Game of the Year 2016

Feature article

Every year is jam-packed with amazing games, but we haven’t had a year as stellar as 2016 for a long time.

With big sequels, creatively clever new IP and a couple of game-changers, this is our countdown of what we think are the Top 10 games from this year culminating in the Checkpoint Game of the Year 2016.

The entire Checkpoint team have come together with their nominations for the top ten titles, and given us some insights into why they see each as a worthy contender. For those nominated that you may be less familiar with, be sure to check out our linked detailed reviews as we count down the voting to Checkpoint Game of the Year.

#10

Full Review

Quantum Break was a breakout(lol puns) new series for the Xbox from story-telling prodigies Remedy.

Exploring a new methodology of interactive narrative by partnering the game with TV episodes between each act, Quantum Break tried it’s hand at giving players a new way to expetrience their impact felt in the world around them. A fun and engaging third person shooter, Quantum Break was at its best when it let its narrative-delivery gimmicks get out of the way and allowed the player to be swallowed by the world without being distracted by the unusual methods Remedy was trying out.

Trying new things should never be dissuaded and the issues that Quantum Break presented with were minor in comparison to the enjoyment and engagement it delivered with its brilliant acting and incredible visuals. It stands tall as a brilliant new IP for the year and we can’t wait to see what is next for the property. – Archer

#9

Full Review

For me Mankind Divided was the perfect mix of story, gameplay, customisation and strategy that I’d expect from a Square Enix game. It’s certainly an amazing stealth first person shooter, and one that I played from start to finish within a week, even keen enough to replay it in a few months’ time. My two favourite things about Mankind Divided were its moral ambiguity and grey areas when it comes to world of human augmentation: is it right or is it wrong? The themes played a strong role in my decision making process and had me questioning if all my choices were right; regardless of their end result.

I took nigh issue with Mankind Divided’s faults as they were few and far between and had minimal impact on the overall gaming experience. I’m really keen to try a few other first person shooters thanks to the influence “MD” has had on me as gamer. Owing to this fact, it is quite possibly the main reason why Mankind Divided rates so high for me – because it’s encouraged me to step out of my preferred gaming genre and try something new. I recommend anyone questioning if this game is worth a look in, pick up a copy in store and give it a go; you won’t regret it. – Kieren

#8

Full Review

Titanfall 2, speaks to me in a way no other competitive shooter does and I can’t wait for my down time’s so I can spend more time with it. The movement and gameplay are better than ever and the single player mode was honestly such a joy to play. The relationship between Cooper and BT is remarkable, even beautiful at times, and the story line had me saying to myself “just 5 more minutes” before next thing I knew an hour had past. I was greatly surprised with how desirable to replay the single player campaign is, even with the lure of multiplayer drawing me in.

Then there’s the multiplayer, which takes what made the original so successful and the expands on it ten-fold, with the back and forth between Pilot and Titan combat making it one of the most engaging online shooting experiences I’ve played.  Titanfall 2 is everything I could ever ask for in a sequel to one of my favourite games and so much more. Bravo Respawn, Bravo. – Rachel

#7

Full Review

The Civilization franchise has always been a dominant and important structure within the strategy gaming market. This year Firaxis expanded that market even further with Civilization VI, their most feature complete game in the series at launch.

Whilst Civ 6 held onto a lot of systems that made the series so iconic, it wasn’t afraid to change things up either and implement new and better systems into the game. An overhauled culture system, a brand new religious win condition, eureka / inspiration boosts and a whole plethora of other changes keep the game fresh and dynamic when compared to older iterations. Civilization 6 really is a fantastic example of how to make a sequel. The game also manages to create a rich and deep strategic environment that players can find themselves lost within for hours at a time. Actively engaging systems, well balanced win conditions and excitement throughout all periods of the game – Civ 6 is an impressive release not just for strategy gaming, but for gaming in general.Elliot

#6

What I’m sure we all crave from a game is something that we can lose ourselves in, something we want to sit with uninterrupted and be totally immersed in. Firewatch gives that perfect world to escape to. The game presents a perfect blend of stunning visuals, engaging dialog choices and well written story lines. You get a real sense of calm solitude while roaming the woods that you oversee. Besides the beautiful art design of the game, Firewatch holds a lot of good-natured banter and humour within it. It’s not overly processed or trying too hard, it’s just natural, which is something we can all appreciate.

With that humour comes the branching storyline of Henry and Delilah. The scripting of Firewatch is one of the big reasons the game was so well received by the gaming community. The whole story is so well paced and organic, making every bit of information you discover about Henry, Delilah and the woods feel like it’s the player themselves who are really keeping watch over Shoshone National Forest. Firewatch is all about the atmosphere, and there is plenty of it to go around. Breathtaking, realistic and memorable. – Viv

#5

Full Review

Always known for its stunning set-pieces, witty dialogue and memorable moments, Uncharted has been an essential and important franchise for Sony, who impressed again this year with Nate’s final adventure, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. An older Nate led to some touching moments throughout the incredibly fun campaign, which featured some of the best adventure moments of the series so far.

