The end of 2016 is upon us, and that means it’s time for everyone to lavish praise on the best games of the last 12 months. But what if the gaming industry is 100% garbage and doesn’t produce anything worth playing? Unfortunately, 2016 was another such year, with gamers being fed iterative shooters and blatant cash-grabs devoid of innovation.
Luckily, you have me to tell it like it is. Don’t believe all of the effusive praise about how this was a great year for gaming; all of the most successful and popular games were terrible, and I’m prepared to tell you why.
10. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine
The Witcher 3 was one of the biggest games of 2015, but everyone agreed on its one major flaw: It was too short. This expansion pack fixes that by adding more of the same stuff you did before, but Frenchier. Conclude Geralt’s epic adventures by making wine, playing cards, and hunting Le Monstérs. The new releases of 2016 must have been truly awful if people sought refuge in a barely disguised regurgitation of last year’s biggest, boringest title.
9. Uncharted 4
Naughty Dog gets a lot of praise for its characters and narrative, but that’s only because people are politely grasping for something nice to say that doesn’t call attention to the PS2-era gameplay mechanics of Uncharted 4. Like how your friends say you “grow on people” and your thoughts on potential Star Wars: Episode VIII plotlines are “very creative.” Yep, the adventures of Fake Indy, Less-Talented Lara Croft, and the two Grouchy Guys sure do “redefine video game storytelling.”
In the real world, sometimes lines form for no reason, and the weirdos standing in them don’t even know what is (or isn’t) waiting at the end. That’s the perfect analogy for Inside, because it features mindless humans in lines, and because people are clamoring to say they love it even though they can’t articulate what it’s about. Inside hints at some amorphous Big Idea that no one understands – but everyone says it’s good, and this many people can’t be wrong. Right?
7. Final Fantasy XV
How can something that took so long feel so rushed? Final Fantasy XV was in development for 10 years, but based on the variety of sidequests and coherence of the story, you’d think it was more like 10 minutes. At least it has all of the classic elements that have captivated Final Fantasy fans for ages: long car rides, action-based combat, and selfies you can share on Facebook and Twitter. The future of this franchise sure looks bright, assuming you don’t like actual RPGs.
6. Pokémon Go
This revolutionary app does what no other game can: Allows you to capture Pokémon. Well, lots of games do that, actually – but this one lets you trade them with friends! Wait…no, I’m being told it doesn’t do that. But at least you can challenge your friends to duels to test your…no, no, strike that, that’s not a thing. Sigh. Okay, here’s the bottom line: If you’re looking for a barely functional way to kind of play Pokémon and meet creeps who are way too old to be playing a kids’ game, this is the must-have app of 2016. Our cultural bar for using the word “phenomenon” has reached a new low.
5. Stardew Valley
I didn’t get far enough in Stardew Valley to critique it. I only played the weird prank-game at the very beginning. You know, the one where you go to a farm and all you do is chores day after day? Tip to indie developers: I know you think you’re smart, but don’t make people play through an obvious (and boring!) joke as some kind of meta-commentary on the “nature of play” or whatever. They’ll turn your game off (like I did) before the real thing even starts, and no one will see what you actually spent all your time creating.
4. Dark Souls III
You know, I’m not going to be too hard on this one. For the people who are really into it, the Dark Souls series occupies a space in life where something healthier (like social interactions or self-respect) should be. Let them keep their clunky controls and illusion of accomplishment; if I try to take that away, what would they even have left?
3. Kingdom Hearts III
Just kidding! This didn’t release in 2016, and let’s hope that trend continues for many years to come. Don’t we already have too much confusion in the world?
2+. Titanfall 2/Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare/Battlefield 1
I don’t know how anyone can tell the difference between these games. Playing The big shooters every year is like ordering three cheeseburgers at a restaurant. They all taste basically the same, but your server tries to tell you that they’re different because one has pepperjack, another has cheddar, and the last has some futuristic mech/space battles. Here, I can give you a free strategy guide for all of these right now: Shoot bad guys, follow a scripted A.I. who is somehow dumber than you are, drive something for a bit, then shoot more bad guys. Watch credits. Wait for next year. Repeat.
What if you made a bad Saturday morning cartoon, but the characters shot each other? That’s Overwatch, as near as I can tell. Except Blizzard doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of any special snowflakes, so it tells everyone that Overwatch is about teamwork rather individual skill. After all, when unskilled players feel bad about sucking, they stop playing – which means that they stop paying money for terrible micro-transactions. So, hey, great job everyone! You’re all winners! Nobody wins like you!
Darth Clark is an amazing and correct guest columnist and the editor-in-chief of our annual Game Infarcer feature.