The year 2016 is now game over. The XP has been tallied, and now we have our annual 10 Best Games to announce. It was a pretty good year for gaming, with three stellar shooters releasing just weeks apart; it was the summer of Nathan Drake and his last adventure; and it was the Year of Overwatch, which still makes no sense to me. Scattered throughout the year were some amazing games — on all systems — and players found that there was something for everyone in 2016.
Below is our list of the 10 best games of 2016. Some big, wonderful games were left off the list (Doom, for instance) and there are some that made it that many people may not agree with. One thing that I did notice when compiling the list is that every game on here is a sequel, and I struggled with trying to cut one to make room for a new IP, or maybe even extending the list to the best 12 or 15 games. Doing so would have called into question my criteria for inclusion onto the list, and cast a shadow on the list that I have put together. You probably won’t agree with me here, and that’s fine. If I got one (or more) wrong, tell me. There’s a comment section below for that very reason. Without further delay, here are the Best Games of 2016.
10. Monster Hunter Generations (Nintendo 3DS)
The Monster Hunter franchise has been around now for almost 20 years, and this past summer, Capcom released Monster Hunter Generations, a greatest hits-like package of all the best parts of the franchise with some new additions and some welcome polish. The new additions, like hunter arts, changed the way that hunters hunted, and ushered in a new direction for the franchise as a whole. Plus, it helps that it looked great on the 3DS and played like a charm.
9. NHL 17 (All Systems)
Annual sports games tend to sell us roster updates and pixel polish at $60 clips, but sometimes, a game will do so much more and change not only the game, but the way we play it. NHL 17 took a huge step forward this year, creating a sublime hockey experience that stole my sports game playing time away from MLB: The Show and kept it away from NBA2K 17 and Madden 17. With that kind of competition, and to rise above it like it does, NHL 17 proves it belongs on this list for 2016. I’ve never felt more in control of a game, or a player, and when I scored goals, it was because of my skill, and not random button mashing like in previous NHL games. This is the game that hockey fans have begged for for years.
8. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI (PC)
The Civilization games have become so iconic, that when a new one releases, work productivity drops across the board and the call-in rates skyrocket. Civilization VI made some pretty huge strides in the way it introduced new features. This was not just a new roman numeral slapped onto old code. Civ 6 proved to fans new and old that it still had the drawing power to steal hours and sometimes days of our lives as we fought to research, develop, and ultimately grow into the greatest civilization on the planet.
7. Pokemon Sun & Moon (Nintendo 3DS)
The 20th anniversary of Pokemon concluded with a brand new core title, Pokemon Sun & Moon, and the franchise took some big chances in the changes that were made. Gyms as we knew them were outright replaced, and the Hawaii-like setting permeated through every facet of the game, including certain Pokemon who had Alolan features added to their look and feel. Pokemon Sun & Moon had some pretty annoying hand-holding to start the game, but for new players, it allowed them to jump right in and experience what it’s like to train Pokes and battle others. It helps that it’s also one of the best looking 3DS games ever. Developer Game Freak has always tweaked the Pokemon concept, never just settling, and Pokemon Sun & Moon proved that they are still just starting to figure it out. I can’t wait to see where they go next.
6. Final Fantasy XV (All)
It took 10 years for a new finite Final Fantasy game, and 2016 finally saw the release of the 15th game in the long-running franchise. The game starts off with four friends on the way to a wedding, and ends with the fate of the world in the balance. The events and quests in the first half of the game are some of the best times I’ve had playing a game this year, but some head-scratching decisions in the later chapters dropped this game from the top 5, hell, maybe even the top 3, and now it sits nicely at No. 6. Final Fantasy XV is a love letter to the franchise, and a questionable last third of it can’t derail what is an amazing and very satisfying gaming experience.
