Happy New Year, everyone! What will 2017 bring, eh? Well, it's already brought this: a list of the top 50 games of 2016 as decided by you. Thank you so much for all of your votes. Now, enjoy!
- Publisher: Drool
- Developer: Drool
- Thumper review
What we said: "Thumper is fast. It's so insanely fast. Cobble that together with the precision required to succeed and the relentless allure of the wonderfully horrible art, and you have something special."
Furtin gets Thumper in a nutshell: "Mesmerizing beats whilst driving the subway to hell in VR."
"Trippy, visceral, thumping magnificence," writes AnsemsApprentice. "It's like sailing through Escher's dreams in The Grid while Neil Peart kicks you in the head in an unusual time signature." Yes, yes, so you've got a degree.
49. Ori and the Blind Forest Definitive Edition
- Publisher: Microsoft Studios
- Developer: Moon Studios
- Ori and the Blind Forest review
What we said: "Lush appearance and polished mechanics are not to be sniffed at, of course, and even if the game's long term appeal never quite reaches the dizzying heights its first impressions hint at, the difference is barely worth quibbling over. It's no exaggeration to say that Ori and the Blind Forest is still arguably the best Microsoft console exclusive in an age."
"Very Sweet game with some hard platforming," says Hairy Gorilla. Where were you last year when this came out though, Hairy?
48. F1 2016
- Publisher: Codemasters
- Developer: Codemasters Birmingham
- F1 2016 review
What we said: "If you've any love for the sport, F1 2016 can be exquisite stuff. So intoxicating have I found its take on the sport that for me this isn't just Codemasters' most accomplished F1 game to date - it's the developer's best take on circuit racing since the heady days of the TOCA series."
"A return to form for Codemasters," says Secombe. "Fantastically realised with just enough depth and detail to keep hardcore fans happy. A pleasant surprise."
"The best (modern*) Formula 1 game ever created," writes Equinox666, before finding his way straight to our heart. "The classic Papyrus Grand Prix can never be topped, although it is not comparable seeing how it deals with a different era in the sport."
47. Mirror's Edge Catalyst
- Publisher: EA
- Developer: DICE
- Mirror's Edge Catalyst review
What we said: "The original Mirror's Edge was always a great idea somewhat obscured - how frustrating to find Catalyst polishes the premise only to find itself burdened with a new set of shackles. It's a slight reward for those who've kept Faith, but this is a sequel that's too often lacking grace."
"Loved the original and although I am not 100% sure the open worldness makes it a better experience there isn't any other game that comes close to the fluidness of Catalyst," says Ourumov. Dwalker109 adds: "I don't think it will stay with me in quite the same way as the original did, but this still succeeded on many levels. Despite the many flaws (lifeless open world, surprisingly janky graphics, annoyingly shouty story), these are surpassed by the many successes (great controls, fabulous music, wonderful moment to moment gameplay)."
- Publisher: Team17
- Developer: Ghost Town Games
- Overcooked review
What we said: "Simply put, Overcooked is a delight. Like Gangbeasts or Nidhogg, it's one of those video games people suggest at a party with an expectant glint in their eye. It's messy, it's sweary and I hope it stays around for a very long time."
"An absolute blast with friends," says Fushimi. "And it doesn't even need a motion control gimmick or anything like that to achieve this."
45. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Nintendo
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD review
What we said: "When Twilight Princess launched in 2006, the faithful were placated with what was widely acclaimed at the time as the best Zelda yet - a true successor to Ocarina of Time, maybe even more than its equal. Its standing since then has diminished rapidly, and this accomplished remaster may help restore a little glory to a game that finds the series at its most expansive, with its most refined dungeons, even if it's also Zelda at its most conservative. The ingredients are all there for one of the very best Zelda games; this remaster confirms, though, that it lacks that all-important sense of adventure. Maybe that's what's lost when you give the fans what they want."
"It remains an epic Zelda adventure. Shame they didn\'t go one step further with updating the graphics, but the gameplay remains as strong as ever!" That's the WackerJr take. "Wind-Waker FTW!" argues WackerSr. (Not really.)
44. Rocket League (Xbox One)
- Publisher: Psyonix
- Developer: Psyonix
- Rocket League review
What we said: "Aside from the compact drama of the five minute matches, this is one of those rare games where the simple act of throwing a car around an arena is enough to keep you at it. Newton would approve and so would Batman. What more would you want?"
"Intense!" says Roland_on_the_Ropes. (Now that was intense.) "Brilliant," says Subquest. "It's not a game from this year, but it's still utterly brilliant."
43. Batman: Arkham VR
- Publisher: Warner Bros.
- Developer: Rocksteady
- Batman: Arkham VR review
What we said: "Arkham VR could be thrown into the 'tech demo' category that so many games at this stage will be, and that wouldn't be a total disservice - it is more of an experience than anything else. At the same time, however, that's failing to understand or appreciate what this is: a superbly crafted concept that satisfies an itch many people have been craving for years."
