Personal Top 9 of 2016

I have seen several people and gaming sites make their “top x games of 2016” and when wondering which games I would put on my list, I thought: “Oh well, why not publish it here?” Maybe you’re already sick of seeing these lists, but stay with me for a bit longer… my list is a very subjective one, so it’s certainly not what most of the other top 10 lists have. In fact, I did not choose “the best games” to put on this list, but instead chose the top 9 of games I enjoyed playing in the last year. Not all games were released even in 2016. There are just some games that I enjoyed playing so much that I decided they had to be put on this list, but all at least added something new in 2016!

I’ll start with my top 5 games that – some way or another – released in 2016.

Number 5: Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter (Release Date: June 10, 2016)

Sherlock Holmes Devil's Daughter

This game could have gotten even higher on my list, but there were a few things I did not like, so it only ended up as my number 5. I bought “The Devil’s Daughter” on sale for 18 €. I finished the complete game within 16 hours according to Steam. I found all the clues for each case and usually spent quite some time considering how to put the clues together. 16 hours is an incredibly short game if you ask me, especially as it has no replay value. There are no clues left to find, so there is nothing else to explore. Playing the game again would not add anything new at all. There are only the story missions, no side-quests or anything else. At the same time, some of the puzzles annoyed me. One mission (no spoilers, don’t worry) was much too action-y considering it was all Sherlock imagining something and it seemed like one big sequence of action-puzzle after action-puzzle. I, however, prefer solving the cases! Taking both these things together: A too short game and parts focusing on things that had nothing to do with actually solving a case is the reason it does not get placed any higher. The game that is actually there, however, is good. So don’t get me wrong! I really enjoyed this game altogether which is why it is on my top 9 list. And for 18 €, it’s a good deal (not for its regular price, though, which is 45 €)!

Number 4: Project Highrise (Release Date: September 8, 2016)

Project Highrise focus on restaurants

Project Highrise is a game that I had not noticed at all until it got released. Their publisher is “Kasedo Games” which somehow belongs to Kalypso, one of the few publishers whose newsletter I subscribed to. I have been following Kalypso mostly for news about the upcoming title “Urban Empire” and simply could not memorize that game’s name properly. No idea why, but there you go. And for some reason my mind confused “Urban Empire” with “Project Highrise” – both titles have two words, you see? Anyway, I did notice the difference between these two games, as they both look completely different. ;) I am usually not the one to say this, but I do not like Project Highrise’s graphics too much. Other than that, it’s a fun “city”-builder – only that you have a skyscraper that you fill with apartments, supermarkets, offices, restaurants etc. The point of this game is not to create a pretty skyscraper, but one that works. You need to balance between offices, restaurants, stores and residents. The latter prefer a quiet environment, but they also want restaurants and stores nearby. Obviously, these aren’t quiet! So far, it has neither been too easy nor too difficult to play, but I have also not yet tried out the difficult scenarios. There is also the “free play” option where you just build as you wish without having to fulfill certain requirements.

Number 3: Gremlins, Inc. (Release Date: March 11, 2016)

Gremlins Inc Misfortunes

I am a big fan of board games and card games! I really enjoy playing these games with friends when they come over for a visit. Several board games have also gotten a digital version (e. g., Talisman). In this case, Gremlins, Inc. is a digital board game with no “real world” counterpart (you can read about my first impressions here). The developers are even hosting online tournaments, though I have only played the game against AI so far. I think it’s more about luck than strategy, because whenever I try to follow a certain strategy, the dice rolls will make sure to ruin that for me! ;) The atmosphere of the game is great, though, and so is the soundtrack.

The developers even made a card game (non-digital, you know, the “real” kind :p) for Gremlins. I bought it because I really like the board game, but I’ve got to admit, the card game was even more fun to play! Probably because you get that direct interaction with the other player.

Number 2: Atlas Reactor (Release Date: October 4, 2016)

atlas reactor su ren shifting winds

I admit, it was difficult to only put it as my number 2 here! The reason it did not get number 1 is that I’m currently not actively playing it (of course, right after typing this paragraph, I hopped back into the game and played several matches!). I absolutely truly love this game! And I’m not even playing against others. Well, with and against AI, but not against other players. So my opinion is very subjective and narrowed down to that of a casual PvE player. I cannot tell you if the community is “toxic” or not, because I don’t know it. The lobby is usually full of friendly chat, though. At least, when I take notice of it. ;) But what I really like is that the PvE fights aren’t easy. Again, very subjective. I don’t know what experienced PvP players would say, but that’s not the point here. If you play once in a while and you enjoy PvE and you like this kind of game (MOBA, but with simultaneous turns), then this is truly a gem. It has also gone 100 % free to play recently. Before the switch, without buying the game, you couldn’t enter rated PvP matches and you always only had a limited option of freelancers that rotated regularly. Now, you can unlock all freelancers by playing the game if you want. And you can join these ranked PvP matches. You can find my – probably slightly outdated by now – first impressions review of Atlas Reactor here.