5. Titanfall 2 (All)
Titanfall 2 was one of three AAA shooters released in a very small window. With Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare sandwiching it, Titanfall 2 rose above them both with a stellar story campaign and some pretty amazing gameplay all around. The campaign was less a “go here, shoot that,” and more of a Metroid-Like exploration of the world, as the pilot and his Titan found new technology to become bigger, better, and faster to take the fight to the bad guys and to win the day. On the multiplayer side, battles were fast and frenetic and the mixture of small, tight maps, and huge expansive maps and a better variety of Titans let the player decide what worked best and where, and led to some of the best online battles of the fall season. Titanfall 2 was a triumph, and I can’t wait to see where the franchise goes next.
4. Gears of War 4 (Xbox One)
Gears of War 4 was a game that I fully expected to be a let down. And the first few hours did nothing to prove me wrong. But in the course of the story, the world changes — and so does the game — and what was once a boring, generic action/shooter became an epic tale of carnage and destruction and gore that was 100 percent Gears of War and solidified its place on this list. The Coalition made arguably the best Gears game yet, and the promise of additional games in this story cycle has me pumped. The multiplayer modes were fun to play and never felt tacked on, and as a whole, Gear of War 4 is one of the very best games of 2016.
3. Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One)
If you would have told me last January that Forza Horizon 3 would be on this list, let alone at No. 3, I would have called you crazy and possibly unfriended you on Facebook and unfollowed you on Twitter. There was no way a driving game (can’t really call it a racing game, though there is copious amounts of racing involved) would be better than games like Doom, Overwatch, and a new numbered Final Fantasy game. Well, shut my mouth. Forza Horizon 3 is an outstanding title that is amazingly fun to play and so eye-bleedingly gorgeous to look at that I spent hours upon hours just driving around listening to music and taking in the Australian sights. When I jumped online with friends, a whole new avenue of fun opened up, and I sank myself deep in the corinthian leather seats of the game and enjoyed the ride — every bit of it. This is what all driving/racing games should strive for, and the bar has now been set very, very high.
2. Dishonored 2 (All)
There is just something about the Dishonored games that resonates deeply with me. I love the amount of choice that Arkane Studios gives me in completing my story. No way is the right or wrong way, and though I tend to go a bit dark (okay, I kill everything I come across, in new and exciting ways), the decisions are mine and I never feel that I’m being pushed by the invisible hands of the developer just to move the story along. And the best part here is that Dishonored 2 allows not only multiple ways to play, but two characters to choose from, giving me so much variety in my play style and how I unravel my journey. And the story is not a short, simple affair, but a 20-30 hour opus. Dishonored 2 gives the player their money’s worth and more, and with amazing art direction, great voice acting, and a story that doesn’t dumb itself down, this is easily one of the best games of the year, and well deserved of the No. 2 slot.
1. Uncharted 4 (PS4)
This was the big one. Sony and Naughty Dog’s final Nathan Drake-led Uncharted game. After series writer Amy Hennig left Naughty Dog, fans of the series thought that Uncharted 4 would be a sloppy cash grab put together by the B-Team, but instead we were all treated to a stunning, emotionally walloping journey that was more about family than some golden trinket or lost treasure. Some of the biggest complaints of the last two games in the franchise were addressed and fixed, and the adult “Goonies” storyline hit all the right notes. After the PS4 added HDR functionality, the game’s aesthetics went a step further, making an already gorgeous game better. In our initial review, we gave this game a perfect score, and we stand by that. From beginning to end, Uncharted 4 proved that it was, by far, the best game of 2016.
There you have it. These are the best games of 2016. Now, there were some games that we didn’t play, and that may be why they were omitted from the list. And again, there were some games that could have been included, and maybe should have been, but we only had 10 slots to work with. With 2017 introducing a new Nintendo console with the Nintendo Switch, maybe the 2017 list can be separated with the five best games from each system, as well as an overall top 10. We’ll have to wait and see how it all shakes out, but in the meantime, we here at TheHDRoom wish you and yours a very happy, healthy, safe, and prosperous New Year.