There aren’t ten games here, but there’s some solid and worthwhile games that Nate played throughout 2016, one of which was a surprise. Though Nate juggles his work schedule, relationship, and other hobbies, he had to be selective with his game purchases and time devoted to playing them. Here are the top 5 games Nate played in 2016, with an honorable mention to start it off.
No Man’s Sky
A game I really wanted to love, but even with my managed expectations I was a bit disappointed. The core game isn’t bad; the art direction is cool, soundtrack is great, gameplay is fine. Where it fails is it just begins to feel pointless because nothing actually feels unique or special once you start to see the template that every star system, planet, ship, creature and plant are based on. That said I did still have fun exploring my procedurally generated corner of the galaxy for 30+ hours according to Steam, and that’s more time than I put into most games.
Like playing the lead role in an indie film from first person perspective. What I didn’t expect was for it to build into a suspense thriller by the end. There’s no combat and I don’t even think there’s a fail-state because you can’t die, but because of the isolation and setting it can actually be a bit scary. It’s hard to go into specifics without giving spoilers but it’s a well crafted experience that transcends the medium. Firewatch is must play if you like to see developers try to push beyond typical video game tropes and do real story telling. Lovely art design and soundtrack plus well written, and voiced, dialogue makes this game standout as something special.
4. Hyper Light Drifter
A stylish indie homage to 2D Zelda games. I put quite a few hours into hunting for all the collectible items and upgrades. I was originally sold by the neon pixel art alone, but when combined with fast challenging gameplay, a hauntingly obscured story and soundtrack (by Disasterpeace] to match, Hyper Light Drifter became a surprise favorite. One thing that struck me is that there is no written or spoken story in this game, it’s all conveyed through short animations and in the environment. Some reviews complain about this method of story telling being too vague but I found the mystery part of it’s charm.
3. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
I’ve been a fan of the series since the original. Everything I gravitated to since the original is still here; a dark cyberpunk near future setting, FPS gameplay with RPG skills & inventory, interacting with NPCs via dialogue choices, and open-ended sandbox style level design. I upgraded all my hacking and stealth skills early on so I compulsively hacked every terminal and crawled through every ventilation-shaft in the game. The plot and characters in Mankind Divided don’t really standout but I do very much enjoy the world.
To give you an idea of how rarely I play online shooters, the last one that had it’s hooks in me was likely Halo: Reach. I just don’t have the time or interest in becoming good at them, and most can’t really be played casually. Overwatch is accessible enough that almost anyone should be able to find a favorite character or two and get some enjoyment out of it. The support class characters require less twitch skills but are just as important to a team as any of the offensive class characters. “Quick Match” and “Arcade” game modes help to negate most of the usually toxic culture found in many competitive games. 6v6 objective based games are primary so unlike other FPS games you aren’t just trying to have the best K/D ratio in a senseless “death match”. There is also plenty of depth and skill for the hardcore players who do worry about their K/D and “360 no scope” kills. The other reason Overwatch has me hooked is I have a few friends who play with regularly.
1. Dishonored 2
The original is among my favorite games of 2012 so I excited for a continuation of the story and a refinement of the gameplay mechanics. This time there are two playable characters to select from when you start the game; Corvo Attano, the original protagonist, and Emily Kaldwin, Empress of the Empire of the Isles.
It’s apparently no coincidence two of my top games are very similar in their open-ended customizable gameplay. I nearly always play stealthily and non-lethal in this style game (what they call “low chaos”) so I had decided to try playing a bit more aggressively and kill every enemy who crossed my path. This was fun at first but after the first mission I had a crisis of conscience when I was reminded in-game that there are consequences in the outcome of the story for playing “high chaos,” even the character who you play as starts to make vengeful comments as you play, as if I was turning to the dark side… I ended-up starting-over to play as my regular stealthy altruistic self.
The art style and environmental story telling are among the best I’ve seen, so much care and attention to detail was put into every inch of this game that it feels like a real lived-in place with lore and history.