B3’s Games of the year 2016

2016 has been a bit of an eventful year really, and as the year comes out from its final month, there have been a lot of gaming announcements. Excitement echoed the hills with the anticipation of 2017 being just round the corner with all of the games announced this year, being released next year.

However we, as a team decided it was probably a good idea if we wrote a “Game of the Year” post, but when the question was put forward to the team, we realised that everyone had their own personal favourite GOTY, meaning the original plan to just say, “Big Boss Battle’s Game of 2016 is…” was scrapped. So what we’ve decided to do, is to give everyone on the team a chance to write a paragraph about one game they personally enjoyed this year. Most of us failed to stick to a paragraph.

Dann Sullivan

Oh – goodness! It’s been a long ol’ year. If not least due to the various political developments, and stacks of unfortunate celebrity deaths. Before writing out my answer for this piece I had to look up a solid list of games that came out this year, all because somebody told me that both Superhot and Hitman (2016) released this year and I honestly, for a moment, doubted them.

What’s my game of year for this eventful year? It’s a tricky one for sure.

I can’t list Rimworld or Battle Brothers because neither of them started their journey this year; I’ve been playing Rimworld since early alpha, and Battle Brothers hit early access earlier than this year.

Civ VI, HOI IV, and Decisive Campaign: Barbarossa would both be candidates had I had enough time to play more than half a dozen games in each.

So then, it comes down to four titles – Superhot, Hitman (2016), Death Road to Canada, and Switchcars. Superhot remains one of the most innovative shooters I’ve played in years; Switchcars with it’s deadly space worms, vehicle variety, and proc layouts has become my go-to game for five minutes of downtime after a long day; Death Road to Canada is easily the most fun entry into the ‘Oregon Trail’ style, road-trip genre that I’ve ever played (Sorry Super Amazing Wagon Adventure), and Hitman (2016), well…

Hitman (2016) wins through for me when it comes down to it I guess. Despite it’s somewhat annoying subtitle the game completely redeems the series after Absolution, it also successfully pioneered a twist on the ‘Games as a Service‘ business model, and it has a blinding scale and learning curve.

There hasn’t been a week go by since launch that I haven’t learned about something new you can do in the game – recently, detonating fire extinguishers. Each of the maps completely dwarf any level of previous games, not just in scale but in interactivity – they’ve managed to build a murder sandbox with so many toys in it that it manages to make you teeter between impatience and curiosity.

Yes, the game has some issues; I’ve seen people fail to catch onto the learning curve, instead left feeling bruised by the game; and, yes, some of the unlocks are relied on in later levels, as poisons and explosives become far less freely available. On the whole however, the more you put into the game, the more you learn, and the more you learn the better you can get the highest scores against elusives, or score highly in 47’s many Groundhog days.

I said, in a podcast for another website, at the start of the year that if they kept the elusive targets, bonus content, and quality maps up then I would gladly buy season after season of content. As we are now at the end of the first season, I stand by that.

Ben Bayliss

This year has seen an incredible collection of games come forth. Be that actually releasing, or being announced for release next year. I’m quite bad at these sort of things because I like games, or I don’t. I see the work that has gone into them, and I see the ones that have slacked. The ones I like, I like. I try not to favour them above others so yeah, it’s kind of a difficult one for me.

Annoyingly, most of the games I’ve really enjoyed are only in alpha, or very early stages of development, so I’m unsure if I should really cast them into my choice. In which case I’d have to really consider Lonely Sun, which was a mobile game focusing on swiping to propel your element to victory, gathering sun stars to grow yourself. It was good fun and had a lot of rage quit moments, but I did keep coming back to it.

But I think, for pure replayability, I think I’m going to have to go for Drive!Drive!Drive! It’s a weirdly captivating system where you as a racer have to switch between several tracks and control the car on that track to help aid the AI on so you end up finishing in a good place or time on every track. It’s innovative, and very clever. I enjoyed it.

 

Kate England-Moore

So, I’m going to cheat slightly and go with the excellent remaster of Day of the Tentacle!

Disclaimer: the original DOTT is my favourite game of all time, however, although this means I was anticipating it with baited breath, it also means I held it to extremely high standards, and it failed to disappoint. Although it brings nothing new to the table in terms of gameplay, in a world of constant remaking and remastering it is a prime example of how to get it right.

The graphics look exactly how I remember the original looking in my head, and then you switch back into classic mode and realise that they’ve done an amazing job of making it seem that way when actually it’s beautiful. The achievements are used perfectly, bringing a whole new aspect to an old game and I’m desperate to play through with the developer commentary on…and if that doesn’t count then Pokémon Go, because any game that gets me out of the house and on a bike by choice has to be something special.

Brian Gillett-Smith

My “game of the year” is actually a tough choice between Atlas Reactor and Solitairica. On one hand, Atlas Reactor is an awesome multiplayer turn-based strategy game, with tonnes of characters, abilities, equipment and more to unlock. Its great fun to play, well balanced, pretty to look at, and there are some great sound effects and taunts. Being a new game means that the players are all enthusiastic and not the complete elitist jerks you tend to find in other more established games…

On the other hand I have Solitairica, which is totally oddball and hard to label. Its an RPG, I guess, with roguelike elements, played out like a game of solitaire… Go read my review – I’m far more eloquent in that. I like Solitairica because I wasn’t expecting much from the game when I first heard about it, but it sucks you in and you are compelled to keep pushing yourself to beat the next bad guy, expand your deck, buy the best equipment. It’s a game you can sink many hours into in one sitting, or just play for a few minutes when you get the chance.

But since I’m only allowed to pick one, I’m going to have to go for Atlas Reactor. It’s much more up my street that Solitairica, and outsmarting other humans is just so much more rewarding!