Number 1: Civilization VI (Release Date: October 21, 2016)

Civilization VI playing as France

My personal number 1 goes to Civilization VI. As I said about Atlas Reactor, it was a tough decision. When I first saw the announcement, I really wasn’t a fan of the new look of the game (when did I become a graphics snob, by the way?), most of all of the way the trees look. But after playing, I have to admit that I do not even notice the graphics anymore. Not like that, at least. I can clearly spot the important and special buildings and resources on the map, though. I like the changes they have made and even after playing the game for almost 60 hours, there are still things to explore and figure out (I did not read the manual or any wiki pages etc., so there is a lot for me to discover and figure out). Also, around Christmas, bookahnerk and I played a game together and I really love when a game lets us do that for hours while still leaving us enough brain capacity for chatter!

So these are my “top 5 of games released in 2016”. The following four games are more “honorable mentions” as they are games that I really enjoyed playing in 2016, but that weren’t actually released in 2016 – although all of them received at least some updates in 2016.

Number 4: Wildstar

Wildstar Arcterra

Wildstar just barely made this list for several reasons. For one, it actually released in June 2014 and went free to play in September 2015. Both are clearly not 2016. ;) However, with the game turning free to play, I started actually playing it a lot! So it dominated the beginning of 2016 gaming-wise. It’s quirky and it’s also got an amazing housing system which I only dipped my toes in so far. My enthusiasm for the game dropped lately which is actually not so much the game’s fault. I am just scared it will close in the near future, what with all the news about there not being a lot of players left. Still, I really like the game and hope they do have a future ahead of them. I guess we’ll see what happens in 2017… news for upcoming features have arrived, at least! :)

Number 3: Cities: Skylines

cities skylines destroyed city

My first city-building game was Sim City 2000. I don’t even want to know how many hours I spent in that game… So when I started playing Cities: Skylines, I was really happy to finally have a game that feels like Sim City 2000 again. But one thing was missing: Random events that could destroy your city! Cities: Skylines had no disasters at all and it ended up feeling a tiny bit boring at times. Of course, handling the traffic is more than enough to do, but still… when they finally announced that disasters were coming, I was so excited and started playing Cities: Skylines again the minute this DLC got released! Still, it’s number 3, because even though I really love the disasters, sometimes there are a few too many of them one after the other. It’s just no fun going bankrupt, because the tsunami was followed by an earthquake was followed by a meteor, was followed by a tsunami, was followed by another earthquake and so on (yes, one long disaster-chain – bookahnerk sat next to me and watched, being very amused at my growing despair when I saw my beautiful city get destroyed and flooded until hardly anything was left…). It did add that randomness in that I was missing, though!

Number 2: Prison Architect (2015)

Prison Architect

The last update in 2015 added women, so you could finally build a prison for women only. But 2016 was no less exciting if you ask me! They added temperature and the need to build heaters in your prison early in 2016. More exciting was the patch in December 2016, though: Guards have needs as well now! No longer do I look at the pretty little staff room regretting spending money on all the furniture in there when the guards don’t actually use any of it. Now they want food, toilets, sofas as well. And breaks! Those guards demand breaks, so they can consume said food and go to the toilet. Thankfully, in a recent patch they also fixed the issue of unhappy guards beating up prisoners. And here I was wondering why so many of my prisoners died… whoops.

Number 1: Rift (2011)

rift starfall prophecy broken head statue

The oldest game on this list is Rift with its release date in March 2011. However, they actually released their expansion “Starfall Prophecy” last year. Now this expansion is not without critical reception and for good reasons, too! Some features were not released on time, some are still not delivered (but being worked on). At the same time, I still prefer having “most of the expansion” as opposed to still having to wait for the whole expansion. Anyway, let’s focus on the positive side: I really love the new maps, the look of them and even the story is much more enjoyable for me than the one of the previous Nightmare Tide expansion. I am having a lot of fun playing the game again. They have also been adding new items for dimensions (the game’s housing system), so there is lots for me to do!

