Christmas is nearly here, which means food regret and an end to 2016. And with that coming to a close it's probably time to make sure you've ticked off all the things you really should have done in gaming this year.
Think of this as a 2016's gaming bucket list, gathering together a suitably seasonal 12 of the most worthy things you should have done before 2017 stamps all over the spluttering cigarette end of 2016.
1. Climb Felwinter Peak in Destiny
I won’t lie to you: this is hard. Bastard, hair-pulling, pad cracking hard, because Destiny’s jumping is more a form of communication than effective method of movement. The slightest misjudged angle will see your Guardian bounce backwards and fall to his/her death, respawning wherever the hell the gods decide is appropriate (which could be anywhere from three feet behind you to waaay back down at the bottom). However, it needs to be endured and completed for the SIVA cluster, bragging rights, and that view. Plus, you get the chance to say ‘oh, haven’t you done that yet?’ sweetly to someone else, like it’s no big deal. All the while secretly knowing you howled in frustration at 3am after failing the 70th try.
At least it's easy to get down.
Great landing on this one. Dead centre, good approach, excellent body position. #PS4share pic.twitter.com/ABruWEys8PSeptember 24, 2016
2. Kill an Elusive Target in Hitman
This is how all Elusive Targets go in Hitman: you pack your gear, acting out like you’re a shiney-topped 007. You scout the terrain, locate the target, and come up with a plan. You glide through the crowd unseen, like a true predator… and then you cock it all up, chase the mark into a crowded room and beat them to death with a statue, desperately hoping the 60 people staring at you in terror are actually looking at some other murder happening behind you. However, on the off chance it goes even 7% right, the one shot, no retries nature of an Elusive Target makes completing at least one an essential thing to tick off this year. And you’ve got one more chance with ‘the Guru’ arriving on December 16. You’ll have 7 days to find him and work out a plan, which is longer than usual so maybe this one won’t end in disaster. Maybe. As long as you've got a hammer, though, you've always got a way out.
3. Find out where to stick Resi 7’s finger in the demo
Solving Resi 7 puzzles like... pic.twitter.com/4Wq9NU24OnJune 23, 2016
Since its release, a single mannequin's finger in the Resident Evil 7 demo has been driving fans nuts as Capcom continually teased a use for the extraneous digit. Now, with what looks like a final update, the finger has a place to go, so to speak. You can actually ‘finish’ this part of the demo and, in reward, you’ll get something that will in someway help you out in the main game (which arrives January 24). It’s a bizarrely impossible, multistage puzzle that you’ll never work out alone. I mean it: that’s not fighting talk - you have to look at, and touch, a random procession of objects in a precise sequence, waiting for giggles and vibrations. Fortunately, we have , that takes all the pain out of it.
Play the Effect and Cause level in Titanfall 2
Okay, this is a tricky one because if you haven’t played Titanfall 2 yet then I don’t want to spoil it. Although, if you haven’t played Titanfall 2 yet what have you been doing with 2016? It’s basically one of the games of the year - see if you can find someone who’s tried it that doesn’t think it’s amazing. Within all that amazingness is one level that makes everyone go “Ooooooh” when they hit it. Again, no spoilers but you’ll know exactly when you reach it - there’s a moment of dawning realisation when you clock what’s going on, quickly followed up by a slight feeling of disbelief when you realise the game is actually going through with it for an entire mission. And, finally, there’s just the joy of playing one of the best levels in games full stop, let alone 2016.
5. Have a theory about Death Stranding
The crabs did it. Norman Reedus is the baby in Guillermo del Toro’s jar. SOMETHING TO DO WITH ROPES. Whatever’s going on in Death Stranding, everyone’s got a theory and you should too. We’ve got our own but any gamer worth their salt should watch what’s been released and try and work out what Kojima’s up to. He keeps talking about sticks and ropes so there’s your starter for ten. Now you just need to fit in oily crabs, disappearing babies, handprints, Mads Mikkelsen, skeleton soldiers and a tank made of meat. Actually, it all seems so obvious when you put it like that...
