With 2016 finally over (boy was it a wild one!) Ten Ton Hammer is pleased to present our Best of 2016 Awards. Our process for nominations and determining the winners in a given category has largely remained the same for the past 11 years: John, Jeff and I get together and chew the fat over what games we liked - simple.
As was noticed in 2015, the biggest trend for 2016 was the continued rise of the multiplayer title, whether it be first person, third person or falling perfectly into an existing genre. MOBA's were hot property in 2016 and not surprisingly, once again made eye-watering revenues for Valve, Riot and Blizzard. If we didn't have enough, Epic, Motiga and Gearbox all got in on the act with mixed results.
As we went about the process of determining which titles deserve inclusion in our Best of 2016 awards, one word helps to sum up the primary criteria involved: fun. We feel all the games here have an immediacy and fun-factor that allows them to stand out from the competition without having to dedicate hours of your life to truly enjoy them.
So without further delay, we’re pleased to bring you Ten Ton Hammer’s Best of 2016 Awards!
Released at a time where the competition was fierce (much to EA's absolute stupidity), Titanfall 2 stands head and shoulders above most of the first-person competition. While it might lack the bombast of Battlefield 1 or the marketing pull of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, it makes up for this in polish and originality. With a slick single-player campaign that's undoubtedly up there with the best and a multiplayer mode vastly superior to its predecessor, it's a travesty to think it sold poorly when it first launched.
Fortunately and through word of mouth (and some heavy discounting by retailers) has seen Titanfall 2 recover some ground. Despite the marketing mishandling, it absolutely deserves your time and attention and can be picked up for as little $15.
There was never a doubt that Overwatch would be a success, the more appropriate question was how much of a success. When the memes began to roll out and you couldn't move for fan art, Cosplay and an avalanche of 'Play of the Game' videos during open beta, it was all the proof that was needed: Overwatch was going to be big.
Blizzard have now amassed over 20 million players in a very short space of time and in terms of popularity, it shows little signs of slowing down. While we'd never argue that it truly innovates, it's unquestionably a slick multiplayer experience. Every Hero is brilliant to play (even if Mei deserves to burn in hell) while the level of polish across the entire game is exceptional.
We'd still like to see Heroes delivered at a quicker pace and see newly released Heroes have a little more "oomph" out of the blocks, but for the most part, Overwatch is undeniably good value and will gaurentee you hours of fun.
Heroes of the Storm
I think it's fair to say that Heroes of the Storm launched before it was truly ready. It received somewhat mixed reviews when it arrived and some scores that probably - in hindsight - truly reflected its quality.
Undeterred, Blizzard have continued to develop Heroes of the Storm to the point where the game is nearly unrecognisable from when it first arrived. With 16 heroes released in 2016, combined with 24 updates, 53 new skins (alongside 26 new mounts), two new Battlegrounds, Ranked ladder revamp, seasons, draft mode and Heroes Brawl, Blizzard have excelled themselves.
There's still plenty of room for the game to improve, especially if Blizzard bring greater complexity to new and existing heroes, however it's undeniably good. Many might consider it "MOBA-Lite" with its lack of itemisation and shared experience, but there's enough originality here that it's undoubtedly worth your time. Best of all, it's totally free to play with a very generous Gold system for purchasing Heroes.
Paragon has a long way to go before it can begin to compete against the likes of SMITE, Heroes of the Storm or League of Legends but what separates it from the crowd is that it already does so many things expectionally well. 2016 has been a huge year for Epic and their understanding of not only the MOBA genre, but how Paragon fits into it.
Having recently done away with their first map (Legacy) they've only just released what they hope will be their final design: Monolith. Smaller, leaner, smarter and already addressing many of the issues players used to grumble about. Monolith might not be perfect and it still needs time to have its visuals finalized but it has all the makings of something very special.
If Epic can continue as they are by refining Heroes, balance, the map itself and getting those match times down, there's every chance that 2017 could finally be the year where a new MOBA breaks into the big-league. The Z-Axis alone, combined with some truly beautiful Heroes gives Paragon a huge head-start against the likes of SMITE. The only difficulty Epic face is convincing people to jump ship.
I adore Battlerite. I loved Bloodline Champions and not only did Battlerite turn out to be its spiritual successor but a game that - as far as we're concerned - blew everyone else out of the water in 2016.
Bloodline Champions was always ahead of its time and Stunlock Studios timed Battlerite's arrival to perfection. Despite its Early Access status, Stunlock not only delivered an incredibly polished product but one that had genuine depth. With a prevalance of skill over itemisation, Battlerite takes everything most players love about MOBA's and throws them straight into an arena.
What I particularly love about Battlerite is that it's fast in almost every department. Match-making is quick, matches themselves are over in a matter of minutes and the combat itself zips along at lightning speeds. It might have a steep learning curve, but the game still remains accessible thanks to its non-ranked mode.
So why does Battlerite deserve our Game of the Year over all those above? Well, it all boils down to the fact it's a tiny studio who have managed to create something exceptional, on a small budget. Better still, they've raised the bar on how we view Early Access products (actually delivering something excellent) whilst also achieving fantastic fan and critic reviews.
Although Stunlock Studios have a long road ahead of them before it officially launches in late 2017, Battlerite is absolutely worth your time.
Game of the Year 2016
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