What a year it has been, filled with highs, lows and everything in between there’s going to be a lot of reasons to remember 2017 and all the great video games we got to play will definitely be a big part of that. That being said, games also their share of highlights and less favorable moments and that’s what this list is all about, to look at the game that will define the year that was. From the good to the bad, the amazing to the terrible and to all the games that will be remembered as the year on the calendar changes, this list’s all about you.
10 – Cuphead
We’ve already heaped tons of praise on Cuphead this year (it was runner-up for overall Game of the Year after all) but we can’t help but think that the game will be remembered for more than just being one of the most beautiful and creative game’s released this year. In a lot of ways Cuphead speaks to the importance of not doing anything halfway and giving it your all with a concept and idea. Making an interactive video game look and feel like a 1930’s cartoon is no easy task but the development team (and indie team no less) made it work and left us wanting nothing more from this incredible game.
9 – Sonic Mania
When 2017 was still new most of us had a pretty negative impression of Sonic’s recent work. Whether it be games that failed to capture the importance of ‘speed’ to the Blue Blur or gameplay that felt like a broken mess, the past… oh jeez 15 years had not been too kind to Sonic. And then we got Sonic Mania, a game that made us believe that Sonic games could be good again and stand toe to toe with the likes of Mario atop the platforming throne. While Sonic Forces may have tarnished the end of the year for Sonic there’s a palpable amount of hope that the ‘2D’ future of the series is a bright one.
8 – Halo Wars 2
This year will not be remembered as a particularly great one for Microsoft and the Xbox One system. From poor press showings, to cancellations of highly anticipated titles to games that, frankly not a lot people were asking for. Case in point, Halo Wars 2. An excellent real-time strategy game in its own right but not what people were wanting as the next big game in the Halo franchise, let alone one of Microsoft’s most important first party exclusives of the year.
7 – Resident Evil VII: Biohazard
The Resident Evil series had a lot to prove in 2017. The last major game in the franchise was panned by critics and players alike as diverging way too far from the series’ horror roots and more into an action oriented setting. Well Resident Evil VII: Biohazard changed that completely by offering up one of the most truly frightening gaming experiences in a very long time. It’s also particularly noteworthy thanks to a landmark VR mode that might honestly be one of the scariest things I’ve ever played.
6 – Metroid: Samus Returns
Like Sonic, the Metroid series did not have a lot going for it heading into 2017. The most recent game in the series was pretty much universally hated by fans and many would argue that the last ‘good’ Metroid title came out over a decade ago. And then E3 happened. Not only did Nintendo announce that the Switch would be getting a 4th installment in the Metroid Prime series in the future but a new Metroid game was actually coming to the Nintendo 3DS in just a couple of months. Metroid: Samus Returns is aptly named since it signifies a return of one of Nintendo’s biggest stars and one of the most important female protagonists the industry has.
5 – Horizon: Zero Dawn
One the topic of strong female protagonists, 2017 will surely be remembered as a year when women took over the gaming world in a big way and one of the early titles leading this charge was Horizon: Zero Dawn. Not because it tried to overemphasize that its main character was a woman but because she just was a strong, capable person. It’s a sad reality that in our advanced age a strong female heroine is something that needs to be recognized as different and ‘fresh’ when in reality, no matter your gender you are capable of great things. Horizon: Zero Dawn recognizes this and lead the charge for a great year for new role models for girls everywhere.
4 – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Another important topic that is sadly underrepresented in video games is that of mental illness. All too often, those suffering from mental health issues are forced to ‘deal’ with these problems on their own with not a lot of support and even less of a representation in society at large. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice bucks this trend and puts this silent issue right at the forefront of its narrative and by doing so does a lot of good in de-stigmatizing an issue that is often cloaked in darkness.
3 – PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
Usually a video game needs to have actually released in order to make its impact on the industry as a whole. Not so when it comes to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), a game that has, in a very short amount of time found a dedicated player base and worldwide appeal, all while still being in a pre-release state. And the reasons for this success are easy to see as PUBG offers up a fresh, new take on a genre that seemingly stagnated years ago all while catering to the emerging competitive gaming scene at the same time.
2 – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Our 2017 Game of the Year is also notable for being one of the most important video games Nintendo has ever made. It was just a year ago that the Wii U was essentially a dead system with no major holiday releases of its own. The 3DS was chugging along but for all intents and purposes Nintendo’s console business seemed down for the count. Then came March 3rd. The day that the Nintendo Switch released and along side it The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game the essentially on its own, made Nintendo a relevant force in the console space again and got their newest system off to a start that can only be dreamed of.
1 – Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017)
Modern gaming has a lot of tropes and pitfalls when it comes to asking players to pay more after their initial purchase. These can include DLC, expansions and content patches to name a few but in each of those cases you know what you are buying into. And while Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017) did not invent loot boxes it was the game that got the most flack for their inclusion. Essentially having to pay for a random chance at getting the content you want is bad enough, but when that’s paired to one of the most hotly anticipated games of the year (itself tied to the most anticipated film of the year) and you have a recipe for disaster. Gamer’s revolted, the game was review-bombed across the board and calls for EA and Disney to end their partnership reached a fever pitch. If 2017 is remembered for anything it will be the year that gamers said ‘enough!’ and demanded that their dollars and investments be respected.
What games will you associate 2017 with? Let us know in the comment section below!