Mass Effect: Andromeda. Exploring planets for places to expand my colony? Check. A buggy I can drive around on the planets that’s fun to drive? Check. The Best Boss-battle I’ve ever played? Check. A cover shooter in which sometimes you have to make your own cover by hiding behind your vehicle and then getting in the vehicle when things get too hot and driving to a better spot? Check. There’s just so much in this game that gave me pleasure. I haven’t finished it, only played it for about 50 hours, but that 50 hours was excellent. The game does have its flaws, but the sheer joy it imparts to someone who loves cover shooters and wants to boldly go and explore new places, it’s unmatched by any other game.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Wow, this game is single-handedly keeping the single player campaign linear shooter alive. Thank you Machine Games for this gift. And for not just making a shooter, but making one so relevant to the return of a certain kind of ideology back on the world stage in 2017.
Nex Machina. Twin stick shooter by the person who invented the genre? Oh man, I can’t believe how good this one feels to play. Best twin stick shooter since Geometry Wars 2. GW2 fans should really check this one out. Seriously.
Prey. I’m going to cheat and vote for this one just based on playing the demo. I love the immersive sim, and I’m sure I’m going to love playing the rest of Prey when I finally get the time to play it.
Cuphead. Super challenging, but it feels fair to me. And the artwork and music is so gorgeous. I love this game even as its kicking my ass.
- The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
- Nier Automata
- Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds
- Super Mario Odyssey
- Doki Doki Literature Club
Honorable Mentions: Wolfenstein 2, A Night in the Woods, Steamworld Dig 2
- Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild This one reinvigorated my love of video games. It’s obvious how much care and attention the creators put into this, when so many big budget games now are by-the-numbers cash grabs. What’s especially exciting about it is that the game is essentially a shell of a much bigger, deeper game. When the inevitable sequel is released it’s going to be amazing.
- Cuphead Surprise hit of the year. It’s like an NES game married a creepy old Popeye cartoon and had a satanic baby. Couch co-op, punishing difficulty (without being cheap), amazing art and music, cute and scary characters, and replay value not from boring filler quests but just because its fun and you want to do better. What other game starts you off fighting a giant carrot and ends with defeating the Devil himself in the bowels of hell?
- Destiny 2 Despite it’s flaws, it’s still surviving on the core gameplay which is outstanding. The new raid is wicked fun. The space porn is still gorgeous. The level where you assault the giant spaceship eating the sun is mind blowing and had me stopping (and dying) just to take in the awesome sights. Fighting a frantic battle against giant alien orcs while getting roasted by the Sun, which was like right there, was a truly epic moment. The only game I put more hours into this year is Zelda.
- Hearthstone I just got into it this year. Fuck this game and fuck Blizzard’s addictive gameplay. I haven’t spent real money on card packs yet but I’ve come close several times. I will soon, I know it, and I’ll hate myself for it.
- Minecraft Better Together My 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter play Minecraft together almost every day. He plays on the Xbox and she plays on her iPad. The new cross-play features, Xbox Live integration, and overhauled UI are so good that babies can play it. It’s the cutest thing in the world to see that my little girl spelled her name with stone blocks and ran out to show me. Then she made a fence on an island and filled it with animals and my son blew them all up with TNT. Quality family time.
- Horizon Zero Dawn What a great game. In both looks, story, feelings, and characters - I enjoyed my time in this world immensely.
- Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Yeah, what is to be said here. One of the greatest rpgs of all time. Such a great surprise, from a wonderful company.
- Total War: Warhammer 2 - Awesome, aweinspiring, and one of the best Total War games ever.
- Assassin’s Creed Origins - What an amazing world. I can’t wait for the update where we get to visit everywhere and learn about egypts history as well. There simply is no-one better at making worlds than Ubisoft these days.
- Titanfall 2 - I am not normally interested in PVP, but this game? wow - this is amazing fun. And of course, the single player campaign is amazing!
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
- Ghost Recon: Wildlands
- Logistical - Who knew a simplistic strategy puzzle game featuring trucks, roads and cities could be so damned compelling, but it is. To me at least. Most games only last a few hours with me. I’ve clocked dozens in this one.
- Star Fleet Armada Rogue Adventures - Sure, it looks like a throwback to the early 90s – intentionally so, it seems – this series of compelling minigames with an overarching exploratory narrative is just a delight to play.
- Battlestar Galactica Deadlock - Media tie-in games can be such hit or miss, but this one was definitely a hit. Exceptional tactical combat, a varied and replayable campaign and fun multiplayer make this one truly special.
- Orbital Racer - A late entry into the year, nonetheless, it’s an amazing mix of three dimensions with the usual checkpoint racing we love so much. Gorgeous, with wicked AI, this game keeps me coming back to it.
- Starpoint Gemini Warlords - Take some Freelancer-style combat, mix it in with some mild 4X and RPG elements, and you have what could be a disaster with other games. Here, it works, there’s so much to do, and it’s just super fun to play.
