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9 Must-Play Video Games We Couldn't Put Down In 2016

We'll probably be talking about them next year too, tbh.

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The BuzzFeed staff is always testing out new games, consoles, and apps, and we decided it was time to start sharing the best of them with you. Here are some of the games we obsessively talked about at the office this year. Unless otherwise noted, all games were bought with our own money and were not the result of a PR pitch.
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The BuzzFeed staff is always testing out new games, consoles, and apps, and we decided it was time to start sharing the best of them with you. Here are some of the games we obsessively talked about at the office this year. Unless otherwise noted, all games were bought with our own money and were not the result of a PR pitch.

1. Pokémon Moon, available on Nintendo 3DS

The Pokémon Company / Kaye Toal

I hecking love Pokémon, you guys. As a kid, I had a binder full of cards that I would pretend were real monsters and go on fake adventures with. You can imagine my delight when I played Pokémon Gold for the first time in 1999. The thing about the old Pokémon games, though, is that they became a little rote with time — the basic structure was a good structure, but I pretty much always made them a more vibrant experience for myself through ~sheer imagination~. I named all of my core team (Tegan the Umbreon 4 lyfe) and was extremely attached to them, for instance. I loved feeling like they were my little fictional protector friends.

So it feels a little like Moon was tailor-made for me — I love the new setup, with islands and challenges and a super elaborate story, and most of all, I love the role that attachment and affection plays in the game. You are a better trainer if your Pokémon love you. It’s more like an RPG in general, which makes it easy to get lost and lose hours in, and the new Pokémon and kahuna systems are interesting and more fun than just doing battle after battle. I was excited all year for Moon, and it did not let me down. AND NOW ME AND THIS DIRT-CLYDESDALE ARE BEST FRIENDS FOREVER. Her name is Windfola, motherfucker!!!

Kaye Toal

Get it on Nintendo 3DS for $39.99.

2. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, available on Playstation 4

YOU WANT EXPLOSIONS? THIS GAME'S GOT IT. YOU WANT PIRATE TREASURE? THIS GAME'S GOT IT. YOU WANT A JEEP? TOO BA— OH WAIT, THIS GAME'S GOT IT TOO. WE’RE TALKIN’ ABOUT UNCHARTED HERE — THE RIP-ROARING-EST, ANTI-SNORING-EST THIRD-PERSON SHOOTER ON THE MARKET. NATHAN DRAKE AND ALL THE OTHER CHARACTERS WHOSE NAMES I CAN'T REMEMBER ARE BACK AND DAMN ARE THEY READY TO DESTROY SOME PRICELESS ARTIFACTS. THIS GAME IS PURE ENTERTAINMENT. IT’S A WORK OF ART. IT’S LIKE IT WAS SYNTHESIZED IN A LAB BY TOP RESEARCHERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF I’M GONNA SHIT MY PANTS. ALSO GUESS WHAT? THIS GAME’S GOT A WINCH. YOU EVER PLAY A GAME WITH A WINCH? HAVE YO— UH OH TIME’S UP NO YOU HAVEN’T. SERIOUSLY THOUGH — THE CAMPAIGN IS OFF THE HOOK AND IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY FRIENDS BECAUSE YOU STILL CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO TURN OFF CAPS LOCK THEN GRAB A CONTROLLER AND “DRAKE” YOUR MONEY-MAKER (COPYRIGHT ME 2016).—DAVE STOPERAGET IT NOW ON PS4 FOR $59.99.
Naughty Dog

YOU WANT EXPLOSIONS? THIS GAME'S GOT IT. YOU WANT PIRATE TREASURE? THIS GAME'S GOT IT. YOU WANT A JEEP? TOO BA— OH WAIT, THIS GAME'S GOT IT TOO. WE’RE TALKIN’ ABOUT UNCHARTED HERE — THE RIP-ROARING-EST, ANTI-SNORING-EST THIRD-PERSON SHOOTER ON THE MARKET. NATHAN DRAKE AND ALL THE OTHER CHARACTERS WHOSE NAMES I CAN'T REMEMBER ARE BACK AND DAMN ARE THEY READY TO DESTROY SOME PRICELESS ARTIFACTS. THIS GAME IS PURE ENTERTAINMENT. IT’S A WORK OF ART. IT’S LIKE IT WAS SYNTHESIZED IN A LAB BY TOP RESEARCHERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF I’M GONNA SHIT MY PANTS. ALSO GUESS WHAT? THIS GAME’S GOT A WINCH. YOU EVER PLAY A GAME WITH A WINCH? HAVE YO— UH OH TIME’S UP NO YOU HAVEN’T. SERIOUSLY THOUGH — THE CAMPAIGN IS OFF THE HOOK AND IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY FRIENDS BECAUSE YOU STILL CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO TURN OFF CAPS LOCK THEN GRAB A CONTROLLER AND “DRAKE” YOUR MONEY-MAKER (COPYRIGHT ME 2016).

