It's been a great year for gaming. From the long-anticipated releases of The Last Guardian and Final Fantasy XV, to surprise hits like Pokémon Go, there's been a lot to enjoy for hardcore and casual gamers alike.
With such a wide swathe of games released this year we spoke to the TechRadar editors to find their individual, completely subjective, favorite gaming moments of the year.
Some were from 2016's biggest blockbusters, others were from older games that we only got around to playing this year, but all were excellent moments that reminded us about everything that's great about gaming.
Patrick Goss: Global Editor-in-Chief
Favourite gaming moment: Finally taking over Hangman’s Alley on Fallout 4’s survival mode.
I’m a dyed in the wool PC Gamer, but with life encroaching I’ve just not got around to buying everything I need to build a new rig, which means I’ve had to do what I swore I would never do – play first person shooters on a console.
After a normal level romp through the sublime Fallout 4 I was desperate for a challenge – so when Survival mode rolled out I jumped at the chance to make things really, really, really tough.
And then, for eons of gaming time, I ran backwards and forwards from Sanctuary Hill, infected by various diseases and without the means to cure them, cursing every random encounter that cost me, at some points, half an hour of hard-fought resource, desperately finding spare beds to sleep in and get an all-too-rare save point.
Obviously I needed a more useful base of operations, so capturing Hangman’s Alley – and having a safe(ish) haven in the city – was an absolute godsend. It was a pitched battle containing a bit of luck, a bit of skill and a modicum of strategy – but I survived and literally did fist pump on the sofa.
And then, obviously, I got overpowered again and all the challenge went away…but for a brief glorious moment, this was my most triumphant gaming moment of 2016.
Marc Chacksfield: Global Managing Editor
Favorite gaming moment: Reaching the end of Uncharted 4.
Life has fast been getting in the way of my gaming to the extent that if I was being truthful, completing Skyrim on the PS3 would be my gaming moment of the year. But there was at least one 2016 game I actually managed to play this year, and that was Uncharted 4.
I love the Uncharted series, although it’s not perfect. The gameplay can get repetitive – something Naughty Dog has smoothed out over the course of the games – but the voice acting, plot dynamics and epic scale of the series always has me hooked.
Uncharted 4 is a perfect ending to an endearing game series. It wrapped up prior plot loose ends, managed to introduce interesting new characters and add emotional heft to what was already a heart-heavy series. So much so, it’s disappointing that Naughty Dog has decided to spin the series off in new ways, picking at a thread that unfortunately might unravel everything that went before it.
I’m not going to spoil the end of Uncharted 4, it’s something everyone should experience at their own pace once they’ve completed the other games in the series. As a wrap up, however, it’s fantastic. It reminisces without being winsome while awarding those who have been on an 80-hour plus quest without disappointing. It’s bringing a tear to my eye just thinking about it.
Joe Osborne: Senior Editor, Computing
Favorite gaming moment: Watching my friends kill an imaginary dragon over the internet in D&D on Roll20.
These days, there’s nothing more satisfying in gaming than watching my friends take on a D&D challenge I’ve devised and just decimating it in dramatic, heroic fashion. Planning, and then watching them slay a white dragon recently was akin to storyboarding a sequel to The Lord of the Rings, but with stakes.
While it’s not a new game or even the most popular, Dungeons & Dragons through the online service Roll20 has all but gobbled up my gaming time, and it’s because of moments like that. Plus, when a digital game can inspire you to be with your friends more in the Material Plane – err – real world to play, that’s just unbeatable.
Gerald Lynch: Associate Editor
Favorite gaming moment: Ah, this is such an easy one to answer! But I’m going to pick out two, united by the PlayStation VR platform.
First up – Batman Arkham VR. Being able to explore the Batcave, put on the cowl, take on the Penguin and do some real caped detective work was truly immersive. It was a great start for what I’m sure is going to be a great virtual reality system.
It was only really topped by Star Wars Battlefront’s X-Wing VR mission. To be able to truly step “inside” that galaxy far, far away and become an X-Wing pilot, complete with my own R2 unit and targeting computer, was a dream come true.
Neither Batman Arkham VR nor the X-Wing mission are very long however – each is certainly a “moment” that I’d like to see expanded upon into richer games with more depth and longevity to them. But if these are the kind of inspiring, emotional experiences that can be conjured by even a fledgling effort by VR developers, the virtual reality future is looking very bright indeed.
Oh and if you get a chance you should absolutely check out Inside. I don't want to mention its best moment here for fear of spoilers, but you won't be disappointed.
Matt Hanson: How to Editor
Favorite gaming moment: The release of Planet Coaster.
This year has been as full of amazing gaming moments as it has distressing celebrity deaths, from the superb Uncharted 4, the new Doom blowing my expectations out of the water, and The Last Guardian finally coming out.
However, there’s one gaming moment that has stood out for me this year – the release of Planet Coaster, a theme park management simulation game from the devs behind Elite: Dangerous.
Theme park management is probably not the most exciting genre for many people, but ever since I was a kid playing Theme Park on my Amiga, and becoming obsessed with real-life theme parks, I have loved making my own Rollercoasters, over charging for heavily salted fries and sending janitors to mop up inevitable tsunamis of vomit.
