My Favorite Games of 2016: Honorable Mentions Edition

2016 was a pretty stellar year for video games. Whether you’re in to it or not, we saw Pokemon Go give Nintendo a strong footing in the mobile market, the mainstream introduction of virtual reality, the Xbox One gain traction with the Xbox One S and their announcement of the Scorpio, the PS4 topping 50 million units sold, both competitors released a mid-generation console upgrade, and we even caught a glimpse at Nintendo’s next entry in the console market, the Switch.

With different strokes for different folks, I’m always interested in reading about the games that stuck with each of you throughout the year. It’s tough to remember everything I’ve played in the last 12 months, especially as a reviewer, but I usually try to narrow down my end-of-year list to 10 favorites. Everything else I enjoyed, as the topic of this post implies, is an honorable mention.

These are mine.

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It’s no secret that I play a lot of games, but I wanted to clarify that I’ve yet to play some of this year’s bigger releases (and some of the more niche ones). Watch Dogs 2, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Dishonored 2, Gears of War 4, Uncharted 4, Dead Rising 4, Dark Souls III, Grand Kingdom, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered, Fire Emblem Fates, Dragon Quest Builders, Dragon Quest VII, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, Hyper Light Drifter, and The Technomancer are all on my to-play list, but I only have so much time.

I think I hit a point earlier in the year where I became a little jaded with the same ol’ same. Whether that be the case or not, I found myself immensely enjoying games within genres that I wouldn’t typically go out of my way to play.

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Aside from Rocket League and the MLB The Show series, I rarely, if ever, play sports games. However, I had a great time with FIFA 17–more specifically its new story mode, The Journey. As an American, our soccer/your football has always been a foreign concept. But throw some interesting characters, a touching story, and newbie sliders in to the mix and apparently I’m all in.

I also rented this year’s Madden on a whim and got pretty invested in its Madden Ultimate Team mode. It’s similar to The Show’s Diamond Dynasty mode where you complete challenges, collect a currency, and buy packs of trading cards to craft your own team using the best players inside. It dangled enough of an RPG carrot to lure me along for a bit, but I truly ended up enjoying it in the end. I don’t even care about football.

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Forza Horizon 3 is another game that took me by surprise. I only picked it up because of a price error at Target ($20 for a week-old game), but obsessively played it for a week before getting burnt out… no pun intended. Boy, that joke fucking sucked. Anyway, I loved the open-world aspect, the rad paint jobs uploaded by the community, and the fun arcade feel was right up my alley as someone who’s genuinely awful at racing sims. Plus there’s just something hilarious about showing up in the games of other players as a car smothered in scantly clad anime ladies.

There were a few good remasters this year that introduced me to games that I missed out on during the last console cycle, namely God Eater: Resurrection, Batman: Return to Arkham, and Dishonored: Definitive Edition.

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Claire: Extended Cut and Risk of Rain are games that I missed out on during their initial runs on PC, but absolutely loved both of their releases on PS4 and Vita this year. Claire scratched an itch that I’ve had for a while as a fan of Silent Hill, and I couldn’t have asked for more in a horror game. Risk of Rain is easily one of my favorite Vita games ever, absolutely nailing the pick-up-and-play rogue-lite and 2D action shooter feel. It’s equally addictive and rewarding and would have been in my top 10 list, had it not been available elsewhere since 2013. Volume is another Vita game that I loved, but released in 2015 on PS4.

However, as much I enjoyed these games, it just doesn’t feel right adding remasters or late console releases to my Game of the Year list. It’s a hard stance to make, but feels fair. Just take note of how much I appreciate them in their linked reviews.

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I also had a lot of fun with the fanservicey games Gal*Gun: Double Peace on Vita and Senran Kagura: Estival Versus on PS4, which isn’t uncommon. I typically enjoy these absurd, quirky Japanese games that hide their touching moments (again, no pun intended) under all of the boobs and upskirts. Both games were super fun.

