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!

Quality of Life changes in Wildstar (Blaugust Post 11)

Carbine made a list of the top 10 Quality of Life changes that they will take a look at. I can see two that stand out for me already:

  1. Account-wide Toy Box
  2. Auction House and Commodities Exchange UI Improvements

In Wildstar, there are toys which are reusable little gimmicks, basically. Sparkling spurs, for example. These toys are definitely not necessary, but nice to look at or play with. The problem with them is that you need to store them somewhere. Some – or all? – are also bound to your character which means that every character has them in their inventory or in their bank. As much as I like having these toys, I do not use them that often that I really like the idea of having them fill my inventory. If they were like the pets or the mounts, it would be perfect: You unlock them with a character and can then click on a drop down menu to choose one. At least, the mounts work that way. For the non-combat pets, you unlock them, too, and then there is a mod that you can install which gives you such a drop down menu. Without the menu, you can still click somewhere in the interface. In any case, neither mounts nor pets clutter your inventory.

And then there is “Auction House and Commodities Exchange UI Improvements” – Those two features could really need a make-over. The functions themselves are pretty nice. For example, it warns you if you want to put something up for sale that’s less than you would get when you sold it directly to an NPC (also calculating in the AH fees and tax). However, every time I put something up for sale in the commodities exchange window, it scrolls back up to the very top again. I usually sell things sporadically, so there’s a lot of different items that I want to put up for sale. Having to find where I was in the list and scrolling to that spot again can be a bit annoying. I usually don’t want to sell just everything and try to keep the things I may need for my own crafting professions. And I skip those items that are only worth the vendor price. So sometimes, there is more scrolling than anything else. I would at least hope that “UI improvements” would cover this and make it all a bit less cluttered while keeping the functionality, because that one is cool.

Wildstar Commodities Exchange UI window

One thing I would really love to see – not just in Wildstar, but also in Guild Wars 2 – would be a little box to tick “only show useable”. Rift has this and it is so convenient when you’re looking for something you have not yet unlocked. For example, armor and weapon skins or dyes in Guild Wars 2. I just really don’t like having to scroll through everything and look at each tooltip or keeping an external list of items I still need.

Wildstar E3 Pack: Gnix pet and Hoverboard

No, one can never have enough hoverboards. At least not in Wildstar. :p

Humble Bundle is selling the “E3 2016 Digital Ticket” with lots of goodies and a couple of games in between. I actually was not interested in most of those items (though I have always wanted to feel the excitement of being a mountain…) except for the Wildstar E3 Pack. The Flask of Advancement in this Wildstar pack is nice, as it gives you some extra experience and my alts will certainly be happy to receive this. I also did get the Junkyard Dog Hoverboard previously. Carbine handed it out to players who tested the new tutorial during a couple of specific time frames they had given. Those mounts were single-claim, though, meaning that only one character could get them on my account. Up to 4 of those hoverboards could be “earned”. With this bundle, all items are multi-claim which means that every character on your account can receive this bundle once.

The main reason I had to get this bundle, however, is the Gnix pet! It’s a little stone… something. My Granok (my main character’s race) is a big stone… something. They’re a match made in heaven! :D

The Wildstar pack is in the cheapest tier which means that you can pay only $1.00 to receive the item pack! That is certainly a bargain. And if you’re still not sure, you have about 7 more days to decide whether you want that bundle or not. And in case you’re not familiar with Humble Bundle, you can pay, e.g., $1.00 and later upgrade if you change your mind and want the next tier (for $4.00 which has the “more content coming soon” next to it).

Help! I like too many MMOs…

In the past few weeks, I thought I had finally fallen out of love with Rift. It was to a point where I did not even log in anymore to get my daily artifact (they changed the system now where you get nicer bonuses for logging in, but that’s not why I went back). Then I suddenly felt the urge to continue building in my dimension. I figured that that’s something nice and since I really don’t like this “old-fashioned” combat anymore, I would at least focus on something. But then I found myself out in the newest region, the Planetouched Wilds, playing through a quest chain with bookahnerk. And while the combat really is boring, it’s just great exploring this world! Rift is one of those games with no loading screens between zones – at least those who are on the same “continent”, like in World of Warcraft. There is something amazing about being on top of a mountain and just looking down to see all the players running around or the NPC doing their daily work. In other MMOs, those mountains can’t always be used to climb on because they are there to avoid having to deal with “invisible walls” as they restrict this zone from the next and you can only switch to another zone at specific points which let you enter after a loading screen appears.

