2017 has been a phenomenal year for both AAA titles and indie games. The industry as a whole broke new ground with a huge expansion in VR technology. Moreover, the Switch put Nintendo back at the top and reminded us why it’s the most innovative game company out there. I thought it would be nice to list out some of my personal favorite games from 2017.
You’ll probably find that I’m missing a few games that many other writers put on their top ten lists, but that’s probably because I didn’t play those games. I currently own an Xbox, Switch, and PC so none of the Playstation exclusives are on here.
Games I haven’t played or fully experienced: Divinity: Original Sin II, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Call of Duty WWII, Total War: Warhammer II, What Remains of Edith Finch, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Nier: Automata, Nioh, Resident Evil VII, The Evil Within 2, Pyre, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, and Persona 5.
Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!
10. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
PUBG was probably the defining multiplayer game this year for PC players worldwide. The indie game took the industry by force and enchanted everyone with massive battle royales that were reminiscent of The Hunger Games and, well… Battle Royale. More so than the other games on this list, it’s pretty certain that PUBG is going to go through some pretty major changes in 2018 with the arrival of console ports and potentially new maps. With that said, I’m not as big of a fan as most people are. I really like the game, but I don’t think it’s visually distinct from all the other shooting games that saturate the industry. It has that same color palate as your average Call of Duty, and the combat itself can be a bit buggy. I understand the 1.0 release just came out on Steam, but this game was nominated for Game of the Year at the 2017 Game Awards and everyone treated it like a released title even in Early Access. Regardless of the bugs, PUBG is a great idea, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out next year.
Bethesda is one of my favorite gaming companies right now, and this is one of two games on this list by the acclaimed company. You play as Morgan Yu, and you’re on the alien infested Talos I space station. As you fight your way through the Typhon, the alien species on board, you pick up resources and new weapons. The awesome thing about this game is that the space station is one whole area. Despite the high graphics, everything feels smooth and the action feels intense throughout. Similar to Bethesda’s Doom remake last year, there aren’t many dull moments in Prey. From my experience, however, I think it’s a little short for the full price of $40. I’d wait until it goes down to $20 to get it. Other than that, Prey is a visually striking and fun romp for a few hours.
8. Middle Earth: Shadow of War
2014’s Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor was one of my favorite games of the year. The simple hack and counter combat system reminiscent of the Batman Arkham games was the highlight. Moreover, the idea that you can control enemies and create waves of minions to fight along side you was something I loved. To top that, the game is set in Middle Earth and had many callbacks The Lord of the Rings, which is one my favorite series. Naturally, I was super excited to play the sequel, Shadow of War. I was happy to say that this game excels on many levels and delivers an extremely satisfying follow up that dives deeper into the Middle Earth lore and doubles down on the combat that made the first one so great. You play once again as Talion and his dual mind, Celebrimbor, and forge an army great enough to destroy Sauron’s forces. The thing I absolutely loved about Shadow of War was the continuation of the Nemesis system. After beating the game, this uses the system way better since there aren’t many ways to win in the late game without mind controlling a bunch of orcs. Early on, I was just fighting my way through, but I soon realized that I was doing the wrong thing. The final battle was only epic due to the army that I built up, and I have to applaud Warner Bros. for generating that skill curve. Yeah, there are loot boxes, but I didn’t have any issues with the game that required me to buy them contrary to some of the opinions out there, and I really don’t understand the point. This isn’t EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II, people can calm down. Shadow of War is a great sequel that expands upon the Middle Earth universe in a great way.
