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Dan Ryckert's Top 10 Games of 2017

2017 was a great year for Dan Ryckert. He moved to New York, got married, got a dog, and got to play these ten games.

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Dan Ryckert is the Senior Content Producer at giantbomb.com. He is also a professional wrestling manager, prolific author, two-time Guinness World Record holder, and holds the proud distinction of getting married in a Taco Bell. He lives in Muskogee, Oklahoma with his wife Bianca, their six children, and three Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Hey! I’m Dan and I work here. You’ve probably already heard me talk for dozens of hours about the games on this list, so here’s me talking about them some more!

Honorable Mentions: Steamworld Dig 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Sonic Mania, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Dead Cells, Soul Calibur (DC)

10. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

When Uncharted 4 was announced, I (like a lot of people) was a bit disappointed. Naughty Dog has a track record of moving on to new franchises with each console generation, and Nathan Drake’s trilogy on PS3 seemed more than sufficient. I was wrong. Uncharted 4 was possibly the best game in the series, and served as a perfect ending to Drake’s story.

THEN Naughty Dog comes out and says that another standalone Uncharted game is imminent. Surely that’s too much Uncharted, right? Ok, wrong again. Shifting to Chloe and Nadine served as a nice break from Drake’s wisecracks, and there are plenty of setpiece moments that still manage to wow. One extended section of the game allows for more freedom than any area in Uncharted’s past. Lost Legacy’s puzzles are as clever as ever, and the visuals are still second-to-none. I think I might finally, for-real be done with Uncharted at this point, but it was great to have one more satisfying adventure from a fresh perspective.

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9. Splatoon 2

No talking point about Splatoon 2 has been said more than “It’s more Splatoon.” It’s also very accurate. But you know what? Splatoon kicks ass. And the Switch is a lot better than the Wii U. So now more people get to experience it, and I can play it in bed or on the toilet or wherever. Motion control works great with the Pro controller, and also surprisingly well in handheld mode (I expected it to be too distracting). Toss in some new guns, abilities, gear, and the great new Salmon Run mode, and you’ve got a better version of an already great game.

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8. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Your head gets cut off but then they put it on a super body and Hitler pees and pukes and you can kick him to death and you kill like a billion Nazis. It’s a really good game.

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7. Metroid: Samus Returns

The reveal of this game at E3 gave me numerous reasons to be skeptical. They didn’t show it off during the actual Nintendo Direct. It’s on 3DS. It’s made by MercurySteam, and I hated the last time they tried to do a 2.5D version of a classic franchise. Also, I just played through a really great modern remake of Metroid II. As it turns out, none of those things really impacted my enjoyment of the game. Metroid: Samus Returns is a fantastic remake that’s different enough from AM2R but still manages to feel very Metroid. New additions like the parry system and the analog aiming are great, and the navigation is smooth and fun. For those that never played through the Game Boy original due to its technical limitations, It’s awesome to have two solid options for experiencing it with a modern feel.

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6. Destiny 2

I actively disliked Destiny when it came out. I came around on it with The Taken King the next year. By the time Destiny 2 was about to release, I was fully onboard. I bought my wife a TV and a PS4 so we could play together in the living room, and assumed it would be a great co-op experience. I wasn’t wrong. For weeks, we played until the early hours of the morning. It was one of the only games that made us break out the headsets and party up with people for online sessions. We started an active clan and Discord channel that brought plenty of friends together who hadn’t known each other before. It was a really great, social co-op experience unlike any I’d had before with a game. I may not have cared about the story much and I dropped off the game hard after the raid, but that doesn’t detract from the dozens of hours of fun I had shooting aliens with my wife and our friends.

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5. Resident Evil 7

It would have been the least surprising thing in the world if Resident Evil 7 was a trainwreck. Capcom has veered further and further from what made people like Resident Evil ever since the release of 4 over a decade ago. Recent examples like Umbrella Corps and Resident Evil 6 were among the worst games in the entire series. On top of that, they decided to go first-person and VR with this one. At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was some desperate attempt to reinvigorate the series by latching on to recently relevant things like VR and the perspective of P.T.

Somehow, they pulled it all off. Resident Evil 7 is among my top three games in the franchise (along with the original/remake and 4), and it’s also the most fully fleshed-out and effective use of VR I’ve experienced to date. It told a new story without leaning on the more convoluted plot devices from the past. Capcom managed to make 7 feel very much like classic Resident Evil while presenting it from an entirely new perspective. It’s one of the rare times that I’ve started a second playthrough immediately upon finishing a game for the first time. Resident Evil 7 is genuinely scary and delivers in a major way for fans wanting the series to get off the disappointing path it’s been on for so long.

