2016 Arbitrary Game Numbering, for the Internet

By: Joshua Simon


Because does it really matter? And I spent too long trying to actually number the bottom half.

Battlefield 1

The sole reason Battlefield 1 shows up on my 2016 list is because of what Dice was able to do with a single player campaign set in WWI.  The individual War Stories that made up the campaign was a unique approach for a single player portion of an FPS.  Each of the stories had its defining moments for me, from running along the top of a burning and broken zeppelin to sneaking through trenches behind enemy lines.  I genuinely hope that going forward, this take on storytelling becomes more of a thing. 

Dishonored 2

I was not a huge fan of the first Dishonored, yet for some reason loved my adventure through Karnaca.  While I usually take a pure stealth approach to games that allow it (ie Deus Ex), I found it all the more fun to plow through enemies with Corvo and his arsenal of weapons and abilities.  This ended up being the primary appeal to me – Dishonored 2 is just flat out, nonsensical fun.  Kicking unaware enemies off edges, sending out a devouring rat swarm, tossing a grenade into a group and watching body parts get sent in every which direction – none of it ever got old.  Would I have liked a better story?  Of course,  but I can say that about a lot of games. In the end, Dishonored 2 was one of my favorite games in a jam packed 2016, and can't wait to see how Arkane Studio's Prey turns out.  


There was a point in time where I played nothing but Overwatch for hours on end.  It was a nice change of pace from the typical FPS, as well as the plethora of remasters and sequels that came out in 2016.  It has a certain charm to it, one that tends to coincide with Blizzard games.  Every character was fun to play around with, even if only for a couple matches.  The end round payload standoffs were always nerve wracking.  Pulling off an Ult at the perfect moment brought a feeling of euphoria.  And although I've fallen out of Overwatch for now, I look back at it with genuine admiration.  

Batman: A Telltale Series

No surprise here, Telltale was able to come up with a unique take on both Batman and Bruce Wayne alike.  Besides the death of Thomas and Martha (non-spoiler), pretty much every other aspect of the story is completely original, and doesn’t shy away from showing the more adult side of Gotham and the violence stored within.  Every episode had some distinguishing factor from the others, which made Batman one of my most memorable Telltale experiences since the first Walking Dead.  

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was one of my favorite games on the 360; Mankind Divided was practically the same game with a "current gen" skin - not a complaint as much as it is a compliment.  Although I have some gripes with the game (credit balancing, certain lack of repercussions, some emotionless narration), playing it was just flat out fun.  Sneaking around as Jensen and taking down enemies, no matter if stealthily or with the plethora of deadly abilities, never got old.  Couple gameplay with Eidos Montreal's take on the post "Aug Incident" Prague and you get one hell of a world to lose yourself in.  

5) Doom

Id Software did something special with their Doom reboot that was much needed for the FPS genre – they looked to the past (much like Machine Games has done with their soft reboot of Wolfenstein, which showed up on my 2015 list).  Frantic, sporadic, over-the-top-demonic-run-and-gunning in gore-nicopea (I'm proud of myself on that one) version of Hell, with no need to reload.  What more could you ask for?  Dooms development cycle didn’t start out this way either, it was initially intended to be Doom 4 but was cancelled because it felt "too much like Call of Duty," with just a "Doom skin."  Couldn't be thankful enough that iD took notice of that early on and ended up bestowing upon us one of 2016 best shooters.  Here's to you 2016 Doomguy, we hope to see you again soon.

4) Inside

So what the Hell exactly happened again?

3) Final Fantasy XV

I don't like turn based RPG's and most likely never will.  Final Fantasy X was the last I almost finished (damn you Sin).  So when Versus XIII was announced in 2006 with it's hack-and-slash glory, I was pleasantly surprised.  Ten years later, here we are with FFXV.  After playing the Platinum demo, my expectations were pretty set.  I liked the overall art direction and thought it played in a fairly unique style.  I was still a bit worried, however, about the "brofest" (which it totally isn't) and my dislike of party management (which is pretty minimal).  35ish hours later (still only chapter 4 as of writing this), and I can absolutely say I'm thrilled to continue Nocits' journey through Eos.  Having said that,  and having watched Kingsglaive (which is absolutely fantastic), the decision to add more story beats to relate to the animated film after having already released the game was a terrible call, since the base game is pretty all over the place narratively.  Not watching Kingsglaive wouldn’t have taken away from my overall enjoyment, but I think it's a disservice to yourself not to.  

