The best games of 2017, as eclectically selected by our irreverent crew of rebels and stars.
2017 has been a banner year for games. We’ve seen two excellent consoles making the most of a mature generation. We’ve had a whole new console come and knock our socks off. We’ve witnessed new, upstart experiences rise up on their natural home of PC and dominate the conversation. We’ve seen tired franchises dust themselves off and come back with a bang. We’ve seen beautiful, touching stories expressed in ways no other medium could support.
With all this going on it’s been difficult to choose just a couple of games each and say “these were the best of the best”. We’ve done it, though, because we are nothing if not professional – and also once we file this we can pretty much knock off for the holidays.
Please enjoy our excellent and as always 100% objectively correct and inarguable choices below, presented in alphabetical order after much squabbling as to precedence. Any other list you see on this subject which varies even slightly is incorrect. These are officially the games of the year 2017.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
- Ubisoft: PC, PS4, Xbox One
- VG247’s review
It’s the Egyptian setting, with a little bit of Greek thrown in for good measure. I think that’s 90% of what makes Assassin’s Creed Origins the best entry in the series in years. The other 10% is probably Senu the eagle and the way she lands on your hand and you pet her with a tap of the triangle. Attention to detail goes a long way.
There are a lot of minor improvements that compliment the great setting. Combat is better than it has ever been and Origins feels full, but still stripped back of the superfluous nonsense that started the repetitive open world template that has since plagued Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, The Division and Wildlands. While the gameplay and structure has been built with restraint, the world of ancient Egypt has been lavishly adorned like Cleopatra herself.
It’s huge and monumental, a glorious recreation of the New Kingdom and its pioneering civilisation. I still feel that there’s no real need to play Assassin’s Creed Origins, just explore it on camelback, sail the Nile or dig into the dusty pyramids. Games are so often familiar and obvious, but Origins overcomes that by explicitly presenting a truly beautiful and exotic world. — Matt Martin, EIC
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Nintendo: Switch, Wii U
- VG247’s review
There’s always something a little risky about those new console launch games. They always tend to score a little better than they should, likely bumped by the shiny factor and that lovely new console smell. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn’t like that, though. It deserved all those scores. It’s genuinely one of the best games ever made.
Zelda is an incredible attempt to reinvigorate one of gaming’s greatest icons. Here we have the freedom of the original Zelda, elements tested in the fantastic A Link Between Worlds just a few years prior, but crucially a slew of things that are new. Some elements are new to the series, borrowed from open-world successes like Skyrim, while others are all-new in general, Nintendo unafraid to innovate even with such a crucial title.
After putting more than a hundred hours into it I’m still occasionally returning to Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule, and that’s probably the finest compliment I can afford it. It’s one of my favourite games ever. — Alex Donaldson, Features Writer
- PlatinumGames: PC, PS4
- VG247’s review
The beautiful scalability of PlatinumGames action, a creative team led and inspired by the madcap Yoko Taro and free rein from the besotted Square Enix executive team: Nier Automata is a perfect storm that absolutely lives up to the hype.
Jam-packed with clever flourishes, Nier Automata is self-aware and self-reflective in ways that will make you laugh and exclaim, and surprise you even if you’re an old hand at Taro’s tricks. There are moments of emotion so sublime that they stand among gaming’s best, but only really unpack after the second or third time you finish the main scenario; 2B’s gripped fist means one thing the first time you see that cutscene, and something else entirely when you come back with a couple of endings under your belt.
There are so many ideas here, and so many questions asked – about the nature of humanity and memory, the role of religion and free will, life and death and video games – and all of them are woven into the gameplay as tightly as the plot. I could spend the rest of my life playing and thinking about this game and still feel it had something to teach me. Also, the main characters are all hilarious, loveable, multi-faceted and disastrously sexy. I love them all. — Brenna Hillier, Deputy Editor
Night in the Woods
- Infinite Fall: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Night in the Woods stuck with me for more than a few days, creeping to the forefront of my mind on more than one occasion, and causing at least two vivid dreams. There’s more to it than just playing as a college dropout named Mae Borowski returning to her coal-mining home town of Possum Springs – but that would be a spoiler.
When Mae comes home from her failed stint at college, she finds everything has changed; her old pals have grown distant, the days seem “off”, her friend Casey Hartley has gone missing, and there is something lurking in the woods. This is no walking simulator; the fabulous and sometimes hilarious narrative is well matched, and you’ll get get to run, jump, steal things, break stuff, feed rats and play mini-games like band practice.
I’m glad I was able to revel in Mae’s life, no matter how sad it seemed at times, and meet the residents of Possum Springs, and find out what happened to her friend Casey. Between its wonderful script, memorable characters, fun mini-games, delicate handling of mental illness, and superb soundtrack – it more than deserves a place on our Games of the Year list. — Steph Nunneley, Global News Editor
- Team Ninja: PC, PS4
- VG247’s review [PC]
Though it seems like you hear the words “Souls-like” every other week, From Software’s imprint on the entire genre cannot be overstated. But where others set out to replicate Dark Souls’ complex design, only few were brave enough to attempt a revolution.
Nioh is one of those rare instances where something can be familiar yet unlike anything else at the same time. Nioh may have borrowed Dark Souls’ harsh gameplay, but it made it its own with a unique combat system that not only served action gameplay more robustly than the Souls series does, but elevated the game’s stature from a follower to a pioneer. Dark Souls and even Bloodborne’s combat are lacking by comparison.
