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Total Gaming Network's Top Games of 2016

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  • Total Gaming Network's Top Games of 2016

    2016 was one hell of a year for all the wrong reasons. Due to the always wonderful Electoral College, The United States elected a white supremacist backed jackass as the president elect for the next four years. Hell, the entire election was an unquestionable train wreck for everyone involved. The Internet turned a tragedy into a terrible meme after a gorilla had to be put down at the Cincinnati Zoo. A young boy was killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World.

    There has been an increase in hate crimes against minority groups within the United States and throughout Europe. Terror attacks once again made headlines. Shootings were also prominent throughout 2016, namely those that happened from interactions with the police. The result of Britain’s vote to “Brexit” from the European Union was met with great disbelief, even from high ranking politicians that supported the move prior to the vote results coming in.

    2016 is slated to be the hottest year on record, surpassing the former hottest year on record, 2015. Climate change deniers, many of which will be running our country in 2017, continue to spit in the face of science and facts. As our planet dies so are our beloved celebrities and musicians. 2016 saw a number of icons pass away not from old age but from cancer, disease, or accidents.

    I know some will find it wrong or even downright terrible to say, but at least 2016 was a decent year for games. Just as people find comfort in a good book, their favorite music, or even the movies, games are a means of escaping the harsh realities of our world, even if it’s for just an hour or two. Games allow us to put aside the pain, the sorrow, and the anger, if only for a tiny bit. Sure, this may not apply to everyone, but that does not make the statements any less true. Maybe you were one of those many that turned to games for some temporary reprieve from the troubles of the world.

    I know that I certainly did.

    Let's take a look at some of those games that helped to make 2016 somewhat tolerable for some or enhance what may have been a great year for others. These games are presented in no particular order unless otherwise mentioned.

    Top 10 Games of 2016


    Inside is one of those rare experiences that manages to capture everything great in a game. It had impressive visuals, fantastic sound design, great controls, a variety of interesting puzzles, and a great little twist that I never saw coming.

    Fans of a little game called Limbo will almost certainly enjoy playing through Inside. Those who haven’t tried Limbo will find Inside to be an enjoyable experience. Though I am ashamed to admit it, I am one of those people who have not yet played Limbo but thoroughly enjoyed Inside.


    Hitman is a late entry onto this list. I actually put off playing Hitman throughout the year as IO Interactive rolled out what looked to be a very content packed six episodes. I deeply regret not playing this game sooner.

    What IO Interactive accomplished here is nothing short of impressive. Each episode (there are six main episodes) offers up a varied and beautiful setting. These locations are far larger than I expected them to be, featuring a number of on-site weapons and tools that can be used to improvise when things inevitably go south. For most people, no two playthroughs of a mission will be identical.

    In the off chance that you do perfect a particular story mission in a level, you can mix things up by playing through officially created contract missions or user created missions. These offer up a twist on normal story contracts by having 47 go after different targets with a variety of kill conditions.

    The only really "bad" things I can say about Hitman is that the AI is sometimes a bit on the questionable side. At times it’s really dumb and blind. At other times I find that it’s hyper-vigilant and overly aggressive. An example being how a chef was threatening to call the police on Agent 47 when he was merely standing still dressed as a waiter. It’s just kind of like "huh?" Then again, these sorts of AI inconsistencies have shown up throughout the entire franchise, so they aren't too surprising. Even with those issues, the good far outweighs the bad with this game. I’m already looking forward to a second season of content.


    SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. TIME ONLY MOVES WHEN YOU MOVE. I wrote up my thoughts on Superhot in a review posted back in February. Ten months later and Superhot is still an absolutely fantastic game and I still want more of it all over my face.

    Those with VR headsets can actually get some more Superhot right now but the rest of us are just left wanting more. It’s fast, it’s fresh, and it’s unlike any other FPS you ever played before. You might even say that it's SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT…

    Stardew Valley

    Do you want to fish? You can do that in Stardew Valley. Want to grow crops and raise farm animals? You can do that too! Maybe you just want to spend your days mining for rare gems? Yep, you can do that too. Maybe you want to do all of those. Go for it. Then maybe you take a day off from all of that to talk to your neighbors. Maybe you get to know them. Maybe you start up a relationship with them, then get married, then have kids.

