2016 has been a pretty grim year here on planet Earth. It took from us Bowie and Mrs Brady. And in return gave us President Trump and Zoolander 2. Rough trade.
But, as if video game developers around the world could sense our collective frustrations, we saw a bevvy of awesome games released over the past 12-months.
We've seen a ton of sequels pick up where their predecessors left off and made great things even greater. We've gotten our hands on games, so plagued by delays, we never thought would be released. Sure, we've had disappointments and quiet months but they were far outweighed by dozens of killer titles and good times.
Whether it's lunchtime VR sessions at the office. Friday night Overwatch binges. Being "little white girls" on the train home in Monument Valley. Or just hitting the couch and getting owned in Battlefield 1, we spend a lot of time playing video games here at CG Spectrum.
So, just like last year, we thought we'd share our five favourite games of 2016 and talk about the ones that just missed out. Here we go...
Final Fantasy XV, Civilization 6 and The Last Guardian
Let me just start off by saying these games look awesome. Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian have both been in production for over a decade and both have received great reviews since release earlier this month. Sid Meier's Civilization is one of the most storied franchises in the history of video games and, from everything I've heard, the sixth installment is a ripper.
So why are these three games here? Well, I'm ashamed to admit, I haven't played them yet.
Final Fantasy XV and the Last Guardian have been out for just over a week and Civilization 6 requires a pretty nice PC to run. A PC far nicer than the one I own.
There's a few last minute Christmas gift ideas for me.
Jeez this game is great. I so badly wanted to put this moody, side-scrolling, puzzle-solving, soul searcher in my top five but Inside just missed out. Made by Playdead studio (the same studio that made one of my favourite games of all-time, Limbo) these guys really know how to make an incredible world filled with terrifying and endearing characters alike.
I can't wait to see what they make next.
If this list was the top five biggest surprises of the year, Doom would be number one. I had such low hopes for this game and was so happy to be proven wrong. This game is an exhilarating first-person shooter that had me banging my head from my first visceral kill to my last double-barreled headshot. Amazing visuals, awesome soundtrack and faultless gameplay make this a must play from 2016.
Dark Souls 3
Dark Souls 3 sucked me in and consumed my every waking thought for months. I've never been more determined to be good at a game as this one. I read up on the law. Concocted strategies while I laid in bed. And, after countless deaths, came up with a long list of fresh new curse words to sling at my TV.
Dark Souls 3 is not a game for the faint of heart. But, for those brave enough to play, the rewards are many.
TOP 5 GAMES OF 2016
5. Dishonored 2
Dishonored 2 has a lot of good things going for it. First, it has one of the most memorable worlds in video game history. An awesome mix of steam-punk and supernatural that works amazingly. Secondly, the gameplay mechanics that developer Arkane Studios have built are so much fun. The Clockwork Mansion is a work of art and maybe the most memorable level in video game history. And thirdly, few games match the chaos you can cause at any given moment in Dishonored 2.
This is a truly beautiful game where you can do some truly savage things to anyone who should have the misfortune of spotting you tried to slink by them disguised as a rat. From slipping a mine full of razors into their back pocket to hurling an unconscious body off a four-story building and through one of the brutal "Walls of Light", this game gives you all the tools you need to successfully extinguish every digital life in a new and almost comical way.
But it's the times when you choose not to use the outrageous powers at your disposal that Dishonored 2 really comes into its own. I'd spend hours sneaking around a particular area, coming up with clever ways to get to the other side unnoticed. Each room was it's own little puzzle and each enemy was the problem I had to solve. I've finished this game twice and I can't wait to do it all over again.
4. Darkest Dungeon
It was early January and I was getting mega-hyped for the new Dark Souls game. I was sick of owning everything in Fallout 4 and there was no longer a beast left alive that could best me in the Witcher 3.
I needed a challenge. Something that would test my skills and my patience.
Then along came Darkest Dungeon.
