We’re halfway through the year, and the video games we’ve seen coming out have been above the standard for most spring releases. Already, 2016 is shaping up to have a lot longer lasting impact on gamers than the forgettable lineup of 2015 did, and a solid foundation in the first six months is only going to help the towering releases of the fall and holidays be more prominent in years of come.
Just a quick question for our gaming editors, and then our readers for the comment section below. What’s been your favorite game so far in 2016?
Overwatch – PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
This choice was automatic for me. My nights, my weekends, my lunch breaks? They’re all packed with Overwatch. I can’t stop playing this game, and the just-released competitive mode has added a little extra spice to the already stupidly delicious package.
Overwatch is a team shooter that beautifully blends heroes, objectives, abilities and feeling like an actually good contribution to your team together into a ridiculously well polished package. It’s tight, matches feel fantastic and the community is really good so far.
Thanks largely to the fact that it’s a Blizzard game, Overwatch managed to gather overnight success. I’m playing this game with buddies from college who I haven’t seen online in nearly a decade. They picked it because of the developer behind it, and they all love it just as much as I do.
Now, excuse me, I have points to capture, Reaper to be edgy with and Plays of the Game to ridicule.
The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine – PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt came out last spring, so the eligibility for Blood and Wine is a bit weird. The expansion, though, can be played entirely separately from the main game. It’s a separate story in a separate area. It’s more like a mini-sequel than it is an expansion.
While some games surprised more than Blood and Wine, none left the impression that it did.
Blood and Wine was a goodbye and a homecoming for the series. Many monsters from the first Witcher game were re-imagined by CD Projekt Red and given new life. A fan-favorite character from the books appears in the games for the first time.
Blood and Wine is a love letter to long-time fans of Geralt and his adventures. If you’ve stuck with the series this far, you’ll get a ton out of Blood and Wine that new fans would miss.
But it’s not re-treading old ground, either. This is a fresh story in a fresh land. Gone are the dark, chilly roads of Velen, replaced with bright, grassy hills, sparkling brooks, and shady forests. There’s even a bit of fairytale in there. It looks less like the ugly medieval world we’ve become used to and more like the fantastical ones from the illustrations in children’s books.
It tells an engaging story of love and betrayal, revenge layered upon revenge. But also of reunions, old friends, and family. The sensation I felt as I finished Blood and Wine was one of bittersweet melancholy. I can replay Witcher 3 again, and even make different choices, but this is the last of Geralt’s new adventures. It’s the end of a 9-year chapter not just for developer CD Projekt Red, but for me as well. Instead of cheaping out with some forgettable DLC, the developer is going out on a high note in a series of high notes.
I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.
Stardew Valley – PC
All year, I’ve been craving green hills, blue skies, and a much simpler life, not to mention that wonderful 16-bit retro style. Perhaps it is a sign of my adult life wanting to go back to being a carefree young tyke in the early 90s, but Stardew Valley has been scratching that retro itch unlike anything else in recent memory.
I love the music. I love the connections made with other townsfolk. I love the time management aspect and being forced to decide what I want to do for the day. I love the setting, the aesthetic, and just the general atmosphere of the game.
My brain has become so tired of mindless killing in video games that I barely even play shooters anymore. Darkest Dungeon was another early front runner that came out at about the same time, but I’m not in the right mindset for such a game these days.
Stardew Valley was there to pick me up when I realized this.
I just want to relax, kick back, and dig up some vegetables. Slaying a slime or a bat isn’t so bad, just as long as it ultimately benefits my countryside social life.