"Descending into the Batcave on an elevator from a secret entrance of the Wayne manor and standing as Batman on a dizzyingly high rooftop, looking at the Gotham city lights below are just two of the unforgettable moments in Arkham VR," says SuperShinobi. "Short, but so sweet."
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Developer: Giant Squid
- Abzu review
What we said: "For much of this journey I found it hard to feel the sense of awe Abzu so desperately wants to instil in its players. I admire the hell out of it, sure, with those luscious and beautifully crafted ocean depths, and I really can't emphasise enough just how enraptured I was by the presentation - but for all its obvious skill and craft the overall experience felt a little muffled, its dramatic conclusion rushed and its attempt to pull the heartstrings a little too calculated. Abzu is an expertly authored game absolutely teeming with life; I just can't help but feel it lacks a little soul."
AnsemsApprentice was taken with this one: "The way the majestic soundtrack flutters and springs to life as you're swept into monstrous currents, soaring through an exotic gamut of abyssal flora and fauna that dazzle you ten times over before you have time to fully absorb what you just saw, is magical. Blue Planet meets Fantasia; what a combo."
41. PES 2017
- Publisher: Konami
- Developer: Konami, PES Productions
- PES 2017 review
What we said: "Online or offline, PES 2017 is simply a wonderful football gameplay experience - the kind of which this generation of consoles has been waiting for. The presentation issues are, as always, a pain, but that all simply melts away when the first whistle blows. By focusing on incremental improvements, PES Productions have demonstrated a clarity of vision that money simply can't buy."
"Wonderful, annoying, brilliant, frustrating," says Raybagslfc. "Just like real football."
40. Hyper Light Drifter
- Publisher: Heart Machine
- Developer: Heart Machine
- Hyper Light Drifter review
What we said: "I'm going to return to this landscape one day: punishing as it can be, Hyper Light Drifter is a delight far more often than a slog."
"Starts out feeling a little shallow, but only extended play reveals the vast depths that lurk beneath the surface. Plus it looks good enough to eat." Back atcha, Yetipants. "Pure art," is the Gormster verdict. (Pure Art with Gormster would be a pretty good BBC 4 commission, BTW.)
39. Quantum Break
- Publisher: Microsoft
- Developer: Remedy
- Quantum Break review
What we said: "Scratch away at that and you've got a watchable TV series wrapped around a focussed and competent game, but Remedy's keen sense of style manages to elevate Quantum Break to something just about worthwhile. Maybe it's because of how eccentric the whole enterprise is. There's never been anything like Quantum Break, and it's hard to imagine there ever being anything like it again: more often for better than for worse, Remedy's strange hybrid feels like an adventure out of its own time."
Like story in your games? How about story in your comments: "Oh oh I actually really liked this," says Lazyboyblue. "The story was great. This should have been number 2 on my list but I've reached vote 5 now. Cant be arsed to change it. Sorry Remedy."
- Publisher: Paradox
- Developer: Paradox
- Stellaris review
What we said: "In many ways, the Stellaris I've played is but a starting point for modding support and a DLC plan that'll keep us going for years to come. But what a starting point it is! Leaving behind the shackles of historical accuracy has allowed Paradox to play around with so many new ideas, but somehow, whilst doing so, they've created a grand strategy game that isn't entirely terrifying to start playing in the first place. If you've ever wanted to dip your toe into this incredible genre, but found Paradox's other stuff a bit intimidating, this is the one to play. If you've enjoyed their other stuff, this one's even better."
"The most exciting and fun 4X for some time," says Dannydiddle. "And it's ever evolving and carries Paradox's trademark deep and immersive gameplay."
37. Street Fighter 5
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom, Dimps
- Street Fighter 5 review
What we said: "The combat, though, is king, and Street Fighter 5 once again proves Capcom is fighting game royalty. It usually takes years for the fighting game community to deliver a verdict on a new Street Fighter (the debate over Street Fighter 4 rages even now, eight years later), but at launch we can safely say Street Fighter 5 is an exciting, hugely satisfying and deceptively strategic fighting game with an intriguing line-up of characters that demands further investigation. Just be warned: single-player fans will be left wanting - for now, at least - and multiplayer fans may struggle online as Capcom sorts its servers out."
"The combat is superb. I couldn't give a crap about all the other stuff - distractions, one and all," says VotesForCows. (You do, or that's what you want?) "Over 1000 hours on Steam. Completed one game since SF5 released. Gameplay beats everything," says Patchbox360. Hard to argue with that.
