It has been quite a year of video games. Major sequels, new franchises, surprising indie releases, and some surprise flops filled up 2016. But, before Fandom dives into the official lists of the best games of 2016, we want to get a little personal first, and name some of the writer’s personal favorite games of 2016.
So, some of Fandom’s editors and fan contributors got together to choose their individual top game of 2016. Some voted the biggest hits of the year, others had very specific choices for game of 2016, but everyone’s is unique. So, let’s take a look at the team’s personal favorite games they’ll remember from 2016.
Henry Gilbert Picks Tokyo Mirage Sessions
2016 was a huge year for Japanese role-playing games. Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest lead the way with significant new entries, backed up by many turn-based timesinks across every major platform. Of all my personal favorite games of 2016, the one I’ll remember most is the last Wii U game you’ll ever need, and a crossover I’ve been waiting four years to play. Yes, it’s Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE.
This game brings together the dungeon-crawling and Tokyo setting of Shin Megami Tensei and combines it with the fantasy-based teamwork of Fire Emblem. The resulting crossover brings together two of my all-time idolized franchises into one grand, anime-heavy journey through Tokyo’s Shibuya district. Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a gorgeous, engrossing title that kept my attention over dozens of hours, and in a year without Persona 5 releasing in North America, this was the next best thing. You can bet I’ll be humming its soundtrack for years to come.
Bob Mackey Picks Hitman
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In a year with artful, emotional experiences like The Last Guardian—which I really enjoyed—it feels more than a little crass to call something like Hitman my game of the year. Yet, here I am doing just that. To be fair, though, Hitman doesn’t devote itself to wanton bloodshed. Instead, it takes the form of a “thinking man’s” murder simulator, requiring planning, timing, and absolute stealthiness to meet Agent 47’s various goals.
Each of the six Hitman episodes drops Agent 47 into a dense, detailed, and typically huge environment with one goal: offing two targets. The game can nudge you in the right direction, but ultimately, you’re left to your own devices. Making your way to the target in question involves plenty of experimentation, changing in and out of various disguises, and picking up and using items intelligently. In a sense, Hitman feels like an evolution of the classic point-and-click adventure game: Sure, it offers some kind of action, but much of the experience involves wandering around and trying out every possible solution.
Tg make things even better, developer IO Interactive has made Hitman a replay-focused experience. Making your way to the end of an episode may only take 90 minutes, but, after that, the real challenge lies in seeing how you can make the absolute most out of every episode. As you eliminate targets in new and creative ways, and tread into formerly unexplored corners, Hitman rewards you with a variety of unlockables that give you even more toys and opportunities to play with upon subsequent playthroughs. Thanks to Hitman‘s incredibly rewarding design, exploring the wealth of possibilities with each new episode made for some of my favorite gaming moments of 2016.
Nick Nunziata Picks NBA 2K17
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One doesn’t go into a yearly sports franchise game typically expecting innovation. Especially from the big dog on the block. Typically there are a few features added in addition to updated rosters and uniforms, and that’s about it. NBA 2K17 was already locked and loaded to easily own the console basketball world with just those cosmetic tweaks. Surprisingly, it took its already robust career mode and injected serious star power into it.
Though the previous year boasted the directorial presence of Spike Lee, the total package didn’t meet its potential. 2017 offers an engrossing career mode that is as immersive as any other in the sports gaming world. It’s rare that a game with the polish and playability of 2K’s flagship can make routine interactions like texting your agent and practicing with your friends equally compelling as the basketball itself. It helps that A-list star Michael B. Jordan is on hand to portray the player’s best friend, but the overall product just shines. The true testimony to the game’s appeal is that it even has value for players with no interest in basketball. The bar is officially raised.
Danielle Ryan Picks Overwatch
Overwatch won Game of the Year at this year’s The Game Awards, and it’s hard to disagree. The fun, enchanting FPS somehow manages to appeal to just about everyone. First-person shooters have never been my game of choice, but I’ve put more time into Overwatch than most other games this year combined. In addition to having characters that I can identify with, it’s not depressing or frightening like so many other 2016 shooters.
Overwatch continues to improve with each update. It’s a blast grinding for loot boxes with my friends, trying to get the latest holiday-inspired gear. I’ve grown to love the various characters, and am genuinely interested in the game’s backstory. It reminds me of my days playing Team Fortress 2, except with more women and fewer hats.
I’m not a die-hard gamer, and few games have ever really challenged me to practice and want to become better at them. Overwatch changed that. I want to get skilled with all of the characters and learn the ins and outs of each map. It’s a genuine challenge that changes with each round, and I can’t wait to see what future updates will bring.
Eric Fuchs Picks Overwatch
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I’ve already said plenty on the topic of Overwatch over this past year. Heck, I just wrote about it in the Video Games That Broke Us piece. But once again, I have to go back to the same topic again. Because there really can only be one game to be called the Best of 2016. I’m a broken record on this point. Overwatch wins.
FPS games are too often drab and miserable. In 2016, we are all tired of real wars so who needs the hyper-masculinity of military shooters? Let’s instead go to a happy brighter place with our competition. Make the characters look like modern Disney cartoons and aim for a wonderfully absurd superhero setting. Overwatch is a work of evil genius. It has been perfectly marketed for this year and this gaming culture. No matter who you are and what your previous gaming skill set, there is an Overwatch character you’ll be able to master and fall in love with. The game is inviting enough to give anybody a chance at greatness.
My gaming experience in 2016 can be best summed up by waiting for Overwatch for months. Then playing Overwatch obsessively. Now I’m in an Overwatch hangover, bloated on well-crafted competitive multiplayer shooter bliss. My baby brother needs a gift for Hanukkah. I think its time he’s finally earned a Play of the Game.
R.V.W. Mitchell Picks Uncharted 4
Uncharted 4 is old school action gaming. I’m not just talking about the charming inclusion of a Crash Bandicoot minigame, but the general ethos behind the game. Naughty Dog crafted an experience that’s all about moving forward, telling the story with beautifully animated cutscenes, in-game dialogue over action sequences, all against a stunning backdrop so beautiful that they included a feature to let you capture the game in action. Uncharted 4 is a game that comes along only once or twice in a generation of consoles.
What I love most about Uncharted was how often it changes directions without becoming tedious. One minute you’re driving through Madagascar toward a distant mountain, and the next you’re trying to sneak past a small squad of heavily armed soldiers. It’s a driving game, a stealth game, a third-person shooter, and a head-scratching puzzle-platformer. While each puzzle has one right solution, each combat encounter presents you with countless ways to overcome the baddies. With a wide range of weapons, combat is varied and challenging without ever being impossible. The best part is that inventory management is simple. Does that gun have more ammo? Take it. Do you like your grenade launcher? Hang onto it. You’ll find more rounds.
Nathan Drake is one of those classic, swaggering Harrison Ford-esque swashbucklers that defined American pop culture for a generation. Here’s hoping that his successor, whoever it may be, can bring the same sort of dashing adventurism to the next game of its ilk.