It’s that time of year again. Work is behind you for 2016 (well, for some of us; it’s not yet for me, clearly!) and there’s actually a bit of downtime to play through some quality big-name games. Instead of splitting it into five articles like I did last year, I’m going to keep these recommendations to a couple of stories to let you know about the better games of 2016, and what you should expect to pay for a digital copy for each.
Given that it’s December, there’s a good chance you can grab a bargain on Steam, or possibly even your other digital platform of choice (basically every digital platform has a sale right now).
Best of the shooters
It’s been a fantastic year for shooter fans. While I wasn’t a fan of the multiplayer, there’s no denying that there was a lot of fun to be found in id Software’s return to hell, Doom. It’s on special on Steam at the moment for $26.38USD. For a completely different first-person experience released earlier in the year, Far Cry Primal is a fun prehistoric romp, and it’ll set you back $22.97USD on Steam right now.
As for end-of-year releases, there are some great choices. You can pick up a standard version of Battlefield 1 for $53.99AUD on Origin, and it’s definitely the most fun I’ve had with a shooter this year. Its biggest competitor, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, was infinitely less impressive to me (even though I was actually looking forward to it), but if you’re a fan of CoD—or you want to play the hella-fun Zombies mode—you can nab a basic copy on Steam for $39.59USD, or the Legacy Edition with Modern Warfare Remastered for $59.99USD.
Titanfall 2 is actually a lot of fun (single-player more than multiplayer for me), and it’s well priced at $44.99AUD as part of the Origin sale. You can nab Deluxe Editions of Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1 for $102.49AUD, too.
If you fancy a third-person experience instead of a first-person one, I had an absolute blast with Gears of War 4 on Windows 10. It’s on special at the moment for $54.97AUD on the Windows Store, which also nets you a digital copy for Xbox One as part of the Play Anywhere program.
Best strategy games
There have been a lot of great strategy titles from indie developers and lesser-known publishers, so I’ll let you know about some of those better choices in the second (and final) holiday buying guide. For now, it’s hard to go past the likes of XCOM 2 that even I, an anti-turn-based gamer (well, for the most part), had fun with. You can nab it on Steam for $29.99USD right now. For a kinda similarly themed alternative, you can check out the rebirth of Master of Orion, for as little as $14.50USD during the Steam sale.
Earlier this year, I had a lot of (challenging) fun with Total War: Warhammer, and resident Warhammer aficionado David Hollingworth enjoyed it, too. Particularly if you’re new or newish to Total War, it’s a great place to start, and you can grab a copy on Steam for $44.99USD during the sale.
I’ve yet to play it (or any in the series for that matter), but I have it on good authority from fans that Civilization VI is a fantastic continuation of the beloved turn-based grand strategy series. It’s only been out for a couple of months, so the discount is less generous on Steam, but it’s currently priced at $62.95USD.
For a more affordable strategy fix, you can try out these final three strategy recommendations. If you already own StarCraft II, you can nab the three Nova Covert Ops missions packs for $21.95AUD, which are on special at the moment. If you don’t own StarCraft II, the standard edition, which bundles the core trilogy of SCII games together, will set you back $59.95AUD (or you can slap down $89.95AUD for the deluxe version).
If you’re after some goofy fun but with plenty of strategy, I’m still having a blast with Worms W.M.D, both on my lonesome and in multiplayer. You can pick up a digital copy for $20.09USD as part of the current Steam sale. Last but not least, a controversial inclusion, but one that I (mostly) enjoyed earlier this year—Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak. Sure, it didn’t have the same three-dimensional strategy of the original series—and maybe it’s just because I was glad to have Homeworld back—but I had enough fun for what I paid for the game. If you’re curious to play it, you can score it for a bargain now on Steam: just $16.99USD for the core game, and $21.66USD for the bundle that includes Deserts of Kharak and the Homeworld Remastered Collection.
If there are any particular big-name games you feel I’ve missed from the categories above, please let me know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for a follow-up article that’ll include recommendations for some of the year’s best RPG and indie titles.