This was the year that Square had planned to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Final Fantasy, I could go on about all of the items that released this year in regards to the world renowned franchise, but there was only one that echoed with me through the tail end of the year, World of Final Fantasy. Square could have done numerous things to scare a hardcore fan away, but none of them were scarier than seeing little Chibi fantasy characters running around. I had already been burned at the beginning of the year when Final Fantasy Explorers came out, boring the crap out of me and wasting my precious gil, so when I saw the trailers and screenshots of Explorers, I expected to be burned again.
But I am beyond happy to report that did not happen. I took a risk on this game, played it until it's charming, adorable, hilarious, fairly difficult with shocking layers of strategy when forming up your party, end. I would also kick myself if I didn’t point out that it has one of the greatest closing credits video's I have ever seen. If you love Final Fantasy and want to see all your old enemies/friends again, do yourself a favor and get this game any way you can, no regrets! Chibi-out!
It has been half a decade since Harry Potter graced the big screen, leaving with it the best years of the franchise, until now! As you all know I am a major Harry Potter fan, for reasons you will never be able to fathom beyond the fact that it’s world fascinates the hell out of me, so when they said Fantastic Beasts was releasing this year and gave me a handful of trailers I was so happy I was busting through walls like the cool-aid man. Fantastic Beasts was amazing, but that was only one of the many Harry Potter things that hit me this year. I was also pointed towards a co-op board game called Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle, that if you have watched the video, is an absolute blast to play(quick rundown- you use four of your favorite heroes to take down all of the 7 books villains).
If those two huge releases wasn’t enough, we had updates to Pottermore, releases of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts for LEGO Dimensions, a half-assed two part stage play script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (only brought it up so I could tell you it was half-assed) and the second fully illustrated edition of Chamber of Secrets. It felt almost like the Year of Potter for me, how can I deny the feeling it gave me to be such a happy fan. Unless they drop a Harry Potter pinball table from Stern, I doubt we will have another Year of the Potter! (Hint Hint, Stern)
I debated leaving this off my list but when I think back on the year of 2016 there wasn’t a game I invested more time, whether I loved it or hated it doesn't really matter because things about this game kept me coming back all year.
It started with the main campaign in co-op, which was truly an awesome experience that we don't see a lot of anymore. It sprawled out over 30+ hours and had enough content at the back end to keep me loot hunting with friends for the perfect set of gear for months.
YES I KNOW that it was broke to hell for a while and the Dark Zone became a cesspool of grief, but those first few weeks of unknown, where you were running missions and incursions to find gear, traveling the dark zone through the barely visible streets of New York and fighting npc’s and rogue human players not knowing whether someone was going to save you or let you live was exhilarating.
The game also had a fresh take on a multitude of gameplay mechanics that I never knew I wanted cobbled together (Diablo style loot system, Gears of War cover based combat, MMO skill trees and free for all shooter pvp). Hopefully they can work out a sequel, or perhaps another game can come around and steal all that was great from it, either way I know that it’s going to be a long time before I get this type of game again.
This year we were treated to the Dark Souls swan song, and damn was it a good one. They upped the graphics, fine tuned the combat system, added harder bosses, a cleaner item system and finally pieced together a coherent story. There is no question, in my mind, that this is the best Dark Souls game in the series. If you love what From Software has done in the past, you should be ashamed at yourself for not playing this game. My only gripe, and reason this isn’t in the top three is because of too many post launch patches that normalized weapons, which were themselves rehashed from the first two games anyway. Don’t let that stop you though, there is a good game here...just don’t plugs this devilish beast into the world wide web.
This had to be the best E3 in the last 5 years. We had so many new announcements, crowd flubs, the birth of Ubi-Chad, VR meeting the mainstream head on, giant turkey legs, Blink 182 sadly not grabbing the attention of anyone in the crowd, Zelda Breath of the Wild which caused a massive stampede across the show floor, Horizon Zero Dawn… do you get it yet? Oh no.. here is some more awesomeness in case you forgot about Old Man God of War, Injustice 2, Resident Evil 7 and it’s giant haunted house, Days Gone, Insomniac’s new Spider-Man game, Death Stranding and the reveal of Project Scorpio to name a few more for you. I haven’t felt that type of energy from a video game event in a long time and it will be close to impossible for 2017 or ‘18 for that matter to even come close.
I won’t even waste your time trying to describe how it feels to put that headset on and play a game in VR. You actually have to put the headset on your giant baby sized head to feel what I felt. You may think it’s not ready yet and every game is a simple gimmick or demo, which may be the case, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving it a whirl. When you take the contraption off, you will know exactly what I mean. It definitely will not make you go out and buy one, but it will leave a lasting impression on you for what spine-tingling tech awaits us a few years from now. If you do try it, I highly recommend you play the “Resident Evil 7 demo” and “I expect you to die” as both games showcase a ton of stunning features and tech that will give you the most bang for your momentary buck.
This is the second year in a row where a game had a debut trailer, initial announcements and an enormous amount of hype around it, but I could not get behind it. Nothing I was presented with from gameplay trailers to the art style impressed me. I could not understand why this game had so much hype and was starting to become the talk of the nation.
Then the calendar hit May 5th, the clock moved past 5pm and I was thrown into the open beta for Overwatch. After my first match, my perspective on gaming was instantly blown away. As an avid fan of all things robotic, I naturally gravitated towards Bastion, and in his beginning days we all know that no one knew how to really counter him...so I was an absolute wrecking machine! As time went on they continued to add new characters, lore was discovered through character conversations and set pieces, events were added that showcased new modes outside of the pvp aspect and changes to many character whether you hated it or loved it they benefited the game as a whole.
This game has been the most consistently played game in my archive and don’t see myself putting it down throughout 2017. Just this past week I started goofing around with a new character, who I always thought was trash, and instantly fell in love. I can't wait to see what Blizzard has in store for us this year as they have already been teasing the release of anew character, DOOMFIST, new maps, skins...and let's not forget, they are all free. Oh yeah, and since you are probably wondering who I recently fell in love with, I will scream the name through the wall I just blocked you behind as the doors to your base opened.