This year marks the third year that next-generation consoles (which should now be dubbed “current-generation consoles” but for some reason are not) have been on the market. As 2016 comes to a close, it’s tough to determine what the must-play games of the year have been and what titles gamers should be looking forward to.

Fortunately for you, I’ve gone through the painstakingly fun process of doing so. I’ve even asked some of the most enthusiastic gamers I know their opinions.  

Let’s get right to it.

“Bioshock: The Collection”

Released Sept. 13, “Bioshock: The Collection” features “Bioshock,” “Bioshock 2,” and “Bioshock Infinite.” Each of these games were released on previous consoles a la PS3 and Xbox 360. Now, these games are available to play on your current console, whether it be PS4, Xbox One or even a PC. With the new release of these old games comes an HD collection of all three masterpieces–and they are masterpieces. What does this mean? Each game now runs at 1080p and 60 frames per second. What does that mean? These games are now prettier than they’ve ever been and run smoother than they ever have.

“Bioshock,” originally released in 2007, still to this day contains one of the greatest stories ever told. It utilizes atmospheric, environmental storytelling, unique and thrilling gameplay mechanics and incredible world-building to tell one of the most compelling stories told in the realm of video games. Its genre is somewhere in-between first-person shooter and horror-survival. It is an older game, so when playing, keep in mind that the mechanics are also a little old. Get past that and I promise, you’ll fall in love with one of gaming’s few ten out of tens.

Fast forward from “Bioshock’s” original release to 2010. “Bioshock 2” came out in 2010 to critical divisiveness. The game took place in the same setting as the first “Bioshock,” which led to many reviewers and players alike criticizing the game as lazy. The laziness was further revealed when the story of “Bioshock 2” was simply a retread of the first game with different names. “Bioshock 2” does have a saving grace though–the gameplay. “Bioshock 2” took everything that made “Bioshock’s” gameplay exciting and unique, and took it to another level. “Bioshock 2’s” gameplay feels fresh and different but maintains the staples of “Bioshock” that players had grown to love. While “Bioshock 2” stands to be the weakest of the three, it still deserves a playthrough.

After two games in “Bioshock’s” setting of Rapture, a decaying underwater metropolis, players were taken to a new world with “Bioshock Infinite.” “Bioshock Infinite” is more first-person shooter than the two previous games and relies heavily on that, rather than the horror-survival elements that took the spotlight in “Bioshock” and Bioshock 2.” Simply put, “Bioshock Infinite,” in my opinion, is the greatest video game ever created. I legitimately have a leg sleeve of tattoos devoted to this game. Because of how highly I relish the title, take my words with a grain of salt, or don’t. “Bioshock Infinite” blends the masterclass storytelling found in “Bioshock” with the perfection of gameplay contained in “Bioshock 2,” to create a captivating and narratively-driven jewel in the sea of video games that our market is today. I won’t say too much more, because this game’s perfection lies in its secrecy, and nobody deserves to have it spoiled. Just know that the story is perfect, the gameplay is excellent and the time spent playing this game will not be time wasted.

Brandon O’Toole, a friend of mine and the only gamer I know whose love of video games matches mine, relishes in the release of “Bioshock: The Collection.”

“‘Bioshock: The Collection’ is my favorite release so far because it’s not only nostalgic, but fresh and rewarding in terms of story and gameplay,” he said. “Even years after the original release of each of the three games, I’m still in love.”

“Ratchet and Clank”

If you’re a gamer in your 20s like me, allow your mind to travel back to the simpler days. The days I’m referring to are that of the PS2 video game cycle. The PS2 is easily one of the greatest video game generations of all time, and I’d personally give thanks to a franchise called “Ratchet and Clank.” The creators of “Ratchet and Clank” must have recognized this, because on April 12, they released a complete from-the-ground-up remake of the original “Ratchet and Clank,” available exclusively on PS4 (sorry Xbox One owners). If you’ve never played this game, it is essentially a playful and full-of-youth 3D platformer. The characters and the way their story is told makes this game feel like a buddy cop-team up set in the genre of sci-fi.

As Ratchet, you’ll travel with Clank, your robot sidekick, to planets across the galaxy in an effort to uncover a conspiracy on a galactic scale. You’ll platform through each level, shooting enemies while upgrading your weapons and laughing at corny (but smart) jokes throughout. If you want to feel like a kid again, this is the game for you.

“Overwatch”

If you’re familiar with PC shooter “Team Fortress 2,” then you know exactly what “Overwatch” is trying to do. “Overwatch” is an online multiplayer shooter released by video game behemoth Blizzard, the developers behind “World of Warcraft” and “Diablo.” “Overwatch” is officially classified as a hero-shooter. This means that at the start of each match, you’ll choose a hero to play. Each hero comes with his or her own abilities, weapons and ultimates (think finisher-type move). There are over 20 heroes to choose from, which means the game will never grow stale. If you’re not feeling Widowmaker, the go-to sniper for many players, switch to Reinhardt, a hammer-wielding knight. This game shines in its ability to allow players to switch freely from character to character and its unique shooting mechanics. Some characters shoot bullets while others shoot orbs of energy, and so on.

UNF student, Alexandra Torres-Perez, believes that “what makes ‘Overwatch’ so great is that it has a little bit for everyone. There’s tanks, healers, my personal favorite, snipers and more.”

If you’re into multiplayer shooters and tired of playing your standards like “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield,” “Overwatch” is the game for you.

“Oxenfree”

This year, Netflix released a little show called “Stranger Things.” If you’re familiar with pop culture at all, you know that “Stranger Things” is anything but little. It dominated the mindshare of millions in the wake of its release, and still to this day, maintains a steady hold on the thoughts of many. If you’re like most of us who have watched “Stranger Things,” you’re clambering for season two. That’s at least a year out, but what if I told you that you could play a game almost as great as “Stranger Things?” If you’re in, it’s time you boot up your PC, Xbox One or PS4, and download a game called “Oxenfree.”

“Oxenfree” is a game about coming-of-age, tears in the universe and time travel. What begins as a simple trip to see your best friend on a nearby island, unravels to become a tale like that of “Stranger Things.”

The gameplay of this title is simple. You walk through the level solving puzzles and listening to the dialogue of the game’s three main characters and the surrounding conversations. Beyond that, there isn’t much to the mechanics of this game. It’s more of a moving painting with an incredible story than it is a video game, but because of the game’s short four-hour length, it’s incredibly easy to keep playing.

I won’t talk too much more of the story or its characters because spoiling any of this would be a tragedy. The heart of this game, and the reason it is a must-play game of 2016, lies in the story and those who are a part of it.


By Wesley LeBlanc | UNF Communication Student