Codies’ Gamer Talk: our gaming highlights of 2016
It may come as little surprise to you that here at Codemasters, we love games! And while we make great racing games, we love playing all kinds of games. So, as we get fired up for the holidays, we thought it’d be fun to take to some of our Codies developers about what they’ve been playing in 2016, and what they’re looking forward to in 2017…
Let us know in the comments if you agree, disagree, or think we missed a game out!
What were your top 3 games of 2016?
1 – Doom
Doom is back and better than ever, capturing the spirit and purity of the 1993 original and adding depth & flow that feels fresh & exciting. With a killer soundtrack that lifts the intensity whenever it kicks in, Doom brings back the fun and the adrenaline rush that’s sorely lacking in most modern first person shooters.
2 – The Witness
Its open world offers a sense of exploration & discovery that few games achieve, but where it really shines is in the integration and layering of increasingly complex puzzles mechanics that are smartly wrapped up in a philosophical ‘narrative’ that works your mind on an entirely different level.
3 – Overwatch
I admire Overwatch as much as I enjoy it. The number of smart design decisions and touches are astounding, but ultimately it’s the fun I’ve had with the game playing together with friends online that has reinvigorating my love for online competitive play. Add to that the range of heroes that keeps the game fresh every time I return, then it’s a game I’m going to be playing for a long time.
1 – Dark Souls 3
I really enjoyed other, similar games – Bloodborne, Dark Souls 2 – and equally enjoyed DS3 this year. There’s nothing quite like turning a corner and seeing some monstrosity lurch out of the darkness and leave you wondering how the hell you’re going to take it down !
2 – Stardew Valley
I’ve always loved both Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing and came to this recently on PS4 but have really enjoyed every minute so far. I actually find it quite therapeutic after a day at work – bimbling around chopping wood, growing crops and chatting with the townsfolk. A really fun, relaxing ways to pass the hours…and days…and weeks. But I can stop anytime I want….honest….
3 – Uncharted 4
Its got to be Uncharted 4 – top notch voice acting, brilliant set pieces and lots of humour. Working in the industry you also have to respect one of the best studios in the world at the top of their game producing such high quality products.
1 – Firewatch
A beautiful, compelling and intriguing game that managed to captivate me completely.
2 – Mafia III
Even though it did get a little repetitive towards the end, I loved its story-telling, its soundtrack, and its character.
3 – Overcooked
Incredibly simple yet addictive multi-player fun! And the first game I’ve been able to get my wife to play with me on the PS4. That fact alone makes it deserving of one thousand awards.
1 – Overwatch
I love everything about Overwatch. It’s an all-out assault on the senses and a complete overload of fun – and it’s stolen many nights away from me before I’ve realised the time! And even after a silly number of hours playing it I’m still finding new ways to enjoy it – learning the nuance of each character and the best tactics to get to victory for my team.
2 – Titanfall 2
The fluidity and free-running freedom you have on foot is superb, and then when you jump into a mech it takes everything up a level, providing a power-trip that I keep going back for! It’s every kind of adrenaline rush rolled into one and I love it.
3 – Forza Horizon 3
I’ve spent longer exploring the outback and pushing my limits to nail a ridiculous skill score than I have playing any of the races, but I’ve loved all of it so far – and Blizzard Mountain looks like tonne of fun, so I’m looking forward to diving into that over the holiday.
It would be easy to pick from any of the new entries to the big existing franchises, so instead I’m going with Firewatch. It’s always easy to pick through a games flaws when you haven’t sweated the blood and tears to make them, but as a studio debut I found it more compelling than the countless (albeit very well executed) “me too” titles.
As someone who loved Limbo, I was excited from the moment the trailer of Inside was released and the final game didn’t disappoint. Fantastic visuals and gameplay, it ticked all my boxes. A gem of a title.
Finally, while I’ve only just got my hands on The Last Guardian, I already know it’s going to have an emotional punch. It’s something only a handful of games have ever really pulled off, so I’ll forgive it all the camera and control niggles – as that’s not really the point.
1 – Devil Daggers
Pure gameplay, brilliant design and execution.
2 – DOOM
Plays great, sounds great, looks great! It’s pretty great!
3 – Assetto Corsa Porsche Pack
We’ve waited longer for this than we have for The Last Guardian! And it’s excellent.
First up has to be Overwatch. The FPS genre is very crowded, so to see a new franchise appear and immediately tackle the existing big-hitters straight on is always refreshing. And it can do that because of Blizzard’s well known focus on gameplay, polish and production values. I love the meta narrative stuff, but it would be for nothing if the moment-to-moment gameplay wasn’t as great as it is. Symmetra FTW!
I also really enjoyed Darkest Dungeon. Like XCOM, I got hooked by having to look after this fragile roster of characters (that I always name after my friends). What kept me playing were the stories that built up around those characters as they accumulated character traits in response to the traumas I kept subjecting them to. Great dark vibe to it, too.
I loved both of those. But in terms of what I spent the most time playing this year… Mini Metro on iOS might have to be the contender. Beautifully simple premise, an art style that’s just a great fit for the gameplay, and a fundamentally interesting challenge every time you boot it up. Any time I’m sat around doing nothing, this is the game I’ve been dragging out.