36. Darkest Dungeon
- Publisher: Red Hook Studios
- Developer: Red Hook Studios
- Darkest Dungeon review
What we said: "Consider Lovecraft. No, consider the anglerfish, that Lovecraftian nightmare of the deep with its sickly glowing lightbulb luring you in before the wretched face becomes visible. The tiny, melted eyes, the cruel underbite, and the thatch, not of hair, but of teeth. This is Darkest Dungeon, even before the fish people turn up and are troublingly untroubled by bleeding. This is a game that's horrid in a way that means that you can't look away, a game of exhaustion and luridness and of terrible things happening in an awful, awful place. In other words, it's just lovely."
"Scariest narrator in history," says Kingsuperspecial. "Don't play in the dark."
35. Fire Emblem Fates
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Intelligent Systems
- Fire Emblem Fates review
What we said: "There's no wrong way or right way to play this game. No matter what path you take, you're rewarded with a fine adventure, with strategy that plays out with an impeccable sense of craft and quite simply one of the 3DS' very best games. Across its different flavours, Fire Emblem Fates offers ample choice, rewarding each in turn with plentiful spoils. If you really want to see Fire Emblem at its finest, though, there's only one way to go. Reset? Bring it on."
"Challenging levels and interesting characters!" says Davinewrath. "Blood or Fate?" asks Rayla. "This is the choice that Fire Emblem Fates hammers straight into the heart of gamers, beautifully blurring the line that defines family. Does blood truly bind you to your birth family? It is a pity that this game's true potential is hindered by convenient plot points and a subpar true path that somewhat contends with the message of the original two paths. Yet this game still shines with its fantastic soundtrack and beloved characters."
34. Watch Dogs 2
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Developer: Ubisoft
- Watch Dogs 2 review
What we said: "Where Watch Dogs 2 leads the field is in closing the thematic gap between our world and the open world, and in offering players more ways to hit their targets than those delivered down the barrel of a gun. It may veer in posture between truth-telling satire and flimsy flippancy, and its script may have the occasional cringe-worthy flourish ("We're hackers: we outthink, we out-dare.") but Watch Dogs 2, at its best, demonstrates where blockbusters can straddle entertainment and commentary, and pull both off with a degree of success."
"Ubisoft actually making an open world with a variety of fun things to do and some decent social commentary for a big budget AAA game," says Dylansingfield, ignoring the post-Fordist overtones in Grow Up. How convenient, Dylan. How convenient.
33. Total War: Warhammer
- Publisher: SEGA
- Developer: Creative Assembly
- Total War: Warhammer review
What we said: "We've spent years talking about these two franchises coming together. We've known it could be the perfect crossover, if handled correctly, and Creative Assembly has done an exceptional job here. Not only is this the greatest roster of units we've ever seen in a Total War game, I think the series has also picked up some valuable lessons from its tabletop compatriot. This is still a game of rock, paper, scissors and understanding systems, but it's also a game about heroes. Karl Franz, Thorgrim Grudgebearer, Grimgor Ironhide. These names mean something in the Old World, and you can't help but buy into that whilst you're playing. You'll spend more time and resources than you should, unlocking their best abilities and items. You'll charge them headfirst into the biggest fight on the battlefield and you'll keep the camera zoomed in all the way as you do it, convinced that they're single-handedly winning the day. In a world of fantasy and magic, it's fun to play the legend, not just the general."
Fiendling: "Total War and Warhammer, they were made for each other!" "It finally happened," says Barelyhomosapien. "Although I would argue that it's the wrong Warhammer franchise, always preferring the ridiculously grim pomp of the 40k universe."
32. Stephen's Sausage Roll
- Publisher: Increpare Games
- Developer: Increpare Games
31. Pokémon Go
- Publisher: Niantic
- Developer: Niantic
- Amazingly, we didn't review it.
What we said: "That's it, Pokémon Go is over. One Pokéfan has caught them all."
Spekkeh's got this one for us: ""A shitty superficial grindfest that shows games can be much more than their mechanics. One week before the official release, in the middle of a Euro2016 semi-final I see something weird happening at the end of my street and I suddenly feel the need to walk out the door and check it out. Some people are bending over their smartphones talking in hushed tones. They see me, whisper, "Happy hunting!" and then quickly scuttle away, too embarrassed they were talking about a game to someone else in public. That was in the beginning."
30. Rez Infinite
- Publisher: Enhance Games
- Developer: Enhance Games/Monstarl
- Rez Infinite review
What we said: "Back when it was released, there were some complaints that the 60 minutes it takes to see through Rez constituted poor value for money. 15 years on, I think they're enough to justify investing in a VR headset."
"This game was made to be played in VR. Way ahead of its time," says Theholyghost, and we could not agree more.
29. Stardew Valley
- Publisher: Chucklefish Games
- Developer: Eric Barone
- A week in Stardew Valley
What we said: "I feel soiled and treacherous"
"The game which teaches you the life long lesson that bribing people with gifts is the only way to get them to like you," says Latent_Entropy who, judging by the name, probably lets their farm go to ruin. "No other game captured my attention this year more than Stardew Valley." says DjchunKfunK.
