A Year in Review: Top 2016 Games and Soundtrack!

2016 has come and gone and if my social channels are any indication, most people people are glad to leave this arbitrary number behind. I don’t personally believe 2016 was the awful year it’s made out to be in the media but it’s certainly been exhausting on a personal level, despite some successes on the writing and day-job front. I’ve pushed myself to leave the safety (and lull) of a stable workplace for more flexible and lucrative work that doesn’t come with the security of a permanent contract. While I am content with my progress thus far, it’s also a stressful situation to be in at times and my constant struggle to find peace of mind inside our daily grind remains one of life’s great challenges. Alas!

top 2016 games and soundtrack2016 wasn’t a rocking year for me gaming wise, either. I arrived with humble expectations and browsing through my blog and steam library, I realize I’ve played much less than in years before. This was also definitely not a year of MMORPGs and I find myself in that strange position now where I am no longer looking forward to a single upcoming MMO title in 2017 and beyond. It’s a weird and melancholic feeling because MMOs have been a big part of my life for the past 15 years. With the exception of Black Desert Online, I’ve barely played anything besides some brief visits to Eorzea in the first half of the year. MMORPG players have seen this coming for a while and it certainly feels like our favorite genre has come to somewhat of a halt; that is, if you’re not still a follower of well-established titles such as WoW or GW2.

My Top Video Games of 2016

For reasons explained above, my past year in gaming wasn’t all about the MMOs. While I still haven’t gone back to GW2 for the expansion, two of last year’s expectations did hold true and then, it’s also been a year of small, unexpected delights. Without further ado, here are my top 5 titles of 2016:

top 2016 games and soundtrack

5. Owlboy
Owlboy by developer D-Pad Studio only came out in November 2016 and while I haven’t finished playing it, it’s already fulfilled all my expectations in terms of being a fun adventure with beautiful visuals and music. There are some unforgettable moments and quirky characters in Owlboy that make it a safe choice for anyone into whimsical and charming adventure platformers that aren’t overly complex. Only minor gripe: no keymapping for gamepads!

top 2016 games and soundtrack

4. Portal Knights
I’ve praised the concept, visuals and soundtrack of Portal Knights on MMOGames and if you ever wondered how a minecraft sandbox meets level-based gameplay would play, this is the title to grab! The game is especially fun for short-session gameplay together with up to 3 other players (also great for kids), while you can still put those solo hours to good use, base-building, gathering and crafting. Controls and GUI management aren’t perfect in Portal Knights but definitely manageable.

top 2016 games and soundtrack

3. The Witcher 3 (DLC)
The Witcher 3 was my GOTY in 2015 and remains my most beloved RPG title of this year – and possibly all eternity. I’ve lived and breathed the Wild Hunt again over the Xmas holidays and I am still so impressed and delighted by this title, I got no words! Not surprisingly, the Hearts of Stone and Blood&Wine expansions have been nominated for great honors again in 2016. I’ve only started to catch up now and intend to make the most of what CD Projekt Red have stated will be their only Witcher 3 expansions! :sadface:

top 2016 games and soundtrack

2. Black Desert Online
I’ve spent copious amounts of time in BDO between spring 2016 and summer, exploring its fantastic persistent world, writing guides for its complicated subsystems, joining a guild and decorating my house. While the game has had its issues and share of monetization scandals, it is still one hell of an experience for anyone looking to explore and travel a magnificent MMO world solo! I never reached PVP “endgame” in BDO and didn’t care to, but I had fun with almost everything else including its different approach to combat. The game remains an “alone together” experience for anyone not looking to join competitive PVP which is good or bad, depending on your personal viewpoint!

top 2016 games and soundtrack

1. GOTY: Overwatch!
There is no way around giving Blizzard the credit that is their due: they knocked it out of the park with Overwatch in 2016. As far as impressive comebacks go, only Square-Enix have managed a similar feat with a Realm Reborn – a persistence we rarely get to see in the video game industry. From the ashes of Titan, Blizzard have salvaged not just an incredibly accessible and fun hero shooter but one that’s so full of charming characters and iconic lines and gameplay moments, the Overwatch roster is already as popular as any other Blizzard IP heroes. I gave this game a 9/10 and there’s nothing else to add here, Overwatch was one hell of a successful release in 2016!

