Top Ten Games of 2017

Top Ten Games of 2017
Luke Hoare Greene
Luke Hoare Greene

23 Jan 2018

I am very late to my Top 10 Games of the year this year, but it’s always better late than never, and we still have an entire year worth of games ahead of us, with plenty of time and good reasons to play some of the best from last year, if you missed them.

As with previous years, this is the ten best games that I played in 2017, not the most popular games or highest selling games. Also, some of the games may not have released in 2017, but I first played them (or am still actively playing them) in 2017, so they qualify for my list.

Let me know what you think of my list, and tell me what your favourite games from 2017 were.

  1. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen

It might seem strange to choose DLC as one of my games of the year, but War of the Chosen is far beyond mere DLC, it’s an old-school expansion, essentially giving a new life to XCOM 2 and practically a whole new campaign.

The new villains are handled well without being too cheesy, are a significant challenge in game and the new allied resistance faction and zombie-like ‘The Lost’ enemies all add new and complex layers to an already amazing game.

 

  1. Stardew Valley

I realise this game first launched in 2016 and I did buy it on my PC then, but it didn’t quite hook me until 2017, when I bought it for my Nintendo Switch, opening up a whole new world of farming.

It’s such a relaxing, peaceful experience with strong feelings of Animal Crossing mixed with The Sims, but it’s still firmly its own game. Bringing this to the Switch was one of the best decisions Nintendo could have made, the ability to relax on the couch while tending to your crops makes Stardew Valley one of the best, and most addictive games I played in 2017.

 

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nintendo really had a stellar year in 2017, with the Switch selling over 10 million units and having a first-party Nintendo title launching in almost every month of the year. Naturally all eyes were on the consoles launch title, BOTW, and the game had a lot of pressure riding on it.

Thankfully it more than delivered, with its vast open world and incredibly complex, yet simple to master game mechanics, you could go anywhere and do almost anything, whether you just wanted to climb mountains, fight bad guys or cook meals, BOTW never forced you in any direction and always gave you ample freedom.

If you wanted to head to fight Gannon, the final boss, straight after starting the game, you could.

Combine all of that with a gorgeous visual style, beautiful sound and the ability to play it anywhere you wanted to and it’s easy to see why in the early days of the Switch, BOTW actually outsold the Switch console itself 2:1.

 

  1. Splatoon 2

Another amazing first-party Switch title, and the closest thing to a competitive shooter the console has, Splatoon 2 has already sold over two million copies in Japan, making it the first console game this decade to do so.

Some criticised the game for being too similar to the original Splatoon, but considering that was on the Wii U and seeing as so many gamers didn’t own a Wii U, for the vast majority of people this isn’t an issue.

The colourful and loud style, cool MiiVerse-like lobby area and most importantly, the insanely fun gameplay all gel together perfectly. The ongoing events Nintendo hold called Splatfests every few weeks also add ongoing value and enjoyment.

 

  1. Foxhole

This may be an outlier for some, and it’s definitely an acquired taste. Foxhole is still in early access and has quite a long way to go until it’s finished and polished, but the core mechanics and potential are there and are already so good.

In Foxhole, you join one of two opposing armies, in a battlefield that resembles WW1 (but it’s never made clear) and instead of controlling the entire army, or even a squad, you are simply one solder – one cog in the vast war machine.

Hundreds of players join each battle, most of which can take two or three days… in real life. This is because in order for the soldiers on the front lines to fight, someone needs to make the weapons, ammo, uniforms and supplies for them to use, but someone also must gather and refine the materials needed for all of them.

This quickly evolves into a massive logistical supply chain involving literally hundreds of real people, meaning the team with the best shooters or soldiers won’t win without a good supply line to back them up.

Foxhole is the closest I’ve come to experience the more realistic side of war in videogames, a lot of red tape and grunt work mixed in with small bursts of action, but it’s a joy to get involved with.

 

  1. South Park: The Fractured but Whole

Taking all of the best bits from the previous South Park game, The Fractured but Whole improves in almost every way, from the deeper RPG elements to the improved turn based combat.
The humour, art style and world of South Park are as close to the TV show as you can expect, so it really is like being in your own episode.. despite the slightly lacking story and somewhat repetitive fetch quests.

 

  1. Overwatch

This was a game on my 2016 list but considering it’s more of an ongoing project for Blizzard rather than a one-and-done release, I’m putting it on for another year.

The core gameplay remains the same tense and fun team battles as when it launched, but the addition of new heroes, new maps and a ton of new cosmetics help to keep Overwatch fresh and relevant, not to mention all of it is free.

The timed events like Halloween and the anniversary Uprising event add periodic new modes to try and the recently launched Overwatch League is helping to bring competitive Overwatch into the eSports scene.

It’s never too late to get into this easily accessible, yet hard to master world, and it really is one of my favourite games in recent years.

 

  1. Sonic Mania

Most people would (rightfully) roll their eyes and scoff at the mere mention of a new Sonic game.
The past decade or more has seen flop after flop for the poor blue guy, and as someone who literally got Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Megadrive as his first ever videogame, it’s been hard to watch.

Thankfully Sonic Mania made Sonic great again, essentially taking the original good 2D Sonic games and giving them a fresh coat of paint, with amazingly detailed animations, improved levels and an amazing soundtrack, Sonic Mania needs to be played by all Sonic fans.

 

  1. Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Although tangled in a fair bit of bad press for microtransactions and an unnecessarily grind-worthy third act, Shadow of War is still a very good game and those slights against it shouldn’t keep you from experiencing it.

The combat is slick and enjoyable, the story is a vast improvement on the previous game and the nemesis system returns in all of its glory.

It’s not exactly reinventing the wheel, but Shadow of War is a brilliant experience for any self-respecting Lord of the Rings fan, but casual or non-fans will still like it. Sure, to get the “true” ending you need to grind for quite a while, but the boss battle and ending you do get before that is essentially all you need, watch the other one on YouTube, or better yet, just ignore it and go back to killing orcs in Middle Earth.

 

  1. Assassin’s Creed Origins

I’ve been really burned out on the Assassins Creed series in the past few years, with each new title simply feeling like a re-skin of the last game, but I’m glad Ubisoft took a year off to create a genuinely good and fresh entry.

Origins has a great setting and time period, what history buff wouldn’t want to explore Egypt while Julius Caesar is trying to get Cleopatra onto the throne so that Egypt will support the Roman Empire?!

The main story isn’t anything ground breaking, but it’s the places you go, the people you meet and the side quests you complete along the way which are the real stars of Origins, along with the detailed and believably living world.

Origins may not win over anyone who never liked the series, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice to simply ignore what is a genuinely brilliant open world adventure.

Luke Hoare Greene - @lhgluke