With 2017 come and gone, we Fanatics have been truly blessed with another fantastic year of gaming. Dare I say, one of the best ones in recent years? With so many titles to choose from, it was hard to narrow down a list of just five titles. 2017 could have easily had a top 10 list. AAA titles, loot boxes, in-game transactions and lots of drama, 2017 will be a memorable one for many reasons. Now, I will give you my top 5 games of last year.
5. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
I know I am starting off with a very conversational title. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG, has spent almost the whole year in Early Access. It was not until the end of December that it went live with its 1.0 launch. I even debated on our very own podcast how it should not be eligible for any awards, but that won’t keep it off my list. Here is why.
To start, I have logged in so many hours on PUBG that I can hardly believe it myself. It has been a very long time since I personally have done something like that. This is due to its fast-action, looting simulating, and team-based gameplay. Being thrown into a match with 90 others in a battle to the death is just so fun. The key aspect that keeps me coming back to the game is the squad feature. Teaming up with 3 other friends, working together to reach that famed Chicken Dinner. Mmm. That will never get old. I have always longed for a game that really made me and my team work together. Finding the where shots came from, coordinating attacks on other squads, and just having a blast together on game night.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds delivers in all those areas despite being such a new game with its persistent bugs. I keep coming back to you PUBG, so making my top 5 was an easy choice.
4. Horizon Zero Dawn
Last year, a key exclusive PlayStation title charted its way onto my list and I am happy to have another exclusive on this year’s: Horizon Zero Dawn. My 2-4 picks are almost interchangeable, but I ultimately had to list them in the order I felt worked best for me.
Horizon Zero Dawn is a fresh game. What I mean by that initially is the setting. Who wouldn’t want to be a bow-wielding badass adventuring the open world with robotic dinosaurs? Even my non-PS4 owning friends wanted to borrow my console just to play this game. With the most stunning console graphics to date, Horizon Zero Dawn is a beautiful masterpiece of a game. Almost flawless, Horizon transported me to a world that was filled with character, music, enemies, and story. A story that kept me asking questions and wanting more, something I find very important. To the developers at Guerilla Games, great job and thank you for Horizon Zero Dawn!
3. Nier: Automata
This is a title that I got into later in 2017. After hearing so much of it from Ben and Tyler through various posts and our podcast, I decided to pick Nier: Automata up. Had you told me that I would be picking up a GOTY title, I would have scoffed in your face. I had Nier all wrong and I am so glad about that.
Nier: Automata is easily the most diverse game on this list. It packs so much into its little universe and then some. A game that has open-world third-person adventuring, platforming, top-down shooting, puzzle-solving and more should not work in the way that it does. Yet Yoko Tara changes the game and does just that. Nier makes me feel for the main android characters, the smaller NPCs and even the most basic of robot enemies. They all felt like they wanted to be human and I was so enraptured by them. The world pulled me in with its multiple playthrough gameplay, beautiful music, a mysterious story, enormous bosses, and overall uniqueness.
Nier: Automata sparked that new game experience for me. An experience I will never forget and made me remember why I love video games.
2. Super Mario Odyssey
A little background on me for this title. I normally don’t really get into the Mario games. Yes, I played through Mario 64 like everyone, but I only dabbled in Sunshine and Galaxy a little bit. Mario never really did it for me like it has for others. That all changed with Super Mario Odyssey.
I was sold when Nintendo showed off the trailer at E3. I had to play this game, I had to be Mario controlling a T-Rex, nothing could stop me. Odyssey is the embodiment of the polish that Nintendo gives its first-party titles. Mario’s controls are so fluid and perfect that I almost can’t believe it. Cappy is such a wonderful addition that adds so much to the gameplay. Making me perfect the strangest combos to find the weirdest out of place coins. The platforming and openness are done just right. Giving you, the player, the ultimate choice on how you want to get the next moon or venture off in a strange land. Mario Odyssey does not know what the word linear means. You get dropped into a world, and you are on your own to figure out the rest.
With all that I just stated, Super Mario Odyssey is simply fun. It was a game that I could find myself playing with a smile on my face. From the small humor to the colorful worlds. Worlds that felt so alive and pulled in Mario as part of them. The many objects and characters that you can control through Cappy continually blew me away. What crazy thing was I going to control next? I was going out of my way to have Mario changing clothes to fit the destination he was at. Mario was part of that world and I wanted to feel that.
At its core, Odyssey is so simple, yet it possesses so much depth. The hundreds of moons to gather, accumulating stickers and decorations for your ship, all the wonderfully fun mini-games, the creative platforming and so much more. Super Mario Odyssey was a delightful treat that kept on delivering and brought so much joy to play, making me feel like a kid again.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda franchise is my favorite video game franchise ever. At first, I felt a bit biased having it as my number one pick, but after seeing many of my fellow writers here having in on theirs, that all went away. There is a reason Breath of the Wild has made it on so many GOTY lists, won awards and is continuously mentioned when discussing Game of the Year. Because it is easily the best game of 2017.
Breath of the Wild took The Legend of Zelda in an all-new direction. It only took 4 years to reach that point. This new direction brought a huge open world, stunning graphics, voice acting, and fluid physics. As I mentioned with Mario, Zelda also details that Nintendo polish. This time in the form of exploration. No other video game has made me want to explore every corner of the map, look under every rock, talk to everyone I see and fight everyone I can. There was so much to do that game that I still feel overwhelmed thinking about it. The many shrines to tackle, the countless Korok seeds to find, the bosses to fight, and all the secrets to discover. Hyrule has never been on this scale before, but it makes me feel just how big the universe of Zelda really is.
Breath of the Wild challenged me as a fan and as a gamer. Never would have I thought to encounter a title with such a difficulty increase from a sequel. I was dying left and right just trying to traverse this world. Yet, that is what made it so great. Having the feeling of wanting to do what I can to become stronger. To become better than that giant rock monster that killed me, only to come back for my revenge. It pushed you to get that better armor, to wield a stronger weapon and to reach your goals. So that you can explore this new area without burning to death and experience the new region in the world and just have that “aww” moment. Never will I forget walking out of the cave at the beginning of the game to what was ahead. Breathtaking.
I loved all the creativity Breath of the Wild brought to the table. All the simple but complex shrine puzzles, utilizing various controls and items and giving the player the choice of tackling them. I enjoyed the Mystical Beasts and the journeys required to get to them. Especially the dungeons that each Beast brought, they were just so much fun. Another area is all the various races and their respective cities. From the water-dwelling Zora tribe to the men-hating Gerudos. They all brought such character and individuality that made each place feel fresh and exhilarating. Layer upon layer, Breath of the Wild was brimming with creativity. I mean, what other Zelda title had you playing as Link in a belly dancer outfit?
Like many others, I bought the Switch and Zelda on launch early in 2017. I even took the day off from work to give this title my undivided attention. Not only was I captivated but I spent the next few weeks searching for any free time to play. I could go on and on about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and why it rests as my Game of the Year, but we’d be here awhile. That is not to say it doesn’t have its flaws, but I feel its strengths just push them to the side. This is a video game that will forever change The Legend of Zelda franchise and will push Nintendo to continue to publish even better games. This is an all-new Nintendo, and they are only just beginning.