The Best Videogames of 2016

  • Publish Date: December 20, 2016
  • Comments: ↓ 12 user comments

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is the best game of 2016

Image
2016
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
(PS4)
93
2015
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
(Xbox One)
95
2014
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
(Wii U)
92
2013
Grand Theft Auto V
(PS3/360)
97
2012
The Walking Dead [Retail]
(360)
95
Metacritic's Game of the Year
(Highest-scoring new title, min. 7 reviews)

Nothing against our game of the year Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, an excellent ending to perhaps the all-time best series for Sony consoles, but we are still awaiting the explosion of great games that was supposed to come with the next generation of console hardware.

Much like the two years that preceded it, 2016 did not see any such uptick in superlative software. Just six unique titles scored 90 or higher on consoles during the past year—and one of those was an expansion pack.

At least more than one of 2016's great games (INSIDE and Overwatch) were brand new IP, which is more than we could say for the year before, when just a single great new title (Bloodborne) was introduced.

That said, 2016 was not without its gems. A bit further down the page, we'll reveal this year's best-reviewed games for each major platform (including PC and handheld games). Before that, here's a quick look at how each of the gaming platforms compared during the past year:

Console/PC Comparison - 2016
Console # of Scored
Games*
Score
Distribution
Average Metascore Great Games**
(90 or higher)
Good Exclusives**
(75 or higher)
PS3 PlayStation 4 445 158,261,26 69.1 4 13
Xbox 360 Xbox One 294 106,170,18 69.8 4 3
Wii U Wii U 44 20,18,6 68.5 0 4
PC PC 450 178,251,21 70.8 5 46
Handheld Comparison - 2016
Console # of Scored
Games*
Score
Distribution
Average Metascore Great Games**
(90 or higher)
Good Exclusives**
(75 or higher)
3DS Nintendo 3DS 57 25,31,1 71.9 0 20
PS Vita PS Vita 46 23,23,0 73.1 0 0

* Games with 4 or more reviews in Metacritic's database released between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016 (based on North American release dates, except in cases where a game has not been released in North America).
** Excludes games with fewer than 7 reviews.
All Metascore data for this and all other tables in this report is from December 18, 2016. The pie charts reflect the percentage of all releases for each console with Positive Reviews (receiving a Metascore of 75 or higher indicating), Mixed Reviews (receiving a Metascore of 50-74), and Negative Reviews (receiving a Metascore of 49 or below). Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

And here are 2016's best-reviewed titles, regardless of platform (iPhone/iPad games are excluded; they'll be ranked in a separate report coming later this week):

The 90+ Club: The Best-Reviewed Games of 2016 (Any Platform*)
Title / Platform Publisher Genre Metascore
1 Uncharted 4: A Thief's End PS4 Sony Action-Adv. 93
2 INSIDE XB1 PLAYDEAD Puzzle/Adv. 92
3 Out of the Park Baseball 17 PC Out Of The Park Dev. Sports/Sim 92
4 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine PC Warner Bros. Interactive Action/RPG 92
5 Overwatch PC Blizzard Entertainment FPS 91
6 Overwatch XB1 Blizzard Entertainment FPS 91
7 Forza Horizon 3 XB1 Microsoft Racing 91
8 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine PS4 Warner Bros. Interactive Action/RPG 91
9 INSIDE PS4 PLAYDEAD Puzzle/Adv. 91
10 Overwatch PS4 Blizzard Entertainment FPS 90
11 Stephen's Sausage Roll PC increpare Puzzle 90
12 NBA 2K17 XB1 2K Games Sports 90
13 Kentucky Route Zero - Act IV PC Cardboard Computer Adventure 90

*Excluding iOS games. Games are ranked by Metascore prior to rounding. Only games with 7 or more reviews are included in this and every other list that follows.

Best 2016 games by platform

PlayStation 4

PS4
2016 Avg. Metascore 69.1
vs. 2015 Avg. 70.5
PlayStation 4

In 2015, there were six 90+ games released for Sony's latest console, tops among all platforms. This past year, that total was down to four—a figure matched by the Xbox One and exceeded by PC.

The average Metascore for PS4 games also declined by over a point from 2015 to 2016. Even worse, fewer than 36% of all PS4 games released during 2016 received positive reviews from critics. That's down from a 42% approval rate in 2015 and 50% in 2014.

