Most overrated games of 2016

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Overrated is a loaded term. It looks good in a headline. It’s often used for no purpose other than to goad a reaction. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. When I call a game overrated, I don’t mean it’s bad, that the reviews were wrong, that the people who liked it were dopes, or even that I didn’t like it. It just means I’m surprised more people weren’t more critical, that the conversation wasn’t more often about ways the game could have been better.

After the jump, the ten most overrated games of 2016.


10. The Division

JAMMO. Sure, a cover-based shooter, too. But mostly JAMMO.


9. No Man’s Sky

The developers probably didn’t mean to make a game about how the universe is vast and meaningless, but sometimes insight happens.

Full review here.


8. Final Fantasy XV

As an excuse, “it’s a JRPG” can only get you so far. Final Fantasy XV is well beyond that point with its grating characters, realtime cat-herding combat, and total lack of appreciation for what an open-world game should do. The best thing I can say about Final Fantasy XV is that it makes me appreciate all the more that the Xenoblade Chronicles games are a dazzling hybrid of JRPGs and open worlds.


7. Firewatch

Fantastic writing, heartfelt acting, and a unique story that combines mid-life crisis navel gazing with wilderness noir. Shame about the bits where you’re walking around in a lackluster game about being a park ranger.

Full review here.


6. Darkest Dungeon

JRPG combat minus the JRPG but with brutally difficult “fuck you” boss gimmicks. Is permadeath really a good idea here? Speaking of which, the artwork is to die for.


5. Team Fortress 3

Oh, did I write Team Fortress 3 up there? I meant Overwatch. I can’t keep them straight. Blizzard is really good at what they do, especially when they’re doing something someone else already did.


4. The Witness

One of the most egregious examples of puzzles for puzzles’ sake since Seventh Guest. Although, to be fair, Seventh Guest had a story. And varied puzzles. And it was less punishing. While I appreciate the braininess of The Witness’ extended lesson in self-referential grammar, 2016 should be celebrated as a banner year for mysterious puzzle islands for an entirely different reason: Cyan World’s haunting and memorable Obduction.

Full review here.


3. That Dragon, Cancer

I’m reluctant to say this, because the people who made this game have gone through one of the most horrific things imaginable. I can’t possibly comprehend their suffering. But I don’t think their attempt to translate that suffering into, well…videogame poetry, for lack of a better term, is very good. Can I be sympathetic to someone’s ordeal but still be critical of the game they’ve made about the ordeal? Without being a dick, I mean.


2. Planet Coaster

Hmm, why does this feel so familiar? Frontier Developments releases a promising game without any meaningful way to teach new players how to play, with significant swathes of actual gameplay still pending, and with fancy visuals to distract you from those facts. What a strange sense of deja vu.


1. Civilization VI

Once again, Civilization gets 1UP’T. And once again, reviewers and neophyte strategy gamers couldn’t care less. “Look, I grew a city!” they beam proudly, like a six-year-old showing you a crayon drawing of a house.

Full review here.

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