It’s that time of year again folks, where we get to sit down and reflect on the games that came out in 2016. There’s been some bangers and some clangers, but we can probably all agree that it’s been another bumper year for the games industry. So with that in mind, let’s take a nonsensical look at this year in games.
Best ‘Fuck That Shit I’m Out’
Winner: Dark Souls III
The Soulsborne franchise is the horrifying gift that keeps on giving. This year as a special treat, we got to play the crescendo of nightmares that was, Dark Souls III. And much as we expected, it was hard as balls.
After taking a year off to get its shit together (and to let us check out Bloodborne), the Dark Souls series is now officially done – and what a way to end it right? Apart from having the most ambitious gameplay and storyline out of any of the games, Dark Souls III went above and beyond to piss off as many of the people playing it as humanly possible.
And we bloody loved it.
Best ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Shitter’
Winner: Watch Dogs 2
When Ubisoft announced they were going to be making Watch Dogs 2, gamers everywhere dug deep through their memory banks to remember the steaming pile of mediocrity that was the first game. After a collective shrug, they asked why the hell the game was getting a sequel.
Ubisoft saucily tapped its nose and gave a cheeky wink, sending out Watch Dogs 2, knowing that it’d be difficult to make a game worse than its predecessor. And unsurprisingly, it was! The game righted the numerous wrongs of Watch Dogs and made a wholly enjoyable open-world hacking sim, with more than a whiff of personality. Of course the game’s ‘seamless multiplayer’ was an unmitigated disaster on release but, this is Ubi we’re talking about – it can’t all be good.
Best ‘Better Later Than Never’
Winner: The Last Guardian
Honourable mention: Final Fantasy XV
In the 10 years since The Last Guardian was announced, to when it was released, it’s feasible for suitably aged fans of Shadow Of The Colossus to have grown up, had a child, had them grow up and have their kid be excited for the game.
Of course you’d have to have forced Ico and SOTC on your child pretty hard and they’d probably have to have taken some hits on their education but, you get my point. People had already written it off assuming that a game with a catalogue of developer problems and a release time longer than most wars would be terrible. And they were wrong. It was just darling.
Also Final Fantasy XV didn’t suck. Games!
Best Franchise Ruined
Winner: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
What do you get if you cross one of the most disliked YouTube videos of all time with a franchise that’s clearly lost its way but hasn’t the backbone to admit it? Call of Duty: Infinite Borefare I mean Warfare! From the moment IW was announced, it was pretty evident that Activision had gone off the deep end with their space war idea, despite kickback from the gaming community over all the futuristic jibber-jabber of Advanced Warfare.
Of course making sure that your game sells is game development 101 and to get the pre-orders kicking, they remastered the most beloved game in the franchises’ history, Modern Warfare. But to play it you had to buy Infinite Warfare. And it would cost £70. Yeah. Dick move.
Best Franchise Reborn
One of the surprise hits of the year – and maybe even this console generation – was id Software’s irrepressible demon-slayer DOOM. id took a well earned hiatus on DOOM after the game’s 3rd iteration failed to capitalise on the success of the first two iconic games, and turns out it was a bloody good idea. Pun intended.
The sharply titled DOOM literally blew people away with its brutal, no-nonsense approach to the modern FPS, and introduced a whole new generation of 12-year-olds to its gruesome combat system. Also, can we take a moment to talk about the game’s fucking testicle melting soundtrack by Mick Gordon? You can strip paint with the riffs blasting through your speakers, which honestly, elevates the game from fantastic to bloody legendary. Br00tal.
Best ‘Lazily Explained Plot Hole’
Winner: Uncharted 4
Let’s get one thing straight here. Uncharted 4 is a gaming masterpiece. I know it, you know it and God love ’em the folks over at Naughty Dog know it. But the ol’ ‘long lost brother’ is possibly one of the laziest plot devices in storytelling history. That’s not to say that Troy Baker doesn’t own the role of Sam Drake though, and his back and forths with kid brother Nate are some of the best character interactions in gaming this year.
Whether you can chalk Sam up to Uncharted 4‘s re-writing process – the game being passed from Amy Hennig to Neil Druckmann – remains to be seen, but its possible he was brought in late in the day; we may never know. What we do know, is that Sam’s inclusion ended up making the game 10x stronger, and created one of the most memorable final chapters in gaming history. Just, y’know. It didn’t makes sense.
Best ‘I Can’t Believe This Came Out In 2016’
Winner: The Division
Remember when The Division was Ubisoft’s biggest ever IP launch, and then everybody stopped playing it almost immediately? Yeah, that was this year. To be fair to Ubi, they’ve been working with the game to help it overcome its struggles and it’s actually completely playable now. There’s even a new survival mode which breaths fresh life into the game. Still, feels like an absolute age since it came out, don’t you think?
Best Worst Marketing Campaign
Winner: No Man’s Sky
Oh Sean Murray. You gave us all the ol’ razzle dazzle with your shiny beard of seamless multiplayer and cheeky smile of infinite replayability. In the end we got neither, and boy were people pissed.
The marketing campaign for No Man’s Sky was a paint by numbers on how to whip the media and buyers into a frenzy on half-baked promises, and then shit on them from a great height when the game came out. Of course the real question here is who’s blame? Sean Murray and Hello Games for making promises they could never deliver, Sony for knowing the game was empty but encouraging them to skirt around the subject, or the media and consumers for daring to hope that the game might actually live up to the hype.
In the end, everybody did their part in creating what might be the best worst marketing campaign in recent memory, and not just in video games. Let us all learn from this and be more vigiliant in the future. Apart from with Red Dead Redemption 2. And The Last Of Us 2. And Zelda: Breath Of The Wild.
Mark is the Gaming Editor for UNILAD. Having grown up a gaming addict, he’s been deeply entrenched in culture and spends time away from work playing as much as possible. Mark studied music at University and found a love for journalism through going to local gigs and writing about them for local and national publications.