DAVE STOPERA

GET IT NOW ON PS4 FOR $59.99.

3. Google Earth, available for HTC Vive

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

My boyfriend and I wanted to get a virtual reality system for a number of reasons: We thought we’d make some art in Tiltbrush, maybe try out some new games like Rec Room and Job Simulator, or even play some real-life Minecraft. But the HTC Vive game that surprised me most was Google Earth. I've messed around with the browser version in the past, checking out the houses I've lived in, trying to find landmarks — but there's something very different (and surprisingly emotional!) about doing it in VR. I was able to find the town where my aunt and uncle live in Greece, my boyfriend was able to find his father’s house in France, and it actually felt familiar and meaningful.

There are tours that bring you through all kinds of major landmarks. I know it sounds cheesy, but I found myself getting genuinely choked up at just how beautiful the planet is. You can walk around cities like a giant, yet I felt very small and aware of how connected everything is. You can switch between an overhead view and a tilted view where you can zoom in between mountains and skyscrapers — and you can move the position of the sun in the sky to see how things look during all times of day. I highly recommend playing with friends so you can share the all places you hold close to your heart with each other.

Maritsa Patrinos

Get it for free in the Steam store. The HTC Vive is available now for $799.

4. Stardew Valley, available on Steam, GOG, PS4, and Xbox One

Concerned Ape

My favorite game of 2016, hands down, is the indie gaming masterpiece that is Stardew Valley. The premise of Stardew Valley is simple: You, an overworked and jaded office peon, inherit a farm from your beloved grandfather, say "peace out" to the corporate world, and move to the country to become the best farmer you can be.

It sounds simple, but once you start, you realize just how big this world is. It's not just farming and raising animals — there are magical creatures afoot, dungeons to explore, monsters to fight, neighbors to befriend (and marry, if you want). Stardew Valley is very similar to Harvest Moon, but with WAY more to do. To call this game's aesthetic ridiculously soothing is an understatement — I can't tell you how many times I've looked up from my screen and realized that hours have gone by without my notice.

Sometimes, when the world is on fire, you just need to retreat to your own little farm, where you control everything and everything is exactly as you want it. That's Stardew Valley.

Ellie Hall

Get it for $14.99 on Steam, GOG, PS4, and Xbox One.

5. Firewatch, available on Steam, PS4, or Xbox One

Campo Santo / Via steamcommunity.com

Firewatch is a tough game. And when I say tough, I don’t mean that it's difficult to play — I mean that it’s emotionally devastating. And when I say that it’s a game, what I actually mean is that it’s an interactive movie with some light decision-making moments that guide the story along. But despite being easy and not a game, it was one of my favorite games of 2016, one of the most trying stories I went through this year, and one of the prettiest games I’ve ever played.

Campo Santo

The story of Firewatch (and keep in mind that it’s pretty much JUST story) follows a fire lookout named Henry as he spends the summer of 1989 in the Rocky Mountains, keeping an eye on a patch of land from his little watchtower. Henry sought a minimum-wage job after his wife was diagnosed with early-onset dementia, hoping that being alone in the woods would help him escape his problems. Suffice to say, it doesn’t at all. Henry’s story is tragic and compelling and even though I played through the whole game in under five hours, it’s still a game I think about months later.

Tanner Greenring

Get it for $19.99 on Steam, PS4, or Xbox One.

