DualShockers’ Game of the Year 2017 Countdown: Noah’s Top 10
In the leadup to DualShockers' Game of the Year Awards, Staff Writer Noah Buttner shares his personal top 10 games for 2017.
As 2017 comes to a close, DualShockers and our staff are reflecting on this year’s batch of games for our official Game of the Year awards. In the lead up to the New Year’s Day reveal, each member of the staff will give their personal top 10 games they played this year.
This year was one of the most challenging years for me as a gamer simply because there was so much to play, and not nearly enough time. I did get in an ungodly amount of hours — a number which I would rather not disclose to friends or loved ones — but a big reason I was able to get so many hours it was because of this new device called the Nintendo Switch.
Looking back, I realize that Nintendo dominated a lot of my playtime, but there were some other memorable titles that stuck out to me as well. While it’s difficult to narrow down a list of 10 of my personal favorite games for 2017, it’s especially important to look back at how these games have become pillars in the industry, because they have some of the most important lessons that the industry can learn from going into the new year. I hope you enjoy my top 10 list, and I hope you got to spend as much time with these games this year as I did, and more.
10. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
If you ask around DualShockers, everyone will tell you that I’ve been the biggest opponent to this experience being regarded as a game, and especially as a Game of the Year contender. There has been a frightful shift in recent years towards the Early Access model, and I’m afraid that it puts developers’ salaries before gameplay and content. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, for example, could have remained in early-access ad infinitum and people would still have paid their $30 entrance fee for a game that did not pretend to be a finished product.
That is, however, still the case for PUBG on Xbox One. That Game Preview version is nothing more than a half-baked attempt at getting a console exclusive in the holiday season. Now, millions of players have handed over their money and are met with a version of a game that is so unreliable in its presentation that you cannot reasonably expect a game to go off without a hitch. On PC, the game runs like a dream in comparison.
As someone who played the original DayZ mod for ARMA II, I’m happy that the same heart-racing, adrenaline-pacing action has been compressed into manageable 40-minute-or-so sessions. Now that the PC version has officially left Early Access, I can, in good conscience, list it as one of my top ten games of the year.
Check out DualShockers’ PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds review.
9. Assassin’s Creed: Origins
Assassin’s Creed: Origins‘ biggest draw for me was its meaningful exploration, and more specifically, how combat evolved not only within the series, but from city to city. When I started the game, I was worried that much of the assassin-ing would be done in desert towns and camps, but as soon as I stumbled into Alexandria, many more of the game’s combat systems came into play and I found myself playing an almost entirely different game. As it was developed by the same team that created Black Flag, the game does well to reward your travels and exploration. Similarly, by trying out new and interesting skills in the game’s progression system, I was able to create a gameplay style that felt very unique.
Sure, I was originally drawn to the slow-motion bow and arrow approach, but if Skyrim taught me anything, it’s that the stealthiest gameplay can sometimes be the most boring. Having the option to invest talents into a warrior with utility darts felt like a real change of pace for the series, one that I think has revived it. I quarreled with the game’s often dull story, but the scenery and gameplay that Ancient Egypt had to offer won me over in the end and allowed this game to wind up on my list.
Check out DualShockers’ Assassin’s Creed: Origins review.
8. Enter the Gungeon
For me, Enter the Gungeon represents a ridiculously addictive gameplay loop and an even more ridiculous plot. As soon as I saw that the main goal of the game was to get a gun that could kill the past, I was in. And, as with the next game in my top ten list, this game was one I exclusively played with friends. Even though one of us was required to play as the “sidekick” the entire time, the game understood this and it became a source of humor throughout our many lives.
Every gun was either really badass, or really funny, and dodging the bullet-hell that was being fired at me was never too serious thanks to the game’s unique and purposefully reflective characters: a handsome pilot with shopping discounts, a hunter with a crossbow, and a corgi. Moments like when I realized that the “sidekick’s” main weapon was a Nerf gun, or when I shot one too many times while I was in the store, are what makes this game so memorable and one that I will continue to play on the couch with friends into the new year.
7. Moon Hunters
Sure, you may never have heard of Moon Hunters, but as far as couch co-op goes, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better experience on the Switch. The game combines RPG elements with a pick-your-own-adventure style of storytelling and shrouds the whole thing in a beautiful mystery that eggs you onward with three friends by your side. It’s the equivalent to Dungeons & Dragons envisioned as a console roguelike. I played it on Switch, and the quick 40-or-so-minute campaigns were digestible enough to fit in the palm of my hand on a commute, or to be played back-to-back in a basement with the boys and a cold one.
I still don’t think I’ve pieced together the entire lore, and I haven’t unlocked the final playable character, but having three friends roast you for having combined ice and rice for food when you stop to camp for the night may have single-handedly propelled this game into my top ten, but the depth and intrigue of the game’s story and gameplay keep it there.
6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
It’s one of the strongest entries in the series and you can take off the Joy-Con, kick out the stand, and play with your officemates: there’s really not much to say other than that. I understand that the game is not necessarily a new entry in the series as much as it is a polished version for a new console. And once again, the Switch is what helps this game to shine so brightly.