28. Skyrim: Special Edition
- Publisher: Bethesda
- Developer: Bethesda
- Skyrim: Special Edition Face-Off
What we said: What remains to be said about Skyrim at this point?
"It might be remastered, but still probably the game of the decade," says Zegerman1942. Mac-da-man adds: "Still an awesome game!"
27. Planet Coaster
- Publisher: Frontier
- Developer: Frontier
- Planet Coaster review
What we said: "As a management sim, Planet Coaster is pretty ho-hum, but as a tool for creation it's a revelation: a powerful, wonderfully compelling (and frighteningly easy) way to lose yourself for hours at a time. If you've any interest at all in theme park design, or if you thrill at the idea of being able realise your every fantastical, architectural whim (even if it's just putting down a bunch of rocks just so), then you'll likely adore Planet Coaster. It mightn't be the ultimate theme park sim for accountants and middle managers, but for the dreamers and the tinkerers, the budding imagineers, there really is nothing else quite like it."
"What is special about Planet Coaster: the game, the attention to detail, the team, the streams, THE BELIEF IN THE BEEF!" This is Toshimonster. We don't get the reference, so hopefully Toshimonster isn't being controversial.
26. The Division
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Developer: Ubisoft Massive
- The Division review
What we said: "What is The Division, then? It's a vast, scrappy yet endearingly ambitious adventure that, for the most part, delivers on its promise. It's a city still under construction, too - we're yet to see the first Incursion, The Division's take on raids, that's coming in a free update next month - though in the early days Ubisoft Massive has shown a willingness and ability to act quickly upon issues and player complaints that others would do well to learn from. Not that a major overhaul is needed. The Division is a fascinating hybrid, a game that's smart and stupid in equal measure but one that's rarely anything less than enjoyable."
"Pew pew. Pop." That's Trowel's take. "Exploring New York in this setting for the first time was just jaw-dropping and the post release support has turned this into a regular feature of my gaming week," says Fleisch.
25. World of WarCraft: Legion
- Publisher: Blizzard
- Developer: Blizzard
- Legion finds World of Warcraft in the rudest possible health
What we said: "From a certain perspective, WOW's remorseless progress has killed the very genre that it dominated for so long. That's sad. But that same progress has left us with a game that can now add unparalleled longevity to its long list of unique achievements; a game that isn't just an all-time great, but that is great in the here and now."
"Best. Expansion. Ever," says RamonNL. "Still hooked, still doing my Artifact world quests, still enjoying Mythic+. The only downside, Emerald Nightmare. Bit of a boring raid."
"The expansion millions of Warcraft\'s fans have been waiting for is finally here," declares MichaelDark.
24. Ratchet and Clank
- Publisher: Sony
- Developer: Insomniac
- Ratchet and Clank review
What we said: "There's a reason that Insomniac Games has been able to keep making Ratchet & Clank games for almost fourteen years now. And that reason is that, when done right, they're utterly joyful to play. This reimagining/reboot/remake is one of the best I've played and one I can easily recommend, whether you've played the original or not."
"This reboot played like a dream, with fun weapons and enemies everywhere you looked," says Graftonator. "The back-to-back to back playthroughs led me to my 4th platinum trophy, 3 of which are from the Ratchet and Clank series!" Seriously, this game is an absolute joy.
23. Dirt Rally
- Publisher: Codemasters
- Developer: Codemasters
- Dirt Rally review
What we said: "Considering what thrills Dirt Rally offers, though, it's easy to overlook its shortcomings. Codemasters has been long overdue a return to the form that made its name, when it regularly churned out genre classics such as Colin McRae Rally, TOCA and Grid. Dirt Rally does more than restore some glory to a name that's become slightly tarnished in recent years; in its passionate portrayal of rally, delivered with brutality and beauty, Codemasters has delivered what's quite simply its finest driving game to date."
"Yes. I like racing games," says mannyYearsAgo, though, granted, you'd need to see his other choices to put this in the correct context. "A proper rally game!" says mega-gazz. You racing fans keep it short and sweet.
22. Gears of War 4
- Publisher: Microsoft
- Developer: The Coalition
- Gears of War 4 review
What we said: "I was hoping for a bit more of that old school Epic swagger, that element of unabashed stupidity which gave the world Lancers and a level set inside a Riftworm. On consideration Gears of War 4's issue isn't that it doesn't bring new ideas to the table, but that it's excessively restrained about their usage - the campaign comes to a halt an hour or two after really getting into its stride, and while Arms Race is a hectic diversion, the multiplayer is pegged down a little too firmly by the sober demands of eSports balancing. It's an accomplished revival, and a fine reason to own an Xbox One this Christmas, but expressive of a developer that is holding itself in check. The Coalition has entered the stage on tip toes. Next time I'd like to see it strut."
