I hate playing support but Symmetra, Ana, and Zenyatta are my jam. I usually don’t play support because my team is running two supports already without the need to beg people to play support. Every hero has a very satisfying gameplay loop and unique playstyle. You will find a hero you enjoy playing.
What makes Overwatch great is that each hero feels like a person not just a load out. Each Hero has a very unique design and voice to make them stand out. Heroes will even talk to one another and reference their past history with each other. Blizzard is putting out tons of content to help expand each hero’s story and is adding skins and voice lines into the game to reflect their lore. For most players, the love the characters more than they love the gameplay.