As 2017 comes to the end, I am left reflecting on how solid a year it was; for game releases, console launches and platform evolution. We’ve seen the Nintendo Switch rocket come onto the scene to unexpected success, the Xbox One X solidify Microsoft’s place in the market, and Sony continue to hammer home their first-party domination. But what were my favourite games of 2017?
Total War: Warhammer II
Total War has been going for what feels like centuries now, and they’ve always been a bit beyond my grasp. Warhammer 2 manages to deliver the intricate strategy and kingdom management of the renowned franchise in a more accessible package.
The recently-released Mortal Empires campaign is where the game really shines, though: a sprawling, 150-kingdom map upon which you can live out your own Warhammer fantasies. It represents exactly the kind of expansive, bloody warfare the tabletop game has always embodied. The blend of diplomacy, warfare and expansion is a careful balancing act, but never overwhelming.
Super Mario Odyssey
Of course Nintendo would be the only developer to beat themselves to the Game of the Year title. Coming off the back of Breath of the Wild, it was hard to imagine how Mario would also reinvent the open world. Somehow, they pulled it off.
Odyssey is a pitch-perfect platformer, with finely-tuned controls and a joyous, saccharine world that is a constant joy to move through. Every inch of the Switch’s first Mario game feels expertly-crafted. The addition of Cappy not only unlocks a variety of new attack and movement options, but leaves the game wide open to speedrunners. This is a classic platformer.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade is not only a good game, but an important one. Its nuanced depiction of psychosis and PTSD is backed by a gut-wrenchingly perfect performance from Melina Juergens and Ninja Theory’s tried-and-true character action prowess. Part action game, part walking simulator, Senua’s Sacrifice is a thoughtful and personal tale of death, grief and mental health.
Ninja Theory’s dedication to creating a realistic depiction of the problems the game portrays is not only evident in the final product, but in how proud of their work they are. Don’t let this one fly under the radar.
Given that Persona 4 is my favourite game of all time, its sequel had some massive shoes to fill. Fortunately, Persona 5‘s unmatched style and lovable cast of characters carry it to almost the same heights. Kinetic animation and UI design, a high-suspense story of delinquency and redemption, and deep combat systems make this not only a fantastic narrative, but a highly replayable JRPG. It doesn’t quite hit the same notes as its predecessor, but sounds a chord of its own.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
This is the big one. The game that will be talked about for generations. Nintendo took the stagnant and overdone open-world concepts that have become synonymous with triple-A gaming and rebuilt them from the ground up. Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule is boundless and vibrant and alive, combining the classic Zelda combat with an unprecedented level of physics interactions and experimentation. This a world you want to explore, just for the sake of exploring; that it was inspired by the real world only makes it more of an impressive feat.
Nothing quite comes close to Breath of the Wild’s 100+ hours of scale and freedom. It’s a platform-defining, genre-bending adventure that instills a childlike sense of wonder and glee—made all the more impressive by the fact that it was a launch title for the Switch. Nintendo got off to a roaring start, with the best game of 2017 and one of the best of all-time.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (Bluehole/PUBG Corp.)
Subsurface Circular (Bithell Games)
Fast RMX (Shin’en Multimedia)
Golf Story (Sidebar Games)
Prey (Arkane Studios)