Well, 2017 has been quite a year hasn’t it? Despite everything going on with the world at large, what the debacle that is Brexit and the farce that is the US presidency to name but two, you would think that as a year, it pretty much sucks.
Strange then, that 2017 has been an exceptionally strong year in games, with two console launches (Xbox One X does count!) and some of the most impressive games of all time. Maybe the good really does have to come with the bad, who knows, but as gamers we are exceptionally lucky.
So here I present my top ten games of 2017. Now, quick disclaimer: not all of these came out in 2017, but I played them this year and got a lot out of them, whether that be a complete play through or just a newfound appreciation for what the game in question is doing. I hope you enjoy this list, and have a great christmas and happy new year!
10.Wolfenstein: The New Order
One of my earliest gaming memories is getting a copy of both DOOM and the original Wolfenstein on floppy disk from my uncle, and I played both to death. Ultimately I prefered DOOM, but Wolfenstein stayed with me too.
The New Order is a perfect example of a developer who took that original game and made it their own. Machine Games made a game in the franchise that exceeds all others. It plays great, has a surprisingly nuanced and heartfelt story (shock!) and has enough blood to refloat the titanic!
A sequel, The New Colossus, was released this year but I was unable to get the time to play it, though I am fully looking forward to digging into it in the new year.
So this might be a controversial one, because lets be honest here, there still isn’t much to the game. You can collect those adorable pocket monsters, and that is the main meat of the game. Niantic might have added raids and Pokemon from both Gen 2 and Gen 3, as well as those awesome Legendaries, but still, you walk about and collect.
Still though, it is a more satisfying experience than many give it credit for. The act of filling up the pokedex is surprisingly fulfilling, and by deciding that’s all I wanted to do I had a much better time with the game. More than that though, I have found that it’s social hooks are where it’s true strength lies.
Playing it when I hung out with my god son’s this year cemented the game as a bone fide social experience. We bonded over capturing pokemon and completing raids together, and while I was told on more than one occasion the CP level of my creatures sucked, I had a great time nonetheless.
Certain developers have their own style. I am not talking about design philosophy here, I mean style. The now defunct Irrational Games’ style was for cool settings with deep story and at least tried to make you think, whether it always worked or not.
Supergiant Games have a style, though Pyre proves it isn’t what I first thought. Their first two games, Bastion and Transistor, showed this through top notch voice acting and awesome gameplay, but Pyre proves where it is actually at: Music and Writing.
Within five minutes of playing I could tell this was a Supergiant joint, not because of the way it played, but because of the audio cues, and the way the characters were written. There is a certain wit and playfulness at play, each character at times super serious before shifting into a quality one liner.
The music immediately conjures the developers previous games, while at the same time being its own thing. The fact that the mystical three on three basketball inspired sport that you play throughout is also awesome, surprisingly deep and full of tactics and intuitive is just a bonus. If you haven’t played a Supergiant game before, this is a perfect jumping in point, and once you have finished here pick up both Bastion and Transistor straight after.
Those who know me know that I don’t do sports. I can have a slight conversation around esports and Taekwondo, but all the ‘main’ sports I just don’t get. Football is eleven overpaid idiots kicking a ball around a field for ninety minutes and falling down every so often, for example.
However, I am not opposed to the odd sports game, and it has long been my opinion that golf is the perfect sport for a videogame. I remember playing golf games on my dads first PC, before Windows was even a thing, and having a surprisingly great time with it.
Golf Story is a modern take on those older games. It might look like a SNES game, but it has very modern underpinnings. It is an RPG where battles are tests of skill with a iron or putter than with a sword, and boss battles are actually tournaments on various courses.
The writing is surprisingly good, with a story revolving around a man who wants to honour his father's memory, and leaves his waning marriage to do so. There are funny moments to be had, it's a little absurd as all good RPG’s are, and the gameplay is very tight.
If you have never heard of Subterfuge, you won’t be alone. I only came across it because of the folks over at Waypoint, who discussed it on a podcast. I asked some friends at work if they were up for a game, and as they say, the rest is history.
This is game as much about how well you know your friends as it is about the actual in app gameplay. Each player starts out with a few bases and a few drillers, your basic combatants. From there you have basically two options: expand or attack. All the players in the game are on the same map, and depending on game mode you have to either mine a certain amount of the games main resource, or control a set number of outposts.
