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Reader's Choice Best Of 2016 Awards

by Jeff Cork on Jan 04, 2017 at 11:01 AM

Good grief, has it already been a year? Every year, around this time, we look at the games that released over the previous 12 months and give the best ones a special shout out as part of our best of the year awards. In addition, we poll our readers (that’s you!) to see what they think should win the awards. Sometimes the picks align, sometimes they don’t. You can see for yourself how everything panned out today, with the release of the results.

Nearly 20,000 of you participated in the polling this year, which is great. Thanks for taking the time to make your voices heard, even if your opinions were wrong (KIDDING). Without further ado, here are the complete results, in all of the categories.  

Best Sony Game: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
This one wasn’t even close. Naughty Dog’s game pulled in 57 percent of the vote in this category, with the next-closest contender, The Last Guardian, trailing back at about 11 percent. If you squint hard enough, you may be able to make out No Man’s Sky’s 5 percent. In other words, people seem to like that Nathan Drake fella.

Best Microsoft Game: Gears Of War 4
Microsoft’s field of contenders was tighter, and also considerably smaller. Gears of War 4 took the number-one slot with a little over 37 percent, with Forza Horizon 3’s 22 percent earning the racing game a second-place position. Third place was practically a tie between Dead Rising 4, Quantum Break, and Superhot. 

Best Nintendo Game: Pokémon Sun & Moon
People still like Pokémon, in case you forgot. Readers certainly didn’t, with the latest installment, Sun & Moon, handily winning with 40 percent of the vote. Fire Emblem Fates pulled in 10 percent, which was enough to give it second place. Are you a fan of Azure Striker Gunvolt 2? Did you think it was the best Nintendo game of 2016? If so, you’re a real outlier, since only 39 of you picked what was ultimately the last-place choice.

Best PC Exclusive: Civilization VI
Finally, a little competition. World of Warcraft got its long-awaited Legion expansion in 2016, but it wasn’t enough to take the top prize. It earned a respectable 15 percent of reader votes, but Civilization VI edged past with 22 percent. Perhaps Gandhi was secretly threatening you guys to vote for the game or face his vast nuclear arsenal.

Best Mobile/Handheld Game: Pokémon Go
Remember that time I mentioned that people still like Pokémon? I wasn’t kidding! The franchise dominated the mobile/handheld field, with Niantic’s augmented-reality spinoff and the latest proper entry in the series. Go barely squeaked past Sun & Moon for the victory, at 27 percent compared to 25 percent. Meanwhile, our pick, Clash Royale, trailed behind Deus Ex Go and Fire Emblem Fates. 

Best Action: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Ah, action, everyone’s favorite genre/category that you use when nothing else fits. Let’s all tip our caps to Dishonored 2 (19 percent), Dark Souls III (17 percent), and Watch Dogs 2 (4 percent). They tried their best, but couldn't come close to Uncharted 4’s 28 percent. Three of you weirdos picked Bound as the best action game of 2016. I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do with that information, but there it is. Action.

Best Adventure: Firewatch
In the adventure category – also known as games where you walk around and do stuff – one game towered over the others. Appropriately enough, it was Firewatch, a game partially set in a tower. OK, it was actually fairly close, but I desperately wanted to work in a tower reference. About 24 percent of you guys liked Campo Santos’ game, with Batman: The Telltale Series taking second place at 19 percent. Telltale’s two other game in the category followed closely after (The Walking Dead: Michonne and Minecraft: Story Mode), along with Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham VR.

Best Cooperative Multiplayer: Dark Souls III
Dark Souls III took home our reader prize for best cooperative multiplayer, followed by Gears of War 4, The Division, and Destiny: Rise of Iron. We didn’t hear a lot of buzz about From Software’s co-op elements before the polling took place. Either this is a wake-up call for us or a sign that Dark Souls III love trumps relevance to the category. (Sure, we picked Overcooked, but we’re not bitter or anything.)

Best Competitive Multiplayer: Overwatch
All right, we’re back on track again. Overwatch was the clear winner for 2016’s best competitive multiplayer game. We picked it, you picked it, everyone picked it. OK, 41 percent of you picked it, which wasn’t technically everyone, but close enough. Battlefield 1 took second, with 23 percent, and the field dropped off considerably after that. Titanfall 2, Doom, and Destiny: Rise of Iron took a combined 17 percent. 

Best Fighting: Street Fighter V
Street Fighter V had some pretty intense growing pains, but the results speak for themselves. It was our pick for best fighting game, as well as yours. Its 25 percent pushed it past contender Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 (15 percent) Pokkén Tournament (12 percent) and Killer Instinct’s third season (10 percent). Have you heard of something called Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel? Either 201 of you have, and liked it, or your fingers slipped.

