2018 Year in Review

I’m gonna be honest and say that I was not looking forward to writing this post this year. Not because it was a bad year for gaming but because it was too good. There is just so much to say about gaming in 2018 that I didn’t want to take on the daunting task of trying to summarize it in a single post. There’s really no way to address all the positive things that happened in gaming during 2018. Outside of gaming, the last year was shit. Literally right up to the end of it. But gaming wise it was one of the best years we’ve seen in a long time. So while I’m gonna do my best to do this year justice in a single blog post, I acknowledge that I’m going to come up short. But this post is tradition so it had to be done.

As always, let me talk about how gaming in 2018 was for me personally first. This was an excellent year. I played more release window games in 2018 than I have for the last five to ten years. And I didn’t even break my oath to only buy three day one release titles. Due to review copies, which I’m now getting again in small amounts, as well as borrowing from friends, sales, and winning some contests, I was able to play many games while they were still relevant, which almost never happens. Some of the games I played this year include Monster Hunter World, God of War, Detroit: Become Human, Spider-Man, The Crew 2, Starlink: Battle for Atlas, and of course Smash Bros. Ultimate. I also got a copy of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey but I haven’t played it yet because I still haven’t played Origins, which I just got for Black Friday. So many of the games I played this year were amazing. I got four platinums. That’s not me bragging. Usually I only get one in a given year. I got four because games kept being so good that I wanted to fully complete them. Plus I played some amazing games from past years like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. If I had to pick my absolute favorite for the year I would reluctantly say God of War. But we’re talking inches of difference between first, second, and third place. The game that I actually felt had the strongest narrative experience for me personally was Detroit: Become Human. The game that surprised me the most was Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. I went into that game thinking I would hate it but it was great. Really it was just a full year of phenomenal gaming experiences.

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As for completing my gaming goals in 2018, I was pretty disappointing. I only managed to complete six of my 13 main goals and one of my bonus goals. This is much lower than my completion rate for 2017. I’m gonna try to be better and set more practical goals for 2019. The goal I’m most proud of myself for finishing is that I beat Final Fantasy VII for the first time. Now let’s talk about the highlights, good and bad, of 2018 for the rest of the gaming community. Highlights are in no particular order. As I said already, I’m not really going to be able to do this year justice but I’ll do the best I can.

PS4 Wins the Year

Many great games were released in 2018 on all platforms, but there can be no debate that the overall highest quality total gaming experience was on the PS4. SONY delivered exclusive hit after exclusive hit while still allowing players access to the great cross platform exclusives released in 2018 like Red Dead Redemption 2. The best overall platform for gaming in 2018 was objectively the PS4.

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God of War

In my opinion, this was the game of the year. I was very much against the idea of them making another Kratos game. I was worried about them changing the setting, changing the actor, and adding in a kid. I went into the game expecting something mediocre, but Cory Balrog managed to reboot a franchise that didn’t need to be touched beautifully. It was visually stunning, well written, expertly acted, and mechanically sound. While I wasn’t happy with the cliff hanger ending, I’m happy that a direct sequel will be made and I was extremely impressed with this game overall. And so was everyone else. It won several awards including PlayStation Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards. At the time of writing this it has a 94 on Metacritic. It truly was a perfect reboot to an already great franchise.

Detroit: Become Human

As hit or miss as David Cage is, he delivered an amazing narrative experience with this one. This story was powerful. These characters were meaningful. This world was depressing while being extremely realistic. Parts of this game hit me so hard I thought I was gonna cry. The multiple social issues addressed were done tastefully while not being overly preachy. I will definitely go into the next Quantic Dream game with optimism. While this game didn’t score as high critically as some of the other games released this year, it is a respected PlayStation exclusive and was nominated for several awards.

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Spider-Man

Insomniac Games managed to revolutionize the comic book game genre with this one. This game played perfectly. It looked amazing and had one of the best photo modes I’ve ever seen. It was written at the quality of a Marvel movie and even had a Stan Lee cameo. Hopefully it’s to games what Iron Man was to movies and we will now get a collection of amazing interconnected comic book games taking place in the same universe. It’s a PS4 exclusive though so if you don’t have one you better buy one soon so you don’t get too far behind in the timeline.

ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission

I’m not a huge fan of current VR and I have yet to be truly impressed by any games released on PSVR, or really any VR platforms for that matter. While I haven’t personally played ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission, the talk is that it revolutionized VR gaming. It’s been called the Mario 64 of VR. That’s a hefty claim, but if it’s true I hope it means that we’ll start to see consistently great VR games that make the platform actually worth buying for the majority of gamers. I do personally want to try this game after watching some footage but not enough to go out and buy one of those overpriced headsets. Hopefully as the library grows so will my interest in making the purchase.

DECAHEXATRIS

Tetris Effect

It warms my heart to know that Tetris still mattered to people in 2018. It still matters to me and always will. While I think the VR aspect of the game is overrated, it is an excellently made Tetris game overall. Filled with stunning visuals, hypnotic music, and an overall calming vibe, this may be the best Tetris game ever made. The price is way too high but it’s quite a good game for what it ultimately is.

PlayStation Won’t be at E3 2019

Just over a month ago, SONY announced that there would be no PlayStation/SONY presence at E3. The reasons why aren’t exactly clear but many people have their theories. Really this shows that SONY is so confident with the PS4 at this point that they’ve become arrogant.  Maybe that’s OK though. As long as prices don’t go up and they continue to release great exclusives it really doesn’t matter how they get the word out. In the age of the internet, it’s more effective to do news posts all year round like Nintendo than to launch all your bombs in one event. Personally I have no problem with them ditching E3 as long they continue to keep the public informed about current and future projects.  I find the fact that they cancelled PlayStation Experience in 2018 to be more unsettling.

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XB1 Continues to Disappoint

I have no love for Microsoft but I also have no reason to hate the XB1 or the people that use it. At this point I just feel sorry for them more than anything. They get all the cross platform games so that’s nice, but that’s not why you buy a console. It’s the exclusives that make or break a gaming platform and by any objective standard the XB1 is broken. The only truly great exclusive they released in 2018 was Forza Horizon 4. And while it may be a good racing game, that genre doesn’t justify consoles or those who purchase them all on its own.

Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves is to XB1 what No Man’s Sky, which wasn’t even an exclusive, was to PS4. It’s a boring, repetitive, mostly disappointing pirate themed farming scenario except the prizes are even more disappointing than those of Destiny. Even more depressing is the fact that it was developed by Rare, because we all expect better from them.

Backwards Compatibility

The one thing that the XB1 must be praised for is the backwards compatibility. The library of backwards compatible games continues to grow and that’s a beautiful thing. It still doesn’t justify the console overall, but it’s a noble thing that Microsoft has taken huge steps in preserving the overall useable lifespan of games. This is even more important in light of Nintendo literally suing private citizens for trying to preserve their older titles. I’d like to see PlayStation take on similar policies with the PS5.

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Sunset Overdrive

I have spent years waiting for them to port Sunset Overdrive to a platform I actually use. In November, they finally ported it to PC. While this is great news for PS4 users, it only serves to cheapen the value of the XB1 even more.  Porting an exclusive like that is a slap in the face to the entire loyal XBOX user base.

Nintendo Gonna Nintendo Hard

What can I say about Nintendo that hasn’t already been said about pet cats? They do whatever they want. They almost completely ignore public opinion on most topics. Nothing they do ever seems to make sense from the outside. They literally attack those who love them. But we still love them. The company doesn’t always make the best decisions, but they almost always make profitable ones. Sales wise, Nintendo owned this year. And that’s following 2017 where we saw Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. They just print money.

Pokémon Let’s GO

Haters ranted and raved and continue to do so, but this game sold three million copies in the first three days after release. I haven’t purchased it but the more I see footage from it the more I want to. It looks the way Pokémon was originally intended to but couldn’t because of technological limitations. While I think it’s ridiculous to be charging $100 for it because of a single use controller, the overall concept of the Let’s GO games works. And linking it to Pokémon GO was a brilliant move. I doubt this is the last we see of the Let’s GO series.

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Smash Bros Ultimate

Simply put it’s the best Smash Bros. ever made. It is definitely missing a number of features like break the targets and a story mode reminiscent of the original game. But I would still argue that it’s the best in the series. And I do foresee patches and additions being added to it. I will be playing this a lot more than I already have and I don’t even have Nintendo Switch Online.

