We’ve hit that time of year where everybody’s doing a “top games of 2016” write up.  I’m not going to differ.

2016 releases

The following titles are my top five games of 2016, in no particular order.  This is from the list of games that I’ve actually played, there are plenty of others that I haven’t managed to get around to yet.  Blame a combination of having a toddler running around and working on the biggest Bean Dive that I’ve attempted yet.

Quantum Break

There was a lot of hype surrounding the launch of Quantum Break, but for some reason it never managed to garner the critical and commercial success to go along with the reputation.  A lot of people had issues with the TV-video game delivery medium, while others complained about the final boss, or some of the gameplay mechanics.  Also, it had the “issue” of being a single-player only game with limited replayability.  Add these factors together, and you can perhaps see why Quantum Break can be found in numbers in bargain bins up and down the country.

Quantum Break TV screenshot

The use of live action TV in Quantum Break alienated some, but I really enjoyed it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the game.  The shooting mechanics were excellent, as were the time powers and the way the game was designed around them.  I also really enjoyed the TV show.  I might be in the minority here, but I felt that it added some real background to the events in-game, and the calibre of the cast was superb (Shawn Ashmore, Aiden Gillen, and Lance Reddick were all great, but I thought it was Patrick Heusinger’s turn as Monarch operator Liam Burke that stole the show).

All-in-all, I found it an exceedingly enjoyable experience, even though I haven’t touched it since completing it back in August.

Battlefield 1

I’m a big Battlefield fan, and threw hundreds of hours into BF3 and BF4 over the past few years.  So it’s not exactly a stretch to imagine that I’d be keen on BF1.  The reveal trailer was mind blowing, and the game has gone from strength to strength since release.  DICE have even managed to (somewhat) solve the problem of Battlefield single player campaigns, eschewing the traditionally red, white, and blue CoD style story for isolated, personal stories of heroism during the Great War.

Battlefield 1 official screenshot

The visuals in Battlefield 1 are on par with the game’s sense of scale

But as always with Battlefield, the multiplayer is where it’s at, and BF1’s slower pace, less predictable weapons, and low-tech gadgets has brought a real freshness to the gameplay.  I absolutely LOVED BF4, but BF1 had me hooked from the get go.

The Division

Tom Clancy’s The Division is a strange animal.  The post-apocalyptic New York setting is a rich, realistic, and heart-breaking environment.  On the surface of it, The Division looks like a typical Tom Clancy game, with it’s near-future setting, realistic weaponry, and squad-based combat.  But, the first time you encounter an enemy and see a health bar above their head, and numbers ping off as you sink clip after clip into them, you realise that this is a different beast.  It’s Tom Clancy’s Destiny.

I blasted through the story missions over the space of a few days with a couple of friends and found the whole experience hugely satisfying and fun.  Few things can top the enjoyment of getting a group together and beating a few story missions as a team.

The Division screenshot

The Division is at its best when played with a team.

But I’ve barely played it since last April.  The Dark Zone quickly became a stomping ground for trolls, and replaying the same missions again and again really lost it’s appeal quickly.  The new DLC and patches are supposed to have improved the game, but I’ve not really found a compelling reason to go back.  The Division makes this list though because those initial 15-or-so hours, as you work your way through the campaign, are among some of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in 2016.

Destiny: Rise of Iron

Okay, so maybe including Destiny is a bit of a cheat, since it released back in 2014.  But Rise of Iron followed on from 2015’s The Taken King by breathing some new life into a game that has developed a habit of getting a little stale each year.  Destiny made a lot of mistakes in the initial game, many of which The Division has repeated, but the two major annual expansions have really kept it alive and added new reasons to keep going back to the game.

Destiny Rise of Iron screenshot

Rise of Iron injected much needed new life into Destiny.

2016’s Rise of Iron didn’t totally redefine the gameplay and rewards system like The Taken King, but it’s still worthy of mention in this list as it has added loads of new activities to keep players (including me) coming back for more.

Destiny 2 is rumoured to be out later in 2017, with some worrying stories about not being able to carry over characters, but Rise of Iron should be more than enough to keep players interested until then.

Rocket League

“Football, but with Remote Controlled cars”.  Does anyone need any more information?  If you haven’t played Rocket League, go download it now.  It is quite simply one of the finest arcade experiences available on this generation.  It’s so easy to pick up and play a couple of games, and has that same habit of garnering competitiveness between friends that was so crucial to the appeal of classics like Mario Kart, SWOS, and Street Fighter II.

Rocket League screenshot

RC car + football = fun

Sheer brilliance, and for a bargain price.

The ones that got away

Sadly, I don’t have the time to play everything I’d like, and have already built up a backlog of games to get round to at some point.  Some of these are regularly featured in “Game of the Year” type posts, so I’m looking forward to starting them once I recover my Bean Dive.

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – I’ve played every entry in the series so far so I’m not about to stop now!
  • Gears of War 4 – a bit like above (although I skipped Judgement).
  • Forza Horizon 3 – Wow.
  • Hitman – Given the amazing things I’ve read about it, I’m really looking forward to getting started.
  • Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst – I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the first game, but I’m looking forward to giving it a try, as aside from anything else, it looks so completely distinctive and stunning.

I can’t wait to get started on these.

Forza Horizon 3 screenshot

Forza Horizon 3 is quite simply, stunning.

Other games I’ve played in 2016

There are a number of other games I’ve played in 2016 and really enjoyed which were released in 2015 (or earlier).  I’ve got a bit of a backlog built up, but got round to the following this year and wanted to give them a mention.

  • South Park: The Stick of Truth – just completely hilarious from beginning to end.  Absolutely brilliant use of the licence.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – A bit of a slow burner for me but I’m working my way through it now and enjoying it more the more I play.
  • Sunset Overdrive – It’s baffling that this game didn’t receive more attention.  An inexplicable game that takes great delight in poking fun at the video game industry and its tropes.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider – not quite as hard-hitting as Tomb Raider, but still an excellent Indiana Jones-em-up with some stunning environments.

2017 looks like it may be a bit of a lean year for me in terms of gaming, but I’m getting as much as I can in.  Hopefully I can get to some of the backlog before turning my attention to the likes of Mass Effect: Andromeda and Destiny 2.

What were your games of the year last year?  Let me know in the comments below…