Best Soundtrack of the Year

As far as great VGM went in 2016, I’m sticking with the tradition of my annual youtube recap which you can find below! It’s been a good year for video game soundtrack and the Battle Bards podcast keeps going strong, counting its 4th anniversary soon. There’s been an official twitter account now for a while, too. I am still having as much fun as ever talking MMO music with fellow bards Syp and Steff.

Top VGM of 2016 list:

12. Civilization VI
11. Destiny: Rise of Iron
10. Overwatch
9. Enter the Gungeon
8. Hyper Light Drifter
7. Stardew Valley
6. Owlboy
5. Portal Knights
4. The Last Guardian
3. Revelation Online
2. WoW Legion
1. Black Desert Online

Let me know what your favorite video game soundtrack has been of late and another Happy New Year to all of you! Let’s see what 2017 will bring in terms of digital delights and virtual world travel – it’s all a blank open space for me from this point forward!

5 comments

  1. I think if MMOs ever died out I wouldn’t play video games any more. It’s hard to be sure. I do occasionally try a non-MMO title but regardless of what kind of game it is I find it very hard to take it seriously. The closest I can come to explaining it is that playing non-MMOs feels like listening to a bland cover version of a song you like – it feels hollow and lacking in heart, somehow.

    I didn’t feel like that before I started playing MMOs. I don’t actually think it’s an intellectually valid position. I think video games, offline or online, have equal potential to be art or entertainment with any other creative form. It would be similar, perhaps, to believing that listening to recorded music is not a valid way to spend your time compared to attending a live performance or that it’s worthless to watch movies on video because the only way to see them is in a cinema.

    I don’t feel like that about either music or movies, although I would contend that live music is, by definition, a superior experience to recorded music and cinema is, by definition, a superior experience to home viewing. But I don’t find the lesser versions there to be completely invalidated the way I do find non-MMO games to be.

    It’s lucky, then, that I in absolutely no way suffer from the apparent widespread ennui that suffuses the blogerati these days. I think the genre is in storming form with many, many MMOs being entirely capable and worthy of consuming all the leisure time most people could imagine affording them. It would be nice to get some new ones, because novelty is amusing, but it’s in no way necessary.

    The line-up of new MMOs for 2017 does look dismal though. I’m sure we can and will do better in a few years.

    1. I agree objectively we absolutely live in the greatest times of all media-wise and certainly video game wise. There’s never been better games, more diverse games, more connected games than today, and also so many MMOs to choose from. Right now I could easily think of 10-15 MMORPGs that are still very much worth playing.

      That said, it doesn’t replace the excitement of looking forward to something new, for me personally. There aren’t as many new MMO titles coming out anymore, certainly not big western games (Asia has always been very productive but they don’t necessarily create my kind of MMOs) and it used to be fun to dive into completely new and undiscovered games. That’s just something I love, that newcomer feel and collective excitement – I will miss that. :)

  2. I’d be interested in playing BDO, but the fact that I can play F2P MMO games –although older than BDO– means that I can keep my one subscription on SWTOR running without cancelling that and picking up another.

    I did take advantage of the Steam sale (and Steam GCs as a Christmas present) to get The Witcher Trilogy, as well as Age of Wonders III and a couple of Total War games that I’ve the originals for that I can no longer play due to the age of the games (original Medieval and Rome).

    I’ve got enough games to play, but not much time.

    As for 2016, it was a pretty crappy year. I think that people in the US (like me) had more of a crappy year than others –particularly for parents who teach their kids to be polite, upstanding, and to do the right thing, and watching that the polar opposite of such behavior win the election. I don’t put too much stock in celebrity deaths creating a crappy year, but the failure of decent behavior to win out over classic bullying behavior, that bothered me. A lot.

    1. Oh man the Witcher…you will love it! :) Don’t necessarily recommend the first game but 2 and 3 are both master pieces, I am still not over how great they are! Dang, I envy you for first playthrough, hehe.

      And I hear ya on 2016 in America, by the looks the worst has only just begun though. :S It’s inconceivable to me at the moment how the next 4 years will look like internationally speaking, must be doubly terrible for you sitting in the middle of some of that. Hopefully at the end of all this, it will bring some people closer together and bring some very much needed resistance and change. *positive thinking*

      1. I’ve occasionally been reminded of times like this with the zombie apocalypse or nuclear winter: that the living will envy the dead. I certainly hope it doesn’t come to that, but I’ve a bad feeling that China will decide to show off how serious they are to Drumpf and invade Taiwan.

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