Platforms PC, PS4, XBO
Developer Square Enix
Publisher Square Enix
Release Date November 29, 2016

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that Final Fantasy XV isn’t a flawed game. It’s probably the most flawed game on this list, a byproduct of a game in development for a decade. The main story is has some fairly weak points, with many moments being completely lost on someone who hasn’t watched Kingsglaive and the Brotherhood Anime series. The driving mechanics are pointless. And somehow the game feels rushed, despite being in development for almost 10 years.

But the journey that Final Fantasy XV took me on will stick with me. While there are a fair few things Square Enix didn’t get quite right, the relationship between its four main characters is an amazing depiction of friendship through adversity. Going on this trip with Noctis, Gladio, Prompto and Ignis was a journey that affected me a great deal, something I only realised when it was over. I still can’t listen to Florence & The Machine’s cover of Stand By Me without The Feels creeping up on me.

This focus on the relationship between four men bound together through duty and friendship spoke to me on a personal level, leaving a mark that I won’t soon be able to shake. I enjoyed their journey, and connected with their personal stories on a deep level, but it wasn’t until the credits started rolling and I was bawling my eyes out that I realised how much I had connected with it. Final Fantasy XV offers one of the best depictions of friendship I’ve seen in a video game. Perhaps ever. Certainly in 2016.

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While this central relationship is what lifts this game above anything else that came out in 2016, it’s surrounded by a lot of great features. The new fast-paced, action-oriented combat system works surprisingly well. I made no secret of not being the greatest fan of Final Fantasy XV’s combat after playing the Platinum Demo earlier in 2016. Not only did it grow on me the further into the game I got, I grew to actively love it. The combination of attacking, dodging, weapon and ally-based special attacks and the new magic system combines to create some slick, exciting gameplay.

The scale of some of the set pieces is absolutely phenomenal. Throughout Final Fantasy XV, you’ll be getting into some of the most epic battles found in a video game released in 2016. Whether you’re fighting your way through scores of Magitech soldiers or fighting gargantuan opponents whose size needs to be seen to be believed. Summons have similarly been re-worked to an unimaginable scale. It’s always satisfying to bring Ramuh or Titan into a battle.

As I said in the beginning, Final Fantasy XV is far from perfect. No game is perfect. This game has more flaws than probably any other game on this list. But the things that Final Fantasy XV gets right thoroughly eclipse the things it gets wrong. 2016 has been a great year for games. Truth be told, any of the games in my top 5 could have taken the number 1 spot on this list. What raises Final Fantasy XV above the rest of the crowd is how deeply I was affected by its characters. While other games released last year were just as good, it’s Final Fantasy XV that will stick with me the longest.

Check out Paul Shulver’s review of Final Fantasy XV here.

The List In Full:

1) Final Fantasy XV
2) Overwatch
3) Titanfall 2
4) Hitman
5) Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
6) The Last Guardian
7) Stardew Valley
8) Oxenfree
9) Doom
10) Aragami
11) Quantum Break
12) Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
13) Watch Dogs 2
14) The Flame in the Flood
15) Forza Horizon 3
16) The Banner Saga 2
17) Planet Coaster
18) Gears of War 4
19) Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
20) Batman: The Telltale Series

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