Game of the Year 2017

It's February, and we're already more than a month removed from the turn of the year. Spending the final days of 2017 and first month of 2018 traveling and not really playing much, outside of a few Switch games which did not elevate themselves onto this list, has given me a stellar pause to reflect on last years' games.

Many have heralded 2017 as one of the best years in video gaming since 2008, 2004 or 1998. While it is true that a clear top 3 of exquisite games rose up to the top of the list, I found it much harder to pick truly exciting games for the bottom half. It may have been in large part due to the fact, that mane renowned games from this year such as Nier and Yakuza were several dozen hour endeavours, for which I simply did not find the time.

And without further babble, here are some recognitions I want to dole out before going into the list itself.

Best Music

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Runners-up: Super Mario Odyssey, Cuphead, Nidhogg II, Wipeout Omega Collection

Best Looking Game

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Runners-up: Forza Motorsport 7, Cuphead, Horizon Zero Dawn

Best Audio Design

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Runners-up: Wolfenstein II, Genital Jousting

Best Multiplayer

PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds

Runners-up: Nidhogg II, Genital Jousting

Best Dumb Fun

Genital Jousting

Most Relaxing game

Everything

Runners-up: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Forza Motorsport 7, Halo Wars 2

Best Old Game

Rez Infinite

Runners-up: Metal Gear Rising, Wipeout Omega Collection

Best Value

PLAYERUNKNOWN's Battlegrounds

Runners-up: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nidhogg II

List items

  • A freedom to explore, discovery, great music, atmosphere, good pacing, an intriguing world, and rock-solid gameplay. These aspects done right are always big hooks for me in games. Breath of the Wild marries all of them so eloquently that I was spellbound from the moment I got out of the starting cave.

    Simply put, I have not played a game which has been honed this close to perfection in what seems like years. It’s hard to believe how Nintendo were able to merge all aspects of a vast open world game such as this together without the seams coming apart or without the world feeling empty or your interactions with it trivial.

    Bravo!

  • Battlegrounds was the first competitive shooter I've really gotten into since the heady days of Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4. The pacing is more akin to a thriller than an all-out action-movie, and the condensed explore-loot-survive loop condensed into a 20 minute game works beautifully. It's the best multiplayer fun I've had in years.

  • I've never been that into Mario-games. Shock, and gasp. I know it's a rare sentiment, but for whatever reason the red-hatted plumber has never pulled strings of nostalgia for me even though I played the NES games as a kid.

    That being said, Super Mario Odyssey was perhaps the first Mario game since those heady NES and SNES days, that really pulled me in and yanked a near constant smile on my face from start to moon. The platforming is expectedly solid, the game looks beautiful even without the Switch caveats and the pacing is much more forgiving than with previous 3D Mario titles. Plus, you can romance lady goombas with your big goomba tower and that's pretty silly.

  • Horizon was a beautiful, intense and intriguing game which I almost forgot about by the end of the year. I had so much fun exploring the world and story of Horizon, that I was able to forgive some problems with the repetitive quest structure and mediocre NPC dialogue. A very solid game all around, but not something I expect us all to talk about in a couple of years.

  • Everything is truly one of those things that is better experienced than explained or praised. I fully understand that floating around between states of existence listening to Alan Watts lectures is not immediately appealing to everyone. However, I have found that when showing the game to friends, they all enter the same mode of inquisitive trance as I did after the initial giggles and confusion. Even after months of release, it's the game I find myself booting up if I've had a really stressful day at work or if I just want to re-contextualise my life.

  • I was really excited for Wolfenstein II. Outside of some Battlegrounds games, no other game made me vocalize my excitement and physically jump up like Wolfenstein II did. On the other hand, few games I played this year got me as frustrated as the combat in Wolfenstein II did. While the core combat is exciting and solid, the difficulty is too often tuned to require perfection from the player and having to constantly click around for new ammo and health is just laborious. I really hope that Machine Games are able to fix some of these issues in the third instalment and double down on taking the story to even more personal and ridiculous directions.

  • Cuphead is a beautiful, fun, and exciting game that hates me. I've never been great at side scrolling shooters or platformers to begin with, and the tuned-up difficulty of Cuphead just nails that point in even more. Cuphead is the only game on this list which I haven't finished, but I still had heaps of fun cursing the game by myself or with friends in co-op sessions tinted with beer and Romanian moonshine.

  • Forza Motorsport 7 is the worst Forza game since Forza Motorsport 5. Perhaps even worse, when taken into account the slightly more magnanimous view one should perhaps have for a launch title like five.

    The menus, initial progression structure, music, multiplayer lobbies and DLC offerings are all much worse than in the previous instalments. There are glaring problems with loot-crate incentives and the game is still rather buggy. I really can't understand how Turn 10 could have taken such a huge misstep after the all-around solid Forza 6.

    However, even after all the serious or not so serious issues, Forza 7 is still the best playing Forza game, and as such in my opinion the best playing driving game around. The cars look and sound better than ever before, the physics are even more tuned and being able to run the game at more than 60fps on the PC just makes it all flow very nicely.

  • While lacking the beautiful simplicity and speed of Nidhogg, Nidhogg II changes up the formula in some fun ways. Being able to strategize around which weapon your opponent will get next and having fights between knives and bows is a lot of fun. The divisive art style has grown on me and the music is even better than in the first game.

  • I really liked the first three or four hours of Prey. When the systems, story, gameplay and the space station itself still feel fresh, Prey is a very enjoyable game to lose yourself into. However, the game doesn't offer much if anything new after those first few hours and even the end feels hollow. With some little more engaging combat, better integration of the story and more interesting plot twists, this could have been something special.