2017 has been a great year for gaming, even though there haven’t been a ton of games that I would category as quality AAA titles. Regardless of that fact, it has been a great year for gamers. A new Nintendo console released, the Nintendo Switch, and with it a plethora of high-quality games and a consistent software release schedule. Sony has also had their share of excellent exclusives, such as Horizon Zero Dawn, Persona 5, and NieR: Automata. Microsoft has struggled in this respect and the only noteworthy exclusives I can name that they have released this year are Forza 7 and Halo Wars 2, which is not acceptable for such a major publisher and console manufacturer. Unfortunately Microsoft is banking on the Xbox One X, but if there isn’t much to play on it, what’s the point?
There has been something for everyone this year. The holiday season will give gamers even more to be excited about. Battlefront 2 and Call of Duty WWII look especially promising. Bethesda has some great titles coming out in The Evil Within 2 and Wolfenstein II, along with Skyrim and Doom on the Nintendo Switch. That doesn’t even take into account the VR versions of Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Doom, two of which (Skyrim and Doom) which are coming to the PlayStation VR. It’s a great time to be a gamer and while this list will be re-visited at the end of the year, here are the top five games of 2017 up to this point.
5. Destiny 2
Destiny 2 sure is a treat. It is not merely Destiny 1.5 as some have tried to claim. It stands on its own two feet, has a much better campaign than the original, NPCs you actually develop some affection for, and great all around gameplay. The PVP is great, but the PVE is really the pinnacle of what Destiny is about, for me. I’ve fallen in love with the game and while I hope it doesn’t consume my life like the first game did (The Taken King literally had me hooked), there is a chance it will. Strikes are back, Nightfalls are back, and the weapon system has been tweaked to near perfection. One of my main complaints is that shotguns are now power weapons, but considering how powerful they are it was needed for gameplay balance. Regardless, there is so much to do in Destiny 2 and it is easily one of the best games to come out this year.
4. Persona 5
Persona 5 may well be the greatest JRPG to ever be released (although personally I love Xenoblade X). Fans have been waiting years for this game and they were not disappointed. Atlus poured their heart and soul into this game and it truly shows. What’s even more incredible, from my perspective, is that the game utilizes a turn-based combat system. So many people complain about turn-based RPGs, yet they are ready to sing Persona 5 praises. The bottom line though is that the story is superb with twists and turns, the characters are interesting, the dungeons are great, and it’s an utterly satisfying experience.
3. Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn set the tone for the PlayStation 4 this year. Hopes were incredibly high for this epic, and the developers at Guerrilla Games exceeded all expectations and then some. It even went on to be the second best selling PlayStation 4 game year-to-date, only trailing Uncharted 4. This is quite an accomplishment. Sales do not equate with quality though, but Horizon delivered on all fronts. Some like to compare Horizon to Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and although comparisons are valid, they are two different kinds of games. Horizon does have freedom of exploration but the narrative is much deeper. The exploration, puzzles, level of freedom, and game design does make Breath of the Wild superior, but honestly does that even matter? Both are incredible games and deserve recognition as two of the best games to come out this year. I’m really interested to see what they do going forward with the Horizon franchise, as the game did leave things rather open-ended.
2. NieR: Automata
I’ve been told by so many people that I need to play NieR: Automata and it was one of the best games of the year. I finally caved. While it is on Microsoft Windows, it might as well be a PlayStation 4 exclusive. NieR: Automata is an action-RPG which takes place in a dystopian future. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the story is told in a very unique way and is very satisfying. The combat is also a lot of fun and the game is very versatile and incorporates a lot of different genres. It was developed by Platinum Games and published by Square Enix and is by far my favorite Platinum game (Bayonetta included). The story drew me in, the gameplay was a lot of fun, and this is by far one of the best games of 2017.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild really needs no introduction. From a gameplay standpoint it has no rival. While the main narrative is a little lackluster, there are so many great moments with NPCs and if you put the effort necessary into the game, the story actually fleshes itself out. The puzzles are some of the best in the franchise and the conventions of the Zelda franchise, as promised, were turned upside down. I hope the final DLC pack, The Champions’ Ballad, adds more to the story, as it seems that it will. The main dungeons are atypical but they’re a nice change of pace. The world map is enormous and finding shrines and other locations is a puzzle within itself which is actually really rewarding once you find what you’re looking for. The game may be the best of all-time.
While there are a lot more games coming out in 2017, there will be very few that can challenge the ones listed above. From a quality standpoint these games are the best of the best and any one of them can end up as GOTY 2017, although my money is still on Zelda.