Super Mario Party

This was certainly a step in the right direction but it came up short. Most people who grew up with the original Mario Party wanted Super Mario Party to just be that with online pvp functionality. Instead they just did a small list of boards, lots of mini-games, and limited online functions. This game was so close to being perfect, but isn’t that what Nintendo does all the time? They love to get about 75% there and just screw up the end game.

Nintendo Online

This service is pretty much everything I feared for Nintendo. It’s peak predation in every sense of the word. The so called deals are basically non-existent. The number of games worth having the service for is super limited. The retro titles are too retro to warrant paying for the service. This is pretty much an additional paywall for Splatoon 2 and Smash Bros Ultimate that has to be repaid annually.

Switch Online cover

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet

This is noteworthy more in how surprising it is than the actual game itself. This port of the latest Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball game was not expected to be available on the Switch. Even more surprising is the fact that the Switch version will be uncensored while the PS4 version will be censored. And let’s not forget the HD Rumble feature. Basically playing this game on the Switch is as close to feeling up a woman that the people who are gonna buy this game will ever get to. For a console and company that’s always packaged itself as the family friendly gaming brand, it’s quite shocking and meme worthy that Nintendo allowed this.

Ports, Ports, and more Ports

Ports on the Switch aren’t just for Wii U games anymore. Real AAA PlayStation and XBOX titles are making their way to the Switch and they play and look fairly good while also being portable. DOOM, Wolfenstein II, and Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition are just a few examples. And many more have been announced from current and past gens. Slowly the Switch is becoming the most versatile console to game on and the sales numbers show that it’s working.

Noteworthy Non-Exclusives

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Monster Hunter World

Supposedly this was the bestselling Capcom game ever released  . . . and rightly so. What’s great about MHW, and why it was so successful, was that they took an already award winning concept and made it accessible to all gamers. The idea of hunting giant monsters with a very limited narrative structure has always been a good one. The problem with past MH games is that they were always too complicated and had a steep barrier of entry. This game keeps what’s good about the past games but made it much easier for new players to jump in. The many limited time events throughout the year with various cameos like Ryu and Dante have kept the game relevant even several months later.

Battle Royale is Cancer

Cancer is a disease that takes already existing cells within a body and transforms them into harmful cells. As the disease spreads across the body, more and more cells are taken over by the spreading cancer until the life form eventually dies. I think this is a rather apt description of the battle royale genre. It has over taken the industry as the most watched genre on Twitch and developers have taken notice of that. More and more games are adding BR modes. It’s a genre that adds nothing particularly new to gaming. It just transformed traditional PVP into baseless 100 man maps with no story, no chance to turn the game around after dying, and no reason to care about the match once you’ve died. I think it adequately portrays how much people’s attention spans have fallen due to technological advances. I fear for the day that all games become Battle Royale and real gaming eventually dies.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2

What happens when you take The Witcher 3 and set it in the Wild West era? Something extremely popular even when riddled with glitches. I’ve heard people say this isn’t just the GOTY but the “game of the generation”. Slow your roll. It’s an epic achievement in many ways and Rockstar Games should be proud to have delivered something so impressive. That being said, it still has many of the various issues we’ve grown accustom to with Rockstar titles. While it was certainly one of the most impressive games of 2018, I’m fairly certain we won’t be talking about it once Cyberpunk 2077 releases.

WTF Bethesda

Bethesda went whole hog on not giving a damn this year. Not only did they put out the travesty that is Fallout 76, but they followed that up by saying The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield would use the same broken engine they’ve been using since 2011. Skyrim was an excellent game but it’s really time to move on to the next engine. I don’t completely blame the engine for all the problems with Fallout 76, but it definitely played a factor. Of course Bethesda is nowhere near closing down, but the fact that we keep letting them get away with releasing broken games is problematic to say the least.

Spyro Trilogy Remastered

When you find a winning formula you keep doing it over and over again until people get bored with it. Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a testament to how successful Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy was. They’ve also announced that Medievil is being remastered for 2019. Personally I’m OK with them remastering much older games and clearly everyone else is as well.

Spyro

Destiny 2: Forsaken

While I have no love for Destiny and would never buy another game in the franchise, it must be acknowledged that people really seemed to like the Forsaken expansion in Destiny 2 so kudos to Bungie for getting that right. That being said, Activision is doing everything they can to make people angry with microtransactions.

