2016 has seen its fair share of highs and lows in the video game industry on both the Consoles and the PC. From over hyped games that fail to delivery to new IPs from big companies that catch on. Even Sequels and ReMakes have their own set of “drama”. Yet overall it has been a good year for gamers everywhere. Our resident gamer recaps the 10 games that made his year.
Overwatch is having a Winter Wonderland event till Jan 2nd 2017 so if you haven’t picked the game up, consider it a good time to buy yourself a present
Blizzard, tired from the three-lane highway and giant sprawling MMOs had decided to enter uncharted waters: the competitive shooter market. Overwatch is a shooter with more in common with MOBAs than with traditional shooters; you’re not generic shooter man 117 nor are you unnamed soldier #147. Overwatch prides itself with having a cast of interesting and quirky characters that are both fascinating and mechanically fun. Take for instance D.Va, a former Korean pro-gamer who pilots a giant mech suit and is cover from head to toe with sponsor liveries, all while throwing in quips that one would hear from a gamer – “are you even trying ?” after D.Va kills someone, sound familiar ? The simplistic objective based gameplay allows new players to jump in and have a good game or two but the true depth of Overwatch comes from the synergistic gameplay between the different characters.
This is Blizzard’s new IP in more than a decade and I foresee Overwatch joining the likes of Master Chief and Cpt Price in the pantheon of great shooters.
Total War: Warhammer
TW:WH is Creative Assembly’s first foray into a setting that you won’t learn about in school. Gone are the Roman Phalanx and the infantry square for they are useless against towering Ogres and giant spiders. TW:WH threw out the thick rulebooks of its previous iterations and started afresh; each race have vastly different styles of play, from resource gathering to their army compositions. For example, Chaos hordes are unable to capture cities and have to carry their cities on their backs while Empire and Dwarven armies can only colonize cities of their own origins. Dwarven units can hit hard and can take a real beating before going down but their short legs can only allow them to run so fast, while the greenskin have access to mounted archer who’d get crushed in a fight but if commanded properly can run circles around their armored foes and pepper them with arrows. Heroes here have more impact than ever before; Karl Franz can swop down from his griffin and smash into a group of infantry and tear them apart while Manfred Von Carstein could level armies with his destructive magic. Whether you’re a hardcore fan of the tabletop or just a strategy game enthusiast, you’ll love CA’s latest iteration of the Total War franchise.
Instead of following series contemporary Call of Duty into the vastness of space, EA decided to ground the next iteration of the Battlefield franchise in the blood-soaked fields of the Somme. BF1 single player perfectly encapsulates the horror and death of WWI with tales of battlefield gallantry, sacrifice and needless death without beating over our heads with it. But everything pales in comparison to the awe-inspiring chaos of multiplayer, wave after wave of men (all of whom are REAL players) charge across open fields while machine guns and mortars cut them down. Because of the setting, the choice of weapons and attachments in BF1 might not be as diverse as the previous battlefields. MP-7s are replaced by Automatico M1918s and M249s with Lewis Machine guns. Optics are nearly nonexistent here and you’re expected to use iron sights. Developers DICE did not disappoint with Battlefield One, with its fresh setting and intense gameplay, it galvanized interest in a period that video games in general have largely ignored. So if you love visceral action set in the War to end all wars then BF1 might be right up your alley.
Disclaimer: I’ve worked on Battlefield One as a localization tester as part of Keywords International.
The sequel to 2012’s smash hit Dishonored managed to build upon what made the original great and even threw in a new playable character and locale for good measure. Dishonored 2 swaps the oppressive brutalitarian architecture of Dunwall for a slightly more picturesque coastal city of Karnaca. The biggest deviation from the original’s winning formula was the addition of Empress Emily Kaldwin (the little girl from the first game, she’s Empress now) as the second playable character. Emily comes with her own set of abilities which set her apart from Corvo such as the Domino ability which allows her to link the fates of several enemies so when one dies, anyone who’s linked up will also die. Corvo’s arsenal more or less remains the same, his trusty Blink ability allows him to traverse across distances but he is now able to possess dead bodies as well as switch between multiple hosts in quick succession. Building upon what made the original so darn great, Dishonored 2 is definitely a game worthy of time and money.
Ah yes, the great Civ series otherwise known by its street name: One more turn. The civilization series had set the benchmark for 4X games since its inception in 1991 and Civ 6 is no different. For the uninitiated, Civ 6 is a strategy game in its purest form, you’ll be tasked with engaging in diplomacy instead of engaging individual soldiers on the battlefield and managing trade routes instead of ordering lumberjacks around. Unlike other contemporary strategy games combat is not always the only option, there are more peaceful ways of winning the game. The general gameplay hasn’t changed since the original, you still build cities, train soldiers, research new technology and conduct diplomacy on a massive map split into hexagons. Each decision you make have long and short term consequences; constantly waging war with a massive army might be beneficial at first but you’ll have your hands full with war weariness and rebellion. Although Civ can be played alone, the greatest joy from any Civ experience comes from joining up with a few friends and conducting diplomacy in real life while fending off AI. Civilization has always been the quintessential 4X experience and Civ 6 is no exception.
