Now that the dust has settled on 2016 it’s finally time to take a look back and talk a bit about our favorite PC games of last year. Since things like this are always highly subjective, it’s pretty pointless to say that we have the definitive list of the best games of 2016. Rather, this is a list containing the titles we enjoyed most and found most interesting. We’re also only looking at PC exclusives or multiplatform games that are still great to play on PC right now. Sure, some of these titles may have launched in a questionable state on the platform but we’re willing to forgive them if the devs took the time to make them playable post-launch. With that out of the way, you can check out our top 10 best PC games of 2016 down below.
I know, I know, critics have bashed this game to hell and back, partly with good reason. However, Quantum Break was an interesting experiment that gave us a first good look at where video games might be heading in the near future. In spite of its numerous problems, this game does succeed at making you feel like a badass superhero on many occasions during the campaign. Thanks to the good use of some pretty awesome time-bending powers, it’s easy to forget about some of the game’s drawbacks when the action sequences are so engaging and visually impressive. At the end of the day, Quantum Break will go down in history as a guilty pleasure for time travel enthusiasts and a bit of a disappointment for everyone else. As it happens, nerdiness compels us to turn a blind eye to its many technical issues and focus on the great use of time powers instead. We’re not completely oblivious, though, which is Quantum Break only gets the last spot on our list.
While it may seem like this is just another expansion, Legion managed to bring World of Warcraft back into the spotlight last year and dragged us back to Azeroth after many years of absence. It turns out we really missed the popular MMORPG and thanks to Legion we finally had a great deal of excellent new content to keep us busy for a number of months. More than anything, Legion almost feels like a complete overhaul of World of Warcraft and is arguably the best expansion since Wrath of the Lich King, perhaps even better in some ways. Most importantly, though, Blizzard proved that it is still committed to the game even after all these years and has so far fulfilled its promise to introduce more exciting content every few months. In fact, some might say that new Legion content is pouring in a bit faster than it needs to, but that’s definitely a good thing if you tend to play a lot of WoW.
Normally, this game would be quite a bit higher on the list and should probably be somewhere in the top 5 if we included console versions. As it happens, the PC port of Dishonored 2 was a mess at launch and still continues to have a plethora of problems even now. That said, the game itself is a very strong entry in the series and deserves at least one playthrough if you enjoy immersive stealth-action games. It’s really sad that the folks over at Arkane didn’t take more time to optimize the PC version because at its core Dishonored 2 is a very good game if you can get past all the technical issues. On the bright side, subsequent patches did improve the overall performance for many gamers and it looks like the developers will continue to push even more fixes in the near future.
Much like Limbo before it, Inside became an instant classic on the PC pretty much from day one. The game shares a very similar atmosphere to its predecessor and is even darker at times, as you once again take the role of a little boy forced to survive in a grim and hostile world. With the indie scene getting bigger and bigger by the day, it’s easy to overlook games like this but I suggest you give this one a try because it’s not your regular run-of-the-mill independent project. In fact, Inside is one of the most unique indies in recent memory and definitely one of the best games to come out on PC in 2016.
There were plenty of examples in 2016 of why hype can lead to massive disappointment. On rare occasions, though, overly hyped titles do end up living up to expectations, albeit not entirely. DOOM is a rather awkward game in the sense that its multiplayer was a complete bore fest from the start while, at the same time, its campaign ended up being one of the best single-player experiences of 2016. DOOM is very much reminiscent of the no-nonsense FPS games of old that relied entirely on polished mechanics and over-the-top gore. Nowadays it’s hard to find games like those as developers have a tendency of adding RPG elements and convoluted storylines to almost every FPS. Not here, though. DOOM, at least the single-player, is exactly what it says on the tin – a high-octane shooter where you massacre armies of demons while headbanging to heavy metal music.
