If there’s one thing that we can be unanimously happy about in 2016, it’s that we’re celebrating a rather remarkable year in video games. Some titles that we didn’t expect to ever see the light of day have finally released, and we’ve also had some surprises that managed to take the gaming community–and even the wider public–by storm. It’s also been another year with evidence for the fact that people are playing games everywhere, now. We can’t pretend that consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One are where a majority are turning to for their gaming experiences, when Android, iOS, and PCs are getting so much attention. To make that point, we’re going to outline the 10 “best” games that you can find for PC, Android, and iPhone from 2016. When we say “best,” we’re talking about those innovative titles that people were playing and talking about for months after the were released.
Whether you’re looking to reinforce your opinions about favorite games or find something new and great to play, read on to find out which games killed it in 2016!
Ten years ago, the gaming landscape looked a lot different. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 had revolutionary new graphics to show the world. The Nintendo Wii surprised everything by taking gaming in a starkly nontraditional direction. The Nintendo 3DS (still alive and kicking!) and PlayStation Vita (alive but flailing) were out to reassure worried gamers that there was still a place for the mobile console.
Now, more people than ever are turning to their PCs for great gaming experiences. 2016 saw the public release of VR technology in the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, but neither of these new technologies proved to be affordable for the average consumer. Still, they generated plenty of buzz.
On top of that, mobile operating systems seem to be more pervasive than ever. Following that trend, more and more gaming experiences have been taking advantage of the huge user base. You’ll see a couple of the titles in this list–games that blew download and sales numbers clear out of the water, on their way to the damned moon! In spite of that, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, our current modern home consoles, are seeing some of the best gaming experiences that we’ve known in years. And in spite of the speed with which we’re pushing the performance boundary, they’re still helping to shape the direction of the industry.
Best 10 Games in 2016 – PC, iOS, & Android
Some of you might be wondering why we’re focusing exclusively on PC, iOS, and Android for this list. The truth of the matter is that we don’t have to, but it’s an interesting investigation to go on.
Investigating what? How wobbly the boundaries are between the gaming platforms that we’re enjoying, mostly. For decades, the big movers and shakers in the games industry have been the companies that control the consoles. Those times aren’t disappearing, but they are changing! Therefore, we’re going to look at the major players, who’ve been around for years (and in the case of the PC longer) in their own right!
What can we say about Pokemon Go that the game hasn’t proven for itself? Before its release, only fans of the franchise and young people who couldn’t avoid its marketing were aware of what the Pokemon games were even about.
In what seemed like an overnight coup, Pokemon Go showed up on everyone’s iPhone and Android device. People got up and moved. They ran around their cities and countrysides in search of digital creatures, only viewable through the augmented reality of the game.
Sure, naysayers will correctly say that accidents were happening that were a result of the game, but it suffices to say that people had trouble looking up from their phones long before we were using them to catch Pokemon. This game became a cultural revelation that brought together hardcore gamers and the mainstream like nothing we’ve seen in years. Even though its popularity has already begun to wane, it won’t be forgotten.
You’ll find Pokemon Go on iOS and Android. As rumors have it, you’re also going to see it on Nintendo’s forthcoming 2017 console, the Switch!
For several years, nobody knew what Overwatch was. We knew that Blizzard was working on something, maybe a shooter, that carried remnants of a scrapped MMO project. When it turned out to be a role-based team shooter in the vein of Team Fortress 2, everyone was a little bit taken aback.
The shock never had a chance to subside, either. Overwatch quickly became one of the most popular, endearing, and widely-enjoyed shooters that the game community has seen in years. Don’t be surprised to see it get top billing in many Game of the Year competitions around the world.
Most shooters tend to play best with a mouse and keyboard on a PC, but Overwatch has a pretty sizeable player base on PS4 and Xbox One, as well!
Years ago, Doom 3 seemed to indicate that the franchise responsible for energizing the first-person shooter genre could never be fully brought into the modern gaming scene. This year, under Bethesda, the new Doom shot all of that to pieces.
Much of the kinetic energy, violence, and gleeful speed of the original Doom games survived the transition to this blockbuster. It might just be singlehandedly responsible for another revitalization, as a new Quake game–similar in execution to Doom, and also having roots in the past–is also in development by Bethesda.
The best Doom experience is going to be had where Doom originated–on a PC. However, it runs and plays great on consoles, too!
