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GamesRadar+'s Game of the Year 2016

15. Street Fighter 5 

There is no escaping the fact that Street Fighter 5's release was disastrous. Rough online matchmaking that's still shaky ten months after release, an expensive season pass that barely gives access to additional content, grotesquely expensive cosmetic DLC including alternate costumes and stages for $4 a pop. That's on top of the delayed story mode and the complete absence of basic single player fighting game content like an arcade mode. Capcom messed up Street Fighter 5 in every way it could be messed up save one: the fights themselves. The misery of its adornments fade away the moment you start controlling any of the world warriors within, whether they're mainstays like the patient powerhouse Chun-Li or swift newcomers like Rashid. Beneath the gouging add-on content and amateur user interface lies one on one combat so perfectly balanced, so easy to learn, that it seems like it's been a foundational part of the genre for years. It took 25 years, but Capcom finally made a fighting game that feels as good and as deep as Street Fighter 2 but is even easier to pick up for the first time. With fights this good, we can forgive the rest. Anthony John Agnello 

14. Watch Dogs 2 

What a lovely hipster-flavoured surprise this open-world San Francisco turned out to be. Mmm, chai latte and top knots. Ok, we can joke about how painfully cool Watch Dogs 2's Marcus Holloway and his hacker chums are but this is actually a stack of characters who are worth spending some quality time with, even if one of them does have emojis for eyes. Add in all the hacking fun that Mr Sad Face Aiden Pearce never actually got to have in the first one and Watch Dogs 2 is a technicolour playground just waiting for you to tinker with it. Whether you want to follow the entertaining main campaign, take part in some drone racing or just wander around taking selfies with the infamous Bushman of Pier 39, the sheer choice on offer is a refreshing change of tone from the grim original. Toss aside the lethal weapon option and go for Marcus' stun gun and you might even feel like you're doing some good in the world. Louise Blain 

13. Rez Infinite 

Everyone has played Rez by now. Even your Gran, who called you last week to ask how you "email the Googles" has beaten Area 1. So why is it on a Best Games of 2016 list? Rez Infinite is a stunning reinvention of the core game for two reasons. Firstly, it brings the original to VR, and that makes a vast difference to everything. Being inside that '90s wireframe world, surrounded by alien-like craft and a thumping soundtrack that hasn't aged a day (well, ok, maybe half a day) is one of the defining VR experiences of 2016. You feel the game on a much deeper, more intimate level. And secondly, there's Area X. Even on normal, non-VR screens this new setting is wonderful, letting you maneuver yourself through a beautiful 3D space. In VR, it's breathtaking. First time I played it, I did so - no joke - with my mouth open in sheer wonder. It's like being inside a dream where you're flying through space setting off fireworks and listening to your absolute favorite music. It's sensational, and a must if you own PS VR. Andy Hartup 

12. The Last Guardian 

Fumito Ueda and GenDesign, his studio staffed in part by the legendary PS2 dev team once called Team Ico, have never made perfect games. Ico was a stuttering mess even by 2001 standards, with herky jerky controls, tedious combat, and a camera content to show you a flickering wall rather than smoky demons kidnapping the woman you're supposed to protect. Shadow of the Colossus positively groaned on the hardware, its stolid hero tumbling off the titular beasts after a 20 minute climb because nothing in the damn game worked. The Last Guardian is no different. Trico ignores commands and you will miss multiple jumps that seem simple because of the main character's buoyant ups. Like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, though, The Last Guardian is a vibrant, living masterpiece. Technical imperfections be damned; everything in this game feels alive, either growing or decaying under a strange sky, and Trico most of all. That he's a work of code seems impossible the first time you call to him, see him turn, and then promptly go off to look at something else. That it's also a really satisfying platformer and puzzle game on top of that is just kismet. Anthony John Agnello 

11. Superhot 

It's been a banner year for inventive, mold-breaking shooters, and Superhot led the charge in early 2016. On its face, Superhot's hook is a simple concept: time only moves when you move. This one tweak to the core shooter formula turns a normally twitch-action genre into a methodical puzzle game - only here, the puzzle pieces are guns, and you put the puzzle together by carving out the most efficient path through each level and taking out every mook in sight. It's the interactive realization of slo-mo-heavy flicks like The Matrix done right, where you piece your actions together over a handful of tense, stressful minutes, then watch everything play out in real-time seconds in the instant replay like you're the world's greatest action hero. Its tight design is tied together by its striking minimalist presentation and its Cronenberg-inspired narrative, which drags you further down a bizarre sci-fi rabbit hole and lets you go before overstaying its welcome. This isn't just the mind-control talking; Superhot really is the most innovative shooter in years. David Roberts

