2016 in review

Of the Tabletop, and other, lesser varieties.

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Koa
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2016 in review

Postby Koa » Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:31 am UTC

Another year soon to pass, another chance to talk about the releases and events in the vidya games world.
2014 2015

Uh... A dead year for me, not sure if that's my fault. I have been playing a lot of older games, but apart from that I have had less time. Hopefully others can pick up the slack. I guess I've made it a trend to name at least one GotY, so I'm going to have to cheat a little.

My GotY from last year released a large DLC this year, Witcher 3 Blood and Wine. It might as well be a a fully featured expansion pack of old. Toussaint is a very unique and memorable place among all of gaming in my opinion. I'm usually not fond of the high contrast high fantasy style, but the typical Witcher dark fantasy drama oozes through the otherwise peaceful looking landscapes, while also making sure these two elements don't feel disjointed. The story takes a few stumbles with weak plot threads but there's also this constant subtext that the whole DLC was a celebration of their success so far with Witcher 3, that this was their big retirement party, and for some reason I found that incredibly charming. It carried the game through the small missteps, and the things it did well did very well.

It focuses on a smaller set of very well written characters. Regis is one of the few well written scientific-minded characters in gaming. The Duchess is incredibly memorable as a strong leader who wants only the best for her family and country, her emotions take a back seat to her values despite the firm rule. Damien is a good antagonist to Geralt. Sylvia is probably the most contentious character but she does show some complexity as well. I guess I couldn't help but fall in love with the land and characters because it feels like there has been so much effort and love poured into them from the developers. I feel like this is how AAA stories should be, rather than the highly processed, design-by-committee, bureaucratic affairs that come out of, say, Ubisoft's studios. I found myself loving something I normally wouldn't like, and that is swell.

I started that NG+ playthrough that I said I might. Wouldn't recommend it. Some things don't scale well and I don't feel like it adds anything to the experience. While I'm here, the gameplay improvements of Blood and Wine are about what you would expect. A few nice improvements but not too revolutionary.

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Zohar
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Re: 2016 in review

Postby Zohar » Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:06 pm UTC

Hmm, possibly XCom2 for me? I suppose I did kind of breeze through the game fairly quickly. Steam should have a feature where it tells you which games you've played the most of in the past year. For me, that's definitely FTL, but it wasn't released this year. I also played Undertale, but it came out September 2015. I played a bit of Civ VI but I wouldn't call it fantastic so far.
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Re: 2016 in review

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Dec 28, 2016 4:46 pm UTC

The "Game of the Year" for me was #4: Puyo Puyo Tetris. But here's my list in reverse chronological order.

1. Hatsune Miku Project Diva -- Not the best of music games. A lot of effort went into costume design and hats and the like, but with only ~26 songs or so, I'd have to say that there are superior music games out there. Hatsune Miku fans probably would enjoy all of the dress-up opportunities but... it wasn't really working out for me personally. I'm going to beat story mode, but probably not do too much beyond that.

2. Pokemon Moon -- I'm a Pokemon fan, `nuff said.

Spoiler:
The storymode was more intricate, which I guess helps the fanbase, but that's not why I'm playing, lol. Most things are easier in this game: Hypertraining to increase IVs, SOS Chaining reaches 4x perfect IVs now, IV Judge just tells you the IVs, EVs are doubled per SOS battle, etc. etc. But its become a lot harder to level to 100 (no "Battle Chateau" or re-battling Blissey-trainers as far as I can tell. We only got the Elite Four). Z-moves are fun and liven things up. The new Pokemon are growing on me: Mimikyu, Toxapex, the Tapus... they're rather well designed actually. The most powerful pokemon added also have built-in counters (ie: Pheremosa, one of the most fearsome sweepers ever made, has issues vs Alolan Marowak and Toxapex). So props to Nintendo for keeping things relatively balanced.


3. Atelier Sophie -- A surprisingly well done JRPG. Within the Atelier community, it seems to get low reviews because of a very barebones combat system and barebones storyline. But for me, it was the first time I found a crafting system so intricate. If you can deal with the overwhelming "cuteness" of Atelier Sohpie (to the point where its really too much), I'd say give it a try. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpZISjUSNJs

Spoiler:
For those who like crafting systems, this is a must-play game. Pokemon fans (who enjoy the breeding-aspects, IV passing and Egg groups) count. With a level cap of 20, the only real way to get better stats by late-game is to just craft better items. There's relatively little searching or "grinding", the vast majority of my time was spent thinking about how to put items together. Between the color-bonus, the different "Caldrons", the different sizes of each component (each component can be of size 1 through 9), the different quality levels of components, the 3 traits of each component... it really feels like no item is fungible in this game. Lots of combinations, lots of thinking, lots of crafting.


