2016 had in it one of the biggest gaming phenomenon’s ever to occur that summer, bringing the idea of augmented reality games to the mainstream. Beyond that, 2016 was a very solid year with some fantastic indie games, return to old series, and the end of others. There may be only a few titles that have had a big impact on the gaming community, but there’s still some excellent craft to be found and fun to be had with this selection.
Keep an eye out here for every year’s list of the past decade, including an overall best 100 games of the 2010s.
The 15 Best Games of 2016
15 – Civilization VI
Developer: Firaxis Games | Release Date: October 21st, 2016 | Game Page
With each new release of a Civilization game, one has to wonder how the series has been changed this time around. For VI the answer was to keep a lot of what worked from V and instead give it little improvements. Units could team up to assist each other, cities could build support structures outside their walls, and parts of the tech tree have gotten overhauled. Considering that the game only improved as more expansions came out, it’s no wonder this is the best entry yet.
14 – Pokemon Go
Developer: Niantic | Release Date: July 6th, 2016 | Game Page
Few games were as much of a cultural movement as Pokemon Go ended up being. For the first few months it was out, Pokemon Go completely dominated the world culturally. While the insanity has died down, the game is still quite active and easily appealing to its fanbase. There’s a certain special something about running around collecting pokemon and then fighting members of Team Rocket just for funsies.
13 – Final Fantasy XV
Developer: Square Enix | Release Date: November 29th, 2016 | Game Page
Meant to be a completely new starting point for the series, Final Fantasy XV managed to impress tons of people thanks to its lovely graphics, amazing soundtrack, and fun active combat system. There’s a certain awesome something about warping around the world and smacking enemies around. When it also has four of the most fleshed-out main characters in the series and an interesting open world to boot, it’s easy to see why it’s so fondly remembered.
12 – Enter the Gungeon
Developer: Dodge Roll | Release Date: April 5th, 2016 | Game Page
Once you enter the Gungeon, you can’t ever leave. Enter the Gungeon takes all of the ideas that twin-stick shooter roguelites have put out and makes them exceptionally more goofy. How? By just going insane with its theme. Everything is guns. The guns are guns. Some of the guns shoot guns I think. The game always felt like it found the best ways to play up how insane the genre could get without ever making it trivial.
11 – Superhot
Developer: Superhot Team | Release Date: February 25th, 2016 | Game Page
SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. What happens when you take an FPS and then time only moves when you do? You get Superhot. If you also soak that FPS in red and whites, give it some of the most creative levels to hit the genre, and tie it all together with an aesthetic matched by none, then you get one of the memorable games of 2016. Superhot is so good that you just want to tell everyone that Superhot is the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.
2016 TechRaptor Awards Won: Indie Game of the Year
10 – XCOM 2
Developer: Firaxis Games | Release Date: February 5th, 2016 | Game Page
After already getting a fantastic revival, XCOM 2 took all the things you loved about XCOM: Enemy Unknown and made them better. From some novel new ideas, such as a mobile base rather than a stationary one, to new enemies and allies, XCOM 2 is just a fantastic blend of tactics and resetting every time a friend dies. Several expansions later and the game is only better than it was at launch.
2017 TechRaptor Awards Won: Best Expansion/DLC
9 – The Banner Saga 2
Developer: Stoic Studio | Release Date: April 19th, 2016
How do you follow up The Banner Saga? More, of course. Not really seeking to innovate, just expand, The Banner Saga 2 continues the story of the tribe you must care for and lead across the land. New creatures, such as centaurs, help bring more variety to the tactical combat, while the story continues to keep players off guard and emotional. It’s a good time to get into indie tactics games.
8 – Dark Souls III
Developer: FromSoftware | Release Date: April 12th, 2016 | Game Page
After letting a different team take over for Dark Souls II while they worked on Bloodborne, the original FromSoftware team comes back to bring us Dark Souls III. Bringing the best improvements from the other games while still retaining Dark Souls‘ unique identity, Dark Souls III almost felt like a greatest hits collection. Well worth it for the fans, perhaps the only thing that held it back is that we were already used to the series by this point.
