As you probably saw last week, Jim posted his rankings on what he reckoned were the best games of 2016 thus far; the “creme de la creme” if you will. Opinions are purely subjective on this matter, based on what we’ve played, what we’ve had time for, and indeed what consoles we own.
This then is my spin on things, based on what I’ve played. You’ll of course see a very notable omission: I’ve just not gotten around to playing Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. If you’ve been paying attention to our What We Played articles – well done if you do – then you’ll notice I tend to flit around, barely settling on a game unless I’m reviewing it. I also tried playing the Uncharted Collection in time for Uncharted 4, but alas this wasn’t meant to be.
So with that particular caveat out of the way, here are my ten picks for the best games of 2016 so far:
10. Guilty Gear XRD: Revelator
Perhaps a fringe addition, but go with me on this one. Guilty Gear XRD: Revelator is here purely because of just how well the game teaches you how to play. Most fighting games tend to just give you an opponent to fight and things to do, checking off a list. Revelator turns the tutorial into a platformer of sorts and it’s a thing to behold.
It also shows you how to deal with certain matchups, as well as provide a great arcade mode and other extras on top of this. A cinematic story that features no gameplay is a black mark against the game, but as far as I’m concerned the place is earned by what it does right rather than wrong.
I don’t expect Guilty Gear XRD: Revelator to be riding on the Top 10 as the year progresses, with many high profile titles still to come, but it’s an excellent alternative to the likes of Street Fighter V and Killer Instinct for those who don’t mind the anime but love the combos you can pull off.
9. Fire Emblem: Fates
This marathon of a game has three parts. I’ve so far completed one of the three parts and am ploughing through the second. The cost of entry to Fire Emblem: Fates is astronomical for a handheld game, but the three games provide hours upon hours of enthralling battles.
Nintendo certainly took a risk with this one, by splitting it into three distinct parts of one overarching story. In my eyes, this paid of with refined mechanics and one of the best 3DS tactical RPGs on the market. The fact I care about both sides of the conflict is a testament to the effort that has gone into the latest Fire Emblem.
This is of course based on what I’ve played thus far which encompasses half of the intimidating amount of content on offer. Time will tell as to whether this still breaks the Top 10 by the year’s end.
8. XCOM 2
Aside from it being a rather buggy mess upon launch, XCOM 2 had many improvements compared to XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Instead of being the defenders of Earth, you now command the liberators of an Alien regime that has completely taken over the populace.
Setting up ambushes at the beginning of each mission is a fantastic idea that drastically improves the pacing. Old aliens get a reskin to make them even more menacing, while the new ones are horrific monstrosities that would crush you without a second thought.
There were times where things would be going so well, until the Aliens launch something I was unprepared for; meaning there was a huge amount of tension throughout. By refining what made the original work and changing what didnt, XCOM 2 deserves to be on your radar too.
7. Street Fighter V
Okay, the launch period was terrible. It had huge amounts of server issues, was incomplete up until around a month ago when the story mode arrived – and wasn’t that good. So why do I rank it so highly? It’s the fighting game I go to when I have a spare half-hour.
Jump onto ranked, get into a few fights that are rarely one sided, hammer on the rematch button when a particularly good fight happens: It’s all part of why Street Fighter V is so replayable. Couple that with characters that are fun to play as – my particular favourite is Rashid – and in my eyes you have a winning formula.
So even though it still has issues to sort out – rage quitting is a particular bug-bear of mine which the new update will hopefully help with – it’s still a phenomenal fighting game that mixes up the fighting game genre with its V-skill and V-Trigger moves that are unique for each character, as well as the tricky-to-pull-off V-Reversals for when things get nasty.
6. Bravely Second
Bravely Second wins the title for game I’ve played the most in 2016 thus far. I had sunk over 70 hours into this 3DS JRPG. Not just because it was the only thing to play on the train/bus, but also because I was thoroughly enjoying my time with the sequel.
