Best Games of 2016: The best video gaming surprises of the year

Best Games of 2016: The best video gaming surprises of the year
Source: Bethesda
Source: Bethesda

In the world of video games, 2016 was a year of wishes fulfilled. We got Final Fantasy XV. We got The Last Guardian. After two decades, we finally got a proper follow-up to the classic Doom games.

Not only did we get all of those games that people had been clamoring for, but all of them were good! Here are all of the games that shocked us with their greatness in 2016.

Doom

Facing down demons with a double-barreled shotgun in 'Doom.'
Source: Bethesda

At the risk of starting the show with a show stopper, Doom overcame significant odds and gigantic expectations to become possibly the best video game of 2016. 

2004's Doom 3 took the classic shooter series in a direction plenty of fans didn't vibe with, leaving many of us to wonder if the demon shooting extravaganzas of days yore had any future in video games. Those questions continued when leaks from the original Doom 4 suggested a grittier, more realistic (read: less fun) take on Doom.

None of that mattered when Doom came out earlier this year and blew everyone's minds with its extreme pace, incredible gunplay and ripping metal soundtrack. There arguably wasn't a more fun video game experience this year than playing as a speechless demigod who lives to shoot demons and punch computers.

The Titanfall 2 campaign

BT-7274 and Jack Cooper travel together in 'Titanfall 2.'
Source: Respawn Entertainment

It's not remotely shocking that the multiplayer action in Titanfall 2 is a barrel of wall-running, robot-exploding fun. After all, the multiplayer in the original Titanfall was excellent.

However, the original game didn't really have a single-player campaign. There was no reason to believe the sequel could exceed our standards for shooter campaigns, but it did just that. Titanfall 2 is at punching weight with Doom for single-player shooter experiences because of its creativity and surprising emotional heft.

As rifleman Jack Cooper and his mech BT-7274 make their way through alien worlds, the game makes great use of its unique mechanics like wall-running in its level design. Without spoiling too much, the mission "Effect and Cause" blew our minds in ways that other shooter campaigns usually don't. 

The Battlefield 1 campaign

The Bedouin character from the 'Battlefield 1' single player campaign.
Source: DICE

Along similar lines to Titanfall 2, there was no real expectation for the Battlefield 1 single-player campaign to be special. The Battlefield series is a long-running multiplayer juggernaut, with the solitary side of things usually being an afterthought.

It came with great surprise and delight that the single-player stories of Battlefield 1 approached the touchy subject of World War I with grace and sensitivity that you don't normally see out of big budget games like this. It offered several different small stories set in different parts of the war, including one where you play as a Bedouin woman, a rare sight in video games.

The addition of stealth sequences added unexpected variety to an already varied set of campaigns. If you want to see a fairly grounded take on war in a video game, Battlefield 1 is the way to go in 2016.

Final Fantasy XV

Noctis aiming for the horns in 'Final Fantasy XV.'
Source: Square Enix

After a lengthy, rocky road that started in 2006 with a different title, we finally got Final Fantasy XV in 2016 and it ended up being pretty darn good. There isn't much more to say about it, honestly.

But seriously, it's such a pleasant surprise that a game that was in development for so long in a franchise with such lofty expectations ended up being worth the wait.

The Last Guardian

Trico and his boy companion in 'The Last Guardian.'
Source: PlayStation

The Last Guardian is similar to Final Fantasy XV in this regard. Originally announced in 2009 as the next game from the creators of classics like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, the game went dark for several years after that. It was even (falsely) reported to be canceled at one point!

When it finally came out this year and turned out to be good (according to reviews), we breathed a sigh of relief. It goes to show that, in the world of video game development, sometimes perseverance does pay off. It also shows that, for players, sometimes waiting is worth it in the end.

The best of 2016 in tech and gaming

Hungry for more end-of-year lists? Check out our favorite underrated video games, the best new video game characters of 2016, the best indie games of 2016, the best video game voice acting performances, the best apps of the year and the biggest technological breakthroughs of 2016.