With 2018 just around the corner the Gaming Nexus Staff is taking some time to reflect on the games they played in the last year.
Today we are wrapping up our week of games by talking about our favorite games of 2017. These are the games that really stood up above all of the other games.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - I'm not just saying this is my game of the year because it won that award at the recent Video Game Awards, but this was one of my favorite games that I played this year. I remember hearing prior to launch that the game was going to be more open and not really give you any specific direction as to what to do, similar to the original Legend of Zelda on the NES. However, Breath of the Wild holds your hand even less than that and let's you do literally whatever you wish after the opening area is done. The visuals are amazing to look at and it's just a lot of fun to explore the vast landscape that is Hyrule. Definitely one of my favorite games on the Nintendo Switch and well deserving of it's Game of the Year status.
Super Mario Odyssey - The Nintendo Switch has had a few games this year that have seen me plunk countless hours into. Much like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was an amazing entry into that franchise, Super Mario Odyssey is an amazing entry into the Super Mario series. Over a dozen kingdoms to explore, nearly nine hundred unique moons to find, many regional coins in each kingdom to find and help purchase various "souvenirs" (okay, maybe that one isn't as exciting), and one of the best soundtracks to any Mario game in quite some time. Sure there may be an over-abundance of moons to find and a lot of them are just out in the open, and the game may be a bit on the easy side, but there is just so much to explore and find in the game. It also helps that just throwing Cappy onto everything to see what you can take possession of is entertaining in its own right. This is one I'd definitely recommend to any Switch owner.
Total War: Warhammer II - My game of the year is Total War: Warhammer II. As evidenced by my replay game of the year, I'm a huge fan of the series, and this year was a big Total War year for me. Warhammer II was the first game I bought after building my new gaming PC, and it just really got me excited for what was in store. I think playing so much Rome 2 really made me appreciate Warhammer II as well, as it was very easy for me to make side by side comparisons with what is (in my opinion) the best of the historical Total War games, and the complete revitalization of the series with the fantasy Warhammer universe. It was so cool seeing a new genre applied to one of my favorite formulas, and the fact that it pulled it off is certainly a nice bonus.
Super Mario Odyssey- As much as I loved Zelda Breath of the wild, Mario Odyssey feels like the king retaking his crown. I enjoyed 3D World and the two Galaxy games and...appreciated Sunshine for trying something different, but it doesn't feel like we got a true sequel to Mario 64 until now. I'm annoyed that it took 20 years to get here, but hot damn is this a return to form. The level design is peerless, the platforming is perfectly tuned, and the persistent sense of discovery and exploration is like a sine wave of joy. I hope Nintendo uses Odyssey's engine to make two or three more of these games.
Project Cars 2- For me there is only one Game of the Year,and it is Project Cars 2 for PC. While it is not yet fully up to speed on the very critical issue of AI opponents, they are getting progressively better with each update. PC2 is showing the potential to be a contender to surpass iRacing as the place to be for serious (but just short of obsessive) PC racers to get their competitive fix. Adding a strong VR capability was just more icing on the cake. I, for one, did not renew my iRacing subscription this year despite the Black Friday pricing.
Korix- My Game of the Year this year is undoubtedly Korix, Stellar VR’s fantastic VR real time strategy game. One of my sons moved to California with his mother this summer, and we found that Korix is the tool we use best to stay connected. When playing Korix, we can see each other and chat about our days, all the while sending armies of tanks rolling in to destroy each other’s bases. The game play is a streamlined mixture of RTS and tower defense, and the visuals are simple, yet striking. This is a game that promotes social interaction, and it feels very much like hovering above a futuristic board game, strategizing against my friends. Sometimes it doesn’t take an open world, or realistic gunplay, or explosive special effects. Sometimes it just takes a good solid core of gameplay that sets up the fun, then gets out of the way. I absolutely love it.
Pyre - My first ending to Pyre was filled with heartache. The good kind. Now, months later, my return to Pyre has filled me with the same feeling. It's welcomed me back with open arms in ways that most games wouldn't know how to do. Not that Pyre said, "Welcome back, Randy, we missed you." But Pyre welcomes me back in the way its text-centric pop-ups fill the screen wherever my mouse looks, giving me 10-second reminders of who this person was, where that battle took place, or why we're sitting at the top of the sports charts. What's this bell do again? Who's the lonely soul trapped in that bottle? Ah, I remember now, those little winged creatures keep my Black Wagon moving through this insanely illustrated land filled with brutes and ballers. Freedom from this upside-down prison is all I could think of, until I was given the power to grant freedom to others. Now that's all I want to do. Free all the friends I've made here in the Downside. The game didn't tell me that's my goal. I could stop playing today and my ending would be my ending. But my ending wouldn't feel complete. I have more work to do. And that's Pyre's most clever trick. It inspires something bigger and better within myself. Even if, after so many matches, I still have to give its Space Jam sportsball some extreme side-eye. I don't love its wacky sci-fi game within a game. But the stories it unlocks and the characters it builds is worth every flaming dunk.
