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We did it. We picked the 10 best games of 2016, and you better agree with us (because we don’t even agree with us).
After hours of consideration, the GamesBeat crew has chosen its Game of the Year and its overall top 10. This is separate from our personal lists, which you can find here. This list represents our staff as a whole. To come up with this top 10, we didn’t vote — we argued and deliberated, and you can listen to our conversation to see how we came up with our picks for yourself.
Click play below, download the podcast on iTunes, or watch the video above to hear our Game of the Year discussion. And to see what we picked, scroll a bit further to see our countdown.
10. Darkest Dungeon
Developer: Red Hook Studios
Publisher: Red Hook Studios
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, Vita
Darkest Dungeon is a Lovecraftian horror role-playing game that will drive you and your characters insane. You guide a party of adventurers through dingy catacombs of a mansion in search of relics and treasure, but you are likely to find death and disease. The challenge is to keep your team alive long enough — avoiding the permadeath mechanic — to empower them with the strength to take on the variety of obstacles Darkest Dungeon will throw at you. That is difficult, but it is also rewarding — and it doesn’t hurt that the game is beautiful looking in its own way.
GamesBeat managing editor Jason Wilson: “My favorite role-playing game this year comes from Red Hook Studios, by far the smallest group of game designers on this list. It does something that no other game accomplished in 2016: instill me with a sense of dread. You recruit adventurers to help clean out your ancestral home of the horrors, but these twisted terrors can do more than rend your flesh. They can drive you insane, which could have positive benefit … or make your warrior a gibbering glop of impotent rage.”
9. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Developer: Infinity Ward
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
I’m as surprised as you are that this is on our top 10, but GamesBeat lead writer Dean Takahashi had a strong reaction to the single-player campaign. Sure, the multiplayer mode — which has been the franchise’s meal ticket for the last decade — isn’t as beloved as some of the previous Call of Duty releases, but developer Infinity Ward has potentially brought new life into its campaigns, and we recognize that.
GamesBeat lead writer Dean Takahashi: “One of the best decisions Infinity Ward made was to double down on the story. It hired two leaders from Naughty Dog, maker of the Uncharted series, and it used them to instill a much more interesting narrative. This is also why, after many years of repetition, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare feels like a brand new experience. You can fly Jackal fighters in space, use a grappling hook, run on walls, and mow down dozens of combat robots.”
8. Battlefield 1
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
It was a wonderful year for shooters, and a big reason for that is everyone tried something different. Developer DICE’s Battlefield 1 is a prime example of that. The studio took its technical know-how to World War I, and focused on personal stories to do something that is fresh in this genre.
Dean Takahashi: “EA took some liberties with history, but I appreciate that the goal was less about being historically accurate and more about re-creating the visceral feeling of being in the war. In that way, EA created one of the best history lessons ever for a new generation of people. Even as a history buff myself, I appreciated learning new things about the war that I didn’t know.”
7. Civilization VI
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: PC, Mac
The latest entry in the long-running Civilization franchise had a lot to live up to, and it mostly holds up as an excellent addition to the series. You get the sense that, like the last couple of Civ games, this one will still benefit greatly from expansions, but Civ VI is a more complete game out of the box than Civ IV or Civ V.
GamesBeat writer Mike Minotti: “Civilization VI is such a relaxing game. I can easily lose hours just staring at the screen, building natural wonders, setting new policies, and starting new trade routes. The improved city-building adds more depth, and the stylized character models and art add more personality. Long live fat Roosevelt!”
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Hitman is the most pleasant surprise of 2016. This franchise has always seemed to get by on its concept. That is to say that people seem to like the idea of playing as a sneaky assassin who can get away with murder, and so they forgave the Hitman series for coming up short in a lot of key ways in the past. But this Hitman gets so much right. It puts you in a giant, clockwork world where everything works as it should until you come along as Agent 47. As the titular Hitman, it is up to you to figure out how to pull this intricate, interconnected antfarm apart at its seams to accomplish your ends. And because the game is episodic, it encourages you to go back into the same stage over and over to finish different challenges and find new ways of performing the same hits. And by returning to these spaces, you begin to learn everything about them, and then you almost can’t help but fall in love with them for enabling your dumbest ideas.
GamesBeat reporter Jeffrey Grubb: “Here’s one of my Hitman stories: In an escalation challenge, where you perform a series of hits that build on top of one another, I started in the kitchen of a Paris palace during a fashion show. I knocked out a chef that attracted the attention of a guard that enabled me to start a gas leak in the kitchen that caused an explosion that distracted the guards in the security office that enabled me to get a shotgun that enabled me to kill my designated target and escape all under five minutes. Yeah. Hitman rules.