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This past year has been something of a roller coaster for gaming, with all sorts of standout moments and frustrating failures peppered throughout 2016. That certainly goes for PlayStation, which saw its fair share of sour mixed in with the sweet. Here's our rundown of the three biggest wins and the three biggest failures from the past 12 months.
We prefer to get the bad news before the good news, so we'll run these in alternating order, beginning with the PlayStation downers from 2016. As always, we'd be interested in hearing your favorite (and least favorite) gaming moments of the year in the comments below.
Fail: PlayStation Plus
It's really hard to argue with a service like PlayStation Plus. You're getting access to things like cloud storage for your saves, online gaming and background downloads, not to mention six games a month to add to your digital collection. Still, when you've grown used to a certain degree of quality, it's even harder not to gripe when things take a step backward.
Speaking of those games, on the whole, most folks seem to feel like this was a down year for PlayStation Plus with too many smaller, less-well-known titles making the lineup. While we were pretty happy with the Plus games, we weren't so happy to see the price go up by $10. We're happy to pay for quality services, but that's kind of our gripe here. There were no huge outages or security breaches this year, but it seemed like the PlayStation Network was down more frequently in 2016 than in years past. We've also noticed a lot of buzz (as well as personal experience) concerning much slower download speeds and plenty of reports of people having trouble with the service's automatic renewal functionality not actually automatically renewing accounts. If you're going to charge more, you can't provide less.
Win: PlayStation VR
Perhaps the biggest check mark in the win column for PlayStation this year was the launch of PlayStation VR. Not only did it make virtual reality gaming more affordable, but Sony came out swinging with an impressive lineup of games including Arkham VR, R.I.G.S. and my beloved Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. New games have come out for PSVR on nearly a weekly basis, with smaller experiences complemented by the bigger, beefier titles. What's even better is the fact that, despite the fact it costs less, PSVR offers a fantastic VR gaming experience on a device that many people already owned. No need to buy the headset and an overpriced PC just to run this bad boy. We were worried about the future of VR when it looked like other platforms were having a pretty lackluster year. If PSVR keeps up its momentum, it could turn out to be the genre's savior.
Fail: No Man's Sky
Now I know what you're saying: How can you call one of your "best" games of the year a major fail for PlayStation? Well, despite how we feel about the way No Man's Sky turned out; the resounding majority of folks on the internet were less impressed. There was even a lawsuit tied to the game claiming that the developer promised way more than they were able to deliver. Going back over the hype, we feel that Sony actually had a lot to do with the insanely high expectations of No Man's Sky, making it extremely hard for a small studio to deliver on the massive AAA experience that was touted for several years. They say that no press is bad press but, for No Man's Sky, we fear that the fallout following the game's launch begs to differ.
Win: The Last Guardian
It turns out that not all highly anticipated games fall victim to their hype. Serving as a good contrast to No Man's Sky, The Last Guardian was also eagerly awaited by fans, but not because of a marketing push to make the game look like something that it wasn't. After nearly a decade in development hell, I think most folks would have just been happy to see The Last Guardian go gold, regardless of quality. And while the final product certainly shows the scars of that tumultuous journey to launch, the end result was a mysterious and magical adventure that leaves a lasting impression. The Last Guardian was guided by a subtle marketing hand, and that likely has something to do with how well it was received. Sony would do well to remember that moving forward.
Fail: Rocket League
Heavens no, we're not talking about Rocket League itself. Rocket League remained a fantastic quasi-sports game in 2016, complete with interesting new modes with plenty of free content as well as for-pay DLC. The reason this game is included in the fail column is all because of Sony. Earlier this year, the folks at Microsoft did the unthinkable, offering up an open invitation to Sony to work with the developers at Psyonix to make Rocket League a truly cross-platform competitive title. Psyonix followed up by saying they had the ability to do exactly that and, like Microsoft, all they needed was Sony's blessing to make it so that gamers on the Xbox One, PC and PlayStation 4 could, for the first time, play the same game in a united community. Sony has remained mum on the matter, which is truly frustrating. Without offering a good reason for not joining the party, they've left themselves looking pretty bad in this particular situation.
Win: A Bright Future
While 2016 was a pretty solid year for PlayStation exclusives, Sony has gone out of their way to make it clear that even bigger things are coming in the next 12 months. The list of upcoming games is impressive, including the likes of God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Death Stranding, Nioh, a new Marvel vs. Capcom, Days Gone, Persona 5 and remakes of the beloved Crash Bandicoot games and Parappa the Rapper, to name a few. Showings from the competition aren't as impressive. Microsoft only appears to have a few big exclusives lined up for the Xbox One and, other than Breath of the Wild, we've heard little about the Nintendo Switch aside from the fact that it will probably play a handful of popular Wii U titles. We know that there's plenty of time for the competition to wow us but, beginning with E3 2016 and continuing on to the more recent PlayStation Experience, it's clear that there is a very bright future in front of the PlayStation 4.