Please, join me in an appreciation for everything I’ve loved this year. Can you guess how many times I’m gonna talk about Pokemon?
The longevity of Overwatch has been amazing, and the community is a thriving hub of (mostly) hilarity. Blizzard’s first attempt at a first-person-shooter has paid off, with the colourful edge and holistic, diverse approach to the character roster and maps making for an enjoyable pick-up-and-play experience. This one came as a genuine surprise to me, as it seemed as though a market saturated by MOBAs couldn’t fit anymore in. I was wrong (and this isn’t even a MOBA). If you haven’t already got a copy, you’re doing yourself a disservice – after all, the world can always use more heroes.
As a self-confessed car nut, there was barely any better news to come out of this year’s E3 than a Forza Horizon game set Down Under. Lamborghini Centenarios in our own back yard? Drifting around Surfer’s in a Maloo? Taking on the Outback in Brocky’s Torana? Honestly, it’s a driver’s paradise, and anyone with an Xbox One living in this day and age would be stark raving mad not to grab a copy. Time to go really fast, sideways.
Pokemon GO took the world by surprise when it was announced, and I don’t even think its creators anticipated the overwhelming impact it would have on people when it launched. The sense of community surrounding this release is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a video game before – and yes, people are still playing, despite what you may have heard. They did just release a bunch of new Pokemon, after all. I’ve never seen a game that gets people up and off their couch so regularly (and for such a good reason – to catch ’em all ) in my life. Granted, it has slown down since its launch, but there remains a dedicated few who are still hatching their 10K eggs, and even those coming back just for a day or so to check out the latest update (Santa hat Pikachu, anyone?). Being the very best has genuinely never felt so rewarding. I can’t remember the last time I did this much exercise.
Ah, yes. Another year, another Destiny expansion, right? This one has wolves and a new social space, and while the new story missions didn’t take very long, for what it was Rise of Iron was a thoroughly enjoyable quest line. Plus – puppies. I’ve honestly spent more time climbing that damned jumping puzzle in Fellwinter Peak than I did on the campaign, and I still haven’t gotten to the top. Aside from that, there’s always new content drops from the masters at Bungie, and they even brought back the Sparrow Racing League in one of the latest updates, so it really does have something for everyone. Not just Direwolves.
Out of all the releases this year, DOOM was one of the biggest surprises for me. Being the youngling that I am, I’d grown up hearing the whispers of the original 1993 title, how it defined a genre and changed the direction of shooters forever. Of course, when id brought it back at the start of this year, I wasn’t gonna miss it. I feel as though I was suitably frustrated by the first appearance of the Cyberdemon, having to quit and reload that level more times than I’d like to admit. Fast-paced and fun, I’m glad that 2016’s DOOM was my introduction for the series; while it may not have given me the nostalgic goosebumps developed by some others, I felt the essence of Hell and was drawn into its depths.
I love Ratchet and Clank. I’m gonna get that out of the way right now. The Lombax and his sassy companion were my first friends on the PlayStation 3, and it is thanks to that that I was so eagerly awaiting the PS4 game this year. Of course, I was not disappointed, as this was one of those current-gen revisits that in equal parts paid homage to the oldies whilst adding that current-gen glow.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m also a crazy Pokemon person. I filled my Pokedex in Pokemon Pearl. Yeah, really. All 493. And all I got was that stupid certificate from that guy at the ‘GameFreak offices’. Anyway. I picked up the new generation of Pokemon games this year with glee, if trepidation – “catching ’em all is really becoming a task, isn’ it?” I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The new region is supplemented by not only new Pokemon, but refreshed and redesigned versions of old ones. They’ve also done away with the Gym system, and replaced it with a sort of island trial system. It’s great. Pokemon Sun is a refreshing look at a series that could very easily have been tired by now. For anyone else, I guess – I’ll keep buying these things until they stop making them.
Another surprise of the year was the thrilling Titanfall 2 campaign. With Respawn fresh off the back of the first Titanfall – which you’ll remember was multiplayer only – the campaign on the sequel was surprisingly compelling and gripping. You actually care about this giant robot thing that’s basically just ditched his dead pilot without a second thought. However, while BT is most likely grieving (do Titans dream of electric pilots?), he’s still keeping up the witty repartee of anyone in a Portal or Uncharted game. It’s fast, it’s fluid, and it’s fun. Titanfall 2 is my FPS campaign of the year.
This probably shouldn’t count considering it’s just a remastered game with “volumetric god rays.” But, considering the amount of hours I have on this – despite already playing the whole thing through – it has been granted an entry to the list. I still can’t work out exactly what it is that makes me love Skyrim so much. Could it be the fact that it’s an entire new land to explore? Could it be the Sweet Rolls I’m hoarding in my home? Could it be that I haven’t managed to kill Lydia yet? Even thinking about how many questlines I haven’t completed in my second run through is making me feel like I’ve had a bit too much Skooma, and yet there’s nothing I’m looking forward to playing more over the brief Christmas break. Quit lollygaggin’.
If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because this game was actually initially announced for the PlayStation 3 back at E3 in 2009. Yeah, seven years ago. A lot has happened since then, and some people thought we may never actually get our paws on this game. However, following more delays than you can point a feather at, we actually saw the release of The Last Guardian. This game is infuriating. Truly. It’s about a boy trying to get a winged beast called Trico to listen to him. If you’ve ever tried training a puppy, it’s exactly like that, but approximately four thousand times as difficult. On the plus side, you don’t have to pick up any droppings, but you will face multiple threats of being whacked off the edge of every surface imaginable by your new mate. He doesn’t care, either, which only adds to the frustration – you’re doing everything in your power to save this damned thing and he’s just like ‘lol, nah, I’m-a go over here I reckon.’ In the same way that it’s completely ridiculous that you should submit yourself to such torture for Trico, it’s equally rewarding when he actually listens to you or does what he’s meant to. You feel like a proud parent. ‘Who’s a good boy? You are!’