Super Mario Run
40 million downloads. Four days. Sparing the part where we’re in awe about the records this clearly set, this particularly addicting little game went on to prove a point that many major franchises and faces in the gaming industry have been hesitant to make.
That face of an entire gaming company–traditionally bound to its own hardware–would somehow “cheapen the brand” if it showed up elsewhere. Well, Mario is on iOS, now, and he’s going to be showing up on Android devices before too much longer. This game doesn’t follow in the tradition of previous Super Mario games, though the aesthetic is intact. Instead, you spend time navigating Mario through familiar 2D environments in a rush to collect coins and beat high scores.
It’s a simpler Mario game in concept, but looking at the number of people currently playing it, it’s no less engrossing. As stated above, you’ll find Super Mario Run on iOS. Soon, it’ll be available on Android, as well!
No Man’s Sky
We hope that No Man’s Sky won’t purely be remembered for the press coverage that seemed to follow its release. Nor do we want No Man’s Sky to be haunted by the horrible, misinformative hype machine that preceded its release.
It’s not a particularly revolutionary game, but it’s a brilliant, fun, relaxing space exploration game from a remarkably small development studio. In No Man’s Sky, you’re a nameless traveler exploring a galaxy that truly doesn’t end. It’s connected online, and though you won’t ever run into other players, you can certainly run into planets they’ve discovered.
There’s no story. There’s no epic space warfare. Only planets full of interesting procedurally generated lifeforms and weirdly beautiful environments to explore. It’s a fantastic game to play on PC (now that it’s received a few much-needed bug fixes), and you can also find it on PS4.
Another game from a relatively smaller studio, Owlboy is a title that’s steeped in aesthetic and proudly pronounced themes. As Janine Hawkins wrote in her review of the game at Polygon, it’s a game about “clever boss fights and punishing platforming puzzles,” with an expectation throughout that the player is going to fail, probably many times.
In spite of that, it’s one of the better platformers that you’ll find on any system, and is definitely a game that you should purchase and play on your PC.
A quiet little game that released to the world without much fanfare. The gameplay itself is relatively quiet, and from start to finish, a single playthrough will only take you about three to four hours.
So, what makes it such a great game, that you should play it right now? Much of the answer to that has to do with how tightly constructed it is. The art design is haunting and gorgeous. The sound is immaculately well pleased. It’s a thematic, affecting experience, in the same ways that some literature and film can be.
However, before diving in, you should know that the tale it spins is a dark one. Not only that but it’s fairly ambiguous throughout. Those who enjoy drawing their own conclusions from what plays out in front of them will find a lot to enjoy with Inside.
You can find Inside on PC and also the PlayStation 4!
Games have struggled with the concept of narrative as it relates to “art.” Sure, some have managed to tell excellent stories, but they often succeed at the expense of other gameplay-oriented elements.
Not so with Firewatch. It’s not a particularly long journey, as the studio responsible for its development isn’t necessarily massive. But it tells a wonderful story, and the protagonist through which you experience the first-person perspective is by no means a passive “self-insert” representation for the player.
Though you can now find Firewatch on consoles, your best experience with the game is going to be on PC.
This sequel starts off in a rather interesting place, following its award-winning progenitor. In XCOM 2, you’re following a story in which you’ve lost the fight to repel an alien invasion. Thus, the role that you occupy in the sequel is largely concerned with reclaiming what’s been lost.
The series retains its focus on impactful death; when played properly, you won’t again be seeing any of the troops that fall in battle against the alien enemy (unless they’re resurrected to fight against you.) This adds a compelling narrative element to a game that’s otherwise straightforward–the loss of your characters is going to sting a little!
XCOM 2 remains one of the best turn-based strategy games that you can find on the PC.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
The Deux Ex series has quite a few games under its belt, but Mankind Divided is the very definition of what a modern, first-person RPG experience should be like. It features many of the same customization features as the other games before it have become known for, but pushes forward the series envelope with an engrossing, immersive story.
One of the things that fans have always loved about Deus Ex games has been the variety of ways that you can solve problems in them. Violence can be avoided in favor of stealth, and vice versa!
There you have it, readers! 10 of the very best games that you’re going to find on PC, iOS, or Android. Tablets, phones, computers–these are the devices that more and more people all over the world are playing their games on! If you have any questions about our selections (or have some ideas of your own) let us know in the comments, below!