Dustin – Doom
Back when Wolfenstein: The New Order released I felt it was a strong GOTY contender, but due to all the other games releasing it got a bit overshadowed. Being an FPS didn’t really help the cause and discussions broke down to RPG titles for our group. Well I’m not going to let another fantastic shooter go unnoticed.
Doom took everything great about Wolfenstein and blended it with the classic arcade shooter approach of the Doom games in the 90’s in the most beautifully crafted game of the year. Doom reminded us what it was like to simply play a game. You were the story, you were the action, and it didn’t take itself too seriously. There was enemy spam when needed, horror elements when needed, and absolutely badass bosses to take down. It also helped that all the original demons were recreated in ways that made the most hardcore fans of the series go bonkers in excitement.
Normally when a classic title is touched we get all kinds of people saying it shouldn’t have ever been touched. When even those people are excited about the game you know it is good. Sure the online component is getting flack, but I personally love the arena multiplayer. I still play it to this day and have enjoyed the added maps all throughout the year. Then to top everything off we still have SnapMap which has to be the greatest tool ever implemented within a game for console players.
Matt – Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
I recently had a conversation with a buddy of mine who made pretty bold statement, in saying, “2016 was a bad year for games”. I wholly disagree, because when I reflect on my 2016 gaming, there were some incredible stories being told from my console. Games like Dishonored 2, Overwatch, Final Fantasy XV, Dark Souls III, Watch Dogs 2, and even Indie titles like Firewatch, among others. However, the game that stole the show in 2016 could only be Naughty Dog’s final chapter to the Uncharted series.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is my pick for Game of the Year because of moving story it told, from start to finish. Despite getting to know Nathan Drake over the previous three games, Naughty Dog found a way to create even more depth for our favorite treasure hunter. This time, we saw a married Nathan Drake, living a domestic lifestyle with Elena when his long-lost brother comes back from the dead. He’s then pulled through an emotional roller coaster as he joins his brother for their biggest unsolved treasure hunt, searching for Captain Avery’s Pirate Treasure!
Along with a compelling story, Naughty Dog flexed its artistic muscles by guiding us through some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes ever shown in a video game. From the smoky hills of Ireland to the vast sun-kissed mountains of Africa, Naughty Dog outdid themselves with Uncharted 4.
While the combat mechanics won’t impressed the most seasoned gamer, Uncharted 4 improved on a lot of issues gamers have had in the past. The real meat of it comes in the story, the fun banter, and the uber satisfying ending that’ll leave you smiling for days. Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is THE Game of 2016!
Jordan – Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
I can honestly say, this year, somehow, I managed to be more current in my gaming than in any year prior. Again, I don’t know how considering I was more busy this year, but I think I was able to manage my time a tad better (not to mention the kids are older now and I’m willing to play more games in front of them).
While I’m glad to no longer be a solid year behind most of my gamer buds, that’s made my game of the year pick much harder to narrow down. The handful of indies I’ve played were addictive and fun (like Halcyon 6, Beat Cop), but lacked enough “oomph” to really be considered GOTY. Pokken Tournament is easily one of my favorite Wii U games with solid mechanics and addictive gameplay, but it’s lack of updates and continued support shifts if further down the list.
I’m going to exclude Rise of the Tomb Raider and XCOM 2 for the PS4 (even though they are amazing games and sit at the very top of my favorite games I’ve played) for the simple fact that they originally released, on the Xbox One and PC respectively, LAST year. As such, it doesn’t seem fair to put them on our 2016 list.
With that in mind, I’m going with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. The story had some issues, mostly with it feeling too short and ending abruptly, but on the whole, it’s one of the most fun experiences I had this year in gaming. The gameplay is impressive, giving you the options and tools necessary to play the game exactly how YOU want to. Even on boss battles, stealth and non-lethal options are perfectly viable. You’re never forced to cater to a different style, and this freedom takes the game to a level above everything else.
I played stealth/no kill the first time through and was impressed with how well it was handled in the game through it’s mechanics and the way you interacted with other characters in the story. After beating it, I went back through some of the early levels, taking a more aggressive approach and the experience was totally different. It’s great to be able to play a game with strong enough mechanics to genuinely feel different if you come back to it, all while immersing you in a world that “lives” and changes as you do stuff. I can’t wait for more Deus Ex adventures after this, and just talking about it again makes me want to dive back in.