Best games of 2016
The amount of new games coming out each year is more than any one person can handle. Even if you didn't have pesky "responsibilities" to tie you down, there's just no way you can get through every single game that comes out in 12 months' time.
For the most part, that's a good problem to have. The video game industry is thriving with this much choice. For the first time, well, ever, it truly feels like there's something for everyone.
If you like a third-person shooter with a bit of a sci-fi bend, you've got Quantum Break to satisfy your physics-loving appetite. Want a sports game that feels more like an RPG? Check out MLB 2016: The Show.
While there are other sites that will offer a comprehensive list of games you need to play right before the clock strikes midnight on January 1, 2017, we thought we'd update you every month with the games we think you ought to be playing right now.
This way, you can keep the responsibilities (i.e. your job and significant other) and only spend time with the best games each and every month. You can thank us later.
Want the best of all-time lists? We have ones for the best Xbox One games, the best PS4 games, the best Nintendo 3DS games, the best PC games, the best indie games, the best iPhone games and the best Android games.
The Witness (January; PS4, PC)
When we talk about fresh twists on gameplay, The Witness is a fine example. It took famed video game designer Jonathan Blow nearly seven long years to finally release it, but The Witness's superbly interesting blend of puzzle solving and emergent narrative is something that's as haunting and beautiful as the game's environments.
Far Cry Primal (February; PS4, Xbox One, PC)
It's not anyone's fault, but at this point, there are just way too many games set during the modern era. If you're looking for a change in scenery, check out Far Cry Primal, an open-world, first-person shooter set in the Stone Age. While that first-person shooter part might sound a bit difficult without, you know, guns, the game outfits you with everything you need to fend off threats and love every second of your time spent in a land long before bullets, modern medicine and smartphones.
- Read our Far Cry Primal review
Firewatch (February; PS4, PC)
Like games such as Gone Home or Telltale's The Walking Dead, there are some detractors out there who claim that there's almost no gameplay in Firewatch. They call it a "walking simulator" or say that two characters just aren't enough to hold a story together. But, for every one hater out there, there are six gamers (we're guesstimating) who absolutely fell in love with the foreboding atmosphere and surprisingly human story of Firewatch.
Pokken Tournament (March; Wii U)
Just because it's a fighting game based on the traditionally methodical Pokémon franchise, don't think Pokken Tournament can't hold its own against tried-and-true 3D brawlers, like Tekken, Dead or Alive or SoulCalibur. This is a fantastic fighter with a surprising amount of complexity. Instead of controlling a monster through one-word commands, Pokken Tournament puts you in the arena as your element-wielding companion. It's fast-paced, frenetic combat with a deep metagame that will put the beatdown on you before you train yourself to be the very best (like no one ever was).
- Read our Pokken Tournament review
MLB 16 The Show (March; PS4)
While there are plenty of other annual sports franchises out there, what makes MLB 16: The Show the best game in town is the insanely deep Road to the Show mode that puts you in the cleats of a rising star and guides you on the path to glory. Along the way; you'll bust your hump trying to make the jump from the AA leagues to the AAA teams, all the while investing in an almost RPG-like stats system. Controls are fluid, and the tutorials in 2016 are better and more concise than in years past, meaning you won't be stuck swinging haphazardly while all your veteran friends run circles around you.
Dark Souls 3 (April; PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Dark Souls is the kind of game you smash controllers over. I mean that, of course, in the most endearing way possible. FromSoftware's return to its frustrating series is just as hard as you remember it. Save points are few and far between. Enemies can kill you with a single blow. Combat requires your absolute unwavering attention, else you'll end up back at the campfire with nothing to show for it. But, all its hair-pulling moments are sublimated the second you finally beat the boss you've been stuck on for a week – few games can match that feeling.
