Between global chaos, bitterly divisive politics, and tragic celebrity deaths, 2016 has been a dumpster fire of a year. At this point I'm figuring most Americans will be happy if their Thanksgiving dinner doesn't devolve into a massive political food fight. Still, it hasn't been a half-bad year for gaming, especially this last half of the year. So let's take a few minutes and take solace in some of the things we have to be thankful for when it comes to the game industry.
This year has played host to a variety of excellent competitive shooters, but I think Overwatch is going to have the biggest impact on the industry as a whole. This is a game that at its heart is about people coming together from around the world to work with each other, overcoming challenges together. It appeals to a wide range of players and its diverse characters speak to the true vibrance of the global gaming community. Plus, it's just frickin' fun. Blizzard really nailed this one, and I can see its community going strong for years.
Virtual Reality Comes Home
We've been dreaming of virtual reality since the invention of the very first computers. I remember my first experience with it - an exhilirating Aladdin-themed VR magic carpet ride at Disney World in 1995. It blows my mind that VR has finally come into our homes, with all the promise that contains. Sure, there's still a lot more to work out with the medium and we haven't yet seen the first true VR blockbuster. It's coming, though, and I can't wait to see how this technology grows over the next few years.
The Return of Dragon Quest and Pokemon
These two classic Japanese series came back in a big way this year. After several years of absence in the West, Dragon Quest came back not only with a lovingly re-made version of the classic Dragon Quest VII, but with the best Minecraft-inspired title we've seen. It's Dragon Quest Builders that really shines, reminding us of the series' delightfully quirky nature while at the same time showing a massive streak of creativity. Here's hoping we'll see more of that creativity in the upcoming Dragon Quest XI.
Meanwhile, Pokemon Go took over the whole damn world over the summer, reminding everybody of their love of these little pocket monsters as they scoured their local parks and shopping malls for Pikachu and Snorlax. It may have its issues, but it did what I feel was its most important job: it got tons and tons of people to buy Pokemon Sun and Moon. It was a perfect time to bring the masses back to Pokemon, because Sun and Moon bring a ton of accessibility and character to the series. I'm having a blast exploring Alola, enough that I might even pick up the "third version" if it does indeed appear on the Switch next year as rumored.
Long-Awaited Game Releases
It's been a long, long road for Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian. Both games have been in development for nearly a decade, and both of them are coming out in the next couple weeks. Will they be worth all the hype and anticipation? Final Fantasy XV is looking promising based on the latest footage and the Japanese demo that came out last week. The Last Guardian is more of a question mark, but Team Ico's games have always been niche affairs, so it doesn't need to be a blockbuster to do what it set out to do. I can't wait to try both of them out, and I'm thankful that the long wait is finally nearly over.
What are you most thankful for when it comes to gaming in 2016? Feel free to let us know in the comments!
Image Credit: Christopher Richard Gay