Why such a decline? There's an easy answer: there were far more titles released for the PS4 during 2016 than in past years. We were able to calculate scores for 445 individual PlayStation releases in 2016. The previous year? There were just 276 scored releases. And that huge increase in quantity, unfortunately, brought with it a great deal of mediocrity.

But it did bring some good news as well. There were 13 PS4 exclusives in 2016 scoring 75 or higher, up from 11 in 2015 and just four in the console's first year. That exclusive list was topped by our overall game of the year, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.

Below, browse all of this year's highest-scoring titles for the PS4 console:

Xbox One

Xbox One
2016 Avg. Metascore 69.8
vs. 2015 Avg. 70.4
Xbox One

Like the PlayStation 4, Microsoft's console also saw a year-to-year decline in average Metascore as well as in the percentage of releases receiving positive reviews (40.7% in 2015 vs. just 36.1% in 2016).

Worryingly, the number of positively reviewed exclusives also dropped for the Xbox One, down from seven in 2015 to just three in 2016. And those good Xbox exclusives weren't exactly household names. Topping the list is FRU, an indie puzzle-platformer. (While reviews were fairly good, it's not exactly Uncharted 4). Xbox gamers also got to enjoy the semi-exclusivity of Forza Horizon 3, a well-reviewed title that was also available for PCs (but not PlayStation 4).

Here were the best games released for the Xbox One in 2016:

PC games

PC
2016 Avg. Metascore 70.8
PC Games
vs. 2015 Avg. 70.6

The world of PC gaming appeared to be strong in 2016. For the second straight year, five separate PC releases achieved a Metascore of 90 or higher. (That total goes up to nine if you include games receiving fewer than seven reviews, which we typically use as a cutoff for our high score charts.)

There was no shortage of good computer games in 2016. In total, there were 178 PC games receiving positive reviews in the past year, more than in any other year since we began compiling these year-end surveys in 2009 (and far more than any other gaming platform this year).

Wii U

Wii U
2016 Avg. Metascore 68.5
Nintendo Wii U
vs. 2015 Avg. 67.1

Nintendo's underperforming Wii U console was on its last legs in 2016, though its follow-up (the Switch)—once expected to arrive in late 2016—isn't due until next year. As a result, there was little new content for the old console released in 2016.

How little? We were able to calculate Metascores for just 44 different Wii U titles this year, down from an already-low total of 80 in 2015. And not a single one of those 44 games exceeded the 90+ mark. In fact, only eight of those games even received positive notices from critics.

Here are the top 2016 releases for the Wii U:

Best-Reviewed Wii U Games, 2016
Game Publisher Buy It Metascore
1Axiom VergeTom Happ   89
2The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HDNintendo   86
3Mutant Mudds: Super ChallengeRenegade Kid   83
4SeveredDrinkBox Studios   83
5Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FENintendoAmazon80
6Jotun: Valhalla EditionThunder Lotus Games79
7Pokken TournamentNintendo/Bandai Namco GamesAmazon76
8Paper Mario: Color SplashNintendoAmazon75
9Star Fox GuardNintendoAmazon74
10Star Fox ZeroNintendoAmazon69

Handhelds: Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita

3DS
2016 Avg. Metascore 71.9
vs. 2015 Avg. 69.0
Nintendo 3DS

Vita
2016 Avg. Metascore 73.1
vs. 2015 Avg. 70.7
PlayStation Vita

The number of games released for the two remaining handheld gaming devices (the ones that aren't also phones, that is) remained roughly constant for the few years leading up to last year. But both Nintendo's 3DS and Sony's PlayStation Vita saw their total number of releases drop significantly in 2016. Could one or both of them be on the way out?

As in 2015, neither handheld platform had game score 90+ in 2016. The 3DS had far more exclusives than the Vita (which had no good ones this year), though a higher percentage of Vita games were positively reviewed (and had a higher Metascore, on average) than titles released for the 3DS.

