The 25 Best Videogames of 2016 (So Far)

Games Lists
The 25 Best Videogames of 2016 (So Far)

It’s business as usual in videogames so far in 2016. Remakes, reboots, sequels and spiritual successors struggle to share the spotlight, while smaller developers try to gain some traction in an industry that loves its massively budgeted action blockbusters. Our two favorite games of the year so far fall in that latter camp, showing how in games bigger sometimes can be better. Here are Paste’s favorite games from the first half of 2016.

25. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

Catalyst can be a fun, exciting and unforgettable game. The environments are gorgeous, the ambient electronic music perfectly fits the aesthetic, and the speed and grace of simply maneuvering through its world is more exciting than any other action game this year. The open world set-up even could’ve worked, if the designers had reduced the amount of extraneous business clogging the world, eliminated the need to backtrack for the story to make sense, and if missions progressed logically from one section of the city to the next with minimal repetition. The various runs and time trials you can pursue eliminate much of the padding that weighs the main game down, and the ability to make your own challenges is a common sense addition that adds a taste of friendly one-upmanship. There’s a lot to love about this game.—Garrett Martin

24. Far Cry Primal

This prehistoric take on the Far Cry formula drops the guns and puts a new focus on stealth and hunting. It perhaps doesn’t break enough from tradition—it’s as familiar and overstuffed as any Ubisoft open-world game—but the parts that it gets right stand out as some of the best in the entire line. It shines when it commits to its prehistoric vision and ignores the unnecessary story and surplus of busy work, and offers the potential of a new and unique off-shoot, with the promise of future refinement and the possibility of growing into its own fully-formed beast.—Garrett Martin

23. Ratchet and Clank


The latest series entry is a semi-remake of the original game, and is based on the feature film. Ratchet & Clank on the Playstation 4 is a visually stunning, heartfelt, enjoyable and riotous return to form for the franchise, and is easily one of the PS4’s best exclusives. Large portions of the game are just more technically impressive versions of the 2002 original, but Insomniac manages to include some new features and levels. Holocards are a prime example; the more you manage to collect, the more combat bonuses you gain.—Alex Gilyadov

22. Quantum Break

Remedy’s videogame / TV show hybrid might be a little too gun-heavy, considering its hero’s amazing time-manipulating superpowers, but if you can look past the constant shooting (and the low production values of the live-action portion) you’ll find a game whose various parts combine to form a satisfying whole.—Garrett Martin

21. MLB The Show 16


The RPG-like Road to the Show is as strong as ever, and the best sports game on the market (this side of the NBA 2K series) continues to be an almost overwhelmingly deep recreation of America’s pastime. What elevates this year’s installment above the last few is the new Conquest Mode, which is like baseball Risk, where you play other teams to take over the fans based in different parts of America. In a head to head match-up, a stand-alone mobile version of Conquest Mode could probably take traditional fantasy baseball to extra innings.—Garrett Martin

20. The Witness

This relentlessly cryptic puzzle game features some of the most brutally tough puzzles in recent memory, but it’s more aggravating for its simplistic patina of grade school philosophy than any of its actual challenge. That’s because it never really breaks the rules that it establishes with the introduction of every new concept. When your eyes aren’t rolling back into your head over the game’s shallow stabs at depth, they’ll be locked tight on the latest puzzle that has you stumped, as you try to suss out the solution and move on to the next one.—Garrett Martin

19. Hitman

Wander… long enough and you’ll also find interesting sub-plots that key you into new avenues of approach. The best one I found had to do with one woman asking another to infiltrate the same group of people you were trying to in order to save a magazine one of the targets owned. Dangling the prospect of over 200 people losing their jobs over her, the woman convinces her friend to risk her life. She then heads to a nearby bathroom to call her friend as she agonizes over what’s she’s been asked to do. These stories build that sense of place Hitman’s always been great at creating, and they make you want to continue exploring.—Suriel Vazquez

