The year of 2017 was one of the biggest years in gaming for this generation. After an almost barren 2013, a 2014 filled with remasters, an underwhelming 2015 and a 2016 of disappointments, this year saw month after month of awesome games. It’s been sleeper hits in the early months, breakout surprises in the second quarter, exciting releases in the third quarter and total mic drops in the fourth.
That’s why building a best games of the year is a tough order. Eight slots isn’t enough to do justice to a year in which the Nintendo Switch debuted and delivered the goods constantly. It’s not enough to cover some of the awesome “only on PC” experiences that stood out. And it’s certainly not enough to include just about every jaw dropping piece of spectacle on the PlayStation and Xbox.
But still, we try. Here are, to the best of our format, the best games of 2017.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
This haunting fable from the makers of Heavenly Sword and Enslaved defies convention. Hellblade casts players as a mentally troubled protagonist trapped in a folkloric rendition of Hell based on her own fears and trauma. It’s a psychological horror wrought as one of the more uncomfortable experiences of the year, but it’s a must play for anyone who believes in the power of interactive storytelling.
Gravity Rush 2
Doomed to certain obscurity on the PlayStation Vita, nobody expected a sequel to Gravity Rush. We’re lucky then that Sony approved a sequel anyway, which builds on the clever gravity-flipping mechanics with creative quest design and exhilarating action sequences. Gravity Rush 2 also features a thrilling story centered around its immensely likable heroines, Kat and Raven.
Set aboard a space station crawling with goopy, tar-black alien creatures, Prey replicates the unsettling “you are not alone” vibe of classics like System Shock. As Morgan Yu, you try to scavenge and survive while clinging to your humanity, all while resisting the allure of reality-bending alien abilities. As you experiment with weaponry and discover awesome power, you’ll soon discover that in space, no one can hear your enemies scream.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
The most astonishing thing about this PS4 exclusive is that it’s the first time developer Guerrilla Games has ever done an open world role-playing game. A daring foray into unexplored creative territory, it constantly surprises with its ingenuity. As Aloy, you battle a corrupting force infecting robots in the wilderness. Combat has a perfect flow, and the tactics you use to ensnare more challenging foes are constantly satisfying.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
This game continues the legacy of insane Nazi killing sprees of the franchise, while also building upon the compelling alternate world introduced in its predecessor, 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order. It’s like The Man in the High Castle meets Inglorious Basterds. As BJ Blazkowicz, you sneak, shoot and stab your way across an America that’s ruled by Nazis. Killer gunfights and some of the best character writing and voice acting in gaming this year.
NieR: Automata is one of the best hidden gems in a year filled with heavy hitting releases. A lot of that has to do with its twisting and thought-provoking story, focusing on the bleak and embattled journey of its robot protagonists. But it’s also a killer game, like Bayonetta with the safety off, where every slash and parry makes each encounter feel electric.
Resident Evil 7
After the jarring, tone-deaf cacophony that was 2012’s Resident Evil 6, there was almost nowhere to go but up for this long-running horror franchise. Taking its cues from Outlast, Amnesia and other indie horror games, Resident Evil 7 is a masterful execution of first-person immersion and a reminder that fear and revulsion over gore and bombast go a long way in making survival horror unforgettable.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild
It’s often been said that while Nintendo takes a long time to catch up, they also spend that time making things perfect. Nowhere else this year is that more true than in Breath of the Wild, a perfect distillation of pioneering games like Skyrim, Portal, Minecraft and even Dark Souls. It’s astonishingly beautiful, haunting in its melancholy and empowers its players with freedom of exploration and personal expression.
What was the best one for you? Tell us below!