Ground Punch’s Best of 2016 – Game Awards

Showcasing a combination of enthralling game mechanics and exemplary level design, the following games offer the best overall gameplay design.

Overwatch is a masterclass in game design; everything from its map design to the intricacies of each character’s abilities is done with an incredible amount of thoughtfulness and polish. Combining elements of classic hero shooters like Team Fortress with elements of modern first-person shooters and action games, Overwatch is a conglomeration of years of game design into a single package that is simple to pick up, yet difficult to master. Each of the game’s currently 23 heroes is uniquely designed, each with his or her given role within a match. Additionally, each map is designed specifically for one game mode, making each map incredibly fine-tuned. Whenever a said map comes up in the queue, both teams know exactly where they need to go and what they need to do. All of this sounds like a nightmare to balance, but Blizzard has constantly worked to ensure that every hero, ability, map, and game mode is equally balanced and fun.

Written by Kelson James Howerton

All things considered, nobody thought that 2016’s reboot of Doom was going to be as good as it was. After the much maligned Doom 3, and the middling legacy of RAGE, id Software wasn’t exactly at the top of the list when it came to tight gameplay. Nevertheless, DOOM was an innovative shooter experience that worked so well because of just how much it translated the soul of the original games into a modern release. Mixing circle strafing with easy mobility and verticality in the game’s combat arenas, along with the smooth shooting and a new “glory kill” system, led to one of the best and most natural feeling gameplay loops a shooter has had in years.

Written by Jordan Leendertsen

2016 was a fantastic year for first-person shooters, but in terms of game design, it’s hard to get any more unique than Titanfall 2. The sequel to 2014’s online-only mech FPS took everything from the original, and fleshed it out even better than before. Parkour elements like wall running and boost jumps seem more effortless than the last installment, and even more fluid than competitors like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Toss in new gameplay mechanics such as the grappling hook, which adds another level to the game’s verticality, and you’ve got yourself a free-running masterpiece. Not to mention how unique each gun looks and feels, and how every level – in both the campaign and multiplayer – feels different than the last, offering up new opportunities for different styles of play each and every time you pick up the controller. Titanfall 2 greatly improved upon the original in terms of game design, and there’s no questioning that.

Written by Graydon Webb

Runners-Up: Dark Souls 3, Hitman, Hyper Light Drifter, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Pokémon Sun/Moon, Severed, Street Fighter V, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, The Walking Dead: Michonne, The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine, The Witness.

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