    You can do that in Stardew Valley. Borrowing heavily from Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley is the best game I never knew I wanted. This game was completely off my radar until I saw someone streaming it right near release. I picked it up immediately and fell in love from the start.

    Stardew Valley is perfect for those times you have just 15 minutes to play or hours. Just be careful because you might find yourself wanting to play for "just one more day" with this one.

    Dark Souls III

    I already covered my thoughts on Dark Souls 3 in my review from June. Simply put, Dark Souls 3 is right up there with the original Dark Souls. It may even slightly edge out the original by shear virtue of having additional years and iterations to refine and almost perfect many of the combat and gameplay mechanics.

    Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

    Uncharted 4 is another game that I shared my high praise for back in the middle of the year. Naughty Dog once again delivered a game that had thrilling set pieces, a well-paced narrative, and some drop dead gorgeous visuals. If anything, I just wish they toned back some of their usual gameplay scenarios (wall climbing segments where grips break away to force tension into the scene, as an example)

    Final Fantasy XV

    Final Fantasy XV is another late-ish addition to the list purely by virtue of its late release date and also because I simply haven't had much time to sit down and play. Sure, I have over 20 hours sunk into the game but I'm still less than halfway through the main campaign.

    The musical score is perhaps the best in the entire franchise. The visuals can pull off some really impressive feats and feels fairly smooth at all times. I hear there is some frame pacing issues on the vanilla PS4 but I haven't really noticed anything during my play sessions.

    Sadly, the biggest shortcoming of the game is the main story. At best, it's a bit confusing. At worst, it's just head scratchingly obtuse. I've never played a Final Fantasy title where it was near impossible to follow the main thread of the story, but here we are. The stories contained in side-missions are all well contained and straight forward. Those aren't an issue. The issue is how the story segments jump from person to person or event to event without much rhyme or reason. Square Enix even had to add in segments from the CG Kingsglaive film to fill in some of the gaps in the story and I still don't really know what is going on half the time. There was also at least one instance where the story made a big production over the death of an incredibly minor character that had maybe one line. Of everything in the game, the story is the element that feels the most rushed.

    Fortunately, every other aspect of the game really pulls the game back from being terrible, especially the combat system. When Final Fantasy XV, as we know it today, was shown off, I was not a fan of the combat mechanics. I was one of those sticklers for the turn-based JRPG from yesteryear. In fact, I didn't even bother to pre-order Final Fantasy XV until about two weeks prior to its release. I'm glad I did though because the action focus on the combat is incredibly satisfying. Though every battle feels intense, ones against massive bosses and world enemies are cranked up to 11, a feeling that just wouldn't be possible with turn-based mechanics.


    Doom is almost everything a fan of old-school and new-school could possibly want in an FPS. It's fast, it's brutal, its soundtrack gets your blood pumping, and it uses elements of the original releases while still feeling like a totally fresh experience. It's unapologetically brutal and everything about the single player is just flat out fucking amazing. It's a game that leaves you wanting more the moment you complete the story.

    Really, Doom would be the undisputed best game of 2016 if it weren't for the woefully disappointing multiplayer and post-release DLC that focused only on the multiplayer. Yes, the multiplayer has improved from launch but that really isn't saying much.


    When it comes to competitive multiplayer games in 2016, the undisputed champion is Blizzard's Overwatch. This is a game that I have sunk (at the time of writing) 197 hours into. 197 hours for a game that came out in late May. Let that sink in a bit. I haven't found that much enjoyment out of a game like this since Team Fortress 2.

    Of course, there also hasn't been a game where I have rage quit as much as Overwatch. It's by far the only game that actually caused me to rage and exit the game for the day. Yet I know I'll just be right back at it in less than 24 hours. The game has its hooks in me that deeply, and I'm not just talking about that damned broken Roadhog hook. DO YOU HEAR ME, BLIZZARD? FIX IT! I'M TIRED OF GETTING HOOKED THROUGH WALLS AND FLOORS AND AT 90 DEGREE ANGLES, DAMN IT!


    The game already features a wide variety of memorable characters, each with their own unique play styles, personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. It's one of the few class based competitive games where I feel like I can switch to a role that our team needs and play them fairly well should a situation arise.

    With Blizzard promising to deliver more in the way of characters and content in the months ahead, the game will probably continue to be my most played throughout 2017.