1 – Pokémon Sun/Moon
After a hand-holdy first few hours Sun and Moon really hit their stride. Improvements to core systems across the board mean for the first time in years, Pokémon feels new again.
2 – The Last Guardian
It’s like no other game I’ve ever played. A refreshing change of pace from quests and inventory tracking and even manages to re-invent the AI companion mechanic. Believe the hype.
3 – Destiny Rise of Iron
Forget what I literally just said about quests and inventory tracking. ;) I’ve clocked up 1500 hours since Destiny first came out and RoI is doing nothing to curb my addiction. Loads of fun playing the new Raid and PVP with the RallyRound clan.
What was your best gaming highlight of 2016?
The release of PlayStation VR was the highlight of 2016 for me. This affordable hardware offers a new way to engage with gaming; with genuinely innovative and impressive titles at launch games that at times blew me away. VR might still be in its infancy, but you can see already how it’s going to influence the entire industry in the future.
I’ve really enjoyed seeing VR make its way to console. Batman Arkham VR was really immersive and I’ve also had some irreverent fun with Job Simulator. Its amazing to think most of us started in this industry when the C64 was the latest hotness and now we’re strapping screens to our faces and being truly immersed in worlds. Makes you really wonder what kind of crazy stuff we’ll be subjecting ourselves to in another decade or two ?
The phenomenon that was Pokémon Go. It made gaming so accessible to so many, and I’ve seen it act as a gateway to people getting more heavily involved with mobile/console gaming. At one point, everyone I knew was playing it – even my mum – and that’s pretty special.
I introduced my two young daughters to Journey this year and let them play – and their awe and amazement as they discovered wonderful new places absolutely blew me away. And we’ve spent hours replaying the beautiful downhill sand-surfing level, trying to one-up eachother by counting how many gates we can weave through!
Not so much a highlight, but more a surprise… I think there were a lot of people expecting VR to explode into life in 2016, and that’s not really happened yet. There is a lot of great stuff out there, and not just in games, so it’s more matter of when than if.
Same as every year. Beating my son at PES ;D
It’s actually a bit of a throwback. I spent a good few years playing World of WarCraft back in the day, but gave it up back during Cataclysm. Got bored, and although I poked my head in each time an expansion came out, just to see what had changed, I never thought I’d go back and play it properly again. But my wife bought me Legion for my birthday, and god help me if it doesn’t feel every bit as good as WoW did back during TBC and WotLK. So this year’s big moment? Finishing the Suramar questline and completing my Legion Pathfinder pt 1 achievement!
After waiting almost a decade, finally meeting Trico.
What are you looking forward to in 2017?
Zelda titles rarely disappoint, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild looks like another exciting entry to the series that looks to take things in a slightly new direction, and on a much bigger scale. With clear influences from Monster Hunter and a new open world dynamic, it’ll be interesting to see how that gels with the traditional Zelda design.
I defy anyone in the industry to not be excited when Nintendo announce they are releasing a new console, a new Zelda game and potentially a new Mario title for 2017 ! Can’t wait !
In a word: Switch! And addition to Nintendo’s latest console offering, I’m very excited to play the new Crackdown game. It. Looks. Incredible.
I can’t wait to play Mario Kart and my first Zelda(!!) on Switch!! And I’m desperate to see more of Death Stranding and maybe somehow get behind the wheel of a Cruis’n Blast arcade cab!
As a Nintendo fan boy, it’s impossible for me to look past Zelda.
Animal Crossing on Switch, of course.
Mass Effect 2 is probably in my top 5 games of all time, so it has to be Mass Effect: Andromeda. There’s nothing else like the Mass Effect franchise, which is weird to me – in my head it’s THE archetypal sci-fi universe. From the ideas, to the music, to the story – this is all the stuff I love to eat and breathe. But only Mass Effect has brought it together like this into a complete package. And I can’t wait to see where they’re going to take it next.
So many amazing games coming up next year but a new Zelda on a new Nintendo console will always be top of the list.
Final thoughts for 2016?
2016 has been a wonderful year for gaming, with a plethora of amazing titles across a broad range of genres that has left me struggling to keep up. The quality bar just keeps on rising. the variety of experiences continues to broaden and the innovation seen continues to surprise me. Here’s to another year of fun and creativity in 2017!
It s been so hard to pick a favourite this year with such good quality titles on console and mobile – notable mentions have to go to Solitarica and Crashlands on mobile too.
I’m sure it feels like this every year but what a time to be a gamer ! New consoles were released, Mario and Pokemon came to mobile, VR hit the mainstream and some really great titles continued to delight. So many games, so little time…
The year Nintendo put a game on mobile and it’s actually GOOD?! Mario Run is £8 well spent. :D
… And that’s it from us! Congratulations if you’ve made it to the end of this article – that’s a mighty good effort! And thanks to everyone who’s been with us for an awesome 2016 – we can’t wait to show you what we have up our sleeves for next year. We’ll see you back here on the blog to keep you updated. ;)
Team Codemasters x