The 10 Best Video Games of 2016

It’s that time of year when we take stock of the video games released between January and December of 2016 and see how they stack up. All told, it was a phenomenal year for video games, with blockbusters and fantastic indie games landing at a steady pace all year long. But you’re only looking for the best of the best, right? Below, you’ll find the best video games of 2016, ranked.

To find the winners, we hit up Metacritic and averaged out each game’s Metascore (based on critical reception) and user score (based on, well, users) to create a composite score. That way both critics and gamers have their say, weighted equally. So if you’re wondering why Overwatch didn’t make the cut, for instance, you can blame Overwatch players, who gave the game a 6.8. By using ratings from both users and critics, this should provide the best view of how these games were received overall. Enjoy.

10. Forza Horizon 3

A car in 'Forza Horizon 3'

Forza Horizon 3 was one of the best games of the year | Microsoft

Composite score: 85.5

Since Forza Horizon 2 was such an incredible game, it’s no surprise the developers managed to outdo themselves once again with the third outing, which brings the Horizon festival to the sun-splashed (or rain-drenched, depending on the conditions) continent of Australia. It has you drive all manner of vehicles — from Ferraris to ATVs — through environments like highways, dunes, forests, caves, vineyards, and beaches. And if you get lonely driving solo, you can play with up to three friends in co-op racing. This game is utterly fantastic, so whether or not you normally enjoy racing games, read our review to see if it might appeal to you.

9. Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet standing on a sandy landscape in front of his garage.

Ratchet & Clank is highly rated | Sony

Composite score: 85.5

Ratchet & Clank, a long-running series of PlayStation action platformers, is a big deal again. And while this title is technically a remake of the 2002 Ratchet & Clank game, it’s actually much more than that. It has a number of new areas and scenes, and the graphics have gotten a mega-boost. But the basic idea of a furry Lombax and his robot pal adventuring around the universe remain just as enjoyable as it’s always been. If you like nonstop action and insane weapons, this is the game for you.

8. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Nathan Drake and his brother Sam in 'Uncharted 4'.

Uncharted 4 is a big hit this year | Sony

Composite score: 86

Not only is Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End a top-tier game, but it also caps off one of the best video game franchises of the past decade. For those unfamiliar with the series, Uncharted stars Nathan Drake, explorer and treasure hunter extraordinaire. Drake lives a life that would make even Indiana Jones jealous, doing things like climbing steep cliffs, getting in epic shootouts, blowing up every vehicle he finds, and kissing the girl (or girls).

This game kicks off after he’s settled down with his wife and promised to lead a normal life. But when his brother shows up with a plan for a heist, all that’s about to change. It’s yet another killer release from Naughty Dog, one of the best developers on the planet.

7. Battlefield 1

Cover art for 'Battlefield 1'

Battlefield 1 impressed critics and players | Electronic Arts

Composite score: 86.5

In a gaming landscape in which nearly every shooter takes place in the future, it’s refreshing to go back to the past in Battlefield 1. Refreshing might not be quite the right word, seeing as World War I was a brutal affair, and this game shows you why. It was when the old ways of war clashed with the new. So you’ll find soldiers riding on horses going up against tanks, trains, and airplanes. In addition to a satisfying single-player campaign, Battlefield 1 serves up lots of multiplayer action, including massive 64-player matches.

6. Stardew Valley

A pixelated farm is up and running.

Stardew Valley is excellent | Chucklefish Games

Composite score: 86.5

Stardew Valley is an indie farming game that outdoes every other farming game out there. In it, you inherit your grandfather’s farm, so it’s your job to plant seeds, harvest crops, and make a home for yourself in a new town. You can build relationships with your neighbors and even get married if you manage to woo a lucky resident, which isn’t always easy. If you’re looking for a laid-back game that won’t stress you out, give it a try.

5. Titanfall 2

Using a jet booster in Titanfall 2.

Titanfall 2 is even better than the first | Electronic Arts

Composite score: 86.5

The original Titanfall was a fine shooter, but its lack of a single-player campaign and its Xbox One console exclusivity (with eventual debut on PC) limited its potential player base. The sequel fixes those issues, but introduced one of its own when it launched in November: bad timing. It came out right around the same time as Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and Gears of War 4, all games with bigger profiles than Titanfall 2.

That’s a shame, because Titanfall 2 is a fantastic game, with some of the best movement controls ever put in a first-person game. The campaign is full of smart new ideas, and the multiplayer maps shine. If you missed out on this game when it came out, now’s the time to give it a shot.

4. Inside

A boy hides from a scanning robot.

Inside is a puzzle game unlike any other | Playdead

Composite score: 86.5

From the makers of the tremendously gloomy yet gorgeous game Limbo comes Inside, a game that’s both of those things, but also deeply unnerving. Like its predecessor, this side-scroller is filled with environmental puzzles that will leave you scratching your head until you come up with a solution, at which point you’ll feel like a certified genius. The game only lasts about four hours, but trust me: You’ll be thinking about it long after the credits roll.

3. Axiom Verge

A metroidvania with big bosses.

Axiom Verge is great for Metroid fans | Tom Happ

Composite score: 88

If you’re sick of waiting for the next 2D Metroid game (which may never come), you’ll definitely want to check out Axiom Verge. You play as a scientist who wakes up in a strange world full of sprawling environments, dangerous enemies, and useful weapons scattered around. Each new weapon and ability you find lets you into areas you previously couldn’t access. It’s a brilliantly designed game that scratches that classic Metroid itch.

2. Dark Souls III

A glowing red knight stands before a gothic castle against a yellow sky.

Dark Souls III got raving reviews | From Software

Composite score: 88.5

Seeing as this is the fourth entry in the “Soulsborne” series (which includes Demon’s Souls, the first two Dark Souls games, and last year’s PS4 exclusive Bloodborne), you probably already know if you’re interested in entering the brutally challenging world of Lothric. This whole series is brutally challenging but offers great rewards to those who see it through. Regular enemies can drain your health in seconds. Boss fights often require one or more dozen retries before you hone your skills enough to beat them. Every inch of progress is hard won, but well-earned.

There’s nothing so frustrating as failing over and over. Then again, there’s nothing so rewarding as slaying a seemingly impossible boss and lighting a bonfire where it fell. If that sounds like your kind of game, don’t miss Dark Souls III.

1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine

Geralt of Rivia rides a horse on a dirt path in The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine is the biggest hit of the year | CD Projekt Red

Composite score: 91.5

Seeing as Blood and Wine is DLC, we thought about not including it at all, but if The Game Awards considered it the best RPG of the year, then we’ll follow suit, seeing as it has a higher composite score than any other game this year. And since it contains about 25 hours’ worth of content, it’s longer than many on this list full games.

This episode brings monster-hunter-for-hire Geralt to the land of Toussaint, a sunny place inspired by France that’s much more cheery and wealthy than most of the settings in the core game. The story finds you helping solve a string of murders with a vampire friend. Along the way, you meet plenty of well-drawn characters and engage in some of the most entertaining side quests of the whole game — and that’s saying something. Blood and Wine is a must-play, and the most well-received game (or DLC) of the year.