6. Doom, available on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One

In tracing my gaming obsession to its source, Doom (1993) has to be the title that kicked off my love for first-person shooters. Until then, I don’t think I had ever played a game like that — weapon centered to the screen as if I was actually walking fearlessly through the gates of hell. But to be honest, that game scared the living shit out of me. It was a title I wasn’t allowed to play while my mother was around, an act that would surely guarantee a firm “How could I subject my young, impressionable mind to such heinous carnage?” lecture. In hindsight, she was probably right, but when I could steal an hour or so alone with the game, I was instantly transformed into the only demon-slaying hotshot standing between an army of the dead and total human annihilation.
Bethesda Softworks

In tracing my gaming obsession to its source, Doom (1993) has to be the title that kicked off my love for first-person shooters. Until then, I don’t think I had ever played a game like that — weapon centered to the screen as if I was actually walking fearlessly through the gates of hell. But to be honest, that game scared the living shit out of me. It was a title I wasn’t allowed to play while my mother was around, an act that would surely guarantee a firm “How could I subject my young, impressionable mind to such heinous carnage?” lecture. In hindsight, she was probably right, but when I could steal an hour or so alone with the game, I was instantly transformed into the only demon-slaying hotshot standing between an army of the dead and total human annihilation.

When it was announced that Doom was making its grand return in 2016, I was skeptical of how a 23-year-old game could somehow compete for my screen time against newer franchises like Call of Duty. Needless to say, Doom (2016) surpassed my expectations of revitalizing the title and completely expanded the horizon of what first-person shooters are capable of. Everything that I love about the original Doom is there — the carnage, the horror, the fluid action and vertigo-inducing platforming. But there are also the other things that come with a modern shooter: extraordinary graphics and lighting, an engaging storyline heavy with science and technology, and of course, a new combat feature too gnarly to even describe — “Glory Kills.” The new Doom is a perfect storm of a game that celebrates its nostalgia while avoiding the trap of becoming so consumed by its own history that it fails to offer any new experiences. It’s safe to say that in 2016, Doom brought me back to my childhood and had me looking forward to what comes next.

Gabriel H. Sanchez

Game was provided free of charge to BuzzFeed by Bethesda Softworks.

Get it for $59.99 on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.

7. Overwatch, available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One

The future is going to be a hopeless, dark place. That’s been drilled into my head by the many, MANY dystopian TV shows and books I’ve consumed since I first got hooked on the genre back in high school. But one thing I never considered was that, even after disaster, the future can hold hope.

Blizzard

That’s the backdrop of Overwatch, the colorful squad-based team game released by Blizzard this year. Don’t be mistaken — the game has no story mode to speak of. It’s exclusively multiplayer. However, Blizzard released a series of Pixar-influenced shorts detailing some of the backstory and the lore is brilliantly peppered throughout the game in the form of dialogue.

TL;DR: A now-defunct team called Overwatch ended an AI/human war and are now being called on again to bring hope back to a desperate world. There are a few edgy, bitter humans in the cast (Reaper and Widowmaker), but for the most part, the incredibly designed cast is populated with these hopeful men, women, and animals (a gorilla, actually) from around the world who say things like, "Our world is worth fighting for!" even though they've faced certain death before. It's strangely inspiring.

The other remarkable thing about my love for Overwatch is that, in its bones, it’s a first-person shooter. I HATE first-person shooters. I hate the guns. I hate the kill counts. I hate the macho culture around it. Overwatch has some of those things, but what makes the game special is that each one of those charming characters incentivizes a different style of play. Sure, you can play the grizzled old commando, femme fatale sniper, or the Egyptian Gundam lady with a rocket launcher. But there are ALSO characters, like old-timey German knight Reinhardt, who literally only exist to be a SHIELD to protect their teammates. Instead of competing to get the most kills, you may pride yourself on the most heals, the most freezes with Mei, or the most defensive plays around the objective. Playing Overwatch with my buddies and figuring out how to best support each other… well, it gives me hope for the future (of FPS's).

Ahmed Ali Akbar

Get it from battle.net on PS4, Xbox One, or PC for $39.99 now (down from $59.99!).

8. Hitman, available on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One

Hitman, the self-titled, newest installment of the franchise, is easily the best in the series and affords players an unprecedented amount of autonomy. If the game’s serial release turned you off, where six “episodes” were dropped roughly a month and half apart between March and October, I’d recommend giving it a second look now that it’s all said and done. Each Season 1 episode (which I’d sooner refer to as a fairly sizable map) is incredibly rich and in-depth, packed full of creative traps to set, easter eggs to discover, disguises to don, and more ways to complete each mission than you’re likely to find. My game took an exciting turn when I stumbled across a “cannabis joint” in the bustling coastal town of Sapienza, Italy. Sadly, Agent 47 can't smoke it himself. He can, however, do the next best thing: Slip it into a pesky sentry's cigarette pack and watch them accidentally smoke the entire thing and pass out — poor bastard.—Andrew ZieglerGet it for $59.99 on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One
Square Enix

Hitman, the self-titled, newest installment of the franchise, is easily the best in the series and affords players an unprecedented amount of autonomy. If the game’s serial release turned you off, where six “episodes” were dropped roughly a month and half apart between March and October, I’d recommend giving it a second look now that it’s all said and done. Each Season 1 episode (which I’d sooner refer to as a fairly sizable map) is incredibly rich and in-depth, packed full of creative traps to set, easter eggs to discover, disguises to don, and more ways to complete each mission than you’re likely to find.