2) The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine

The Witcher 3 was my GOTY in 2015, and fortunately enough I was able to make mention of it again for 2016.  This second and final expansion by CD Projekt Red could have easily been a standalone game, adding roughly 30 hours to my playtime (which ended up totaling 176 hours).  Toussaint was a beautifully realized landscape for the entry, and the arcs involving Regis and Duchess Henrietta were easily on par with Hearts of Stone.  It's unlikely we'll see Geralt and his companions anytime soon (if ever again) with CDPR moving to Cyberpunk 2077.  Although this saddens me a bit, saying farewell to Geralt and Ciri alike was handled flawlessly, and I'd be lying if I said there wasn’t a tear in my eye as the credits rolled.   

Side note: The Witcher 3 is empirically superior to any of the Dark Souls games.

1) Titanfall 2

Over the course of the past few years, first person shooters have gone from my favorite genre to one which I held very low expectations for.  This is partially due to my personal change of taste in gaming itself, but also to a cookie-cutter-copy-and-paste effect many shooters have begun to follow.  Respawn Entertainment was able to change that for me with Titanfall 2.  The multiplayer is addictive and frantic, with a much needed update to their progression system.  The campaign was nothing short of a masterpiece, with spot on pacing, a somewhat followable narrative, memorable moments and stages, and most importantly, a BT-7274.  Unfortunately, Titanfall 2 was shadowed out by other AAA shooters in the busy Fall release schedule and the future of the franchise is still up in the air.  With its critically positive reception, however, I’d love to hear a third installment is in early stages of development.  Until then,  prepare for titanfall.

2015 Game Of The Year

1) The Witcher 3

Before coming out, no one could have convinced me that I would somehow end up with a western RPG on my top 10 list, let alone as number 1.  I openly admit I’m not the biggest fan of RPGs in general, especially those that get too overwhelming.  CD Projekt Red however, somehow found a way to make me actually enjoy what I’ve always avoided, and that speaks volumes as to why it’s my #1.   I legit cared for the majority of characters, was enthralled with exploring each distinct environment, and, although many disagree, enjoyed and embraced the control scheme and battling.  BUT!  The most important reason it’s my Game of the Year?  Gwent.  

2) Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

So this was a tough one.  If we’re just talking soft ending, Metal Gear would have been much lower on my list.  The real ending, well, my favorite story element and twist of the year.  That, in part, is why Metal Gear wasn’t my number 1.  Hiding the actual ending behind a wall of replaying missions with a more difficult twist.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the gameplay.  Favorite stealth based game to date.  That’s no excuse, howeverm for recycling gameplay to unlock the real Big Boss ending.  I just can’t get all too mad about it though because once you complete that 50th mission, damn does it stick with you.

3) Telltale Games: A Game Of Thrones

This wasn’t even on my list until a week or so before posting it.  I waited until all episodes were out to start it, as I do with all Telltale games.  Once I did though, I was hooked.  Episode 1 is most likely my favorite episode of any Telltale game, and the other 5 aren’t too far behind it.  Yes, the ending was a bit… out there, but it worked and fit in with the ASOIAF universe.  This was the first Telltale game I played that the decisions seemed to actually matter and stick with you throughout the following episodes.  I can’t tell you the amount of time I spent with the game paused contemplating the outcomes of a decision.  Although that may not be the best way to approach these games, it made me worry about not just the current character I was controlling, but the entire world in itself.  And for a game to be able to invoke those feelings, well, I’d call that a success.

4) Destiny: The Taken King

Although it’s not its own release for the year, it was substantial enough to have on my list.  Vanilla Destiny was my 2014 GOTY and I haven’t stopped playing since.  While I don’t hold it against Bungie whatsoever, The Taken King is how Destiny should have launched.  Every minor adjustment they made was a welcome change.

5) Ori And The Blind Forest

Beautiful atmosphere, heart wrenching story, and super tight controls all got Ori onto my top 10.  Moon Studios deserve all the accolades they received from Ori, and I look forward to what they have in store for the future.   

