2017 turned out to be a fine year for video games. At the beginning of the year I thought the year wasn’t going to have much at all but we got a surprising good crop of games. With that though came some duds and we have to talk about those as well.
Let’s look at the games of 2017…
Honorable Mention – PlayerUnkown’s BattleGrounds
This game makes my list despite breaking two of my cardinal rules for being on the list. 1. The game is not officially released and is still in early access. 2. I have not played the game. Even with those factors I wanted to mention the game since it has been so immensely popular. I’ve watched a lot of other people play this game and I see where the draw is. I plan on jumping into it when it comes to the Xbox One platform. The closest game I played is the Fornite Battle Royale that is likely the first of many clones. The game is supposed to get a full release on pc before the end of the year so I’m ok with having it on a 2017 game list.
Dishonorable Mention – Materfall
With Housemarque moving away from arcade shooters Matterfall is a sad end to a glorious run of games. This game fell short for me and I never even finished it. There were too many systems for my feeble mind to comprehend much less master. The graphics and sound were delightful but they didn’t outweigh my frustration with the gameplay and unforgiving checkpoints.
Hot Mess – Star Wars: Battlefront II
For the vast majority of the year I was certain Mass Effect: Andromeda had a lock on this. Then Battlefront II gets released and the world gets an even bigger disaster from EA. How EA had two disasters of this magnitude in the same year still confounds me. The saga isn’t even over yet which makes it even more astounding. It should have been a simple formula to make this game a success. They needed two things: 1. Add a campaign, 2. Clean up the multiplayer system. Both of these actually made the game worse than the original. The fact that the campaign was short isn’t as big of deal as the fact that it was bad. The loot and card systems in the multiplayer are just atrocious and unfair. The controversy got the microtransactions turned off but EA will be turning them back on as soon as they can justifiably do so. The longer standing problem is the attention and ire the entire situation may have brought upon the industry. If countries do declare loot boxes to be gambling, which some have, and decide it must be regulated as such look for a huge change in how video games are monetized.
What A Let Down – Destiny 2
When I think of this game I think to myself “what could have been?”. Having played hundreds of hours of the original I just wanted Destiny 2 to be more of original Destiny with a few improvements. Maybe it’s me but much like Battlefront 2, Destiny 2 failed two key things: 1. Improve the story, 2. Improve the reward system. Bungie made the story longer and told it better but it still wasn’t a good story. It didn’t really tell much about the universe and by the end of it I probably understood less than when I began it. Then there is the reward system and the fact that they actually added different currencies rather than reducing the number from the original game. Add to that we find out that they were metering XP gain. I dropped off playing this game a few weeks after it released and I make no plans to return to it even with the DLC releasing soon.
Sigh…. Mass Effect: Andromeda
Again, what could have been. With the Shepard narrative over and the series going to a different part of the galaxy the slate was clear for Mass Effect: Andromeda to do great things. What we ended up with was a broken game with an incomplete story. It took too long to get interesting, made wild jumps at times, and ended awkwardly with too many loose ends. Said loose end may have been left that way for DLC but we’ll never get that since the series has been put on “hiatus” by Bioware. The game wasn’t as bad as it was panned for and it makes me sad that there will be no Mass Effect for years to come, if ever.
Good Times – Nex Machina
It was fun but short game that you could jump in and out of and have a good time with. I played through it several times and enjoyed each run through.
Longest Title – Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy The Telltale Series
Much like the movies it has great characters and an amazing sound track. Unlike the movies the narrative from this game is completely separate and handles some events and characters completely differently. That made it a bit hard to swallow but it mostly held up on its own.
More than a Side Story – Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Naughty Dog may be done with Uncharted but if somebody else wants to do more of this I’m interested in it. This spin-off with two of the female characters was true to the Uncharted charm but also brought its own. There could be more in this series and I sincerely hope there is.
A Sequel with No Equal – South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Every time this game got delayed I worried. Much like The Stick of Truth, The Fractured But Whole had numerous development issues and delays. Then again, just like its predecessor this game turned out to be a gem. It was a fan service in many ways but never leaned on it too hard. The entire game was a blast to play and I’m not sure I want another sequel but I wasn’t sure I wanted this one.
Almost Number One – NieR Automata
A game that wasn’t even on my radar until well after its release made a strong case to be my game of the year for 2017. The environment is not the most impressive you’ll see but it adds to the overall feel of the game. The ground doesn’t look very good and some of the character models are simplistic but the style it is all done in makes it work. The depth of the story and the strings that it pulls make the game something special. The characters draw you in and you’ll want to learn everything you can about them. What keeps the game at my secondary spot is the story and combat. As beautiful and moving as the story is at points it can be hard to follow. Multiple play-throughs help but there is always the sense that I don’t quite understand everything in the game. The combat was the biggest issue I had with the game. Almost immediately I dumbed it down to the easiest level because it was frustrating to not be able to advance in a game that I was playing purely for the story. Even after getting seven of the endings(ABCGHTW if you’re curious) I still think about going back to see more.
The Very Best of 2017 – Horizon Zero Dawn
Not only is this the best game I played this year it may likely be one of the best I’ve ever played. The environment is rich and alive everywhere you go. I spent hours exploring even taking the time to walk to points between missions rather than fast travel just so I could spend more time in the game. I won’t claim it is perfect though, there were a few boss fights that I may have approached wrong but they were frustrating just the same. Those few times did not hinder my adoration of this game due to its story and character. At first I didn’t care for Aloy but as they matured her character through the story I was hooked. If I can spare the time, I want to do game+ play through just so I can do it all over again.
That is it, no more games. Ever. Just kidding. With the year winding down I’m probably done playing any more releases from this year. Yakuza 0 was high on my list but I just don’t have enough interest in it to want to play it despite all the good things I hear about. Life is Strange: Before the Storm and Batman: The Enemy Within are on my radar but I’ll wait for all the episodes to be out before I play either of them.
Looking at my list and the order I’ve placed all these games I must admit I’m a bit surprised. Normally I go for shooters but they don’t dominate my list this year. In fact, the shooters were some of the biggest disappointments this year.
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A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.