The Best RPG 2016

by on December 27, 2016

                Looking
back, 2016 has been a pretty good year for RPGs. It kicked off with Darkest
Dungeon’s full release, an example of how Early Access can succeed and produce
a fantastic, brutal RPG experience. Soon after, the second part of Pillars of
Eternity’s expansion, The White March, picked up the pace from the unconvicing
first part through a much more engaging story and left me yearning for more
Pillars, which I eventually got when I replayed the whole damn thing. We’ve
also had The Banner Saga 2, which improved the original experience through much
welcomed refinements in gameplay, the addition of Survival Mode and a
captivating story whose cliffhanger ending makes waiting for the final part of
the trilogy pure torture. Unfortunately, the expected shining star of this
year, Torment: Tides of Numenera, was delayed to 2017 and we can only hope that
the additional two years of development will lead to something extraordinary.
Finally, 2016 saw a second release from Obsidian Entertainment with Tyranny, a
narrative and C&C driven RPG set in a world where “evil had won”. Although
this approach led to great reactivity and replayability, it fell short of
Pillars of Eternity with its tedious combat and uninspired companions, making
it my biggest disappointment of this year.
For me, the battle for 2016’s best RPG takes place between
the final expansion of The Witcher 3, Blood and Wine, and Dark Souls III. They
are similar in the regard that they both represent a worthy finale to the
stories their series intended to tell, but excel in completely different
aspects.
                Blood
and Wine gave its players the chance to take Geralt of Rivia on his final
adventure before “retiring”, with a change of scenery to the fantastically
designed land of Toussaint. The expansion featured a branching narrative with
compelling themes and multiple references to the book series, the best and most
diverse side quests seen so far in a Witcher title and many additions that solved
some of the problems from the base game. In terms of world building, Toussaint
was more lively than any other region, the Points of Interest stopped feeling
like a chore, gameplay improved through better encounter design and the
mutation system, and there was more of Gwent to enjoy! With around 30 to 40
hours of content, Blood and Wine gave other AAA titles a run for their money
and triumphed by ending Geralt’s story in a perfect way.
                Dark
Souls III represented a tribute to Dark Souls fans, challenging players to
partake in the final iteration of the cyclic battle between Fire and Darkness.
The roster of bosses was probably the best seen so far in a Soulsborne game, showcasing
great variety, attention to detail and a fair difficulty curve that encouraged
the player to persist. Accompanied by an insanely good soundtrack, the boss
battles were transformed into exhilarating experiences that would be hard to
forget. In terms of gameplay, the excellent formula was changed by influences
from Bloodborne, accelerating the speed of combat while demanding the same
tactical approach. Finally, the world of Lothric was a blast to explore due to
the amazing artistic and level design of most areas.
                In the
end, there can only be one winner. In the case of The Game Slashers’ favourite
RPG of 2016, it’s going to be Blood and Wine. Overall, it just contains a ton of
content of excellent quality, and any complaints I had towards it back in my
June review felt and still feel very minor in comparison. Aside from being a
fantastic ending for the Witcher saga, it stands as an example of how to create
a proper expansion in an industry saturated with mediocre
and overpriced DLCs.