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2016 was a pretty good year for gaming. Some solid releases, a couple decent dramas, remasters were launched and announced. One way or another there was no way for a gamer to be bored.
There were several universal hot topics that reverberated across big parts of gaming communities. This our subjective short list with some of the most memorable topics in 2016 gaming.
If you are anything like us, your flabber was most likely very gasted when the first trailer for a new Hideo Kojima production premiered.
It was a very odd trailer, hard to even categorise. It gave us a buck-naked Norman Reedus, a baby that turned into soot(?) on his hands, load of dead aquatic lifeforms. Pretty much nobody knew what to make of it. The full trailer didn’t make things any easier, either.
To make it clear: the game is likely to blow everybody’s mind, because it has a number of talented people attached to it: Hideo Kojima at the helm, Norman Reedus, Guillermo del Toro, and Mads Mikkelsen in important roles. The last one is obviously the villain (or at least the antagonist), since that’s what happens when you are Mads Mikkelsen, I guess.
Is this what happens when Hideo Kojima can do what he wants? The game is generally described as an action game, but Kojima claims it’s mostly because we don’t even have a proper genre name for what he plans for us.
Probably the only thing that we can be sure of is that Death Stranding will, in fact, be a video game.
No Man’s Sky
If there is one gaming drama to describe 2016 it’s definitely the critical failure of No Man’s Sky and the general uproar about it not fulfilling the promises.
Which is fair, even the biggest defenders of the game can’t honestly claim everything promised by Hello Games can be found in the game at its present state. NMS could have done much better if it came as an Early Access game, but that’s a matter for another story. The outrage reached incredible levels, with every other detractor coming up with very witty titles like “No Man’s Lie” etc. A lot of features were missing, and the full list can be found on Reddit.
There was even a complaint sent to ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) to have it investigate Hello Games’ claims in relation to the product delivered. The complaint was not upheld, which hardly quenched the gamers’ thirst for blood.
No Man’s Sky is not a great game by far. Nor a complete game. Nor, let’s face it, the worst game ever, despite the rhetoric of many gamers. But it certainly *is* a good lesson in not pre-ordering games, especially ones where the promises are inversely proportional to developer experience.
Oh boy, Blizzard hit the jackpot with Overwatch, and not only in the ways they predicted. Let’s address the most divisive ones.
The biggest problem came because of Tracer’s (Overwatch’s poster girl) backside, of all things. A user voiced a complaintsuggestionfeedback (depends on your point of view) that Tracer’s over-the-shoulder victory pose and the resulting prominent exposure of her cartoony posterior was out-of-character, needlessly sexualized, and generally improper. The same user stated that the same pose for Widowmaker makes sense and is fine, so it’s not a case of all-or-nothing.
And boy, did the Internet explode. One side agreed with the feedback, or at least found satisfaction in being contrary to the other side, which screamed bloody murder and lamented the sacrifice of Blizzard’s creative freedom to pandering to whiners. There was a middle ground, mostly unheard in the uproar. As for Blizzard, they agreed with the feedback and changed this pose… to something straight out of pin-up. Effectively they switched a hatchet for an axe.
The end result of the entire debate (if we can call it that) is free publicity for Rule 34 artists and a couple of pages devoted to the exposure of Tracer’s posterior. Good job, Blizzard.
To make things ever funnier, Blizzard tried to make a move to remove said Rule 34 fanart (including videos often made in Source Filmmaker and using models ripped from the OW game files). A well-intentioned move, aimed to keep improper imagery from Overwatch’s younger audience (the game is rated T on ESRB), so that’s nice of them. The problem is Blizzard forgot that trying to remove something from the Internet has never worked before and usually yielded the exact opposite results. So was the case this time, too. So again: good job, Blizzard.
On the flipside there’s the whole “Mei is bae” thing and the avalanche of largely harmless generally romantic fanart.
In other words in addition to being a solid shooter, Overwatch is apparently also very memetic.
2016 is also the year of Pokémon, to some extent. The release of Pokémon Sun & Moon (with a bit of silliness we address in our honorable mentions) is one thing, but the topic that’s been on almost everyone’s mind is Pokémon GO.
For those who don’t know: Pokémon GO is a scavenger hunt-like mobile app. It works in a way similar to Niantic (the game’s developer) previous production: Ingress. PoGO uses Google Maps and augmented reality, letting its users find fantastic creatures in their cities. It’s engaging, although still very much a work in progress. The app launched in June and for a while it was the hottest topic. The userbase explosively surpassed such apps at Tinder, Facebook and Twitter for good while, the craze was reported by the media, it was insane.
Even more insane were the patronizing comments of people who didn’t play it. They claimed it caused societal rot (although PoGO players often met in big groups thanks to the game), caused people to walk off cliffs and bridges (most incidents were either wildly exaggerated or just made up for cheap clicks), and was the death of human reasoning. In general the most vocal were the folks who had never played it, probably never even had seen it, and the only thing they needed to pass judgement was hearing the name “Pokemon”.
Same old, same old, it was a litany every gamer has heard at some point.
On a slightly more annoying note, Niantic went on record early on as an utterly uncommunicative developer, almost to the point of ignoring their playerbase and their complaints. One of the most ridiculous examples is the answer one user posted on Reddit. Take a look yourself, it’s too beautiful to explain.
The game has improved since, but a sizeable part of the playerbase is gone, likely waiting for the time the game is ready for its v.1 on Android instead of current 0.49.1.
Call of Duty: Infinite Dislikes
It must have been a terrible day for Activision and Infinity Ward.
When they launched the announcement trailer for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare on 2 May this year they probably had no idea it was going to have a devastating like-to-dislike ration. At the moment of writing this article the trailer has over 36 million views, nearly 3,5 million dislikes and just over 550k likes. Harsh doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Amusingly enough, the game ended up being just fine. Not spectacular, but perfectly fine, so it proved that trailers mean little. Besides: it got people talking.
That guy with a severe case of Remasteritis
This year’s release of Assassin’s Creed: Ezio Collection was very welcome, as an idea. There were some issues with it, not the least of which is a guy who must have taken some strong stuff before coming to a bout against Ezio’s crew.
The glitch was made famous by Polygon, and although it was later debunked as something that also afflicted the original edition (as if it makes it fine), it did its quick tour around the Internet this year.
We promised you more Pokémon and by the first generation nostalgia, we are going to deliver. One of the biggest gaming laughs this year came from the reveal of an Alola Exeggutor. Some of the Gen1 Pokémon received an alternative form in Sun & Moon, and Exeggutor is one of them. Take a look at this poor guy compared to the original design.
It was a laughing stock for a good while, and the memes, oh the memes. Exeggutor isn’t the only one to get a fancy new region-specific form, but it’s by far the weirdest.
So that’s our entirely subjective list of hot gaming topics that held the Internet’s attention this year. If we didn’t cover the topic you found the most important (which is very likely) don’t hesitate to write a comment. And if you want to experience for yourself the silly, the odd, and the divisive of gaming, there are many awesome winter video game sales for you to find what you’re looking for.