7. Destiny 2
The first Destiny was a mess throughout. It was the most expensive game of all time and had exceptionally high expectations from gamers everywhere due to Bungie’s influence on the industry. However, when it came out, many people were underwhelmed. After a bunch of changes and tweaks that were hit or miss, Bungie decided to revamp the whole thing and make Destiny 2, a sequel that doesn’t have the weight of the first game on its shoulders. After sinking a good amount of time into Destiny 2 over the past few months, I can say that it’s the game we wanted years ago before the first game’s release. Destiny 2 manages to top it’s predecessor in almost every way. Even the game’s release itself was better since it finally came out on PC via Battle.net. The story resets the playing field by destroying The Tower and taking away much of what makes Guardians indestructible. This takes away the overpowered aspects of players and forces them to earn their powers back. The story isn’t the longest, but as with any MMO, it’s the end game that matters. Destiny 2 combines loot grinding from MMO’s and the fast-paced, competitive parts of FPS’s. I know that many of you may think that I’m an idiot for putting this on here after Curse of Osiris, but I didn’t play Curse of Osiris, and I really don’t intend to. My experience with Destiny 2 has been really positive so far, and I’m pretty sure I got my money’s worth.
6. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Sometimes, you just want to take down Nazis because they’re the absolute worst. Bethesda’s Wolfenstein II leans heavily into this and crafts an amazing story that has you taking revenge on the bad guys and doing really badass things. Set in an alternate 1961 in which Nazis one World War II, the story focuses on B.J. Blazkowicz as he attempts to fight the Nazi Regime out of America. It’s pretty much a ton of missions shooting down things, but the combat is A+ work from Bethesda. It’s not a long game, and you can honestly finish it in a day or two (I took a few days, but I’m really slow at playing video games). The story takes some twists and turns, but without giving too much away, it just goes completely off the rails towards the end. Like many of the other games on this list, it improves upon it’s predecessor by a lot with stunning graphics and a better story. The combat feels cathartic throughout, and it feels great taking back America’s freedom.
5. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
This game is so much fun! I’m a massive fan of Mario Kart, and I own most of the versions throughout the years (I’m missing Mario Kart: Double Dash!! for the Gamecube). Everything about Mario Kart 8 Deluxe screams fun. I don’t think racing your friends on Rainbow Road will get boring. For me, this game was the best version of Mario Kart because it has the most maps, and utilizes the best aspects of everything that came before. Motion controls and all the classic characters are back, but there are more maps, Amiibos, and better customization to make this game all the more fun. But that’s the key word: more. While everything about this game is fantastic, there aren’t any new game mechanics. It’s the best version in the series, but nothing is truly distinct. The only thing that is different on the Switch is if you play it in the handheld mode. I personally never liked doing that because it felt off, and I’d prefer a bigger screen to take in all the colors and wonderful animation. The Switch handles this game amazingly despite its relatively less powerful hardware. Overall, if you don’t have Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U and you have a Switch, I can’t recommend this one enough.
4. Injustice 2
Okay, this one might be a hot take considering I’m putting it up so high, but I genuinely think that Injustice 2 is one of the best games of 2017. I actually think it’s the best fighting game currently out right now. This is the last time I’m saying this, but this game improves upon its predecessor in almost every way. The story does the best job for what it is, but I personally found myself more impacted by the first game’s riveting story about Superman turning evil. Injustice 2 picks up where the first one left off. While many heroes are having a hard time figuring out who they are in the midst of the downfall of Superman’s regime, a powerful new threat emerges to Earth in the form of Braniac. I’m a huge comic book nerd so right off the bat, I’m sold plot wise. However, Injustice 2 introduces a ton of new characters, and has some of the most satisfying loot grinding I’ve ever experienced in a game. Unlike the first game, you can acquire new gear here and customize all your characters. This creates a unique feel that most other fighting games can’t replicate, and NetherRealm Studios somehow managed to one up the genre just like they did with Mortal Kombat X. Also, the Multiverse mode is creates new challenges every day and keeps me coming back even after completing the fairly short story and honing my skills online. With new updates rolling out fairly often, I’m sure Injustice 2 is going to be here to stay in 2018.