Also on the Japanese side of things, I had a good time with the JRPG Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force on PS4 and I’m hoping to invest a bit more time in to Suda 51’s new free-to-play action RPG Let it Die. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a great JRPG as well, but I got sidetracked by a review and didn’t get to spend as much time with it as I’d have liked. I had a similar experience with I am Setsuna, where I loved what I played (especially the OST), but ended up blindsided with a review and never went back. Soon, though. Hopefully.

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2016 was an awesome year for first-person shooters. I really loved the campaigns for Titanfall 2 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and enjoyed most of Battlefield 1. I’m not ashamed to admit that I usually play the annualized shooters for their campaigns, and over the years my expectations have gotten lower and lower. But hot damn, did they all deliver this year. Titanfall 2’s stellar level design and buddy-cop story, Infinite Warfare’s interesting take on space combat and non-linear side-missions, and Battlefield 1’s various mini-narratives are all standout features that give me a little more confidence in how their respective developers will redirect their focus considering the single player experience moving forward.

Xbox One console exclusive Quantum Break feels a bit odd to include in my honorable mentions list, both because it had all the makings of a top 10 game during most of my experience, and because the lackluster and questionably designed finale put such a sour taste in my mouth that it’s now all I can associate with the game each time I think about it. Worth playing? For sure. But I can’t think of a more poorly designed and uninspired final encounter in just about any other game I’ve played.

I played a lot of Vita stuff this year, but most of it was backlogged from last year. However, I really, really enjoyed Drinkbox’s first-person RPG Severed. It intimately used the Vita’s touch features in an interesting way, accompanied by its brilliant aesthetic and a dark, haunting story.

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ABZU is an artsy underwater exploration game that drew heavy comparison to the iconic PlayStation exclusive Journey. I was really intrigued by its world design and the way in which it vaguely told a story without using spoken word as its central language. It didn’t pack quite the same emotional punch as Journey, but it’s still worth mentioning nonetheless.

I’d also be remiss not to mention World of Warcraft: Legion. I love the changes it brought to the MMO, but the expansion came out at such a busy time that I didn’t have the chance to give it the amount of attention I’d have liked. I left my Gnome Mage at level 107 and I’d really like to jump back in and level my Demon Hunter soon.

What about you folks? What are some of the games that you enjoyed this year, but didn’t quite crack your list of favorites?

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29 thoughts on “My Favorite Games of 2016: Honorable Mentions Edition

    1. Doom definitely made my top 10, and it’s pretty high up there. I never picked it up with the intent to play the MP portion, but man, that campaign was fucking incredible. Lots brutality and gore and metal and Satan lol.

      I picked up both FE Fates games during a buy 1 get 1 free sale at Best Buy during the summer, but I wanted to finish my playthrough of Awakening first since I hate leaving things incomplete. Can’t wait, though. I love me some FE Awakening.

      I seriously doubt Homefront is getting fixed or improved on consoles, but should that ever happen I’d be happy to give it another go.

      Lots of great stuff to pick from this year.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I judged Doom as a whole game and if the multiplayer is weak then it should be judged too in my opinion. The single player campaign was really good, but I didn’t fall in love with it. Bethesda could’ve knocked it out the park with the single player campaign like The New Order did, but instead they catered to people’s nostalgia. I still really loved the single player campaign. If it was a single player only game it most likely would be in my top 10 games this year, but not very high up on it.

        It’s a real shame that Homefront runs like shit on consoles. It’s not a great game, but it’s good for a single run and has some good features.

        Fe Fates was good, but I consider it one of the worst FE games I’ve ever played. I hope you like it though :).

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      2. I dunno, I wouldn’t say BioShock 2 is just okay because the multiplayer was lackluster, or do the same for Uncharted or The Last of Us. Doom has just never, ever been about MP to me. But then again, neither has Halo, despite it’s massive MP popularity. I guess I just judge it based on what I want to get out of it. I buy Halo for the campaign and Horde mode, and if that ends up being exactly what I wanted out of it, that’s all I’m going to focus my judgment on.

