When you find a great game, hours can just slip away like minutes. Some games transcend even the initial honeymoon phase, staying with gamers for months and years after they’ve fallen out of vogue with popular media.
It could be these games just have the right gameplay loop, proving to be engrossing and captivating with every minute. 2016 was home to some massive releases and some of these are still very worth your time.
The year was home to new installments, redemption stories, and sequels in popular franchises that have endured to today. These 2016 games are just some of the releases we can’t stop playing.
#10: Civilization VI
This 2016 game is the sixth mainline installment in the seminal strategy franchise that brought some rather notable changes to the gameplay. It iterates on the streamlining of the previous installment. Hex-based grids have returned, adding some additional depth to the movement and placement of units for combat.
The doom stacks of Civilization IV are something of the past. Minimal stacking is present and single units have more utility in combat. This added depth to the military aspect of Civilization. A revision was sorely needed after four games of just making your most cost-effective units.
emCivilization VI/em has seen a multitude of expansions in the last few years, with each bringing new and exciting gameplay elements. The AI in particular received a fairly sizable revamp.
Factions develop and employ their own agendas as the game progresses. If you’re a fan of strategy games, Civilization VI is an evergreen title. It makes for a grand introduction to the genre for beginners and there is certainly enough mechanical depth for advanced players to appreciate and exploit.
- Behold the enormity of space with procedurally generated galaxies with an untold number of planets to explore
- Encounter a myriad of wild, wacky, and dangerous alien races who may prove to be crucial trade partners or conquering forces hellbent on enslaving your civilization
- Take on strategic space warfare and resource management to ensure the survival and advancement of your empire
- Explore scientific anomalies and uncover technological wonders throughout the galaxy to mercilessly utilize them toward your own gains
- Govern your own fledgling population and secure your power and agenda through manipulating internal policies, factions, traditions and more
Stellaris is another strategy game in the vein of Civilization but goes well above and beyond Sid Meier’s classic franchise in sheer mechanical depth. This 2016 game focuses on building a starfaring empire, managing planets, and conducting warfare on an intergalactic basis.
This Paradox release is still getting constant DLC releases which introduce new mechanics for gameplay as well as new factions and story elements. No game plays the same in Stellaris, but its mechanical depth can be a bit daunting to new players to this breed of strategy game.
There is a certain expectation of being able to understand the mechanics to succeed and not send your empire crumbling into stardust. Stellaris has a vibrant modding scene as well. These mods have new player-made factions, gameplay mechanics, and, in some cases, whole new games using it as a base for the framework.
#8: Stardew Valley
An indie-developed farm simulator, emStardew Valley/em is like lightning in a bottle. This 2016 game is a varied experience. It allows players to care for crops, fight monsters in dungeons, and engage in their local community.
Stardew Valley still endures to this day and has seen continual support from its developer in the intervening years. The gameplay loop is a satisfying one, and the non-player characters are oozing with charm and good writing.
Stardew Valley is simple enough on the surface for any player to dig in and get down to business. On PC, there is a vibrant modding scene as well. These mods do everything from subtle visual changes to whole new characters and mechanics.
It bridges the gap between a core game and a casual game deftly. If you’ve been on the fence, it’s still a breath of fresh air just due to the core mechanics.
#7: XCOM 2
- Aliens rule Earth, promising a brilliant future for mankind while secretly hiding a sinister agenda. As the leader of a guerrilla force facing impossible odds, you must ignite a global resistance to...
- War of the Chosen:This expansion adds extensive new content in the fight against ADVENT including new Hero classes, powerful new enemies, as well as new missions, environments and increased depth in...
- Resistance Warrior Pack: Customize your squad of resistance fighters with a set of bonus outfits and head gear, as well as custom armor and face camo.
- Anarchy’s Children: This rebellion-themed content pack introduces more than 100 new exotic customizations for the entire arsenal of armors available to your XCOM soldiers. These options are purely...
- Alien Hunters: Transform the soldiers of XCOM into an elite alien hunting squad with impressive new weapons and armor to face off against new alien Rulers that will pursue your squad across an entire...
This sequel to 2012’s XCOM Enemy Unknown is a continuation of the main plot and has players dealing with a tyrannical extraterrestrial regime through resistance. XCOM 2 has some notable changes to the gameplay, but still features the same procedurally generated maps for fights.
There is a sense of urgency not present in the first game. Each fight has a set number of turns before the mission is over. Players are forced to be on the offensive, a stark contrast to the preferred defensive gameplay of its predecessor.
XCOM 2 is a brutal and unforgiving game, but it is certainly rewarding for those who can grasp its systems. XCOM 2‘s longevity can also be owed to Long War 2. A mod that revamps the campaign and mechanics to provide an even more in-depth experience.
War of the Chosen, XCOM 2‘s main DLC, launched in 2018. It is nearly an entirely additional game’s worth of content on top of the already lengthy campaign. For those who enjoy squad-based tactical gameplay, there is a lot to love here.
#6: No Man’s Sky
- Online: team up with friends to journey, build and fight together online
- VR: feel every moment in PS VR with immersive and intuitive controls
- updates: contains all 7 major updates since Initial launch!
