Favorites, Disappointments and Surprises of Gaming in 2017

2017 saw many great games along with lots of controversy surrounding microtransactions. The Nintendo Switch has become a big hit with exclusive titles that you can take with you anywhere on the go, and EA has been under fire with its Star Wars Battlefront II microtransactions.

2018 is coming, and that means it’s time to look back at our favorite games of 2017. There have been many great games released, including ones that have surprised us. Of course, there are games that have disappointed us, and those will be included as well. In short, a few of us have come together to share our favorite, most disappointing, and surprising games of the year.

Jada Griffin

Favorite – Nier: Automata

In a year where we got both a Legend of Zelda and a Super Mario game, I would never have thought that my Game of the Year choice would have been anything other than one of those two. While Breath of the Wild and Odyssey were easily two of the best Nintendo games that I have ever played, my Game of the Year would have to to go to Nier: Automata.

Nier: Automata features multiple campaigns, each somehow more interesting and overall satisfying than the previous. The combat is intuitive, fast, fluid and is a perfect mixture of challenging and rewarding. It has probably my favorite soundtrack of the entire year with hypnotic lows mixed with upbeat battle sequences that consistently had me humming and singing along. We are given three excellent protagonists, each with their own personality and skill-set that makes them feel completely unique. At the heart of Nier: Automata is a game about a few androids learning about what it’s like to be human, and Platinum Games has captured that essence perfectly.

Most Surprising – Echo

Every once in a while a game comes around that makes me question my decisions about how I play games. Echo, the third-person sci-fi adventure game, feels and plays unlike anything else recently. Echo is indie developer Ultra-Ultra’s first game, and its approach was to make the player ask questions they normally wouldn’t ask. To make things more interesting, the enemies echo your movements, so you’ll have to switch your style to get ahead.

Echo starts out intuitively, and for the most part, is easy to manipulate in the early stages of the game. Later segments though made me pause and take moments to plan out how I would get from point A to B in one piece. The game’s campaign is short, sweet and has a fitting narrative that becomes a tad predictable at times but still manages to make the payoff at the end worth it. The game suffered from a lack of variety but makes up for it with its use of puzzles and evolving difficulty. Echo isn’t a total revolution, but its ability to make me question my actions in the game was enough for it to stick out in 2017.

Most Disappointing – Okami HD

I never thought that one of the most beautiful games ever released would be on the bottom of my 2017 list, but here we are. I remember my first time with Okami during its initial release on the PS2 back in 2006. The colorful airbrushed world made me light up with excitement every time I powered it on. The style and use of calligraphy were unlike anything I had ever seen in a game.

11 years after Okami’s initial release, I came back to this game with the expectation of feeling what I felt all those years ago. And for the first five hours, I did. After that, I slowly began to lose interest in the story of the god Amaterasu and her legend of defeating the evil 8-headed Orochi. While I enjoyed the combat (and it is excellent), it began to feel repetitive. My biggest issue with Okami HD is the garbled sound effects they used for the dialogue and how much narrative that they tried to cram into the game at the end.

While Okami HD is by far not the worst game to release in 2017, its decade-old mechanics and decision choices are just something that I couldn’t get past. I found myself trying to force my self to enjoy it based on the past rather than organically developing any enjoyment.

John Nguyen

Favorite – Assassin’s Creed: Origins

The last time I truly had fun with an Assassin’s Creed game was Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Sure, it felt more like a pirate game, but it was different enough and I felt like a badass as I boarded ships and sailed the open seas. Ubisoft took a year off in 2016, and I think that helped with creating a very exciting experience with Assassin’s Creed: Origins.

I was very worried about the new combat system, but after diving deep into it after a few hours, I appreciated the tactical aspect. (I still miss the simple reversal moves since I felt a master warrior.) Egypt’s Ptolemaic era simply is the perfect setting for an Assassin’s Creed game. The big open world is filled with cities like Memphis and Alexandria, vast deserts, lively oasis, and more. Assassin’s Creed: Origins revitalizes the series with a lush open world filled with adventure. Plus, sliding down the Great Pyramid of Giza is the best thing ever.

Most Surprising – Nier: Automata

Platinum Games is known for making some intense hack-and-slash adventure games like Bayonetta, and with Nier: Automata, they expanded on that by setting the action in an open world filled with interesting characters and one of the best soundtracks ever courtesy of Keiichi Okabe and his studio band, Monaca. Jada has already praised the game for its intuitive combat, and I agree. The way 2B and the other heroes move is addicting and fast.

The story of how androids and machines have taken over the Earth is intriguing, and seeing the world filled with machines feels almost haunting. Nier: Automata is definitely one of Platinum Games best titles, and it’s not hard to see why after plunging yourself into the post-apocalyptic world.

Most Disappointing – Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor gave us a very fun and tight combat system made popular by the Assassin’s Creed and Batman: Arkham series. Watching orcs die by your blade felt very satisfying, and getting to visit the open world of Middle-earth is a dream come true for Lord of the Rings fans, even if it’s just a section of Mordor. Although Middle-earth: Shadow of War gave me that same awesome combat (if it ain’t broke, why fix it?), the story felt dull and the setting, for the most part, was more of the same.

The Nemesis system was a treat in the first game, and here it has been expanded. However, it can get tiring dealing with orc chiefs everytime you encounter one due to the dialogue that breaks the combat flow. And it gets more annoying when you have to deal with three at the same time, each with their own forced intro dialogue, as you’re in the middle of a battle. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad game, but it can get repetitive very fast, especially during the fourth act with its grind.

Mark Pacis

Favorite – Horizon Zero Dawn

Creating a new IP in the video game industry is incredibly hard. It’s even harder for a developer to create an engaging and rich open world that players are eager to discover. Guerrilla Games did just that with Horizon Zero Dawn.

The graphics in this beautiful game is some of the best you’ll see on the PS4, especially when you’re playing in HDR 4K. It isn’t just the graphics, the game also has a compelling storyline and an enjoyable battle system. I’ve never played an open world game where battles never feel repetitive. It’s a perfect blend of everything you want in a video game.

Most Surprising – Xbox One X’s Price Tag

Although the last console generation was dominated by both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, this console generation is being dominated by the PlayStation 4. And it’s not even close. That’s why it’s surprising that the Xbox One X was listed at such a high price tag ($599).

If there’s anything that we learned from the last generation is that price matters. When the PlayStation 3 came out, it came out with a pricey $600 price tag. The much cheaper 360 went off to a blistering start and the PS3 barely recovered when it dropped its price tag. That’s why it’s a surprise when Microsoft announced its price tag. The specs may be better than the PS4 Pro but that’s about it. There are certain features like backward compatibility and UHD player that’s also found on the cheaper Xbox One S. At this point, the Xbox One may never recover.

Most Disappointing: Dead by Daylight

Yes, the game came out in 2016, but it has been getting lots of updates, and it was new to me this year. Dead By Daylight had the opportunity to be a great multiplayer game. It has a great concept where you’re in a horror scenario and you play as either the killer or as one of the survivors. What we got is a clunky and slow game that’s as idiotic as the victims in a slasher film.

The game goes at an incredibly slow pace and it’s by design. The game feels like it’s only half done. The controls are clunky and its responsiveness is slow too. This hot mess is as frustrating a game as you can imagine.

So what was your favorite game of 2017? Your biggest disappointment and most surprising? Comment below!

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