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Crypt of the NecroDancer

Last but not least, to even the numbers, bookahnerk asked me to add a 10th game to the list: Crypt of the NecroDancer! I can only tell you about this game from the outside as I have not played it myself. I know it would drive me crazy. But the soundtrack sure is catchy and once bookahnerk’s sister’s boyfriend bought the game as well, it turned out to be hilarious. There were those two guys, both playing the game, both bobbing their heads to the tune of the song in order to help with their movements. Too bad you couldn’t see that. Priceless. So the “honorary award” for our game of 2016 goes to Crypt of the NecroDancer!

Recent experiences in Rift…

Starfall Prophecy, the latest Rift expansion, released on November 16. There has been some controversy about this expansion. The raid will not be released until later, but this was actually announced long before the expansion was released. After the expansion’s launch, however, some features had to be disabled. Some of them have been enabled again, but the fortress sieges are still not there. They are on the public test realm now, though, so I guess we’ll get to see them on live soon!

Additionally, there are apparently not enough quests to reach level 70 if all you do is quest. For me, the main content in MMOs when levelling should be the quests (and dungeons, but not having to grind them repeatedly). I also remember one expansion in Lotro not having enough quests. It was annoying and felt like the developers had either run out of time or out of ideas. That case had been worse, though, as Turbine had first announced that there would be 5 more levels and then they had said that because they had so much content, they had decided to switch to 10 more levels – only for players to run out of quests to do before getting these 10 levels. In general, I can only repeat myself from what I said about Lotro’s expansion: I do not like this at all. Not even because I don’t want to do dungeons or anything else other than questing, but because when I look at my alts, I know it’s just much more fun to have quests to choose from instead of having to do each and every one on every single character just to reach max. level with them. It gets repetitive and boring fast. A new powerleveling guide was just released and that one mentions the issue with not enough experience from quests as well.

rift meffanda cleric hitting level 70

I guess I am lucky that I am a slow leveler. I think I should fall into the “average” range of people with a busy life and not that much time to devote to gaming. When I read about there not being enough quests, I thankfully also saw the suggestion to do crafting dailies. As I could not actively play every day, I at least did these dailies regularly. I was amazed to see that the 5 quests I can do with my crafting professions led to a huge increase of XP (it was between 6 – 15 % depending on which level my cleric had – a bigger increase at the lower levels – and whether I had a bonus to XP gain activated). This actually leaves me with a whole lot of questing content untouched and I am currently trying to decide whether to take my mage or my warrior through the new content.

However, even though I am complaining here, I still really like Rift and bought a year of Patron time with their recent sale going on. Unfortunately, I was not awarded the amount of loyalty I should have received with my purchase. I did as was suggested on the forums and sent in a support ticket. I may be spoiled from World of Warcraft, but waiting several days seemed very very long. And then their reply was that I was awarded the correct amount of loyalty. I told them my purchase number for the patron time as well as screenshots which I had taken before and after the purchases (pure luck here! ^^) and one of these did the trick and I received my loyalty. In their defence, once you are at the top of the queue, replies are very fast and from the time I sent in the purchase number and the screenshots to when I received my loyalty, I think I had actually only made myself some coffee and oatmeal for breakfast. :p Bugs can happen and as long as they get sorted out, I’m happy.

Now on to something more positive about Rift: I did enjoy the quests I’ve seen, even though they once again seem very weird. Probably less so if you’re used to Rift and its lore. The new regions are beautiful to look at! And without doing much at all during Rift’s Yulefest, I got to exchange the yulefest currency for a new mount and a new dimension. I also got quite some nice rewards from the 4h minion missions after they reduced the amount of Aventurine one can hoard to rush through these missions once a special event is going on. I think I’m at three new companion pets! Additionally, when I saw that Rift was part of the Steam winter sale (and they match the price on Steam in their own store as well), I wanted to see if they also offered the upgrade to Starfall Prophecy’s Deluxe Edition with a discount. Instead, I found that the upgrade was removed completely. A short internet search revealed that Trion announced the upgrade to go on sale at some point in January. I can only assume that this is the reason why it’s removed right now as to avoid all of us buying it without the discount? If that is the case: Neat! If not: Still convenient. :p Now I only need to decide whether I really want that dragon mount or not. It can’t fly, it just looks awesome. But I did spend quite a lot of money on Rift already and I’m not sure I want to give them even more money at this point… especially since I have a lot of awesome mounts already.

Making friends in Rift and Guild Wars 2

Last week, Rift’s expansion “Starfall Prophecy” launched and yesterday, Guild Wars 2 released another content patch. Both games made me very happy as the patches feature my most favourite animal ever. Guess what animal that is!

No, not dogs. Although that’s true. Not rabbits either, although those are also my favourite animal. But no, my third “favourite animal”: Dragons!

