As you can see from our worst games of 2017, there were a lot of doldrums to get over, especially if you were a fan of franchises like Gran Turismo, Need For Speed or even Bubsy. (There are a couple of you out there, we’re sure.) But not to worry, as 2017 also had a ton of bright spots, thanks to killer games that kept our attention throughout the year – and probably into the next.
We’ve counted down a general list of our top ten games of 2017, but have also included a couple of honorable mentions, just because they’re great, too. So join us as we look back at the greatest adventures we got to experience this year. 2018 has a lot to live up to…
Now, this, folks, is how you bring a dormant franchise back from the dead. We haven’t heard from Nier since the early days of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but leave it to mysterious game director Yoko Taro and the developers at Platinum Games to send it rocketing back to the game scene with a breathtaking open-world hack-and-slash adventure. Automata is stunningly designed, filled with character and exciting moments that keep it entertaining from beginning to end. And it even has DLC where you take on the game’s developers. Now that’s genius.
All this talk about “Well, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds should be on the best games of 2017," but we’re instead taking a close look at Fortnite, Epic Games’ oft-delayed build-and-battle game that finally saw a release this year. The campaign in itself is a lot of fun, but then Epic went and perfected the whole Battle Royale theme with some fun new elements, including a limited 50-on-50 fight that had to be seen to be believed. Fortnite has already created a strong, reliable foundation, and we can’t wait to see where it expands next.
At a time when most companies believe that single player games are dying (or already dead, to even more disillusionment), Bethesda’s Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus proves this isn’t the case. This is the most polished game in the series, and also the most violent, as you put up one hell of a fight against the Nazis, using a number of innovative weapons. It’s also filled with surprising moments that keep you playing, even as things get incredibly crazy. Hey, that’s when Wolfenstein is at its best, yeah? More please.
Now here’s something you don’t see every day – a crossover with a popular franchise, a not-so-typical group of crazy characters, and a strategy-based game element. That’s what we got from Kingdom Battle, one of the year’s most genuine surprises. Not only does the game pay loving tribute to the Mario (and Rabbids) universe as a whole, but its gameplay is compelling, good enough for beginners to jump in, but challenging enough for those that really want to conquer with XCOM-style precision. The more of these crossovers we can get in the future, the better.
Ninja Theory took one of the year’s biggest risks, self-developing and publishing this unique third-person adventure that relies just as much on storytelling and emotional depths as it does on its gameplay. And it’s a gamble that has paid off in spades, as there’s nothing quite like Senua’s Sacrifice on the market. It looks fantastic, but it feels even more so, thanks to incredible motion capture work, engulfing gameplay and the kind of gameplay that will leave you unprepared for what comes next. We need more big risks like this.
While Sonic Forces may have done a suitable job carrying the 3D mantle for the reliable Sega hero, Sonic Mania took off like a rocket for Sonic the Hedgehog fans. That’s because it returned to a more simplistic Sega Genesis style of play, and reaped the rewards from it, including precise controls, incredible level design and abundant extras, including a two-player race mode that’s actually fun to play. And the soundtrack – well, give that person a DJ table because they’re likely to liven up any party. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of Sega’s 16-bit revolution. Streets of Rage 4, if you would.
Cuphead shouldn’t exist. That’s all there is to it. It’s a miracle this game made it out, with its brilliant 1930’s style animation, its full orchestra soundtrack made up of jazz and showtune ditties, and its difficult yet not impossible boss battles, with one stacking up on top of another, not giving you that much time to pick a favorite. Everything about this game just clicks, even if it takes a few countless tries to see what’s up next. Hey, with games like this, it’s the journey, not the destination.
Nintendo rocked the world of Metroid fans this year, not only announcing a new Metroid Prime game for the Nintendo Switch, but also bringing a 2D Metroid game to the 3DS, giving us the adventure that we’ve been longing for, since the days of Super Metroid on the SNES. (Sorry, Metroid: Other M just couldn’t get it done.) Samus Returns shows the developers at MercurySteam at their best, with fundamental 2D gameplay that keeps you digging, along with a polished presentation that’s second to none for handheld gaming. Now we just need a Switch port to tide us over while we wait for Samus’ monumental return to first-person shooting. Please?
Big series need to take time off more often. It gives the developers enough time to a. catch their breath and b. take advantage of new ideas that do their franchise a world of good. Case in point, Origins, a game that makes Assassin’s Creed fun to play once more, as you scavenge your way through Egypt while slaughtering a number of targets and completing other side missions. The gameplay offers a tremendous amount of value here, and the presentation is incredibly polished, especially if you’re playing on an Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro. Wow. Let’s hope the next Creed pops up in 2019 and knocks us off our feet again.
There’s something to be said about new ideas and how undoubtedly they can pay off for a developer – and you need no further proof than Horizon Zero Dawn. Guerrilla Games did amazing work here, producing a third-person adventure that’s every bit as good as any given Zelda title. The robotic animal battles can’t be beat, and the sprawling world just gives you so much to explore. Not only that, but Aloy easily qualifies as one of the best gaming characters of the year, if not the best. We need a sequel, and we need it soon.
Now here’s a game that managed to send off the Wii U in style and introduce the world to the Nintendo Switch at the same time – and both scenarios were nothing short of grand. Breath of the Wild is easily the best Zelda game in years, and arguably one of the best in the series. It’s an open-world opus with gigantic art style, strong gameplay and plenty of challenges. What’s more, the DLC introduced to the game added to it fundamentally, including a motorbike that’s just a lot of fun to cruise around. Plus, horse armor that’s not treated like a joke. Oh, Link, never change.
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This decision could generate some flack, as some folks might insist that Legend of Zelda is a better game than Mario Odyssey. But here’s the real question – what do you have more fun playing?
Some may say Zelda, but hear us out – Super Mario Odyssey offered up more fun moments than most games could generate all year. That’s saying something. It offered something incredible at every turn, from your initial introduction to Cappy to the final showdown that tops all final showdowns before it.
The game is a blast to play from beginning to end, introducing new gameplay ideas while keeping the old Mario tropes intact. It also looks spectacular and has one of the catchiest soundtracks in a Nintendo game yet. And it’s packed with secrets galore, including those darn hidden Toads.
Everything about the game just screams entertainment on every level – and to think that it did so within the first year of the Switch’s life cycle. Now that’s something. We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.
Plus that Mario Odyssey showtune. Man.