My game took an exciting turn when I stumbled across a “cannabis joint” in the bustling coastal town of Sapienza, Italy. Sadly, Agent 47 can't smoke it himself. He can, however, do the next best thing: Slip it into a pesky sentry's cigarette pack and watch them accidentally smoke the entire thing and pass out — poor bastard.

Andrew Ziegler

Get it for $59.99 on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One

9. The Witness, available on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One

I love fucking difficult puzzles, in all forms. The struggle to find a solution. The frustration as you slowly lose your mind to a puzzle that you’re sure should just work, goddamnit. The epiphany when you realize the solution was something really simple, and you should’ve known better. I’m probably not selling anyone on this experience, but growing up, brainy adventure games like Myst were what I remember spending most of my time playing. If 2016 has given us anything good, it’s The Witness, a new game in that genre. I played alongside my dad, who has a much more analytical mind than I, and together we explored this open-world island full of odd contraptions, natural wonder, and of course, fucking hard puzzles. Together, we have played through many an adventure game, but The Witness brings the entire genre to a whole new level.The Witness is a game that has taken the brutal difficulty of adventure games and has somehow managed to make it even more diabolical than any other game I’ve played before. It drives me insane, but in a good way! Nearly all the puzzles in the game are based around this grid-maze where the goal is to draw a line from point A to point B. But the conditions keep changing on how the maze must be drawn/solved. While this sounds like it would get old after a while, it felt pretty fresh every time I sat down to solve a new one. The clever design of the puzzles always clues you in on what the solution is; you just have to be receptive enough. I could go on about how beautiful this game looks. The saturated colors, clean design, and dreamlike landscapes are worth the $40 alone. But that’s not what really gets me about this game. The Witness has these jaw-dropping moments that I feel so very few games have these days. Moments where you step away from the computer to stand up and grasp your hair in shock. These epiphanies and moments of discovery hit hard when playing The Witness and you would be hard pressed to find another game that reaches the same level of “NO. FUCKING. WAY.” If you love a challenge, pick it up — you won’t regret it.—Jeff BarronGet it for $39.99 on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.
Thekla Inc. / Via the-witness.net

I love fucking difficult puzzles, in all forms. The struggle to find a solution. The frustration as you slowly lose your mind to a puzzle that you’re sure should just work, goddamnit. The epiphany when you realize the solution was something really simple, and you should’ve known better. I’m probably not selling anyone on this experience, but growing up, brainy adventure games like Myst were what I remember spending most of my time playing. If 2016 has given us anything good, it’s The Witness, a new game in that genre. I played alongside my dad, who has a much more analytical mind than I, and together we explored this open-world island full of odd contraptions, natural wonder, and of course, fucking hard puzzles. Together, we have played through many an adventure game, but The Witness brings the entire genre to a whole new level.


The Witness
is a game that has taken the brutal difficulty of adventure games and has somehow managed to make it even more diabolical than any other game I’ve played before. It drives me insane, but in a good way! Nearly all the puzzles in the game are based around this grid-maze where the goal is to draw a line from point A to point B. But the conditions keep changing on how the maze must be drawn/solved. While this sounds like it would get old after a while, it felt pretty fresh every time I sat down to solve a new one. The clever design of the puzzles always clues you in on what the solution is; you just have to be receptive enough.

I could go on about how beautiful this game looks. The saturated colors, clean design, and dreamlike landscapes are worth the $40 alone. But that’s not what really gets me about this game. The Witness has these jaw-dropping moments that I feel so very few games have these days. Moments where you step away from the computer to stand up and grasp your hair in shock. These epiphanies and moments of discovery hit hard when playing The Witness and you would be hard pressed to find another game that reaches the same level of “NO. FUCKING. WAY.” If you love a challenge, pick it up — you won’t regret it.

Jeff Barron

Get it for $39.99 on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.

Thekla Inc. / Via youtube.com

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