The good the bad and the brazen
2017 was a massive year for gaming that took us from the dizzying heights of expansive vibrant open worlds like Horizon and Zelda, to the depths of Loot box fueled media frenzies. We saw the disemboweled remnants of beloved studios in Visceral and Bioware Montreal, and we saw the rise of Japanese titles snatching the torch from fumbling western paws. 2017 was both a divisive, and defining year for gaming so here are some its biggest noisemakers.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon launched early in 2017 as a new IP that we knew very little about. European game developer, Guerrilla Games was only really known for Killzone at that point and no one could have prepared themselves for the impact that Zero Dawn had on the gaming community. HZD took what we loved about classic RPG’s like The Witcher 3, and streamlined those elements into a well-polished diamond filled with a world begging to be explored and a story that always leaves you with more questions.
Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds
PUBG needs an honourable mention here. Not only for the sheer speed at which it grew in popularity breaking all kinds of sales records but also for its unique battle royale style PvP which has seemed to ignite numerous copycats trying to capitalise on PUBG’s success. The 100 player last-man-standing survival shooter eased its way to the top of the Steam charts and even winning Best Multiplayer Game at the Game Awards.
Assassins Creed Origins
Towards later end of 2017 Ubisoft released their much anticipated Assassins Creed Origins breathing new life into a franchise otherwise riddled with Assassin fatigue. The game included new RPG elements, a unique and challenging combat system, along with a stunningly rendered landscape of Ancient Egypt. At its core it’s an Assassins Creed game, but with so much more to offer, Origins takes on an identity of its own.
2017 was a massive year for Japanese hardware developer Nintendo. The SNES Classic and Switch consoles topped the hardware sales for 2017 with no signs of slowing down. With its title release Zelda Breath of the Wild winning Game of the Year and the follow-up, Mario Odyssey being nominated for 6 awards, the Switch proved that it was the most loved console of 2017.
Japanese titles have never been better, and 2017 showed us some of the best with the likes of Persona 5 in all its JRPG turn based glory, Nier: Automata with its multi-genre mind bending story, and Nioh, the souls like tactical action adventure RPG. As many of the West’s most anticipated AAA 2017 releases teetered on a knifes edge of predatory tool box mechanics, or rushed production flops, the Japanese market powered on with one ground breaking title after the next.
The Indie Corner
If you were disappointed by the likes of Mass Effect: Andromeda, or Star Wars Battlefront 2, then 2017 had a range of noteworthy indie games to get stuck into. Cuphead brought the 2D rogue platformer back to the forefront with its bizarrely disturbing old school cartoon artwork. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice pulled you down beneath the depths of the Norse underworld with its intricate puzzles, methodical combat all through the lens of mental illness.
Raise Your Glass
I’ve breezed over a lot of the dark side of 2017’s gaming buffet, but there have been no shortage of articles and Reddit posts about loot boxes and manipulative monetization of AAA games, so I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. But with all the hype and disappointment, I hope the industry is learning from its mistakes so that 2018 can be even better.