This past year saw some excellent experiences debut. Some gave players the chance to take on the role of a skilled chef. Others delivered a stunning world, with some of the most challenge gameplay around. While some showcased downright thrilling action for hours on end. Among the many great games from 2016, these five We Write Things stood out the most.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Eidos Montreal and Square Enix launched the latest entry in the Deus Ex series last August. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the first current-gen installment in the ongoing series, and it is its best. The open-world of Mankind Divided is bursting with life. All of the NPCs have a story to tell and many of them possess missions to assign.

Complete freedom is an idea that is tossed around in many marketing campaigns for games. However, few often truly embrace the concept and then actually reflect the consequences of it in the game world around you. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided does this and does it in an emphatic way.

The consequences of your decisions are weighed not just in main missions, but in side quests as well. How you interact with secondary characters can have an immediate effect as well as a long-lasting one. All of this is true in the game’s main progression system as well. The different augments you assign to Adam Jensen express your play style, and it actually is tough to decide which ones should be a priority above others.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an experience that takes real-world issues and problems and illustrates them fabulously. You become a catalyst for change by your actions, both violent and non-violent. Metaphorically, can you talk a fanatic down from a ledge or even make an ally out of them? Your ability to do so heavily influences the world you’ll find after the fact. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC (Courtesy of Square Enix).
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC (Courtesy of Square Enix).

Forza Horizon 3

Microsoft gave gamers some of the best experiences this past fall. One of the games that stands out among them has to be Forza Horizon 3Playground Games had a tall order in surpassing the amazing experience of Forza Horizon 2, but surprisingly enough, they did so by a wide margin.

The world of Forza Horizon 3 is a massive, gorgeous playground with diverse terrain, fun activities and immersive gameplay that draws you in for hours and hours. No matter if you are simply racing, trying to expand your festival or simply free-roaming around, Forza Horizon 3 remains a blast.

Audio is some of the best you will find in any racing game today. The screeching of tires or the bursting of an engine breaking off the line all deliver exact precision. Visually speaking, this is the best Forza Horizon world yet, and that says a lot, considering Forza Horizon 2.

For players who need more Forza Horizon 3, its newest expansion, Blizzard Mountain, is a joyous extension of the excellent gameplay found in the base game. Playground Games hits the perfect note with Forza Horizon 3. I can’t wait to see where they take the series next. Forza Horizon 3 is available on Xbox One and Windows 10.

Forza Horizon 3 is available on Xbox One and Windows 10 (Courtesy of Microsoft).
Forza Horizon 3 is available on Xbox One and Windows 10 (Courtesy of Microsoft).

Tom Clancy’s The Division

Last year, Ubisoft released the highly anticipated open-world title, Tom Clancy’s The Division. The new cover-based RPG brought gamers to the post-apocalyptic world of New York City. The game shows how rich the smallest of spaces can be, as well as what a great co-op, online experience should feel like.

The Division is a game with many secrets for gamers to discover and it brings a host of new elements that open-world games have yet to see. The hologram instances known as Echoes are marvelous examples of a game trying to illustrate narrative through a different lens. Stepping away from the convention of the cutscene, Ubisoft gives players a new way to experience the story.

Not only are its narrative devices unique, but The Division adds a new twist to the competitive multiplayer space. While there is true PvP to be found in the Dark Zone, your teammates aren’t always your teammates. It is true that the game makes you think twice when going rogue. However, its very idea genetically embeds a new set of routine emotions not found in other shooters. Betraying your friends has never been so rewarding and it has never been so costly.

The Division‘s combat is impeccable and its progression systems are deep. There is so much for players to dive into and this is a game that will deliver enormous entertainment for hours on end. It may be a few years before the brand’s next iteration, but that’s just fine because this first one will continue to keep you busy for many months to come. The Division is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

The Division is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC (Courtesy of Ubisoft).
The Division is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

Overcooked

Ghost Town Games and Team17 launched the new co-op, cooking game Overcooked earlier this year. It is a game that at first glance might not seem like your usual experience. However, it is within one pick up of the controller that you are sucked into the addictive, entertaining gameplay of Overcooked.

I love this game for so many reasons, but among them is its uncanny ability to turn a non-gamer into a gamer. Case and point would be when a few friends who had never played a game before in their lives picked up a controller and were immediately hooked. This is a game that once you jump in, it is very hard to walk away.

Levels in Overcooked become more challenging when more complicated recipes and levels are introduced. Communication is a central element and if you do not talk with your teammates, you’ll fail. This game yanks the words from even the quietest of individuals. The feeling of earning three stars on a level you’ve been playing for hours is amazing.

There is no lengthy progression system nor is there a massive world to explore. The game is simply excellent fun that can be had with anyone. Overcooked is a perfect example that a great game doesn’t have to be overcomplicated with system after system. A great game doesn’t have to feature a super serious narrative that’s hard to follow. A great game can sometimes just be a ton of fun, which Overcooked is. The game is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Overcooked is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC (Courtesy of Team17).
Overcooked is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC (Courtesy of Team17).

The Witness

Last, and certainly not least, is The Witness. Thekla and Jonathan Blow are the minds behind this open-world puzzle game. Being accessible is a very important part of games these days, however, The Witness does pay much of a mind to what most games do these days. This experience stands tall as one that will make you think in every sense of the word.

The game does not give you any instructions on how to solve its puzzles. There are no hints for each new region of the world you enter. Each area has a given set of rules or themes in every puzzle within that region, but it is up to you to recognize the pattern. I must say though, recognition of that pattern is not always the easiest.

I don’t think I have ever played a game that’s frustrated me as much as The Witness did. Now you may say, “well, then why is it part of your top games list?” It is because within that frustration is where I found satisfaction like I’ve never experienced in a game before. The joy of solving a puzzle or a region’s puzzles is indescribable. This experience gives players enough slack to keep them going, while keeping the degree of challenge high.

I equate success in The Witness to learning a new language. You must self-teach the principles and rules in order to solve the puzzles in this game. The game delivers the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and I love it for all that it is. Gamers can pick up The Witness now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

The Witness is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC (Courtesy of Thekla).
The Witness is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC (Courtesy of Thekla).

These games are not named in any particular order. This is just a simple collection of five of last year’s best games. 

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