    Titanfall 2

    You may have noticed that I don't do numbered lists for these. I don't like having to pick certain games over others when some of the best games of the year are just so incredibly enjoyable in their own ways. However, if I were to pick a "Total Gaming Network Game of the Year 2016" it would undoubtedly go to Titanfall 2.

    While the single player campaign for Doom was amazing, it lacked a solid multiplayer to complete the package deal. Overwatch is my most played game but it only features multiplayer. Titanfall 2 offers one of the year's best single player FPS experiences of 2016 and includes some of the best multiplayer hands down.

    To say I was pessimistic about the game after the disappointing multiplayer beta, might be an understatement. As a fan of the original game, the beta felt like it was moving in all the wrong directions.

    Fortunately, Respawn seems to have taken many of the complaints about the beta to heart and made some significant changes to the multiplayer prior to the game's full release. What came is out nothing short of a Titanfall's fan wet dream. After a few updates, the game is also incredibly well balanced to the point where I don't believe there are any particular "overpowered" or "underpowered" weapons or abilities. That's not even mentioning that all major content releases (maps, weapons, or whatever else they decide to add) is free to everyone. Remember when games used to release new content like that for free? I do and hot damn am I ever glad that Respawn went this route with Titanfall 2. There are optional microtransactions but only for cosmetic items that have no effect on the gameplay.

    This is all on top of the game's short but sweet single player experience. I wasn't expecting too much from the single player campaign prior to release but it generated a lot of positive buzz from reviewers and consumers alike. Once I dove in, I fell in love. The friendship that develops between you and your Titan, BT, is nothing short of impressive. I felt things (vague to avoid spoilers) throughout the campaign that I did not expect to feel from a Titanfall campaign. I might go so far as to say that the story rivals certain elements of The Iron Giant. It even seems to draw some inspiration in the interactions between Freeman and D0g throughout Half-Life 2. Plus, there is at least one moment in the Titanfall 2 campaign that I would say is probably the single best moment and subsequent level in any game released this year.

    It's a great game. I just cannot stress that enough. I just wish EA didn't send the game out to die by placing its launch between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. This game deserved far better than that.

    These are the games that I felt were decent but came up just shy of being in the "top 10" best games of 2016 for one reason or another. Just as the case was with (most of) the top 10 games of 2016, these honorable mentions are also presented in no particular order.

    Punch Club – Train, fight, get involved in shady dealings, repeat. There is a surprising amount of depth here in this pseudo-simulation of what it's like to become the best fighter around.

    World of Warcraft: Legion – Legion is by far the best expansion Blizzard ever released for World of Warcraft. There was a tremendous amount of content available at release. The studio then started to deliver on their promise of fairly steady new content in the months since release. If you have ever enjoyed WoW and haven't yet played Legion, do yourself a favor and give it a go. You won't be disappointed.

    Firewatch – Great story meets great voice acting to make a great game. I had a couple of issues with how the ending of the game played out. This wasn't inherently a fault of the game but a personal preference for what I felt should have happened versus what actually happened.

    Devil Daggers – For just a few dollars you can experience this fast paced FPS that tasks you merely with surviving for as long as possible. I already told you to buy it back in February, what are you waiting for?

    Darkest Dungeon – This unforgiving gothic fantasy dungeon crawler includes one of the best art styles out there today, one of the best soundtracks out there, and the best announcer in ages. It's difficult so don't get too attached to any of your troubled characters.

    XCOM 2 – I'm not typically one for strategy games that aren't called "Civlization" but XCOM 2 did manage to take up a bit of my time this year. After a few patches smoothed out some rough edges and technical issues, XCOM 2 is a great game for fans of challenging turn-based strategy games and aliens, lots of aliens.

    The Technomancer – It's developer Spiders (Mars: War Logs, Bound by Flame) take on a Mass Effect type of game. It's not nearly as polished as AAA releases but damn if I didn't have a lot of fun.

    The Turning TestSee my review.

    Virginia – An enjoyable albeit weird adventure mystery with a really wild ending that really didn't sit well with me.

    Through the WoodsSee my review.

    Ultimate Chicken Horse – Have a group of friends and want to play a game where you try to reach a goal while setting up traps to hinder said friends? Then you should play Ultimate Chicken Horse.