Rift Planetouched Wilds

Then poor Guild Wars 2 was on my list of games I would go on “hiatus” for a bit. There has not been any new content in quite some time and while I liked the new maps at first – some of them, at least – it felt repetitive going through the zones over and over again. While the recent patch has not given us new content (and if I interpret them correctly, there won’t be any new content until July?), they did some other much needed changes which revived the game in general for me. You can now play WvW and the Edge of the Mists and get a reward track like they introduced in sPvP. I also completely forgot that you can unlock Hero Challenges in Tyria through playing WvW which means that I can slowly unlock my alts’ elite specializations without having to visit all the PvE challenges. This alone is motivation enough for me to play the game more often again!

This leaves Wildstar and Black Desert Online. My two newest MMO-addictions. Wildstar has amazing combat and I actually prefer it over Guild Wars 2 – well, in some areas, at least. But once my medic hit max level, I actually did not really know what to do in the game. I still have much exploring to do, so that is something, but I still felt… lost. Now that they introduced the new zone, Arcterra, that’s different. I haven’t played much on it yet, but I certainly will! And Black Desert Online – it’s a bit funny, actually. My first character got this quest chain for a mount and that’s all nice, but I switched to playing a Valkyrie instead and I can’t find that quest chain for her and she’s still running around on foot and that’s annoying me enough not to continue playing the game at the moment. I want to go to the bigger town and explore that and play there and quest and level, but I also want to find out where I can get that mount. It’s not even anything great like a noble steed. It’s a donkey. But still, I want it. :(

Wildstar Arcterra

On top of that, I actually don’t have that much time for gaming! I “stole” some and ignored other things that need to be done for a day or two recently (chores mostly :p), but I can’t do that all of the time. So I guess I should decide which games I want to focus on. But they all offer something unique that I want to experience.

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (April 2016)

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchFragmented, the “little brother” of The Repopulation will officially arrive in Steam Early Access soon, on April 26. If you already own The Repopulation, you will get Fragmented for free – or you already got access to it if you registered for pre-steam early access-access. :p Either way, there is still an NDA on the game until after it has launched in Early Access. As such, there is not much known about the game, or rather those who do know are not allowed to say anything. But I would assume that streamers and maybe even some bloggers or gaming websites will release information and/or show off the game as soon as they are allowed to!

What do we officially know is that this game is supposed to serve as a foundation for The Repopulation as the developers had to switch engines and are building the games at the moment. While The Repopulation will eventually be a complex sandbox MMORPG, Fragmented will have a smaller scope. It will still be an online game, though, but also offer the option to play offline or host your own servers. There will be PvP as well as PvE servers and options. Everything that is currently in the game is listed on the Steam page under “About This Game“.

“Everything we have listed in About This Game below are currently implemented and functional in the game.”

If this sounds interesting to you, I would carefully recommend this game. Carefully, of course, as there is always a risk involved with games in Early Access. But so far, everything we have heard and seen from the developers makes me very optimistic that they are dedicated, hard-working and that we will see a finished game one day.

Atlas Reactor has started its Closed Beta. In the last Open Alpha phase, everybody could just sign up and play, but now you need to buy access if you want to play during the Closed Beta. Before anybody asks: Yes, there will be a wipe after Closed Beta, so no progress will be kept during this stage. I have taken a look at the different pre-purchase packages here. Price starts at 10 €, so it’s not too expensive if you want to check out the game during Closed Beta. You will also get that amount in in-game Credits once the game launches. The game itself will be free to play.

Wildstar New Tutorial_Dominion

Fragmented is not the only game making its appearance on Steam. Wildstar finally emerged on there as well. There is no release date listed other than “2016”. We know that they recently tested a new tutorial, so I assume this one will have to be polished and finished first before they start there. It would at least be a very wise move. They already overhauled the character creation procedure which is now a lot more intuitive to handle. So a new tutorial can only be good for the game, too. From what I have seen of the new tutorial on the Public Test Realm, it explains things for people new to MMOs, but more specifically, it explains how Wildstar works. Right after starting your first “test fights”, you are told how enemies are vulnerable for a short time if you interrupted one of their abilities and – and this is something I don’t think I’ve seen in other MMOs so far – you are then taken onto a housing plot and are shown how the housing works in Wildstar (remember: Housing gives you bonuses like rested XP, so even if you don’t care about housing in general, you may want to use it only for those bonuses and features). I only briefly looked at the new tutorial, but so far, it seemed to be well done. Let’s hope that the launch on Steam will bring in more customers, because I really like this game and would hate to see it go the way Vanguard did or Star Wars Galaxies…

“Bookahneer’s Geekwatch” is the place where we take a look at all those little pieces of gaming news that have attracted our interest and/or talk about what’s recently been in the spotlight of other fansites.