Really close runner up:
Everspace - A very fun mix of combat and roguelike that frustrates me a lot, but it still a ton of fun to play.
Prey - Arkane never disappoints. Prey is a brilliant take on “abandoned on space station infested with alien scum” theme, in both gameplay design and narrative. Must be played by any self-respecting gamer.
Uncharted: Lost Legacy - Just as fun as Uncharted 4, just as beautiful. Must play for any fan of popcorn indiana jones-likes.
Mass Effect: Andromeda - Immensely flawed, but I only played it once fully patched, and while the lazy quest design and occasionally embarassing dialogue bothered me, the strength of Mass Effect atmosphere kept me entertained. Plus most of the main story missions were still really good. And some nice exploration and beautiful graphics as a bonus.
Evil Within 2 - Well designed, well tuned action horror. Not quite as imaginative as the first game, but stronger in narrative department. Enjoyed all the way through.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice - Impressively atmospheric walk through one girl’s psychosis.
Horizon: Zero Dawn - Beautiful graphics, fun gameplay. Narrative was somewhat weaker than expected from John Gonzales (lead writer on brilliant New Vegas) and it felt a bit too theme parkey, which is why it is not higher. Solid 8/10.
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus - Strangely uneven game that disappointed in level design, but pleasantly surprised in narrative. Some scenes reminded me of Tarantino. Worth playing.
Get Even - Black Mirroresque scifi short story, less you know the better. Not successful everywhere, but the story carries it well enough to be seen to the end.
Observer - Atmospheric cyberpunk little walking sim, with a pretty interesting twisty story.
I don’t know, man. Playing the game itself was this white-hot, thirty-hour flash of fast combat, overwrought JRPG plot, and existential whatever. After it was over, with my save deleted and the game uninstalled, the scorch marks from that white-hot flash are still on my brain. Most of the details have faded away – I can’t tell you what order the levels went in or what all of the bosses were like – but I still think about this game all the time. I think everyone should experience it, even though I don’t think everyone will like it.
I love this game. It puts a little electric probe in the part of my brain that thinks about “game mechanics” and “boss design” and sends a steady, gentle current the entire time I have the game on. It’s tough but fair. There are no cheap deaths, but there are also no cheap wins – Every death and every victory is 100% earned. I love how the game alternates between making you learn a fight or a phase and then making you execute it near-perfectly. It’s an immensely satisfying loop. And that’s without even taking the aesthetic into account!
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
A late Christmas gift, it’s already wrapped me up. I can’t get enough of the combat. I run into every enemy I see, so I can have a fight. I take every side quest because it might take me somewhere I can have a fight. I spent a lot of time trying to articulate why I like this, but then someone else did it for me. Every battle, you are sequencing, prioritizing, and timing to achieve short-term goals and long-term goals. It looks overcomplicated, but it’s engaging. It helps that the story is good, but I’d honestly still love the game if it was just a series of fights.
I love and hate this game. It doesn’t look great. It runs like shit. It brings out the worst parts of our entire subculture (anonymity, griefers, cheaters, AFKers). It’s a game where NOT playing it is a pretty good strategy. But that adrenaline rush, when you hear some guy in the same building as you, and you’re trying to figure out where he is and what he’s doing and whether he heard you too and whether he’s above or below you and what’s your best route out of here and how much time do you need in order to make it to the circle and so on and so on? So few games trigger that adrenaline response, and this is like the perfect distillation of that, even if you spend a lot of downtime to get there.
Honorable Mention (no 2017 port or DLC) - Twilight Struggle
From the tournament at the beginning of the year (which constituted my first five plays EVER), to me buying a physical copy, to me playing said physical copy, Twilight Struggle has been the nougat holding my year together. I wish it were a little less intimidating for new players (“Hey, come try this multiple-hour game that you will DEFINITELY lose at a few times until you understand it” is a hard sell for my friends, even though they are aware of the game’s depth and good reception), but even knowing only one person willing to play it with me has been wonderful.
I think this released last year? I seem to remember many had it on last year’s list.
Could you please un-bold those numbers and periods in your list? (Thanks!)
Great atmosphere, good shooter, good story.
Horizon Zero Dawn
I’m only about 20 hours into it, but I’m loving it so far. Hits all my Far Cry buttons, which I love. It might be better than Prey, but it absolutely loses points for being a console exclusive. This would be so much better on PC.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Had this game ended at Act 3, it might be my GoTY. As it is, however, it went on too long. Also, if I alt-tab out while the enemy makes their moves, you’re doing something wrong.
Pathfinder: The Adventure Card Game
Cute, fun game. I’m only about 2/3 of the way through the campaign. Card management is frustrating.
Titanfall 2 was late last year, wasn’t it? I’m feeling the love though Razgon!
Yeah, sadly late 2016.
I feel like I didn’t play enough games released in 2017 to actually be able to score them but what the heck:
Mass Effect Andromeda
Not only did this game make me realise I didn’t hate sci-fi games as I had previous thought, but it also brought me back to play the original trilogy which I hadn’t done before. After a few hiccups and setting the game to easy, I really enjoyed it. Might even play through it again since a lot of the bugs seem to have been fixed after I played it.