Forza Horizon 3
The Horizon series is the fun younger brother of the Forza series with its thumping soundtrack and fun gimmicky races. The ability to jump a Porsche 911 over a hill is the line in the sand that separates Forza Horizon from its classier older brother Forza Motorsport. Set around the Horizon festival – this time in Australia – you’d participate in events all around the map, level up, earn credits and buy new cars. This might sound repetitive but the sheer number of different activities would keep you entertained; once you get tired of burning rubber on the asphalt just switch to your 4WD and race across the dirt. The sheer number of cars available would satisfy any car enthusiast, everything from high performance concept cars to the classics. So, if your definition of fun is blazing tearing up the roads down under, Forza Horizon 3 is definitely up your alley.
The grand-daddy of shooters is back and ready to kick it old school. Gone are the days of hiding behind cover and waiting for your wounds to heal before jumping back into the fray. Doom advocates a more aggressive and visceral approach to combat; the only way you’re going to recover health and ammo is by getting up close and personal with the hell spawn and performing a brutal execution. The old-school sensibilities of Doom can be found in nearly every aspect of the game; players are no longer filtered down a narrow narrative driven corridor, Doom just points you to an objective in a sprawling compound and off you go spilling demon blood along the way. The magic pockets from the original doom also made a return so Doomguy/DoomSlayer’s the entire arsenal can be accessed at any time. So, if you’re hankering for some bloody nostalgic goodness, give Doom a try.
Final Fantasy XV
FF XV have come a long way, the game was first announced as FF Verses 13 and it was originally supposed to be a spinoff of FF13. Initially FFXV was supposed to be a full-fledged action game with RPG elements – think Kingdom Hearts sans the colorful locales and whimsical elements. Despite the constant delays and false hopes, FF XV was finally released late this year and gamers everywhere collectively lost their Materia over how good the game was. I was blown away by the visuals – even by Final Fantasy standards – and the frenetic combat system. But the game’s true strength came from the bromance between the series protagonist Noctis and his merry band as they cruise along in their stylish convertible. The banter between Noctis and his party felt believable and sure, some lines might make you cringe a little but overall, the exchanges between the main characters fully fleshes out their friendship and gives them a sense of camaraderie. So, if you have 40 plus hours to burn during the holiday season, give FFXV a go. You won’t regret it. Oh, and before I forget, Chocobo riding is definitely a thing in FF XV
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the sequel to 2011s Human Revolution and it is set two years after the events of Human Revolution. Series protagonist and cyberpunk super-agent Adam Jensen returns to a world where Human-Aug relations are strained to the breaking point because of the Aug Incident (a crucial plot point in Human Revolution that caused all augmented humans to fly into a violent rage). Institutionalized segregation and prejudice against the augmented further strain relations. It is in this volatile world that Adam Jensen must suss out the truth and exposed the hidden puppet masters. The basic formula of haven’t changed much since Human Revolution, Adam is still a bionic badass with a plethora of weapons and gadgets at his disposal; everything from microbombs that shoot out in a 360-degree arc to wrist mounted Tasers. Instead of travelling to various cities all around the globe, Mankind Divided has its foot set in the city of Prague. What Prague lacks in size, it makes up for in density as content are tightly packed within the gothic cyberpunk architecture of the city. Visually, Mankind Divided looks stunning with its marriage of the grime and dirt from the gothic architecture and the sleek and shiny tech of 2029. So, if you’re into cyberpunk or just love an intriguing tale of shadow organizations and conspiracies, pick up Deus Ex Mankind Divided.
Ditching the high-rise coast of Empire Bay for the bayous of New Bordeaux, swapping societal issues faced by returning soldiers with a hard-hitting social commentary on institutionalized racism during the 1960s. The game has more N words than Tarantino movies – and that includes Django and Hateful Eight. Mafia 3’s protagonist is Lincoln Clay, a soldier returning from the hostile jungles of Vietnam to the unfriendly streets of New Bordeaux which is Hanger 13’s version of New Orleans – a racially segregated city and one of the hot beds of the civil rights movement during the 1960s. Instead of tacking on a simple tale of vengeance against institutionalized racism, Mafia 3 is a tale of family and retribution. The excellent dialogue and environmental design hits home and if you’re interested in experiencing a setting rarely represented in video games, you might want to give Mafia 3 a try.
By Chen KangYi
© POPCulture Online 2016