        The New Order was great, as was The Old Blood. It’s nice to see a revival in FPS stories.

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      3. Bioshock was… worse than part 1/3 to me. It’s still a good game, but it is the worst Bioshock game to me. I judge games as a whole and MP is part of it to me. I never got into Uncharted or The Last of Us :). Not a big Naughty Dog fan tbh.

        Doom gave me exactly what I wanted and that was fast paced action and lots of gore, but I thought it was repetitive and I could only enjoy it in short burst. It’s still a good game, but I don’t think it’s a great one. I’m looking forward to the next one though :). I’m really looking forward to the next Wolfenstein game too.

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  1. 2016 Games: Playing DIshonored 2 currently – about halfway through it believe. Would love to get into Final Fantasy XV, but it’s not on PC yet. I also played Deus Ex: Mankind Divided [great game, but really short]. I saw the release of Dragon Quest VII [the remake on 3DS] – would love to play it soon, may get it, including probably one of the new Pokemon [Sun/Moon] games. Also dove into Technomancer – was an alright game; terrible combat system, and the character’s faces are a bit uncanny valley.

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    1. I keep hearing mixed things about Technomancer. Not expecting much, honestly. It was relatively cheap and I enjoyed Bound by Flame enough to give this one a shot.

      I just got Dragon Quest VII as an early Xmas gift. Knowing it’s well over 100 hours, it’ll probably be sitting on the backburner until summer break, haha.

      What do you think of Dishonored 2? I just finished the first game a few weeks ago and really liked it, so I’m stoked to jump in to 2 soon.

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      1. I found out I’m pretty awful at first-person stealth, haha. I’m fine at Assassin’s Creed or Metal Gear Solid, but with Dishonored I was getting caught constantly since I couldn’t see behind me. Lots and lots of killing in my High Chaos playthrough!

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  2. I generally don’t do “Best Of The Year” articles because I can’t afford to buy everything, and I also enjoy collecting retro. So every year I have a mix of old, and new. Sometimes it’s more new, others it’s more old. That being said as I go through the games that came out this year that I own I can vouch for a few of them.

    One of the biggest being Rogue Stormers. It’s an indie game by Black Forest Games, and so being a little more obscure it probably doesn’t get the attention it deserves. But by God, should people play it. It combines the rogue elements of something like Risk Of Rain, with the run, and gun gameplay of something like Contra, and unlockable characters that could give Games Workshop a run for their money. It’s a lot of fun, and is even better when you have friends over for 4-player couch co-op. Which is unheard of for most computer games. For anyone wondering why they need Steam Link, this is a great example. It recently saw a port to Sony, and Microsoft consoles too. So definitely look into it if you haven’t. Of course, I reviewed it earlier this year where I went into a lot more detail.

    I’ve also played a lot of Overwatch, and while I sometimes think it gets more fervor than it might deserve, I think it’s easy to see why people love it so much. First off, it’s very accessible. You don’t have to be a God among FPS fans to enjoy it. In fact, despite how many people will try to tell you otherwise, it really focuses on the average player more than super fans. Second, it also has a big emphasis on strategy, and teamwork. No matter what mode you play, you have to think, and communicate. You’re assigned an offensive or defensive position. What characters do you decide to go with? If it isn’t working, you need to change them out. Because of this, even though you may prefer a specific character, you need to at least try each of them. But even in this, there’s some experimentation. You may find in some situations, a character who is all about defense might work offensively or vice versa. Third, the character designs, and artwork are even more inviting than World Of Warcraft. It still looks decidedly Blizzard. But there’s someone for everyone, again whether or not they love FPS games. And it does have a higher ceiling of game play for those who do want to master it. Which is why the seasons, and tournaments seem to grow in popularity. Granted, I have some issues with the way they’ve done some of the aftermarket skins through loot box lotteries. I also hate that the game sometimes drops your connection for seemingly no reason. But you can ignore the cosmetic baubles, and the latter isn’t going to happen often enough to sink the enjoyment. I don’t know that it’s my favorite current release. But it is a very fun game you may want to give a second look.