Guild Wars 2 added a baby dragon, Aurene (not with this patch, but with a previous one – or else I wouldn’t mention her here as I do not want to add spoilers just one day after the patch’s release!). But seriously, a baby. dragon. How cute is that? I feel like Hagrid with Norbert!

Baby dragon Aurene in Guild Wars 2

And in Rift, there’s Tasuil. A dragon who at the beginning of the expansion story gets into trouble, because he accidentally broke something. Again, I don’t want to add any spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that. But I felt so bad when Tasuil kept apologizing. The poor thing didn’t want to do any harm, after all! It was an accident.

Rift Tasuil Dragon

To top the cuteness overload of dragons, you can apparently earn Mini Aurene in Guild Wars 2. I assumed ArenaNet would add her to the shop to be bought with real money, but the pieces needed to get the Mini are crafted! I definitely have to get that one as fast as possible!

If only Rift gave us a mini Tasuil as well… on the other hand, he’s disguising himself as a corgi while we’re out exploring the comet. I guess that counts for something as well, right? And while he’s with me, I can take out one of my mini corgis to have two corgis with me.

Tasuil disguised as corgi

More Starfall Prophecy Tokens in Rift

When the expansion was first announced, Trion told us that we would get a Starfall Prophecy token each day when claiming our daily login chest. The main goal for players was to get Opie, a tiny squirrel mount that lets you reach artifacts more easily (if they’re hidden in hard to reach places). But it costs 50 tokens, so you would have had to pre-purchase the expansion 50 days ago to get that mount. The expansion comes out on Wednesday next week, but Trion just announced that they prolonged the login tokens and now if you pre-purchase, you get tokens for 60 days more giving you enough to get your own Opie mount (and you can even miss 10 days). I think that’s pretty nice, especially as we now know much more about the expansion and players can choose more easily whether they want to make the investment or not.

rift opie mount

If you don’t care about a mount, there is the “Sack of Infinite Void” that increases your inventory slots by 40 which costs 20 tokens. It’s unique per character, but account-bound, so you can hopefully collect the tokens with one character and buy the bags for your alts. For 15 tokens, you can also get a “Tenebrean Mystery Box”, but nothing is known about the content yet. Apparently, we need to wait until the expansion’s launch. On the other hand, since we will still get tokens after the expansion launches, the vendor will also still be around, so we can keep the tokens and wait until more is known about the box’s content. This is what I’ll be doing, at least. I have one Opie and as cute as it is, I have so many other mounts that I love using that I don’t really need this mount on my other characters. I also don’t go artifact-collecting that often. And let’s not forget that in order to use those special jumps with Opie to reach artifacts more easily, you need to feed it with pellets which are supposed to be kind of rare in the game. So the bag and maybe the mystery box sound like the better choices for me.

Rift: Waiting for the expansion with the primalist

Starfall Prophecy, the next expansion in Rift, will launch on November 16. That’s not too far away now! So whenever I log in with my main character, my cleric, I just don’t feel too motivated playing her. Since I bought the primalist last month, I thought I should probably play her a bit more. She is now level 18 which is basically nothing, as you can level really fast below level 60 by just doing “instant adventures”. These are open world quests that you do with whoever else signed up for instant adventures (if such a group passes you in the open world, the game even suggests joining them if you like). In between these quests, you get teleported to wherever you need to get to, so you don’t need to worry about travelling or anything. In theory, this sounds great. In reality, it is a boring grind-fest with no challenge except for some bosses which appear. Not that they themselves are too challenging, but if your group lacks a healer, they are. :p

Still, I like doing them once in a while because it’s easy and doesn’t require too much thinking. My primalist had a melee build, but I soon switched to ranged (Maelstrom as primary soul which is a single target ranged DPS), because the mobs die too fast and it’s just frustrating having to run to mobs all the time just to see them get killed right in front of your eyes by everybody who isn’t melee.

rift primalist in instant adventures

The primalist has a special class feature. Certain skills move the class bar to either Cunning or Fury. Some skills get boosted when you’re in Cunning or in Fury. So I guess I will have to watch that bar at some point… at the moment, I don’t notice it, but with level 18, I only have a few of the skills and abilities unlocked anyway. It reminds me of the Runekeeper in Lord of the Rings Online which has a similar mechanic called attunement. I played Runekeeper before I switched to my little hobbit warden as I liked playing a tank more than playing an elf healer. But back to the primalist: She’s okay. Maybe even fun, but I’ll have to see what it’s like in a higher level. It could also be a bit annoying having to watch that fury-cunning-meter all the time and having to memorize which skills move the meter into which direction.

Either way, come next week I will be playing my cleric in the new regions, so it’ll be a while before I get to find out more.