Craig Fordham

What’s my favourite game of 2016? That’s easy. Battleborn,

It has a sense of humour and it has loads of replayability – I myself have just passed 300 hours played, and have only managed to hit 100% on a handful of the 30 characters. It is the only game that I know that’s quite like it.

 

Toby Roundhill

My game of the year this year has got to be The Turing Test.

The Turing Test was developed by Bulkhead interactive and published by the Square Enix collective, and is a first person puzzler taking after games such as Portal. You use your Energy manipulation tool to navigate through icy bunkers and corridors to try and save humanity, or doom it. The core plot of the turing test, revealed through twists and turns, is that the team of scientists were sent to Europa, and while digging found a ‘virus’ that infects organisms and makes them immune to death. You must take a side and decide, should the team return to earth, and start a new golden age as immortals, or should you trap the team on Europa, protecting humanity from an infinity of pain and suffering.

The Turing Test delicately asks this question, and forces you to make a choice through gameplay. I rank the turing test as my game of the year for its gameplay, its superb plot, and the fact that it made me first doubt my humanity, and then actually doubt that I was a human.

Jorge Sobrino

My favourite game of the year? That’s easy.

It’s a game that nearly took a decade to complete. A tale about a group of friends facing over whelming odds, self doubt and being brave in the face of true adversity. This whirlwind of a joyous adventure takes hold of you and never lets you go all the way until the amazing ending. This title captures finely detailed art and a breath taking musical score to back it up. That game is Owlboy.(See what I did there?)

Honestly, if you thought I was going to pick anything else other then an Indie game, you’re crazy! I truly did love this title and feel it deserves far more attention. This game brought me to a magical place and I never wanted it to end.

Louis Sullivan

Without a doubt, Hitman.

This game being episodic kind of put people off, but by utilising the episodic format it allowed each map to breathe. Even ignoring the numerous free additions to each map added over the year, of which I’ve barely actually played, but have still managed to greatly enjoy the 8% of the overall content.

The escalation missions often feel simple until you get to the final rungs, at which point IO decides to do things like, rig the whole town with tripmines. The elusive targets have a great excuse to talk about the game.

I tend to play chaotically, running around throwing rubber ducks at people, and I have to add the unlocks (Iconator, Phone and Shurikens among others) make this game incredible open to revisits and additional attempts at other pathways.

This is the first Hitman game I’ve played that hasn’t frustrated me, due to an inability to operate 47 in the manner I believe he should act.

Rob Covell

I was torn between DOOM and Inside.

Inside is as close to a perfect game as I’ve ever played, but I think I’m going with DOOM on the basis that I’m much more likely to go back to it. This is a remake/reboot done right, updating the game to a modern standard, but keeping the heart of the original (see also: XCOM).

The game makes modern conceits, such as mantling on obstacles, double jumping and weapon upgrades but still maintains the rules that made the original game such a hit. Fast paced combat, a variety of weapons, health and armour pickups, violent murder of hell beasts. It’s all still here, but turned up to 11. The multiplayer is a bit lacklustre, but the single player campaign is just so much fun. A lot of FPS games get tedious once you hit Fighting Arena Number 20, but DOOM keeps it fresh by gradually introducing new weapons and ways to fight the ever increasing demonic horde. Not that you’d have a moment to get bored anyway; within the first 10 seconds of the game, you’ll have smashed a zombies head on a slab of concrete and gunned down two more and the action doesn’t let up from that opening scene, to the final moment.

Well done id, I expected a mess of a remake, but you shattered my expectations!

Pete

Oh wow. Game of the year. It’s not an easy one; there’s been plenty of cracking games this year: Overwatch, Forza Horizon 3, Deus Ex: HR, The Witness, Superhot, and a bunch of others that aren’t springing to mind. But it’s Doom I’m putting at the top of the list.

It’s an impressively angry game that doesn’t muck about, which isn’t such a bad description of the Doom Marine himself. It’s great to see a silent protagonist actually manage some character – someone who lets you know precisely how murderously enraged he is by the mannerisms of his forearms and hands alone. The gameplay is perfect too; movement is fast and fluid, weapons feel like they’re going to have someone’s eye out, and levels are a series of arenas that provide a playground to have fun in. All this adds up to combat with lots of interesting decisions to be made. Granted, it’s all decisions about how inventively you’re going to murder things, but that’s Doom, right?

Josh

It’s fairly peculiar title aside, Valley is one of the surprise packages of the year, blending two genres together that have no right to be mixed. Masquerading as a walking simulator, this game is anything but and has provided some of the most heart-stopping gaming moments for me this year. In the game, you come across a L.E.A.F suit, a mechanical skeleton that lets you travel high speeds and jump great heights without taking damage. Valley is a game that revels in simplicity by giving you a toy to play with and wide open spaces to do it in. Running up and down hills is always a joy and running at dizzying speeds is one of the elements of the game that never gets old. There is always that excitement when running or climbing up a hill, just knowing you’ll get to run down it again.

As well as running around at warp speeds, the game will consistently give you new gadgets to fiddle and play around with making traversal more exciting and challenging. One of the biggest positives of the game is it’s death system, which is so well integrated with the environment around you. If you die, the valley around you dies as well, as your own body is connected to the life force of the forest. Bring dead wildlife back to life, and this will fill your health meter. It’s a unique mechanic, one never seen before in a game. When you’re not playing around with your suit, there is also a wonderfully told story to sink your teeth into as well as some truly stunning visuals.

Definitely one of my favourites of 2016.

So there you go!

That’s everyone’s GOTY piece, you can see why we found it easier to run it like this rather than having everyone bicker about it over Christmas. Are there any games in here you agree with? Let us know in the comments below, or let us know if we’ve introduced you to some unknown gems!

Happy New Year readers!

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