2017 I believe is one of the best years of gaming ever, we got the Nintendo Switch as well as the Xbox One X from a hardware standpoint, new instalments in fan favourite franchises that were met with rave reviews, and completely new IP taking the world by storm. Here are my Top 10 favourite titles of the year and the ones I absolutely recommend playing.
10. Star Wars Battlefront II
Battlefront II was the game we originally wanted the last time around, maybe just without the whole loot box fiasco. The story mode is well written and subjects players to a cast of interesting characters that you connect with. In terms of visuals in 2017, this is a shining example of what stunning visual design is, it looks so authentically Star Wars and for that, I will remember it fondly.
9. Call Of Duty WWII
Truly a return to form for the Call Of Duty series, at least in my eyes. After a few years of running across walls and double jumping everywhere, the boots are back on the ground. Delivering a story that both informs and entertains at the same time without it feeling all too serious but not taking away from the seriousness at the same time. Handling such a controversial topic as war in a thoughtful way. If the story just wasn’t enough you have a well designed multiplayer suite that caters for all play styles, and an action packed zombies mode that you can escape into and then try to escape from once the zombies are trying to tear you apart.
8. Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War
A complete dark horse in the race for me this year was the sequel to Shadow of Mordor, a game I put countless hours into and enjoyed every minute of it. This time around for whatever reason I wasn’t quite feeling the hype, and then I got to play it and boy did I lose myself in Middle-Earth once more. Embarking on another tale of strife with Talion and Celebrimbor was exactly what I needed, hunting down plenty of orcs along the way and recruiting many captains and warlords to my cause is addictingly fun. You are able to tell your own story just from your experiences throughout the game as you have unique confrontations with many characters you face. Shadow of War also provided one of the most memorable gaming moments of 2017, that first Siege I will never forget, taking over a fortress is what I have wanted in video games for years and now we have it.
7. South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Another sequel to a game I absolutely fell in love with but with this title it was one of my most anticipated of the year and it delivered and then some. It took everything that was great with The Stick Of Truth and somehow made it greater. The jokes were just as funny and in some ways funnier, the combat was more complex and as a result more enjoyable, and of course entire thing was bizarre, somewhat disgusting, and such a blast. You can fight Morgan Freeman, I mean come on.
6. Destiny 2
Speaking of anticipated games, this was the main event, the front-runner, the game I was most vocal about leading up to its release and for a few weeks afterwards. The red war campaign experience is fantastic, filled with beautiful cinematic cutscenes (thank you Bungie), awe-inspiring set pieces and a soundtrack that frequently re-enters my mind. The co-op activities I would seriously argue are some of the best you could ever find in a game. Be it three-person strikes and missions or the six-person raids, they remain the prime example of what co-op modes and games should aspire to be. The crucible also remains my favourite PVP mode of any game from a team-based standpoint.
5. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
Of course this is in my top five, how could it not be? The game that took the world by storm and has so far occupied a whopping 700 hours of my life. It’s incredibly simple, 100 players on an island in a fight to the finish, the execution is where it gets a bit more complex and leads to some surprisingly diverse matches, no two matches are the same. Different players in each game, varying chances of loot and play zones, it all meshes together to form this elation and rage inducing adventure.
4. Super Mario Odyssey
Nintendo is back, and I am so damn happy about it. 2017 marked the return to glory for Nintendo in not only hardware but software too. It was so important for both the Mario and Zelda titles to be a hit and indeed they were. Super Mario Odyssey is such a well crafted love letter to long-time fans but also an enticing entry for newcomers. Gameplay excellence without a doubt, this is the best platformer I have ever played, bar none. Two huge events take place in this game that I will always remember, the New Donk City festival and being able to control Bowser. It felt magical to play which speaks volumes about how well Nintendo inject that charm into their games.
3. Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
Before 2017 I had no real idea of what Danganronpa was, I could have guessed and would have been way off. Thankfully I rectified that when I played all three main line games, Trigger Happy Havoc, Goodbye Despair and Killing Harmony. What V3 does so well is misdirection, making you think something was about to happen or hint towards somebody being the culprit and then completely pull a 180. I was kept second guessing myself and forced to often think outside the box, because I like to try and suss out who the culprit is before the game tells me at the end of the class trials. A completely insane title filled with interesting and likeable characters that you come to either love or hate. It made me feel, happiness, sadness, anger and above all, despair.
2. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
These top three games show a little trend that I only just noticed, they are all quite dark, filled with emotion and a little crazy. Absolutely the best shooter of the year, at least in my opinion, its gunplay is both responsive and satisfying. The weapons feel powerful, packing a punch that produces plenty of gore. The best games I find are usually the ones that not only introduce you to new characters but for a sequel also show you unique development of ones we already know, The New Colossus nails it when it comes to the character arch of B.J. Blazkowicz who remains as one of my favourite video game characters.
1. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
There is no confusion within my mind, this was always an easy pick for me as the best game of 2017. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a terrifying representation of a real-world condition in a thought-provoking way. Ninja Theory care, and this shows in the end product of the three-year development cycle. It excels in all areas of the artform, storytelling, visuals, audio, gameplay and performances. A simple tale of a young girl who has lost the one she loves and is on a dangerous journey to try and get him back, her fatal flaw however is the mental condition she has to try and overcome in the process.
From beginning to end I was utterly enthralled, always wondering what’s next. The sound design is haunting, with the constant voices playing to symbolise those in Senua’s head, you will want to play this with headphones, trust me. It features Melina Juergens first time as an actress, a role which she absolutely fit right into and delivered an amazing breakout performance. Using both voice acting and motion capture, she brought Senua to life, allowing me to connect with the character and empathise with her struggle. Hands-down a gaming masterpiece that will always pop-up in any favourite game conversation I have.
Written by Rhys Baldwin.