Top Fifteen Games of 2016

It’s been a terrible year in some respects, but if you’re a gamer – arguably – it’s also been pretty great. One might even say platform-defining and unique in that there are several fantastic titles that could top the lists of many years prior. Such is the quality of the class of 2016.

As such, narrowing it down to a top 15 games has been far from easy, and this has been whittled down from a long list of 35. As a result, there will be some big omissions. Ones I’m sadder to leave out than others. But after some lengthy deliberation, these are the games we’ve enjoyed the most this past year.

Let us know whether you agree/disagree.


#15 Total War: Warhammer

There has rarely been a finer marriage of content in the fantastic Total War series and the rich vein of the Warhammer universe. This just works on so many levels and makes for an absolutely compelling RTS, regardless of which faction you choose. A fine accomplishment, this one rightly deserves to sit on any Game of the Year list.

#14 Dragon Quest Builders

This was one of the best surprises of the year and has potentially introduced a classic franchise to a whole new audience. Dragon Quest Builders is so much fun between the simplicity of controls, play, world exploration, and ongoing narrative. You must build out the world in your own image, battling anyone who seeks to corrupt your vision. More than just Minecraft-lite, this is some of the most fun I’ve had in any game this year, DQ Builders is an absolute treat.

#13 The Last Guardian

Just about sneaking into 2016, the world has finally been blessed with Team Japan’s long-awaited The Last Guardian. Switching between various platforms, this game has charmed the socks off us and will leave a lasting impression on anyone who comes into contact with. We love you, Trico!

#12 Firewatch

I could not put Firewatch down. From start to finish, this game had its hooks into me. I needed to learn more about Henry and Delilah, the mystery surrounding them, and the saga they get caught up in. So much to think about before, during, and after, Firewatch is an example of narrative done really, really right!

#11 XCOM 2

How do you improve on an already great reboot? Higher production values, more gripping story, slicker interface, and more of what made the original great in the first place. XCOM 2 is everything we hoped a sequel would be and more. Firaxis knocked it out of the park with this and prove that this classic franchise is most definitely in the right hands.

#10 Titanfall 2

While everyone has been up and talking about Call of Duty and Battlefield, it’s two other shooters which have claimed all the headlines this year. The first is the epic sequel to Xbox exclusive, Titanfall. For its epic campaign and refreshing take on multiplayer, Respawn have crafted one of the most underrated, addictive shooters in recent memory. With clever level-design, free content updates through its life cycle, and consistently entertaining action, I had far more fun with this than I ever expected or had with the original.

#9 Civilization 6

When you’re Sid Meier and you’ve already overseen development of an almost perfect Real-Time Strategy Game, one has to wonder how you can produce a worthy successor to everything that has come before. In many ways, Civ 6 doesn’t reinvent the formula too much, but it also breathes new life with expert narration, there’s a brand new aesthetic and style, it’s even more user-friendly and therefore more accessible to newcomers. Most importantly, it’s just a very good game. One I’ve plunged hours and hours into in 2016, and will almost certainly plunge more into in 2017.

#8 Deus Ex Mankind Divided

It’s definitely been a year for successful sequels and Deus Ex Mankind Divided is no exception. This evolves the franchise in new ways, and pits us in a gritty dystopia, filled with a deep, thought-provoking, politically driven plot. The game oozes more confidence than its predecessor, it’s more open and there are some truly difficult decisions to be made. Not just a worthy sequel, but one of the best Deus Ex games ever made.

#7 Gears of War 4

While Gears 3 was the end of one story, Gears 4 has introduced us to another – just with some familiar faces. It brings the fast-paced, fluid action to Xbox One and PC while making sure it stays current and refreshing. With some clever tweaks to the much-loved Horde mode, a strong campaign, and the strong multiplayer we already know and love, Gears 4 is a welcome addition to any library and given us many hours of entertainment.

