Well, I've done board games and tabletop RPGs. Lets move on to another form of gaming new and dear to my heart: video games.
2016 was a very good year for video games, with the release of two long anticipated games. How do you think they will stack up on my list? Keep reading to find out!
10. Battlefield 1, Dice (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
The Battlefield franchise has always excelled at delivering large-scale battles that take place across a wide variety of terrains and environments. The more recent Battlefield games have been modern, showing future warfare along the lines of what Call of Duty has been presenting. Battlefield 1 takes a step back to World War One and presents an online experience like no other. The graphics, sound design, and gameplay all work together to recreate the experience of fighting in the World's Greatest War. Fight in the trenches, pilot authentic aircraft and tanks, and use inaccurate WWI weapons as you fight in a variety of game modes, based on real locations and battles fought in the war. Battlefield 1 is a must have for any war enthusiast.
9. Batman: Arkham VR, Rocksteady (PS4)
It is impossible to convey this game to an audience in print. Videos and screenshots won't do it justice. The only way to really understand why this game made it on this list is to play it for yourself, and you should seek out that opportunity. Akrham VR puts you in the role of Batman, literally. It isn't as much a game like the Arkham series, as it is an interactive experience, much closer to the Telltale Games series. You literally see Gotham through Batman's eyes as you travel from one location to another looking for clues to solve a string of murders. This game is like nothing I've ever played before, and it proves the VR experience for me. The opening moments, when you're standing atop the Gotham City Police Station looking down over the city, brought me to tears; it was such an experience.
8. Pokemon Go, Niantic (iOS, Android)
Of course Pokemon Go is on this list, and I probably don't need to explain what it is or how it works because, if you're reading this, you've most likely played it. Pokemon Go brought a new dimension to Pokemon gaming by using your GPS and mapping software to force you to hunt down Pokemon in real life locations. Get out of the house, get to your arts district, and start seeing new parts of your city as you search for Pokemon and hit up landmark Pokestops to refill your items. Then, when you have a team assembled, battle for control of Gyms that are linked to real world locations. There are some features lacking in this game, but the promise of a trading system and player-vs-player battles leaves me thinking Pokemon Go still has a lot of surprises left.
7. Doom, iD Software (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
This game is a return to Doom's roots. After Doom 3, which featured a slower, more survival horror version of Doom that turned off a lot of players, this new iteration is Doom as you know and love it. It is fast paced, frantic, gory, and full of tons of fun (and up-gradable!) weapons that let you shred the battlefield. Doom also features exploreable environments, tons of hidden secrets, character upgrades and progression, and tons of gory kills. The action never slows down as you fight your way through horde after horde of mutated demons, making your way through a high-tech facility on Mars. Don't doubt this game, it is the Doom you grew up with, only better.
6. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, SquareEnix (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Cyberpunk? Check. Dystopian Future? Check. RPG Elements? Check. I have always been a fan of the Deus Ex franchise, and so I was already hyped for Mankind Divided, the direct sequel to 2011's Human Revolution. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an open world FPS/RPG hybrid featuring a huge tree of character upgrades, tons of customizable weapons, and many paths to your objective. Seriously, you can make your way through Deus Ex's sprawling environments in a variety of ways: fighting your way through, using stealth to knock out your opponents Metal Gear Solid style, sniping them out from a distance, crawling through the vents and using secret pathways to avoid detection altogether, or hacking computer systems to turn security in your favor. Unlike its predecessor, Mankind Divded doesn't shoehorn you into forced combat boss battles either, which is a welcome relief. The story, the world, and the characters are memorable, and the game will have you searching every nook and cranny to expose new secret paths. It is a true staple of cyberpunk gaming.
5. Titanfall 2, Respawn Entertainment (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Titanfall 2 is a fast-paced FPS where you play as the pilot of a massive Titan, a giant mech equipped with advanced weaponry. You can battle other pilots in a variety of multiplayer modes, like capture the flag, domination, bounty hunt, and standard deathmatch. There are a ton of new Titans in this game, which will allow you to customize your characters to your playstyle. I can't stress enough that the multiplayer in this game is VERY GOOD. You can quickly traverse the battlefield with a variety of skills like sprint, double-jump, and wall-running, as well as an equip-able grappling hook that will pull you towards your destination. You are always moving, always running, and everything happens in seconds. It is a great multiplayer experience, but it is the single player campaign where Titanfall 2 shines. Normally, multiplayer games such as this have campaign experiences that feel tacked on and lifeless, which is why Titanfall 1 discarded the campaign mode. I'm so glad they brought it back for TF2. The campaign is solid. I won't give away spoilers here, but there are SO many cinematic moments and so many cool levels that are really well-designed with multiple paths to the objective. Just like in the multiplayer, you will be constantly moving as you bounce off walls, run across gaps, and perform cool executions against your enemies. Then, get into your Titan for some truly epic Titan-on-Titan boss battles. It is one of the best campaign modes I've played in an online multiplayer shooter. It could stand alone, for sure.
