Like last years tally, I’ve decided to pick some major outlets, and tally up which games racked up the most number one slots for Game of the Year. Last year The Witcher 3 handily took the throne. This year, I picked out more publications to get a better sample size, although the landslide still occurred…
Despite being another entry in the multiplayer shooter space, Overwatch becomes something different every time you play it. One match is a battle of attrition. Another is an unstoppable assault. Another is a tug of war between staunch defenders and vigilant assailants. You can snipe from the balconies of a Japanese rotunda or defend your team with energy orbs as you invade the frozen climes of a Russian factory. Overwatch is a shooter that contains a multitude of smaller shooters within its hectic sphere.
Were there better total packages this year? Definitely. (Hat tip to Titanfall 2.) But there wasn’t a better shooter campaign this year. Doom had the audacity to reject years of common wisdom, decades of increased expectations and generations of first-person brinksmanship to reach back to the beginning, to reintroduce the shooter that started it all.
Game Informer: Overwatch
What can we say about Overwatch that we haven’t said before? Seriously: The office’s love of Overwatch has spawned countless features, from humor pieces about our obsession, to conversations, to in-depth impressions and suggestions and strategies. Virtually everyone at G.I. has a favorite character and plays on a regular basis, making it an easy call for 2016’s Game of the Year award.
Such breezy fun atop plunging depth. A game talking by doing, prospering with limited maps because the simple joy and variation of playing is near limitless. A game that had me literally on my feet, punching the air. It’s a rare game that captivates so many people at Eurogamer but here we are, months later, still playing, still bubbling with excitement at every update, even every incremental change.
It’s in the craftsmanship, from the pow-pow of a gun to the cheek of an incidental voice line; it’s in the approachability but also the competition; it’s in the characters. Overwatch is uniquely Blizzard. It is superb.
PC Gamer: Dishonored 2
Gamesradar: Titanfall 2
For starters there’s nothing dumb about the core shooting here, which is slick and quick as anything you’ve played this generation. Being able to triple wall-run down a corridor, while lobbing a grenade at a bunch of enemies and headshotting another, before touching down, knee-sliding under a low-beam, shotgunning another couple of baddos, then leaping into your titan is… look, it just feels really, really good. When you’re flowing through Titanfall 2 and you start to chain together your moves it’s an incredible sensation.
But I think part of the reason it blew up is because Blizzard, after being satiated for so long with the StarCraft/Diablo/Warcraft universe, took a risk, and went all in on that gamble. It launched a whole new world of peanut butter loving gorillas and time-traveling pilots, believed in it, then closed its eyes and hoped that people bought into it. It was the first true new Blizzard IP in 20 years.
Giant Bomb: Hitman
A good business model doesn’t mean much if we didn’t have fun playing the game. Thankfully, Hitman excels in all of the areas that the series has done right in the past. Everything just feels better this time, as well. Its controls and mechanics aren’t perfect and missions sometimes involve the occasional bug, but it’s a smoother experience overall than its ever been before. Possibilities seem endless thanks to the wide variety of outfits and implements of assassination. The amount of trouble you can get into is truly impressive, as is the way the game allows you to miraculously slip away from it all if you play your cards right.
Overwatch wins our game of the year because it shows us that after all this time, Blizzard still has a few tricks up its sleeve. It shows us that multiplayer-only titles are okay as long as they pack enough value. It shows us that games are more fun when they don’t take themselves so seriously. And finally, it shows us that frantic 6v6 combat with a cast of colorful, unique and incredibly well-balanced characters is hella fun.
Golden Joystick: Overwatch
TIME: The Witness
The island is beautiful but oblique, sublime yet functionally inscrutable. Glowing screens with maze-like grids are everywhere, connective cables snake through sun-dappled underbrush or down into cavernous passages. All of it leads players to ever-more bizarre, seemingly impenetrable line puzzles. It’s weird and gorgeous and categorically defiant, a glorious repository of sublime mysteries and revelations.
Metacritic: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Overwatch is an incredible achievement in multiplayer shooter design. It bobs and weaves almost perfectly between being the quick-fix adrenaline hit you might want after a long day of work, and the thoughtful, strategic multiplayer experience that becomes the center of evening-long binges with friends. It might not have the most exhaustive list of maps and modes, but it provides nearly endless opportunities for exhilarating, coordinated play, and when you’re the one at the center of it, it feels like nothing else.
The Game Awards: Overwatch
The Guardian: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Meanwhile, we also get everything we want from a lavish big-budget game: astonishing visuals, imaginative locations and some truly thrilling set pieces – the Madagascan marketplace scene is a classic. Even if you don’t fall for the love story, you’ll fall for the well-paced, well-engineered action – and if the ending doesn’t get you right in the gut, you’re not human.
It’s an understatement to say that Blizzard has developed a well-established and well-earned reputation for making quality games over its history. The developer’s first ever entry in the shooter genre does nothing to diminish that reputation, and in fact greatly adds to Blizzard’s legendary stature within the gaming industry. Overwatch is an amalgamation of everything gamers have come to expect from Blizzard: memorable characters, polished gameplay, and the ubiquitous Blizzard charm that is in the DNA of past games like World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Diablo, and Starcraft.
Now to just tally up the results:
- Overwatch (9)
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (2)
- The Witness (1)
- Hitman (1)
- Titanfall 2 (1)
- Dishonored 2 (1)
- Doom (1)
This year it was a clear landslide for Overwatch. Critics raved about Blizzard’s newest shooter, which is on nearly every current gen platform, and receives continuous updates.
While Uncharted 4 and Doom did not get that many first place votes, throughout the survey, both titles consistently were in 2nd and 3rd place. Further, Uncharted 4 was far and away the top title of PS4 Exclusive lists. So while it appears Overwatch was universally loved, Uncharted (and Doom) received a lot of secondary love.
There you have it, the 2016 Best of the Best Award goes to Overwatch.