While I did not take the time to track every game released for console, PC and dedicated portable game systems in 2016, I am fairly confident that the total is over 1,600 and possibly as high as 2,000 (US.) According to research firm, SuperData, the total dollars spent on PC and Console gaming, worldwide, was close to $70 billion. These are some BIG numbers (not completely believable/verifiable… but BIG.) While every gaming website is now in the process of giving you their “Best Of” for the past year, I have always thought that these compilations were bogus. No matter how big the site, they simply can’t cover all of the games released, and those that they do cover are split up among a handful of editors/game reviewers.
So, while they may have fairly educated opinions, they are just that – opinions – based on those games that they did play and ignoring the ones which they did not. So, at the end of the day, what they are really giving you is their list of favorites – not the “Best.” My list is admittedly very personal, but I believe no less educated. While I estimate that I probably played 200 or so of the new games on offer for the various platforms in 2016, I have whittled that down to the 25 that I enjoyed the most in 2016. The list is chronological and not based on any empirical rating system. In addition, there are games, like Civilization VI, that are from genres that I simply do not play – if it has anything to do with “RTS,” “turn-based,” or “world-building,” I am out. So, no matter how great they might be to those that enjoy that particular genre, they are not going to make my list.
They’re what I like, because they’re what I like – no definitive recommendations made and no apologies offered. I am guessing, however, that a number of these can be found on your lists as well.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (PC)Publisher: Square-Enix Developer: Crystal Dynamics/Nixxes
Although released originally in 2015 for Xbox One and Xbox 360 (and my favorite game of 2015), I couldn’t wait to come back to Ms. Croft’s latest adventure when it was released on PC in January. Why? Well, first of all, it’s a great game that deserves to be played more than once. Secondly, Nixxes, the developer responsible for the PC port, was kind enough to patch the game for Stereoscopic 3D. SOLD! You haven’t lived as a gamer until you have experienced ROTTR in breathtaking 3D!
Firewatch (PC)Publisher: Campo Santo Developer: Campo Santo
February saw the release of this compelling Indie title and the story, sense of isolation and developing relationship between your character and the mysterious woman at the other end of your radio combine to make Firewatch one of my most memorable gaming experiences of 2016.
SUPERHOT (PC)Publisher: SUPERHOT Team Developer: SUPERHOT [...]
Time is broken and the end of time is near.
This is the scenario that ‘Quantum Break,” the ambitious third-person shooter/Netflix-style live action series from Remedy Entertainment (Max Payne, Alan Wake), presents to the player. As Jack Joyce, brother of a world-class physicist (William Joyce) and best friend of a world-class douche (Paul Serene), you are tasked with trying to restore the time continuum that was broken by the douche, as predicted by the physicist. While the game draws on a lot of Remedy’s past experience with time manipulation within the interactive gaming experience, it is the inclusion of four 22 minute episodes of live action streaming television that take the game in a new direction.
The interactive game is played out (for the most part) through the eyes of Jack and his fellow protagonists, while the live action television episodes are presented from the antagonists’ perspective (Paul, Martin Hatch and their co-conspirators at Monarch Solutions.) At the end of each gameplay “Act,” consisting of three parts, the player is presented with a choice (called “Junctions”) that will move the plot along in one direction or another, with gameplay affecting the live action Episode, and the live action adding color, background and detail to the gameplay. The gameplay itself is a combination of traditional third-person shooter mechanics, coupled with the ability to alter time and space, and the objects and people within it. Jack can create time shields that will temporarily protect him from enemy fire, quickly move out of the enemy’s line of sight while he is frozen in time, fire time blasts that have the ability to cause significant damage to any baddie in their wake (or, in the weaker version of the power, simply knock them off of their feet and freeze them in the air for a couple of moments), dash through an area while time momentarily stands still (allowing for a crushing melee blow), and manipulate objects to allow him to move through environments.
Not counting the 90 minutes or so of live action television (not compulsory that you watch, but I HIGHLY recommend you doing so), the game lasts about 10 hours and offers tremendous replayability because of its branching paths and player narrative choices. In addition, Quantum Break makes use of an upgrade system that is fueled by Jack finding “Chronon Source” scattered throughout the game environments. You will also find a bunch of intel and “Quantum Ripples” as you progress through the game, as well as emails, documents, computers and media that I recommend you seek out and read through. Not only are they very informative and offer some very relevant detail on how time broke down, the aftermath, the politics of Monarch Solutions, etc., they are often highly entertaining as well.
Quantum Break was a big risk for Remedy and Microsoft and the project could have easily gone [...]
It’s been a few months (eight to be exact) since the release of “Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China” – Ubisoft’s side-scrolling, 2.5D, more bite-sized entry in the series. A month prior, they announced that the game was the first in a trilogy of sorts, with the next two entries taking place in India and Russia.
We now have confirmation from the publisher that the second and third games in the series have hard release dates – January 12th, 2016 for Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India, and February 9th, 2016 for Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia.
I have beaten China on PC, played it a little on Xbox One and enjoyed the game quite a bit. That being said, I don’t quite understand the business motivations behind the trilogy. If you ask any core gamer, fan of the AC franchise or any number of my friends at Ubi, they all agree that the one significant negative currently affecting the franchise is that of IP fatigue; simply put – too many games released in too short a period of time. So, what can be accomplished by adding a digital-only side-scroller to the mix?
According to my sources, China has sold roughly 125,000 units worldwide on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Obviously, having just released Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, the most recent major, AAA entry in the series, releasing the two side-scrollers right after the holiday season and so hot-on-the-heels of the major release, you wouldn’t expect that the sales numbers for India and/or Russia would come close to matching China’s fairly anemic showing. Why, then? Is Ubi just dumping them? Admitting failure? Clearing the decks for an overall evaluation of the franchise for a possible reboot?
I suppose all of these scenarios are possible, but it seems a shame. Climax, the developer of the Chronicles series, did a wonderful job with China and I expect that they have done the same with India and Russia. Oh, well…it isn’t the first time a developer has delivered the goods, only to get its teeth kicked in, and it won’t be the last.
Good, Fun Games Brought Down by Franchise Fatigue and Lack of Publisher Support – Unfortunately, a Common Game Industry Malady