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Game of the Year Awards 2016

Showcasing the best video game experiences of the past year

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Introduction  |  Gameplay Awards  |  Special Awards  |  Genre Awards  |  GOTY

Best Story
best story 2016 Firewatch winner badge Firewatch

"The game overlooks a relationship between two isolated, conflicted and uncertain people with a remarkable authenticity. Henry and Delilah's correspondence is heartfelt and real, and it's during their most trivial exchanges that Firewatch is at its best. It's a game about fear. It's a game about being alone. And it's at its most unnerving when those two concepts collide. Firewatch's study of a flowering friendship makes for a riveting experience, against a gorgeous backdrop that breathes with fragile solitude." - Charlie Nicholson

Honorable Mentions: Mafia 3, Oxenfree, Uncharted 4

 

Best Graphics (Art)
best graphics art 2016 The Witnesswinner badge The Witness

"Played in the first person view, you will roam an island and solve hundreds of maze-like puzzles. The island is vibrantly colored, like a cartoon world, and sometimes the palette is overbearing. These bright colors keep the world areas separate, and assist when solving the more abstract puzzles. And yet, despite its suitability for Bugs Bunny and co., the island is actually creepy. Human statues are unsettling in mazes, scratching noises in the bushes can be distracting, and the mirrored reflection in the water is not quite right. Perhaps unintentionally, the juxtaposition of color and solitude is just enough motivation to solve puzzles without dawdling." - Ben Thomas

Honorable Mentions: The Banner Saga 2, Dark Souls 3, Overwatch

 

Best Graphics (Technical)
Best Graphics (Technical) 2016 Uncharted 4winner badge Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

"The technical aspects are quite astounding – from smooth edges to crisp textures and great lighting. Visual effects are excellent, as are the dynamic and scripted animations. Everything runs at an unshakable framerate with amazing anti-aliasing, and the game presents breathtaking vistas at almost every opportunity. The small details and nuances are what push the game above its technically competent peers - vegetation being pushed away, the way characters move and react, the excellently mo-capped cutscene performances, the vibrant and varied color palette; it all comes together in one rather incredible visual package." - Alex V

Honorable Mentions: Battlefield 1, The Division, Forza Horizon 3

 

Best Music
best music 2016 Doom winner badge Doom

"DOOM’s hellish combat is perfectly complemented by its high-tempo, heart-pounding musical themes. The deep, reverberating, and distant music from Mick Gordon is the perfect match for the butchery on screen and an awesome modern rendition for the series. It is clear that a lot of passion and attention to detail went into the soundtrack, as the loud guitars shred and overwhelm the senses and you can't help but headbang along, even as the demon hordes surround you. It is easily one of the best original soundtracks of the year." - Ben Thomas

Honorable Mentions: Stardew Valley, Forza Horizon 3, Mafia 3

 

Best Sound Design
best sound 2016 Battlefield 1 winner badge Battlefield 1

"Sound quality remains exceptional, with explosions, soldier screams, and ambient audio creating sublime aural sensations. Hearing a plane dive for a strafing run, followed by a train whistle in the distance, is just an example of how the audio telegraphs the action so intricately. Nearby soldiers will also talk during the action, giving praise when enemies perish under fire. Soldiers’ boots make clanking noises when running over spent artillery shells and their uniforms tear when brushing against barbed wire. Hearing the deep grumble of a tank roll in through the mist is something else." - Ben Thomas

Honorable Mentions: Far Cry Primal, Dark Souls 3, Inside

 

Best Atmosphere
best atmosphere 2016 The Division winner badge The Division

"The Snowdrop engine produces consistently stunning visuals, with levels of detail usually reserved for more linear experiences like Metro Last Light being present everywhere. Lighting and weather effects are particularly impressive; New York looks strikingly different at night and during the day. Snow storms will blow in, reducing visibility during firefights while snow accumulates on your agent and the environment. Audio is also strong, with good sound design that immerses you in the city. The interiors you explore during story missions or when heading underground are full of details and often ooze atmosphere." - Tim Reid

Honorable Mentions: Firewatch, Inside, Forza Horizon 3

 

Best Voice Acting
best voice acting 2016 Uncharted 4 winner badge Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