4. Uncharted 4, Naughty Dog (PS4)
If you're already a fan of the Uncharted series, then you know what you're in for with Uncharted 4. I had expected the game to be breathtaking, and to feature amazing panoramic shots and unique vistas (which is what the Uncharted games have always been known for), and Uncharted 4 does not disappoint. You'll find yourself getting distracted by the scenery way too often. If you've played the first 3 games, Uncharted 4 offers more of the same, just with a better story, cooler moments, and smoother gameplay. For those new to the franchise, you can start with this one as it does a good job filling in the gaps. However, it is definitely worth playing through the first 3 games, especially with an HD remaster collection out for the PS4. It is a classic adventure game, with puzzles to solve, enemies to shoot at, and quick-time events that allow for some really cinematic moments. Uncharted 4 is fantastic, and in any other year might have been my top pick.
3. XCOM 2, Firaxis Games (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
I came aboard the XCOM franchise with the reboot that Firaxis did a few years ago, simply titled XCOM. I had never really played the old PC games and so I didn't know what I was expecting, besides an isometric turn-based strategy game. XCOM gave me so much more: the ability to design a base, to customize characters, to pick from a variety of classes with their own trees, and to play complicated strategies and wait for the pay off. XCOM thrilled me in a lot of ways no other game has, and I thought it was the pinnacle of strategy gaming. Until XCOM 2 came out. It is not an exaggeration to say that everything XCOM did, XCOM 2 does better. It is smoother, more elegant, graphically better, and tells a better story. The stakes are high in XCOM 2 as you control a rag-tag group of resistance fighters moving around the world to build a resistance network. XCOM 2 has you working to defeat the aliens while protecting your own people and having to choose between several missions, knowing you can't save everyone. It is often gut wrenching, difficult, and brutal. But when your strategy pays off, it gives you a high like nothing else can. Soldiers will die in XCOM 2, but when you manage to end a mission having saved everyone, its a nice pat-on-the-back. Try the Ironman mode for a seriously brutal, realistic experience where every decision is permanent and you can never go back to load an old save.
2. Final Fantasy XV, SquareEnix (PS4, Xbox One)
Final Fantasy XV was first promised to us back in 2006 (under the title Final Fantasy XIII: Versus). A lot has changed since then, but the anticipation for this game has remained high. It had every chance to let us down, and the odds seemed high that it would. Surprisingly, it lived up to the hype, which I highly doubted it could do. Final Fantasy XV is an incredible game, and an experience worth playing. It takes the things that players loved about the old FF games and brings them into the new generation. It is also the first FF game (outside of the MMOs) to feature an open world which, like most open world RPGs, is filled with side-quests, interesting characters, and a lot to do. The battle system is fun, but requires more participation than some of the older FF games, since this turns into more of a button mash a la Kingdom Hearts then choosing attack options from a list. What really makes FFXV shine are the characters. The game has been called a road trip on steroids, and that is basically true. The characters really get a chance to bond as they travel together, drive together, play games together, talk to each other as they walk through new areas, camp together at night, eat together, and even pose for photographs along the way. Each character has a unique personality, a different fighting style, even a favorite food. And watching these characters grow and bond as the game progresses is a very satisfying experience.
1. Overwatch, Blizzard (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
What other game would be my number 1? Overwatch is the game that I sunk, by far, the most hours into in 2016 (even more than FFXV!). Overwatch is a team-based FPS that plays on the some of the same beats as Team Fortress, but with far more style, more character options, and better gameplay. Overwatch features over two dozen characters to choose from, divided into four classes: Damage, Defense, Tanking, and Support, but even two characters in the same class play so differently. It takes hours to learn and master a hero, but it is important that you learn a variety across all different classes, because team composition is an important aspect of this game! Every character serves a specific role, are good against certain characters, counter some and are weak to others, and even work differently depending on what other characters are in your party. The game is very much an MMO when it comes to party make up. If you run in with 6 DPS characters, you will do a ton of damage, but you won't survive along. You'll find yourself changing characters a lot as you realize your character just isn't working against the opposing team's makeup, which adds a cool layer of strategy to the game. Every hero has their counters, and if someone on the enemy team is giving you too much trouble, switch to the character best suited to take them out. And the characters are really where Overwatch shines, and why so many players are drawn to it. Much like League of Legends, every character in Overwatch has a unique personality, interesting quirks, cool costumes, backstories, and their own part to play in the game. Every character is viable in the game, depending on the situation. Overwatch is lacking in a campaign mode, but still tells a story through its various maps. Each map features a different objective: capture points, push a payload, or king of the hill. The game has a ton of modes too: a competitive mode where you fight for ranking, a variety of arcade modes that twist the game in fun new ways, and a quick play mode that drops you right into the action. I think Overwatch will be my favorite shooter for years to come, and definitely is my favorite game of 2016.