For many, 2016 was a bit of a shit year. With controversial political outcomes, a plethora of celebrity deaths and people just generally sucking, a lot of people can’t wait to see the back of 2016. However, for gamers 2016 was a bit of a treasure trove. From AAA smash hits, indie darlings, anticipated sequels and a game that took almost a decade to come into fruition, this year certainly kept gamers busy.

With this in mind I wanted to take a look at some of my favourite titles released this year. For the record, I haven’t played all the games released in 2016 and whilst the likes of Titanfall 2 and Overwatch are on an ever growing list of games to play, they will be noticeably absent from this list.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

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Naughty Dog has worked tirelessly to make their Uncharted franchise one of the most fun and compelling action adventure game series. Yet despite the legacy left behind from the previous three offerings, Uncharted 4 is able to stand on it’s own feet. Highly expected to be the last in the series that focuses on Nathan Drake, the developer has seemingly used every trick to make sure the lead protagonist goes out with a bang.

From the gorgeous environments, engaging puzzles and action sequences that look like they belong on the big screen, a Thief’s End is a satisfying and climatic conclusion to the series. Whilst the single player campaign is the real standout for the game, its recently added Survival Mode does offer additional entertainment and replay-ability value.

There will be more on Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End on Beyond the Loading Screen soon.

Dishonored 2

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For the the follow up to it’s 2012 hit, Dishonored, Arkane Studios has perfectly refined and built upon the world it first introduced us to. Dishonored 2 is one of the best stealth games I have played and in many ways I prefer the sequel over the original. Whilst the first few hours of gameplay feels like we are revisiting the same game, Dishonored 2 really grows into its own with its stunning backdrops, intelligent level design and a choice system that feels like no other as players are able to choose how they approach certain situations.

The addition of a second playable character in the guise of Emily Kaldwin with her own unique play style and power set also feels like a natural step forward for the game. For some, these additions to the game aren’t enough for it to stand out from the original but for those who want a perfectly crafted stealth game, Dishonored 2 will be my first recommendation.

Read the full review of Dishonored 2 here.

Battlefield 1

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With many modern FPSs attempting to force us in the future with their sci-fi story lines, characters and weapons, Battlefield 1 has taken a huge risk by placing the player into the past. This proves to be a risk that pays off as we are presented with one of the most compelling shooters in recent years.

Whilst I’ve only touched the surface so far, the single player campaign is just excellent. Rather than follow a single narrative, we are presented with a handful of stories that each focuses on a different soldier’s perspective of the conflict. Using the Great War as a backdrop to any video game is no easy feat but surprisingly Battlefield 1 handles it with such care it is able to create an enjoyable game that tells the true horrors of war from differing perspectives.

Beyond the Loading Screen will be featuring more on Battlefield 1 in 2017.

Firewatch

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As the debut offering from Campo Santo, Firewatch is one of the most elegant and compelling titles produced this year. As main character Henry, you are tasked with watching over an uninhabited national park for the summer with your only companion in the form of a voice on the radio.

The story is immediately engaging as you explore the gorgeous scenery, complete a series of tasks such as find out who is setting off fireworks in the park and confide in your companion for your reasons why you took this job in the first place.

Despite being a relatively short game, it is a unique experience that combines the exploration and isolation from games like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture with Telltale’s narrative choices.

Expect to see more on Firewatch on Beyond the Loading Screen soon.

The Last Guardian

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Almost a decade in the making, The Last Guardian finally hit the PS4 in December 2016. Whilst it is a technically flawed game, with a camera mechanic that often feels like it belongs on the PS2, it is also a beautiful game that needs to be experienced.

The real gem of the game comes in the form of the relationship between the young boy and the mythical creature, Trico. The two characters rely on each other to navigate each area and complete a series of puzzles in order to escape the ruins they find themselves. From the opening scene to the emotive finale, watching these characters bond feels like a real joy and the game deserves to be applauded for creating one of the best in-game companions in Trico.

Read the full review of The Last Guardian here.

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