While the first game innovated in many ways, it was the little conveniences from Bravely Second that stand out. Being able to chain encounters to multiply experience and gold earned was a godsend, meaning that grinding never took too long.
Combine this with side-quests that felt meaningful, a story that satisfies with the twists it has to offer, as well as a job system that rewarded crazy combinations; you get a superb JRPG worth firing up the 3DS for. I’m still waiting on the gravy though…
5. Enter The Gungeon
The representative that will probably make Tuffcub’s eyes bleed from the pixels, Enter the Gungeon is an example of how to make a Rogue-lite game that I will actively want to play again and again. Its amusing premise and huge array of guns pay dividends to that enjoyment.
My philosophy on most Rogue-lites is that the game needs to have meaningful progression available. It can’t get away with the same ‘one-then-done’ game structure that most Rogue-likes have because wasting my time is not something I overly enjoy.
Enter The Gungeon takes this to heart, but also has alternative weapons – allowing players to play the way they want from the get-go, while also finding more items along the way to bolster the arsenal a little more. A great little action game!
Blizzard’s darling entry into the hero shooter genre has garnered a committed following across all platforms. With tight controls, a colourful cast of characters, and abilities that think outside of the box; it’s easy to see just why so many people flocked to this game at launch.
It has dropped a little in my rankings due to how the loot boxes work and some ‘interesting’ post-launch decisions when it comes to modes, but that doesn’t stop Overwatch from being a game I’ve certainly gone back to a few times to hassle people as Roadhog.
With new characters joining the already strong roster, I’m certainly encouraged to hop back into it. Who knows, perhaps I might adopt the new heroes as mains? I hear the Sniper Healer is pretty snazzy.
Short, but not without impact, Inside is certainly the followup to LIMBO that I was looking for. Moment to moment gameplay that felt fresh throughout, this dystopian world sucked me in from the first few minutes.
Not only that, but it surpassed LIMBO for the sheer number of times I loudly exclaimed profanities at what I was seeing. To say anything more would be a disservice for those who haven’t played it, but I will say that there are enough collectables to warrant a thorough playthrough.
If you have played Inside, you’re not likely to forget about it any time soon for all the right reasons. That is the sound of a top-tier game if I’ve ever heard one!
2. Dark Souls III
Oh Souls… Thou art such an abusive mistress. You giveth, then cruely taketh away all progress I hath made. It’s hard for me to say whether Dark Souls III or Bloodborne was better, the latter may edge it overall, but that doesn’t mean Dark Souls III isn’t an expertly crafted game.
It’s not just the new areas full of nasty surprises that could kill you without a second thought. It’s not just the weapons that feel more powerful than ever before. It’s the runts that on their own are a challenge, but in groups are devastating.
Then there are the boss battles, some of which are the best in the series to date. I still have nightmares of the number of times the Abyss Watchers slew me as I was rushing to review. I still have the twitch memory formed when fighting Pontiff Sulyvahn (Sul-le-van) in order to dodge his attacks. A phenomenal game, but only one in my eyes tops it so far this year…
Even with a multiplayer that felt average, the single player campaign is by far the best thing I’ve played in 2016 thus far. All the games in my list have elements of superb moment-to-moment gameplay that I adored for what they were. DOOM’s single player campaign didn’t really let up – the whole campaign was nigh-on perfect!
From the moment where Doom Guy trashes the oh-so important plot device because he just wants to kill things, to the cock of the shotgun as the introduction music ends; it’s easy to see how this high-octane game flourishes. Weapons, gore, monsters; you name it – DOOM has it.
I could gush all day about DOOM. In fact some people have witnessed just how much I love this game. Perhaps it’s an unhealthy amount… In any case, I’d gladly go back when I have the chance – shotgun in hand – to blast away more bits from the armies of hell’s demons.
Of course you know what to do in terms of lists like these. Agree or disagree with some of these suggestions? Sound off below and let the world know what you have loved this year.