"Fantastic multiplayer" says Brainconfusion. "In a year of great shooters, Gears 4 gave me the most fun I have had in a campaign in ages," adds Thesnowman
21. No Man's Sky
- Publisher: Hello Games
- Developer: Hello Games
- No Man's Sky review
What we said: "As it stands, it's flawed but completely intoxicating, a unique work of engineering art to lose yourself in. Sean Murray and his team at Hello Games set out with one goal: to create a game that is science fiction. Mission accomplished."
"Best screenshot generator of the generation," says Shamblemonkee. "Like Trump as Person of the Year, No Man's Sky is a controversial choice," says Ubergine. "Yet arguably few games this year, or perhaps ever, have had the impact, generated so much controversy, column inches, zealous outrage and bafflement at that outrage as the game some decried as Hello Games' final farewell. The years-long story of No Man's Sky is more fascinating and varied than the blip of its poor launch, and with the trajectory being set by its first content update, the story of the game's development and marketing will be studied for years to come." You had us at Trump, obviously.
20. Civilization 6
- Publisher: 2K
- Developer: Firaxis
- Civilization 6 review
What we said: "A more flexible, cohesive and complete experience than any base-game entry in the series' 25-year history. There will surely be an expansion or two but they will be building atop an already feature-rich foundation, rather than filling in gaps. Learning its systems and uncovering its secrets is a particular type of joy and dedicating time and brainpower to doing so is part of the enduring charm of a series that has, once again, refused to rest on its laurels."
Fret not, Dannydiddle's got this: "An excellent new entry to the series. Not as polished and as near-perfect as the complete Civ IV and V games but a better start than either of those two. Here's hoping that the inevitable expansions iron out some of the issues."
19. Pokémon Sun and Moon
- Publisher: The Pokémon Company
- Developer: Game Freak
- Pokémon Sun and Moon review
What we said: "The world of Pokémon is finally, exactly that: a world, with charming, textured characters not just in the named friends and foes you meet, but the random people on your journey, the region you live in, the music, the Pokémon themselves and the very soul of the journey. At long last, Pokémon is not just back. With Sun and Moon, it feels fresh again."
"The characters are memorable, the storyline is gripping and everything about it that could be listed as a complaint is minor. There are a few things that I don't like but they barely ruined the game experience for me. Despite it releasing very late in 2016 it's Sky Rocketed to be one of my favourite games of all time." High praise, Skullgrunt!
18. The Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Crystal Dynamics
- The Rise of the Tomb Raider review
What we said: "Can Tomb Raider, and by extension any modern action-adventure game, really not survive without some extraneous lunge for life after the credits roll? Is it too old-fashioned? Just too expensive to make? Rise of the Tomb Raider is a well-made game. It's a handsome and solidly entertaining, if seldom inspired, way to while away a dozen hours. It has a famous name and an avatar of real dynamic power at its centre. It has tombs to raid. That ought to be enough. It shouldn't have to reach. But reach it does - for an emotional hook it doesn't have, and for trendy gimmicks it doesn't need."
Arrival on PS4 bumps last year's game back into the list. So what did you all think last year? "A superb, very underrated, unfairly reviewed (by Eurogamer) and unjustly ignored game," says Alimokrane. "Yes, the tombs are still not up to the level of the original Tomb Raider games but this game is so well crafted and gorgeous that you are willing to forgive those shortcomings. Crystal Dynamics are on the right track! Just less shooting and more tombing please!" "Amazing Tomb Raidery goodness," adds Vast.
"Now with some actual tombs," concludes JonFE.
17. The Witness
- Publisher: Thekla
- Developer: Thekla
- The Witness review
What we said: "I expect the 'real meaning' of The Witness is something the game's community will enjoy debating and piecing together over time, but this thread struck me as self-involved and wilfully obscure, carrying the whiff of alternate reality games: a riddle to be crowdsourced rather than a message to be understood. Personally, I don't find that interesting. At any rate, it's nothing like as interesting as The Witness' magnificent puzzles, which in their abstract way seem to have much more to say about the world: about logic, perception and the laws of physics, about light and dark, and about finding a way forward. Blow needn't have tried to make a puzzle out of art when he had already, so beautifully and so successfully, made art out of puzzles."
"A fresh-feeling experience despite the nominally self-contained nature of the individual puzzles," says Robotov. "It's all about perspective. Love it," says PodlingJuice. "Solving some of its puzzles makes you feel really clever," says JonFE, getting to the heart of what makes Jonathan Blow's latest so generous and memorable.