Best Racing Game: Forza Horizon 3
Forza Horizon 3 raced past its challengers (GET IT?!) and took first place from both us and you. This was another one that wasn’t even close. Forza Horizon 3 took 77 percent of the vote, ahead of Trials of the Blood Dragon’s 8 percent and a bunch of other things that got even fewer votes.

Best Role-Playing: The Witcher 3: Blood And Wine
A little more than half of you picked The Witcher 3’s expansion as your role-playing pick. Hey! So did we! Final Fantasy XV pulled in a respectable 21 percent of the vote, and Pokémon Sun & Moon followed after, with about 12 percent. So there you go.

Best Platforming Game: Inside
Playdead’s bizarre Limbo follow-up was a big hit in the office, as well as with at least 40 percent of readers. Yarny captured 23 percent of your hearts, and Kirby: Planet Robobot came in after with 18 percent.

Best Puzzle Game: The Witness
The Witness captivated readers and our staff, with one game once again earning top prize from both camps. Deus Ex Go and The Turing Test were up next, with the three games getting 44, 26, and 8 percent of votes, respectively.

Best MMO: The Elder Scrolls Online – Dark Brotherhood
This was the smallest category overall, with four possible choices. The Elder Scrolls Online took top marks, ahead of World of Warcraft: Legion, Blade & Soul, and Rift – Starfall Prophecy. Want a numerical breakdown? How does 48, 41, 8, and 3 sound? We picked World of Warcraft: Legion, but – once again – we’re not bitter or upset. We’re just a little disappointed in you, that’s all.

Best Rhythm/Music: Rock Band 4: Rivals
Audioshield was our pick for best rhythm/music game of 2016, but we understand that not everyone has a VR setup. Most of you guys had Rock Band instruments, apparently, and you were looking for another excuse to dive into the series. Rivals was a solid reason to do so, pulling in 32 percent of votes. Just Dance 2017 was a surprise second place (or at least surprising to me), with 23 percent. I didn’t realize we had so many dance machines out there.

Best Shooter: Overwatch
Once again, Overwatch beat out Battlefield 1, but it was a much closer match. Blizzard’s shooter earned 27 percent of votes, while DICE’s World War 1 game took 25 percent. After that came Doom (18 percent) and Titanfall 2 (11 percent). 

Best Simulation: Stardew Valley
Sure, you can call it a Harvest Moon clone until the cows come home, but Stardew Valley is an undeniably fun game. Twenty-eight percent of you guys agreed with our pick for best simulation game, putting it ahead of Farming Simulator and Planet Coaster – which were practically ties at close to 13 percent each.

Best Sports: FIFA 17
Some call it soccer. Some call it football. Some super weirdos call it footie. Thanks to your votes, you can call FIFA 17 the best sports game of 2016. About a quarter of you picked it, ahead of NBA 2K17’s 16 percent (incidentally, our choice), and Madden’s 10 percent. R.B.I. Baseball was dead last, with .71 percent of you selecting it as your number one. Maybe next time.

Best Strategy: Civilization VI
Firaxis took the top two slots in the best strategy game category this year, with its Civilization VI and XCOM 2 (31 and 22 percent, respectively). Fire Emblem Fates came in third at 11 percent. Once again, the reader and GI picks matched up. Well done, everyone.

Best Remaster: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition
And things were going so well! Thirty percent of you picked Skyrim’s special edition as best remaster, with our pick (Ratchet & Clank) falling after the BioShock collection’s 14 percent with 12 percent. The smallest vote total was for Dead Rising 2: Off the Record HD, which got 21 total votes. To put that in perspective, Skyrim’s Special Edition got 5,999.  

Best VR Game
This was a big year for virtual reality, with several of the devices hitting big-box retailers for the first time. Oculus Rift may have had a head start over its competitors, but readers seemed to gravitate toward PlayStation VR. Batman: Arkham VR and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood took the first and second slots, with 35 and 15 percent of votes. Multiplatform games Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives and Eve Valkyrie came up next, at 13 and 9 percent.

2016 Game of the Year: The Witcher 3: Blood And Wine
And the winner goes to… Overwatch! Wait, there’s clearly something wrong here. Oops. Wrong envelope. We may have picked Blizzard’s amazing shooter as our best game of the year, but you all had something else in mind. Instead, nearly 20 percent of you selected The Witcher 3’s Blood and Wine expansion as the best game of 2016. Uncharted 4 was your second-place finisher, at 14 percent. Overwatch was up next at 9 percent. 

Here are some of the other games you jokers picked as your games of the year:

  • Burly Men At Sea: 1
  • Dangerous Golf: 1
  • Eagle Flight: 1
  • Grand Kingdom: 1
  • Metroid Prime: Federation Force: 1
  • Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls: 3 
Agree with the picks? Disagree? It's not our fault either way! Take your fellow readers to task in the comments below, and share your own picks if they blew it!