My Games of 2016

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I’m afraid I didn’t have the most productive year of gaming in 2016.  I keep a spreadsheet of the games I play and beat, and I only managed to finish 26 games in 2016.  For comparison, I beat 32 games in 2015 and a monstrous 53 games in 2014.  And while twenty six games might seem like a lot of gaming, the number is heavily boosted by all of the indie games I play, since a lot of those tend to take only a few hours to complete.  The year 2016 presented a lot of shifts in both my personal and professional lives that have left me with a lot less time to devote to gaming, and probably 2017 will be about the same.  I’m going to have to become a lot more disciplined in managing my free time so that I’m still able to pursue all of my interests, gaming included.

For these posts, I usually list out five games that were the highlight of the year for me (and were also new releases in the year), but this time I decided to cut it down to three.  I could probably add two more, but there was nothing else released this year which I played and felt extremely passionate about.  There’s still a lot of games from 2016 that I really want to get around to playing/finishing including Dark Souls III, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Final Fantasy XV, and The Last Guardian, and I feel a bit bad about not being able to consider those for this list.  By most accounts, there were a lot of great titles this year, I just didn’t have the time to play most of them.

I know I’ve let this blog wither a bit for the past couple of months, but I’m hoping I can get it back on track soon.  I want to thank everyone who’s read and supported my blog over 2016 and even before.  I’ve been able to get to know a lot of cool people through this blog and WordPress.  I’m sorry I haven’t been liking and commenting on as many posts lately, but I hope I will be back regularly in the blogging community soon.

Overwatch

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Overwatch was unquestionably *the* game of the year for me.  My interests tend to lean more toward single-player stuff, but every now and then I get deep into an online game, and Starsiege: Tribes and Team Fortress 2 are among my favorite games of all time.  It’s been quite a few years since I’ve gotten hooked on an online multiplayer game, and I think the last one was the mostly obscure Gotham City Impostors in 2012.  

For someone who was really into Team Fortress 2, Overwatch feels like its natural successor.  Overwatch follows out the line of evolution started by TF2 by introducing a diverse cast of characters that have not just unique abilities and strengths, but unique personalities that give the game a charisma and appeal that is usually not seen in online shooters.  But while Overwatch is a game built on the individuality of its characters, it’s also a game with a heavy focus on teamwork, where each player must utilize their chosen character’s strengths to complement the rest of the team.  The formula has been successful enough to keep me playing on a weekly basis 9 months after release.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

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Rise of the Tomb Raider first appeared late last year on Xbox, but the PC version that I played was released very early this year, so I’m counting it as a 2016 game.  A few years ago, I decided to take the plunge and build a reasonably high-end gaming PC, and Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the games that makes me not regret that investment.  The PC version is *gorgeous*, and filled with beautiful, sweeping natural environments that possess a liveliness that other games of similar scale often lack.  The game also sports some of the most impressive particle effects I’ve ever seen.  Outside of the graphics, RoTR is just a very well-designed action-adventure game, although in many ways heavily inspired by the aggressive stealth action formula of The Last of Us.  Similar to Naughty Dog’s banner title, it combines elements of stealth, cover-based shooting, platforming, and in situ crafting and resource gathering in a recipe that I thought was far more cohesive and engaging that its inspiration.

The Witness

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Secrets and exploration are a huge draw for me in games, and The Witness ranks in my list because of how well it managed to execute on those aspects.  Featuring a free-roaming tour through a massive island filled with hundreds of puzzles to solve and many secrets to uncover, The Witness became my gaming addiction very early in the year.  Practically all of the puzzles are at their core based on correctly determining how to trace lines through (mostly) simple patterns, but the excellence of The Witness comes from the fact that it employs so many creative ways to modify and reinvent this basic idea across hundreds of puzzles.  Although the island may initially seem to just be window dressing for these labyrinthine challenges, the player quickly learns that the environment is often an integral part of the solutions, which I thought added a sense of wonder and amazement to what may cursorily seem like a very simple puzzle game.

Well that’s it.  I would add some honorable mentions are Virginia and Star Fox Zero, both games I also really liked this year.  Looking forward, there’s a lot of titles in 2017 that I’m excited for, including Resident Evil 7, Gravity Rush 2, Breath of the Wild, Nier Automata, and Horizon: Zero Dawn.  I have a dreadful feeling that I’m not going to get to play nearly as many of those as I want, though.  And of course, I also want to get back to the games I missed above.  We’ll see how things go.  I hope everyone has a great 2017!

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Posted on January 14, 2017, in Essays and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Rise of the Tomb Raider fell victim of its release date when it came to my list. I really enjoyed my time with it…but some of that was lost when compared to games I was enjoying even up to two weeks ago. A real shame as it’s a fantastic game. I think Square did it a real disservice by signing that Microsoft deal.

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  2. You just reminded me now that I still need to play Dark Souls III DLC. Though I am not in the mood for it because I didn’t really like Dark Souls III much. It’s still a good game, but not great. For this year, the two games I look forward to the most are Nier Automata and Nioh. Horizon Zero Dawn also looks interesting.

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  3. The Witness is way up there for me. When it was originally explained in just words it sounded boring. After finishing it, I wish that there was more.

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  4. Can’t argue with Overwatch. I play it on a daily basis despite hating most online FPS titles. Mercy is best girl.

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  5. I have not played any of the games mentioned, but they seemed like a varied selection. I have heard Overwatch is a popular game and it is fairly unique for a popular shooter to have a comedic atmosphere (usually they seem to be gritty and serious). Does Overwatch have a single-player campaign? How does it allow for teams to use the character’s individual abilities? I am happy that the Tomb Raider franchise is still good and maintaining the action adventure gameplay and well-designed environments that are prominent in the series. Why is this game called Rise of the Tomb Raider? Does this game feature shooting more than previous games in the series? I remember your post on The Witness and it seemed like a very unique game. It also seems to be one of the most scrutinised games of the year, with many reviewers expressing their thoughts on the game. Have you discovered more of the secrets since your post? Does the story make more sense?

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    • I’ve been amazed at how huge Overwatch has turned out. I knew it would be popular on PC, but it seems like there is also a huge console crowd for the game. It has no single-player, regrettably, which is amusing considering how much they’ve invested into developing the characters and backstory to the game. I think the idea behind calling it Rise of the Tomb Raider is because it tells the story of Laura becoming the experienced adventurer she is in the later games. It’s a sequel to the rebooted Tomb Raider they released in 2013, which tells the story of her first dangerous adventure, and she’s much less competent and brave in that game, while in the sequel she has become much more determined and skilled.

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  6. Rise of the Tomb Raider was my favorite game of 2015. I had a great time with it. The Witness was one of the big 2016 games I never got to. Hopefully I will get around to it in a lull between releases this year. Seems like something I’d enjoy.

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