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: IO Games
- Hitman review
What we said: "Hitman's return is in danger of being overlooked this week - it launches neck-and-neck with Tom Clancy's The Division, a game that aims to be the next Destiny, with a gigantic, lustrous world and a mighty ladder of unlocks to scale. As dubious a move as this may seem commercially, it's fitting to see a game as vast and, at times, vacuous as The Division launching alongside a game that's all about detail and volatility, where weaselling a target out of a packed room can take up to an hour. Without wishing to knock Ubisoft's work too much, Hitman's design is much more rewarding to ponder - it asks for experimentation and mastery, rather than mere patience and the ability to follow a waypoint. Agent 47's return is long overdue, and so far, very welcome. Roll on episode two."
"Return of the sandbox assassination king!" says NeoVDR. Guylainbrunet's take? "The best surprise of this year, with a good Pro version."
15. Deus Ex Mankind Divided
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Eidos Montreal
- Deus Ex Mankind Divided review
What we said: "My standout moment came not during a blistering firefight, or while "recruiting" security 'bots to the cause, but during one of my frequent trips on Prague's metro rail. Segregation is in force here, with augs required to exit through the right turnstile and stand at the far end of the platform. It's a toothless measure in practice, as ignoring the signs will at worst earn you a nasty remark from a "natural", but the twist of the knife is that the game's HUD is complicit, always inviting you to use the departure board at the end of the platform. As a practised gamer, accustomed to going along with the HUD unquestioningly, it took me a while to realise that the interface was effectively discriminating against my character. More of that kind of thing, and Mankind Divided might have been a breakthrough. As things stand, it only continues the revolution."
"It might just be a shinier version of Human Revolution but since that's one of the greatest games ever, that's OK," says Homerbert. "The plot is nonsense but the world is totally engrossing." "Loved its focus on depth and character," agrees iWolf, which is hopefully a forthcoming Apple product.
- Publisher: Panic
- Developer: Campo Santo
- Firewatch review
What we said: "Firewatch is a triumph of craft, but the consequence is that, when it comes to genuine emotional involvement, it always keeps you at a slight distance. The price of this kind of cleverness is spontaneity. Like anybody who knows they're being watched, Firewatch is just a little too self-conscious."
"Mellow," says Dansweetfeet, which is an excellent name. "A beautiful, relaxed "walking simulator" that has you engaged with its characters from the very start," says ActionFlash, which isn't a bad name either.
13. XCOM 2
- Publisher: 2K
- Developer: Firaxis
- XCOM 2 review
What we said: "XCOM 2 isn't a reworking of the original game, then - it's a genuine response to it. A response to us. Turns out Firaxis was on overwatch all along."
"Managed to build on the quality of the previous entry in the series while adding enough new features to feel very different. And hard." That's the Magnumstache verdict.
"EG failed miserably to comment on how glitchy the graphics are or how crap the final mission is, but this is still the fairest, meanest, most relentless strategy game about patiently shooting aliens in the face ever made." Poglord, everyone who displeased you has been terminated.
12. The Last Guardian
- Publisher: Sony
- Developer: genDesign, Sony Japan Studio
- The Last Guardian review
What we said: "Does The Last Guardian live up to its lineage? Does it do its forebears proud? It does so much more. It is bold enough to step away from their hints and their mysteries and explore its own kind of wonder."
"A unique vision," says Robtion. And nobody will top that.
- Publisher: Playdead
- Developer: Playdead
- Inside review
What we said: "And that laughter is perhaps the most surprising thing about Inside - right up until, you know, that ending. Like Limbo, there is plenty of comedy here in amongst the darkness, and because the darkness is all that more grim this time, the laughs are just a bit sharper too. As with the cleverest of Inside's tricks, the narrative itself is best discovered through the act of playing, but it's worth saying that Playdead's latest certainly feels peculiarly topical as it ceaselessly orbits persecution, violence, and all the other dehumanising, self-defeating monsters of fear. It toys with the meaning of that word, inside, until there's nothing left to it that doesn't feel strange and unsettling."
"Loved how it doesn't even have a menu screen, just drops you straight into this bizzare, hostile future. And such a memorable final act," says Novander. "Dark, creepy and really, really weird," adds RabidChild.
10. Final Fantasy 15
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Square Enix
- Final Fantasy 15 review
What we said: "This troubled history is one of the reasons Final Fantasy 15 is so difficult to pin down. For a series universally known and loved for its emphasis on storytelling, can I recommend a Final Fantasy game despite its unsatisfying story? Instinctively I'd say no, but even as someone who prized the narratives of previous games I still found myself going back to 15's early stages to seek out new challenges after I'd concluded the main campaign. And it's clear that Final Fantasy 15 benefits from a vision, one that emboldened its developers to try new things and reinvent a series while reclaiming the scale that its most ardent fans are used to. In chasing that scale the bigger picture can sometimes get a little obscured, but importantly Final Fantasy 15 retains that love of smaller stories, the ones that often prove to be so much more memorable."
