Every year the VG247 staff try to sneak something into these lists that definitely shouldn’t count. This year, we tiredly let them get away with it.
“Look, no, to qualify for a game of the year award, right, it’s got to be a game,” we told them, patiently. “A proper game, not a bit of DLC. And it’s got to have come out in that actual year. Why is this simple premise so difficult for you to grok? It’s not like there weren’t stacks of terrific games released in 2016.”
But once again when deadline rolled around (or, to be more accurate, several days later after a string of strongly worded emails, text messages and IMs), three of the 15 games we elected to give our gongs to technically didn’t even count. At the far end of the year once grows tired of herding cats, and so we roped them all up and stuck them in the fifth and final episode of this series as The Outliers We Should Probably Disqualify But Didn’t.
There will be no more VG247 Games of the Year: these are the final nods. Return to previous entries to peruse our picks and imbibe our faultless reasoning, or don’t: we are not your masters.
The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
Stubbornly insisted upon by: Steph
Yes, I know The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine is technically an expansion pack, but it’s large enough to be considered an entire game. Even those who voted it Best RPG at The Game Awards 2016 agree. I have played all three Witcher titles, enjoyed each immensely, and was filled with a bittersweet lump in the pit of my stomach when it was announced Witcher 3 would be the last hurrah for Geralt. But he deserves to retire – from video games – and CD Projekt did a great job ensuring this with Blood and Wine.
The entire game is breathtakingly lovely, but the final expansion was eye-candy of the best sort.
It is gorgeous, provides you with three rather interesting endings depending on the path you chose, and it’s just damn gorgeous. I said that already, didn’t I? Well, it bears repeating. Don’t get me wrong, the entire game is breathtakingly lovely, but the final expansion was eye-candy of the best sort.
I loved the various side-quests, my favorite being the one with psychedelic tea (I won’t give it away), and the ending I received? Well, it was rather fitting for a Witcher who deserves to live the rest of his days in peace. Hopefully. I plan to go back at some point and choose other options in the main quest chain to get a new ending, just for kicks. I’m not ready to be done with Geralt just yet, after all.
If you have yet to play The Witcher 3, do yourself a favor: carve out plenty of alone time, give it a go, and be sure to download all the extra content. It’s totally worth it. Especially Blood and Wine.
Final Fantasy: Record Keeper
Grimly clung to by: Alex
Here’s something a bit different, then. This is a mobile game, and one that actually didn’t launch this year – but Record Keeper, a Final Fantasy spin-off from DeNA (the company that’s also partnered with Nintendo on their mobile games) has the distinction of being the only video game this year I have played every single day. Can’t miss those login bonuses!
It offers a very accomplished mobile-friendly version of the Active Time Battle system with an enticing level of depth. High-end raid-style encounters are rock solid and require serious thought.
So, here’s what Record Keeper is: You works in a library that chronicles the records of various battles throughout time and the universe – the events of the classic Final Fantasy games. It’s staffed by scholarly Moogles. Baddies mess up the library and it’s up to you to restore the records. You do that by hopping into the worlds of classic FF games, recruiting their heroes and fighting classic encounters from their adventures.
It’s an interesting game for a lot of reasons. It’s full of fan service, but strips back the plot elements of FF and offers a very accomplished mobile-friendly version of the Active Time Battle system with an enticing level of depth. High-end raid-style encounters are rock solid and require serious thought.
On top of that you get to see encounters from FF7-14 redrawn in beautiful FF6-style sprite work and compose teams made up of any combination of heroes. Want Cloud, Lightning, Quistis, Rydia and Arc – Why not?
A constant stream of new content arrives with new limited-time events every 10 days or so, plus larger dungeon updates that add gradually unfurling adaptations of each Final Fantasy’s story. It’s a game that uses gacha-style random draws to balance the game out, but I’ve never felt cheated or pressured to spend real money – which is impressive. The free updates continue to impress too – new encounters, new enemies, even online multiplayer raids.
Record Keeper is overlooked, but I’ll keep logging in every day. It’s a great travel, de-stress or before-bed game.
Destiny: Rise of Iron
Exasperatingly nominated by: Brenna
I spent a lot of time playing other video games this year but even before the launch of a major expansion Destiny was my mainstay, my go-to, my first and best and possibly only love. I even play PvP now, a revelation that makes my near and dear give me side-eye and begin casual inquiries into the state of my health these days.
I wish there were more hours in my day so I could be a proper hardcore Guardian like the big kids.
Rise of Iron, which cannot be separated from The Dawning and whatever else Bungie has planned to keep us locked to its loot cycle, is a really strange beast. Clearly, the core team is working on Destiny 2. Clearly, this expansion wasn’t in the master plan. Clearly, Bungie is really hoping to avoid the content drought problem engendered by the startlingly locust-like nature of its most fervent players within the strictures of a pipeline that was never equipped for this bold new future.
The result is this expansion, awkwardly grafted on like a second skin: ill-fitting, shallow, unnecessary – but strangely attractive? There is so much new stuff to get! I want to get all the stuff! There’s a Record Book built right into it! And they gave us another Record Book with the first major event! And now there’s even more stuff to get! I want to get all that stuff too!
I acknowledge this is problem, and I should be better than this, but also: at its core Destiny maintains a beautifully fluid action loop few other games approach, and I am still so in love with this stupid, badly-conveyed, under-leveraged science fiction universe. I wish there were more hours in my day so I could be a proper hardcore Guardian like the big kids.
With this final round of cheating, VG247’s Game of the Year Awards come to an end. You can browse our other picks through the sidebar above.