In terms of pessimistic, asshole gaming fans, 2016 picked up straight from where 2015 ended. I recall 2015 being a year shrouded in self-masturbatory comments about how The Witcher 3 is the greatest game ever created. About how Fallout 4 and Metal Gear Solid V were terrible and how, if you like them, you’re an idiot who should fuck off with the rest of the other filthy casuals. It’s a darkened timeline – a timeline where we can now fully admit that video games have finally developed their own intellectually superior hipsters to rival that of music and film. The most upsetting thing about this new change in the ‘hardcore’ gamers mentality, is that they are seemingly very happy to blindly throw some fantastic titles away – because the internet says so. 2016 was filled with some great games, some bad game and some (a) controversial game(s), but we’ll get too that one later. To begin with, we’ll be looking at what the first quarter of 2016 offered up to us peasants, and we’ll discuss why they’re all inferior to Manic Miner.
My research informs me that the first release of 2016 was Pony Island. Did you play Pony Island? I played Pony Island – it was great. If I was to be completely truthful, I actually forgot it existed until I started writing this article, but don’t let that deter you from playing one of 2016’s most underrated gems. Punch Club came out too! Its release was pushed through the door early when Twitch Plays managed to beat it and then everyone decided to support the devs by pirating it. You go guys! Then those beautiful bastards over at Capcom FINALLY bought Dragon’s Dogma to the PC and is was wondrous – one of the most satisfying experiences of 2016. Oxenfree and Darkest Dungeon both got their releases mid-January – both receiving high levels of acclaim but seemingly tossed aside come the year’s end. Rise of the Tomb Raider and The Witness tussled between themselves in a contest for the most gorgeous game of January, whilst Square Enix released their Monster Hunter clone Final Fantasy Explorers which no shop within six solar systems of me seemed to want to stock.
February kicked off with Namco attempting to break the ‘Tales of’ series into the PC market with Tales of Symphonia. It was a huge step for them, and many gamers were eager to get the hands on such a beloved title – so the natural thing to do is to release one of the worst PC ports ever and then spend the rest of 2016 gradually fixing the mess you made. XCOM 2 had a successful launch despite a slight wobble and Square Enix continued to insist on re-releasing classic Final Fantasy games with modernised, out of place sprites that literally nobody wants or asked for. Firewatch became another acclaimed indie release and somehow found itself locked in a rivalry with The Witness for the next year, despite both games being different. Unravel also made its way into our hands as the beautiful world and the lovable Yarny stole our hearts in one of the loveliest platformers in years. Rocket League finally made its way to Xbox, about six months after everyone had stopped caring and Rayman became the most recent nostalgia classic to make its way to mobile devices. The month of February ended with another pair of fantastic indie titles that kept everyone talking. The incredibly innovative Superhot and the carefully crafted world of Stardew Valley, a farming game which left such a great feeling of warmth within anyone who played it. Then they added real world issues like divorce so we can all escape our miserable lives to play our now, miserable virtual life.
Far Cry: Primal came out and it was another Ubisoft that made me uber soft. Gears of Fucking War (not its official title) finally came to Windows and it was incredible. Marcus Fenix is my spirit animal, humans are animals I guess. Black Desert Online finally descended upon us as everyone rushed to make a character before swiftly never playing or speaking about the game again. The Division came out and had people queuing up to play. I mean, legitimately queuing up, in the game, just to play it. The Intro Pack for the new Hitman dropped as Square Enix debuted their first attempt at turning a big-name franchise into an episodic series. It was really well done to them to be fair, if they keep it up, I don’t see the problem – it gave us one of the best Hitman games in years. EA Sports gave us the chance to cave CM Punk’s face in months before Mickey Gall had the honour of doing so in UFC 2, and sidescroller-souls Salt and Sanctuary became another fantastic indie game added to the list of amazing indie games in 2016 (list name is a work in progress). The first quarter of 2016 ended with Capcom porting Resident Evil 6 over to a new generation of consoles – just in case someone out there hadn’t had the pain of playing it yet.
2016 Awards Part 1:
Studio of the Year: Blizzard