Top 10 Video Game Trailers of 2016

The year 2016 had many highs and lows, but some of the high points have been the stellar amount of game trailers we’ve witnessed.  Every year, game studios put a lot of time, effort, and money into wowing players, in order to get them excited for their upcoming games.  The trailers we witnessed throughout 2016 did not disappoint and as the year draws to a close, we’re giving them the credit they’re due.

Forming this Top 10 list was a double-edged sword.  On one hand, I got to experience all these incredible trailers once again.  On the other hand, I had to sort through hundreds of trailers and narrow it down to the 10 best.  You may find a few selections controversial, but each trailer selected followed a certain criteria: Shock Value, Substance, Excitement Generated, and Overall Quality.  Hand-On Gameplay was not a factor.  

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Video Game Trailers of 2016!

10. The Last of Us Part II

We kick off this list with the last AAA video game trailer we received this year.  It was a trailer we all expected to see at E3 2016, but didn’t get…Nor was there any sign that we’d see it in 2016.  However, Naughty Dog shocked the world by unveiling a look into their post-apocalyptic sequel, The Last of Us Part II, at PSX 16 in late November.  

What makes this teaser so special is its ability to tell a story, without revealing too much of the plot.  We open to an older Ellie, tuning her guitar and playing a song Johnny Cash would be proud of as bodies lie all around her, beaten and bloody.  When Joel finds her, she promises to kill the ones who wronged her.  Anyone who played, and finished, the first game should have gotten chills as it made for an intense, goosebump-inducing moment.

9. Death Stranding

For starters, let me just say that I still don’t understand a damn thing about this game, and yet I’d give up a paycheck to play it.  If you’re willing to do anything to play a game just by seeing the trailer, that’s the sign of a well-done trailer.  

Our first glimpse at Death Stranding came during Sony’s E3 2016 Press Conference.  Hideo Kojima was introduced in a triumphant fashion, and brought with him a trailer for the first game of his new solo studio, Death Stranding.  We saw a naked Norman Reedus surrounded by dead sea-life, clutching a baby, with 5 unknown deities levitating above.  

If that wasn’t weird enough, Kojima then appeared at The Game Awards 2016 to unveil a new trailer that introduced Mads Mikkelson, Baby Canisters, and strange black sludge.  The horrific beauty and mysterious intrigue produced by these trailers are what give Death Stranding a place on this list.

8. Insomniac’s Spider-man

Another surprise trailer, courtesy of the Sony E3 2016 Press Conference, was Insomniac’s teaser for their take on a Spider-man video game.  So far, none of the Spider-man video games have amounted to much, but Insomniac’s version looks to have gotten a lot of what we love about the web slinger right.  

Insomniac gave us action, humor, and beautiful graphics; all things we need to have for a great Spider-man game!  Even if it does turn out to be a dud, like its predecessors, its teaser still has a place on our list of Best Video Game Trailers of 2016.

7. No Man’s Sky

Speaking of duds, let’s take a moment to appreciate the excitement generated by No Man’s Sky’s trailers.  Back when the game came out in August gamers everywhere lined up to get a copy of it.  Even Amazon ran out of games to ship!  While many ultimately felt burned by the exploration game, you can’t deny how incredible the trailers made it seem.

Give credit to Hello Games, they created trailers that mesmerized and astounded gamers, around the world.  Incorporating awe-inspiring gameplay, thought-provoking scenes, and a gorgeous soundtrack, gamers started developing exceedingly high expectations that the developers couldn’t keep up with.  Love it or hate it, No Man’s Sky’s brilliant marketing and trailers make it deserving to be part of this list.

6. Horizon: Zero Dawn

So far, we’ve had a lot of PS4 exclusive titles on this list and there is a good reason why.  Sony simply dominated the trailer game this year.  One of the trailers that helped them in their cause was Horizon: Zero Dawn’s trailer from E3 2016.

One of the reasons I absolutely love this trailer is because it fleshes out the story, a little more.  Previously, we didn’t know much about the world of Horizon or Aloy, other than she was a badass huntress in a mechanized world.  After seeing this trailer, we understand just how dangerous this world is and how special Aloy is.  The scene at the end, with the mysterious alien door opening only drove the point home that Horizon: Zero Dawn is more than what we thought it was.

5. South Park: The Fractured But Whole

We’re halfway through our Top 10 list of Best Video Game Trailers from 2016, so it’s a good enough time as any to stop by our favorite Colorado town, South Park.  Ubisoft’s unlikely sequel delighted fans at this year’s E3 2016 with hilarious jokes and a brand new story for the kids.

Unlike last year’s The Stick of Truth, Matt Stone and Trey Parker decided it was time to tackle the superhero genre with the Coon & Friends in South Park: The Fractured But Whole.  The trailer itself is riddled with the iconic South Park knocks on Marvel and DC, both vocal and hidden.  It’s by far the funniest trailer of 2016, and that’s no easy feat.

