Hello and welcome to my gaming awards for 2016 which I hope will entertain you as well as giving the best games some well deserved recognition. Each year the number of games coming out increases and it gets harder to keep track of the titles we want to play: so hopefully this will also highlight some games you may have missed. Also unlike some award shows I will do my best to explain why I am giving the game in question an award because I think the thought process is important.
With my Watchdogs 2 review now tucked away I can now start to look back on 2016 with enough confidence to know where the hits landed and which games dropped a bollock. This year I have opted to use categories and I hope this allows me to include a few titles that might have slipped under your radar. So without further ado let us take a trip back in time and see which titles caught my attention.
Best New IP 2016
This year it seems weird to be playing any game that doesn't have a number following it, so I would first of all celebrate the developers who have taken the plunge and given us a brand new game world to enjoy. There were a few games that were on my short list here but the one that has absolutely trounced everything else in its path is Overwatch. A game born from the ashes of the failed 'Titan Project', Blizzard went back to the drawing board and came back with this super slick multiplayer shooter. I think the reasons why Overwatch has been so popular is two fold: one because it is so damn accessible and no matter what your skill level is there is something here for you. Secondly, Overwatch is about as polished as a game can be and everything just works. Since launch we have seen plenty of new content, holiday themed events and a constant push to balance/tweak the formula. Love them or hate them, when Blizzard make a game they don't mess around and it's clear that Overwatch is here to stay.
Best indie came 2016
Year upon year we see the indie scene growing exponentially and the energy from independent developers is genuinely one of the most exciting elements of the games industry for me. Out of all the indie games I have played three stood out for various reasons: Stardew Valley, Inside and Firewatch. Inside is the next title from the developers of the acclaimed Limbo and so straight away you have an idea what to expect. With no dialogue or writing the player takes control of a young boy in a sinister and deadly environment. As you make your way through the various locations you are witness to some genuinely disturbing events which will stay with you well after the credits have rolled. Firewatch was another Gem of story telling that we were lucky enough to play this year and one which is brought to life by some very talented voice actors. I did feel like the final conclusion to the game was a let down and so this held it back from being indie game of the year for me. While not in a state to be reviewed yet I just want to quickly mention three other games that you absolutely must put on your radar. We Happy Few, Subnautica and Astroneer: I won't say any more other than keep your eye on these games in 2017.
So by the process of elimination you will already know that my indie game of 2016 is the wonderful Stardew Valley. This title is inspiring for many reasons but the most incredible of them all is that the entire game was built and coded by one man. This game is one part farm simulator and one part RPG in which you can run your land as you see fit but also venture out into the wider world. You can cultivate relationships, as well as crops and there are genuine reasons to do so. The developer known as Concerned Ape is still working on Stardew Valley and will soon add co-op play. I cannot recommend this game enough.
Winner: Stardew Valley
For my review click HERE
Best Multiplayer Game 2016
In the second part of this year we have seen a deluge of AAA multiplayer games and I don't mind admitting it's been difficult keeping up. With Overwatch being pretty much unstoppable this seems to have stolen some of the wind out of the sails of other multiplayer shooters. Battlefield 1 sends the player back to a simpler time of war and one I've been secretly hoping to see again. Shooters had become awash with technology, robots and mechanised suits: it was starting to get very old. In the latest game from Dice we see an era of war that very few big developers have ever ventured into and this risk has paid off. With a surprisingly solid (and often heartfelt) single player campaign Battelfield 1 is one of the best multiplayer games to come out this year and certainly worth a look.
I just want to mention that while no category exists for hybrid multiplayer games this year I did want to say something about Watchdogs 2. I'm planning on writing an article next year about hybrid genres so watch this space. The multiplayer aspects of Watchdogs 2 let you invade (and get invaded by) other players and the fun this can lead to in just incredible. Check my review for Watchdogs 2 to here more about this most underrated game feature of 2016.
I always believe in giving credit where credit is due and Respawn Entertainment have made all the right moves with their mech based shooter. The original Titanfall was a good concept but lacked any real staying power and was also crippled by a season pass that cut the community in half. In this second game Respawn have addressed every problem of the original which includes adding a dedicated single player campaign and free content from day one. There is also far more variety in game maps and modes which various Titan chassis and loadouts. It is a crying shame then that EA seemingly used Titanfall 2 as a pawn against Call of Duty, therefor dooming it to poor sales (and a small player base). In my opinion EA need to be made to answer for doing such a shitty thing: Titanfall 2 deserves far more attention that it is currently getting. The multiplayer bouts in this game are addictive, blisteringly fast and pure fun from start to finish.