To say emNo Man's Sky/em had a disastrous launch would be an understatement. This ambitious exploration-based game launched in 2016. It had a series of half-baked mechanics, a lack of depth, and was unstable on both consoles and PC.
In the time since its ill-fated launch, developer Hello Games has turned No Man’s Sky into something far different than its first impression. They’ve created a breathtaking game that lived up to its promises and went well beyond.
No Man’s Sky has no true overarching plot and is more emergent in gameplay. Players embark on their own journeys to find the universe’s center. Along the way, they encounter all manner of beasts, adversaries, and stunning vistas.
Since its ill-received launch, there have been a staggering amount of free content updates to No Man’s Sky. These updates include new ground-based vehicles, co-op, and quality-of-life features for cataloging everything you see on your adventures.
#5: Dark Souls 3
- New and improved combat mechanics
- Expanded character builder
- Improved weapons and armor
- Larger and more detailed maps
- Online multiplayer
This 2016 game is the final installment in From Software’s beloved Dark Souls series. Dark Souls 3 acts as something of the greatest hits and refinement of the previous two games. Players venture forth once more into a world out of time, stuck in a decaying realm filled with dangerous adversaries.
Dark Souls 3 is a delight for long-time fans of the series. A lot of the replay value comes from engaging in different builds for your character. Dark Souls 3 saw two DLC releases as post-launch support, which add additional areas, items, and bosses to the mix.
While Elden Ring has rightfully received its day in the sun, Dark Souls 3 still has a good bit to offer fans of the franchise. While it lacks the polish and gleam of 2019’s Sekiro, there is an exceptional amount of content for players to navigate and endless replayability once they engage in the mechanics.
#4: Darkest Dungeon
- Rogue-like features including procedurally generated dungeon settings and permanent character death
- Turn-based combat system
- Hand-drawn gothic art style
- 16 playable hero classes
- Ancestral edition includes DLC packs The Crimson Court and The Shieldbreaker
This brutal rogue-lite asks the player to prepare to invest and sacrifice. Darkest Dungeon is an unforgiving game by all measures, but one where every run doesn’t play exactly the same. Players will manage a team of adventurers and their sanity as they plunge into catacombs, nightmarish tombs, and other places where more sane heroes don’t venture.
Darkest Dungeon at its core is a game that asks you to invest heavily into your characters. Players will build them up from their weakest point to a point where survival isn’t a desperate struggle. Loss lurks at every corner of the Darkest Dungeon, however, and mere mistakes can render your adventurer permanently dead.
Rogue-lites by design aren’t meant to be the easiest games. This 2016 game is one that requires the player to respect and learn its mechanics. A sequel is looming on the horizon. Darkest Dungeon is still a fresh and engaging experience that will engross any player for hours to come.
#3: Hearts of Iron IV
Grand strategy games are seldom pick-up-and-play games. What they lack in accessibility they more than make up for in longevity. Hearts of Iron IV is the latest installment in Paradox’s WW2-based strategy series.
Players will navigate the pre-war years of 1936 to the late 1940s. While the war will happen regardless of your participation, there is some flexibility in how you guide the nation under your direct control.
The gameplay happens in real time, but players can adjust the time scale as they please. The core experience of this 2016 game will engross players for some time.
The modding scene has also led to a plethora of scenarios, new campaigns, and even completely new games to come out of Hearts of Iron IV. While it lacks the emergent stories of its sibling Crusader Kings, the freeform gameplay and deep mechanics will keep you occupied for quite some time.
Please note: As of July 18, 2023, this game is out of stock on Amazon. If you’re unable to locate it elsewhere, please check back with Amazon in the future.
#2: Battlefield 1
Battlefield as a series has fallen out of favor. The disastrous launch of 2042 was preceded by the lukewarm reception of Battlefield V, but 1 still remains a populated and fun game. emBattlefield 1/em is rare in being one of very few shooters to take place during the First World War.
Players engage in combat across multiple fronts, engaging in fierce close-range battles and grander operations with combined arms. Players will find a lot to love about Battlefield 1.
Multiplayer matches rarely have downtime, being a constant cacophony of fights and excitement. This 2016 game is quick to get to grips with and rewards players for playing their roles and the objective of each individual match.
While the progression to keep players hooked into the gameplay is somewhat sparse compared to other installments, the gameplay loop itself more than makes up for it. There have been a handful of DLC which add additional factions to the game, and it maintains a healthier player population than the latest in the franchise.
#1: Killing Floor 2
Last, but certainly not least, this 2016 game dumps players into an arena filled with monstrous mutations with a group of other players. Killing Floor 2 is a wave-based survival co-op shooter, and is a marked improvement on its predecessor in every possible way.
Progression can be grueling at times, but as you gain levels in your chosen class, you’ll begin to feel more and more powerful. Killing Floor 2 has seen continual support from Tripwire Interactive with regular holiday-centered events, cosmetics, and patches keeping the game relevant even today.
While it certainly does suffer if you don’t have a group of friends to tag along with, it is a deep and rewarding game for solo players, as well. Graphically, it’s still a delight and the gunplay is tight and responsive.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Roman Sigaev/Shutterstock.com.