The (Not so Stereotypical) Games of the Year

As the new year begins, many gaming publications have published or are making final decisions on their Game of Year for 2016. Even my show “Birds of Play” had an hour long special on the subject.

But I want to try something different this year. Rather than straight forward categories of best shooter, best sports game, best multiplayer etc. I like to be a bit more eccentric in my explanations of the past year in gaming.

So without further ado, here’s some games lumped into extremely specific categories for me to talk about.

 Game Most Likely to make your Great Great Grandfather say “When I was your age we fought in actual wars! We didn’t play this glorified…oh wow, this is pretty.”  

The Winner: Battlefield 1 

There’s a few details revolving around Battlefield 1 that I can’t seem to fathom. First, that the campaign was thoroughly enjoyable. Up to this point, the Battlefield franchise has offered fantastic multiplayer experiences, with campaigns that only seemed to highlight graphical fidelity and poor quick-time sequences.

Battlefield 1’s opening was the most powerful entrance into a game I played this year. In the modern day of extreme desensitization to violence after prolonged exposure, I still truly felt the weight of each death throughout the introduction, further reinforced by the obituary that appeared after each playable character perished.

bf1 (Courtesy: Gamespot.com)

Second, That executives at Electronics Arts (EA) almost stopped the game from happening. Apparently there was some debate at EA as to whether kids would care about World War 1.

On a side note, the fact that EA is worried about sales of their Mature rated game to younger children is a grossly sobering fact about the priorities of publishers to make money first and care about the repercussions later.

Despite that, Battlefield 1 has achieved both critical and commercial success this year, and the game should be a top seller for months to come. Probably bolstered by the fact that the bugs and glitches since launch have been almost nonexistent. Something that can’t be said for every game developed by DICE.

Third, that I’m actually good at the game. Not really an important factor, but just thought I’d mention it considering I barely scraped by in past releases for the franchise in terms of my Kill to Death ratio.

Game most likely to written off as yet another PC player’s source of fan fiction but actually turned out to be your new favorite Multiplayer game.

Winner: Overwatch 

I’m not exactly proud of it, but when April rolled around last year, I had already dismissed Overwatch. I’ve always been a Call of Duty guy, a game that is easily accessible and has a large amount of my friends list playing all the time. From a distance, Blizzard’s first new IP in 17 years looked  too weird in order to keep me engaged. But then I tried the open Beta a week before launch and I was hooked more than a team facing a six-stack of Roadhogs.

Yes, Overwatch is Quirky,  but I was damn wrong about everything else. The game has become my nightly comfort food. Where I used to have my nightly unwind binge of Call of Duty, I’m now spending my time mastering a new hero in Overwatch. 

soldier76_healer-1500x844 (Courtesy DigitalTrends.com)

Soldier: 76 truly ushers former Call of Duty players into a familiarity that is happily broken by the need for teamwork and coordination and mastering the subtle intricacies necessary to win matches. After putting nearly 150 hours into the PS4 version, I’ve migrated over to PC and cannot wait to climb back up the ladder to Master Rank and beyond with some overpowered D.Va play.

The Game you knew wouldn’t live up to the hype but you bought anyway because you had $60, it was August and there was nothing better you could think of doing.

Winner: No Man’s Sky

If any game was a personification of the year 2016, No Man’s Sky fit the bill. Gloriously over-hyped since its 2013 reveal, expectations seemed akin to those many had of Destiny, another futuristic space game thing people believed would cure cancer upon its release.

The Difference? Destiny‘s mechanics were actually entertaining to play through. Even after patches and the foundation update, No Man’s Sky might be the single most boring game on the Playstation 4, and its only beaten out on PC by Steam shovel-ware.

no mans guy.png (Courtesy: pcgamer.com

 

Somehow, I still found enjoyment in occasionally returning to my ship, and exploring the boring galaxy while I listen to a podcast in the background.

Maybe in a few years No Man’s Sky will live up to the hype it initially  generated. Then again, maybe one day I’ll run out of soda and decide to drink bleach.

Game marketed to children but my adult friends bought and can’t seem to stop playing. 

Winner: Pokemon Sun & Moon 

What can I say about a game that made me once again dive deep into the recesses of my wallet and purchase a Nintendo 3DS just to play it?

Well, I can say that it’s ludicrously addictive, despite the game having almost no level of difficulty. Every battle is still a joy to play through and every new Pokemon caught is one step closer to me being able to beat my college friends who were playing the game during our in-class exam reviews (I kid you not, a kid in my History of Mass Communications course was playing Moon throughout our last class of the year instead of doing the review our professor was going over).

kats-pokepokeman  (Courtesy IGN.com and screenrant.com)

Alola is a gorgeous game setting, one that would be made even more gorgeous if it was on a console that could output at 900p resolution (Cough Cough, Nintendo Switch needs Pokemon, Cough).

Regardless of what system it’s on, I’ll be playing way too much of PokeMon Sun & Moon for the rest of 2017.

Game that made me realize I’m 20 and it’s time to get my life together because my childhood is officially over with its release.

Winner: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

For 9 years Naughty Dog has graced our Playstation consoles with the Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider knock-off that told a better stories than the recent Indy films and whose gameplay so obviously inspired much of how Crystal Dynamics’ excellent reboots of Lara Croft games operate.

Everyone pleaded for Jak and Daxter after 2011’s Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. But then The Last of Us was released and Uncharted 4 revealed in 2013 and ya’ll can shut up about Naughty Dog wasting their time on 3D platformers now.

uc4-multi (Courtesy Polyglon.com)

It’s not perfect, holes in the franchise’s plot were left unanswered (Like where the hell was Sam Drake in the first 3 games?), and game mechanics were randomly introduced (Why couldn’t we have a grappling hook before if Drake learned how to use one as a child?). Essentially the game’s problems boil down to Naughty Dog throwing something jarring at us and saying “Just roll with it”.

But, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End offers up the finale the franchise and its fans deserved. This might be the last we see of Nathan Drake, but I highly doubt a franchise so rich in lovable characters will truly end after the stand-alone Uncharted: The Lost legacy releases.

*Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End also wins the award for most underrated multiplayer of the year. 

The Rest 

Time is limited and your patience is probably short, so here’s the rest of my personal categories and winners for Game of the Year:

  • Best lifeless personality Simulator:

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

  • Game that requires the most hoops to jump through just to play it:

Modern Warfare Remastered

  • Game no one really needed or asked for but every console player bought anyway:   

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Special Edition)

  • Best Game no one really talked about beyond its Beta build:

Bears Can’t Drift?!

  • Game that killed its Franchise: 

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Happy New Year, and here’s to another trip around the sun full of engaging interactive entertainment and nausea inducing Virtual Reality “experiences”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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