2016 has been more or less a rather positive year for gaming. We’ve seen some cracking titles hit the consoles and PC, while we have also found ourselves let down by a number of titles. Let’s take a walk back through the games of this year, picking out the highlights.
2016 will most likely be remembered in gaming for the number of shooters that hit the market. Whether it was DOOM, Overwatch, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1, even Gears of War 4, there were a huge number of them in 2016, and you most likely warmed to a few of them. Overwatch won outright in the Game of the Year counts for best shooter or action title, while Titanfall 2 was definitely the year’s underdog.
Doom’s return to glory was only slowed by its difficult development cycle and hot and cold reception of its predecessor, Doom 3. Since then, other shooters have come along and claimed Doom’s mantle as the more mainstream, popular shooters. Still, Doom kicked ass earlier in the year and for those who played it, they more than likely enjoyed the experience immensely!
On the RPG front, we had The Witcher in 2015 which stole the hearts of thousands, and put CD Projekt RED firmly on the map. In 2016, Final Fantasy XV and Fire Emblem Fates were the most notable releases. However, Fire Emblem was restricted to the Nintendo 3DS, while Final Fantasy hit the consoles at the back end of the year.
The RPG/MMO titles continued to roll out, with Destiny’s final update, Rise of Iron, which added a wealth of new content to a game that needed more for players to do. World of Warcraft players were greeted with the Legion expansion, as well as a theatrical movie to boot. Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment launched The Division, a game which started fantastically well, sales-wise and enjoyment-wise, but soon, the cracks showed, and patch after patch, more damage was done until the developers had to rework the whole game in November. It seemed to pay off, but by then, a large number of the players had already moved on. Can’t blame them though.
I feel it’s now a fitting time to bring up the elephant in the room, which is no doubt No Man’s Sky. In development for several years, Hello Games and Sony finally released the epic space exploration game to the masses, selling incredibly well, without any launch day reviews, and turning out to be a massive deceit to hyped-up fans. Were fans in the wrong for being hyped? No, they were encouraged! They were sold an unfinished product, missing features that were shown off in previous trailers and gameplay demos. It didn’t even look as good as it claimed to be, and to top it all off, Hello Games got off scot-free during a British watchdog investigation with claims of false advertising on Steam. We discussed it in great detail over the course of the year since its release, so we’ll leave it at that for now.
Driving games were quite popular this year too, with the likes of F1 2016, Assetto Corsa, Forza Horizon 3 and DriveClub VR. Forza Horizon 3 outshone the competition with its open world racing, beautiful visuals and great multiplayer adventures. Not to mention the gorgeous cars!
Firaxis released XCOM 2 for PC, later followed by Xbox One and PlayStation 4 releases, causing further stress to heroic players trying to save the world. For turn based strategy, XCOM is up there as one of the finest examples of it.
Capcom released Street Fighter V for PlayStation 4 and PC, which many found to be incomplete, and missing a lot of features associated with the arcade classic, such as an actual Arcade mode. The game continues to get updated, even up as far as last week, but the sales weren’t as high as anticipated, and the lack of an Xbox version would have certainly hurt sales further.
Speaking of Capcom, the publisher began showing off their latest Resident Evil title which hits in January, trying to reinvigorate the franchise. Things are looking positive for the series again, so here’s hoping Resident Evil 7 will be a breath of fresh air!
Not just in 2016, but since the release of the current generation of consoles, it seems that remasters play as big a part to the game libraries as brand new releases do. Sure, a remastered Grand Theft Auto V or Uncharted Collection, or Halo Collection makes sense, but individual ports of unnecessary games can be a bit extreme. Let’s look at the remasters that re-launched this year.
Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection, Skyrim Special Edition, The Bioshock Collection, Batman: Return to Arkham, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1&2 (ports, not remasters), Modern Warfare Remastered, Dead Rising collection, Resident Evil 4, 5 & 6, Dead Island, Ratchet & Clank, Halo Wars and Twilight Princess HD (Nintendo are hardly guilty), A number of titles have already been announced for 2017, including Bulletstorm, Crash Bandicoot and Parappa the Rapper.
Naughty Dog also released Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End into the wild, becoming one of the most gorgeous and enjoyable tales on the PlayStation 4. The game is still being supported with free online co-op DLC, and a new standalone expansion coming in the new year.
In 2016, we also saw the war between Call of Duty and Battlefield take another giant step, when the reveal trailer for Infinite Warfare saw a huge amount of dislikes and negativity from the gaming community. We then saw that EA and DICE listened to their own community and brought the series back to the past in Battlefield 1. Still however, Call of Duty managed to outsell Battlefield 1 at every turn.
Hitman and Deus Ex made a return in 2016, with one going against the grain and going down the episodic route. It paid off for Hitman, and the support for the title has been fantastic. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided also did very well itself, with fans rating it very highly.
Pokémon GO for mobile was the summer’s big hitter, seeing gamers leave their houses to go hunting virtual creatures using augmented reality. The excitement has since died down somewhat, but while it was in its prime, it was a juggernaut on social media and you couldn’t escape the hype!
PC gamers were treated to new graphics cards to boost their rigs. While pricey, it is no more than buying a new console, and you don’t lose access to your older games either. Not to mention, it gives you another reason to return to older games to see how they now look with increased power. Nvidia released their GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card, while AMD released the Radeon R9 range.
Playdead broke their silence again in 2016, releasing Inside, the follow-up to Limbo that was 6 years in the making. I gave it my Game of the Year award for its stunning art direction and enjoyable puzzles, that you will easily replay again and again. Cuphead still hasn’t arrived either. When? Who knows?!
This year, we saw the release of the Xbox One S, the slim version of the Xbox console which also offered HDR and a built-in native Bluray player. Sony launched the PlayStation 4 Pro console, as well as the PlayStation VR, offering an affordable entry level device for gamers to try out VR. Some of the games are very ‘tech-demo-like’, but it’s a start at least! Let’s hope for more VR in the new year.
2017 is just around the corner, and after a great year of gaming in 2016, I look forward to seeing more surprises, and playing what we already know is coming!