"Audio design is not far behind the excellent visuals, offering solid voice work from Nolan North. Other franchise vets Richard McGonagle and Emily Rose play their parts as well as usual. The big-name addition of Troy Baker as Sam Drake works well, though it’s not a groundbreaking performance. Laura Bailey does OK as Nadine Ross, but it’s Warren Kole that offers an impressive surprise in his role as Rafe Adler. Overall, the game assembles one of the best voice acting crews of the year for every single major character." - Alex V

Honorable Mentions: Batman - The Telltale Series, Firewatch, Mafia 3

 

Most Memorable Character
Most Memorable Character 2016 BT-7274 winner badge BT-7274 (Titanfall 2)

"The story of the protagonist, a rifleman who gets thrust into the shoes of a pilot, proves more enjoyable. Following a tutorial and intro sequence, you get acquainted with your Titan BT-7274 after the previous pilot dies, and often engage in dialogue with this sentient robot by choosing between two different responses. There are no major choices here, but choosing simple responses does serve to engage you in the somewhat humorous relationship that evolves throughout the adventure." - Tim Reid

Honorable Mentions: Nathan Drake - Uncharted 4, Paul Serene - Quantum Break, Joel Green - That Dragon, Cancer

 

Best Original Gameplay Design
Best Original Gameplay Design 2016 Superhot winner badge Superhot

"The mechanics are everything in Superhot. In many ways, shooters and puzzle games have some common threads and Superhot explores these threads through its time-based structure. You’ll still have to line up shots and anticipate enemy movement, but the encounters of Superhot would be impossible to most people in real-time - especially in the later levels where you might start with a gun pointed at your head. This is where the puzzle aspect comes in. Superhot forces players to think about how they use each second and how to keep time moving while avoiding enemy fire." - Josh Hinke

Honorable Mentions: Quadrilateral Cowboy, Unravel, Steep

 

Best Singleplayer
Best singleplayer 2016 Stardew Valley winner badge Stardew Valley

"For an indie game, it’s about as densely packed as they come; a 40+ hour affair that involves management mechanics on a decently complex scale. As a one-man farming operation you spend hours watering crops, chatting up townsfolk, feeding your livestock, catching a variety of fish, exploring an abandoned mine, learning to cook, unlocking new sections of the rundown town hall, crafting items to improve your crops, and paying someone to add buildings to your farm. Each day, season, and year feels special in Stardew Valley. The developers did an incredible job of adding little details to make your experience feel like a strange and wonderful journey, unique to each playthrough." - Josh Hinke

Honorable Mentions: Final Fantasy XV, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Dishonored 2

 

Best Multiplayer
Best Multiplayer 2016 Battlefield 1 winner badge Battlefield 1

"In multiplayer, WW1 provides many thematic changes that are a good fit for the franchise. Due to the technology available a century ago, the action goes back to basics. Self-guided weapon systems are absent, and apart from placed mines, each death is the direct result of immediate player input. And whatever mode you end up playing, there will be no shortage of those jaw-dropping, unscripted moments. You might be laying down suppressing fire on a hillside and see bodies tumble down the slopes while an airship goes up in flames. Or maybe a friendly soldier falls to sniper fire and you utilize the cover of newly-formed craters to revive him. It could be as simple as charging through the dense fog and piercing an enemy’s chest with a bayonet. These electrifying moments are everywhere." - Ben Thomas

Honorable Mentions: Titanfall 2, Overwatch, The Division

 

Best Gameplay
Best gameplay 2016 Titanfall 2winner badge Titanfall 2

"The core gameplay loop that was so much fun several years ago remains highly engaging. Unless you are playing Pilot vs. Pilot or Last Titan Standing, each round begins as a purely infantry match, with damage, kills and objectives adding to a gauge that will let you drop in a Titan after it fills up. From this point, the remainder of each match sees both Titans and Pilots on the map at the same time, making for a really fun combined arms experience as Pilots sprint around the large maps at top speed and Titans slowly stomp back and forth dealing death wherever they go. The parkour movement, satisfying weapons and expanded Titan options make for a consistently fun and exciting experience." - Tim Reid

Honorable Mentions: Overwatch, Dishonored 2, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

 

The Awards continue on the next page!

 

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