The 10 best games of 2016 (so far)
We're at the halfway point of the year, and while there are still loads of hugely exciting games on the horizon, it's time to take stock of what's already out there.
Thankfully, there's no need to wait for greatness: it has been a fantastic six months for gaming, with an impressive array of new games for consoles and PC alike, including fresh titles and big entries in beloved franchises. If you haven't been keeping up, then summer is the time to loop back on the year's best before the autumn/winter release barrage.
Need some pointers? No problem! We've racked our brains and gone over our reviews so far in 2016 and come up with the 10 games you need to check out ASAP. And if you're plotting your gaming calendar for the months ahead, be sure to scope out our list of the 30 most anticipated games of 2016.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Platform: PlayStation 4
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End currently rules our list of the top video games in the world right now, and it could well stay there for a while: the conclusion to Naughty Dog's legendary action series could be one of the finest games ever crafted, to be quite honest.
Nathan Drake's last adventure has all of the swashbuckling thrills of the previous entries but often taken to another level, complete with unbelievably stunning visuals thanks to the PS4. Better yet, A Thief's End really delivers on the storytelling and characters, with some of the most human moments we've ever seen in a game. Buy a PS4 for this one, if you haven't already.
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Never doubt Blizzard Entertainment. Why? Because even when the company tries something totally new, it always, always nails the landing. That was true for the world-conquering card-battler Hearthstone, and it's very much true again with the absolutely addictive Overwatch.
This team-based shooter pulls all the right influence from Team Fortress 2 but then amplifies everything, delivering a huge cast of diverse and wonderful heroes, delightfully punched-up presentation, and an incredible, insatiable urge to keep playing. We'll be playing Overwatch for years, surely – you might as well join us.
Tom Clancy's The Division
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
We weren't sure what to expect from The Division following delays and an iffy demo at last year's E3, but Ubisoft's latest open-world opus delivered in all the right ways. It starts with the dazzling vision of a ruined, disaster-struck New York City, but certainly doesn't stop there.
There's an impressive level of detail throughout the experience and everything is alluring, whether it's the cover-based co-op shooting, the extensive role-playing elements, or the intense Dark Zone combat. It's a lot to take in at first, but then again… if you want a big, online game to dig into, there's a lot, period.
Ratchet & Clank
Platform: PlayStation 4
It's hard to get too excited about a PS4 remake of a PS2 game that was already previously remastered back on PS3, right? You'd think so, but then again, Ratchet & Clank isn't just any game, and Insomniac is a world-class creator that didn't phone in this major overhaul.
Although it retains the core of the original 2002 adventure, Ratchet & Clank feels like a fresh start for the platform-action great, updating and modernising the familiar blasting, swinging, and jumping gameplay while delivering one of the prettiest games we've ever played.
Hyper Light Drifter review
We're still several months away from the next big evolution of The Legend of Zelda, but if you want to play an amazing tribute to the series' classic design, look no further than Hyper Light Drifter. This long-anticipated indie absolutely lives up to the hype, although it may not be for everyone, given the Dark Souls-esque difficulty level.
Besides the savage challenge at times, Hyper Light Drifter presents some seriously eye-popping retro-inspired artwork and a powerfully affecting soundtrack to match, and successfully brings the old-school into the modern day. And it's coming to consoles this year, thankfully.
Platforms: PS4, PC, Xbox One
Doom? In 2016? Believe it! Like Wolfenstein: The New Order a couple years back, Doom does a surprisingly excellent job of bringing back a comparatively rudimentary classic, giving the run-and-gun shooter a modern sheen and numerous upgrades while maintaining its familiar spirit.
While the new Doom is still built around blasting, the level design isn't as constricted as the classics and the addition of stunning enemies to execute health-boosting glory kills adds some nice strategy into the mix. The multiplayer is underwhelming right now, but changes are coming and the campaign alone is worth the price of admission.
Firaxis makes huge, engrossing games designed to suck away all your free time and attention (in a good way, of course), and XCOM 2 is only the latest in a long line of those. Like its superb predecessor, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, this currently PC-exclusive sequel is a tactical masterpiece worth savouring.
Clearly, your previous efforts were in vain: the aliens have taken over the earth, but it's not too late to flex some strategic muscle and try to turn back the invaders via turn-based battles and off-the-battlefield maneuvering. And luckily, console versions are due out in September (just before Firaxis' Civilization VI, of course).
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
While many big AAA action games seem intent on giving you larger worlds to explore, Remedy's one-of-a-kind Quantum Break focuses on delivering one amazingly memorable linear quest. And that's quite fine with us.
Quantum Break's big hook is that hero Jack Joyce can freely manipulate time, which adds a lot of over-the-top oomph to his attacks, plus it's all wrapped up in live-action cinematics that look and seem like they're from an actual TV show and star notable actors. You might not crave a second playthrough on this one, but at least the first is really great.
Dark Souls III
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Dark Souls has been the obsession of choice for millions of hardcore players in recent years, and Dark Souls III only refines and expands what's already so addictive. The hack-and-slash addition might not be revolutionary, but given the source material, it really doesn't need to be.
Like earlier entries, this is a tense hack-and-slash adventure built on precision and skill: you'll fight incredible beasts and die often, but put all of that gradual improvement and progress back into pushing further ahead. Dark Souls III benefits from much improved graphics and a larger scale, and is totally essential for players with a masochistic streak.
Platforms: PC, Xbox One
Here's a game that seriously lives up to its name. This super-original indie shooter is a blazing new take on the genre, thanks to one huge twist: the world's action only moves when your character does, which means plotting every inch ahead is totally crucial.
Pair that with the stark white-and-red aesthetic and Superhot stands out in the crowded FPS market – it's really nothing like any shooter you've played before. It's on PC and Xbox One now, but to be honest, the most engaging experience could come with the Oculus Rift-powered VR version due out before the end of 2016. Don't wait, though!