Torment: Tides of Numenera - If Pyre welcomed me back with a big hug, Torment dangled me from a cliff with black tentacles. In a good way, I mean. Torment is a game that leaves my head feeling physically full. Its world is so alien, yet the most alien thing about it is when you delve into your own mind. Its trials and tribulations seem, at first, unrecognizable to the human experience, yet they're entirely human. While traveling this bizarre plane of existence, I found a deconstructed story of literal soul searching, parental abandonment, and self-identification amidst accusations of both worthlessness and godhood being hurled at me. I'm not going to lie: It's a lot. And it asks a lot of a player. It may present itself as an isometric RPG, but Torment sharpens its focus on you, the player, until you're left with a sharper image of your own IRL character sheet.
Truth be told, I gamed a fewer number of hours this year than any other in memory, and that all had to do with the birth of my son. Between him actually entering this world and moving my family across an ocean so that he could be closer to his relatives, so much of my time was spent in better ways than in front of many of my usual screens.
There was one screen that did go with me through all these stages and to all these places. And there was one game that I played on that screen more than any other. So my Game of the Year 2017 is going to Fire Emblem Heroes. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I played this game every day except for maybe 2 or 3 occasions. It was the game I’d wake up to in those few minutes before getting out bed after reading the mornings by news. It was the game I marathoned through at the hospital waiting for my wife’s contractions to come back. And it’s a truly excellent game.
It follows the freemium model but does so with great balance. It doles out the loot and rewards at just the right pace that I never felt hindered by not throwing in any money. The game play is basic but fun. New characters trickle out at a pace that always leaves something to hope for. And the rochambeau nature of the gameplay really helps hold back the power creep of the roster. There are enough free characters doled out I feel there still remains no barriers that entry. Simple but fun, and it fits in your pocket, Fire Emblem Heroes.
Wolfenstein II - Let's start with the easier one: Wolfenstein II was the best single player FPS I've played in years. The story was emotional, funny, and well-written. It shakes up the formula that we have become so used to in the past few years and I can't wait for more.
Nier Automata- I don't know how much of Nier Automata I can say without tumbling into faux philosophical buffoonery. It's smart sci-fi with a twist, the gameplay is fluid, and most of all, it makes me think.
And I can't wait for next year.
NieR: Automata - In what has been a monstrous year for gaming on all platforms, I'm going all in with NieR: Automata. It's a game with layers of complexity and speaks to the human condition in ways that have never been more relevant. Yoko Taro tells one of the wildest stories in years, with an ending that is one of the most heart wrenching yet uplifting and satisfying closings to a game I've ever played. I tear up just thinking about it. There's the complex battle system that in draws inspiration from Bayonetta, Ikaruga, and, Geometry Wars? The soundtrack is an absolute standout that has been on repeat for months for me, and I've even committed to buying a Blu-Ray of a live concert performance of the soundtrack, it's that good. NieR: Automata seriously has me questioning if it's my favorite game of all time, has something finally dethroned Chrono Trigger? It comes damn close, but you'll see why in a future end of year article.
Super Mario Odyssey - Distant behind NieR: Automata, but still an absolutely amazing game released in 2017, is Super Mario Odyssey. This game captures a charm that the Mario franchise has been kind of lacking in recent years, and is full of so many good ideas, and executes all of them flawlessly. I consider this to be the standout title for the Switch, easily the best game on the console released this year.
Forza Motorsport 7 - With all of the parts in place now, Forza 7 brings to the table more than any other racing sim - period. It has more cars (and cars everyday people can own) than any other racing sim EVER; easily has more diverse car classes (big rigs, ATVs, limos etc) than any driving sim to date; carries a venerable track list; is easier to pick up and play than any other driving sim; has graphics as good or better than any other racing sim, has a career that has good length and exciting challenges; and the best customization - both engine and graphics - of any car sim. After some 75 hours playing and over 5,500 miles driven, I can tell you that there is no better car driving game out there.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Call me shocked when Wolfenstein: The New Order blew me away. I wasn't expecting much, but I had a ton of fun with that game. MachineGames came back this year with WolfensteinII: The New Colossus and it's as fun, shocking, brutal, and exciting as the previous game. The new adventures of BJ Blazkowicz and his neverending mission to kill all Nazis is a blast to play. Also, the facial animations are pretty incredible as that's one of the big things I noticed. There are a few games that do this right and Wolfenstein II's graphics are spot on amazing in this area. With many FPS games out there, it's easy to get fatigued by the genre, but Wolfenstein II did a hell of job delivering an incredibly fun ride.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.