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Games of the Year 2017

While putting together this list, it occurs to me that there are a lot of games I put a lot of time into this year that absolutely did not come out this year, which makes this list a little awkward. This year was still filled with incredible releases, but my list is going to miss quite a few of them. Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are missing because I don't own a Switch, Assassin's Creed Origins, Cuphead, Night in the Woods and Persona 5 were games I just didn't get to this year, and as someone chronically incompetent at fighting games there's no way I'd even get close to Tekken 7 or Injustice 2.

If I could put Rainbow Six Siege and Europa Universalis IV on this list and call it a day I would, but here's my top 10 games that actually released in 2017.

List items

  • Prey is a heartfelt love letter to a kind of game that seems to only exist in fits and starts - the kind of game where you spend most of your time in hacking minigames so you can read more fictional emails. In a way it's more an unofficial System Shock sequel than anything else - and a more worthy successor to the name than Bioshock, if I'm being honest.

    Prey is, above all else, an incredible achievement in interactive world-building. It builds a believable environment full of characters that make you want to learn more about them - and then give you the opportunity to do that as a reward for exploring every nook and cranny of an alien-infested space station. Choices you make feel both meaningful and impactful, the player has access to an incredible array of tools and powers, and the mimic is the most clever enemy in a recent video game.

    Prey is far from a perfect game - certain lategame areas become labyrinthine to the point of being unfun and contain enemies that are sort of just patently unfun to fight against. Plus, the very end left a sort of sour taste in my mouth - an unfortunate end to an otherwise fine narrative. Even considering this flaws, I can't help but feel like it's the game above all others that I'll remember for years to come.

  • A lot's been said about this game already, so I won't rehash it too much - other than to say, once again, that killing Nazis felt especially cathartic this year. Occasional combat mis-steps aside, I felt incredibly invested in The New Colossus' cast of characters, and every twist and turn of the story thrilled me more than the last. If The New Order surprised me with its ability to make me care for BJ, The New Colossus surprised me with Machine Games' ability to use their Nazi shooting game to level damning criticism at the US.

  • I ended up picking this up on a whim and, after initially sort of bouncing off of it, came to completely adore it. Hunting robot dinos was entertaining but I was most surprised by the ability of the game to deliver a narrative that I cared about, and to answer the questions it posed while still teasing the possibility of a sequel - an unfortunately rare quality in video games.

  • It's hard for Supergiant games to avoid this list and Pyre is certainly no exception. Gorgeous art, great music, and delightful characters make this an exceptional game. I even found the magic basketball to be way more interesting than I first thought.

  • This year brought us not one but TWO games featuring lesbians on a corporate space station. What a bounty!

    Rewinding scenes to walk through them in 3D space was more clever than anything in Gone Home, and using sign language to interact with AR is way cooler than whatever the reality ends up being.

  • It's pretty, it's got an Actual Story, it's more Destiny! Though it's an incredible well-crafted package, there are lots of strange tweaks from Destiny 1 that keep it from being higher on my list. While the first DLC was hardly promising, I'm hoping that further updates turn this into something truly great.

  • I was so hesitant to buy this, someone else had to buy it *for* me.

    Then I played 140 hours of it.

    I still think that the hype bubble around PUBG is way too big for what it actually is - it's a fairly shoddily made game that capitalizes on exposing the adrenaline burst of being in a firefight with everything on the line to a more broad player base.

    That being said, I can't deny I had a lot of fun with this game. My friends and I are going to be referencing "dropping spicy on Pochinki" for probably way too long.

  • Hey, remember when I talked about being completely incompetent at fighting games earlier?

    Absolver manages to be a fighting game that I can actually feel good about. It turns a one-button combat game into something I kept coming back to again and again - every fight an opportunity to learn a new move or try out a new combo. Where most fighting games make me feel like a fool floundering about Absolver makes me feel like I'm starring in a martial arts movie every time I wander the wastes or queue up again another player.

  • I didn't expect this to make my top 10 - honestly, it's probably mostly here because of the absence of the titles mentioned above - but Total Warhammer II takes the original game and gives it even more good stuff, including the extremely cool Lizardmen and Skaven factions, as well as numerous quality of life tweaks that make an already great strategy game even better. Battles feel dynamic and interesting, even more so than my experiences with previous Total War games.

    Plus, is the first time playing a Total War game I deliberately activated the slow motion and zoomed in with the UI off - to watch my general (mounted on a t-rex) and a stegodon tear about 100 Skavan to bloody shreds.

  • Though it has far too many flaws to be a truly great sequel to Shadow of War, I found it to be a guilty pleasure. The Nemesis system is still really cool to play with, even if the game doesn't give a ton of reason to do so. The story is still bad (even if Shelob ended up being a touch more interesting than I had anticipated) and the structure of the game makes it feel a little less cohesive than the original (somehow).

    Chain-executing orcs is still pretty fun, though.