No Man’s Sky Patches

I still haven’t played No Man’s Sky but as they have evolved the game over time the idea has become more and more appealing. While I’ll probably never completely trust Hello Games, I will commend them for acknowledging that they screwed up with that game initially and have worked tirelessly to improve it, which they have and continue to do. I think NMS is directly responsible for Ubisoft’s decision to make Starlink: Battle for Atlas, which is an achievement in and of itself.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

In my opinion, this was the hidden gem of 2018. I don’t know why it wasn’t talked about way more than it was, but I will admit that there are some inherent flaws with the way it was priced and distributed. I finished it and really enjoyed it, but I did feel like it was short at only 30 hours for an open solar system game. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, Starlink is everything we wanted from NMS plus Starfox, if you play the Switch version. It’s really just a narrative focused NMS with the ability to fast travel, a manageable amount of content, and a real plot to follow. You also have multiple playable characters. I think the toys, specifically how they were priced, were a turn off for people. I have the digital deluxe version and I think that really is the superior way to play. If they had not done the toys and instead just sold the deluxe version content with all the characters available as the vanilla version and then a gold edition with additional story missions, that would have been a lot more successful. Because the game isn’t about the toys. They’re a gimmick to try to compete with amiibo. But the game itself is great and it’s a travesty how little attention it actually got.

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Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

The Assassin’s Creed franchise went through quite a few years of disappointing content. People, myself included, were fed up with the horrible storytelling and the awkward structure of games like Unity. Having finally played Syndicate this year, I have to say that it was actually quite good on all fronts. But it was still the old style of game that had become tiresome and overdone. Changing the formula in Origins really reinvigorated the franchise and Odyssey successfully continued that momentum.

Darksiders III

I don’t think it’s the game itself that’s necessarily noteworthy here. It’s the fact that the game finally released. When THQ shutdown, the Darksiders franchise was up in the air. Most people who had played the first two, such as myself, definitely wanted to see III released, but there were no guarantees it would ever happen. To see it finally release six years after II is amazing. I haven’t gotten to play it yet myself, but thankfully I’ll actually be able to because it exists.

darksiders 3

Gaming Industry Do’s & Don’ts

Ninja

If the battle royale genre is the cancer of gaming, Ninja is a tumor. This toxic hack somehow managed to become the face of Fortnite and end up as the first non-athlete to make it on the cover of ESPN magazine even after having said a racial slur during a live stream and basically throwing all female streamers under the bus. It just goes to show you that the influencer system is no different than systems of the past. Minorities and women get shit on while assholes get rich for doing little to no actual work. I hope this hack goes away and takes Fortnite with him.

Castlevania Netflix Season 2

Castlevania is not just a great game cartoon. It’s just a great cartoon. The animation style, the storytelling, the acting, and the relationship with the games are all done perfectly. Cartoon production studios should take note of this show for literally any genre that contains violence and caters to an older audience. I hope we see other shows like this for other classic game franchises like Metroid.

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Monster Hunter Movie

The only positive thing I can say about this movie so far is that they cast Tony Jaa. That’s an A+ casting decision for a Monster Hunter movie. Other than that, this whole project looks like shit. They’ve shown tanks and modern looking guns. The casting in general seems to be steering more towards an American audience of people who don’t actually play the games. And don’t pretend like the Resident Evil movies were good. This all reeks of a cash grab franchise that will drone on for years and years against the desires of the people who actually play the games.

Kotaku

This is what happens when you cheapen the term gamer to the point of including absolutely everyone with a smart phone. The number of controversial articles they put out claiming games are destroying society, women, and the future is just appalling. Their twitter feed is one of the most entertaining comments sections you can read though so at least there’s that.

Diablo

I have no love for Diablo. I have no love for Blizzard. I have absolutely no positive feelings about Activison. In fact I’m worried that Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will suck because of Activision. While I don’t support Blizzard in any way, I feel bad for their loyal fans who have spent years hoping for the next Diablo. Them announcing a mobile game and not even mentioning a proper next installment was a real slap in the face to all their fans. I commend that guy for standing up in the middle of their conference and calling them out. And then they followed that by announcing that all their franchises are getting mobile games. Clearly Activision has poisoned that already stagnant well and any smart person would jump ship rather than throwing more money into that pit or microtransactions, predatory pricing, and general disregard for their consumers.

