Thursday, February 9, 2017

WCNC Staff 2016 Game of the Year Awards Part 1

Each year, our staff like to present you with our picks for the greatest games to be released in the past year.  2016 has come and gone, so this year each of our contributors are going to discuss their choices for game of the year.  First up are Rory and Frankie, enjoy!

Rory's Second Annual Way Too Late Game of the Year Awards 2016

2016 was a hell of a year for everyone, and I was no exception. Between a rapidly changing political landscape, moving across the country for the second time in two years, and personal relationship struggles, it was a good year to be able to escape reality by jumping into a game. And while I haven't got around to playing some of my most anticipated titles of 2016, Dishonored 2 being the big one, it's time for my second annual game of the year awards. 

Honorable Mention: 
Persona 4 Golden

If this was just a list of my favorite games I played this year regardless of release date, Persona 4 would take the top spot. The gameplay, while very simple and easy, is fun and addictive.  But, the real star of this game is the cast of characters and a story that keeps you locked in from beginning to end.

3. Firewatch

While there isn't much in the way of gameplay, Firewatch nails the feeling of just getting lost in nature. Most of the game is you working a summer in the 1980s for a state wilderness park, doing your normal day to day duties. The games tension and mystery ramp up in the later half of the story but it's really the “lost in the woods” feeling that makes this game special. 

2. Dark Souls 3

I'm a well known fan of FromSoftware's series of difficult games (Bloodborne having placed #1 on this list last year) and 2016's entry Dark Souls 3 is no different. While it's not quite as original as Bloodborne, or grabs the same special feeling that the original Dark Souls had, Dark Souls 3 is the best in the series when it comes to gameplay and polish. This is clearly a development team who has mastered their combat and difficultly scale over their last four games and this is the payoff. The combat is the smoothest it's ever been, and some of the bosses are insanely difficult (I'm looking at you, Nameless King). If this is truly the last game in the series, Dark Souls 3 is a hell of a send off.

1. Overwatch

I'll be honest, I'm not really a big fan of competitive multiplayer games. Outside of Gears of War I've never found a series that pulled me in enough to play the multiplayer for more than a few hours. Then Overwatch was released, and nothing was ever the same. Since its release in May, I have poured well over 150 hours into Overwatch and there's no sign of slowing down. Blizzard is constantly making tweaks to all of the characters to keep the game fresh and to give all of the characters a chance to shine. Two new characters, Sombra and Ana, have also been introduced to the already large cast, along with 3 new maps, and more new additions are already promised to be in the pipeline. Blizzard has also thrown four holiday events to renew interest ranging from the Olympics, to Halloween, to Christmas, and now a Chinese New Year event. Each event brings new skins and other cosmetic items to keep you playing for just one more game. Overwatch has dominated my last 8 months of gaming and I think it's going to stay that way for a long time


2016 may have been a pretty crappy year overall, but it was a pretty strong year for gamers everywhere. From titles in development for over a decade, brand new IPS, and AAA games that shake up the tried and true formula, I'd say there is a good bit to choose from as far as Game of the Year goes. Alas, this is yours truly, Franswa's list, so I'll be giving you my top games of 2016.  

3. Pokemon Sun/Moon  

Even though I have only played Sun and haven't beaten it quite yet, I have to give a spot to this long standing RPG series. The first and last true Pokémon I played before Sun was Emerald.  After pouring so many hours into it, I felt I got the gist of what the series had to offer me. Pokémon X/Y definitely enticed me with the new 3D graphics, but it still was just a bit short of pulling me back in. However, Sun and Moon made a very clever move by shaking up the standard formula, while not changing the core gameplay and objective. The new Hawaiian styled setting of the Alola region, Alola forms of original Pokémon, new Pokémon species, and the switch to island champions instead of gym leaders was the perfect mix of new and old to convince me to step back into their world and become the very best, like no one ever was. Within the span of a week I already poured twenty-four hours into this title. That satisfying feeling of building you're Pokémon up, catching new ones, growing with them, watching them evolve, and conquering new challenges together, as a team, was extremely gratifying. For that, I give Pokémon Sun and Moon my number three spot.  

2. Dark Souls III 

I would have never guessed this would be a series I would come to love so much.  However, Bloodborne changed that real quick, and Dark Souls III made it 100% official. I called Dark Souls III the crescendo to a fantastic series, and that is a statement I standby. Dark Souls III took all the best aspects of the original Souls series, while incorporating new mechanics and a faster pace from Bloodborne.  Blending them together for a perfect concotion of challenge, exploration, customizability, and a truly special experience. Dark Souls III has been called by many the hardest Souls game currently and I can see why. Not only are the bosses (for the most part) truly a test of skill and wit, but the journey through each area to face them are a trial in and of themselves. No part of this game is a walk in the park, but you will constantly find yourself traversing every inch of this dark and daunting realm, discovering every secret, finding every treasure, and uncovering every bit of lore you can. This is the magic of the Souls series, and it truly hits every high point with this incredible title.  

Honorable Mention. Pyschonauts 

I got this title when it became available to download on ps4.  After all the hype one of our talented writers Rory Snyder put behind it I felt it was finally time to put it to the test. Pyschonauts is a brilliant platformer with fantastic levels, clever mechanics, and despite being a ps2 game, has aged incredibly well. Playing as the main protagonist Rasputin, you are at a summer camp for mentally gifted kids with psychic powers. The story not only has way more going for it than just being a summer camp with wacky psychic shenanigans going on.  There is a lot of humor here, mostly of the adult variety. I'm really glad I experienced it when I did because a far younger me would have missed 80% of the jokes. Every character is oozing with personality from your goofy friend Dogen, the paranoid milkman Boyd Cooper, the strict Coach Oleander, The annoying bully Bobby Zilch (uuuuuugh) and many many more that make you want to go and fulfill every interaction with them you can. Each level takes place inside of another characters mind as well, which allows the developers to really show you the personality and issues of each of the characters they have created.  Leading to many beautiful and interesting experiences. From a warzone, to a disco dance party, to a city where you are essentially Godzilla, to a boardgame, every aspect of Pyschonauts is crafted with extreme creativity and care, and is a must play for any fan of 3D platformers.  

1. Overwatch  

Could it be any other? The brand new IP from the ashes of Project Titan, and heavy hitter Blizzard Entertainment, Overwatch is a masterpiece among multiplayer shooters. The incredible characters, weaponry, map design, game modes, and cosmetic unlockables will keep you and your friends playing for hours upon hours. Every game whether it's competitive, quick play, or one of the many arcade modes, are always different and changing because of the extensive cast. With a cast of twenty-three characters, each with their own play styles, weapons, and abilities, will always keep you on your toes, and constantly trying to adapt to the enemy teams composition and strategy. The best part of Overwatch is it isn't just limited to players who are good at shooters, the player with the greatest situational awareness, shot caller, or playmaker are just as valuable as the player who is the best shot. No matter what your skill level or play style is, there is a character here for you, and that is the greatest strength of Overwatch. It is incredibly accessible and new player friendly, while also having a deep meta game that can be uncovered for new strategies and higher level play. And it is for that reason I have to give Overwatch my number one spot, and my personal pick for Game of the Year. 


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