18. Kirby: Planet Robobot


It seems like there’s a new Kirby game every quarter. Planet Robobot is on the 3DS, so don’t expect a cool mixed-media aesthetic with yarn or clay. This is a classic Kirby platformer, with the inhalation of bad guys and everything, albeit an exceptionally well-designed one that makes smart use of the 3DS’s various technical gimmickry. Robobot doesn’t reinvent the traditional Kirby platformer, but it sucks up everything good about the recent ones and assimilates those traits to make itself stronger.—Garrett Martin

17. Adr1ft

Adr1ft it nails the feeling of weightlessness. Or at least, the scenes in space flicks where someone’s drifting in the ether, and all the little thrusters on their suit fire off rapidly in different directions to stabilize them. In Adr1ft, your fingers on the keyboard work those thrusters (it’s not as satisfying on a controller), and you’ll probably dance them around whenever you wind up in a corner and struggle to get yourself out of it. Sometimes, like during that big jump, it’s better to fly in a direction, let go, and adjust as you see fit. And when you let go and just float, you can take a breather and marvel at the wonders of space from a perspective you typically don’t get to see.—Suriel Vazquez

16. Push Me Pull You


This should’ve been the sport of the future: two teams, two worms with human heads and limbs on either side, a ball and a ring. Two to four players go head-to-head to keep that ball on their side of the ring as much as possible, stretching and squeezing their human-worm hybrids all around each other. It’s a little gross, a little adorable and entirely fun, either with one friend or three.—Garrett Martin

15. Street Fighter V

It’s a careful, calculated Street Fighter title that seems much more approachable to newcomers. The changes all work excellently, and mixed with the new style of graphics, the presentation is top-notch. There’s no doubt that the bones are here to build something to last for years of competitive Street Fighter to come.—Eric Van Allen

14. Enter the Gungeon


Enter The Gungeon is something like the ten thousandth game that appears to be a roguelike, roguelight, or “x genre game with roguelike elements.” What is important is that Enter The Gungeon takes something similar to the level generation format of Spelunky and pairs it with the fast third-person shooting of Nuclear Throne. It is a game that is confident in its lineage and how it has generated a shift in that lineage, and as someone who has spent an immense amount of time in those games, I can appreciate that this game is doing something unique.—Cameron Kunzelman

13. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE


Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, a mash-up of Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem made by Atlus and published by Nintendo, is basically a game about idols. Villains appear to suck the Performa, a musical-based life force, out of the hapless citizens of downtown Tokyo. You and your crew show up and reveal your identities as justice fighters through transformation, very much like magical boys and girls, and beat up the other-worldly possessive forces causing bad influences on entertainers and artists in the local Shinjuku scene. And the fun part is these activities are all pulled off with that Persona flair and an added Fire Emblem flavoring to taste.—Amanda Cosmos

12. Superhot


Superhot’s shootouts make its case better than its narrative layers ever could. Its methodical take on shooter combat forces you to linger on the consequences of your actions without saying a word. And that’s all it needed to be.—Suriel Vazquez

11. XCOM 2

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a boring game in the sense that to solve it means to operate it like the most undependable machine. XCOM 2 is the most extreme opposite from base management to isometric choice, requiring that you take risks, move quickly and generally understand that you’re always going to be between a rock and a hard place when it comes to making decisions that get the job done and minimize risk to your soldiers. That final factor is the core strength of XCOM 2, and it is what elevates it beyond yet another tactical game in an ever-growing genre. If the alien invasion genre is really all about humanity and how it gets tested, then this game mobilizes that genre in order to frame the individual player being put to the test at all times.—Cameron Kunzelman

10. Fire Emblem Fates


Tragedy falls on both sides of this war no matter what you or your hero do. Friends and family die or permanently retreat with regularity. Fire Emblem is both an adorable game about cute anime kids becoming friends and lovers, and also one of the cruelest and most unforgiving virtual death marches you’ll ever play. Don’t hold all that death against Fates: it’s the game’s birthright.—Garrett Martin

9. Dark Souls III

Dark Souls III would be a fitting end to a videogame series, and we don’t get many of those. I enjoyed almost all of my time with it, but I’m not sure if I’d want another game like this to come by for a long time. As a comprehensive second draft of the best moments from the series, it left me with fond memories of everything I love about these games. And by sprucing up those moments, it gives new players a chance to finally understand why these games matter. It doesn’t make sweeping changes to the series’ structure or rhythms, but just this one time, it can get away with tugging at familiar heart strings. I came into this game hoping it wouldn’t be “just another Dark Souls game.” But I’m glad that’s what I got.—Suriel Vazquez

8. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Uncharted 4’s best quieter moments are as memorable as any of its action set-pieces, which can be as elaborate and disorienting as anything in the superlative Uncharted 2. True, the quieter moments stand out because there are less of them—the parts where you jump, climb and shoot drag on far too long, as usual—but also because they’re done as well as games like this have ever done them. From Sam and Nathan Drake reestablishing trust after 15 years apart, to Nathan and Elena’s increasing boredom with domestic life, Uncharted 4 spends enough time fleshing out the human stakes to make you care about the shoot-outs and explosions.—Garrett Martin

7. Oxenfree

Oxenfree captures the vicissitudes of friendship, especially the heightened passions of teenage friendship. No matter how believable these characters and their relationships can be, though, you might find yourself wanting to get away from them altogether, especially early in the game. Even Alex, the character you control, can occasionally rankle with her petty reactions and annoying humor. In that way, Oxenfree recreates that sense of self-mortification that should be most acute during your teenaged years, and how we’re not always capable of saying what we want to say.—Garrett Martin

6. Inside


Like Limbo before it, Inside is a dark puzzle game set in a deadly and oppressive world. The boy you control will die suddenly and frequently in violently graphic ways, and the world he explores is almost entirely cast in shadow. Inside is a bit more defined than Limbo, though, replacing that game’s more nature-based fears with Orwellian overtones and a dystopia run by man, and then making your own character complicit in the same kind of mind control that’s ruined his town.—Garrett Martin

5. Hyper Light Drifter

The world of Hyper Light Drifter is a rotting corpse, and the lizard people or bear people or bird people of that world continue to dwell in the ruins of some kind of technologically advanced civilization. You, embodying the player character, are haunted by your own death, and you’re haunted by some kind of force that keeps this world in its state of decay. It is unclear whether progress in the game means finally killing the world or setting it free, and that ambivalence sticks with me even now.—Cameron Kunzelman

4. Stardew Valley

For all the nostalgia-driven indie gaming experiences we’ve had over the past decade, the long-running and much-loved world of Harvest Moon had gone curiously neglected until more recently. Stardew Valley is easily the best of these virtual farming love-letters, making vast improvements on core mechanics while adding its own unique flavor. It’s faithful enough that devoted Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons fans fell in love with it, but approachable enough that it introduced an entirely new group of gamers to the joys of a pixellated country life.—Janine Hawkins

3. Firewatch


Firewatch is a game, but it’s not useful to write about it as a game, though. Who cares what your fingers do while you’re playing this? Yes: it has graphics. The stuff that matters is what Henry and Delilah talk about on their radios. It’s what Henry reads throughout the few campsites and outposts he comes across. It’s what you feel as the story unfolds like a short story on your television screen, visiting the private grief of others who can struggle to communicate just as torturously as all of us in the real world can. And although this dual character study can feel a little slight, and has a few improbable notes that are struck seemingly just to enhance a sense of mystery, that central friendship between Henry and Delilah is powerful. It feels real, and important for both of them.—Garrett Martin


The player, a gun, and things to kill. That has always has been DOOM, and id’s legacy has been rekindled with DOOM (2016). You may argue that a good sequel’s job is to iterate on past successes, to further develop mechanics, or to evolve a title to the next step in its life cycle. But DOOM (2016) isn’t a departure or a reimagining. It’s something much better, much more pure. DOOM (2016) is a homecoming. And boy, does it feel good to be home.—Patrick Lindsey

1. Overwatch

I feel like a hero when I play my favorite characters and I get choked up at the idea of helping my team. Inclusivity and positivity hide behind some intelligent, pared-down game choices and in doing so, Blizzard has spun an engaging fantasy around this idea that if we all just try, then that’s good enough. Maybe it doesn’t matter if I’m the best player, as long as I try to be better. In a world full of games where being the best is the only space to occupy, Overwatch at least tries to create a new and better future for the rest of us.—Nico Deyo

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