Winner: Titanfall 2
For my review click HERE
Best FPS 2016
This catagory came down to three titles: Shadow Warrior 2, Dishonored 2 and DOOM. What makes this a tough choice is that they are all excellent in different ways. DOOM and Shadow Warrior 2 have the most in common being that they are fast, adrenaline fuelled gorefests that leave you breathless for more. I'll be honest here, if Dishonored 2 had arrived on PC in better shape this would be have been an easier decision: however, it released with many problems on PC such as mouse input being tied to framerate, crippling lag spikes and just an overall poor port. We have now received two patches and things have improved somewhat, but the game still has issues. So maybe DOOM for FPS of the year then? Well sure, that would seem like a logical choice given it does have the edge over Shadow Warrior 2 but then there is that whole review debacle with Bethesda. In short Bethesda have been quite conceited over their much praised DOOM, so much so that they used it as an example of why they no longer would be giving review copies to the media to allow reviews to be provided before games released. I'm sorry but I cannot reward such a shitty attitude to gamers with an award, nor can I applaud a game that arrived in a near broken state for so many PC players (despite the actual game being astounding).
Shadow Warrior 2 is one of them games you can't help but smile while you're playing and like Titanfall 2 the movement system makes you feel fast, agile and deadly. As I type this some free DLC content has also just dropped which shows a really good community spirit from the developers. If you want a more in depth take on this game check out my full review linked below.
Winner: Shadow Warrior 2
For my review click HERE
Biggest Flop 2016
I don't like being obvious and I'd love to surprise you all with a game that many hadn't considered. However to deny the biggest turkey of the year this award would be to defy the laws of space and time itself. No Mans Sky will go down in history as one of the cautionary tales old game developers tell their grand children about. The game that promised the stars and yet delivered barely more than an clever screen saver with some gathering elements. The amount of outright lies that came from Sean Murray on this game was beyond belief and when the hype train came crashing to Earth the gaming media pounced.
Since Launch No Mans Sky developer Hello Games had gone underground and had seemingly vanished from the planet. Then a few days ago they emerged carrying the fruits of their labours: the 'Foundation Update'. This new content adds base building (which looks very similar to Subnautica) as well as some new features and modes. You have to give it to Hello Games, to just reappear like this takes some balls: especially when 'that trailer' is still up on the Steam page. In an even stranger twist of events the ASA have found that trailer did not mislead gamers: say what now? I personally think Hello Games need to wipe the slate clean and be honest about the fact they blatantly lied about many features being in the game, especially the multiplayer aspects. Hey I hope they do good by the game they promised but for this year they will always be known as the biggest flop of 2016 if not ever.
Winner : No Mans Sky
To check out my review click HERE
Best RPG 2016
Out of all the game genres Role Playing Games have the most emotional weight to them and so in some ways are more difficult to get right. Building a world for players to immerse themselves in is one of the most difficult tasks to overcome in game development because human emotions are complicated. There have been some cracking RPG's this year, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was one stand out title that is certain worth a look. However for me the best RPG of 2016 was a game that you might argue didn't even release this year - The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine.
This behemoth game from developers CD Projekt Red was actually released in 2015 but then has since been lavished in additional content. Shortly after release players received sixteen smaller pieces of DLC with the promise of two substantial chapters to come later. They kept their word and later in 2015 the first additional chapter arrived for players to enjoy: easily adding another games worth of adventuring and features. Then early in 2016 the final chapter to the Witcher 3 story landed: Blood and Wine. If you want to know my thoughts on this game then you can check out my final review which covers the whole lot: but I consider it to be one of the best games ever made. Blood and Wine adds so much content that it puts most other full games to shame. That is why I consider it to be a valid choice for this award and one which wins hands down.
Winner: The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
You can check out my full review HERE
Best Game 2016
So we come to the big one: the best game of 2016. As I have already mentioned, Dishonored 2 would most certainly have been in the running for this award but due to it's technical problems on PC I cannot consider it. Obviously being a one man operation I don't get chance to play every game out there and so my awards are subject to a more eclectic selection of games. I know I have missed a few awesome titles such as Forza Horizon 3, Dark Souls 3 and Total War: Warhammer. I have also neglected the episodic Hitman missions after the first and if I could change one thing this year it would have been keeping up with each new mission. One easy mistake to make when looking back at the games you've played over a year is favouring the ones fresh in your memory.
That being said I don't think any PC gamer worth their salt could argue that XCOM 2 wasn't one of the best games of 2016 and so this years award for best overall game goes to the thoroughly excellent turn based shooter from Fireaxis. Those who follow my site will know how much I love the Xcom series and that I spent many nights as a schoolboy fighting the alien threat on my first home made PC. Not only does XCOM 2 improve on pretty much very aspect of the original XCOM but it also embraced the PC as a platform to allow the final game to be as good as it could be and not be held back by console conventions. You can check out my review linked below for a more in depth look at why XCOM 2 is such a special game.
Winner: XCOM 2
You can check out my full review HERE
Thank you for reading my awards for 2016, I have put much consideration into the final decisions but I also want to thank my friends in Exterminatus for their input and suggestions. All the games that have won awards can be found in the review section if you want to know more about them. So apart from a blog post my site will now be slowing down until after Christmas but I have already laid some big plans for 2017 which includes a dedicated YouTube channel that will run along side this site.
Take care guys and have an epic holiday season.