11. Hollow Knight
10. NieR: Automata
I have issues with Automata’s bland open world and emphasis on repeated plays but the way Nier uses those repeated plays to expand upon and further the story is something I’ve never seen in a game before. The initial pass through 2B and 9S’s quest to save the earth from alien robots is brief and confusing, but the 2nd pass fills in the gaps while adding a nice twist to the hacknslash/bullet hell/shooter gameplay. Repeated plays of a game typically add flavor like new weapons or costumes but Nier goes the route of showing the player alternate perspectives, culminating in the 3rd pass where almost everything is revealed based on prior context. It’s brilliant. The gameplay is thrilling (who’d expect anything less from the Bayonetta devs) and warps expectations by suddenly shifting the camera to make an open world game a sidescroller, or a hacknslash a bullet hell shooter. Boss battles were varied, the RPG systems are worth learning, the characters are relatable and the soundtrack set the mood for one hell of an experience in 2017.
9. PlayerUnknown's Battlegroundscataloging our experience. Getting a kill, still, is thrilling because 1. Its hard 2. I never got good at it. After many hours with a shooter, that single aspect continues to feel rewarding. The genius of this game is there’s no investment, you’re not establishing a base and gathering resources for a long haul on a server. Having the matches last only so long by pushing the players to hills keeps the game moving and typically culminates in an intense shootout within a very small area. PUBG managed to release a fun new map this year as well, proving this wasn’t a one trick pony.
7. Horizon: Zero Dawn
6. Night in the Woods
5. Metroid: Samus Returns
4. Niohextensive inventory management, but I appreciated the depth of abilities/stats for everything. The levels and enemies were a little repetitive but that didn’t stop me from sinking almost 100 hours in the game - and I’m not done! This game is just damn cool and is packed with plenty of style one would expect from Team Ninja. Nioh is a must play for Souls fans and a sign that there’s plenty of room for innovation within soulslikes.
3. Super Mario Odysseyfun and added more options for exploring the kingdoms. It’s easy to look at Odyssey as a simple collectathon for moons, and it is, but because that simple act of exploring is so fun, it doesn’t matter. The kingdom’s are varied and beautiful, you can change Mario’s outfit and the player is rewarded for continued play after the ‘story’ is over with challenging platforming that I adored. I could have used a teensy bit more challenge overall but that’s a small gripe in an incredible experience. I was smiling the whole game (except for that last challenge holy fuck).
2. Fighting Gamesfallen head over heels for a genre that I assumed held nothing for me - all I needed was a consistent friend with which to compete against and chat about mechanics, almost daily. The variety in styles goes so much deeper than I ever imagined. I had always loved Mortal Kombat for it’s weird universe but this was the first time I stopped and appreciated its unique combat which eventually led me to the fantastic Injustice 2 (actually released this year!). I put time into a Tekken for the first time in my life and realized “oh this is why I liked Soul Calibur back in the day.” A previously impenetrable style of fighter, anime, turned out to possibly be one of my all time favorites with Guilty Gear Xrd. Street Fighter V is wonderful and I don’t understand why everyone hates it (and I don’t care). Marvel vs Capcom is ugly but bonkers. I even attended my first gaming event for the super niche fighting game community in 2017. This genre suddenly means a lot to me and I couldn't be happier.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild is another sign of Nintendo evolving - incorporating modern open world RPG designs while giving it that special Nintendo twist of simple but enticing. BOTW can be boiled down to a single word: freedom. Freedom to carve my own path and eschew the main quest. Freedom to solve shrines and combat however I saw fit with a multitude of weapon types, arrows and powers. Whenever anything happened as a result of the multiple systems at work instead of by my own hand, I cheered. There were plenty of times where I solved a shrine unsure of whether it was the ‘correct’ way or if I had found a way to take advantage of the compounding physics systems. BOTW was my favorite experience this year and hopefully only the first step for a new Nintendo.
Thanks for reading and again thanks so much for the continued support from our listeners! Here's to 2018!