Here are the top 2016 releases for each handheld platform:

Best-Reviewed 3DS Games, 2016
Game Publisher Buy It Metascore
1Picross 3D: Round 2Nintendo89
2Fire Emblem Fates: Special EditionNintendoAmazon88
3Fire Emblem Fates: RevelationNintendo88
4Fire Emblem Fates: ConquestNintendoAmazon87
5Pokemon SunNintendoAmazon87
6Pokemon MoonNintendoAmazon87
7Fire Emblem Fates: BirthrightNintendoAmazon86
8Monster Hunter GenerationsCapcomAmazon85
9Shin Megami Tensei IV: ApocalypseAtlusAmazon85
10Rhythm Heaven MegamixNintendo84
Best-Reviewed PS Vita Games, 2016
Game Publisher Buy It Metascore
1Steins;Gate 0PQubeAmazon86
2Zero Escape: Zero Time DilemmaAksys GamesAmazon83
3XCOM: Enemy Unknown Plus2K Games82
4SeveredDrinkBox Studios82
5The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II XSEED GamesAmazon80
6Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of FateAksys GamesAmazon79
7Skullgirls: 2nd EncoreAutumn Games76
8Grand KingdomNIS AmericaAmazon76
9Yomawari: Night AloneNIS AmericaAmazon75
10Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk SkyKoei Tecmo Games75

Bonus: The worst games of 2016

No year-end recap would be complete without a quick look the year's worst-reviewed releases:

What do you think?

What were your favorite games of 2016? Let us know in the discussion section below, and make sure to vote for your favorites in our 7th Annual Metacritic Users Poll.

Comments (12)

  • justinaluka  

    I love your articles! It is so informative and well done. I am just missing a new one about the most awaited or the most popular video games of 2017. Will Resident Evil 7 and For Honor will be included? In my opinion, RE is one of the most amazing horror video games ever created and For Honor seems to be so exciting! According to the Resident Evil 7 ratings I found here: http://www.residentevil7news.com/resident-evil-7-rating the game should be definitely included in your ratings! After all, when we can expect a new article to come? Please, let me know.

  • jj350  

    This is easily the worst game I have played all year. It is paint by numbers gaming. It tries to be a movie, but just like every movie based upon a video game the story is just too dumb to hold up.

    Pretty sure the only reason this got such high reviews is because Sony has some of the craziest, most hardcore fanboys around, and they will rate anything by Naughty Dog perfect 10's regardless of how boring it is to play.

  • Rodrigolpo  

    PC is the definitive platform. All the good games are there and with better versions than the console versions. Except for a few PS4 exclusives and Nintendo exclusives, everything else is available for you to play on PC, that includes the so called Xbox exclusives now.
    And for the guy saying that cheap games shouldn't be on the list, what's your point? A good game is a good game, it doesn't matter how much it costs.

  • metass  

    How about you add REAL exclusives and stop adding games for a tenner or €20 to "bloat up" the numbers (PC). The best PC game on the that list is a baseball management game that sold like crap for €20 versus all the other exclusive that go for €60 or more and have sold millions.

    This list shows actually the state of the PC, ever since the Steam entered the game. There´s NO PC exclusive on that list goes for €60 or more. All cheap games, to inflate the numbers and make it look like there´re 46 exclusives this year alone on the PC. No wonder there´re 46 PC exclusives, when you add games that cost a $5 ... why not add mods then, to make it look even better for the P.C? Or how about general software, one can play/fiddle around with the option given in handbrake and find it rather amusing ...

    #LOL
    #F2Pirates

  • Kaprawiec  

    And I must add when I look back at this Year, we had more games with low reviews like Darkest Dungeon (83 on PS4) and the only reviewer on VITA said "... gameplay feels right at home on the handheld.." so it clearly would do as good if not better than the PS4 version. Also I want to play World of Final Fantasy but if I can choose to get it on the go then... Vita with 5 reviews scoring 77 also is the version "to go"

  • Kaprawiec  

    Lack of reviews for PS VITA resulted in not getting on the lisf of Odins Sphere (current 93 from 5 critics), SteamWold Heist (90 from 5 critics), Day of the Tentacle (82 from 5 critics), Downwell (85 from 5 critics), Oddworld (83/5), Volume (86/4). All of them are great games, which deserve a spotligh way more than those shown on this list.
    I know that everybody say that VITA is dead, but this is one of the reason nobody realize that there are still some good games on this system.
    Well whatever, at least I have lots of games to entertain myself with Peace!

  • Praseidimio666  

    Duplicates should be removed.
    Dark Souls 3 , The Witness, Dishonored 2, and lots of other good (if not great) games that deserve mention are missing

  • TheMetacritiqer  

    Worst year ever. But 2017, due to God of War, Last of Us, Detroit and maybe a Vietnam call of duty, it should be the best year since 2014, in which the stand out game was dragon age and the underrated vanishing of Ethan Carter.

  • donutdoodguy  

    It also means that a 90 game now is higher in scale than a 90 game like 5 years ago

  • donutdoodguy  

    Games are starting to be reviewed harder which is a good thing

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