New year’s is a holiday for reflection, and we here at Games and Grinds are ready to jump in on the fun. As per usual, a lack of funds and free time meant my backlog grew exponentially this year, but I did manage to get my hands on a few fantastic games. For me 2016 was the year I renewed my interest in FPS, found a few indie gems, and fell in love with some of my favorite series all over again. Check out the list below to see which games stuck out during a year of gaming greatness.
My shooter of the year, hands down. Overwatch dominated my summer this year and more. It’s been a long time since I dedicated large amounts of time to an FPS, but the amount of polish Blizzard put into Overwatch kept me coming back for more. From the maps to the characters, every inch of this game is oozing with personality and charm. This personality translates into gameplay that supports a wide variety of playstyles with characters that fit into nearly every niche. Whether you’re a tank, shooter, healer, defender, or some combination in between, I’m pretty sure anyway can find an enjoyable way to play. It’s hard for me to get excited over a multiplayer-only game, but Overwatch pushes all the right buttons.
It’ll take a while to see whether Civ 6 survives the test of time, but there’s no doubt this is a solid addition to the Civilization series and a great jump off point for future development. I love the amount of detail and thought that goes into each new city you build during a game of Civ 6. Each one develops differently according to the resources surrounding it, giving the city and country as a whole a unique feeling. It really helps give each new game a fresh spin. There are still a few AI and balance tweaks to fix, but overall I’m quite happy with the newest Civilization installment.
I haven’t played nearly as much of BF1 as I would have liked since its launch, but what I have played has been pretty damn good. The standard Battlefield formula is about as foolproof as you can get, and the WWI aesthetic gives every battle a grandiose feeling that creates some awe-inspiring moments. The Operations game mode could be one of the best additions to multiplayer gaming I’ve seen in years. It’s a simple concept, but playing a series of attack/defend scenarios tied together across several maps gives each round an overarching narrative with a bit more punch than your average pvp games.
This was as much an interactive storybook as it was a game, and I mean that as a compliment. I appreciated Firewatch for its ability to tell an engrossing story that left me guessing until the very end. Any game that can hit an emotional note is one worth remembering to me, and Firewatch did exactly that. It doesn’t hurt that some of the vista views you get while playing are downright gorgeous.
Pokemon Sun & Moon
My overall game(s) of the year. You can always rely on a Pokemon game to be wellmade and enjoyable, but Sun & Moon managed to deliver on expectations and then some by revamping much of the classic Pokemon formula. Gyms are replaced with unique challenges, Kanto Pokemon return with new type sets, and even more social elements have been added via online features and minigames. This is the most accessible Pokemon game I’ve ever played, and there’s an insane amount of content to dive into. Oh, and it being set in a tropical island setting inspired by Hawaii makes it even cooler. If you have a 3DS you HAVE to pick up a copy of Sun & Moon.
Star Fox Zero
If you want an example of how to kill a potentially great game with shoddy controls play Star Fox Zero. There’s a solid variety of gameplay as you would expect from a Star Fox game, but the controls or so unintuitive that it’s a challenge to really enjoy what you’re playing. It’s also a shame that this game shipped without a true co-op or pvp mode. I hate to say it because Star Fox 64 is one of my favorite games ever, but Star Fox Zero is a game of missed opportunities.
Star Wars Battlefront
Beautiful visuals, fun if basic shooting, creative maps, but terrible business practices. That about sums up Battlefront. It was a blast for the first month when the player base was lively, but terrible handling of DLC by EA quickly split the player base and left the community to quickly wither. I haven’t looked at player counts during the holidays, but I can’t imagine enough people have bought the season pass to revive the online community. A total lack of single player or campaign modes didn’t help either. There’s no denying this game was rushed to market and all the worse for it.
Another good game at its core, but a big letdown after launch. I bought The Division on a whim at its release because Aspen was out of town for a week and I wanted to kill some time and I fell in love with the game. It had solid shooting, enjoyable if simple RPG elements, and an engaging atmosphere. Crawling around a post-apocalyptic NYC and grinding out story missions was a blast with friends, but crippling balance updates and anemic endgame/pvp content drove off much of the game’s initial players. Decent gear became almost impossible to find in drops and crafting wasn’t nearly fleshed out enough to pick up the slack. I’ve read that things have marginally improved in the last month or two but I still haven’t found motivation to pick up where I left off.
And that will wrap it up for 2016’s year of gaming. It was a good one, despite our lives being so hectic we had to put a lot of the blog\stream on hold. The good news? Our move back to Texas means our lives are starting to resemble something stable again. Our new year’s resolution? Keep developing Games & Grinds and have fun doing it. Happy new year y’all. We’ll see ya around in 2017.