Assassins Creed Origins
I loved this for the first couple of 30-40 hours, but I became really bored with it after that, so I’ve put it on hold for a while. It’s stunning though, and I love riding through one of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen in games…
Horizon Zero Dawn
which directly brings me to this game for the same reason as above. I’ve really only spent a shameful amount of time on this game, probably because I got it around a time where I didn’t feel like spending another whooping amount of hours sneaking around in grass and killing creatures that looked the same, but I hope to start this up again soon.
What remains of Edith Finch
Even if it was only one nights play, I really loved this. What a beautiful little gem.
I’m putting this up here mainly because I don’t think I’ve played any other games released in 2017 than these, but it was enjoyable for one weekend. I think the ending put me off REALLY liking it, cause it was just stupid and felt rushed, but I loved the concept and the stillness of it.
Most played games of 2017:
The Witcher 3
Mass Effect Trilogy
Dragon Age Origins
I think it’s safe to say that du to the three games above, I willl probably not see a better year in gaming for the rest of my life. Sadly. But hey - who knows.
Oh man, we could totally end up with Andromeda placing in the quarterlies. That would make my contrarian little geek heart grow three sizes!
It’s a game that helped define my year, but it’s true that it wasn’t released this year. I’ll remove it.
Not to be argumentative, but have we ever laid out exactly what constitutes a release? With so many new ports of old games and expansions/DLC, it kind of blurs the lines. Like, Street Fighter 2, Final Fantasy 6, Mario Kart 8, Pathfinder Adventures, and Hearthstone are all technically eligible for 2017, but Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1, and Pokemon Go are not, even though those probably got the majority of their playtime in 2017.
- NieR: Automata is a big departure for me, as I’m normally all about crunchy mechanics and systems. Here that stuff (combat, exploration, and RPG mechanics) is solid and enjoyable, but it’s the aesthetics (story, writing, and music) that elevate it into the stratosphere. Packed with unforgettable moments, both in the main story and the poignant little vignettes encountered around the world.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a late addition thanks to arriving for Christmas, but it’s made a HELL of an impression in that week, keeping me up playing until quarter to three on a couple of occasions.
And for the record, I default to lukewarm on both 3D Zelda games and on modern open-world design.
- Cryptark offers a great mix of planning, executing, and improvising after the plan goes wrong – a thinkier take on Galak-Z, which I also loved.
- Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment is an immaculately designed classic platformer that remixes the original game into something even better with a very fun and inventive moveset for the titular main character.
- Romancing SaGa 2 is another late pickup that I haven’t finished yet, but it’s utterly charming so far. A 25-year-old JRPG about an epic struggle between seven legendary heroes and an expansionist empire. Oh, and you’re the empire. It’s got a hint of roguelike sensibilities, both in the way that you adapt your tactics to the specific skills your characters randomly learn through combat, and in the way you’re encouraged to live with consequences and setbacks – a total party wipe is a chance to appoint a new emperor to carry on the quest.
- Through the Ages
- Age of Rivals
- Race for the Galaxy
- Fire Emblem Heroes
- Horizon: Zero Dawn
Don´t jinx it!
- Horizon Zero Dawn - I really loved the world building in this one. They took a ridiculous concept, robot dinosaur apocalypse, and made me believe it. I had a large list of reasons why it was stupid and the game shot most of them down with reasonable conjectures and sometimes persuasive arguments. You have to dig for these, they are buried around the world in notes & audio logs but the details showed some nerd spent some serious time making it as realistic as possible. I normally hate this junk, but it was so satisfying to find good answers for my questions. I can’t think of another game that did this half as well. My interest in AI, consciousness, and nanotech probably play an overly large role here.
- Prey - System Shock 3, done right.
- Divinity Original Sin 2 - Didn’t finish it but it got me addicted hard right up to the end.
- Minecraft Modern Skyblock 2 - A minecraft modpack, this one is pretty rough and certainly not to be recommended until you play many others first, but it concentrates on forcing automation in weird and unusual ways. Hope you like wiki’s and undocumented features and bugs because it has them all in spades. None of that mattered in that I always had 10 million things I wanted to do and another 10 million ways to do it.
- Fallout 4 Horizon Mod - https://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/17374/? I got bored of the original F4 pretty quickly due to the terrible gameplay and balancing but this one made it harder in a lot of fun ways. Pretty hardcore in that it changed up the scarcity so that you always felt like you were just barely surviving. Apparently I find that really fun. I love exploring and finding things, but it was just never relevant in the original game for very long. This pushes that curve way, way out.
Honorable mentions -
Note - I know minecraft and fallout 4 will probably break the script but I am A OK with that. I would hate to give a vote to the base Fallout 4 & Minecraft.
I don’t mind, but I seem to remember it has been time-limited before. @Brooski is the Decider, I guess.