Somewhere around my fifth hour of Stardew Valley, I thought, “Oh, shit, 2016 is going to be a really good year for video games.”
That was back in February. The subsequent months have borne that prediction out. A few weeks ago a new Doom game came out and instead of being bad, it was really good. I played for like an hour and then started laughing. Of course the new Doom is good. Of course it is! It’s 2016, the year a whole bunch of games decided to be good.
There’s something to that: a game that could have been bad, that by all accounts was going to be bad, turns out to be good. If that happens once, it’s a nice surprise. If it happens a few times, it starts to feel like it’s raining good games.
Here’s a list of good video games from just the first five months of 2016.
The Witness - The best puzzle game I’ve ever played? I think? There have been so many good games since The Witness came out that I almost forgot it came out this year.
XCOM 2 - Kicked so much ass that we could not stop talking about it. I loved it so much. It seems like it came out a million years ago.
Dying Light: The Following - Man I played the hell out of this, really liked it, and still go play it sometimes.
Stardew Valley - I don’t have any more time to play this game but I think about it constantly. I want to go back finally marry Penny just so I can see the look on Haley’s stupid mean face at our wedding.
Firewatch - As good an opening hour as anything else I’ve played this year. (Disclosure: I’m friends with a couple people who worked on it. Liked it anyway.)
Far Cry Primal - Has become one of my favorite Far Cry games, and that’s coming from a pretty big Far Cry nerd. It’s mostly the animals. It’s a little bit getting to listen to Adam Jensen ooga-booga his way through the script.
Superhot - I let it get away with commanding me to call it “one of the most innovative shooters I’ve played in years” because that’s not too far off the mark.
VR and the Vive in particular - Yeah, there aren’t enough great games and Oculus needs to get some shit sorted out but have you used one of these things yet? I will be happy playing Minecraft and Space Pirate Trainer on Vive for a long time to come. I still can’t believe I can just do that, in my living room, whenever I want. Also I haven’t had this much fun showing a video game thing to my non-gamer friends in ever.
The Banner Saga 2, which joins Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, Total War: Warhammer and Offworld Trading Company on my list of apparently amazing 2016 PC strategy games that I wish I had more time to play.
Hitman - It was so easy to imagine this game being a disaster. So easy. Yet it is the opposite of a disaster. I think Sapienza is my favorite Hitman level of all time.
Dark Souls 3 - Which taught me that Bloodborne was not a fluke and that I really do just love these games and want to play them until my eyeballs fall out.
Uncharted 4 - I have some criticisms, sure, but this is such a big fluffy golden retriever of a game that it’s hard not to scratch its ears and take a selfie with it.
Doom - I don’t need to be the six thousandth person on the Internet to say that Doom is surprisingly awesome, but then again, Doom didn’t need to be surprisingly awesome in the first place, so I’ll say it anyway. Doom is surprisingly awesome.
The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine - Okay, my favorite game from last year gets a huge expansion that lets me do a bunch more quests and meet a bunch more cats and dogs and pretty ladies and a unicorn. But also those interface improvements! The UI is almost decent now! The first time I bought a crafting component directly from the crafting menu, I nearly swooned.
Overwatch, which I haven’t played. I haven’t even played Overwatch yet because there have been so many other good things to play. I’m sure I’ll play soon. There are certainly enough tips posts on Kotaku for when I do. The fact that I haven’t had time to play this game says a lot about 2016.
Those are just the games I’ve played and liked the most. I could keep listing. Fire Emblem Fates, Stephen’s Sausage Roll, Oxenfree, Slither.io. The Division could’ve been a disaster and wound up being pretty darn good, then getting kinda bad, and now it seems pretty good again. Quantum Break, too, could’ve stunk but wound up being cool and interesting. Fallout 4: Far Harbor is another meaty expansion that I’ve enjoyed more than the base game. I just started playing Imbroglio on iPad and it’s terrific. Whatever, my point here isn’t to list every single good game that’s come out this year.
When I chose my top ten games of 2015, it felt like slimmer pickings than previous years. There were games I liked, games I even loved, but the cornucopia did not overflow as it had in 2014, 2013, or, jeez, 2011, a year so good it approached 2007-levels of greatness. (2007 is the closest thing to a 1998 we’ve had since 1998.)
It’s only June; 2016 isn’t even halfway done. In fact, this has been the “slow” part of the year. (Remember when the winter and spring were slow? Lmao.) Looking back over the last five months, I think it’s safe to say we’re cruising toward 2011 territory. Maybe by the fall, we’ll hit 2007? I don’t want to go overboard.
I’ve been off work for the last month and only playing video games casually. I’ve got a lot to catch up on, and a lot to look forward to. It’s good to be back.