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Goodbye Telltale Games

This hurt a lot. And the news came out of nowhere. I was so sad to hear that I won’t be getting The Wolf Among Us season 2 among other titles. I beat Guardians of the Galaxy this year and Game of Thrones last year. I was waiting for additional seasons of both. But really I should have seen this coming. I have said multiple times in the past that they seem to be taking on way too many projects. And I wasn’t aware of just how bad their licensing agreements were with a lot of these companies. The studio really was mismanaged and it’s a shame what happened to all their employees. It reminded me of when Visceral Games closed down, save for the fact that Telltale didn’t collapse because of bad management from an overarching publisher. Hopefully small studios will learn from this and stop trying to be too big for their britches.

Goodbye Prima Games

Prima Games closing its doors is the equivalent of seeing your childhood home demolished for me. I used to collect their player’s guides. I recall some of my favorite ones that I still have in a box somewhere. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy X, and many others. But it makes perfect sense that they closed down. I’m shocked they lasted as long as they did. Printed gaming tips in 2018? GameFAQs has existed for more than 10 years. YouTube playthroughs and guides can be watched from your phone. Google can pinpoint the exact item you’re looking for and bring up a marked map of where it is in the game in seconds. Who was still buying player’s guides for any reason other than collecting and nostalgia? And they weren’t cheap either. Every time I saw a new guide released by them I was shocked at how expensive they were in recent years. They cost more than many games do now. All good things must come to an end and Prima Games had a great run.

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2019 Looks Amazing

There are a host of great looking games coming out in 2019. For PS4 it’s going to be the year of the samurai. For the Switch we’ll see new installments of some classic fan favorites. CD Projekt Red may raise the bar even higher than The Witcher 3. This is just a small sampling of the announced games for 2019.

  • Ghost of Tsushima
  • Kingdom Hearts III
  • Yoshi’s Crafted World
  • Medievil
  • Devil May Cry V
  • Nioh 2
  • Animal Crossing
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • The Last of Us Part 2
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • Luigi’s Mansion 3
  • Shenmue III
  • Doom Eternal
  • Bayonetta 3

There is so much more I could cover but no one wants to read a 20 page blog post in 2019 and I really don’t have the time or energy to write one. Overall I’d say this was a really good year for gaming, unless you’re predominantly an XB1 user. I really didn’t cover enough of the bad moments but there were just so many noteworthy goods to talk about. I hope this is not an outlier year and that 2019 continues this trend of great gaming. My biggest concern at this point is deciding which games I’m going to take the time to play because there are so many worthy candidates. How was gaming for you in 2018? What games are you most excited about in 2019?

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2016 Year in Review

I know this post is rather late because it’s already almost February and so much has already happened this year. I will get to topics like the Nintendo Switch and Scalebound as soon as I can, but it’s tradition for me to do a review in gaming of the year before so I decided I’d have to squeeze it in.

Let me be honest and say that while I always have my ear to the ground and I’m constantly checking gaming news, I wasn’t nearly as focused on current gaming last year as I usually am. This is mostly because I was busy trying to complete the 52 challenge. Ultimately I did complete it and you can read all about my experience doing that here. But if you look at the list of games I completed last year you can see that most of them, especially the big ticket titles, weren’t released last year. Of the 52 games I completed in 2016, the only ones released in 2016 were Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia, The Division, Hyper Light Drifter, Attack on Titan, One Way Trip, and Strike Vector EX. Of those seven games, only two of them are AAA titles and only five of them are titles that had any possible significance to the general gaming public. I also put in a decent amount of time and effort into 12 other 2016 releases and purchased an additional 16 2016 releases that I have yet to try. My point is that as far as more than just lip service experience through reading and watching videos, I was not personally involved heavily in 2016 AAA release gaming. So while I feel that I am equipped to judge gaming in 2016 as a whole, I am happy to admit that for this particular year I wasn’t nearly as focused on current gaming as I usually am.

