2016 is long gone and so it’s time to hand out some awards to the best, and worst, stuff from 2016. What you have here is our final awards and our reasons for selecting them. If you want to hear the full deliberations please check out our Game of the Year podcasts (Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3) to see how we arrived at the results we did. Enjoy.
Best New Character
Winner: Agents of Overwatch
Yes, it might be cheating, but it would absolutely be a crime for the cast of Overwatch not to win this. It should be noted that each character in Overwatch oozes with personality, even without an explicit story mode. Even when a character is more “generic” like a Soldier 76, they still have their place in the game. Moreover, their designs each convey exactly who they are just by looking at them. You can look at Zenyatta or D. Va or a Reinhardt and get their character, leading to the cast of Overwatch being the best new character.
Runners Up: BT-7274, Doom Slayer
After playing the pre-Kickstarter demo for Superhot, you’d expect the game to be primarily focused on an arcade style of play with little story. How wrong you would be. The actual portions of Superhot only help to reinforce the absolutely insane story that exists just under the surface. A story about hacking, a story about a shady group creating a mind-control game, a story about minds being software and bodies being disposable, the world Superhot crafts feels like there is illuminati level things going on, where you are willingly giving yourself to becoming a pawn. Combine that with a fantastic art style and you have one of the most intense game worlds in recent memory.
Runners Up: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, INSIDE
The Keep Doing What You Are Doing Award for Excellence in Post Release Support
Hitman is a game that really had no business working as well as it did. The episodic nature of it made fans worry but, as it turns out, it was probably the best thing that could have happened to it. But even after these episodes were released, the game had massive post-release support. The biggest way this happened was through the Elusive Targets, a series of assassinations that could only be performed in a timed window, and if you failed, you never got another opportunity. On top of that, multiple maps have gone through massive re-designs for full new missions, and escalation contracts have made playing Hitman more and more insane. It means that, whenever you pick up Hitman, there will be massive amounts of content to check out.
Runners Up: Animal Crossing Welcome Amiibo, Overwatch
The Stop Doing That Right Now Award
Winner/Loser: Poorly Implemented Blind Boxes in Fully Priced Games
Blind Boxes in full priced retail games are not inherently a bad idea. They can help support a game post-release, even if it can be argued that by buying a fully priced game you are helping support a games post-release schedule. However, more and more games have implemented these blind boxes poorly. This years biggest offender, Overwatch, has a high rate of duplicate drops, which give you an incredibly small amount of coins to outright purchase the things you actually want. There are clear and simple solutions to fixing these issues but with these gambling systems in place, major game companies are not as likely to want to remove these almost guaranteed money makers from their games.
Runners Up: Nintendo limiting supply of products, Video game movies
Game That You Forgot Came Out This Year
Winner/Loser: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
EA in 2008 was just on the verge of changing industry practices forever. Their attitude seemed to be shifting towards creating new and varied experiences and no game embodied that more than the free-running title Mirror’s Edge. While some would argue that the game wasn’t perfect, it was vastly different from much of EA’s other works and, as a result, it became a sort of cult classic. When DICE announced a sequel was in the works, the hype built up in a major way. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst came out this year and almost no-one talks about it. Partly a victim of the open-world-izitation of many games, partly a victim of coming out in a dead period and partly a victim of the game not feeling as unique as the original did, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is the sort of game you look at and remember, “Oh, that’s right, I was excited for this at one time.”
Runners Up: Battleborn, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
2016 Game of the Year
Blizzard creating a new hero shooter based off of a failed MMO, to many, didn’t sound like it would be the next big thing. However, over a series of betas, you began to get a sense that they were on to something. Months later and its launch helped to define a year of inventive and unique shooters. Make no mistake, in a large way it shares a lot of elements of Team Fortress 2 before it, but it has a personality rarely seen in multiplayer shooters. Consistent updates as well as holiday events helped keep the game relevant well after its release. Its strong player base helped it succeed when other multiplayer games like Battleborn died off, meaning that whatever platform you play on will almost always have large groups to play with.
While its blind box system has been largely, and rightly, been criticized, it does feel like Blizzard wants people to have a good time with Overwatch and have introduced several new characters and maps free of charge. For many players, it feels like it wants to highlight your accomplishments rather than calling you out for being terrible. In a year of standout shooters, Overwatch gets multiplayer better than any of them, creating a game that is easily the best game of the year.
Runners Up: DOOM, INSIDE, HITMAN, Titanfall 2