    Let It Die – A free game on the PS4 that feels like Suda51 looked at a Dark Souls game and said, "yeah, I can make that" and then made it, plus added in a skateboard riding version of Death.

    Asemblance – A mind-bending adventure title with multiple endings. I really liked what Asemblance did with altering the reality around your character.

    Pokemon Go – This game had the potential to be one of the top 10 of 2016 but took a harsh turn when Niantic took out one of the game's major hooks: The ability to accurately track nearby Pokemon.

    Forza Horizon 3 – Probably the best racing and overall "sports" games of the year but the PC release has been marred by disappointing performance and other technical issues. It has taken significant strides since its release but still has a ways to go.

    Civilization VI – I simply haven't had much time with Civilization VI to say if it would have been in the final 10 list or not. From what little I did play of this it felt feature complete and a return to form for the franchise after the woefully disappointing Civilization: Beyond Earth. The content and gameplay mechanics included at release comes close to rivaling what Civilization IV was after a number of expansion packs were released.

    American Truck Simulator – This is my go to "kick back and relax" game. I put on Google Play Music, get my Steam Controller ready, and I just cruise the road while enjoying some tunes and talking with users on Twitch chat.

    Battleborn – I really liked Battleborn. I honestly did. It was a game that was a victim of its own hubris, poor marketing, and unfortunate release timing. At a glance, consumers felt as though it was just a weak attempt at mimicking Overwatch. Those who played it knew that it was much closer to something like Super Monday Night Combat or other third-person MOBA style games. I really felt as though there was enough room for both Battleborn and Overwatch to exist but it just never took off. I went to play a game just a couple of months after release but had a very difficult time finding enough players for even one game on the PC. Sadly, I then uninstalled the game while quietly hoping it goes the free-to-play route to perhaps breathe new life into what is now a dead game.

    Shadow Warrior 2 – Dick jokes. Samurai swords. Mystical powers. Crazy enemies. Unlockable abilities. Weapon upgrades. A fun, frantic FPS that suffers from overusing areas of the map for missions.

    Black Desert Online – An MMO that starts out as any other MMO but with an end game that is all about making a name for yourself. Instead of massive dungeons, Black Desert Online is more about cultivating a life for yourself in this virtual world. It takes the "role playing" in RPG and runs with it.

    Tom Clancy’s The Division – A game that started out strong at release then somehow got worse with the first few rounds of patches from Massive Entertainment. Thankfully the most recent game updates managed to get the game back on track but it was a hot mess for many months.

    Battlefield 1 – I love the WWI setting. You don't see that too often in games these days. The game continues to look and sound great thanks to the talent at DICE and the Frostbite engine. Unfortunately, the single player campaign, while better than in previous years, still isn't what I would call "great." The multiplayer is the usual Battlefield multiplayer but set in WWI and with several liberties taken with respect to the weapons and gear that was actually used at the time. This may upset some purists out there.

    Battlefield 1 would have easily made the top 10 if I didn't have to deal with this damn technical nightmare almost every single time I play the game.

    Well that and the game really could have used more maps at launch. It's also a damn shame that DICE and EA have once again gone with the Premium Pass route instead of taking a cue from Titanfall 2 and offering the new maps for free. The fragmentation in the player base once those expansion packs start to hit will once again be a major annoyance.

    Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen – This game finally made it to PC this year. It's a damned enjoyable fantasy RPG that seems to cherry pick some of the best elements from games like Dark Souls, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and even Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

    Abzu – A beautiful undersea gameplay experience with some light puzzle solving. See my review.

    The Witness – It's a puzzle solving game that's been turned up to 11. This is before you discover there are far more puzzles around you than you initially thought. Once that "a-ha moment" happens, it becomes a puzzle solving game that gets cranked up to 20.

    That Dragon, Cancer – I cried. It's not a "game" in the traditional sense but it's something that everyone should experience at least once. If you know anybody that has ever been impacted by cancer, and I feel like that is probably most people at this point, then you will feel some deep connection with this game. I don't want to meet the person that laughs or finds humor in this, or worse, those that feel absolutely nothing from That Dragon, Cancer.

    Layers of Fear – A solid horror game, just don't bother with the shockingly bad expansion. See my review.

    What's next? Well, perhaps we'll take a look at 2016's biggest gaming disappointments. Stay tuned for that (once I actually write it...)!