When I look back on 2016, I’m a lot more neutral in my feelings than I was for 2015. And even in my 2015 review I wasn’t leaning too far to either side. 2014 though, I was super unhappy with. I would say that this year we saw a number of bad practices and trends start or continue, but for the most part things ran pretty smoothly. So let’s look at the highlights.

Erasing Memories

Crowdfunding has become even more rampant with companies like Square Enix having the nerve to email people in their newsletter to go fun indie games that they’ll take a cut from without having to fund them. This year we didn’t see any crazy Kickstarter projects like Shenmue 3 in 2015, but the practice of larger studios pan handling for money instead of taking the risks on like they’re supposed to has become even more normalized. I just hope people start to see that this model doesn’t breed great games a majority of the time in the coming year. As far as indie crowdfunding goes, I’m still opposed to it but in cases like Hyper Light Drifter the model works. That was an excellent game that had a true justification for crowdfunding the project because the developer was literally unsure about how much longer he would be alive and wanted to have the funds to complete the game before his passing with no designs on profit.

The games to movies thing tried to happen again in 2016 and no surprise it was all talk and no delivery. Warcraft the movie fizzled out long before it ever began. I personally didn’t even go see it because it looked boring as hell and everyone I talked to said it was a waste of time and money. Just for reference, it got a 28% on Rotten Tomatoes. I actually did take the time to see Assassin’s Creed the movie and that was terrible. It was so bad I took the time to write a rather detailed piece about it which you’ll see published in the next few weeks. Basically again no studio has understood how to properly adapt a game to a film because the people on one side don’t play enough games and those on the other side don’t watch enough movies. We also had Ratchet & Clank the movie, which I didn’t take the time to watch because I wanted to play the game which is a remake of the original game anyway so it seemed redundant to pay money to watch a movie based on a game that I was already going to play that was already based on a game I had already played. But Rotten Tomatoes gave that a 17% which is even worse than Warcraft so I’ll just assume my choice not to watch it was the right one. I’m currently playing the game however and I’m having lots of fun. And everyone seems to have forgotten the importance of narrative quality in visual based entertainment mediums in general. But now let’s get to the actual gaming.

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They don’t even really show the leap of faith properly.

I’d say the best way to do this is to just touch on the highlight games of 2016 one by one. So in my opinion the top 10 games of 2016 in no particular order were The Division, Uncharted 4, Battlefield 1, Final Fantasy XV, No Man’s Sky, The Last Guardian, Street Fighter V, Quantum Break, Pokemon GO, and Overwatch. Please note that when I say “top games of 2016” I am in no way, shape, or form saying that these were the best games of 2016. In fact some of the titles I just listed can and should be considered on the list of the worst games of 2016. By “top” in this case I mean popular and /or noteworthy. These are the games that garnered the most attention from the press and public in 2016. There were some other honorable mentions such as Dishonored 2, Titanfall 2, Mafia III, and Doom but these 10 are the ones that caused the most buzz for the longest amount of time and I think sum up gaming in 2016 as a whole best. So let’s tackle them one by one.

The Division was another Destiny scenario. A great concept ruined by a lacking plot, terrible end game, and a screwed up economy. Again, I fell for the beta and preordered it and again I, like so many others, was left disappointed. The Division however, was a lot faster about their updates and added multiple new modes of play in the first year of the game. But Ubisoft, like so many other developers, failed to realize that once a player base is lost it’s nearly impossible to bring it back. The loyal players are still playing and some returned, but most of us never took the time to try it again after finally getting fed up. I preordered the gold edition yet I have not logged back in to even try Survival even though I have multiple friends still playing it that have told me the new expansion is great. This always online, PVP focused, crappy end game scenario just keeps coming more and more and it’s really a problem. Probably one of the lowest points for gaming in 2016, but by no means the lowest.

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Buyer’s Remorse courtesy of Ubisoft

Uncharted 4 was a high point for both the franchise and 2016. It won countless awards including PlayStation game of the year by the users, which in my opinion might be the most important award a game can win. As in player’s choice game of the year, not specifically PlayStation. I haven’t played this one yet, but I already bought it and can’t wait to complete Nathan Drake’s adventure. That was also a high point in my book. The fact that Naughty Dog chose to conclude the franchise instead of milking it for as long as they can. The plot drives development other than being added in last minute like with so many other games and franchises today. I hope 2017 has more moments like Uncharted 4.

