Fans of the action genre had no shortage of great options to keep busy throughout 2016. The year transport us to distant fantasy worlds, pirate cities on forgotten islands, and strange post-apocalyptic futures. Explore our picks for the best action games of 2016, and share your picks in the comments below.
Best Story: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Some narratives are made richer by the concluding chapter of the arc. That’s rarely been more true than with Uncharted 4’s thoughtfully constructed plot, which not only tells a great yarn in its own right, but builds on and enriches what’s come before in the franchise. Nathan Drake must face the challenging adventure of adult responsibilities and commitment, while simultaneously juggling the expectations of his oldest familial relationships. With deft storytelling, Naughty Dog wraps up the Uncharted series with a powerful and beautiful final scene that its players will remember for a long time.
Best Character: Trico (The Last Guardian)
A subtle skill is required to make a character worthy of empathy and emotional investment, and the challenge is magnified when the character in question can’t even speak. The towering creature at the center of The Last Guardian feels like a real animal in a way no other game has managed, expressing its own moods and needs in ways that demand the player’s attention. Over hours of interaction, Trico becomes a distinct personality that is easy to love, and without falling back on tired tropes or easy narrative conveniences.
Best Setting: Dishonored 2
Arkane expands on an already believable fantasy world in this sequel, lending Emily and Corvo’s journeys a sense of lived-in history. Whether climbing through the port city buildings of Karnaca, infiltrating a madness-inducing Clockwork Mansion, or stepping over the threshold to a dark dimension to face your greatest foe, Dishonored 2 goes out of its way to immerse players in its imaginative fiction. Books communicate the sense of a broader world beyond the borders of your adventures. Wall-hanging art makes players believe that that they’re inhabiting a real culture. And conversations between NPCs frame the illusion that the world continues to revolve beyond the dangers at hand.
Next Page: Our favorite handheld action game, and the winner for best graphics.