To say this game is hard is an understatement. It's a nightmare that haunted me for weeks on end. Every mechanic in this game is out to make you fail. Perma-death. Brutal squad management. Enemies so frustratingly difficult, I'm not ashamed to admit, they brought me to tears on several occasions.
But still I came back for more. For being good at Darkest Dungeon is one of the most satisfying things I've had the pleasure of realising.
It's artwork is gorgeous. It's creature design is equal parts spectacular and horrifying. It's gameplay is fun and extremely clever. And the sense of accomplishment you receive when you succeed is unmatched.
3. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
When it comes to epic storylines which take place in unforgettable worlds filled with breathtaking scenery, diverse characters and exhilarating set-pieces, no developer comes close to Naughty Dog.
And the forth and final installment in the Uncharted Series, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, might just be their best work to date.
It plays like a movie, pushing you from one action-packed sequence to the next. And because of this I beat the game in just two sittings. Not because it was short, but because the pacing of the story and action is so good you never really want to stop. You want to know what is going to happen next and you constantly push yourself to play for just one more chapter.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is a humongous game which brings Nathan Drake and his gang of treasure hunters together for one last hurrah before sailing off into the sunset for good. It is such a fitting farewell to one of the best video game characters in recent history.
2. X-COM 2
Had this game come out any other year, it would be the clear number one of this list. X-COM 2 is everything I love about video games. A super-hard but fair epic, in a sci-fi setting where you build the perfect team to fight against the odds to save the world. Yeah!
There's nothing I don't like about this game. The turn-based action is engrossing and intuitive. The level and mission design feel purposeful and varied. The gut wrenching feeling when one of your bravest soldiers falls in battle is real. And the feeling you get when you somehow overcome the odds and pull off the perfect mission is indescribable.
Few games can play with my emotions like X-COM 2 can. One minute I'll be rejoicing as my sniper pulls off a 60% chance-to-hit critical headshot on a rampaging Beserker. The next I'll be a quivering mess after an Advent MEC has, with one shot, taken down an entire building and my whole squad of beloved soldiers with it.
Couple all of these great things with one of the most active mod building communities, and you've got a game that gets better every time you turn it on.
X-COM 2 is now available on PS4 and Xbox One as well as PC so nearly everyone can play it. So do that.
When I first heard about Blizzard's new online first-person hero shooter, I was skeptical. I don't mind some online shooter action but, the repetitiveness and fact that a lot of humans are terrible tends to grate on me after a couple of hours.
But then I played the open Beta. It was awesome. It was bright and exciting and didn't seem to take itself too seriously. The characters were diverse and each had their own little idiosyncrasy's and rad back-stories. The controls were tight. The gameplay fun. I was hooked.
I immediately fell in love with Overwatch.
The real beauty of Overwatch is the fact that it is so accessible, yet incredibly deep. Anyone can pick up a controller and have fun playing as the assault rifle totting Soldier 76 or missle launching Pharah. But it takes time to really master the subtle nuances of every player. Each are so layered and all 23 can be used in completely different ways. Any of these characters could have their own game dedicated to their mechanics and back stories, they are just that well crafted and designed.
Who's the right character for this moment? When is the right time to use Zarya's Gravity Surge ultimate ability? Where's the best place to set up Torbjorn's turrets on this map? Do we really need six Reaper's right now? What's a healer?
This game takes everything you learned from all those years of Call of Duty (the unwavering stubbornness, the one-man army approach to matches and the faceless obnoxiousness of online shooters) and turns you into a fully functional member of a world built around teamwork, sacrifice and skill.
This is a game, like many of Blizzard's amazingly crafted games, that I'm sure we'll be enjoying for years to come. Already, since its release in May, we've had a a new map, two new characters, an Olympics special, a Halloween special and now a Christmas special, all for free. I'm sure this game will keep growing and growing.
And for all of those reasons, Overwatch is the best game of 2016.
What was your favourite game of 2016? Do you agree with our list? Let us know what you think.