The Best and Worst Games of 2017 (So Far)
2017 has been a great year for video games thus far. Whereas most years begin with a slow crawl towards major new releases, the first few months of 2017 were jam-packed with incredible titles, from blockbuster new IPs, through to excellent sequels and indie gems. It’s been so good, in fact, that only now are we allowed some respite, with July being a relatively barren month compared to what we’ve experienced from January to June.
Compiling a mid-year “best of” list typically isn’t all that difficult, with there usually having only been a select few games that have truly flirted with greatness, on top of a selection of decent releases that players could nonetheless afford to skip. However, 2017 has so far seen a number of must-play games, sprinkled with a few modern classics and one genre-defining release in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild. Yeah, it’s been a good year for video games.
Regardless of what happens over the course of the next five months — and let’s not forget that we still have Splatoon 2, Super Mario Odyssey, Destiny 2 and many more around the corner — 2017 will still go down as one of the best years of video games ever. From memory, the last calendar year to host so many great releases was 2013, which saw the likes of The Last of Us 2, Grand Theft Auto V,and BioShock Infinite hit store shelves. It’s arguable that by the time we reach December, we’ll have played enough classics over the past 12 months to rival it.
With so many great games having been released this year, it’s inevitable that you may have missed some along the way, or that a few have slipped under your radar. With that being said, we’ve compiled a gallery of the very best games of 2017 so far (along with a handful of the worst for good measure). Take a look below:
One of the best console launch titles ever, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild helped carry the Switch to unexpected heights, providing Nintendo's Wii U successor with a game that delivered well over 100 hours of entertainment. Moving the classic series to an open-world environment for the first time ever, Breath of the Wild combined innovative survival elements with a sprawling Hyrule to explore along with imaginative puzzle Shrines to form the best game of 2017 so far.
A great game with a terrible name, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds defied all expectations by being an actually, genuinely good Battle Royale-inspired game on Steam. Coming from out of nowhere, this third-person survival shooter remains one of the most popular games on Twitch, with its proving so popular that its upcoming release on Xbox One was one of the biggest announcements of Microsoft's E3 2017 presentation.
It felt like we had waited an eternity to play Persona 5, but when it finally arrived it was certainly worth the copious delays. Atlus once again blended high school drama with a supernatural turn-based RPG, delivering the best story of the series thus far filled with mystery, romance and a host of memorable characters and dastardly villains.
Injustice 2 improved upon its predecessor in every way, offering a story that built upon the original's scattershot narrative with a more streamlined plot, a wide roster of characters from across the DC Universe, and exhilarating combat that made it stand among the greatest fighting games released this generation. The new RPG-esque loot system was also a great addition, along with its Multiverse mode that gave an already fantastic game heaps of replayability.
There were doubts that Yakuza 0 would find an audience in the West, though after footage of protagonist Kazuma Kiryu assigning a chicken as his manager went viral, a lot of people jumped on board with Sega's prequel. There is so much to do in Yakuza 0, from singing karaoke through to playing baseball and setting Japanese dance floors alight with your slick dance moves, all topped off with a compelling story filled with twists and turns.
Little Nightmares has the best art direction of any game this year, with this short but captivating stealth platformer's darkly unique visuals causing it to stay in the memory long after its credits roll. Its vague but compelling plot (which we explained here) also help to make it one of the best games of 2017 so far.
Prey may not have sold as much as Bethesda and Arkane Studios would have liked, but it left a lasting impression upon those who did play it. A reimagining of the 2006 FPS of the same name, Prey's unsettling shape-shifting enemies and striking Talos I space station setting made it an underappreciated game from the first half of this year.
"Soulslike" is now more-or-less an official term to describe games that borrow From Software's gruelingly tough ARPG gameplay, but it's typically used for games that are wholly derivative of their source of inspiration. Nioh transcended that descriptor by way of imbuing its Dark Souls-esque difficulty with more complex combat, along with a unique story and setting that separated it from the Souls series' multiple Gothic imitators.
Unfortunately blighted by problems post-launch that helped prevent it from being a truly successful new multiplayer IP, For Honor was still a great concept for a fighting game even if it didn't have the legs to run the full course. Employing an analog-based fighting system that actually worked, For Honor rewarded methodical movements and positioning more than anything else, making it one of the more satisfying and cerebral brawlers around.
The Sexy Brutale is a murder mystery puzzle game that takes place throughout the course of a single day, with the player's time-bending abilities allowing them to rewind the clock and pick up clues that will help them prevent said murders. Like Groundhog Day but with more jazz, The Sexy Brutale is one of 2017's standout indie games.
Sony's biggest new IP of 2017, Horizon Zero Dawn fortunately lived up to the hype with its beautiful setting and varied combat. With players having to stay on their toes in order to take down the mechanized beasts that wander its dangerous wilds, Horizon surpassed many of its open-world peers by virtue of offering
In a year which has also included Persona 5's tale of high schoolers being guided through a supernatural parallel dimension by a talking cat, Nier: Automata could still well be the most off-the-wall game of 2017 so far. Seamlessly blending the hack 'n' slash, ARPG and shooter genres into one varied package, Nier: Automata's frenetic combat through gorgeous locales and memorable action sequences make it a blast from start to finish.
After two poor mainline Resident Evil games successfully dragged the series' lineage through the gutter, Capcom returned with Resident Evil 7 and successfully managed to pull it back from the brink. Resident Evil 7's switch to a first-person perspective may have seemed like a step towards modern horror games, but the puzzle-solving and creepy, deceptively large bayou setting were classic Resi. Its exhausting third act may have taken some wind out of its sails, but it was otherwise a great return to form for a series that had lost its way.
A mini-game collection that should have been bundled with the Nintendo Switch at launch, 1-2 Switch offered a paltry smattering of underwhelming games that attempted to showcase the JoyCons' capabilities, but failed to entertain in the process. Compared to Wii Sports and the underrated Nintendo Land, 1-2 Switch was a complete dud.
After years of waiting for a new Mass Effect games, fans of the sci-fi series were left disappointed when BioWare returned with Mass Effect: Andromeda, a half-baked release that appeared to have been rushed to store shelves. With its wonky facial animations attracting so much negative attention that they essentially became a meme, Andromeda's great combat couldn't gloss over its flaws, with its derivative plot, repetitive missions and empty planets making it one of the biggest disappointments of the year so far.
When you think you want a veteran series to return to its old roots, it's worth remembering just how far we've come since the '80s and '90s. Arc System Works failed to do so with Double Dragon IV, a game that looked and played as though it had been made over three decades ago. This repetitive and dull retro throwback served as another reminder why we left previous console generations behind.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands showed a lot of promise at E3 2016, but the end result was decidedly middle-of-the-road. Poor mission variety and a sprawling but lifeless open world combined to create a tedious co-op shooter, filled with boring slogs to objective markers that wear increasingly thin when you realize that many of its objectives are almost exactly the same.
Super Bomberman R wasn't necessarily a bad game, but as one of few launch titles for the Nintendo Switch and seemingly an ideal fit for the handheld/home console hybrid, it was a major disappointment. Bomberman has been overlooked as a series for a while now, and Super Bomberman R's lack of maps, modes and stuff to do is unlikely to see that change.