It’s all the new characters, maps, karts, and items that allow me to drift down a course with the utmost entropy. It’s everything I want in a Mario Kart game and it’s one of the greatest games to bring to a party and, in my opinion, it’s one the best racing games to come out of this year.
Check out DualShockers’ Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review.
5. Splatoon 2
With its fast-paced gameplay, lovable art direction, and surprisingly deep metagame, Splatoon 2 is a must-play shooter in 2017. Whether with a Pro Controller on your TV or handheld with motion controls turned on, this game feels so at home on Nintendo’s new console.
Each of the game’s weapons feels niche and defined, and each map even more so. These things, coupled with the fact that the game has received regular content updates at no additional cost, make it one of my year’s top ten. While the campaign can be overlooked, Salmon Run proved to be incredibly difficult at higher difficulty levels and there is nothing like a high-stakes game of Rainmaker to get the ink flowing.
Check out DualShockers’ Splatoon 2 review.
4. Horizon Zero Dawn
I got a PS4 Pro specifically to see what this game could do with improved hardware in 4K, and I was left speechless. Speechless for the better part of an entire week that I binged the game. With a tutorial that introduced the gameplay mechanics just as well as it kicks off the story’s main mystery, and an emotional and generation-defining 30-hour campaign, Horizon Zero Dawn never missed a beat.
Guerrilla Games went beyond the archetypal post-apocalyptic worlds I have come to know and love, and created a universe that has achieved mass fandom both in terms of how the game plays and the incredibly interesting creatures that live within it. They are just as fun to track and hunt as they are to look at. I’ve begun to tire of traditional fetch quests, which the game’s side missions had a lot of, but that can be excused for the breathtaking mystery that unfolds as you move through the game’s chapters.
Check out DualShockers’ Horizon Zero Dawn review.
Cuphead is, without a doubt, one of the greatest artistic expeditions for video games in 2017. StudioMDHR was able to take solid platform-shooting gameplay, an orgiastic score, and some of the most original art design that I’ve ever seen in a game. Sure, it’s heavily inspired by 1930s films like A Trip to the Moon and shows like Tom and Jerry and Betty Boop, but the fact of the matter is that the art team painstakingly drew every frame in that game.
Equally important is the soundtrack that was written by Kristofer Maddigan and company. Both the land and soundscape of the game encourage you to play on, and even when the bosses get tough, or you’ve gotten tired of dying right before the finish line, you realize that there are more fantastic sights and sounds to be seen beyond it, and that is what pushes you forward.
Check out DualShockers’ Cuphead review.
2. Super Mario Odyssey
It’s been a long time since a Mario game has entertained me this much and this often. Sure, Super Mario Galaxy may be superior in some ways but, as with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, when you look around and realize that you’re playing a video game that you could never have believed would be handheld, that’s the moment that you realize what a masterpiece this game is.
Again, I’m not saying it’s got the strongest or most compelling story, but the exuberance that came with discovering each and every Moon in a world on lunch breaks or on planes is something special. There’s some sentimentalism to this one as well.
I can’t count the number of times my partner would steal my Switch just to try and get a few Moons more than me. This juvenile competition combined with wholeheartedly fun mechanics and unique destinations made Super Mario Odyssey my favorite game of the year. To put it simply: I had more fun throwing a hat around than doing anything else this year in gaming, especially when there was a cowboy Shiba there to bring it back to me.
Check out DualShockers’ Super Mario Odyssey review.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
It’s been lauded as one of the greatest games in recent history and for good reason. The unique pairing of a visually enthralling world and a sometimes freakishly realistic physics engine make for a game that can be played in some pretty outrageous ways. Hell, you can even charge straight for the game’s final boss from the moment you awaken from your slumber. BOTW is everything that an RPG should be: memorable, fun, and complex. It doesn’t need a talent-based skill tree to change the way you play.
That’s before you even comprehend that this game is portable. While it’s vast open-world is perfect for longer at-home sessions, I found saving shrines for on-the-go gameplay to be rewarding and easily manageable on any train, cab, or plane ride. Akin to the game’s weapon durability system, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild makes you throw away things you knew about the series and the genre in order to create one of the most incredible gaming experiences to date.
Check out DualShockers’ The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild review.
Check out the other DualShockers’ staff Top 10s and our official Game of the Year Awards:
- December 21: Lou Contaldi, Editor in Chief
- December 22: Ryan Meitzler, Features Editor
- December 23: Giuseppe Nelva, Executive News Editor
- December 24: Michael Ruiz, Staff Writer
- December 25: Tomas Franzese, Staff Writer
- December 26: Tanner Pierce, Staff Writer
- December 27: Azario Lopez, Staff Writer
- December 28: Jordan Boyd, Staff Writer
- December 29: Logan Moore, Staff Writer
- December 30: Noah Buttner, Staff Writer
- December 31: Taylor Lyles, Staff Writer
- January 1: DualShockers Game of the Year 2017 Awards