4. Puyo Puyo Tetris -- A japanese-only game, I had to import it. There was a surprisingly long story-mode, fully dubbed, in fact the quality-level of this game was far above every other game on this list. It is the ultimate Tetris game I've ever played in my life, supporting 4-player split-screen multiplayer Tetris or Puyo Puyo gameplay (and all combinations in between). This is the game-of-the-year for me, despite coming out a few years ago. I highly recommend this game. Its a rather cheap import, the only downside is that you need to either know Japanese or print out a translation guide. Game-of-the-year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9uaBQbq01I

5. Magicka -- Great game, but on the couch its very difficult to play. I played through the game using an Xbox controller, wondering why the difficulty was so damn high. Then I look online and see that keyboard / mouse players can basically cast spells instantly because the game really was designed for keyboards... ah well.

6. Factorio -- The other crafting game that I got into. Its a sandbox game that's heavily built around automating the crafting process. Believe it or not, I found Atelier Sophie's crafting system to be more interesting overall. But Factorio's crafting system is pretty good... but its mostly about automating things.

Spoiler:
Once you "solve" Factorio's puzzles, then it becomes easy and kinda stales rather quickly. Because the game kinda plays by itself once proper levels of automation are reached. Solving those puzzles though is very fun (ie: creating mines that automatically feed the trains. Trains that are automatically loaded to feed repair packs and ammo to all of your automatically self-repairing walls covered by roboports, etc. etc.)

In contrast, Atelier Sophie has a character who literally clones anything you make. Every item you make is somewhat unique: ex a "Hustle Belt" may be built at quality-level 50 or quality-level 999, and up to three different traits may be passed onto it. The number of combinations in Atelier Sophie explodes far faster than Factorio, as you've got each item, up to three traits. And the database system of searching and filtering items (as well as Corneria's "Cloning" ability, to replicate items you really like) achieves the same effect as the automated process of Factorio. You wanna clone important items and think about how to make better items.

In any case, Factorio makes you feel more like an engineer as you play it. Atelier Sohpie is a cutesie anime game with a feel-good storyline about how everyone can become a better alchemist or clockmaker... or singer. Factorio has the better overall feel IMO, but I'm still surprised at how well of a crafting game that Atelier Sohpie is.


7. Fire Emblem: Birthright -- I haven't gotten around to Conquest yet. But Birthright was a good Fire Emblem game but it doesn't live up to the masterpiece that was Awakening. Birthright itself had a crappy story and far weaker character development... but the game engine retained all of the major features of Awakening. (Children who are based on the stats of their parents, Supports, etc. etc.). The sophistication of the "pair up" system greatly improved strategy compared to Awakening, especially as the AI figured out how to use those tricks. So while the storyline and characters were much weaker than Awakening... the core gameplay felt like it improved.

8. The Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse -- My niece wanted me to play through this game, so I did it with her. A standard platformer, but it comes in pretty hard. There's very little ramp-up time. This isn't as hard as "Super Meat Boy" or anything like that, but this is harder than the typical platformer IMO.

9. Superbeat Xonic -- Now THIS is a music game. It scales from "easy mode" which only has four buttons (4 Trax), all the way to 6 TraxFX 6-buttons, two inputs on the left and right analog sticks (total of four), and the shoulder buttons. One of the best games available on the PS Vita, period. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=av0NhLfNHyk

I do realize that "Superbeat Xonic" was one of my picks for 2015, but I continued to play it this year. Its an awesome game.

10. Hunniepop -- Uhhhh.... yeah. NSFW but kind of a good puzzle game. 10,000,000 was a better puzzle game IMO, but if you like Bejeweled-style puzzle games and want a bit of... cartoon porn... this is the game for you. The game is self-aware and hilarious, so it isn't too awkward actually. The magical love fairy guides you through the porn scenes. Its a very short game too.

11. Chess -- Rose from 1400 to 1470 on the Chess.com ladder. I'm not necessarily trying to improve anymore... maybe I'll go try to hit 1600 some other year.

----------

I honestly do try to play games like "The Witcher 2" (I have it...) it just doesn't match up with me for some reason. Maybe I'll go through the game next year. Games that I tried this year that I couldn't get into and/or finish:

* Witcher 2
* Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth
* Rocket League
* Driveclub. I usually like racing games... but auto-breaks make the game too easy. Turning them off makes the game too hard, because you're constantly changing cars throughout the game. Its impossible to "become familiar" with a car in only two or three races. Too many cars, too little "learning" time per car. Missing wtf Laguna Seca and major American race-tracks in general.
* Persona 4 Golden
* The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
* Splatoon (I need to stop buying shooting games. I get extremely dizzy within 20 minutes. It doesn't matter how fun it is, I almost vomit)
* The Wonderful 101
First Strike +1/+1 and Indestructible.

