GOTY 2016: Bob's Picks
I'm pretty sure that most of us can agree that 2016 has been a lousy year in general, but if there is one area where 2016 has really stepped up to make our lives a little happier it's definitely been its exciting and impressive catalogue of videogame releases. Only in this year, three games that were in development for more than 10 years finally reached the hands of the public. We've seen video game franchises like FIFA evolve into something new and refreshing with their new "Journey" mode. We've experienced first-hand the new definition of videogames and interactive experiences that come with VR, and this only makes me more and more excited about what 2017 will surprise us with.
However, like every year, I come to you to talk about my favourite games released on this turn around the sun. It was an incredibly difficult list to make, and I feel really sad that I had to leave out many outstanding games like The Last Guardian (which I didn't get to play) and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (which just barely didn't make the list). Here we go!
10 - XCOM 2
I loved the first XCOM game by 2K and Firaxis, and after watching Rob taking it on again in the Four in February challenge, I was feeling the itch to get back to the franchise after a several year hiatus. XCOM 2 is more XCOM, with new classes, new content, and a brand-new campaign which made me question the lore in more than one way. Complementing that with the incredible amount of mods that the PC community has developed and released in the Steam Workshop and how the developers have embraced this, the game clearly has earned its place on this list.
9 - Dark Souls III
I love Dark Souls games, and I hate Dark Souls games. I get really frustrated when I play them, my cursing meter goes through the roof, and yet every time that I play them I can't help but feeling satisfied with every little bit of progress I make. Or marvel at the excellent level design, and how the lore is laid out in an extremely subtle way. I really don't want to love the Souls games so much. But I can't help it. They are just sublime. Praise the sun.
8 - King's Quest
I imagine that we could say that this is a bit of a cheat. King's Quest is an episodic narrative adventure, much in the line of Telltale Games, but developed by the Odd Gentlement and Sierra in order to revive the classic franchise. Now, the first episode of the series was released in late 2015, but the release of the episodes was separated by several months so all of the remaining episodes were released over the course of 2016. And boy, what a journey. Even if you're not a fan of the classics, the game reinvents the story in a way that is easy to follow for anyone unfamiliar with the lore, and full of nods and winks for the fans. One of my favourites, if not my favourite episodic adventure to date.
7 - Pokémon Sun/Moon
I missed playing Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, and quite frankly Pokémon X and Y left me very disappointed. X and Y posed absolutely no challenge to me, and I went into Pokémon Sun and Moon expecting the same. And boy, am I happy to be wrong. Pokémon is challenging again! It's no longer a collect-a-thon of quirky and bizarre monsters that you then force to do your bidding to complete a mostly irrelevant story; This time it has returned to the origins of being a deep, complex RPG! Plus, the fact that they decided to reinvent the story and the main goal of the protagonist into something more than "Beat the gym leaders and become the champion" is refreshing to see, and very welcome. Also, Trump weasel.
6 - Zero Time Dilemma
I really should not talk about why this game is so special to me. All I am going to say about it is that you should play (if you haven't done so already) 999 and Virtue's Last Reward beforehand, as this is a conclusion to the Zero Escape Trilogy. I'm fairly convinced that if you *have* played Zero Time Dilemma, you know perfectly why it's on this list.
5 - No Man's Sky
Oh, bet you didn't see this one coming, did you? I think No Man's Sky is a fantastic game. The game does what it does, and it does it brilliantly. The reason why this game has received so much backlash is directly proportional to the expectations the game had generated. I knew very well what the game was going to be about, and I was not disappointed. I like to spend hours and hours walking around a planet just for kicks. Flying about space, killing pirates. Gathering resources and crafting things for no apparent reason. It really chills me out, and that's exactly what I need from this game.
4 - Titanfall 2
There are sometimes a few exceptions in games that cause a big favourable impression even though the genre is not particularly my favourite. This is one of those cases. I remember having fun with Titanfall 1 for a while, but I always found that "the campaign" was some sort of cutscene taking place between actual multiplayer matches. This could have worked perhaps better in another context, but the innovation was just not enough. Titanfall deserved a better campaign, and this is exactly what Titanfall 2 delivers. While the game is already fun in multiplayer, the campaign brings to the table fantastic (mind-blowing, even) level design, a nice roster of villains and a super lovable companion that has replaced Baymax on the top of my "most huggable robots" list as well.
3 - Reigns
Finally an Indie onto the list! And this high, no less! Reigns captivated me with its simplicity, and hooked me in with its depth. The concept is so simple it made me ask myself how come nobody invented something like this before. If you haven't tried Reigns you can do so on your phone or on PC for barely the price of a coffee. I got a whole week of non-stop mobile gaming out of it, and I didn't even find the "true ending" yet, so I can only recommend you try it.
2 - Overwatch
Another exception in the FPS rule, and to make it even weirder, this one is multiplayer only. It had to be Blizzard. Of course it did. The same company that has made a MOBA that I really like while I don't like the rest. The same company who made a collectible card game that I'm obsessed with. Blizzard seems to take the genre and polish it to make it attractive and appealing to everyone. There are so many things I love about Overwatch that I would talk about for hours. We've covered them in detail in plenty of our podcast episodes, so check them out if you want to know why we all love it so much.
1 - Final Fantasy XV
What a surprise this game was. I've been a long-time fan of the Final Fantasy franchise for years and years, but this game has been in development for so long, and suffered so many changes during its development cycle since it was called "Final Fantasy Versus XIII". I was embarked on an open-world story with *my friends*. Exploring Eos, meeting a lot of people, and having a lot of fun in the process. There's so much to do in this world, it's unbelievable. Even though the story may not be the best one in a Final Fantasy I've seen, the attachment you develop for all of the characters makes it all about the feelings. Jesus Christ. This game is the first game that has made me really cry since... Hell I can't even remember. And I've played Life is Strange. Whether you like Final Fantasy, or you don't, this is a game that nobody should miss. Do yourself a favour and if you do end up playing it, take your time to enjoy your stay. Don't rush into the story, or you will ruin the best part of a true masterpiece.