If nothing else, 2017 was a good year for video games. The Switch had an excellent launch, and the PlayStation kept trucking with solid new blockbusters. By no means did I get to play everything I wanted to this year – in fact, I only picked up two big contenders for this list with a couple days left on the calendar – but I thought I’d take a look at the best of the new games I played this year.
Honourable Mention: Overwatch
Overwatch didn’t launch in 2017, but it set a high bar for its genre as it entered its second year. Its structure is a gleaming example the rest of the industry should be following: all of the game’s essential content is available with a single purchase, including future updates like new characters and maps. You don’t need to shell out $5 for each character added every few months or buy expensive expansion packs. Micro-transactions are available for loot boxes, but these are also available as gameplay rewards, and they contain only cosmetic items.
Furthermore, the game is just pure fun. A shooter of this type hasn’t grabbed me so thoroughly before. I keep coming back to Overwatch regularly, and win or lose the experience brings a smile to my face. The characters are charmingly developed, the world is vibrant, and the action is constantly being tweaked and optimized. The sporadic seasonal events bring fresh life. I can’t praise it enough.
Honourable Mention: Super Mario Odyssey
Odyssey doesn’t crack my proper list but I’d feel remiss if I left it off. It’s the follow-up to the Switch’s first year 1-2-punch – with a second piece of killer first-party software, the Switch digs its heels in and makes a stand, declaring that it’s different than its Wii predecessors. It’s the best Mario game in twenty years. It will stand as essential software alongside its 8 and 16-bit ancestors, in a way that Sunshine and Galaxy can’t.
#5 – Metroid: Samus Returns
I’ve been calling for a new Metroid title for a decade and more. It’s been thirteen years since the last 2D Metroid, ten since Metroid Prime 3 rounded out the first-person trilogy, and seven since Other M sullied the franchise name. 2017 saw Samus’s (literal) return, in the form of this remake of a Game Boy relic.
Metroid 2 is an essential story in the series’ lore but the original game is a chore for modern gamers to revisit. The 3DS provides the scope necessary for the game’s vision to be fully realized. You explore SR388 to exterminate the titular metroids as Samus Aran, upgrading her power suit along the way to reach new areas. It’s a familiar setup, but still a fun experience.
Samus Returns is a bit different from others, in that it’s more linear than usual. While you’re required to backtrack in other games, it’s only necessary here if you want more powerups. SR388 is setup as a loop, in essence. Beat one area, unlock the next. I got to the final boss, then ran through the entire world again to grab all the collectibles I couldn’t before.
I have gripes – like the lack of variety in enemies – but really, I can overlook them easily if it means Samus is back in the spotlight.