2016 may have been a shit year for most things, but it was a great year for gaming. I played more titles this year than I have in some time, and there were plenty of great games I haven't purchased (Rise of the Tomb Raider, Dishonored 2, X-Com 2). Below are my top three.
Best RPG--Dark Souls 3
Dark Souls 3 blends the fine-tuned controls of Dark Souls 2 with more thematically coherent level design, resulting in the best entry in the series. Multiplayer is much improved; I never was frustrated with a tough boss because I could always summon someone to help. However, after three titles, I think From should give Dark Souls a respite for a while in order to come up with some new ideas. Each game has had incremental improvements over its predecessor, but the formula is getting a little tired, especially the thread-bare story.
Best Indie game--Abzu
Abzu has about three hours of gameplay if you play it twice. It's really just a swimming simulator, for you do little more than guide your character through different oceanic ecological niches. There is a story having something to do with Sumerian mythology, though I couldn't make sense of it. It is, however, a beautiful game full of fairly-accurately modeled sea creatures. An interesting entry in the "walking simulator" genre that's worth its price despite being brief.
Best shooter (and best game of 2016)--Doom
The Doom reboot is a glorious return to the days of single player shooters, when all you really worried about was coming up with creative ways to slaughter legions of demons. A return to form for ID, who haven't put out a decent game since Quake 3.
Bonus: Most disappointing game--Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
It's not that Mankind Divided is a bad game--augs are better implemented than in its predecessor, functioning much like the superpowers they're supposed to be, and the shooting is the best of any Deus Ex game--but the story is uninteresting, and there isn't much to draw you into the world's fiction, despite the exquisitely detailed city of Prague. It kind of sucks that the Deus Ex series has devolved into a shallow discussion of transhumanism instead of the mishmash blend of conspiracy theories that powered the original.
Runner up: Dishonored 2. Bought it for Christmas, but I couldn't even play it for more than 5 minutes before it crashed. Supposedly, it's a great game. It's nice to see that Bethesda's anti-consumer policy of not reviewing titles before release is paying off for them.