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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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