2016 has been a very big year for me. In January, my wife discovered that she was pregnant. And then on September 26, I became a dad.
But alas, gaming does not care for these life altering events! Oh no, the endless cycle or new releases, sequels, and DLC waits for no one. But as for how many games and when I could get to play, well, let’s just say it’s been a little trickier of late. But I’ll tell you something, friends, where there is a will (and a relatively chill baby), there is a way.
So now more than ever, it is crucial that I choose how to use my limited gaming time delicately. Due to this, I think you will all agree that this list sits above many other top 5 list for this year. It is quite refined, deeply thought out, and only containing the best of the b – oh who am I kidding! The first game to kick this list off is Pokemon GO and my number one pick is a game from 2013 that I have played zero hours of in 2016.
Still here? Oh wow. OK, awesome!
So hear me out. Yes, Pokemon Go has plenty of terrible design flaws. Yes, it has shallow gameplay without much really “to do” (which is why a lot of people lost interest after the first 2 months). And yes, developer Niantic inexplicably made the game worse with each update they released. Wait. Why is this game on my list again? Oh right!
Pokemon GO was the only game that my wife and I played together, a lot, for 2 whole months. It was the only game that got us to go for walks and drives, specifically for the purpose of playing. It was the only game where we’d randomly run into stranger, in the real world, who were also playing and we could talk about it. It was the only game this year where we’d go somewhere and find hundreds of people of all ages ignoring each other, while staring at their phones playing it.
Pokemon GO has it’s problems, but there’s no argument that it was one of the coolest and most unique gaming experiences this year.
I enjoyed the first Titanfall, but as a person who enjoys their single-player experiences, it was always disappointing that it was missing a proper campaign. The sequel resolved this issue for me and also happened to be one of the more creative single-player shooter experiences of the year.
I wouldn’t want to give anything away, but it’s very clear the developers, Respawn, were not afraid of experimenting and trying a lot of different things. In honesty, almost none of these things gel together in a cohesive or interesting narrative, but that doesn’t matter. The campaign is stuff with so many unique ideas that are engaging and fun to play through, that you regularly get to feel like a complete badass.
On a personal note, I also got a kick out of the main villain being South African, because it’s so rare to hear that fairly unique accent in video games. Even the fairly basic robot vs robot boss fights were a kick to fight through.
I’m an old school fan from the original game back in 1996. The modern reboots have been fantastic in capturing what made the original series so good, while feeling like modern classics.
Extra strategic depth was significantly added for the sequel, however I wasn’t a fan of every level having a timer on it. Sure it added pressure, but it also felt like an artificial way of forcing the player to make mistakes. Trust me, game, I am perfectly capable of screwing up on my own. I don’t need any help, thank you very much!
I remember back in University (almost ten years ago) trying a demo for one of the Total War games. I did not like it. Since then the series held no interest for me, until now.
The fantasy setting of Warhammer and unique races were just the things needed to get my attention. And after spending close to 80 hours with it, it’s safe to say this game seriously got its hooks in me. With the strategic depth, interesting units and liveliness of the battles; this game screams at you with so much personality, and it is awesome. If you’re a fan of strategy games and enjoy fantasy, this should be at the top of your list to check out.
So you think a game released in 2013 has no business being on a top games of 2016 list, huh? Boy, are you going to be mad when you remember, from the intro, how many hours I told you that I spent playing Dota 2 this year. Zero.
I’ll give you a few seconds to deal with the range of emotions you may be experiencing right now...
You good? No? Oh, well, let’s continue anyway..
In recent years I’ve found myself spending more of my gaming hours watching others play games than playing them myself. Personally, there is something poetically “full circle” about this, as a good chunk of my gaming experience as a kid was watching my old brother play games. In 2016, I’ve easily spent hundreds of hours watching Dota 2 matches and loved so much of it. This finally helped me understand the pure excitement others feel watching Rugby or whatever their sport of choice is.
While this pick may seem weird to a lot of you, to me, if makes perfect sense. Why wouldn’t I choose the game I’ve most enjoyed spending my time on? Regardless of whether that time was spent playing myself or just as a spectator. Watching others play games is something I’ve always enjoyed. So in this modern age of Let’s Plays, eSports, and game streaming sites like Twitch, this is perfect for me. Also, besides the benefit of being a hands-free way to enjoy gaming, I also now have someone I can watch Dota 2 with. And she seems to be absolutely enthralled with it.
Yeah. I think this mixing parenting with gaming thing is going to be OK.
So, what do you think of my list? Here is how daughter reacted when I first told her my choices.
As for my final thoughts of this year; well for the world, 2016 has been pretty crappy. For gaming it has been a relatively unexciting. For me, 2016 has been a landmark year, with a life altering event. For the first time since 1998, I actually might be interested in an Nintendo console (the Switch looks pretty cool!). Oh, and of course, Evie.
What have been your favourite gaming things in 2016? And most importantly, what you are excited about for 2017? Please let me know in the comments below!
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