1. The Last Guardian
(December, Playstation 4)
A meditationon relationships and trauma, The Last Guardian is an intensely moving experience. The flaws with its controls and the numerous frame rate drops can be immediately forgiven when the relationship between Trico - a giant cat/dog/bird hybrid - and a young boy begins to flourish. Never before has AI captured the feeling of a wild but loyal animal so well, and it makes the tale only more painful. The game's biggest moments, set to a stunning orchestral score, will linger as some of the most important experiences in gaming. The Last Guardian is an instant classic and once again confirms the genius of director Fumito Ueda.
2. Battlefield 1
(October, Playstation 4, Xbox One)
You died in those first exhilarating five minutes. Then you died again, again and again - each time more violently than the last. Welcome to Battlefield 1, where death envelopes you like a second skin. Everyone was worried about EA's new shooter, but venturing into World War 1 battlegrounds, and giving you access to tanks, planes, bayonets and horses was a genius move. It even came with a story mode that didn't feel like an afterthought. Intense, visceral and personal, Battlefield 1 was best experienced on the Playstation Pro, and it pips both Titanfall 2 and Overwatch - both worthy of solid mentions - as our shooter of the year.
3. The Witness
(January, Playstation 4)
Did any other game entertain and anger in equal measures? Okay, sure, Pokemon Go did. Even if you didn't play, all that news coverage could cause a stress rash. But for a brain-teasing time suck, nothing came close to The Witness. It's a simple concept: you're on an island, you walk up to panels, and you solve the puzzles. All of it seemed to be leading somewhere. But the deeper you got, the harder it got, and that's when you found yourself dreaming in panel shapes, sketching potential solutions out at work, and sitting in a pool of sweat and tearing your hair out at 2am. As long as you steered clear of Google, the reward when you solved something was unlike anything else. Jonathan Blow, you're a genius, and I hate you.
4. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
(May, Playstation 4)
At 16 hours, A Thief's End started to feel a little like that first Lord of the Rings trilogy, meandering in places with its many flashbacks, interweaving plot strands and multiple endings. After so many great Nathan Drake adventures, you could forgive Naughty Dog for a little indulgence - especially when they delivered stunning scenery, pirate adventures and ruin searches that pushed Playstation 4's graphical capabilities to its limits. Those explosive set pieces were grand, but it was the game's quieter moments, sneaking around thieving late at night as a young Drake with his big brother Samuel, that gave context to all those earlier adventures. Farewell, Nate, you will be missed.
(May, PS4, Xbox One)
Every now and then something comes along that's unlike anything I've ever played before. Enter Overwatch, a first-person shooter with Pixar-style animation and a sense of humour. Blizzard created a game with a huge cast of characters, each of which has a distinct personality and unique abilities. Many of those abilities are things you're unlikely to have seen in any other game, of any genre. On top of that, it's a blast and is being continuously updated and improved upon, free of charge. What's not to love?
(June, Xbox One)
Whereas many games try to go as big as possible, Inside went smaller. Much smaller. Xbox's mysterious side-scrolling platformer put you in charge of a young boy roaming through a gloomy, claustrophobic and potentially deadly world as he was hunted by dogs, trolls and security guards. With the sound up and the lights off, Inside's four-hour duration was short but could haunt you for days. Even now, six months on, that WTF? final half-hour still makes the mind boggle. And with the inclusion of literal Easter eggs and different endings, it's worth diving Inside again and again.