6. Watch a dog in Watch Dogs 2
Do you really need a reason to justify this? The biggest problem with the first game was a criminal lack of actual dogs. Watch Dogs 2 has rectified that and then some, with a range of hounds to find, observe and eventually pet. In a game so painfully hipster (as per the ideas of a Canadian development studio that hasn’t seen daylight, or other people, since pre-production started) nothing could be more meta than being a watch dog watching a dog. Maybe dressing as a dog and watching a YouTube video of a Watch Dog watching a dog? Do it. Laugh about the joke for a fraction of a second and then feel bad about it and never actually admit you did it to anyone.
7. See Uncharted 4’s epilogue
Again no spoilers if you somehow haven’t said goodbye to Drake yet in Uncharted 4, but you really should before the year’s out. You’ll only regret it if you don’t. While there’s nothing stopping Sony bringing Nate back, Naughty Dog has adamantly stated that it’s done with the adventurer. So if we see him again someone else will be making it and I know how we all feel about that. Not only is there the closure of the ‘true’ ending to the series, it does things you wouldn’t expect and rounds off the adventure in a way that’s both incredibly final but also all about the future.
8. Finally play The Last Guardian after 7 years…
The game no one thought would ever come out... came out this year. First announced in 2009 for PS3 The Last Guardian had taken on an almost mythical status, up there with Shenmue 3 and [cough] Half-life 3. In that seven years it's jumped platform to PS4, seen creator Fumito Ueda leave PlayStation full time to finish the game on a contract basis, and was rumoured to be restarted at least twice. So imagine everyone’s surprise when it turned out to be good. Everyone loves Trico, the feathery cat-bird star, and the atmospheric feel recaptures everything that made ICO and Shadow of the Colossus wonderful. Worth the wait.
9. …and Final Fantasy 15 after 10 years
The game no one thought would ever come out... came out this year. First announced in 2006 for PS3 Final Fantasy 15 had taken on an almost mythical status... Anyone else getting deja vu? FF15’s taken so long to come out it actually started life as a different game altogether - Final Fantasy Versus 13, the companion game to FF 13 which was released in 2009. Several years, a few restarts, some delays and a new title later it’s arrived and (almost) everyone has fallen in love with Noc and his boys’ road trip. So far the jury’s out on who's the best but that hasn’t stopped Twitter raging with polls to decide. Play it and make your own decision (it’s totally Prompto).
10. Take at least one pointless detour to catch something in Pokemon Go
You haven’t done 2016 right unless you’ve dropped everything and gone somewhere you didn’t need to be because someone said they caught a Lapras there. When Ditto appeared in Pokemon Go overnight, certain street corners were inundated with people trying to grab the pidgey people swore turned into the purple blob. Basically you need to have at least had a go on Go. It’s been one of the biggest games of the year, if not all time, with a 500 million player peak. That’s a scale few games can even dream of. And you won’t get the full experience unless you go for a walk, only to question what you’re doing with your life halfway through, before suddenly shouting ‘SNORLAX” and running down another unknown street.
11. Scream while playing Rush Of Blood in VR
Rush of Blood's going well. pic.twitter.com/OOubZdbZ8GOctober 16, 2016
A question that a lot of people had asked - how bad (good) can VR horror be? - was finally answered with Rush of Blood. Bad. Really, really bad. And, to reiterate, bad in a good way. Its simple arcade shooter frame hides a multitude of horrors and a masterclass in jump scares. It teases and fools you to look one way, while horrible things creep up to your ear on the other side. It’s the kind of game you inflict on friends to see the response. Usually something like what's up there. However, if you’ve got the stomach for it then you won’t get a much better horror thrill ride this year, and it’s vital training if you’re planning to play Resi 7 in VR come January.
12. Accidentally combine some Dishonored 2 powers but totally pretend you meant to
A big part of Dishonored 2 is learning how to combine its powers, and game the game’s systems in new and interesting ways. Often, and let’s be honest, not always entirely on purpose. You might set out to be a super cool supernatural assassin but chances are you were a little more like Beaker from the Muppets, clanging two test tubes together and - BOOM - wait, I can Domino all these guys together and only have to set one one fire? This saves so much time. The best bit about all this murderously gleeful happenstance is how it can totally change your approach to a level, and create a far more personal playthrough from your own collection of happy accidents.