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Jesse
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Re: 2016 in review

Postby Jesse » Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:11 pm UTC

Easily Dark Souls 3 for me. My favourite iteration of the series so far (and I still have two bosses to beat). Completely in love with the core gameplay loop, and even the PvP this time.

Otherwise, the Antibirth mod for Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. A community mod two years in the making that has made the game harder than it's ever been with new characters, new items, new bosses, new puzzles, and an entire new path through the game. Incredible work, better than most paid DLC's.

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Re: 2016 in review

Postby Koa » Thu Dec 29, 2016 6:43 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:* Splatoon (I need to stop buying shooting games. I get extremely dizzy within 20 minutes. It doesn't matter how fun it is, I almost vomit)


It's called simulator sickness if you want to look into it. Some dramamine and repeated (but not excessive) exposure can cure it, more or less.

Also I didn't like Witcher 2 and I don't know why. It seemed competent and yet the dialogue choices felt like an ongoing exam. It almost encourages you to metagame your choices, a side effect of too many meaningful choices, which made deciding a chore. The combat wasn't braindead like the rhythm clicking of Witcher 1 and yet at times I might have preferred it due to frustration. The maps are bigger than Witcher 1 and yet I felt like I was in a corridor with much less freedom. I've tried at least two playthroughs years apart but these are always the impressions that I get.

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Re: 2016 in review

Postby Xenomortis » Tue Jan 03, 2017 11:26 am UTC

I can only think of three 2016 releases I've played:

Doom 4 (DOOM):
It was pretty unstable when I played, but that was shortly after a highly stressful upgrade to Windows 10 which left me with a fairly unstable computer (8 months later, it's still causing problems).
The odd blue-screen wouldn't be too bad, but it almost always left the save files corrupted (something I'd not seen in a game for a long time), forcing me to start over. The game's not too long, but I never finished it because I hate repeating the exact same thing over and over, so I stopped after the third reset.
The game is fun, and sufficiently distinct from other shooters to be interesting. It has a feel similar to older shooters, being more "Quake-like", with movement being the main way of surviving in combat.
But it's not like original Doom or Doom 2. Enemy counts are low and your weapons just aren't as lethal. 20 years ago, a single blast from the double-barreled shotgun could obliterate a packed room of zombies; today you kill an imp.
But above all, Doom 4 lacks, like all modern shooters, the tension that older shooters had. Maybe it's just me, but I find playing the original Doom pretty nerve-wracking - you constantly feel under threat, never knowing when a group of enemies might appear. Modern games have a tendency of putting enemies in definite "arenas", providing a stark contrast between its combat and non-combat (moving along corridors or solving some weird puzzle) sections. The complete lack of action "down-time" in the classic Doom is not necessarily a good thing, it's exhausting, but modern games are far too considerate in this regard.
It has multiplayer, but I didn't think it was any good.

TLDR: Interesting game to play, excellent graphics, but a modded Doom port (Brutal Doom) has better gameplay.


Deus Ex: Mankind Divided:
Or DE:HR 2 - the same game with some polish (although the polish to the hacking interface made it harder to use - hard binds Q to "close", so have fun if you usually use that for "Move Left") and a few new augs. The clunky boss battles are pretty much gone (there's one at the end, and it's doable without having invested into all the gunslinger augs).
The main criticisms of this game are its story and it's length. It isn't a "long" game - most of your time is spent messing around in the "home" area (like HR, it's split between "home hub" and "mission" areas).
Playing through, I felt as though the number of enemies that are "obviously bad guys" was quite small - you spend a lot of time up against members of a "pro-aug" group - armed and militant, but not terrorist, or just plain police or security guards. Mafia and "bad-guy henchmen" do show up and I could feel easy about dropping the pacifist regime and paint the walls in their blood/oil.
Like HR, the "lethal" takedown option might as well not exist.

I initially went for a "sneaky" style - not non-lethal, but the "pick people off one at a time" thing. But at the end I decided to just invest into the "Colossus from X-Men" aug and went for the "just mow everyone down" style.


