After spending days locked in fierce debate, our global team of GameSpot editors and video producers has finally assembled a ranked list of the 25 best games of the year. Our list is informed by an array of tastes and preferences, reflecting our team's diverse gaming backgrounds and opinions. From the biggest triple-A offerings to the smaller indie experiences, there was an abundance of games we loved this year. We're going to count down to number one over the next few days, so keep checking back as we unveil our choices for the 25 best games of 2016. For today, here are our picks for 10 to 6.
Danish developer Playdead followed up its memorable 2010 sidescroller Limbo with another excellent game in the form of Inside. The hauntingly beautiful 2D puzzle-platformer is in the same general vein as Limbo, but make no mistake: it stands on its own and is memorable in new ways. Building on what made Limbo great, Inside goes further in all respects: story, gameplay, and atmosphere. The puzzles are unique in their design and complexity. Combined with the open-ended narrative and eerie atmosphere, Inside is definitely one of the best games of 2016 and is fully deserving of your time and attention. Beatable in less than five hours, Inside is not a lengthy game. But it is striking despite its brevity. A dark and thoughtful experience, Inside will stay in your memory for a long time to come. - Eddie Makuch
9. The Witness
Few games challenged us this year as much as The Witness, the new puzzle game from Thekla, Inc., and Braid creator Jonathan Blow. Set on a mysterious island comprising numerous biomes, you solve maze-like puzzles on sets of increasingly complex panels. Each sequence teaches you a new ruleset, and although you don't accrue new items, weapons, or character abilities, by the time you begin peeling back the layers of the island itself, you've accumulated a wealth of new knowledge along the way.
The Witness isn't brilliant just because of its difficult puzzles, though. It's remarkable because of how it communicates its ideas. There is no exposition, there are no obvious tutorials, and there's not a single NPC guiding you along the way. You're free to explore the island, and solve puzzles in whatever order you wish. Somehow, you find your way.
So maybe that's the most amazing part about The Witness. By the time you've solved every puzzle--or, at least, as many as you can--the game hasn't changed. Sure, a few hidden doors have opened and you've activated a few lasers along the way. But the island has remained the same. It's you that's changed. - Mike Mahardy
8. XCOM 2
In a medium where sequels often play it safe, XCOM 2 breaks the mold. It doesn't just build on the turn-based strategy formula of its 2012 predecessor, but also warps it, questions it, and tweaks almost every aspect to create something more tense, and far more rewarding.
XCOM 2 demonstrates a mastery of each of its layers, from its turn-based squad combat to its base-building meta game. It's a deft mix of character development, ground combat, and overarching strategy choices. It also lends gravity to each and every decision you make. Do you attempt a rescue mission with a squad of timid rookies? Is plasma rifle research more valuable than alien technology? Will killing that enemy defeat your chances of destroying the alien satellite before it transmits crucial coordinates?
After playing enough, that's what XCOM 2 becomes: a series of impossible decisions. But somehow, developer Firaxis has made that process fun. It's created a way to learn from failure. Even more than XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 lets you look forward to starting over, and witnessing every possible outcome in a demanding, challenging, and ultimately exhilarating strategy game. - Mike Mahardy
7. Battlefield 1
Given the series' track record, expectations were not high for Battlefield 1's single-player. Despite that, it turned out to be the one of the year's most pleasant surprises. DICE's decision to tell several short, self-contained stories ultimately resulted in a more personal and far more memorable experience than we're accustomed to seeing from Battlefield--or most shooters.
While its multiplayer component is devoid of any of that, it's excellent nonetheless, as DICE has further refined the established Battlefield formula. The series has always done a great job of giving you options. Do you want to be a medic, risking your life to save others? Pilot a tank? Fly a plane? This diverse array of choices ensures that every match plays out differently. Battlefield 1 takes things even further, as Behemoths (game-changing vehicles like an armored train or zeppelin) and weather effects bolster the number of ways that two matches played on the same map between the same teams can feel dramatically different. Combined with the dynamics of playing in a squad and a mode (Operations) that makes matches feel less like meaningless skirmishes, Battlefield 1 is in many ways a high point for the franchise. - Chris Pereira
Contrary to almost everyone's expectations, 2016's Doom exploded on the scene earlier this year with fast-paced gunplay and a hard-hitting soundtrack that instantly transported you back to the series' heyday. Its weaponry, enemies, and locations evoked the same dreadful excitement that Doom and Doom II did on PCs in the '90s, despite the fact that it was created by an entirely different team.
What's apparent is that the creators of the new Doom understand the series' roots. And rather than try to recreate Doom as it used to be, iD Software managed to recreate Doom as we imagined it was, when our imaginations read between the pixels. In effect, Doom resurrected the series in ways we all hoped, but never believed it would. Mediocre multiplayer aside, Doom was easily the biggest surprise of 2016, and a reminder of why we fell in love with first-person shooters all those years ago. - Peter Brown
GAMESPOT'S TOP 25 GAMES OF THE YEAR
GameSpot will be unveiling its picks for the Top 25 Games of the Year all throughout December. Click here to see the full schedule.