It’s September, and in my opinion, 2016 hasn’t been a superb year for AAA gaming. As a quick side note before I get into this piece for those of you who aren’t sure, a AAA video game is just one that has high levels of promotion and large budget for development. Therefore, for this list, smaller scale games such as Fire Emblem Fates or Inside won’t be included.
5. X-COM 2
Dan Stapleton from IGN reviewed X-Com 2 and came to a verdict that stated: “With a focus on variety and replayability, this sequel has an answer to most of my complaints about 2012’s excellent XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and aside from some mostly cosmetic bugs, it comes together brilliantly. Thanks to a new spin on the same great tactical combat, plus unpredictable maps and randomized objectives and loot, XCOM 2 is an amazing game I’ll easily put hundreds of hours into”. X-Com 2 is one of those brutal turn based strategy games that keeps you playing for hours as you continuously make your best efforts to destroy the Advent. The combination of command decisions and the feeling that you must fail to succeed pushes the gameplay forward in so many ways. While I never played the first X-Com, I can say that the 2nd, though laced with bugs, is a great game for any strategic and tactical gamer that wants consistent quality
DOOM is one of those shooters that just feels great when you play it. Everything about the gameplay looks and feels awesome. The gory and fast paced combat is substantially matched by the smooth feel of the controls as you blast your way through hordes of demons. There’s a feeling of nostalgia when playing DOOM again in 2016, and the single player campaign consistently re-creates that feeling the more you play. However, as a game that excels at maintaining its excellent single-player campaign throughout, it’s a shame that these elements can’t even establish themselves in the poor multiplayer.
3. Dark Souls 3
Dark Souls 3 is beautifully brutal. The crazy thing about what Dark Souls has been able to achieve is the knowledge that you will die, a lot. Still, players come to the game wanting, or expecting, to die in a world that is beautifully crafted to every detail. Developer From Software has always been able to provide a challenging yet rewarding gameplay experience with the Dark Souls series that fans have come to know and love. It is that unforgiving gameplay that makes the Souls franchise as fun as it has always been. Though I felt like DS3 was a bit less challenging than its predecessors, or even BloodBorne, I was always kept on my toes in a world filled to the brim with content. The overwhelming content and RPG choices that the game provides simply add to its success, and gives the player a feeling that they are a true explorer and adventurer. “What will happen if I walk this way?” “Is there a secret passage through that corridor?” Dark Souls 3 had me constantly asking myself these questions, and there is no game that can give me greater satisfaction after I stumble upon some hidden secret that will take me to a secret place or hidden boss. Ultimately, Dark Souls 3 is the sequel we deserved, and a beautiful send off to the series.
The biggest question for everyone coming into Overwatch was “Is an IP shooter with no single player campaign worth $60?” The answer is to that question? Hell yes. Overwatch is not only fun, but its culture is unlike any game I’ve ever played. You can tell that Blizzard designed this game with a strong emphasis on team work, and it really comes to fruition, even when thrown into matches with random players. Even though these matches can sometime make for some pretty frustrating play, you still find yourself communicating in other sorts of ways and working through the struggles that your team may have initially. Another aspect that makes the game great is the fact that every single character is playable with value to the game. From attack characters like Genji or Soldier 76, to supports like Zenyatta or Symmetra, every character is usable in a competitive way. It is that design, along with the structure of the gorgeous maps that are filled to the brim with interesting stories to tell about every character and assembled masterfully for optimal gameplay, which allows for these characters to remain gratifying. Blizzard has done an excellent job generating the world of Overwatch with its comic books, in-game character dialogue, and the gorgeously animated cinematic shorts. With the constant patches and free DLC being added, Overwatch could be seeing play for a good while.
1. Uncharted 4
Uncharted 4 is a masterpiece. Point, blank, period. Playing the last game of Nathan Drake’s journey may be a painful moment for many long-time fans, but this stunning conclusion is the perfect medicine that we deserve. From start to finish, Uncharted 4 presents an incredible story that constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat. It is this impactful story-telling that has kept the series so great, and the mind-blowing graphics are simply the cherry on top. I can confidently say that Uncharted 4 is the most visually stunning game I have ever played. From the way Drake interacts with his environment, to climbing (there’s plenty of climbing to be done), to reaching your destination and looking out to see a wonderfully crafted landscape, the visuals continue to defy expectations and really show off the hard work that the Naughty Dog team put into making this game their best. Seriously, the cut scenes look so good and the dialogue flows so well, it’s like watching a movie. Uncharted gameplay is at its finest here as well, with smooth shooting controls and fun multiplayer that will be sure to keep you entertained. All and all, Uncharted 4 is truly a proud thief’s end indeed, and though we’ll miss the blockbuster nature of Nathan Drake’s games, we’ll always remember them as some of the greatest achievements in PlayStation history.