Yes, we’re finally making our way to TBS, one of the core genres of PC gaming, a genre that saw a renaissance of sorts back in 2016. Many Civilization purists are still not convinced when it comes to the sixth main installment in the long-running series, but there’s no denying that Civ 6 is still one of the best PC exclusives of 2016. Unlike its predecessors, Civilization 6 released as a complete package and is arguably the best entry in the series at launch. By this I mean that players don’t need to wait for subsequent expansions in order to experience all the new systems and improvements developed by Firaxis, which is quite refreshing. As any long-time Civ fan could tell you, the AI has always been a bit of a problem in these games and that’s certainly true here, perhaps even more so than usual. On the other hand, Civilization 6 is undoubtedly the most complex installment so far thanks to all the new additions, so problems were bound to arise. Despite that, however, I spent many sleepless nights with this game because, well, the overall product is just that good.
What happens when you take two of the most popular strategy franchises ever and mash them together? Sometimes you get a complete mess, but in the case of Total War: Warhammer, you get an excellent RTS/TBS hybrid game. Given that this is a huge departure from its historically themed predecessors, it’s no wonder that many die-hard fans of the Total War series ended up bashing this game. To their credit, a lot of the criticism was directed at the DRM and the plethora of sub-par DLCs, which were unnecessary and completely insulting to gamers. Sega’s shameful predatory business practices aside, though, the game itself is extremely enjoyable and comes across as a fitting tribute to both the Total War series and the Warhammer Fantasy universe. It’s a damn shame that corporate greed nearly buried this title because Total War: Warhammer is a worthy effort by Creative Assembly and the most technically impressive Total War game to date.
Blood and Wine could have easily been one of the best games of 2016 and number one on our list if CD Projekt RED decided to change a few more things and sell it as The Witcher 4, which they easily could have. As it stands, though, it’s still just an expansion pack, though it rivals even the biggest AAA release of the year in terms of scope and breadth of content. In many ways, Blood and Wine is a completely different experience when compared to the base game and a perfect swan song to Geralt of Rivia and The Witcher series as a whole. Once again, the Polish developers proved that they have the utmost respect for their fans and the source material by creating one of the best RPG experiences of 2016. It says a lot about the company’s work ethic and dedication to the series when an expansion pack offers much more quality content and is priced three times cheaper than most full games at launch. Hats off CDPR and please never change.
The Dark Souls series was off to a rocky start on PC back in 2012 but we’re sure glad that From Software continued to improve the performance with each subsequent title. The third entry, in particular, ended up being a very solid PC port and one of the best games of 2016 on all platforms. As someone who enjoys playing difficult games, I went into Dark Souls 3 thinking that this would be the perfect opportunity to put my money where my mouth is and I was certainly not disappointed by the game’s brutal and unforgiving gameplay. It took many weeks, hundred of deaths, and the frustration of seeing the game mock me every few minutes with the already iconic “YOU DIED” screen, but in the end it was all worth it. The feelings of pride and accomplishment that followed when I finally managed to beat Dark Souls 3’s last boss were truly unique and will remain with me for many years to come. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is the best title in the series, but as far as PC ports are concerned, I can safely say from personal experience that Dark Souls 3 is the most well optimized and enjoyable so far.
Reebots are rarely as good as the original, but every once in a while a title comes along that lives up to its legacy and then some. Back in 2012 that title was XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a title designed for a new generation of gamers that have vastly higher expectation than those who grew up in the 90s when the original X-COM: UFO Defense was first released. This year Firaxis took it one step further with XCOM 2 by improving and expanding upon pretty much everything that made its predecessor so good. The result is an even more complex TBS with mod support from day one and some great additional content released further down the line via DLC. Sure, the game was criticized for having a fair share of bugs and other technical issues at launch, but as it’s often the case with these things, the experience tends to vary greatly from gamer to gamer, especially on PC. Personally, I haven’t had any major issues with XCOM 2, which is why I feel entirely comfortable putting it at number one on this list. Not only that but after beating the game two times I still feel like coming back for more thanks to the great amount of content being offered here. Shortly after playing it for the first time we (perhaps boldly) named XCOM 2 “quite possibly the best TBS game to date”. Now, almost one year since release, we stick by that statement while adding that XCOM 2 was also the best PC game of 2016, at least in our humble opinion.