7) Batman: Arkham Knight / 

Assassins Creed: Syndicate

Middle of the list games are always the most difficult to rate.  On one hand, they’re easily not top three.  On the other, they don’t deserve bottom of the list placement.  And that’s where I stand with both Arkham Knight and Assassins Creed Syndicate, phenomenal games in their own respectable universes, yet not my favorite in each.  Arkham Knight was exactly what I hoped for (and I didn’t hate the batmobile).  I knew the story wouldn’t beat out Arkham City, especially due to assuming correctly as to who the Knight was in the first place, but it was still a quality Rocksteady experience.  Assassins Creed Syndicate, while not on the Black Flag level (don’t think sailing the seas will ever be beat), was a great step in the right direction for the franchise.  I cared about the Fryes, the fight system got a much needed overhaul, Assassination missions actually had me feeling like an assassin again, and the addition of the grapnel … cough cough … grappling hook made traversal through London fun.  

8) Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

I gradually began losing interest in FPS campaigns over the years, and was quite weary of Wolfenstein (Old Blood) when it was first announced (launched).  Then launch day came and damn did Wolfenstein (Old Blood) deliver.  I have not had that much genuine FUN with an FPS campaign since Halo 2 (The New Order).  And that’s what Wolfenstein (Old Blood) is at its core, a fun shooter.  I do not recall playing a game that so seriously takes itself not serious (since The New Order), and it’s refreshing beyond no other.

PS.  I copy and pasted from my 2014 #2 GOTY game, Wofenstein:  The New Order.  (Shhhhh…)

9) Halo 5 Guardians

Ugh.  That’s all.  Just, ugh.  Did I hate the campaign?  Of course.  Was the multi good?  Have 2+ days in it.  Did I feel obligated to have it on the list?  A bit.  Am I now gradually getting over it?  I think so.  Nonetheless, I had a fantastic time with Big Team (once it was added) and am still looking forward to Halo 6.  But in the end, the campaign prevented it from being any higher on my list.  Halo.  Ugh.    

10) Rise of the Tomb Raider

Although Laura is still a killing machine, Crystal Dynamics did at least somewhat take into account the few minor flaws of their 2013 Tomb Raider reboot.  Tombs were added (kind of), some areas can be cleared through stealth (sometimes), no focus on multiplayer (but somehow card packs still found their way in), and a much improved crafting system (a la Last of Us).  The game is absolutely stunning to just look at, the controls are as tight as ever, traversal is a breeze, and Laura’s hair pretty much has its own engine.   Tomb Raiding in a nutshell. 

2014 Games That I Didn't Play But Wanted To and Could Have Made My 2014 GOTY List Should I Have Played Them.

I love you.
1) Bayonetta 2
On one hand, I have to thank Nintendo for keeping my favorite witch from being burned at the stake.  On the other hand, why did it have to be Nintendo?  I skipped the entire Wii generation without owning one, and intended to continue the trend for the Wii U.  But Bayonetta, mixed with a few other first party titles (another making this list), really has me wanting to treat myself to a new gamepad.

2) Rogue Legacy
Technically 2013, I know.  But the PS4 version did launch mid 2014 (and now X1 for 2015!), so I'm allowed.  Roguelike, randomly generated dungeons, pseudo-permadeath.  Yes please.

3) Shovel Knight
Im a sucker for retro-style adventure platformers.  Enough said.

4) Binding Of Isaac: ReBirth
Edmund McMillen is a genius. We may be seeing him on next years list as well (Meat Boy Dos...?)

5) GTA V
One of my favorite 2013 launches and I'm still dying to pick up a copy and witness the glorious Los Santos in first person.  Unfortunately, Destiny.

6) Super Smash
I got to play some Smash over holiday break and it reminded me: I think I like Nintendo's first party games. Interesting.

7) Valiant Hearts
Despite it's... few flawed launches this year, Ubisoft and it's UbiArt is nothing less than gorgeous.  Coupled with masterful storytelling, Valiant Hearts could not go unnoticed in 2014.

8) Guacamelee! STCE
Another mid-year port I intend to come back to.  Here's to hoping we see everyone's favorite luchador as a Games with Gold steal.

9) This War of Mine
Survival games are a dime a dozen anymore, but 11-Bit studios managed to throw all the staples of the genre into a compelling, war driven, dog eat dog world.

