Here are a handful of my favorite games from 2016.
1 Titanfall 2 (PC, XBOX One, PS4)
Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall truly stirred me up back in 2014. Despite its scant list of features, bare bones DLC< and weak “campaign” if you could call it that, the thrill of giant, clunky Titans barrelling down from the sky was enough to keep me in it far beyond most. Titanfall 2 not only brings back the same clunk but takes it to an entirely new level. Five unique Titans – vs. the original’s three, a slew of new weapons and abilities, a healthy new game mode or two, and some gorgeous visuals and sound design really elevated what I personally found to be an the over-the-top concept for a sci-fi shooter into an online experience I see myself revisiting until a third installment hits the shelves.
Back in February, I raved about Russian Developer Nekki’s Beat Da Beat, ported to PC from iOS and Android. This dub-step driven bullet hell had me from its very first bass drop. Think Space Invaders-like injected with grooving enemies, a laser light show, and a few of the meanest tracks by indie electronic artists I’ve heard in gaming. I’m a nut for bullet hell and gaga for dramatic electronica and melodic dubstep. For me, Beat Da Beat rocks it.
3 X-COM: Enemy Unknown (PSVita)
Tedium on the go. Back when, I sank countless hours on Firaxis’ X-COM, sitting at my PC either customizing each of my troops to look just right or crossing my fingers in hopes of a crit against a mind controlling alien. Though rather under promoted in my opinion – really, I heard nothing about it until I saw it in the PSN Store, the portable XCOM: Enemy Unknown makes it so much easier to fit those three-hour skirmishes into a busy schedule. If anything, the PSVita can barely keep up with the visuals, resulting in a consistently atrocious framerate. Still, that didn’t stop me from sinking in 40+ hours.
4 Dragon Quest Builders (PS4, PS3, PSVita)
Dragon Quest Builders helped chill me out from my frantic schedule. This Minecraft-like adventure by Square Enix Holdings has players building a town for a growing community, following a silly but delightful plot essentially about building stuff, and the opportunity to work at a soft, forgiving pace. Featuring a fantastic mix of progression, storytelling, mechanics, and freedom, I couldn’t recommend this one more highly if you’re looking to tap into a relaxing but creative vibe.
Calling a cyber-punk, bartending RPG unique is pretty redundant. However, Ysbryd Games’ ran with this out of left field concept and built much more than a cool tagline. Engaging dialogue, interesting characters, altogether different mechanics; while not exactly challenging, VA-11 HALL-A is not a title you’ll breeze through. Some moderate social aptitude will get you far in your conversations with space cops, cat people, and sleazy businessmen. Voice acting could’ve taken this text-focused hang a little further, though its absence absolutely doesn’t hinder the experience. Maybe not everybody’s cup of tea but a standout title like no other, hands down.
By: Oscar Rodriguez