IT is hard creating a best games of the year list, partly because some games seem to take on greater meaning through the lenses of different events.
For example, games like The Political Machine 2016 and Mr President! – though neither would have been my top picks – are games that lampoon the American political system that were turned from mere jokes to necessary psychological catharsis after Donald Trump won the US election.
On the other hand, other games can lose points after the initial excitement wears off.
The prime example is Doom. Although great, once I and everyone else got over the fact that it successfully brought the spirit of retro shooters into modern gaming, we realised the gameplay broke down into several hours of herding simple-minded enemies, shooting them while running backwards, rinse and repeat.
Combine that with a lacklustre multiplayer and you’ve got a shooter that’s an interesting oddity but when it comes to reviving retro shooter franchises, still sits way below Wolfenstein: The New Order.
So with that, think of this as a list of games I like the most from this year:
5. Firewatch: Many have debated over whether Firewatch is even a game in the first place. However, I would say it follows in the rich lineage of point-and-click adventure games but uses modern design choices and a very well-realised plot to deliver a product that’s short on content but big on ideas.
4. Doom: OK, so even though I just took Doom down a peg, it’s still a fantastic game with a lot of redeeming qualities. I just don’t think it was as good as we all thought it was to begin with.
3. XCOM 2: Looking back, I think the resistance feels way too well resourced to have this game feel like the human insurgency versus evil world-dominating empire that I wanted it to be, but it comes pretty darn close.
2. Stellaris: This game was very bare when it first came out. It wasn’t bad, but certainly plagued by a turtle-slow mid-game. However, Paradox is known for its excellent post-release schedule and Stellaris is no exception. Now Paradox has a product that feels fresh and interesting throughout with plenty of events and enemies to keep you on your toes at all times.
1. Overwatch: I can’t think of the last time a game was so perfectly realised as Overwatch. Blizzard promised us a colourful and fun class-based shooter with a plethora of interesting characters and that is exactly what we got. While there were balance issues around the McCree and Bastion characters, it really has been so far a more or less perfect version of itself.
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