2016 was a pretty crappy year in general for everything not related to video games. Fortunately, the video game side of things was flipping awesome, with scores of great releases from well-established franchises and brand new IPs.
The bounty of games inevitably leads to the all-consuming question: which ones should be added to your played list during the holidays? Or better yet, can I afford them all?
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
Dragon's Dogma has been around a couple of years and finally made its way to PC early this year. This definitive edition, which includes the Dark Arisen content, adds all sorts of small visual improvements, unlocks the framerate to 60 FPS, and has fast-travel. If you have a PC and a pulse, Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen needs to be in your library. The unique blend of action-RPG elements and a Monster Hunter-esque host of beasts is unlike anything else out there. The best news is that it can be found on the cheap.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada
The Warhammer 40K mythos has always been prime grounds for a proper video game treatment. To date, very few competent releases have graced our palms. Then along came Battlefleet Gothic: Armada, a wonderful space-based RTS that pits giant warships against each other in absolute slugfests. Featuring a deep campaign with story-altering decisions and a robust combat system, this game does the Warhammer universe justice.
Guns, gore, and aliens. Alienation delivers exactly what Housemarque promised and then some. Explosions shatter the landscape as monsters are reduced to piles of goo. Players are given a host of alien-dispatching tools to get to work, a nice progression system, and randomized loot. While the difficulty spikes can be off-putting, Alienation is at its best when players are teaming up or squaring off against each other to silence the beasts from beyond.
I really can't say much more about DOOM that hasn't been said already, but if you have any interest in shooters, this needs to be in your library yesterday. DOOM is a great interpretation of the classic franchise, eschewing nuance for nut-punching the devil over and over again. With a thrilling campaign and serviceable multiplayer, DOOM is one of the best FPSes to come out in ages.
The Elder Scrolls Online: One Tamriel
I'm not much for MMOs, but The Elder Scrolls Online is one of the rare exceptions that deserves your attention. The original game came out some time ago but was derided by reviewers for restricting what made The Elder Scrolls so memorable; player freedom. The recently-released One Tamriel update unshackles players of all levels and sets them loose to tackle quests and exploration in whatever order they please. It makes a very solid foundation a totally fresh experience, and that's before Zenimax adds the Homestead update.
Game of the Year
DOOM would have held the title of 'Best Shooter', but Respawn shocked me with just how great Titanfall 2 is. The sequel to the under-rated online shooter adds a campaign and further refines the progression system to a spit-shine. The result is a varied experience backed up by gorgeous visuals and one of the best gameplay feels in some time. Titanfall 2 is an excellent shooter and deserves your hard-earned cash.