Battlefield 1 was heavily hyped from the beginning and set against Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. I don’t play either of these franchises and I didn’t buy either game, but I have to say that both games impressed me this year because they did things differently for once. Battlefield 1 decided to go the opposite direction of every other mainstream FPS game for like the last two to three generations of consoles. You’re always either in WWII fighting Nazis, in the Middle East fighting “terrorists”, or in the future fighting aliens and it’s gotten so old. Battlefield 1 goes back to WWI which is pretty much unheard of in modern shooters. The trailer looked great and the gameplay looked like it would at least be kind of different from the same boring crap these studios dish out every year. But I also think Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare deserves to be commended for actually trying last year. COD is a series that always gets panned for having a crappy campaign. It’s a game that people buy for the PVP and until recently they never took serious issue with that. But in recent years Infinity Ward has legitimately been trying to be taken seriously in the narrative gaming genre. Advanced Warfare was praised by many people for actually having a story worth playing. I didn’t play it, because I never buy COD, but I was actually curious about the story starring Kevin Spacey. The trailer for Infinite Warfare looked even more legit for plot with epic speeches by Kit Harington (Jon Snow from Game of Thrones). I was so impressed by the trailer that I actually considered buying this one. Kudos to both franchises for finally thinking outside the box. I don’t like the fact that new CODs are made every year, but if these pew pew franchises will actually put some effort in then more power to them.

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You almost got me this year Infinity Ward

Final Fantasy XV finally dropped. It had a very long and very disheartening development cycle. Originally it was supposed to be a completely different game. At times people didn’t believe it was ever gonna get released, but it finally did. I first tried it at a mall in Taiwan back in 2015. Right away I was impressed. This was not another shitty FF13 scenario. This was the Final Fantasy game we’d all been waiting for. A real time FF game that runs smoothly, looks beautiful, and has characters that people really relate to. Square Enix has disappointed us a lot in recent years, but FFXV is a step in the right direction. I haven’t really started it yet but I already bought my copy. My one beef with the game going in is that it takes less than 40 hours to beat. It seems the days of long RPGs that give you over a hundred hours of high quality gaming are a thing of the past for Square Enix which is sad because they basically invented the genre. Overall though FFXV is definitely a win for 2016.

What can I say about No Man’s Sky that hasn’t already been said about the Assassin’s Creed movie? It came out exactly as disappointing as I predicted it would be months before release. You can read about that here if you’re interested. Everybody hyped it. Everybody, well except for me, preordered it. And everybody was disappointed. Ok that’s not entirely true. Some people liked it. But an overwhelming number of people were unhappy with the finished product. It set a new record for refund requests on Steam. Hello Games failed to deliver so many of the things it promised and then went dark after release in the wake of all the negative press. The game was overpriced, under done, and a huge blunder for everyone involved. I’m just glad I saw it coming and was able to help the few people who took my advice seriously from making a big mistake. Probably the lowest point for gaming in 2016.

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This may be the best No Man’s Sky troll I’ve seen.

The Last Guardian was finally released. After more than 10 years of waiting for that game, Japan Studio finally got it out. People had lost hope. Even my resolve had begun to crumble. But I kept hope alive and I was rewarded. Preordered the collector’s edition and for the first time in years I have no regrets about a preorder. The game is excellent. Now I’ll be honest and say it doesn’t live up to 10 years of waiting. The graphics are good, but it would have looked fine on PS3. And, like all games in the series, it’s not that long. My only real complaint is that I can’t pick up a magic sword and start slaying enemies like in ICO. But it is a great game and I’m glad we finally got to see it released in 2016. We’ll definitely consider this a high point.

Street Fighter V was just a big disappointment for all the wrong reasons. It’s a franchise that has set the standards for most fighters for the last 30 years. The formula isn’t hard. Yet for some reason this time Capcom decided to get all modern DLC and release the game prematurely with a fraction of the normal content. Eventually they put out the single player campaign but honestly the game shouldn’t have been released until that was ready. And you have to pay $30 for a character pass on top of an already $60 fighter. What the hell is that? This is just another example of developers/publishers rushing things out and not delivering the quality necessary to stay competitive in what has become a very expensive and extremely competitive industry. The game also had a lot of controversy surrounding censorship because once again the SJWs decided to get involved in gaming even though they don’t play the games they’re complaining about. Capcom gave in and censored the American version of the game taking NA one step closer to a Nazi police state where no one can have their own ideas about anything unless it agrees with the vocal minority or demagogues. Street Fighter V was not only a low point for 2016, but also possibly a bad omen for the future of game development and release.