Nioh’s narrative and presentation may disappoint, but the game’s core mechanics more than make up for it. From Software can boast about its intricate world building and level design, but leave it to Team Ninja to set a new standard in RPG combat. — Sherif Saed, Staff Writer
Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds
- PUBG Corporation: PC, Xbox One
If you had told me in January that one of my games of the year would be a janky, Early Access survival game, I would have laughed hysterically. Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds isn’t just one of the best multiplayer games I have ever played, it’s the one I spent the most time with in a year as crowded and full of GOTY contenders as 2017 has been. But in spite of its bland looks and not-quite-there presentation, PUBG offered an experience no other shooter could.
Every round is a fresh start, a chance to be the hunter, dominating everyone you come across, while managing the risk of someone else doing the same to you. The attachment you get to the journey of starting out with nothing and getting it all on your own is precious. It’s why it feels exhilarating to win and so frustrating to lose, and it’s why PUBG has tremendous replay value.
PUBG’s pace ensures that the tension always rises. The stakes never dwindle, even when the number of potential killers coming after you does. There’s as much enjoyment in keeping your composure as there is in taking what others worked so hard for. You’ll never infer its brilliance from the tacky cover art or uninteresting screenshots, almost as if it’s on purpose. Years from now, when I recount my best moments in multiplayer games, PUBG will be mentioned, likely more than once. — Sherif Saed, Staff Writer
Resident Evil 7
- Capcom: PC, PS4, Xbox One
- VG247’s review
I haven’t been a particularly devoted follower of the Resident Evil series or precious about it, but I know a good horror game when I play one. Capcom’s decision to flip Resident Evil 7 in to first-person has paid off spectacularly, making it feel fresh and bringing the fear right to your face, vile breath and all.
The family of backwards murderers are a fun start, but the real thrill is the way Resident Evil 7 grows from a slow hide-and-seek panic, to enabling you to finally kick doors down with both boots, fire and grenade launchers. Apart from the backtracking in the ship it rarely sags, throwing in odd puzzles, the intimidating and perseverant Molded, and finally going bat-shit with a giant cackling head.
It’s never not fun, hammy, creepy and will make you jump out of your skin at least once per act. It’s a triumph. — Matt Martin, EIC
Super Mario Odyssey
- Nintendo: Switch
- VG247’s review
Where Zelda aims to recreate the feeling of the first game by borrowing only the best elements from the rest of the series, Super Mario Odyssey feels more like something all-new.
The open-ended design of Super Mario 64 is taken to the next level here, with a few objectives swapped for as many as nearly a hundred in any given level – some large, some small, but almost always fun to track down and find. Mario controls better than he ever has in 3D too, with the addition of the cap-based moves all a welcome addition to Mario’s move set.
Super Mario Odyssey is the purest type of video game, the kind that’s an absolute joy and that encourages and properly rewards creativity in every moment. It’s also a treat for Mario fans, full of incredibly satisfying winks and nods to the past. Everybody should play it. — Alex Donaldson, Features Writer
What Remains of Edith Finch
- Giant Sparrow: PC, PS4, Xbox One
- VG247’s review
I am biased towards games that tell self-contained stories, respect my time enough to only take up an evening or a weekend, and which play with virtual space and the unique capacity of the interactive medium to involve you deeply even with stories over which you have no agency. What Remains of Edith Finch ticks all those boxes, while also exploring universal themes of life, death, family and remembrance in ways that struck me to the core.
Exploring the empty, sealed Finch household is voyeuristic and compelling, as every closet contains its metaphorical skeleton and answers only spawn more questions. The length makes it easy to put it all together so that the intricate story threads weave into a detailed family web I came to know better than my own people – which inspired me to address that issue.
As VG247’s official Feelings Haver, I can report that What Remains of Edith Finch caused water to leak violently from my face on multiple occasions, and left me flat on the floor, exhausted and wrung out – despite the too-pat sappy conclusion (a regrettable twist-ending effort). Giant Sparrow’s second effort was well worth the wait, and I am so glad it exists and I experienced it. — Brenna Hillier, Deputy Editor
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
- MachineGames: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Picking up where The New Order left off, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus ramps the crazy up considerably. It goes completely over-the-top sometimes, but that’s what makes it damn fun. You get to meet all sorts of interesting people such as American Resistance fighters Grace Walker, Super Spesh and my personal favorite, that crazy-ass Southern Gentleman Horton Boone. You are able to travel to various cities such as Roswell, New Mexico where you’ll infiltrate Area 52; visit New Orleans; confront your terrible father in Mesquite, Texas; and start the second American Revolution. The best part? It’s a real spoiler, but let’s just say you’ll get to deliver a very satisfying kick to the face of a real S.O.B.
As BJ Blazkowicz, you’ll blast through all these convoluted situations while dealing with inept or just plain evil Nazis such as the main antagonist, Frau Engel. She’s the sadistic Nazi BJ disfigured in The New Order, and who is still pissed at him for killing her lover Bubi. I get the impression she’s more pissed over being secretly attracted to BJ, but I’m not a mind reader.
But there’s more to the Wolfenstein series than just emptying a clip into a Nazi’s face (although that’s damn fun). In The New Colossus, well, there’s plenty to do and shooting evil-doers is just an added plus. I will say this though: BJ has had it rough over the years. If Wolfenstein 3 comes to fruition, I hope at the end of it we see BJ sitting on his front porch, surrounded by grandkids. Poor guy. He deserves it. — Steph Nunneley, Global News Editor
Honourable mentions for VG247’s game of the year awards go to Horizon Zero Dawn, Ruiner and The Wild Eight. Did we miss your favourite game of 2017? Let us know.