#6 Pokemon Sun/Moon

While Pokemon GO stole most of the headlines this year, it was the 3DS handheld exclusive that gave us the trainer experience we’ve been craving. In its seventh generation, players visit the beautiful Alola and must collect some familiar faces, as well as adorable newcomers, all while avoiding the advances of Team Skull. It just works and works wonderfully.

#5 Overwatch

The other shooter that has been on everyone’s lips this year is – surprisingly – from Blizzard. From the ashes of Project Titan, this shooter is team-focused with an emphasis on individual characters and their distinct attributes. Overwatch can be played by anyone, and with its unique hooks, will keep you playing for hours at a time. With regular free content updates and plenty of themed events ripe for customization, it’s also a game, we think, will be played for years to come.

#4 Final Fantasy XV

A decade in the making, Square’s defining moment has finally arrived. We reckon it might even be one of the finest RPGs ever made. Final Fantasy XV learns the lessons of its predecessors and spinoffs and has been brought together to complete something truly special. Hours and hours have been spent grinding, fishing, driving, looting, and questing, and we’re still looking forward to diving back in. Just superb.

#3 Dark Souls 3

Disclaimer: I am NOT a fan of Demon Souls or Dark Souls. When both games first came out, I just didn’t get them. I’ve tried to go back since and I still can’t get into them. And while Dark Souls 2 converted me just a little bit, and Bloodborne was quite enjoyable, it’s only with Dark Souls 3 that the franchise has finally converted me. Now I’m hooked. Everything just works so masterfully, it looks and moves great, there’s genuine tension at every turn, and it has changed the way I look at action/adventure RPGs forever. I’m still not done with Dark Souls 3, but I fully intend to see it through, such is its hold on me. At the time, this seemed like a sure-fire bet for my Game of the Year

But….

#2 Uncharted 4

Nathan Drake’s final adventure was simply spellbinding. From the word go, my eyes were transfixed on the screen. I was laughing at every nod and wink, following along with every nuance, and captivated by its regular twists and turns, the fate of every character seemingly uncertain. Many felt that The Last of Us would remain Naughty Dog’s masterpiece, but Uncharted 4 certainly stakes a pretty solid claim and at least stands alongside it. I have never seen a cast of characters some full of life and engaging and compelling as these. It truly was the equivalent of watching an epic film which sustains your attention throughout, but you can interact with it and control exactly what’s happening on the screen. You’ll even find a small audience gather alongside you, wondering how Nate is going to find his way out of this situation, or what Sully is going to do next.

That’s just the singleplayer, but you also have a magnificent multiplayer component bundled in with it. With The Last Guardian as well, what a magnificent year to be a Playstation 4 owner.  Uncharted 4 is one of the greatest platform exclusives ever designed, and I’m very much looking forward to my second playthrough.

And normally it would be a shoe-in for Game of the Year, but this isn’t your standard gaming year…

#1 Dishonored 2

We’re as surprised as you are. The original Dishonored was a fantastic game, it did everything right with its blend of stealth and action, but it doesn’t even come close to the progression and development of its sequel. There is level design here that rivals the work Valve were putting out with Half Life and Portal. The development systems here are perfectly-balanced and honed. The story is expertly paced and delicately told. There is a fantasy world at the heart of this which you’ll want to spend time exploring. Everything Dishonored 2 does is flawless.

And looking ahead at the start of the year, while I thought Dishonored 2 would be a great game, I didn’t expect it to best everything else that has come onto the market these past twelve months, but it’s a game you’ll immediately want to restart once you’ve finished to try different approaches on the missions, or to see how the story plays out with a different character/set of abilities.

There’ve been several games over the course of 2016 that I’ve held in high regard and considered genuine contenders for GOTY, but from the moment I stepped into the shoes of Emily and Corvo, I knew there was only going to be one, truly deserving winner. I don’t even think it’s a stretch to call it a masterpiece. I’ll be thinking about playing this one again and again for years to come, no matter which platform is my primary gaming base of choice.

 


 

So there we have it. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.

What was your GOTY 2016?

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,

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