4. For Honor

Out of all the cinematic trailers shown in 2016, none compare to Ubisoft’s trailer for their medieval war game, For Honor.  It starts out explaining how these warriors came to be fighting each other and develops into the choices they could’ve made.  Then, the conflict comes to a boil when an unknown enemy enters the fray to stir the pot even more.  

It’s the perfect blend of emotion, technical beauty, with enough intrigue to get gamers wondering about Apollyon.  If this wasn’t a game and instead became a movie, I’d watch it in a heartbeat.

3. Mass Effect: Andromeda

The Top 3 Video Game Trailers from 2016 are all trailers we were dying to see the moment 2015 ended and we rang in 2016, and boy did they deliver.  We begin with the next chapter of the Mass Effect franchise, Andromeda.  

For this year’s N7 Day, EA and Bioware got us the perfect gift, the incredible trailer for Mass Effect: Andromeda.  By most accounts, it really was our first look into the world of Andromeda.  Yes, we did see a few stills, teases, and the brief gameplay from the PS4 Pro conference, but they weren’t as in-depth as this trailer.  

Clancy Brown’s iconic voice opened the trailer, explaining everything that happened and how the crew got where they are.  It then goes into more of the story and gameplay, bringing in a lot of the same elements that made the Mass Effect franchise so beloved.  They even introduced new species of aliens and terrors for the crew to endure.  It plays out like a movie and got gamers excited for 2017’s Mass Effect: Andromeda.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nintendo’s attempt at an open-world The Legend of Zelda game was all the rage, when it was announced a couple of years ago.  Back then, it was entitled The Legend of Zelda Wii U.  Nintendo remained pretty mum on the subject, even going as far as pleading the 5th when I prodded their representatives with questions on various interviews.  However, at E3 2016, they unveiled two things, regarding the open-world Zelda game.  The first being the trailer.

The Legend of Zelda Wii U trailer opens up by showing us just how vast Hyrule has become.  It gives us a good look at the various fauna and flora, while going into the new abilities Link has, like jumping and climbing.  Then, the pace picks up and we get to see everything from new enemies to an armor-clad Link.  It ends with the unveiling of the new name, The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild.

What makes this trailer so amazing is that it plays out like music.  It starts off slow, innocent and crescendos to a fast, ominous pace, whilst keeping the feeling of wonder.  It’s a beautiful track that is complimented by the action sequences portrayed.  The song becomes part of you and provides an emotional tug at the heart-strings, because this is the Zelda game we’ve always wanted.

Honorable Mentions

Before we get to number 1 on our Top 10 list, let’s honor the other video games that had incredible trailers this year.  All of these were worthy of making our list, but were just barely beat out by their competitors.

Overwatch – Character Trailers

WWE 2K17 – Goldberg Trailer

Ghost Recon: Wildlands – E3 Reveal

Watch Dogs 2 – Cinematic Reveal

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Story Trailer

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – Announcement Trailer

Prey – Announcement Trailer

Final Fantasy XV – All of the 23 Trailers they released

Resident Evil VII – Announcement/Gameplay Trailers

Batman: The Telltale Series – World Premiere Trailer

Titanfall 2 – Single Player Campaign Trailer

Halo Wars 2 – Atriox Trailer

Days Gone – Gameplay Demo

Dishonored 2 – E3 Reveal

Battlefield 1 – Story Trailer

Gears of War 4 – Cinematic Trailer

Nintendo Switch – First Look

Marvel vs Capcom – Reveal Trailer

Mafia III – E3 Trailer

1.God of War

Here we are, the Best Video Game Trailer of 2016!  It’s the trailer that kicked off the Sony Press Conference at E3 2016, God of War.  It’s only natural that God of War would obliterate the competition, it’s what Kratos does, after all.  However, this isn’t the same Kratos we followed in his first three adventures.  No, Kratos is done with Ancient Greece and has now turned his sights on the Nordic Gods.

What made this trailer number one on our list is a mixture of surprise, nuance, and content.  For starters, no one could have divined that we’d be getting this trailer, let alone have it kick off the Sony Presser.  Gamers around the world let out collective screams the moment it was revealed.  Then, it got even better when we saw the new and improved Kratos.  He’s older, more in control, and now with a son.  Before, Kratos was a tortured animal, now we see how much he’s grown and how nothing phases him.  He’s even learned patience, which is something none of us could’ve expected.  The trailer continues by showing actual gameplay, including a fight sequence with a troll that shows off Kratos’ raw power.  It ends with Kratos’ son tracking down the deer he was meant to hunt and killing it, with the help of his papa. This was a softer moment, foreign to traditional God of War games, but a welcome one.  It ends the moment we see the massive land and the dragon flying above the duo.

Out of all the trailers produced, God of War was the best one because it gave us far more than we ever could’ve imagined.  In a time where less is more, the studio behind God of War threw that rule book out the window and did things their own way, the Kratos way.

Like I said before, this was a really hard list to put together, but man was it a lot of fun.  I can’t wait to see what 2017 will have in store for next year’s Top 10 list!  Have a different top 10 list? Tell us what your favorite trailers were by commenting below or tweeting us @cinelinx!