Header Illustration by Cara McGee
Welcome to the Waypoint High School Class of 2016 Yearbook. We're giving out senior superlatives to our favorite games, digging into the year's biggest stories via extracurriculars, and following our favorite characters through their adventures together in fanfic. See you in 2017!
Most Athletic: Zarya (Overwatch), Gladiolus (Final Fantasy XV), Kukui (Pokemon Sun & Moon)
Waypoint High School had an ab-off this year. Those athletes who can train hard, fight hard and ab hardest all came down to the gym. They did some crunches. They did some planks, and then, they strutted before the student body, declaring themselves to have the hardest student body.
"Take off your jacket!" Gladio called out, and Kukui laughed, popped his lab coat collar and ripped it off, tossing it to the Machomp accompanying him, holding his gym bag. Both boys stoked the fires of the crowd, with breakdancing moves from Kukui and a quarter-bouncing gag from Gladio and his good chest.
Zarya, of course, laughed at the very idea of the contest, and lifted both Gladio and Kukui. At the same time. "Lightweights, both of you," she grinned, then put the boys down, so they could keep having their little no shirt party. She has a bunch of Olympic golds to go home and kiss. —Danielle Riendeau
Most Likely to Leave Home and Never Look Back: The Drifter (Hyper Light Drifter)
The Drifter hasn't had the easiest go of things. They're a magician infected with a terrible disease, desperately seeking the cure in a bizarre, dying land, among fearsome creatures and crumbling architecture. It's a tough hustle, but man, it beats sticking around this two bit town, right? At least that's what the Drifter wrote in everyone's yearbook this year. —Danielle Riendeau
Most Likely to Get You Into Trouble: Beetle (Thumper)
Jason Patric's doing just fine in The Lost Boys 'til he submits to peer pressure—and his baser urges—and throws in with the local gang, tearing through Santa Carla on shitty bikes, making a load of shitty noise, being shitty to just about everyone. But look at the fun they're having. Look at the riot playing out on the promenade. Who wouldn't want a piece of that?
Unlikely though it sounds, playing Thumper makes me feel like Jason Patric: I was doing just fine for rhythm action games, rolling through Rez Infinite and returning on the regular for japes in the company of the Elite Beat Agents. But here comes a shiny beetle that no magpie eyes can resist; and now I'm shuttling down a raceway to Hell—possibly through Hell—carried in the slipstream of inevitable destruction. The noise. The carnage. It lights up like a Christmas tree the size of a city center. On fire. I'm helpless, as are we all, trapped in a torrent of hostile sound and hypnotizing sights: whatever terrors this flight takes us to, we're more passengers than navigators, even pad in hand. —Mike Diver
Most Likely to Influence Others: Lincoln Clay (Mafia 3)
Lincoln isn't Waypoint High School's valedictorian. In fact, in the staff lounge, his teachers speak in whispers about his unfulfilled potential. He misses class more than most, is easily distracted, and takes way too much onto his plate—there isn't an extracurricular he hasn't tried.
But when he shows up and is really tuned in, he shines brighter than everyone else.
Lincoln & Mafia 3 took me on a roller coaster this year: From the stunning debut trailer to the lackluster E3 performance, from a concerning preview event to a stellar conversation with one of it's lead writers, it felt like every few weeks my opinion of the game shifted.
And then it came out, and it was really, really good. It dives fearlessly into complex politics and history, while still delivering a grimy revenge yarn. The shooting and driving eschew "realism" for 1960s Steve Mcqueen flair. It leverages the storytelling language of movies—from carefully soundtracked sequences to the documentarian narrative frame—in a way that few other games have tried.
Yes, it's a little bloated and yes, it has its rough spots. But people will remember the best bits long after they've forgotten the overwhelming number of side missions. All throughout Mafia 3, the game's characters talk about Lincoln Clay as a force of nature who changed New Bordeaux forever. It's an appropriate analogy. I think he'll be changing games too. —Austin Walker
Most Trustworthy: Giant Blacksmith (Dark Souls 3)
Unless you're digging into item descriptions or scrubbing through 20-minute lore analysis videos on YouTube, you might be too familiar with the "characters" and "story" in Dark Souls. Even for people who don't fall down that particular rabbit hole, it was tough not to fall in love with the giant blacksmith from the original, a slow-speaking fellow who just wanted to help.
You stumble upon the giant blacksmith—again, just a straight up nice maker of weapons and armor—in the realm of Anor Londo, aka home of assholes shooting giant arrows at you. In a world of horrors, the giant blacksmith, though looming in size and voice, is a welcome comfort. He takes your stuff, he makes it better, and even though you're gonna die, he's helped out.
This makes the discovery of a mysterious corpse in Dark Souls 3 all the more harrowing. While venturing back through a decrepit Anor Londo, you discover the body of a massive—one might say "giant"—blacksmith clutching an item called Giant's Coal, which points out that "the giant blacksmith of Anor Londo was once the blacksmith of the gods." It's true—it's him. How he died, what prompted him to stay there, rather than flee the rot of Anor Londo, is left unsaid. There aren't many friends in Dark Souls, but look, he was one of 'em.
Rest easy, giant blacksmith. Thanks for the upgraded hand axe. —Patrick Klepek