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4. Cuphead

I don’t think any new game reveal has ever given me a “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT I NEED TO PLAY THAT” feeling as quickly as Cuphead. It appeared briefly during an E3 sizzle reel for indie games on Xbox, and it immediately made me forget every other game that was included in the montage. While it was the incredible art style that made the game stick out so much, it wouldn’t be worth much if the gameplay wasn’t up to snuff. I was thrilled to find out that its numerous boss fights were intricate and challenging on top of beautiful. I’d die time after time to a boss, inching closer to the end of the progress bar that would appear between attempts. Eventually, I’d see the “KNOCKOUT!!” text appear on the screen and feel like leaping into the air. Once my heartbeat came down, I’d tell myself that I’d just peek at the design of the next boss and return to the game later. That inevitably led to me repeating the cycle again and again until I had done four or five more bosses beyond my intended stopping point.

Cuphead nails it on every front. It’s not just a gimmicky art style and some tough boss fights. The package is put together beautifully, with every aspect of the game working in tandem to create something truly special.

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3. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

My most-played game of 2017, and the most fun I’ve had with a multiplayer shooter since Call of Duty 4. PUBG initially seemed like some gimmicky Steam trash when Vinny pulled me over to his computer to check it out. After playing it once, I realized that it was much more than that. Even in those earliest of Early Access days, even with all the jank and uninspired visual style, it was clear that there was something there. I was terrible in my early attempts (and I still pretty much am), but there was always a thrill even in the most uneventful of matches. You never know when someone is in the same building as you or has their sniper scope trained on your head. Death comes in an instant with no warning. It can be supremely frustrating on nights in which you loot and loot only to be struck down by someone you didn’t even see. But it’s all worth it thanks to the moments this game can create. Sometimes, those moments are goofy, stupid, and hilarious. At other times, they can be among the most thrilling game experiences I’ve ever had.

Watching the game evolve over the year has been fascinating. It’s eliminated some odd quirks (all cars facing east) and introduced new ways to play and learn (mantling, the kill cam). It rightfully became a worldwide phenomenon. I don’t think we’re anywhere near the end of the PUBG phenomenon, and I can only wonder where it goes from here. It stayed with me for virtually the entire year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues to do that for more to come.

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2. Super Mario Odyssey

2017 is my favorite year of Nintendo since the Super Nintendo. We got the Switch, a launch Zelda game that happened to be pretty good (more on that in a second), and one of the best Mario games ever. Anyone that listens to the podcast knows how much Mario and Zelda mean to me. Super Mario Bros. is the first game that I distinctly remember playing at the age of four, and I’ve been obsessed with the main series ever since (although spin-offs like 3D World are usually fantastic, too!). There’s a certain level of quality that I expect from the main series, and Nintendo hasn’t failed me yet in that regard. Odyssey went above and beyond my high expectations, however.

I played an insane amount of this game in the week before my review went up. If you want to hear about all the ways it made me happy, you should read that for the long version. The short version is that Super Mario Odyssey is exactly what I wanted from a new Mario game in 2017 -- a single-player adventure with sprawling worlds, impeccable controls, tons of personality, great music, and the right amount of meaningful nostalgia.

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1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

If Odyssey gave me exactly what I wanted from a Mario game, Breath of the Wild gave me a Zelda game that I didn’t even know I wanted. Hell, I didn’t even know it was possible that a video game could still make me feel like this as an adult. It’s insane how much they knocked this one out of the park. Much like Nintendo immediately wowed fans out of the gate with the first 3D Zelda, they instantly blew away expectations with their first true open-world Zelda game.

As is the case with my Mario entry, you can read my much longer thoughts on the game in my review. In the text of that review and the podcasts/conversations I’ve had since then, I’ve had to stop myself from calling it my favorite game of all time. Link to the Past has held that title ever since I was a kid, and I don’t want to jump to a statement that bold in the short amount of time since BotW’s release. The fact that I’ve even had to think about that is telling, though. It evoked so many of my memories of Link to the Past, not in terms of gameplay, but in the sense of wonder and discovery that I felt while playing it as a seven year-old. For a game to give me that feeling as a 33 year-old that’s covered video games professionally for thirteen years is unprecedented. I’ve loved plenty of video games in that time and I’ve written plenty of glowing reviews, but Breath of the Wild is simply in a league of its own.

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