    As a veteran of the Quake, and Unreal Tournament glory days, I’ve absolutely loved playing Toxikk. It’s a shame not enough people hop on this one. The people who do though, are very committed. It is a very small community of players, but here at two things that shouldn’t scare newcomers off. One, it doesn’t cost anything to play the core game. You go on the Steam store, and download it. From there you can hop online, play against people, or bots, and it cost you nothing. All of the weapons, and maps are there. Have at it. If you DO enjoy it, you can pay a VERY low price to get the ability to tweak the look of your character, get a server browser, and even LAN support. Which means that even if only three of your friends ever agree to buy it, and play it with you, you have private network matches. So few FPS games do this anymore, and LAN parties are so much fun to do. Plus the fact you can do this means that even if the small community dries up, you can still have a great time with it. It’s sad this game was overlooked, there is so much here to like. If you’re like me, and you’ve missed arena shooting, for almost a decade now, check it out. As I said, it doesn’t cost anything unless you want the joys of LAN. Even then it’s still pretty inexpensive.

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    1. Oh, The Witness! I totally forgot about that one! I played for a few hours and liked what I saw, but never got back around to it. Telltale’s Batman is now on my to-play list, since all of the episodes are available. I tried doing the episodic waiting game with Life is Strange and it was just a bit too rough, haha. I *loved* Hyrule Warriors on Wii U, so I imagine Legends on 3DS is good.

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  3. Hey now, your burnout pun was hilarious. Don’t knock it :) I’m jealous of your productive gaming year. I mostly played older games that weren’t launched this year. Fallout 4 is my biggest highlight and it was great to finally beat the original Legend of Zelda game.

    Also, must resist urge to return to WoW…

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    1. My girlfriend just resubbed to WoW to pass the time during our winter college break, but I’m holding off in order to finish World of FF and The Last Guardian. We’re both on-again off-again WoW addicts, haha.

      I do tend to play a lot of modern games, more so the indie stuff since I receive a lot of stuff to review. But in reality gaming is my only substantial hobby, and as a full-time student that lived as a caretaker for most of the year, I was able to afford more than usual on my own.

      It’s always important to make time for the original Zelda, lol. It’s so good!

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    1. I ended up playing a lot more games than I anticipated this year, that’s for sure. I took the entire summer off after dad passed and gaming has always been my “life escape” option. I’m glad you enjoyed NSMB, at least what you played of it. Will you be checking out Super Mario Run on iOS? I’m an Android heathen, so I’ll be waiting for it. Although I hear it’s fun, there’s just not enough content to justify the $10 price tag.

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      1. Gaming as a life escape is so necessary, and sometimes you really need to dive into that fictional world for that much needed break.

        I did enjoy it. I think my platforming skills are just rusty :p

        I am notoriously bad with playing games on my phone (except for the Impossible Game, which is another story). I think I just haven’t wrapped my head about playing a game I think of for a console on my device, and ugh $10? I can’t justify that either.

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      2. If the game is genuinely fun and doesn’t have microtransactions, I wouldn’t mind dropping $10. At least if it was on a handheld that I actually played, not a phone or tablet.

        Gaming has helped me get through some really tough times. I don’t always play for escapism, since fun is the primary draw, but I can always count on it!

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      3. I like the balance of escapism and fun! The latter usually helps the former, but agreed, it isn’t always the goal; it just often happens. With WOFF for example, I love the logic of figuring out stacks and how to not just beat enemies but catch them. It’s a problem solvers dream come true :)

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