This is a though choice, the online games I played the most this year are not eligible. Rainbow Six Siege has seen great improvements over this year making me sink hundreds of hours into to its frustrating ranking matches. Battlerite is an Early Access game coming out of nowhere and stealing 100 hours of my life. Both of these games are excellent, but are not truly the product of this year.
Most of the journalists have picked Overwatch. The FPS combining Team Fortress 2 and MoBA with charismatic heroes and a catchy art style is yet another game down the casual road that Blizzard has been following for years, but with less content than usual. It didn’t captivate me past the 15 hours marker and I’ve never felt like I want to return to it. DICE has taken a few steps away from their last year game and as a result Battlefield 1 has more depth than Star Wars Battlefront. But that’s not really an achievement and the line of new generation shooters with increasingly faster pace in disregard to tactics has reached a new threshold. Battlefield 1’s combination of streamlined and fast gameplay turned the unconventional war setting of WWI shallow. Lastly, Killing Floor 2 provides a strong coop experience with its challenging horde mode gameplay and great shooting mechanics, but this subgenre isn’t really tickling everyone’s online needs.
The year 2016 marks the return in force of fast paced shooters. Overwatch has taken inspiration from games like Quake or Unreal Tournament, Call of Duty continues with its mechanics borrowed from Titanfall, Toxikk is the indie return to Unreal Tournament times, Cliff Bleszinski keeps teasing us with LawBreakers and a new Quake and Unreal Tournament are in development. But I feel that behind this resurrection stands Respawn’s Titanfall.
Titanfall’s hype and success with its innovative fast gameplay of parkour trained pilots fighting gigantic mechs has awaken the attention of other developers by proving there is still a high demand for this kind of shooters. Titanfall wasn’t a game without flaws, but it has paved the way for the genre to escape the loop of modern shooters. Titanfall 2 continues on its predecessor work, improving on its shortcoming with more content including titans, weapons and customizations to keep players interested for a longer time. The game isn’t the same financial success. It’s not even at the same level of hardcore gaming and brilliant map design. Instead, Titanfall 2 has made some compromises to accommodate players with a style that has been absent for years. But this rebalancing and slight reorientation doesn’t dumb down the gameplay, Titanfall 2 remains a shooter of extreme mobility and speed that requires a great understanding of the game’s physics and character’s movement and momentum to master its high skill cap. The mix of shooting on the fly and savage mechs combat is a never-ending pool of Season Pass-free competitive entertainment with content updates available for everyone.
Titanfall 2 is the one game released this year that kept me busy the longest for its online component. It’s still rough around the edges and widely unpopular compared to the competition, but its unique charm and spectacular gameplay make up for that. Picking Titanfall 2 as the best online game of 2016 might be controversial, but I stand behind my choice.