The trick is that in order to do that, you have to forge alliances, but doing that with only certain players might piss off the others. Then again, it might prove to be rewarding, and the key is knowing how to socially engineer your victory. I suck at this. I won my first game because I quickly got to grips with how to actually attack, but after that, those that are more subversive than I am quickly started screwing me over.
You will get screwed over. All the time. But that is what is great about Subterfuge, it gives you a set of tools, and from there it really is up to you to win, if you don’t you just weren’t thinking about all the variables. It is awesome, if you have friends who are up for it, give this a try.
Fullbright Company has had exactly two games. You should play both. The first, Gone Home, was my game of the year at release, and while its follow up, Tacoma, didn’t grab me like that game did, it is still an awesome tale, told in a unique way.
Set aboard Lunar Transfer Station Tacoma, players use an AR interface to replay recorded footage of the crew, and figure out exactly what happened to them. It sounds rubbish on paper, but it is so compelling that each scene propels you to find the next, deciphering just what happened to the crew.
As with Gone Home the writing is top notch, though I found this far less compelling, the setting actually taking away from the story. That said, I recognise a great game when I see one, and this is certainly a great game.
I loved the original Destiny, flaws and all. So the sequel impressed me even more, packing more story and content into the main release than the original and its first two expansions couldn’t even match.
The gun play is as A grade as ever, this being Bungie, but the single player campaign is actually quite good for the sci-fi action movie it is, and the loot grind is always fun. It might be very derisive as a series, but Destiny 2 is one of the year’s best shooters, just as it predecessor was back in 2014.
3.Super Mario Odyssey
In a year where this was Nintendo’s only release, it would probably be at the top of many of these types of lists, possibly even my own. However, that isn’t the 2017 we live in, and while you can always rely on the house that Mario built to provide top notch platforming, this year simply isn’t the plumbers domain.
Having said that, Odyssey is an awesome game. It feels great to play, looks fantastic and has plenty of power moons to find. Finding them all means exploring the levels, and some of them are hidden in genuinely ingenious places, get one of those and you really do feel like your intelligence increased by +1.
Even before release, I figured Odyssey would prove to be at least one of the year's best platformers, knowing how Nintendo creates them, but it surpassed even my expectations. If you get a switch for Christmas and don’t get this with it, consider it your second essential buy after Zelda.
2.Horizon: Zero Dawn
I remember watching the first reveal of this, the open field, the redhead main character sneaking through the undergrowth and of course, that giant robotic dinosaur. As far as cool sci-fi worlds go, this one was placed firmly on my radar.
Upon release, I was sucked into its world and didn’t want to leave. The open world was huge, you will always find something new around the next corner, be that a village, a mission or a new type of robotic creature.
Those creatures have awesome designs, each with their own behaviors but more over their own strengths and weaknesses, and you always feel that with the right tools you can overcome any threat. Battles are always satisfying, and I spent a silly amount of time just hunting packs of machines for the fun of it.
The story is really great too, and Aloy, as a main character, is surely to become one of the most popular, not only because she is a cool cosplay idea, but also because she goes on a genuine journey in this game. She doesn’t start out a badass, but the tale the game weaves makes her that way, and by the end she unlocks her true potential in the best way.
It looks awesome, plays great and tells a brilliant tale in a unique world. This more than earned a place on my list by looks alone, but with everything else it is a worthy second place on this list, and a must for all PS4 owners.
1.The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
It is very simple: If you own a switch, you should own this. Breath of the Wild represents what a developer can do with their core franchises if they are given leave to do pretty much what they want. This can be a double edged sword of course, and too much of a departure could permanently kill the series.
Luckily Breath of the Wild isn’t that. In fact it is one of the greatest games ever made, hands down. It is arguably the best in the series, and that is due to the aforementioned departure from series norms. It is the most radically different Zelda in years, bringing with it a fresh take on the concept that works as well as just about any other, if not surpasses it.
The open world portrayed here presents you with something new to do every five minutes, from small challenges, to the puzzle shrines, to a new enemy to fight. Everything you need is open from the very beginning, and speedrunners have been able to complete it in thirty minutes, but I myself took nearly seventy hours, and that is the beauty of the game. You can do it in less time and just complete the story, but there is so much more to it than that.
The systems at play interact in ways that even the developers didn’t anticipate, and for months after release players are finding new ways to mess with world. The thing is, none of that are bugs, it's just those systems doing what they do, and it is awesome.
Breath of the wild represents not only the pinnacle of the series, but also the open world genre, Nintendo’s games and 2017 in gaming. It will go down in history for all of these reasons and more, and will be talked about for years to come.