Here at Forbes Games we've come to the conclusion that 2016 was a great year for video games. A tough year to pick favorites.
Sure, there were so many games released it was almost impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff, but despite plenty of duds and disappointments, last year was packed with gems---so packed that I'm still catching up on many of them.
It was an especially good year for first-person shooters, as the following list will no doubt illustrate. I'd be willing to say it was the best year for shooters that I can remember.
It was a less amazing year for roleplaying games, though not without some solid entries.
Here at Forbes Games we all toss our favorite games into the hat, tally up the votes, and then based on a magical mixture of vote-taking and my own impeccable judgment, order them into some form of a list.
In years gone by, I've used a "tiered" system, handing out medals (Bronze, Silver, and Gold) to several games each and then a Game of the Year Award to the #1 winner. This year, however, I'm going with a more traditional ordered list.
We'll kick things off in reverse and work our way up to the GOTY. Ready?
#10 Mafia 3: While the open-world gameplay in Mafia 3 was a poor fit for the narrative-driven title, the world-building was top-notch, and the game's story was worth the price of admission. Far from perfect, the game still managed to take a serious look at racism in the South during the Civil Rights movement, and spin that into a compelling crime drama. If only the missions weren't so repetitive. The great soundtrack and richly detailed city of New Bordeaux make for an immersive experience, offsetting the lackluster gameplay. (Review.)
#9 Dark Souls III: The Dark Souls trilogy is at an end, at once too soon and not soon enough. Dark Souls III is a great game on its own merits, but one can't help but feel that this could have been a GOTY had more time passed between its release and Dark Souls II. While the game is, in many ways, a hybrid of Dark Souls and Bloodborne---lovingly described as "Soulsborne" by fans---it would have been better a year or two later. As it stands, Dark Souls III has great combat and a huge world to explore, but it often feels like more of the same. The dreaded 'franchise fatigue' aside, there's no denying what a rich, rewarding game this one turned out to be. (Also, too many bonfires!) (Review.)
#8 The Witness: After much hype, the gorgeous puzzle game from indie developer Jonathan Blow turned out to be totally worth the wait---if, that is, you like increasingly challenging, mind-bending puzzles set on wildly colorful island. I certainly do, though I find it works better in small sessions. Some of those puzzles can be really tough, and it's not at all uncommon to get horribly stuck. Thankfully, there's many different puzzles to tackle at once, so you don't necessarily get stuck in place altogether. Best played without cheating by looking up solutions online...
#7 Pokémon GO: The mobile game that took the world by storm and hasn't really stopped taking the world by storm even months later, Pokémon GO earns a special place on our list even if it's also a fairly disappointing Pokémon game. That's because, while it's not the best game in the long-running franchise, it's still a phenomenon in its own right. Perhaps just as importantly, it was a game that got people outside getting exercise and forming communities. For some people, this was revolutionary and life-changing. For the Pokémon rights holders, including Nintendo, it meant huge visibility for the game, its merchandise, and other entries in the series like Pokémon Sun and Moon.
Publisher: Niantic (in partnership with the Pokémon Company.)
#6 Dragon Quest Builders: This game is everything Minecraft ought to have been. It's like Minecraft plus Zelda with a healthy dose of roleplaying and story. The charming building game may riff off of the wildly popular Microsoft IP, but it's better, more polished, and a lot more fun if you care about things like story, quests, and RPGs. Truly a unique and surprising little game that nobody should miss. (Review.)
#5 Civilization VI: The latest in a long string of strategy world domination games, Civ VI is the sleekest, slickest of the bunch yet, and adds layers of new tactical options to the fold. Indeed, with all the big changes to the game---from AI leaders with their own agendas, to cities filled with upgradeable districts---even seasoned Civilization players will need some time to figure out the game's inner workings. But that's half the fun, and man-oh-man is it addictive. Just one more turn and then I'm done should be the game's motto. Developer Firaxis also released XCOM 2 this year, but while that game was pretty good it got enough things wrong to fall short of Civ VI's greatness.
#4 Uncharted 4: Say what you will about Uncharted 4---too much climbing!---it's a powerhouse of a game, blending a rousing story of betrayal and brotherhood with some of the best graphics ever seen on a video game console. And while I think it's fair to say that Uncharted 4 isn't the best in the series, it's still one of the best games to land in 2016 and a fitting end to the story of Nathan Drake. While the focus is rightly on the game's single-player, its multiplayer content is also pretty great, especially with the addition of Survival Mode which can be played cooperatively. In many ways, it's nice to see a linear action-adventure game do so well in a day and age when almost everything has to be open-world. (Review.)
#3 DOOM: The fourth DOOM dropped the "4" and was released with just the one word, indicating more than just a continuation of the series. Rather, this DOOM would reinvent the franchise, rebooting it as something very like its roots but still all its own. DOOM was fantastic, a gory, frenetic, hilarious demon-killing sensation of a game. Like the previous game on this list, DOOM has both single and multiplayer, but its the solo campaign that truly shines. Big weapons, massive demons, and huge maps filled with secret passages and bloody battles, all combine to make DOOM one of the best first-person shooters in years.
#2 Overwatch: My personal favorite of the year, Overwatch is simply far too much fun for anyone's health and well-being. It's too addictive. The colorful cast of characters provide not just myriad gameplay options, but character and heart in a genre that's usually devoid of such things. Seriously, there's something wrong with this game! And although Overwatch lacks a campaign, it more than makes up for that shortcoming with its variety of maps and game modes. Indeed, the game is constantly expanding with new characters, maps and a rotation of weekly arcade modes---not to mention seasonal events. (Review.)
Titanfall 2: Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year also ended up being Forbes Games' favorite. Titanfall 2 exceeded all expectations---save for sales expectations, unfortunately. With a campaign that many compared favorably to Half-Life 2 and a stellar multiplayer, the mech/twitch shooter won over the hearts and minds of skeptical gamers and franchise fans alike. I was absolutely smitten with the game's single-player campaign: Its fantastic gunplay, boss-fights, and emphasis on platforming and puzzles won me over, even if the story was a bit on the simplistic side. (Review.)
A special tip of the hat goes to The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine. The expansion to last year's excellent RPG from CD Projekt RED turned out to be the best part of that game and, in many respects, one of the best games of 2016 in its own right, offering more content (and higher quality content) than many of the titles released this paste year. Still, it required the purchase of a game that released in 2015 and as such doesn't qualify for consideration here. Nonetheless, it's a sterling example of DLC done right and something that no Witcher fan should miss. An honorable mention for quality and quantity seems appropriate.
I could probably keep going, but I won't. I'll stop. Like I said, an incredible year for video games. Here's to hoping 2017 will be even better.
What were some of your favorite games of 2016? Let us know in the comments or on social media.
Oh, and check out my most disappointing games of 2016 list as well:
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Subscribe to my channel on YouTube.