Listen, I've just heard from Clemence_Portis: "Worth the goddamn wait. Looks and plays fantastically. And although I may be in the minority, I quite enjoyed the story as well."
Anyone else? ""Had been waiting for this for years, really met all my expectations." Glad to hear it, Spiritsnake! Malek86 opts for measured praise: "The story is more annoying than the sidequests. And the sidequests are just boring fetch jobs. Yet it's all held together by the best battle system Squenix has churned out in the last 10 years."
9. Dishonored 2
- Publisher: Bethesda
- Developer: Arkane Studios
- Dishonored 2 review
What we said: "I went into the game expecting a universe of glorious ugliness, deliciously underhand abilities, maps that are lousy with infiltration vectors, and a multitude of ways to survive any scenario. I found all of that and more, but I wasn't expecting to care quite so much about the people I met along the way."
ConorF64 has an admission to make. "The only reason it isn't higher is because I'm biased towards RPGs." Still: "Fantastic sequel to a fantastic game."
"Honed and refined mechanics from the first game, it didn't innovate wildly over the original, but it did deliver a superb stealth experience." says SyphilloidMonkey, who we've included because of the name, really.
8. Forza Horizon 3
- Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
- Developer: Playground Games
- Forza Horizon 3 review
What we said: "Right now, we need a racing game like this. We need one that we can recommend to friends who aren't dedicated to the genre, confident that it will dazzle and thrill them as much as any online shooter or action epic might - even as it serves multiple subcultures of racing and car fans. The team at Playground Games get away with it because amid all this added value and feature iteration, they never forget what they came here to do: put you on the open road, amid beautiful scenery, and allow you to let rip behind the wheel of something gorgeous or growling, obscure, iconic or insane. They came here to plant that big, fat smile on your face. Forza Horizon 3 is, quite simply, the best racing game around."
"Choose-Your-Own-Arcade-Racer with increasingly latent Sega gene," says Granholme. We're still puzzling over how something being increasingly latent would work. Please get in touch to explain?
"Gorgeous and extremely playable," says Dizzy. "Driving games don't get better than this," says Gregg Wallace, briefly assuming the body of Mrtav. "Perfect for enthusiasts and casual driving game players alike."
7. Battlefield 1
- Publisher: EA
- Developer: Dice
- Battlefield 1 review
What we said: "This is the same old Battlefield in well-pressed slacks, a little more stately and a lot more composed than it's been in some time, with better manners to boot. The same old brilliant Battlefield, mind you, that's capable of generating grand stories far more captivating than it can tell itself. Battlefield 1 isn't quite the reinvention that some might have hoped for, then, but it's the finest Battlefield in years all the same."
Nobody had anything that amazing to say about Battlefield 1, so we're going to paste in the comments from last year's number 7 instead. Any idea what it was?
"Simple and fun," is the VoxyGon verdict. (He wrote a bit more, but you had to be there.) "May be the best pick-up-and-play experience that has ever been created," says cjb_bjc. "An amazing way to spend five minutes, an even better way to spend an hour! The post launch support is something that should be praised too!" DeLoreans, right? "Can't. Stop. Playing," says Leolian.
6. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
- Publisher: CD Projekt
- Developer: CD Projekt RED
- The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine review
What we said: "All in all, Blood and Wine is a fitting swansong for The Witcher 3. It's a playful goodbye, but also a testament to what made the series so good in the first place. It brings a vibrant new perspective to the world of The Witcher while remaining true to the gritty, medieval P.I gameplay that made it great in the first place. It's an emotional yet mirthful fairytale; one every Witcher fan ought to experience."
"Geralt looked me in the eye man!! And f***ing vampires." Oh, Luminer. Psiloc is similarly to-the-point: "It was more The Witcher 3. What's not to like?"
AlPacino10 meanwhile suspects alchemy: "Great price, great content, all the things you love and new elements."
5. Titanfall 2
- Publisher: EA
- Developer: Respawn
- Titanfall 2 review
What we said: "With the uncomfortable release window, sandwiched as it is between Battlefield 1 and Infinite Warfare, Titanfall 2 stands out. Here's hoping it finds an audience, too - it's just too good not to. This is benchmark stuff - a campaign that will be talked about for years, and multiplayer so compelling that it makes the competition feel clunky and staid in comparison."
"Ok so it's another 2016 game with a Zelda-like time-switch mechanic (and yet another sequel)," says Smemma, "but the campaign was stupidly smart for what is on paper a hugely dumb game. The multiplayer is the most straight-up-fun multiplayer I've played in such a long time; especially refreshing after the disappointing stand-in-a-big-bowl-map-and-get-taken-out-by-snipers-6-miles-away-and-repeat-for-40-minutes Battlefield 1." Oof! Someone's kicking it hard and real here.
