2016 was quite a year. In fact it was kind of a dumpster fire. I watched my country become more divided than I ever remember it being. I learned a few startling things about people I’ve known my entire life. I faced some personal hardships as well, life threw me quite a few curve balls that I won’t soon forget. But I’m not interested in talking about any of that. 2016 was a fantastic year for video games.
Overwatch was my favorite game of 2016. I did not follow it’s development, nor did I pay attention to the hype that surrounded this title. In fact I only stumbled upon this game by accident really. It wasn’t until sometime around Thanksgiving that I even started playing it. Blizzard was running a free Overwatch weekend and I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and boy am I sure glad I did! This has now become one of my go to games because….well, it’s just a lot of fun! I’ve never been much of an FPS guy, but Overwatch is much different from the Call of Duty / Battlefield types that I tend to avoid. It’s an objective based shooter with fun, colorful and cartoonish visuals that requires teamwork and skill to master. Each available character is diverse and unique, and each one brings something different to the table. In fact there are 23 playable characters as of the time of this writing, the roster is split into 4 special roles that each play a special part in taking the objective. I am quite partial to Zenyatta, a robot monk who heals his allies and debuffs his foes with orbs. Blizzard takes great care of this franchise with frequent patches and seasonal events – and the best part? All updates, maps, and characters thus far have been free, though there is always the option to buy loot boxes which contain purely cosmetic embellishments like skins and victory animations. (mostly sprays though dammit) I have definitely gotten my money’s worth out of this game. And when I can afford it, I have no problem throwing them some cash here and there for loot boxes. I’ve got quite the collection of skins right now!
Pokémon Sun & Moon
This summer I watched the very same people who have teased me my entire life about my Pokémon obsession absolutely lose their minds for an app called Pokémon GO. Maybe you’ve heard of it? I watched them gather in large groups and wander the streets aimlessly staring at their cellphones looking for bigger, better and stronger Pokémon out in the physical realm of Earth. I had my fair share of fun with that same app, though I eventually got bored with it. I had my sights on Pokemon Sun & Moon – the first new game in the core Pokemon series since 2013’s X & Y. This game introduced 80 new Pokemon. Trainers found themselves in the Hawaii themed Alola region. This wasn’t my favorite game in the series, and it had its ups and downs, but hey! More Pokemon is more Pokemon – and that’s (usually) a good thing!
Final Fantasy XV
First off I should mention that I have yet to finish this game. In fact, I eventually got kind of bored of it, but I am not going to blame Final Fantasy XV for losing my attention, I just got caught up in side quests and lost focus on the main story. Square did manage to deliver a pretty damn good Final Fantasy game. I happened to enjoy the Final Fantasy XIII series, but this game was definitely a departure from the more linear XIII games, and somehow still managed to capture that Final Fantasy feel that fans of the series have come to know and love. The quality of the game was hands down well worth the hype. It went through development hell, didn’t quite make the cut for the legacy consoles it was originally intended to release on, and major changes were made over the course of its original development. The cast of characters really grew on me, and it really is a beautiful game. There is definitely enough substantial gameplay for me to come back to, and I fully intend to – I’m just going to give it some time and clear out my ridiculous backlog in the meantime.
Batman : A Telltale Series
Telltale games are always hit or miss with people. They are known for deep storytelling, and play out more like a television show than a game sometimes. The choices you make are supposed to impact the story in some sort of way, though I have come to realize that the choices are arbitrary most of the time and don’t generally make a huge difference. That being said, I’ve played and finished every Telltale game to date, and I am personally a huge fan of their style. I understand it’s not for everyone, but Batman is a very beloved character obviously, so maybe give this one a try if you’re a fan of the DC Universe? I don’t really follow DC Comics, but this one was a given as I am such a huge Telltale fan. This game gave Bruce Wayne and company an entirely unique universe, and a whole new storyline that is just so damn good. You’ll see familiar faces like Catwoman, Harvey Dent, commissioner Gordon, and even The Joker! Right now Telltale is running the third season of the hit Walking Dead series and is preparing for a Guardians of The Galaxy one as well.
Street Fighter V
Street Fighter has long been one of my favorite fighting games as well as one of my most beloved franchises of all time. The announcement of the 5th official installment in the series was the sole reason I even bought a PlayStation 4. The game was met with mixed reviews at first – Capcom released an obviously very unfinished game with a very small roster compared to Street Fighter games in the past, but what made this game promising to me was the change of business model that fans have come to loathe from Capcom’s fighting series. Street Fighter IV was released 4 different times, and each iteration divided the community into “haves and have not’s” meaning – if you didn’t upgrade than you were constrained to playing a now obsolete version of a game you already purchased while your friends were beefing up their skills and enjoying new features without you. Not only unfortunate, but began to feel downright insulting. This generation of Street Fighter will not be released as anything other than Street Fighter V, and instead of working on resurrecting the same game multiple times, Capcom is focusing on keeping the one we already have balanced and relevant. Now players have the option to obtain new fighters by simply playing the game faithfully, or by paying a fee for the season pass which does include some stuff exclusive to those who are willing to shell out the cash. There are a total of 24 characters to date. The game is still not perfect, but it’s a lot of fun. I think this game will stay relevant for a long time from now, and has managed to win back a lot of fans favor.
This was just 5 of MANY great games that released in 2016. There are actually a lot of other titles I still haven’t even gotten the chance to play! The Last Guardian, Uncharted 4, Xcom 2 and Titanfall 2 just to name a few. There are others that I’m currently making my way through like Firewatch, Steep, Stardew Valley…the list goes on. I don’t know if the world is going to end, I’m not an expert on political matters and I will never claim to be. I do hope to see people learn to love each other and stand up for those in need, and that’s probably the best I have to offer. To 2017! There are a bunch of excellent looking games coming our way soon, I think it’s going to be another monumental year for gamers. I’m also looking forward to the Nintendo Switch!