Can you believe we’re already nearing the end of 2016? It’s been a year of ups and downs, but thankfully video games have done a fine job — as they always have — of entertaining and innovating.
We’ve already covered our ten favourite first-person shooters of 2016, and there’s also our most disappointing, but this list will look at the games that surprised us either because no one really expected them to be as good as they ended up being, or because they came out of no where and just blew the socks off of anyone that played them.
This could very well be the most important Game Of The Year poll that we do, because it really encapsulates the best of every genre: shooter, strategy, action, adventure, simulation. It’s all here, and that’s why it’s important, because sometimes the lesser-known games don’t quite get the respect and acclaim that they deserve.
Now I know that most of this list comes from the AAA side of things, but hopefully the few smaller titles get some love with your Christmas shopping. And if you’re looking to treat yourself, then you really can’t go wrong with any of the games on this list!
So let’s take a look at 10 games that surprised us in 2016, and then don’t forget to Vote in our Community Poll.
Bethesda and developer id Software decided for whatever reason to keep a lot of DOOM‘s single-player campaign under wraps until only a few days before release, which led to concerns the game wasn’t going to be very good.
Thankfully for DOOM diehards, the end result is a brutal, scary and deep campaign, an experience that arguably over-shadowed the heavily publicised multiplayer offering.
Superhot is a unique take on the genre, combining a clever, minimalistic design with great storytelling techniques, intimidating puzzle and level design, and tight shooter fundamentals.
This soulful shooter is perhaps the most innovative entry in the genre in years. The good ol’ bullet time gameplay mechanic is not new to the FPS genre, but Superhot utilises it in a way to fundamentally change how each environment is approached. Its short campaign length is probably the only major downfall, although the broader package offers unbelievable value through the likes of challengers and difficulty modifiers.
Perhaps most impressive about Superhot is how simplistic it is while managing to be similarly complex. Few games take risks quite like Superhot does, and its staunch focus and tight gameplay make it one of the year’s best.
Ratchet And Clank
It probably shouldn’t be surprising, as Insomniac Games’ Ratchet and Clank games are consistently good, but I’m not sure anyone expected Ratchet and Clank to actually rank as one of 2016’s best games.
It sets a new standard for what a “re-imagining” should be like, nailing all the core components of its historical predecessors while also managing to evolve and innovate platforming fundamentals.
Alienation may very well go down as one of the greatest twin-stick shooters ever made. It really does nail the gameplay mechanic, and I doubt anyone expected Alienation to be as balanced and tight on the gameplay front as the end product was.
Its lack of local co-op was a downer, but that didn’t devalue what turned out to be one of the best online cooperative experiences of the year. It can be a brutal and punishing game, which is part of the charm.
It could have done with more weapons, ammunition, and, of course, local co-op, but nonetheless, Alienation is definitely a game on the cheaper side that’s worth playing.
Titanfall 2’s campaign
Gamers and critics alike seemed to love it, but no one appears to have bought it. It knows exactly what it wants to be, and feels at home with its balancing act between Pilot and Titan. It’s just a shame that it’s had to compete against the genre’s juggernauts, just as it seemed like it could establish itself as one of the industry’s big new franchises.
Respawn missed a big opportunity with the first game to really flesh out the universe’s lore, but they certainly made up for it with Titanfall 2. The single-player component offers a varied, diverse and exceptionally well designed linear experience, taking players through a wide variety of locations and across essentially every type of titan and core gameplay mechanic available in the game.