GOTY 2016

Published on January 3rd, 2017 | by Matt

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GOTY 2016 Matt’s Top 5

There’s no need to repeat the “how terrible 2016 was yet the games were good” mantra that almost every game of the year list has this year. Instead I’ll reflect on the fact that this list was a hard one to write, and for different reasons than in previous years. The last few years my winners were clear-cut. I knew who won and in what order, and the only real struggle might have been between the last spot and the runner-up (see last year for an example how I handled this!)

This year almost every game felt equally important, including another 5 or so games that didn’t make the list, PLUS the games that I know are very good but just haven’t had the time to get to. As I was writing this list this year I realized that almost all the games on my list reminded me of a feeling with a game that helped form my gaming opinions. Whether it was the first PC game I played, an N64 classic, or games I spent hours and hours with growing up, almost everything on this list brings me back to those great memories, even though all of them add their own takes on what I loved before.

It was a struggle to put this list together not because there weren’t good games, but there were so many good ones that each of my experiences were hard to order. With that said, here’s the best I could come up with.

 

5. Darkest Dungeon

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“Antediluvian” is such a great word and I would not have ever heard it spoken if not for this game. And not just spoken, spoken with one of the best narrators since Supergiant Games’ Bastion. The cosmic horror and foreboding tension that drip from the crevices of this game put it on my list. There hasn’t been a game with such style that has made me feel this way in recent memory.

On top of that the game’s detailed, yet almost cartoony art, combined with the camera zooms and thumping music as each strike in combat lands create a great battle system even with minimal animation. It’s a testament to great art and atmospheric design. As for the battles, the ability for each fight to go from “this is fine” to “fuuuuuuuuuu-” means every battle puts you on edge. The town management portion adds to this as well, with heroes and money needing attention to make sure you can continue your damned quest.

The slow burn, grindy nature of the gameplay can certainly wear you down and the wild swings can cause full resets which will turn some off, but the style of this game can’t be denied.

 

4. Total War: Warhammer

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As a huge Total War fan, I’ve been slightly bummed with the quality of the series in recent years. I so wanted Rome 2 to be a good game, as Rome: Total War was one of the games that got me into PC gaming, but it didn’t quite hit that mark for some reason.

Total War: Warhammer knocked it out of the park. Freed from the burdens of historical accuracy—or just plain ol’ reality—the addition of magic, giants, steam tanks, flying mantacors, varghuls, chaos daemons, and beastmen just made the already fantastic foundation for the battles a triumph.

There are so many great moments. Orc WAAAAAAAAAAGHs tunneling under the mountains only to be ambushed by Dwarven mechanized gyrocopters and flamethrowers, or the zombie creep of the Vampire counts encroaching slowly on Empire land, while meanwhile in the northern Chaos Wastes unspeakable monsters are overthrowing the Norse tribes and subjugating them into hordes ready to destroy the entire world.

The level of detail both in the graphics and dedication to the lore (of which I’m pretty ignorant but I consulted people who would know.) On top of that, they nailed the city and army management, and magic is great addition to the series. If the DLC continues to be as good as the Beastmen update, I will look forward to it.

 

3. Planet Coaster

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Man, I loved Roller Coaster Tycoon. Man, this game is the perfect 2016 version of that. I saw written on another site that Planet Coaster isn’t just a game, it’s a park designing simulator. Down to creating my own Sci-Fi western park, customizing every detail to the point of infuriating my wife for how long I was taking. The ability to model the ground, combine any object together and create fully realized parks that look both like some of the best parks in the world, but in many cases better.

Night after night I sunk so many hours into this game that I was losing sleep, losing track of my time. I would sit down and say “I’m just going to add a few more details to this area” and lo-and-behold it’s 5 hours later and I’ve added tons and tons of stuff.

Plus, coaster building is still fun. While there aren’t as many rides as I would like, the amount of time customizing the areas around the rides makes up for it. The campaign is simple, but it really serves to be a showcase of what the engine can accomplish for the game. I will certainly be digging back into this once I have more time.

 

2. Stardew Valley

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One of my favorite games on N64 was Harvest Moon. If you wanted a new Harvest Moon with pixel art, then Stardew Valley is your game. Okay, that’s needlessly reductive and completely underselling this gem. Speaking previously of time-sinks, this game the epitome of “one more day/turn.” This was one of those all-day games for me. I would have a day off and sit down to play in the morning, and then all of a sudden it would be night and I was allllmost done harvesting those blueberries just in time for the big festival.

There is just so much to do, so many areas to explore, a dungeon to fight in, townspeople to know, and even then you will only be barely scratching the surface by the time you end your first year.

I really don’t have too much more to add. It’s the kind of game you’ve probably heard so much about already, as it took the Internet by storm this year. It’s Harvest Moon exponentially multiplied, the amount of crafting and building and hunting and fighting and farming to do is beyond the pale, and it deserves a higher spot on the list if it weren’t for…

 

1. Overwatch

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When I first saw the trailer for this game I was not impressed. “Huh, Blizzard is ripping off Team Fortress? Odd.” But as we got closer to the game’s release and the buzz from the beta started stirring, I began to get more and more excited.

Steam has my Team Fortress 2 time at 241 hours. That game was a foundation for my late high school life. It was a game I would play all the time. Overwatch is the closest a game has come to hit that mark since that time. The amount of depth and detail into every aspect of this game’s design is astonishing. From the silly lore and backstories, to the intricate balance of team composition, to the way each character animates and looks distinct from one another.

This is one of the first games in years that I’ve wanted to actively improve on, to watch Youtube strategies and tutorials, to seek out tournament and professional play to see techniques and strategies I can implement. I became absorbed in this game. There’s a thrill that comes from rolling in a highly coordinated team of six and perfectly executing an attack on a control point. The feeling that comes from just barely holding the payload at the final point after minutes of stress. And even losing (though I am a terrible loser at most games) never feels that bad due to the incentives of leveling up, after match awards, and of course the Play of Game spot. Add the insanely high quality and polish that Blizzard produces for its game, and it is very my successor to Team Fortress 2.

Even as some of the modes and balances continue to be tweaked and worked on (triple/quad tank meta sucks for those who watch pro play,) this game is one I expect to be playing all through next year and probably the years to come.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Best game that made me play my 3DS again: Picross 3D Round 2

Best WTF moment game: Inside

Best story game that didn’t quite make my list: Firewatch

Best SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT: SUPERHOT

 

Games I really need to play in 2017: The Witcher 3, DOOM, Hitman

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About the Author

Matt started Pixel Legends originally to cover E3 2011. Aside from video games Matt also enjoys books, wasting time on the internet, and being from England. He doesn’t have a British accent.



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