As it’s almost the end of the year, we thought now would be as good a time as any to cast an eye over 2016’s best video games.
In the past 12 months, we’ve had some terrific titles, across sequels, reboots, and new concepts. Like them, love them, or loathe them, these are the 12 games we’ve been most impressed by in 2016 (one for every day of Christmas, natch) …
The Last Guardian
After being in development since 2007, The Last Guardian finally hit consoles in 2016. Was it worth the wait?
For the most part, the reception was warm, with reviews ranging from very good to outstanding. As the follow-up to Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian was always going to have a high bar to reach, and while it may not have quite done so in the eyes of some, this is still a beautiful, unique experience nonetheless.
Watch Dogs 2
Watch Dogs 2 improved on its predecessor nicely, with a more engaging hero, better driving-mechanics, and a stunning recreation of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Playing as a hacker again helps Watch Dogs 2 feel unique, and if a potential third game can be refined even further, it may have the makings of a classic.
Forza Horizon 3
Forza Horizon 3 is an open-world racer with plenty to see and do, and is an absolute feast for the eyes (especially if you have a 4K TV).
Set in Australia, Forza Horizon 3 gives you a crazy degree of freedom and is twice as mahoosive as Forza 2. It also boasts generous cross-platform play, and had 350 vehicles to choose from at launch.
If you tend to avoid racing games, and haven’t played one for years, prepare to be amazed.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
What more needs to be said?
With Uncharted, Naughty Dog have created a hero for the ages in Nathan Drake, and A Thief’s End is a stunning fourth outing for the man himself. This time, his older brother, Sam, and pal, Sully, head off in pursuit of more long-lost treasure – and it’s an absolute blast from start to finish.
Drake gets to explore environments with a fantastic degree of agility and actions, and the settings themselves are as much as 10 times bigger than in the other three outings. It’s also got added depth and emotion, too, if you’re after an action game with a little more heart.
While Doom may not have been the back-to-basics masterpiece everyone hoped for, it’s still one of 2016’s best titles.
Doom’s as fast-paced, frantic, and gory as a Black Friday event in Hell. Tearing through levels, slicing and dicing enemies with a chainsaw, destroying strangers in multiplayer – it’s a delight.
Glory Kills help to make the action a tad more visceral without slowing the pace, and the Ultra-Nightmare mode is the perfect solution for any gamers who feel the need to punish themselves with a total loss of game-saves upon dying.
Pokemon Sun and Moon
Pokemon Sun and Moon shifted the franchise to a sunnier, more tropical region: Alola. With the new setting come new pokemon, as well as new forms for existing creatures.
Together, counted as one, Sun and Moon have been the biggest-selling game of the year, racking up millions upon millions of sales in its first few weeks. They’re as addictive, fun, and engaging as you’d expect, and have been called the best Pokemon games so far by some.
While Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare jumped into the future for a space-age shooter, Battlefield 1 leapt into the past. Setting their new game in the First World War was something of a gamble, but it definitely paid off.
You get to take control of authentic weapons, fight with sabres and shovels, and ride horses, making you feel as if you’re right in the trenches. Everything looks and sounds as it should, and the single-player campaign is brilliantly constructed. Multiplayer is also pretty impressive, with plenty of modes to enjoy and classes to master.
This mech-based action game is an improvement on its predecessor, and gives players a nice variety of abilities to use in battle, including parkour.
One of the biggest changes is the addition of a single-player campaign, with a new story driving the action. Levels within it still keep that arena format, but there’s a decent amount of freedom to wander and you can succeed using various techniques.
The game looks gorgeous too, and come on: who’s ever going to deny themselves the chance to pilot a hulking robotic exoskeleton?
The long-running Civilization series continued with this stunning game, and it put a smile on many a fan’s face.
As usual, the aim is to expand and control, building settlements and armies, across numerous periods. There’s plenty to see and do, and the visuals are pretty impressive, but don’t expect to have this finished in only a few hours. Civilization games have a tendency to swallow your life whole for a little while, so maybe set a little time aside to give it your full attention.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV is the most stunning FF game to date, and takes place in an open world with many familiar elements, including the ever-adorable chocobos.
The battle system is different to that in previous versions, played in real-time and without the standard menu-based control. Your fights also take place where they occur, rather than jumping to an arena format, which helps to create a smoother flow.
There’s more than enough here to keep fans ticking over until Final Fantasy VII Remake hits the market.
Overwatch, Blizzard’s latest endeavour, has been a huge success, recognised as an esport in its own right with plans for professional leagues taking shape.
The game has a beautiful look, a unique feel, and a cast of awesome characters. It’s been praised for its accessibility and welcoming atmosphere, making for a fun multiplayer experience. The vibrant, dynamic design also helped to win gamers over, a nice alternative to the darker, grittier action seen elsewhere.
This is sure to be remembered as a classic in years to come, and we’ll undoubtedly continue to see more and more of Overwatch.
The XCOM series was rebooted in 2012, and XCOM 2 continued the story with a dark twist. Rather than fending off an alien invasion, the team at the story’s core are instead trying to battle the extraterrestrials now running Earth.
Taking the fight to an occupying force is a novel shift for the series, but the gameplay is much the same in its structure. You’re asked to lead your fighters in combat and conduct research to improve your base and resources, equipping you for the overwhelming odds ahead.
Its high difficulty level means it’s not for the faint of heart, but for anyone willing to go the distance, XCOM 2 is a deep, compelling game offering plenty to sink your teeth into.
What are your favourite games of 2016? Let us know!