10. Dark Souls 3 

Unforgiving. Brutal. Sadistic. All apt words to describe Dark Souls 3, but here's three more: completely worth it. Ruined cities and marshy forests surround you as you make your way deeper into the fiendishly challenging world of Dark Souls, and despite the fact the narrative takes a back seat, if you take the time to look around you can piece together what went on before the world became a monstrous hive of activity. Each enemy is distinct from the one that came before both in looks and attacks, so combat never feels repetitive (an impressive feat for a game based solely on bashing blades into your foe). Dark Souls 3 might be hard, but it's fair. Diligence and perseverance are rewarded not with respite from the ceaseless sense of danger, but with the satisfaction that you overcame a boss at long last, and not through button-mashing either. Master the dodge and roll, time your strikes, and don't let your guard down. Follow these steps and sooner or later you're going to ‘git gud' and realise why Dark Souls 3 easily makes it into our top games of 2016. Zoe Delahunty-Light 

9. Final Fantasy 15  

It's fair to say that Final Fantasy 15 is, at the best of times, a wee bit wonky. The story is practically unintelligible unless you've see companion movie Kingsglaive, the back half is an odd shift in gameplay, and there are bugs aplenty. And yet this is perhaps the most recognizable, relatable Final Fantasy yet. Noctis and his three companions are chatting with gods, fighting magical robots, and renting horse-sized chickens, true, but they're also doing what friends do - comforting each other in a time of great uncertainty, expressing affection in ways big and small, sharing meals, posing for selfies, and always, always having each others' backs. Final Fantasy 15 is drenched in the stunning spectacle of fast combat and gorgeous visuals (even the toast looks amazing), but at its center is a very human heart. It's not unusual for the characters in a party-based RPG to be pals, but rarely has a game made that friendship feel so authentic by giving the quiet moments the attention they deserve. Bonds are formed in battle, sure, but they're also formed on the open road, sitting in companionable silence as the miles fly by. Susan Arendt  

8. Battlefield 1 

While other FPS games turned to increasingly futuristic settings and gameplay, Battlefield developer DICE looked to the past for inspiration on this year's entry. The result, ironically enough, is one of the freshest feeling shooters in years. The campaign, while short, is drop-dead gorgeous, with some heartfelt drama interspersed with bombastic set pieces like zeppelins hovering over London. Then you enter the fray of multiplayer and find a finely-tuned experience that feels immediately familiar. Things move a bit slower due to the limited technology of the time period, but that slower pace also makes the experience digestible and keeps it from feeling overwhelming. There's a plethora of unlocks to keep you coming back, and the 32v32 scale is unrivaled by any of its competition. There's nothing quite like a Battlefield game, and with its WWI setting, that's doubly true for Battlefield 1. Sam Prell

7. Overwatch 

There is much to love and praise about Overwatch that you could say about any well-crafted shooter. You get well-executed gunplay, unique character classes, exciting maps, and a variety of game modes. But two things make Overwatch special. First are the unexpected moments. Maybe it's when Genji deflects a McCree ultimate back in the cowboy's face, saving the day. Or it's when all twelve players pick Mercy and have an impromptu dance party. Those are the immediately-YouTubed plays that make you howl with laughter because you've just experienced something totally unique with this group of twelve players. And that's the second part of Overwatch's magic. It's the people. The brilliance of Blizzard's games has long been centering its work around fans, and the immediate surge of support from the Overwatch community is a testament to how deeply the game resonates with players of all kinds. As a result, most of the people play by the first rule of improv: always say yes. Yes to the unexpected moments, to the teamwork, to the hilarity, to the joy. That's why Overwatch is a happiness machine disguised as a multiplayer game. It's all about the yes. Anna Washenko

6. Hitman 

Hitman is every bit of raw potential from the 16-year-old series, delivered in just the right way to emphasize its strengths and minimize weaknesses. Hitman: Blood Money and the Contracts mode from Hitman: Absolution made it clear that 47 is at his best when he has big levels full of people and endless, inventive ways to kill them. But making intricate puzzle boxes like that takes time, and players can't fully appreciate their breadth of possibilities if they only play through once. Enter the episode: delivered on a semi-monthly basis, Hitman's inventive DLC scheme turned one-shot levels into destinations. Each was given shape by campaign-worthy assassination missions, while stakes-raising Escalations, player-made Contracts, and time-limited Elusive Targets invited players to immerse themselves in the unique depth and personality of every map. Players who bought into the episodic model from the beginning were encouraged to keep exploring as new challenges joined the game, but those who joined later didn't really miss out; instead of watching it take shape around them, they just dropped directly into the best assassination game ever made. Connor Sheridan

Continue to the next page to see the top five, including our Game of the Year 2016.