By ItsMagicNeal 0 Comments
After 25 hours of listening to a group of people debate the best games of (the year of our lord) 2017, I figured that the only way to properly recover from such an ordeal was to repeat the process myself. Of course unlike them my list will look a bit different because I didn't get to play every game I might have wanted to, but there is a game on here I haven't played, and I game I played was purposely excluded. So, let's talk about some games and discuss their finer points because games aren't fun unless we turn them into a game, shall we?
Game That Has No Business Being on Anyone's List:
One of, if not my largest, gaming guilty pleasures was Destiny. Over it's 3 year span, I sunk over a thousand hours into the game, bought every expansion, various merchandise, and even got to know a divorced man from Kansas City who I met over LFG. The game was a bit disjointed, had a multitude of issues, but that roughness gave it an admirable bit of character. Watching it shape over time, evolving to add things it always should've had, and take a few missteps was at the least interesting. There was possibility, and it seemed like every expansion was a step towards the potential of what we all thought Destiny could be, with smart refinements on the original package to make it easier to enjoy. In Destiny 2 I see no such possibility.
The core gameplay and content is at it's strongest, however all of the issues in the wrapping and endgame of Destiny 2 have regressed in almost every way imaginable. The heroic strike playlist, an activity that made strikes approachable, repeatable, and an activity that dropped worthwhile loot, were removed at launch. Instead the were replaced with a playlist that dropped nothing of worth, and subsequently re-instated with a paid expansion. Cosmetic items that players might have locked from activities were stripped out, and hidden behind microtransactions and loot boxes, meaning that it was impossible to attach cosmetic items to tasks a player had actually completed. The variety in the crucible was destroyed, with 3v3, 6v6, and free-for-all modes being consolidated into 4v4, and popular editions like Rift (Capture the flag) and Zone Control fell by the wayside. The weapons system was changed to consolidate special and heavy weapons into one slot, and allow players to keep two primary firearms, reducing the feeling of power in any load-out exponentially. And to boot it all off the game has had no problem reintroducing exotic items from the first Destiny, so that players can enjoy re-earning content that was taken from them previously.
If Destiny 1's problem was that it was too ambitious, then Destiny 2's problem is that it lacks ambition. In making things more approachable it lost the variety and depth of it's predecessor, and some of it's charm along with it. It's a tight shooter with well designed activities, but the way those activities work to form a greater progression system, and the loot system that players are supposed to be chasing, leave a lot of things to be desired. It would take a lot of things to fix Destiny 2, and it's certainly not impossible, but I have been left with no faith that it will be the game I might want it to be.
#10 (Game I really should have played)
NieR seems really cool. I played the demo for NieR when it came out and it seemed pretty lame, especially as someone who doesn't really play character action games. But from what I've heard, it seems like something I will enjoy, so I'm going to make a good effort to invest the necessary time into it in 2018.
I nearly didn't finish Night in the Woods. Slow-pacing, meandering, and those out-right annoying dream sequences nearly made me stop playing, but in the end I'm glad I finished it. The game doesn't always merge it's two seemingly unrelated plots, or provide the best conclusion, but it's full of heart, charm, and mystery that were enough to make me finish it. I just wish it would have hooked me sooner then it did.
Cuphead is pretty damn rad. It nails it's aesthetic in every possible way and is a the best "You just have to look at this for 5 seconds" game this year. That being said it's a fairly simple game that is fun and enjoyable, but really just comes down to pattern-recognition and execution. Still, given the game's incredible success I can't wait to see what the creators might be able to do next.
To think that the people behind Killzone would've made a game with this rich of a world is miraculous. It's got a great story with reveals and interesting dynamics, plenty of world to explore, and a strong female lead. Also I think robot dinosaurs fighting future cave-people with bows is pretty fuckin' cool. That being said the game's structure was a bit too Far Cry 3 for my taste, and maybe could have done with less icons on it's map. It's another case of, "I can't wait to see the next one of these"
Wolfenstein II does the best it can for a middle-chapter in a trilogy, but it still leaves some things to be desired. The game talks up the idea that you want to build America into a fighting force, yet during the course of the game you never really get to see people being called into action. Still it challenges a lot of politically relevant ideas and brings on some of the most insane cutscenes a game has ever had, but it's level and encounter design reflect none of that. Hopefully Wolfenstein III can make the improvements it needs to make and wrap this story up somehow.
I have a confession to make: I might have a crush on Supergiant Games. Their art direction, writing, sound design, soundtracks, and genre-blending gameplay are everything that I love in games, and Pyre is no exception. Everything in it's concept in execution display a pure imagination that isn't seen in a ton of other places, and work to create worlds that are some of the most realized out there. It's sad to think that some would pass it up because of it's presentation, because I think that Pyre is a whole lot more then just some text.
Mario is just a whole lot of fun. It's a gleeful journey through a strange world with tight platforming action that has a good amount of depth to it. If the dreariness of 2017 has you down and you need a pick-me-up, then play Super Mario Odyssey. The moons might be a bit repetitive, overly-simple, and constantly sprinkled throughout in a way that might make you tired of them by the end, but finding them still manages to feel satisfying. And it's a cool nostalgia trip, for all you old bogies.
A lot of the arguments as to why PlayerUndergrounds Battleknowns is such a good game have already been made, but let me bring up a few more points. The game is a bit of a sandbox, and allows players to engage with it however they chose, no matter how lame that might actually be. Spending the whole game looting, or hiding in a bathroom are strategies that the game allows players to engage with, just the same as going out in a blaze of glory. It's a game about playing within that sandbox, and not about making it to the end, as the drab winning screen might suggest. The most important thing I hope game developers might extract for it is the want for open-world, online, competitive shooters. I think there's a hell of a lot that Destiny could learn from PUBG.
I have a lot of complaints about Breath of the Wild, mainly about the wrappings around the game. It's lame threat, over-used characters, and wet fart of an ending leave a lot to be desired. I hope Nintendo will soon take the old Zelda lore books and dump them into a trash can so they can create new characters, worlds, and species, because a game that's built around discovery shouldn't really be so predictable. Once a player has opened the whole map they can identify all of the separate domains and who might be there, instead of having to actually go there and find out themselves. Some of the other decisions were a bit frustrating and had some more acceptable solutions, like being able to pick up enemy weapons to fix the durability of your current weapons. Still, the game's open-ended nature is refreshing, there's no sequence of events that has to be followed, and there are things that can be skipped entirely if a player so desires. It's another game with a lot of potential, and maybe needs more then one attempt to realize all of that potential.
#1 Persona 5
There are a lot of things wrong with Persona 5. The game's reliance on anime for comic levity is a bit tiring, since most of that stuff is perverted and homophobic. There are long parts of the game where Morgana keeps telling you to go to sleep. There's really no reason for the game to require you to play it twice in order to see all the confidant stories. The part where you're supposed to feel like you're searching for a target or questioning whether you should go after a target even though the game has told you who the target is is really dumb. Some of the main characters are really one-note and get really tiring towards the end (I'm looking at you Ryuji). But there just aren't other games like Persona 5. A game with a real-life setting that puts youth in power to fight against societal injustice doesn't really exist like it does. That and the incredibly art and sound really take Persona over the edge to make an impact on the player. The feeling of inspiration some got from NieR is what I got from Persona. The ways they improved on Persona 4 are really smart, and having completed this project makes me hope that P Studio can finally move on to create a game with a more fully-realized world, and one that takes less from the bad parts of anime.