This has been a busy year for the Noobist in Gaming! We’ve had plenty of new writers join the Noobist gaming team this year, and had a tremendous content being produced. I’m very proud of what the team has curated this year and we hope to continue developing and growing together in 2017. In light of this, I felt it was appropriate to create a GOTY Noobist Roundup for all of our best bits! – Specious (Editor-in-Chief Noobist)
Final Fantasy XV by specious
If you had asked me at the start of this year if I would have considered Final Fantasy XV to be a contender to For my Game of the Year, I would have laughed. I was openly sceptical about the game. It had changes substantially from its origins as FF Versus XIII, and it’s change from it’s beta Duscae to its demo of Platnium (Carbunkle is the best, and I fill fight anyone who says otherwise!) I was uncertain about it straying too far from its roots but was none the less was impressed by its Kingdom Hearts esque battle system. So, I figured I’d chip in and see what it was all about. However, I didn’t expect to love as much as I do, as much as I still do a month later.
The main reason why I love it is for the one reason I didn’t expect to. I am invested in the journey of the four boys wandering around, enjoying the journey that they’re on. The banter between the group is as good as, if not better, the banter in Dragon Age Inquisition! Don’t misunderstand me, it’s a game with flaws. Many flaws. Luna is completely under-utilised (I personally would pay for there to be a Tales of Xilia option where at the end of your first game you go back and play it again from her side to complete the narrative) which is a shame, considering the impact she has on the narrative. Nothing would have happened without her intervention – contrary to popular opinion – without her Noctus wouldn’t have been motivated to do anything else. It’s very reminiscent of Lord of the Rings and Aragon’s rise. There are major characters whos motivations are not fleshed out. The game, quite literally, changes half way through, its very confusing!
What continues to draw me back to the game is the group dynamics of the four guys. It is the heart and soul of the game, and because of that sincerity – wins me over.
A Nostalgic Hug from 2016: Ratchet and Clank by Mishka
Looking back on 2016, I knew it wouldn’t be difficult choosing a worthy game for Game of the Year. Released on April 12, 2016, Insomniac Games developed Ratchet and Clank for new and old fans exclusively for the PlayStation 4. My fondest gaming memories stem from playing hours and hours of Ratchet and Clank for the PlayStation 2, so when I heard news of a remake I knew I had to prepare myself for a walk down memory lane. A couple of months before Ratchet and Clank’s release date, I bought the Ratchet and Clank Collection for PlayStation 3 to compare the classic against the remake in terms of gameplay, graphics, and story. Replaying Ratchet and Clank brought me back to my 12 year old days with nostalgia that was almost palpable. I was surprised by how much I remembered a lot of the secret areas in levels and was curious if some of those areas could still be discovered in the remake. After finishing the classic Ratchet and Clank, I was more than ready to sink into the remake. Firstly, I was blown away by the graphics and cinematic quality of the cut scenes. The design quality is largely reminiscent of a Pixar film. While progressing through the levels, I was surprised that a lot of the secret areas still carried over into the remake. Secondly, the controls felt fluid and made playing the game on Hard extremely fun. These new controls actually make it difficult to play the older Ratchet and Clank games, because the older controls are clunky to say the least. Lastly, the story was altered from the original to make Ratchet’s motives make sense and to ultimately have a concise, action packed story that ensured the player never felt lost or bored.
Pokken Tournament by Jordan Baxter
Much like last year’s Super Mario Maker, Pokken Tournament is an excellent concept that shows off Nintendo’s plucky willingness in recent years to take its long-running franchises onto interesting tangents. Developed by Bandai Namco, Pokken Tournament is a one-on-one arena fighter pitting all your favourite creatures in battles against each other. Seeing 16 of the most fit-for-a-fighting-game Pokemon rendered in pretty 3D graphics will already be a treat for fans, but the game looks like more than just a quick-and-easy spinoff. Rather than mimicking Tekken’s combat mechanics, battles take place in a large round arena which you can run around freely and change the field into a 2D angle by hitting the opponent with a hard enough attack. This makes for a unique new style of fighting, as you can dodge between traps laid down by your enemy, try to outflank them and hit them from another angle, and generally battle in the fast, free way you’d imagine real wild animals with superpowers actually would.The charming pastel graphics are embellished by spectacular explosions as Pikachu summons a lightning bolt or Charizard goes in a fiery rampage, alongside many visual flourishes when laying down heavy multi-hit combos.Just like how splatoon made players rethink how they play the shooter genre because the mainstay for the last decade had been first-person games based primarily around kills.Pokken Tournament also provides this great sense of freshness and fun when playing online because of how different everyone can use the same pokemon.The arcade version already has a burgeoning eSports scene around it, and it looks like this could finally be the start of a Nintendo fighting franchise aimed at more hardcore players. Only major question around this brilliantly self-explanatory game is just, ‘what took Nintendo so long?’
Stardew Valley by EB
The 21st century has blessed us with many things – Driverless cars, Bluetooth, a robot that won Jeopardy, but one of the greatest gifts has been the ability to play simulation video games. It’s a true miracle to have a yearning for creating a civilization, or building a roller coaster, or going outside and being able to satisfy those yearnings from the safety of your desk chair. Stardew Valley is one of the greatest outlets for these yearnings.
Beginning in an office space with little motivation, energy, or purpose, your character is given the deed to its grandfather’s farm. After relocating to Middle-Of-Nowheresville (Stardew Valley), you are given the task of revitalizing the dying farm your grandfather had created.
Mastering the art of growing crops isn’t all Stardew Valley offers; you are also challenged with being the first newcomer to a small town after many years. Everyone knows everyone, already has their connections and friends. Stardew Valley challenges your ability to multitask; while learning the growing patterns of your vegetables and what berries can make wine, you must also conquer being socially awkward.
The game is brilliantly crafted in a way that allows role-playing within such a simple game. There are about 30 other characters in the game, each with their own personalities, dialogues, and purposes to you. You must choose how you treat them, and thus how you are perceived in the town.
The graphics are reminiscent of Super Mario and have a seasonally crafter soundtrack to lull you into tilling. This is a game that will have you confused why you are so eager to virtually farm, fish, and adventure. So open that deed of yours and hop on the next bus to Stardew Valley!