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Me and my tomato plant during the dark times of 2016

 

Twenty and Sixteen was an odd year for us all. The year was full of upheaval, despair and sad times. Yet It was also one full of good, and no where was it more obvious than in the realm of video games, seeing a whole tidal-wave of great games for all consoles, PC and mobile devices. 

So as we finally kick off 2017 I have been given the opportunity to do the traditional top five list thing and present you with my top five games released in 2016… In no order at all…

No Man’s Sky

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It’s hard to talk about No Man’s Sky without drawing some negative feedback from people who expected more and felt let down. The sheer amount of negativity that came out after the games release was incalculable and the scary threats and reactions of some were disappointing.

Yet it’s perspective that makes No Man’s Sky enjoyable, the sheer magnitude of space available for the player to explore is mind boggling, weather the game is what you had originally expected or not. When entering into the vast galaxy unfettered by preconceptions of how a game should be you find yourself having a good time with it. Or at least I did.

It’s not without it’s issues, but it’s a humbling experience that rewards clam and relaxed play. This really is “no man’s sky”, and the sense of just being another part of a very much bigger whole is interesting. The game has also begun receiving new updates that show plenty of new possibilities, so if you haven’t jumped into it yet, now’s a better time than any.

Overwatch

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Play of the bloody game! What can I say about Overwatch that hasn’t already been said? Blizzard has manufactured one of the greatest first person shooters and multi-player games of all time. Fostering a new community, reinvigorating the notion of the character based FPS, and constantly updating a game with new modes and features. Overwatch is colourful, friendly, and accessible at a time when most other competitive shooters are far from that.

It’s cast of characters are all fun and interesting, from lively British stereotypes to Buddhist monk robots, nearly all are brilliantly designed and unique. Each playing in interesting and one of a kind ways that keep the game fresh and consistently interesting.

Loot boxes and new game modes also constantly keep people coming back, be it new rare skins for a character they love or original game timed game modes, players are always given new reason to look in on the game.

Hitman

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I have already gushed to an extent about this game on the site (over here for those interested) but it cannot be stated enough just how much of a revelation Hitman 2016 is. The franchise being both reinvigorated and perfected in one release is one thing, but also being a reinvention of the concept of episodic gaming is quite another.

Every stage is a wondrous playground of opportunity and ideas. The addition of illusive targets is a master stroke, adding in a new recurring motivation to both keep coming back for new and original free content updates, while also motivating players to learn the games stages and mechanics as deeply as possible. It’s an astounding game and worthy of being a game of the year contender.

Stardew Valley

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Sometimes we just need a break from all the shooting and violence, we need a reminder that life can be pleasant and fun, just for life’s sake. Stardew Valley is all about enjoying and reclaiming your life, about finding the joy in the quiet moments, and about playing your way.

It’s amazing to think that every aspect of the game was crafted by a single person as it’s a near perfect execution on the farm-relationship RPG. Every moment is just nice, filled with exploration, making new friends, growing plants, and finding new things. It’s a game that about life and the life is about moments. It’s a rare thing in the recent years releases and it’s one that is both addictive and fun.

Doom

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One title that is not about making friends (unless you count shoving someone’s foot in their own mouth as making a friend) is Doom. It is very much on this list for the same reasons as Stardew Valley and Hitman though. It’s both a revelation that another title was so perfectly reinvented while keeping its series core feel and vision and a game that is very much about moments.

Those moments come at you at a million miles an hour while everything around you explodes and an insane (almost parodic) electro-metal soundtrack tears through the air, but they are moments. Doom is about speed with no loss of control, it’s glory kills a snappy way to keep things moving while keeping you alive through the ride. If Hitman isn’t been the best unofficial reboot of a game series this year, Doom certainly is.

 

Honourable mention : Gigantic (on early access)

Gigantic has been a late arrival for me, and as it’s not technically out yet I can’t really put it on any games of 2016 list.

It is shaping up to be a very special little title though, with a 3rd person take on the traditional MOBA style character based game. With it’s own unique twists obviously.

What stands out the most here though is the art and animation. I could probably argue it for one of the bast looking games of the lest decade, being a mix of the best of Disney and Don Bluth’s character work. It’s a shame that Overwatch has taken much of the worlds attention and that Battleborn has tainted the more MOBA-like features that this game features, because it’s very deserving of attention.

Honourable mention : Burnout Paradise

What??! OK look I know it’s about eight years old now, but really, it’s just hit backwards compatibility and it’s bloody amazing. Go play it!! (Couldn’t agree more! – Ed).

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