Charlie’s top three games of 2016

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We’re well over a year into doing the whole independent game site thing, and I must say… I’ve played a fuck load of games in that time. Disgusting amounts in fact, and it’s as great as it is daunting. I mean, yeah on paper playing games all day sounds great, but sometimes we have to play games that really suck, and we have to play them long enough to form a justifiable opinion that nobody reads because they just scroll to the score and shrug (but none of you lovely readers do that, right?).

Anyway, I digress, we’re here to talk about the cream of the crop from 2016. Tom has already given you his, and his choices aren’t as garbage as 2015, so I’ll agree with him a lot in this piece. Let’s kick this list off with the honourable mentions in no particular order.

Battlefield 1I didn’t really have high hopes for the latest entry into the Battlefield series, Hard Line was very meh and the BF1 trailer looked like it was going to shit all over historical accuracy. However what EA-Dice delivered was a great emotion driven campaign that really portrayed the horrors of war, and a multiplayer that still has me hooked to this day. Sure, there are some things that bug me about the game, but it really is one of the better online shooters I’ve played, and that’s really saying something.

Gallipolli is particularly nasty to experience.

“Strewth!”

XCOM 2 For a long time I thought XCOM 2 was going to be my number one pick for 2016, but it did come out right at the beginning of the year, so unfortunately got beaten down into the honourable mentions, but still… what a game! This sci-fi turn based shooter has so much going for it, and it will truly test your nerves. Each decision you make is scrutinised, and mistakes are punished to an extreme, with members of your crew permanently dying should you make dicey calls on the battlefield. Just writing about it now is reminding me of the harrowing final mission… I can’t go through this again!

DOOM – What a game. I bought DOOM from a dodgy online key store for the hell (ha) of it because it was so cheap. And wow, just wow. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a shooter’s campaign as much as this… ever. It wasn’t trying to be anything other than it is, and that made it the jaw ripping, shotgun blasting success we all love. The multiplayer was relatively decent too, but in reality it’s the story that made it such a critical success.

 

Civilization VI – This one doesn’t get a fancy hyperlink, because I never actually got round to writing the review… because I was too busy playing Civ. After having sunk hours into Civ V and then losing interest after Beyond Earth, I was pleased to see that Civ VI is a solid return to form. This is probably the best the series has presented upon release. I’ve sunk more hours than I care to admit into this game, and I’m still no closer to a review, but it’s good, it’s very good. Sean Bean lends his silky doomed voice to the game as well, so thumbs up to that. Just be prepared for a massive time sink if you venture in.

 

Alright, enough of that, let’s get into the hard stuff, drum roll time:

#3 Enter the Gungeon

screenshot5

Chk chk.

I’m very much an advocate for games that provide a change of pace, yes I like FPS and Ubi style sandboxes, but they can become a bit homogeneous after years of playing them. Enter the Gungeon made its way onto my list because it provides something unique, and an experience I won’t forget soon. I fucking adore the game, the art style, the story and the characters. The gun themed rogue-like dungeon you traverse through is filled with fantastic pop culture references, challenging enemies and hair pullingly difficult bosses. Created by aptly named devs Dodge Roll, the game will have you dodging bullets with rolls to a fantastic soundtrack and beautiful style until your fingers hurt.

 

There’s not much to say about Enter the Gungeon other than it’s an addictive and well thought out shooter that will provide hours of entertainment. The Gungeon itself is randomly generated and permadeath is a thing, so it takes some patience, but is rewarding as you get deeper into the game. If you need something to play over the holiday break, I really suggest you give it a go. It’s also probably worth noting that Enter the Gungeon was published by Devolver Digital, who have a fantastic track record when it comes to retro style indie shooters.

#2 Overwatch

Nerf nothing, Overwatch.

Nerf nothing, Overwatch.

Overwatch  was so far off my radar as a game I’d enjoy I kind of loathed installing the beta to write about it. All I can say now is, I was very very very very wrong. The 6v6 online only shooter has provided me with hundreds of hours of joy since release. Blizzard have done a fantastic job creating a world that seems so real, and characters that are so likeable, all without a single player mode. The meta changes and tactics keep players on their toes and competitive play is accessible for casual and hard core players alike. It really is a versatile game that should stick around well into the future.

 

The only real downside to this title, and what prevented it from taking top spot, is the paid loot boxes. I’m really not a fan of gambling in video games, and I hate how the game makes me want to spend money just to maybe get skins from the digital equivalent of a slot machine, but my god the rest of it is so great you can kind of forgive it.

#1 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine

The_Witcher_3_Wild_Hunt_Blood_and_Wine_Come_at_me

Looks like history repeats itself. Is it possible for DLC to hit the number one spot? Well considering Witcher 3: Wild Hunt took number one last year and I hadn’t come close to completing it, I’d answer yes. It’s no secret that I’m a massive Witcher fan, I still play the game pretty much every week, chipping away at the hours upon hours of quests. When I’m not doing that I’m reading the books the game is based upon, so yeah, Witcher in general gets a two sworded thumbs up from me.

CD Projekt Red really went all out with Wild Hunt, adding free content and two full length DLC components, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine. Both added enough content to the already rich game to be seen as games in their own right, we’re talking 30+ hours at least of additional content. Which is why I justify including Blood and Wine in this list, it really feels like a new entry into the Witcher series and not just a bolted on extra.

The new map of Toussaint is so different from the Northern Realms shown in Wild Hunt, replacing war torn squalor with lush high fantasy. The main story itself is fantastically written, and the side missions are as strong as ever. Not only did the addition bring with it a whole game’s worth of content, but it also overhauled the map and inventory system from the vanilla version, finessing an already fantastic game. Also probably a good place to sneakily mention that the Gwent standalone game is shaping up nicely from what I’ve played in beta, so let’s see if CD Projekt Red can score a trifecta next year.

Send your top game picks to Charlie on Twitter @clbraith and don’t forget to follow @load_screen and like us on Facebook.

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