Best Products of 2016: Gaming

This year's best game didn't just transform a genre, it created a culture

overwatch floating health bars best products 2016 v4

best products of 2016 gaming vertical badgesWinner
Overwatch

2016 was supposed to be the year of the MOBA, the year every game under the sun would try to adapt the mechanics of games like League of Legends and DOTA II to other genres, the way Call of Duty injected RPG-style progression into a first-person shooter.

As a trend, that concept fizzled. But only because one game did it so well that was no room for competition.

Overwatch, Blizzard Entertainment’s “hero shooter,” has rewritten the first-person shooter, crafting a unique team-based experience that is simultaneously deeper and more accessible than its peers.

What the game offers is deceptively simple — a small number of objective-based six-on-six variations on “King of the Hill.” Those games become endlessly replayable, however, thanks to the game’s 30-something characters, each of which offer a unique skill-set. Each character feels unique, and most feel different from any shooter you’ve ever played. From Lucio, the roller-skating healer who boosts his team with the power of his music, to Reinhardt, the hammer-wielding human shield, each character feels like they could have an entire game built around them. Playing Overwatch often feels completely unlike any of the words fans and critics would use to classify it. It feels like something special.

best products of 2016 smart home bestproduct text lockup transparent onblack v3

As with many competitive games, Blizzard’s post-launch commitment to Overwatch has led to continually changing dynamics — through patches, new characters, and rotating “event” modes — in how these characters work with and against each other. The nature of these tweaks, however, which have included some big swings, feel sharp and considered, well beyond what we’ve come to expect from most games. The result is a game that continues to feel new months after launch.

If that weren’t enough, Overwatch has engendered a love from its community that extends far beyond the bounds of its code. Its beautiful, Pixar-esque art style, combined with a deep lore for those willing to dive in, has driven players to carry that love outside the game to art, fan fiction, and more.

At a time when every game, no matter the genre or format, wants to jump-start a multimedia franchise or an ongoing “service,” often to their detriment, Overwatch has inspired a generation of players.

Read our review button
best products of 2016 gaming inside v2

best products of 2016 gaming vertical badges runner upRunner up
Inside

Inside is as close to “perfect” as any game we’ve played this year. The second project from Limbo developer Playdead, the side-scrolling puzzle game uses excellent environmental storytelling to convey both its mechanics and its story to players. Every aspect of Inside‘s opaque dystopia, from the animation of guard dogs chasing you through the woods, to the zombie-like walk of the human drones that you encounter, fosters a sense of foreboding and dreadful urgency that fuels your need to escape, even when you don’t know what you’re escaping from.

Though it lasts only a few hours, Inside succeeds in everything it tries, and does so with a level of polish that most games never come close to achieving. Even if it is not your kind of game, you should look to Inside as a technical marvel, and a gold standard for game developers who too ship games before they’re truly finished.

Read our review button
best products of 2016 gaming civilization 6 v2

best products of 2016 gaming vertical badges runner up

Runner up
Civilization VI

After six games, you’d think Sid Meier would run out of ideas. Yet, somehow, Civilization VI feels contemporary and classic at the same time. With core changes to some of the game’s fundamental systems, every aspect of the game feels fresh and new. The ideas behind those changes, like the notion that the growth of cities should be reflected geographically, or that roads are established through trade routes, seem to be statements about history and philosophy, as much as game design.

Of course, that wouldn’t matter if the game weren’t also still incredibly fun to play. We’ll probably be muttering “one more turn” to ourselves night after night for months and years to come.

Read our review button
Whew! Rough year. Fortunately, we got some amazing tech out of it. Digital Trends’ expert editors picked the most amazing gadgets in their respective categories, then convened as a panel to pick the one that towered above them all. Join us every day between now and Jan. 1 as we recap our favorites, and build up to the big Best of 2016 reveal!

Editors' Recommendations

Music

From Jay Rock to Saba, these are the 50 best albums of 2018

We've spent the year listening to new albums, digging deep, and culling our master list into 50 favorites. From blockbuster releases to hidden gems, these are the best albums of 2018.
Gaming

These are the best video games you shouldn't leave 2018 without

Developers showed up with a number of amazing games this year. Each capitalized on something unique but there's always one that outdoes them all. Here are our picks for the best video games of 2018 and game of the year.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Gaming

Still trying to unlock your main in 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'? Try these tips

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is Nintendo’s biggest entry in the series to date with over 70 characters to unlock, but the process can feel tiresome. Here are our tips to unlock your roster as quickly as possible.
Gaming

How to make a clan in ‘Destiny 2’ and where to go from there

Want to know how to make a clan in 'Destiny 2'? Here's everything you need to know, including how to design your clan's banner, earn extra loot, and help other players with guided games.
Mobile

Put down the controller and pick up the best phones for gaming on the go

Which phones are the best if all you want to do is play some mobile games? We've done the hard work and put together a list of the best gaming phones on Android and iOS, so you can keep playing and winning.
Gaming

Ditch the meditation app. 'Katamari Damacy Reroll' is pure gaming zen

Katamari Damacy Reroll brings the magic of the PS2 classic to Nintendo Switch and PC. With updated visuals and the same great, singular loop, Reroll stands the test of time. Katamari Damacy is the ultimate relaxation game.
Gaming

Need help getting the Sleeper Simulant in 'Destiny 2'? We’ve got you covered

The Sleeper Simulant is one of the coolest new Exotic weapons you can unlock in the Warmind expansion of Destiny 2, but it's an involved process that will take awhile. Here's everything you need to know.
Gaming

Xbox One S vs. PlayStation 4 Slim: Which console is worth your money?

Microsoft's new Xbox One S and Sony's PlayStation 4 "Slim" have bucked the generational gaming console trend. But which of these stopgap systems is worth spending your paycheck on?
Deals

Check out the best Xbox One deals and bundles for December 2018

Microsoft's consoles are just as capable of streaming movies as they are of playing the latest games. Check out our top Xbox One deals and bundles, which include new and upcoming triple-A games like Battlefield V and Fallout 76.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Deals

The NES Classic is back in stock just in time for the holidays

The NES Classic is back in stock at multiple outlets at its original launch price of $60 in time for Christmas. Retailers offering it online are Walmart, GameStop, Target, and Best Buy -- if you're looking for the perfect holiday gift for…
Gaming

Some ‘Fortnite’ players aren’t too happy with the new Infinity Blade weapon

The most recent update for Fortnite added the Infinity Blade melee weapon to battle royale, and some players aren't happy with how much it has changed the game during competitions.
Gaming

Soulja Boy’s ‘new’ console appears to include stolen Nintendo games

Rapper Soulja Boy recently released his SouljaGame console, and it includes several emulated games that appear to be stolen from companies like Nintendo, SNK, and Capcom. A handheld version is also available.