Given the inordinate number of low-budget/indie games I’ve played this year, I fully expected my GotY to be something most people have never heard of. In reviewing my list, however, I surprised myself by picking 3 AAA big-budget releases. I guess it just goes to show that production values really do matter.

Winner – XCOM 2


The follow-up to 2012’s remake of the classic planetary defense game XCOM was, for me at least, a resounding success. I know the other members of the KP crew aren’t as big of fans as I am, but if you enjoy strategic turn-based combat, I don’t think you can go wrong with XCOM 2. Building on the strategic combat system of the 2012 version, XCOM 2 also manages to bring back the sense of dread and urgency in the original series. Playing as the insurgents instead of the defenders lends itself well to some interesting gameplay choices and mechanics. I particularly enjoyed the ability to set up ambushes in the field and mow down whole squads of aliens before they even have a chance to react. The tech level of the aliens always feels one step ahead of you and the doomsday clock is ticking from day 1. Add in the robust modding scene for near infinite replayability, and you have, in my opinion, a clear choice for Game of the Year.

1st Runner Up – Doom


While not exactly a sequel like the other 2 games on this list, Bethesda’s re-imagining of the classic shooter is what many critics though extinct: an amazing, engrossing FPS with classic sensibilities. Recent editorials on the cancelled Doom 4 revealed that the main reason developer iD scrapped it was that it lacked the ‘soul’ of a true Doom game; a problem that most definitely does not apply here.

While Doom does change a few key aspects of the original (There’s an actual story? And Doomguy can jump?!), it never lets itself get bogged down in the way many modern shooters do. There is no cover mechanic, there are no extended cut scenes, no squad mates to worry about. Just you, an arsenal of weaponry, and the hordes of Hell. The mechanics are responsive and rewarding, the action is fast and hard, and the new upgrade system adds some much needed replayability to the single player campaign. And though the multiplayer experience isn’t anything to write home about, SnapMap mode is definitely worth noting. A full-fledged in-game level editor, I’ve seen it make anything from Outlast-style pacifist levels to Super Mario with guns.

Also of note is the fact that Doom recently dropped its Denuvo DRM. A lot of gamers refuse to buy Denuvo games on principle, so if you find yourself in that number, there’s no better time to pick up this top-notch shooter.

2nd Runner Up – Dark Souls 3


Dark Souls 1 and 2 were definitely my favorite games in the years that they were released, and I loved Dark Souls 3 as well, but I feel at this point that FromSoft has said just about all they can with the series. I don’t think it’s necessary to go over the mechanical details of the game since the gameplay is essentialy unchanged from it’s predecessors, so feel free to read our excellent review by Chad or listen to our Spoilercast for more details.  I will say, however, that I’m glad From have pretty much made clear that this will be the last Souls game for a long time, if ever. It’s a fantastic game, but they’re getting dangerously close to the Assassin’s Creed/Call of Duty model of remaking the same game simply because it’s popular and I’m happy to see the series go out on a high note.

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