And so it begins. Today marks the start of our journey back through the games released this past year to find those that really stand out from the crowd. We like to spread our love for games as wide as possible, trying to give different games and genres a time to shine, but this year we start with a bang, a titanic thunderclap for Best Single Player 2016.
That’s no easy thing to decide when this year has been so good for games. The First Person Shooter genre alone has been as strong as I can remember, but beyond that there have been critically acclaimed single player games such as Dishonored 2, Watch Dogs 2, Ratchet & Clank and, of course, Uncharted 4.
In a break from recent years where we voted internally, we instead gathered together online to really discuss and advocate for our games – alas, recording this was not possible, or we would post it as a podcast. For each category, we’ll be sharing some of those arguments for the main contenders.
For Best Single Player, they went a little like this:
Simply put, Doom is an over-the-top gory throwback to 90s shooters, that somehow feels about as fresh as the genre has in years. Having the brutal melee attacks replenish ammunition mean that you are almost always stocked up for the carnage ahead, which is just as well as the demons of hell are not only as deadly as they were in the original games, but also packing more heat.
While the multiplayer is a largely forgettable affair, I found myself sucked into the single player for the entirety of the campaign. It hardly ever missed a beat, whether that’s due to the level design, the superb metal soundtrack, that feeling of the old made new again, or just that I hadn’t had a decent bit of ultraviolence in a shooter for a long time. As a kid that grew up with Doom and being disappointed with Doom 3’s deviation into horror, this reboot was everything I wanted and more.
The surprising thing about Uncharted 4 is that Naughty Dog actually took some pretty big risks. Instead of sprucing up the series’ existing formula, it underwent a major overhaul. From the feel and flow of combat to meaningful additions such as the jeep and grappling hook, at times it feels completely removed from what’s come before. It often gets to steer away from the non-stop action of previous games with much more open levels that encourage exploration and more tactical approaches to combat.
That said, there’s still an overwhelming focus on killer set pieces, many of which are their own self-contained showcases. The best thing about these is that they’re completely playable, from that initial boat scene to some intense close combat situations.
Though it can lose its way at times, Uncharted 4’s single player is simply unforgettable. It’s an extravagant masterpiece that rival studios will struggle to top for quite some time and a fitting send of for Nathan Drake.
The thing that stands out about Titanfall 2 is that you’re never stuck doing the same thing for very long. One minute you’re on foot blazing your own trail through the enemy soldiers and robots in your way, the next you’re hopping in and taking control of BT-7274, your loveable Titan companion, except that you’re then handed sections that make use of Titanfall’s jet pack enhanced traversal.
That kind of variety extends to the level design and the set pieces, as the team that helped define modern day shooters with Modern Warfare flex their muscles once more. It’s not perfect – the boss fights aren’t particularly inventive and some environments can be underwhelming – but each foible disappears in from the rearview mirror as quickly as it appeared, to be replaced with a fresh new idea, a new setting, a new twist on the gameplay – the time travel level is simply sublime, not to mention the awesome feeling when you eventually have a Smart Pistol in hand.
For those reasons and more, Titanfall 2 recieves our 2016 award for Best Single Player.
- Uncharted 4
- Watch Dogs 2
- Ratchet & Clank