Two weeks! Two weeks and I’m FREE… to continue writing in the same format but at a more reasonable pace, probably.
Since we only have two of these special Sundays left together and it’s already been determined by management that Christmas will be the day to put up my Game of the Year list (spoilers), I thought it necessary to perhaps offer a preamble to explain why many of the more notable games of 2016 won’t be making an appearance. In most cases, I simply didn’t play them, though the reasons for that will vary.
Most of the Year’s Shooters: Battlefield 1, The Division, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Titanfall 2, Gears of War 2
I’m bunching all of these together because they may as well be the same game to me. That’s probably going to come off as more derisive than I intend, it’s just that my taste in first person shooters has just about never meshed with modern AAA sensibilities, at least in terms of setting and design philosophy. These games have been an easy target for years and years and I do my best to not perpetuate that too much. It was a harder pill to swallow when they seemed to dictate the direction of the entire industry. Now? Just a bunch of games that don’t really appeal to me, but by all accounts are well-made and satisfy their audience. It’s been a great year for shooters of all varieties, so it’s fine if a portion of the ones released simply aren’t for me.
While it would be easy to sum this up with “I still don’t have a PS4 yet”, I’m not entirely sure that Uncharted 4 would have made the cut anyway, as my relationship with the series has always been one of begrudging respect. I hated my time with the first Uncharted game, loved the second, and then decided by the third that I never needed to play another of its type ever again. A fourth installment seemed long in the tooth when it was announced and my hype levels remained reasonably mild after release. By virtue of it being packed in with the PS4’s most common bundle, I’ll more than likely get around to it next year, so look forward to that on [insert arbitrary date here].
I don’t have a great reason for this one. I have a reason, mind you. It’s just not a great one.
DOOM shocked a lot of people this year, myself included. I had a blast when the free demo came down on Steam. It’s also been heavily discounted multiple times throughout the year. So why haven’t I played more of it? Well, a game like DOOM feels like it was created specifically to be someone’s big spec showcase after a huge PC upgrade. As luck would have it, I’ll be jumping from a GTX 660 to a 1060 in a couple months and I want to save DOOM for that special moment. I don’t want to save the world from minimum spec demons. I want to embrace DOOM in its most glorious form and wrap myself in it like some sort of space horror burrito.
(Space Horror Burrito is the name of my new EDM album.)
The original Dishonored has been sitting on my Steam installed list for over 300 days, just staring at me. As you’d imagine, playing a new game every day doesn’t exactly lend itself well to playing 12 hour long story-based experiences, so it remained unplayed. I’m also one of those weirdos that insists on playing the first game in a series before I touch the second, even if it’s not very good. Seriously, I slogged through the first Assassin’s Creed just so I wouldn’t miss out on all of the important narrative beats that it never ever referenced in the second one. Both Dishonoreds will be played next year, I can almost guarantee.
Final Fantasy XV
I initially had no interest in FFXV, as my fatigue with the series had long reached excessive levels. Part of that has to probably do with just how downright boring it’s become to have a discussion about the games, almost always leading to people arguing over what were the better installments in the series. Frankly, I don’t care.
Now that the game is out and a very real thing, I feel a bit of an obligation to spend some time with it. Everything about its development should have resulted in a terrible clusterfuck of a game, but by and large, people seem to really dig it. I guess I need to give it another look.
I can’t really use the “long story-based game” excuse here since Firewatch is only a few hours. Honestly, the reason I never started it up was because, bizarrely, I have this fear that I’ll hate it. There are so many things that I appreciate about its design that I want to celebrate, but after watching video of the first 20 minutes or so, I immediately found both main characters to be intensely unlikable, with that Weadon-esque flavor of dialogue that makes everyone into a deadpan snarker with perfect comedic timing. With some time and distance, I should be able to re-approach it with a more open mind. Just wasn’t meant to be this year.
Street Fighter V
This one depresses me. Capcom did a lot of damage to their already shaky reputation this year. Considering that Street Fighter V wouldn’t have even happened without outside intervention meant that they absolutely needed to put their best foot forward and hit a home run. Instead they hit a ground rule double, releasing what was essentially an Early Access game as a full-priced product. The part of SFV where you actually play it is excellent; the constant server issues, insane DLC pricing, and general dearth of content make everything else a nightmare.
The Last Guardian
Again, I don’t have a PS4. And I’m not in a rush to get one because The Last Guardian is never ever coming out.
Wait, what? What’s that? It’s actually a game… like, in stores and everything?: Haha. Good one.
I had very very conflicted feelings about INSIDE. I still do. It’s a game that I’m expecting to see on a lot of lists this year and it’s hard to argue that it’s not well deserved. In terms of design and atmosphere, it’s an achievement. I just wished I liked it more.
Hyper Light Drifter
I want to play this game so badly that it causes me physical discomfort, but I also know that I’ll get absolutely no work done if I get started. Everything I’ll ever seen and heard about Hyper Light Drifter feels like it would be in my proverbial house of wheels and it will probably be the first game I mainline next year. I want those hot pixels. Inject them into my veins. I also reserve the right to amend my proper Game of the Year list after the fact if this is as good as I expect it to be.
It’s a testament to just how popular Stardew Valley is that I’ve put it on my to-play list despite have zero interest in the genre up to this point. There’s a fervor around the game that’s difficult to ignore, much like Undertale from the previous year. The difference here is that Stardew fans are a lot less intense and make me actually want to play the object of their affection. Since it seems like a game that lends itself well to longer more casual sessions, I see it being a staple of next year’s rotation.