7 – Inside
Developer: Playedead | Release Date: June 29th, 2016 | Game Page
How do you follow up LIMBO? With another creepy yet artistically beautiful platformer. Inside keeps details light, and has no interest in telling you more than “Hunted and alone, a boy finds himself drawn into the center of a dark project.” Really, if you don’t know more than that, don’t wait here. Go give Inside the blind playthrough it really deserves to see why it’s part of our best-of list.
6 – Overwatch
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment | Release Date: May 24th, 2016 | Game Page
When Blizzard told us they were finally making an original IP, plenty of people wondered if they still could do it. The answer? An overwhelming yes. Overwatch felt like a completely natural evolution of multiplayer hero-based shooters. With a cast of characters that was almost instantly likable, fun fast-paced gameplay, and a variety of creative maps, there was a little something for everyone here. And a lot of something for people who liked shipping and fan fiction.
2016 TechRaptor Awards Won: Best Multiplayer
Our 5 Best Games of 2016
5 – Dishonored 2
Developer: Arkane Studios | Release Date: November 11th, 2016 | Game Page
Dishonored was already great, but we needed more. So we got Dishonored 2. With a new world to explore, a pair of playable characters, and levels with awesome new mechanics, there was a lot to move with Dishonored 2. The fact that one stage let you rapidly switch between two time periods while using a shadow monster to eat enemy soldiers? That had quite a bit to do with it.
4 – Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Developer: Naughty Dog | Release Date: May 10th, 2016 | Game Page
After a shockingly, and excitingly, dark turn with The Last of Us, it was time for Naughty Dog to return to their roots and give Nathan Drake one last adventure. So Uncharted 4 introduced us to his long lost brother and finally tied up Nathan Drake’s story so he could settle down and rest for a bit. Who could blame him, he needed one last adventure before it was time. In the end, Uncharted 4 managed to surpass the quality of three already fantastic games, making sure Drake’s final adventure was also his best.
2016 TechRaptor Awards Won: Best Writing
3) Titanfall 2
Developer: Respawn Entertainment | Release Date: October 28th, 2016 | Game Page
After you make a game that manages to bring excitement back to multiplayer sci-fi FPSes, how do you follow it up? The answer is a game that goes hard in making people care about the single-player too. Titanfall 2 added in a single-player campaign, and it ended up being one of the most shockingly fantastic campaigns in FPS history. From giant robot fights to time travel, there was a little something for everyone. Or a big something, in the case of the titans.
2 – Stardew Valley
Developer: ConcernedApe | Release Date: February 26th, 2016 | Game Page
Sometimes you don’t want to fight, kill anything, or command armies. Sometimes you just need to farm. Stardew Valley took inspiration from classics like Harvest Moon, then brought them to the modern age. It’s the kind of game you can sit down in front of a computer or TV and just quietly lose portions of your day while being totally happy with it. It’s soothing, and the fact that more content keeps coming and the recent multiplayer edition means that you can relax all the more.
1 – DOOM (2016)
Developer: id Software | Release Date: May 13th, 2016 | Game Page
And relaxation is over. Now we need to kill demons, all day every day. Doom doesn’t try to hide what it is. It’s a big, dumb, FPS with big, dumb, weapons used to kill big, dumb, enemies. It knows what it is and it loves every second of it, and since it’s our top game of 2016 it seems we did too. Doom is more than happy to show you exactly what the inside of a demon looks like, and how a shotgun should tear a crowd of monsters apart from all sorts of different angels. It’s fast-paced shooting perfection, wrapped in a gory package that brings the series back to somewhere I’m glad to see it return to. It turns out you rarely need more than a shotgun, a chainsaw, and a bunch of targets. Good on Doom for giving it to us.
2016 TechRaptor Awards Won: Game of the Year, Best Soundtrack