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Quantum Break was yet another example of how Microsoft doesn’t know shit about keeping their customers happy or just flat out doesn’t care about it. The game was announced as an XB1 exclusive only to last minute get ported to PC, angering most of the XB1 user base in the process. PC owners felt cheated for being misled into purchasing the console version and console exclusive gamers felt angry that an exclusive title could so off handedly be ported thus negating the value of their console. And Microsoft went as far as saying that they wouldn’t be doing many more XB1 exclusives in general because they want everything to be both XB1 and PC because obviously that’s more profitable for them. While I am all for cross platform games and think exclusives are one of the worst practices in the industry today, even I was disgusted by Microsoft’s comfort with blatantly lying to loyal XB1 users and the gaming public in general. That kind of behavior is everything that’s wrong with the industry today. Also the game ended up being kind of underwhelming as well so just an all-around low point for 2016.

Usually I don’t talk about mobile games, but how could we talk about gaming in 2016 without mentioning Pokemon GO? Niantic Labs delivered a great concept with record breaking downloads and profits only to somehow screw it all up with greed, bad management, slow development practices, and general negligence. I still play Pokemon GO and I genuinely enjoyed the times when it was a thing everyone was doing. But I’m in no way surprised that the game died off for most people because it has so many problems. And the worst part is that most of them could easily be fixed if they would just stop being so blatantly greedy. Pokemon GO is just like Destiny and The Division. Proof that great marketing and a great concept go a long way but don’t hold a user base if the developer doesn’t make player enjoyment the main priority.

overwatch

And finally, let’s talk about Overwatch. Now for me you can’t talk about OW without mentioning Battleborn. You can choose to say they weren’t competing with each other, but the public directly compared the two and the public chose Overwatch. Now personally I played the beta for both games and I didn’t buy either. But what saddens me is that the public chose Overwatch. I’ll be completely honest and say that OW has the better basic gameplay, but it’s by no means the better game. Probably the most played game of the year was a game that has no single player campaign or mode, no story, and requires you to be always online to play. People basically told Blizzard and all developers that from now on they can produce half a video game and still charge $60 for it. In return that game will win game of the year, get used in esports, and be the leading search on PornHUB. What the hell is wrong with everybody? If Overwatch had a campaign I would have purchased it. The gameplay is solid and the graphics are good. But I’m not going to pay $60 to have to always be online and rely on other people to define my gaming experience. That’s not acceptable. If the game had of been $30, which would have been an appropriate price for a match based PVP only game, then I wouldn’t be complaining, but you can’t just throw out COD multiplayer with lesbian porn stars and charge the price of games like The Witcher 3. I think the number of controversies surrounding Tracer are hilarious and telling about how people feel about the game. They love the gameplay but they want a story and that’s why they care so much about things like comic books that in no way affect the game. It’s Star Wars: Battlefront all over again with a more diverse roster. Battleborn may not have been the better game mechanically, but it had a story with a cooperative campaign and people chose Overwatch because of the “sexy” female characters. And the most ironic part is the fact that the game is being championed for its diversity while being one of the biggest drivers of sexism and the objectification of females in the gaming community in 2016. It’s not fair to call such a successful game a low point in 2016, but calling it a high point means accepting a future where developers don’t even try when they steal your money.

2017

Ultimately 2016 wasn’t a terrible year. I guess based on my opinion of these 10 specific 10 games it leans a little more towards the negative side, but not by much. It had some very low points both in and outside of gaming. But there were also some great moments in gaming that made 2016 a year worth remembering. The game I was probably most impressed with in 2016 was Attack on Titan by KOEI TECMO. It was a perfect recreation of the show that played well, looked good, and had a lot of play value in it. I’d like to see more adaptations so expertly done. Here’s hoping that 2017 will be a great year of gaming but based on the announcements we’ve seen so far I’m already losing confidence. Fingers crossed for Horizon I guess.

What were your high and low points of 2016? Was it a good year for gaming overall?

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