With so much outrage permeating social media, it’s easy to forget that 2016 was one of the best years for video games. To stem the tide of negativity, Heat Street looks back at 10 of our personal favorite games this year, which not only managed to deliver amazing experiences but also gave us hope that the medium has much to offer in terms of innovation and artistic merit.
Although flawed in terms of storytelling and dialog, Dishonored 2 is a masterpiece in stealth-action gameplay. With beautifully-crafted open environments and a wide array of skills at your disposal, players can choose how to complete missions, overcome challenges, and dispatch enemies. With so many options to choose from, no single play-through is identical, catering to your personal playstyle. And best of all—it’s all done in style.
Battlefield 1 takes the FPS war series back to its BF1942 roots, where boots on the ground matter more than vehicle charges and all the other elements that watered down previous Battlefield games. It’s no competitive shooter like Counter-Strike, but a game doesn’t need to be one to be just plain fun. And besides, nothing beats watching the shadow of a zeppelin loom over the battlefield like the specter of death before it goes up in flames.
Dark Souls 3
If games could be attractive based on how challenging they are, Dark Souls 3 would take the prize. The third entry in this hardcore action RPG series takes all the best elements of the first two games (and Bloodborne) and packages it in a gothic-medieval setting that’s certain to keep people referring to anything even remotely difficult as the “Dark Souls of X.”
The oft-repeated axiom of “just one more turn” couldn’t be more true with Civilization VI, which revitalized the somewhat-stale genre of turn-based strategy games with a host of innovations. From city districts, a fleshed-out religion system, to fully customizable governments, Civilization VI gives strategy gamers more than they could ever ask for. And its stylized art direction will ensure it feels new for years to come.
Arguably one of the best stories told in video games this year, Uncharted 4 breathes life into the characters of Nathan Drake and his companions. It’s a game with personality, charm, and heart. You’re still forced to mow down dozens of armed bad guys, but at least you’re doing it for good reasons this time around.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
A game with actual moral choices? Say it isn’t so! Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is heavy on politics and social issues—as is signature for any good cyberpunk story—without talking down to the player for making tough decisions. As such, it’s been subject to a lot of outrage. It’s a great first-person shooter and an even better role-playing game.
Frenetic’s the word I’d use to describe DOOM. The innovations it offers as a shooter—encouraging the player to move ever forward and engage enemies instead of hiding behind cover—is exactly the thing FPS games needed. It feels like DOOM as you remember playing it in 1993.
Pokemon Sun & Moon
The latest dual entry in the series is the best one yet. It caters to fans both new and old, reinvigorating the old formula of capturing pokemon and using them to battle each other in an all new setting. It feels fresh, yet familiar in every way that matters.
Watch Dogs 2
The underrated Watch Dogs 2 is Ubisoft’s attempt to do open world settings right—and they succeed at creating a San Francisco that feels both authentic and worth exploring. Its overarching theme of government and corporate oversight—Big Brother and his Little Brothers—make Watch Dogs 2 one of the most intelligently written games this year.
Overwatch proved that Blizzard can do more than simply ride the coattails of its established franchises, Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft—offering a team-based FPS experience to rival the aging Team Fortress 2, with more personality and competitive qualities. It’s incredibly fun to play, and the fanbase isn’t too bad when it isn’t creating romantic fan art. I’m a huge fan of Gremlin D.va, though.