Knowing that this will be the last time we play as Nate adds even more weight to the proceedings and Naughty Dog prove that they are still the masters of combining excellent gameplay with high production values and quality voice talent like no other developer can. It’s creative, clever and engaging throughout and earns its rightful place as not just one of our top games of 2016, but one of the best action adventure games ever created. – Luke

#4

Full Review

Dark Souls 3, much like it’s predecessors, is painfully hard. You’re expected to learn the game as you go and proceed with caution everywhere. It truly is dangerous to go alone. However, Dark Souls 3 is a good starting point for people new to the genre, as it’s probably the easiest… take note; you’ll still die… a lot…  and this is why this game belongs ranked so highly on our list! It takes us back to the games of old, where there was risk in dying, and you were often punished for taking too big of a gamble; if you die, you actually louse your souls and are taken right back to your last save point, which is often right at the start of a grueling gauntlet of enemies.

The game is easily the most beautiful out of the series, with stunning graphics and detail which really shows off the passion that was thrust into this project by the art team. The story is delivered beautifully through NPC small talk or item descriptions, so you really have to hunt for the story; it’s not just given to you in the form of a thousand cut scenes, which is refreshing because you’re rarely taken out of the experience.

Dark Souls 3 definitely requires some patience for its very steep learning curve, but is probably one of the most rewarding games to complete. Don’t expect to have your hand held anywhere in this game, you must simply… GIT GUD! – Ronnie

#3

Full Review

Alola!  No that’s not a typo, it’s how they say hello in the newest dual addition to the Pokémon gaming catalogue.  This Hawaiian-themed adventure takes a fresh look and shows the critics that you really can take the same game and release it as something new.  This isn’t an insult – this turn based battle/stamp collecting game is very enjoyable and as addictive as its predecessors.  The graphics have taken a vast leap forward and although many see the additional storyline as intrusive, I think it breaks up the at times monotonous task of stalking grass for that rare Pokémon.

Pokémon SAM features many new Pokemon and “Alola forms” of ones from past games.  We also see a new type of move called a “Z-Move” introduced, with my favourite being Snorlax’s ‘Pulverising Pancake’, and I am still showing friends and work colleagues the hilarious animation.  Time will tell if this gimmick will endear gamers, or end up forcing one to choose Pokémon based on their Z-Move, much like how the Mega-Evolutions biased the choice of pocket monsters for your party.

Pokémon SAM purely based on the fanfare and speculation and ingenious Nintendo marketing deserves a mention in any end of year list, but earns its place rightfully at the top of our list by creating a fun game that will make the perfect introduction to any to the Pokémon cult, I mean franchise, and for fans this game has probably already taken up all your social life.  I give it 4 “Pew’s”. – Jimmy

#2

Full Review

Final Fantasy XV had a lot riding upon a successful release and uptake and I certainly feel like it hit the mark. Square Enix has successfully brought the heavy fantasy elements of Final Fantasy into a new age world and the results are amazing. Eos (the setting for Final Fantasy XV) is visually stunning, especially when resolution is set to high, and part of the joy of this game is simply sitting back and taking it in as you get around.

Getting around is made fun and easy, which is a huge boon. When cruising along in the Regalia there is an automatic and manual mode to provide the opportunity for autonomy. Travel by chocobo is also a serious win, and hilariously entertaining. I think the main element that Final Fantasy deserves to be on this list is for its immersion and connection to the characters and environment.

To improve your characters’ abilities, you need AP. To get AP, you could just follow the main storyline, but the game encourages you to do a lot more than that. You can level up, do hunts, sidequests, camp, travel, cook, fish and engage in a bit of photography. Each of the four main characters enjoys a different hobby that is supported by your interactions, and even unlocks sidequests specifically aimed at inter-character relationships.

Noctis immediately connects to his surroundings when it comes to the magic system, absorbing elemental energy from nodes scattered across the land. Energy is then used to craft spells, which had me over the moon, and was an awesome new development for the series. Final Fantasy XV is a brave entry that upholds the legacy of one of my most beloved video game series of all time and seeks to go even further. – Jakob

#1

Full Review

Overwatch is a highly stylized 6v6 team based shooter, which strives to do just a few things, but does them amazingly well. Blizzard have put so much detail into every aspect of this game I don’t even know where to start. What makes the game stand out from every other shooter on the market is the emphasis on cooperation and teamwork. If you go at the enemy team alone, chances are you will die almost instantly. You have to stick together to defend your objective, communicate and adjust your strategy when required.

Not being locked into a specific role makes Overwatch much more enjoyable. Is your team not doing enough damage? Switch off the tank hero to an attack hero! This allows players to come up with strategies on the fly, or even try out a new hero they haven’t played as yet. There are plenty of characters in a super diverse line up for you to choose from. Sassy Latino Hacker? Check. Australian man with an affinity for explosions? Check. South Korean competitive Starcraft player piloting a mech? Check. The list goes on, and it caters to each play style in a way not many games do nowadays. You get to choose the character that works for you, and build a team around that.

The game also rewards players with loot boxes for levelling up, which contain items from a new victory pose or a legendary skin, allowing player to further customize their favourite heroes to their liking. Overwatch is a game I have not stopped playing all year, and with free DLC coming to the game every couple months (with two already arriving) in the form of new heroes, maps, and seasonal events, Overwatch continues to grow. With its emphasis on strategic, yet fun gameplay, attention to detail and constant support from developer Blizzard, Overwatch is deserving of Checkpoint’s award for Game of the Year 2016 and will hold a special place in my heart for a very long time. – Dylan

And with that, our list of top 10 games of 2016 is complete!

There were so many titles that could have made this list (nominations overall included around 25 different games before we narrowed it down), but at the end of the day, the quality and innovation of these ten titles was hard to ignore.

What made your list? Do you agree with our decision?