The last decent theme park management game, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, came out around 10 years ago (the new Rollercoaster Tycoon World by Atari definitely does not count, being a bug-filled and charmless insult to the once great series), so it was with mounting excitement and trepidation that i followed Planet Coaster’s development.
Seeing the passion the developers had for theme park rides, and the interaction they had with their fans (somehow even bigger coaster buffs) was inspiring, and with the finished game they’ve crafted something truly excellent.
It’s not perfect (the management side could do with tweaking, and a few extra rides would be appreciated), but I bloody love it, and have sunk hours into the game already. Viewing your park in first person and feeling like this could be a real theme park, and getting that sense of childish excitement as a rollercoaster zooms overhead, its rider’s screams fading into the distance, makes this my favourite gaming moment of the year.
Kane Fulton: Computing Editor
Favorite gaming moment: The first time I reloaded my assault rifle in Onward.
VR has seen many new control mechanics implemented in games this year, and I can confidently say that none have been more satisfying than cocking assault rifles with my left hand in the HTC Vive military shooter Onward. Seriously – it’s like being thrown into Full Metal Jacket. And it doesn’t stop there.
In Onward, every action is performed manually – from pulling out a depleted ammo clip with a spare hand to grabbing a new one off your belt and sliding it into place with a click. I’ve even spilled them onto the floor in particularly tense moments. Trust me – the feeling of hearing an enemy soldier’s footsteps coming toward you while you’re a sitting duck mid-reload is a unique and unsettling one.
Years down the line we’ll laugh at how primitive Onward will seem. I’ve been sat bolt upright against my bedroom’s wardrobe while clumsily jabbing a virtual syringe into my leg after being shot, something that will become standard fare. Right now, however, 2016 has been one big gaming moment like no other before – and it’s all down to VR.
Cameron Faulkner: US Mobile Editor
Favorite gaming moment: Finally exposing myself to the weird and wonderful world of Persona and Shin Megami Tensei.
I spend a decent amount of each day commuting, a chunk of time that lends itself perfectly to playing the New Nintendo 3DS XL and the PS Vita. And this year, I never wanted to get off of the train thanks to being completely absorbed in Persona 4: Golden and SMT IV.
There’s no moment in general that stood out, but the whole experience of diving into these decades-old franchises was, and continues, to be something that I’m incredibly happy about. If you’re looking for a fun New Years’ Resolution, add one (or both) of these games to your to-do list.
Nick Pino: Senior Home Entertainment Editor
Favorite gaming moment: Playing Valve's The Lab in VR for the first time.
If I'm honest, I don't think 2016 was a great year for traditional games consoles. There were fewer IPs than usual and while we got a few standout titles – Doom, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Overwatch among them – I can’t recall a single console game that blew me out of the water.
That being said, while traditional gaming had a pretty forgettable year, 2016 will long be remembered by all as the year that virtual reality came out of the silicon womb. All of my favorite gaming experiences from this past year happened in a headset.
My favorite moment of the past year, and the one that I think will stick with me for the rest of my life, is playing Valve’s The Lab demo on the HTC Vive for the first time. I’ve immersed myself in virtual reality before, but up to that point every experience felt like something that could’ve been done better on a flat screen. I enjoyed every minute spent in that introductory experience and in no way am I trying to sound hyperbolic when I say that The Lab made me believe that VR was the next step for gaming and not just another passing fad.
To that end, if you want to see the future of gaming and haven’t played a game on the HTC Vive (or the Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR) yet, the only item on your 2017 New Year’s Resolutions list should be to have your own equivalent of what I had this past year.
Emma Boyle: Staff Writer
Favourite gaming moment: Returning to Pokemon Yellow on the 3DS
As a massive Pokemon fan, 2016 has been a pretty good year for me. Even though Pokemon Go was great and I’m still enjoying discovering Alola in Pokemon Moon, my stand out moment has to be getting the chance to re-play Pokemon Yellow when it was added to the Virtual Console for the franchise’s 20th anniversary.
Yellow wasn’t the first Pokemon game I played (Red forever) but it’s the one I look back on most fondly since it felt so close to the anime series. Being able to jump back into Kanto and listen to that upbeat soundtrack as Pikachu followed me around was a real nostalgia rush.
Although it was odd going back to beginning, it made me appreciate the ways in which the series has evolved over the years, as well as respect just how well the original games have stood the test of time.
It might be 20 years old, but Pokemon Yellow still managed to inspire the same sense of adventure I felt when I first played it and that’s something really special.
Sam Roberts: Video Producer
Favorite gaming moment: Every match played in Overwatch
60 dollars for a multiplayer only game? Many gamers have laughed at the thought over the last few years. Titanfall was mechanically brilliant but couldn’t hold my attention and Evolve became cocky after initial praise and was horrendously executed. Overwatch however has proved that with years of dedication and craft, a multiplayer only game can be considered Game of the Year.
For those of you still playing now, I’m sure you’ll find it hard to argue with just how well the game has been, and still is, consistently balanced. Even in a fit of rage and disappointment at losing out in the last few seconds of a match, to not feel the need to blame the game is testament to the meticulous level of detail spread across all areas of the game’s design, even with over 20 characters to work with.
- Check out our guide to the best Christmas gifts for gamers.