I hate this game so much, and that’s why I’m putting it so high at number 3. Cuphead is a gorgeous love letter to 1930s animation and a testament that this is the greatest time for indie games. There is just so much clear passion that splashes onto the screen, and every frame displays masterful hand drawn artwork. I’d be fine if the game just looked as gorgeous as it does, but Cuphead delves further into its strengths by creating an extremely difficult platformer that forces players to observe every little detail that the developers created. I’m not a controller smasher, but this game really made me rage quit a few times. I’d say I uninstalled it a few times, but I kept picking it back up after a few days just to get past wherever I was. I’m still playing Cuphead and I doubt I’d be able to beat it, but I already love it so much for its pure nuance. Even if I ever get to beat it, I’m certain that I’m going to come back to get better. This is a game that makes you earn everything through sheer gut-wrenching determination and hard work. I’m really looking forward to the future of Studio MDHR because they made something truly special.
2. Super Mario Odyssey
At this point, I’m sure you know where I’m going with the top title in this list, but I can guarantee you that I switched around these two spots a ton before releasing this article. Super Mario Odyssey somehow managed to create the best Mario game of all time in my opinion. I was born in 1999 so I missed most of the early innovative Mario games that shaped an entire generation of gamers. I have over the years gone back and played through some of the most popular titles like Super Mario 64 so I know how these games have shaped the way we play games today. Super Mario 64 managed to create a sense of freedom that people haven’t seen before, and Super Mario Galaxy managed to do it again. Sure there were a few underwhelming games in the series throughout the years, but Nintendo somehow keeps coming back with innovative ways to play games. Super Mario Odyssey has the creative freedom that most games dream of. There’s just so much emergent player behavior in this game that I find it really hard to believe that Nintendo even imagined how creative players could get here. You know the story, you’ve seen it before: Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach, and Mario has to save her. However, this time, you have Cappy, an actual sentient hat that talks. You both have a ship called the Odyssey to get to Bowser, but first you need to power it up by collecting Power Moons. The main new game mechanic is Mario can throw Cappy onto pretty much anything and transform into that thing. This creates a ton of different ways to beat levels and offers a level of player interactivity that I really haven’t seen before. Also, the soundtrack is amazing, and there’s this one song in New Donk City called “Jump Up, Super Star!” that’s been stuck in my head ever since I heard it. This is a masterpiece of a game, and I’d have it at number 1 if it weren’t for this last title.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
I don’t even know where to start with this game. I’m a huge fan of The Legend of Zelda games, and there have been many perfect titles in the series in my opinion. However, none of them reach the artistic heights of Breath of the Wild. This is a game that shrouds you in mystery but at the same time surrounds you with freedom. Like Nintendo’s other huge release, Super Mario Odyssey, Breath of the Wild feels so open that you lose yourself in the world. I probably spent more time gazing out into the distance and taking beautiful screenshots of the landscape than actually playing the story. In this game, Link wakes up after a hundred years and can’t remember anything. By exploring the broken land of Hyrule, he regains memories of his old adventures with Zelda and soon realizes that the evil Ganon must be stopped to save Hyrule. This was different from the other Zelda games because Hyrule never felt so realized. It’s so worn, but nature has withstood the test of time and has surpassed the kingdom’s once technological prowess. Like Link, the game itself has a great skill curve, and you learn to play your own way as time goes on. The game wisely makes use of the Switch’s multitude of features, and every control feels intuitive. I never felt a dull moment of this game since even the slow walking moments felt so satisfying because this of the realistic yet fantastical environment. It harkens back to why I love the fantasy genre as a whole: it’s not just escapism, it’s a world of limitless possibilities that rivals our own. Everything about Breath of the Wild is a masterclass. The soundtrack shines with its emotional orchestral score, and every second of this game just brimming with hope. I’m certain that years from now, this will be remembered as a groundbreaking milestone for game development.
So those are my top ten best games of 2017! What do you think about this list? Would you add, delete, or change anything? Please feel free to let me know in the comments section! Thanks!