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Welcome to The Escapist Awards 2016

The Escapist Staff | 31 Dec 2016 12:00
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Table of Contents

  • Page 1
    • Best RPG
    • Best Indie
    • Best Shooter, Single Player
  • Page 2
    • Best Shooter, Multiplayer
    • Best Strategy
    • Best Action/Adventure
  • Page 3
    • Best Expansion/DLC
    • Best VR Game
    • Best VR Experience
  • Page 4
    • Best Surprise
    • Worst Surprise


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Best Surprise Winner

Titanfall 2


Developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by EA. Released October 28, 2016. Available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

Ron says: If you're surprised to see Titanfall 2 here, you are not alone. After all, the first game in the series didn't even bother with a single-player campaign, so for its sequel to be one of the best of the year is really saying something. Titanfall 2 earns that honor easily.

The campaign casts you as Infantryman Jack Cooper, and opens with you training to become a Titan pilot. When your ship crash lands on an enemy planet, you find yourself thrust into that role alomst immediately, as you take over a Titan named BT-7274. BT is your constant companion - he's even with you when you're apart, thanks to the magic of neural communication. As you advance through the game, taking on IMC (the bad guys) soldiers Titans and other obstacles, you'll find a strange thing happening: you start to actually care about this giant robot you're shooting things with.

You'll also find that the movement-based gameplay that the Titanfall games are known for works really well in the space of the campaign. There are plenty of places where you can take a step back and decipher a way forward using some combination of jetpacking, wall-running, and sliding. There are even a few spots where BT will pick you up and just launch you toward a distant destination - these definitely show how much you need to trust your robotic partner.

It's unfortunate that the multiplayer suffers from many of the same problems that its predecessor did. The traversal that feels so organic in the campaign feels forced in multiplayer, and combat outside a Titan is mediocre at best. At its best it's still quite fun, but it isn't a must-play experience like the single player is.

In the end, the campaign in Titanfall 2 ends up being the highlight of the game. The gameplay is rock-solid, and the story is definitely worth experiencing. It's a testament to Respawn's development team that they could go from no campaign to something as well put-together as this.

Best Surprise Runner-Up

Gears of War 4


Developed by The Coalition and published by Microsoft Studios. Released on October 11, 2016. Available on PC and Xbox One.

Josh says: Having grown up playing Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM, Quake, and continuing on with Call of Duty, Gears of War, and Battlefield, I love shooters. I'm admittedly terrible at them, but I love to play them. I'm not much more than a target dummy to decent players, so I stick to the campaign for the most part. I've played all the Gears of War to date, and I've enjoyed them every time, but every iteration seemed to be a lot like the previous entry, so by the third, it was starting to wear thin. I didn't really have much by way of expectation for Gears 4, except to be another Gears game.

To my delight, it was anything but. It's definitely still Gears of War, but the campaign experience was radically changed. The story was a more personal story with more relatable characters. The dialogue exchanges were more clever and more human-seeming. Having expected another typical Gears game, what I got was far better, and the pleasant surprise of it has stuck with me since I started playing it.

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Worst Surprise Winner

No Man's Sky


Developed and published by Hello Games. Published by Sony for PS4. Released on August 9, 2016. Available on PC and PS4.

Liz says: No Man's Sky's cold reception was a combination of collective hype - many individuals falling in love with an idea in their head, exasperated by the internet giving a platform for all of them to share this one-sided slow dance with one another - and Hello Games not delivering the game that had been promised. Trailers, interviews, and gameplay demos included either explicit promises or implications of features that ended up absent from the final product. Planets are less diverse than promised, animal behavior is different than shown, ship combat is nowhere near as meaningful as promised, trading offers few benefits, inventory and crafting are a mess, you are unable to see other characters, and the game is ultimately plagued by a level of monotony that makes any lengthy exploration feel more like a $60 chore than an exciting space-trotting experience.

All of this was made worse by Hello Games' virtual silence after the game's release - speaking very little publicly, and when they did, they claimed it was the result of a hack. The recent addition of an expansive Foundation Update added a survival mode, base building, freighters, and more. However, the new features do little to resolve the issues in the game, the repetitiveness of the planets, and do nothing to deliver the game that fans were expecting... or deserved.

Worst Surprise Runner-Up

Mighty No. 9


Developed by Comcept and Inti Creates. Published by Deep Silver. Released on June 21, 2016. Available on PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

Josh says: Like many, I had such high hopes for Mighty No. 9 that it would have been difficult for it to live up to my expectations, but I was not prepared for just how far short it would fall. I loved Mega Man, and I even started playing the legacy collection before No. 9's launch to get myself back into practice. When I did finally get my hands on Mighty No. 9, however, it took very little time for me to go back to Mega Man.

Whatever spirit of the original franchise Mighty No. 9 was hoping to capture, it did not. I have a weakness for reboots and spiritual successors, which makes this sort of disappointment feel almost like a betrayal, if I'm being melodramatic about it. Which I am.


That's it for The Escapist's 2016 Video Game Awards. Make sure to check back tomorrow to see our choice for Game of the Year 2016!

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