Overwatch:
Yeah there was a closed beta in 2015, but open beta and release was 2016.
I think this is my go to "multiplayer" game. It's closer to the "Quake" end of multiplayer shooters (similar to TF2). I lost interest in TF2 (every addition they made seemed to take away from the game, rather than add to it) and the older games I played just died.
It's not perfect for a multiplayer game - it's missing a few features I like for casual play (larger dedicated servers, good mod support, etc, although this could be more problematic for this kind of game), but it's nowhere near as stressful for me to play as CounterStrike and it's got a good sized player base.
Casual quick-play can be very frustrating, since team composition is so important. A lot of people want to play damage dealers (fine) but Widowmaker (sniper) and Hanzo (archer) are very popular but very situational and skill-dependent (Widow in particular). Expect to be switching to a healer or main tank character a lot.
There's a also a number of (popular) abilities that will just kill you unless you're lucky - if you're hooked by Roadhog as a non-tank then you're almost certainly dead. Caught by Mei? You better kill her quick, and you don't want to be nearby when her ultimate comes down. Such things are frustrating.

Will it hold my interest long term - probably not, unless people I already know keep playing it, the lack of in-game community features (dedicated servers being the big one) will mean I'll probably stop.
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Re: 2016 in review

Postby Chen » Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:41 pm UTC

Koa wrote:It focuses on a smaller set of very well written characters. Regis is one of the few well written scientific-minded characters in gaming. The Duchess is incredibly memorable as a strong leader who wants only the best for her family and country, her emotions take a back seat to her values despite the firm rule. Damien is a good antagonist to Geralt. Sylvia is probably the most contentious character but she does show some complexity as well. I guess I couldn't help but fall in love with the land and characters because it feels like there has been so much effort and love poured into them from the developers. I feel like this is how AAA stories should be, rather than the highly processed, design-by-committee, bureaucratic affairs that come out of, say, Ubisoft's studios. I found myself loving something I normally wouldn't like, and that is swell.


Definitely loved both expansions for the Witcher 3. They were both excellent. Was super surprised to see Orianna in the game. Called her being a vampire because she looks identical to the woman in one of the original trailers. Seems that trailer actually takes place AFTER the game is all done, which is some kinda crazy foreshadowing they did. She even sings the same song from the trailer in the one mission where you're saving the orphanage kids for her.

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Re: 2016 in review

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:16 pm UTC

Only a few new games for me this year, most not actually from 2016, it seems.

Favorite game: Darkest Dungeon. I technically picked this up in Nov. 2015 in EA, but official release was 2016. Great atmosphere, music, art design. Turn-based RPG that is very challenging and quite strategic. Playing through on the Pitch Black mod at the moment, which ramps up the difficulty and adds a huge number of new features.

Others I enjoyed: Talos Principle. From 2014, but only started this year. DLC came out Fall 2016. Puzzle game in the vein of Portal. Very pretty game, some of the puzzles quite challenging. One of the most intellectual games that I've ever played--lots of philosophy and science mixed into the game. DLC is more of the same... if you liked the original, you'll probably like the DLC.

Keep talking and nobody explodes. From 2015. Great couch co-op game. Feels almost more like a board game than anything else.

Firewatch. From 2016. Walking sim. Story and characterization was really good. Ending felt a little off, but not too bad.

Among the Sleep. From 2014. Horror game, from the perspective of a (fairly competent) toddler. Short, but I found it really fun.

Stanley Parable. From 2013. I don't know how to even begin to describe this game.


Unfinished: Beholder. I like the concept--you're a landlord in a totalitarian state, and you're expected to spy on your tenants and report suspicious behaviour, etc., while protecting your family and livelihood. It gives the illusion of some ethical decision making options, but unfortunately, in practice the ethical part of the game basically seems to break down to "Be a complete monster or you and your family are going to die", which saps a lot of the fun from the game.

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Re: 2016 in review

Postby pghero » Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:25 am UTC

Anybody play Total War: Warhammer?

It came out in 2016.

I gave it a go thanks to a review by Angry Joe (on Youtube), and it is definitely hella fun to play.

Not sure if you guys are into real-time strategy, because that's basically what the Total War series is about.

Not only that, but you can tell other Youtubers, when they play it are having a crazy fun time too.

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Re: 2016 in review

Postby You, sir, name? » Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:30 pm UTC

Dark Souls 3, X-COM 2, and Factorio are probably my real highlights. Played and loved the hell out of all three.

Overwatch was fun in that annoying sort of blizzardy way where you kinda rage a bit too much and eventually shrivel into an embittered husk of mostly salt.
I edit my posts a lot and sometimes the words wrong order words appear in sentences get messed up.

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Re: 2016 in review

Postby cyanyoshi » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:36 pm UTC

Looking back, I've played startlingly few games released in 2016. Pokémon Sun is easily my game of the year (heck, it's the only one that I had to pay money for), but something is very wrong when I'm forced to put the travesty known as "The First Skunk Bundle" in the top 5.


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