Stefarooh is similarly delighted: "Titanfall 2's campaign simply blew me away. There are just too many set pieces to describe in its curt five hour running time but suffice to say there is never a dull moment. I would go so far as to say that Titanfall 2 features one of my most favorite FPS single player campaigns in recent memory."
4. Dark Souls 3
- Publisher: Bandai Namco
- Developer: From Software
- Dark Souls 3 review
What we said: "This is a truly epic journey, from your first faltering steps across gloomy cliffs to striding like a lord-slayer through Lothric Castle. Like all epics it has endless diversions, quarrels, unexpected companions, and great big fights. Is it the finest Souls game yet? I don't know; it might be. I can say this, though: Dark Souls 3 is a fabulous game, and a fitting conclusion to the greatest trilogy of modern times."
"A light hearted romp, set in a romantic fantasy setting," says Dr_Salvador84. "Not as good as Bloodborne, 10/10," adds Jarlath. "Damn, what an experience," says Night_swim.
"I lost count, but I estimate it took me 40-50 tries to beat the tutorial boss. Rest was easier," concludes Humppakummitus.
- Publisher: Bethesda
- Developer: id Software
- Doom review
What we said: "Capacious, beautiful, brainy and barbaric, Doom's return could be this year's most unexpected triumph, largely because it's the work of people who understand that every reboot is a work of both love and hatred, in which creators fight against the pull of the subject matter. It's not enough to summon and confront the devil. You also have to exorcise the creature, to put the past firmly in its place. The Doom of 2016 hasn't rendered the Doom of 1993 surplus to requirements - that would take sorcery indeed - but id has finally managed to escape its gravity."
"Who knew the freshest game of the year would be a reimagining of something from 1993?" asks Chazzy_chef, who certainly has the freshest name of the year. "The best FPS campaign in a decade, and hopefully the start of a new (old) way of looking at the genre." Wise words!
"Shooty!! Blasty!!!", ventures Superflyninja. "The single-player campaign is one for the ages," says AlPacino10. (Sucks if this is the real Pacino, BTW. If it is, drop us a line and we can get you bumped up the queue a bit.) "Who honestly thought this game would be even passable let alone one of the year's best sleeper hits? The most fun I've had in a shooter campaign for a long time." That's DJDog talking, but to be honest, everyone who's mentioned Doom has said pretty much this. Nobody saw Doom comin'.
- Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Overwatch review
What we said: "This is a game I want to play for years to come and so far, Blizzard is saying a lot of the right things to make that commitment seem worthwhile: ranked play will arrive next month, future heroes and maps will always be offered as free updates and the leveling system will only ever grant cosmetic rewards. I continue to be impressed by the Overwatch team and their willingness to both talk and listen to their community. If that keeps going, Blizzard's first new universe in more than 18 years could go on to match the likes of Diablo, Warcraft, StarCraft and that puzzle platformer with the vikings."
"The number one reason I haven't played other games," says Shamblemonkee. Better than our number one reason! (Carpal tunnel, alas.)
Venenofan agrees, by the sounds of it: "I have never liked playing multiplayer only games. I have never particularly loved FPS games. I have never played a game more than 100 hours and for more than a month at a time." Sensing that someone is about to flip-reverse this? "I have now played more than 250 hours of Overwatch, over 6 months, playing regularly a couple of times a week. If a game is so good that it can go against all my usual tastes and become not only my GOTY, but one of my favorite games, it must do something right."
Final word? "Better with with friends. Pure masterpiece, Blizz porn." Testify, Ckyman2!
1. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
- Publisher: Sony
- Developer: Naughty Dog
- Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
What we said: "As accomplished as Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is - as heroically as it bests its predecessors, as gracefully as it sidesteps their pitfalls - it's not possible for it to have the seismic impact and far-reaching influence that Uncharted 2 did. Nor does it redefine the storytelling scope of the blockbuster action game like The Last of Us. It still does something remarkable for a major franchise video game, though: it doesn't overdo its exit. It doesn't immolate itself in a blaze of glory, it tells a story about people and finds peace in its resolution. It just ends. Fin."
"Not as good as The Last of Us," says Jarlath. "9.5/10." Nice! "An epic end to an epic journey with characters that I'll genuinely miss," adds Richclaridge. "Pretty," says RiffRaff666.
"It's a steak with fries." says DonNorris - and hold onto something because this analogy is going places. "Naughty Dog has made some before, others made theirs too. Classic yes, but made with the best meat and potatoes around by a chef in his own tier. They've added a whip of the sauce they used for Last of Us and there might have been a bit too much. A steak with fries then, still the best one I've had in quite some time." As long as they're sharing the tips with the kitchen, Don, unlike that jerk Michel Roux Jr, it's okay with us.
"A swashbuckling romp with a ton of heart and the most amazing human performances yet seen." concludes Dudefella, with a pretty decent sweep of the Naughty Dog bingo board. Romps, eh?