- Read our Dark Souls 3 review
Quantum Break (April; Xbox One, PC)
The biggest surprise of 2016 (so far) has been Quantum Break. Had they rushed it out the door, it could've been one of the biggest disasters in Xbox history. It had been hyped since the Xbox One was first unveiled back in 2013 and had looked, on multiple occassions, like it wasn't going to pan out. When it finally got here, though, it totally delivered. Quantum Break blends Netflix-quality TV drama with Xbox-quality gameplay and does so in an impressive way. It's a neat combination that works in tandem to deliver a better experience than either could on its own.
- Read our Quantum Break review
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (May; PS4)
The game hasn't been out for very long, but we can already tell that this is going to be a Game of the Year contender come December. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End brings a satisfying close to Naughty Dog's classic adventure series, one that delivers exceptionally high production values, an engaging story about a wayward brother and an adventure to remember. If you're a PS4 owner, it would be criminal not to take this ride.
- Read our Uncharted 4: A Thief's End review
Overwatch (May; PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Overwatch is a game of balance and imbalance. Though this team combat game draws on the classic tank-healer-DPS triad of MMOGs like World of Warcraft, the characters you actually play are wildly different - so different that every button you press changes function between characters.
Its unique characters have a life of their own and personalities that no generic Battlefield bro can touch. Sure there may not be much of a meta-game at this stage, but give it some time and Overwatch might evolve into the best first-person shooter since Unreal Tournament before your very eyes.
- Read our Overwatch review
Mirror's Edge Catalyst (June; PS4, Xbox One, PC)
The summer months, generally, aren't very good for gaming. You're lucky to get one, maybe two, big releases. And while 2016 followed suit with every other year in terms of less-than-stellar summer blockbusters, there was one game that eked its way above the crowd: Mirror's Edge Catalyst.
A prequel to 2007's near-future, first-person parkour action game, Mirror's Edge Catalyst homed in on what made the series so great: stunning, fun-filled traversal and frenetic combat. While the characters and plot leave a lot to be desired, Catalyst manages to win a spot on the list and remains one of the few bright spots in 2016's less-than-luminous summer release schedule.
LEGO Star Wars: TFA (June; PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Quite possibly the best LEGO game to date, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a definite breath of fresh Hoth air for the stagnating movie franchise-turned-LEGO game formula. The Force Awakens introduces new features for the series like space battles and first-person shooting sequences, while better paced action and more interesting puzzles make the game more engrossing for both young Padawans and older Jedi Knights.
Pokémon Go (July; Apple iOS and Android devices)
In a little over a month, Pokémon Go, a freemium augmented reality app on iOS and Android, raked in a little over $200 million. That's because when the game came out in early July it was practically the only thing people could talk about. The mobile app, made and developed by Niantic – not the regular monster creators Game Freak – isn't necessarily the truest translation of the role-playing, monster-catching series, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the most addicting apps in recent memory.
Monster Hunter Generations (July; Nintendo 3DS)
If you've never played a Monster Hunter game, don't worry. The premise here is a simple one: find giant monsters, fight them until they're down to their last sliver of life and then capture them or deliver the killing blow. It's not the most thought-provoking series ever made but hey, sometimes you just gotta let loose on some 60-feet tall mythological beasts.
The latest game in the series is more or less a greatest hits of the past decade of games. You'll still embark on quests to take on terrifyingly large monsters either by yourself or with your friends, and end the day managing inventory screens and getting ready for an early hunt the next day. If you've got a Nintendo 3DS and need an ultra-deep RPG to keep you hacking and slashing until Final Fantasy XV hits shelves later this year, Monster Hunter Generations is a good stopgap.
No Man's Sky (August; PS4, PC)
Depending on who you talk to, No Man's Sky is either the most fantastic open universe exploration game ever created or one of the biggest letdowns in recent history. Where you stand on that spectrum largely depends on how creative you are. No Man's Sky has little story and not a whole lot of explanation as to what's going on around you. That said, if you're the kind of person that can find pleasure just cruising around the galaxy exploring new worlds and finding ways to make space travel more efficient, you'll probably be more of the former. If you need a rigid plotline and Call of Duty-like first-person shooter controls, this isn't the space exploration game you've been looking for. Move along.
Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.