It's that time of the year again where some of us write lists and most of us never read them. Wahey!
Unlike in previous years, this is probably the first year where I played very few of the actual 2017 releases. We starting seeing this with Hitman in 2016 (which I played throughout the year), so it seems the life span of games - both independent releases and big budget titles - are only going to increase (the downside being you end up playing fewer games). Bad actors notwithstanding, I think this might be a good thing, but I also have a nightmare vision that we will all end up divided into a handful of camps only playing that game on that platform because said game has so many updates out the ass that it takes up all the hard drive space on said platform.
With that cheerful thought in mind, let’s get to it! In no particular order…
Overwatch For Staying Fresh And Actively Trying To Address Shitty Behavior
[If you’re nosy, here are my Overbuff stats: https://www.overbuff.com/players/pc/dudeglove-1892 ]
Over the course of 2017, Overwatch added three new characters (Orisa, Doomfist and Moira) to its diverse roster that impacted the overall meta of the game and kept things from going stale. There is now a solid highlight system to save your POTGs. Blizzard caved on their promise of saying they’d never do deathmatch, and brought in two really good deathmatch modes (team and free for all). Arcade and the make-your-own-mode Game Browser all got pumped up with new features. D.Va and Mercy got reworked, changing their play styles dramatically. Yes, Lucioball and Mei’s winter and capture the flag events are still garbage, but the four-person PvE events like Uprising and Junkenstein’s Revenge gave me an entertaining shooting gallery to get good with characters I might not otherwise use.
Yet probably most important of all is the fact that Overwatch’s developers are actively taking a stance against toxic behavior by vastly improving the report system (it should be on console now too) and going as far as banning high-profile top tier OW players (if you’re curious, look up names like xQc and Fuey500 to learn more). While I haven’t borne the brunt of the worst, I can definitely say it’s out there. Competitive Seasons 4 through 6 felt bad and there was a sense that the player base was suffering.
I still have issues with their borderline predatory lootbox system, but even after 250 hours, I’m still not done with Overwatch quite yet, and I am super curious as to how well the Overwatch League will do.
DOOM For Just Being Great (Except It’s A Storage Hog And Also Made Me Motion Sick)
Last year’s DOOM is very good. I never touched anything outside the single player campaign and kinda wish it didn’t hog about 66 GB of hard drive space. As a follow up to me giving DOOM best OST last year, I thoroughly recommend watching Mick Gordon’s talk at GDC about it from this year.
The game’s a technical masterpiece on several fronts, but my only complaint is that I had to play it in short sessions as after about 40 minutes of ultraviolence, I legit started to feel motion sick. But everyone should play DOOM. And speaking of OSTs…
Cuphead For Best OST Of A Game I Haven’t Played Yet
I got into the habit of listening to the crap out of game OSTs in recent years without ever touching the games themselves. I’ve said it once before – I’ll say it again: video game music is bananas and every year despite other things sometimes not improving, the music only keeps getting better. A STRONG runner up for this made-up award was Nier: Automata (Platinum Games have an excellent blog post explaining the technical details of how they did the 8-bit transitions), but Cuphead’s big band charm won me over.
If I have to pick a favorite, then it’s Dramatic Fanatic for its use of tap dancing as percussion.
Darksiders For Helping Me Get Over Pneumonia
Darksiders came out in 2010 and somehow a copy was in my Steam library. In December of 2017 I came down with a bacterial infection in my right lung. Darksiders requires next to zero thought to play. Pneumonia completely drains you of almost all your energy. This turned out to be a perfect combination and gave me something to do during coughing fits without having to think too hard.
Darksiders is basically Ocarina of Time, except you get a literal portal gun instead of a mirror shield and I’m shocked Valve or Nintendo haven't sued. Be warned – this is not a recommendation as this was still the time when PC ports were kind of ass. Several times the game straight up hard locked or crashed to desktop. Also, the plot is somewhat terrible and predictable, and the protagonist is unlikeable. All that aside, it’s a good “I am sick and need to not-be-bored but don't want to concentrate” game.
Universal Paperclips For Best Clicker
Did you play Universal Paperclips? Why didn’t you play Universal Paperclips? Stop what you’re doing right now and open this in a browser tab: http://www.decisionproblem.com/paperclips/index2.html
I will not spoil what happens other than to say it goes places.
Nioh for being 2017’s Most Soulsborne title
I am roughly halfway through this game but boy. Plenty of games have used the well-documented Sengoku period as inspiration for a video game setting, but it seems very few thought a supernatural horror Dark Souls-like game based on it would work.
I really enjoy how well this game toes the line between outright camp and the severity of the conflict. Outside of the stamina-based combat, comparing it to Dark Souls is unfair – it feels closer to Resident Evil 4 in parts. Instead of an interconnected world, the game's mission-based and repeatable, so playtime feels snappier. It has a rewarding progression/challenge system based on basically doing anything like no-kill speed runs of levels. Your character is ludicrously customizable both in loadout and appearance. Grinding doesn’t seem to be a factor like Undeadburg of Dark Souls. Bosses aren’t necessarily a chore either, as the Guardian Spirit mechanic is basically a “Fuck this, I just want to keep moving” button. If games like Dark Souls felt too slow or too much in scale, you might enjoy Nioh’s more compact structure.
Crazy Taxi: Gazzilionaire For Most On-The-Nose Writing
Crazy Taxi: Gazzilionaire is not just another clicker – much like Universal Paperclips, it is very much a statement about the world we live in. As someone who’s followed Uber’s (and other tech companies’) various disgusting scandals and rapacious capitalist behavior for the past four years, as well as first hand experience with the utter cluelessness of tech workers, don’t tell me games aren’t capable of social commentary. Here’s just a few samples:
Last, but not least...
XCOM 2: War Of The Chosen For Being 2017’s Dress-up Simulator of the Year
There are many differences between XCOM 2 and the War of the Chosen expansion DLC. The only one you should care about is the Photobooth mode.
Do you remember playing with toys when you were a kid? Y’know, posing things and creating a scene in your mind’s eye and letting your imagination have Batman destroy a Lego town. Remember how fun that was? Did you know that shit's still fun as a so-called adult and that Firaxis basically made that into a video game in 2017?
War of the Chosen is FULL of this. Yes, I know the skill system got overhauled, the new character classes are damn near broken, there’s more plates to spin yadda yadda but would you just look at the posters and fun memes only you find funny that you can make?
That’s all I’ve got for this year, which was lighter than last time. Tune back in again in 2018 when I might have acquired a Switch and you will have a 2000 word screed to read about how Breath of the Wild is just Far Cry 2 and that you should play Far Cry 2 instead.