10) D4

2014 Game of the Year

10) Transistor
I haven't delved into a world as deeply as I found myself doing with Transistor. While I still can't admit I fully understand the intricacies of the Process, it did not prevent me from reading all I could about it (which came in the form of it's Functions).  I found myself constantly waiting for the next upgrade and unlock so that I could learn more of Cloudbank and its citizens.  Admittedly, this is unlike me - but not once did I find myself growing bored with the possibility of finding the true history of Red and her counterparts.  

9) Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
One cannot simply leave Mordor off a GOTY list.  That is all.

8) The Master Chief Collection
Everything was there. It truly was too good to be true. Halo CE matchmaking, Halo 2 Anniversary Maps, Halo Fucking 4 (personal favorite matchmaking).  If only it worked.  I have been a huge Halo fanatic since CE launched in 2001.  I took two days off work to play TMCC.  Oops.  Now before I rant on for an entire page, let me just quickly say why it still made my top 10: campaigns.  I still enjoyed every second I spent with them, and damn do the Halo 2 cutscenes look phenomenal.  Sure, there were some matchmaking issues, but 343 are doing what they can, and that counts for something.  In the end, I still love me some Chief.  

7) Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
I'm not a huge CCG fan and never really was.  I've been trying to come up with an exact reasoning as to why Hearthstone made my top 10 (let alone at number seven).  Is it the stressful Arena battles I've played hours of?  Maybe the thrill of opening a new pack?  Or perhaps the love of playing a card that completely turns the match to your favor?  So, I decided to cop out of this one, since Penny Arcade was able to articulate this for me better than I could.

6) P.T.
Fuck.  This.  Game.
But really, what a fantastic piece of marketing by Kojima. You know that feeling in the final act of a drama where things start to piece together and your eyes are glued to the screen and your mind is nowhere else but with those characters?  Well, that's how this entire 40 minute run through was for me.  I couldn't look away.  I couldn't think about anything else.  P.T was all that mattered.

5) Far Cry 4
Far Cry 4 was 2014's GTAV for me: the one sandbox I couldn't stop coming back to.  Each installment since Instincts has progressively become better and better, with Far Cry 4 becoming the pinnacle of the franchise for me (which may become an issue for further installments).  From the jaw dropping vistas to the persistent threat of environmental predators, Kyrat kept me on edge for the 40+ hours I spent with her.  But above all else, Far Cry 4 has taught me a life long lesson that I will never let pass my mind:  honey badgers are dicks.

4) Dead Nation: AE
Housmarque nailed it two years straight.  Resogun was easily top three for me in 2013, and by far the best “next gen” launch title across all platforms.  Dead Nation was nothing less than an equivalent twin sticker.  The upgrade system, weapon variety, enemy insanity, and hell, the story, all created a damn near perfect game within the genre.  I spent hours working towards the Plat, and was entertained the entire time. 

3) The Last Of Us: Left Behind
Last of Us was my GOTY 2013, and perhaps my all time favorite single player narrative.  Left Behind follows suit and delivers a prequel story that stays on par with the initial games.  Sure, from the beginning, you know the end (cough cough, Reach), but that did nothing to limit my heartfelt sorrow for Ellie and the tragedies she must pull through.  And now I'm crying.  

2) Wolfenstein: The New Order
I gradually began losing interest in FPS campaigns over the years, and was quite weary of Wolfenstein when it was first announced.  Then launch day came and damn did Wolfenstein deliver.  I have not had that much genuine FUN with an FPS campaign since Halo 2.  And that’s what Wolfenstein is at its core, a fun shooter.  I do not recall playing a game that so seriously takes itself not serious, and it’s refreshing beyond no other.

1) Destiny
There’s not much to say here. Destiny has consistently been an up and down ride since launch, and everyone loves pointing out its flaws. Yet everyone keeps coming back to it, including myself. The gunplay is perfect, the engram drops have gotten better, and the raids are just flat out enticing. Hell, the crucible has taken me away from my beloved Halo multiplayer (without taking it's *issues into account). In the end, Destiny has been the game I have not stopped playing, after 250+ hours, and still find myself thinking of on a daily basis, and for that, it deserves my game of the year.

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