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Look, you can’t be completely surprised by seeing this topic on my blog; it’s kind of typical of this time of year to look back at what was and I actually was asked in the Discord server I help run. So while it might be par for the course to write these sorts of things, my responses might not be expected.
While many of my answers to the question of favorite 2017 games are certainly going to be popular, I’m also not entirely sure I’m following the precise same vein as most others. For example, while I liked Breath of the Wild and Horizon Zero Dawn well enough, neither was a big enough grab for me. Not because they were bad games – far from it – but because I’m just not an open-world single-player RPG guy.
With that said, allow me to recount some of my favorite gaming things of the past twelve months.
Almost immediately my mind leapt to this game, and while it’s not a regular staple of my gaming diet these days, it most assuredly deserves a place in this list for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, the duo pictured above. Marina and Pearl AKA Off the Hook, the MC’s for the matches that play out in-game and the replacement for the previous edition’s Squid Sisters. They had some big shoes to fill, but my reaction and the reaction of a number of others leads me to believe they not only stepped in, they stepped up. I adore Marina with everything I have.
The joy the world of Splatoon 2 brings extends into every aspect of the game itself and once more it manages to do the impossible: show the world how to make competitive multiplayer gaming actually fun. This game does it better than Overwatch, in my opinion, and the modes, weapons, and new gameplay additions like Salmon Run and the single-player campaign round out to make Splatoon 2 the finest online shooter of this or any other year.
Look, I know the entire world is angry at Destiny 2 right now and for pretty good reason. The recent events in the game’s direction are disappointing to say the very least and will become the topic of its own blog post in time. But removing the game from all of that and the underwhelming Curse of Osiris, the release of Destiny 2 was an event that brought me lots of fun.
I’m not claiming this game was a mind-blowing experience but I am claiming that my time spent playing the game up to CoO was well spent. The story was suitably space operatic, the gunplay felt the best it ever has, and the endgame treadmill was grindy but an enjoyable enough one. It was a solid, fun FPS romp and I’m glad I bought in.
Now of course, one might assume that a game that ultimately is “pretty good” shouldn’t be in a best-of-the-year list. That said, I stand by my decision on account of the fact that having fun is justification enough for a game to make an impression and also because it’s my list nyah nyah stick your head in poopie.
While I just wrote about why I think this game is going to fall short of Monster Hunter World’s release, I still maintain that this game’s arrival this year made an impact, scratching the itch that only slapping big critters with impossible weapons can provide.
Even in its earliest stages, Dauntless felt like a game that was going in great places. Combat is the biggest reason for this inclusion; seriously, I can’t gush enough about how the risk vs reward style of fighting feels.
While the progression systems are fine enough, the biggest draw of Dauntless is the sense of mastery over both your weapon and the creatures you face. When you string together a series of brutal blows and instinctively dodge a Behemoth’s attacks, it’s one of the single best sensations in gaming. I just hope that Dauntless doesn’t get utterly smothered by MonHun, because seriously, this is a genuinely good game.
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood
While I’ve since fallen out of favor with Final Fantasy XIV for reasons I’m not sure I can completely put into words, I can’t deny that Stormblood brought a huge amount of enjoyment to my XIV gaming experience beforehand.
This expansion did everything an expansion should do except truly shake things up. It had more story, fun new classes, lovely new areas to experience, and more of the dungeon and raid goodness that MMORPG players could want. Nearly every aspect of this game was pitch-perfect.
Special nod to the game’s dungeons which really felt like a demonstration of the dev team’s mastery of its engine and game systems. And an extra special nod to that bastard Shinryu and his brilliant amount of challenge, which surpassed both Ultima Weapon and King Thorin for best endgame battle.
Guild Wars 2
Yeah, really. The original Guild Wars 2.
Again, this MMO has kind of fallen to the wayside and sits as a shortcut on my desktop waiting for another double-clicking. Still, something about my third (fifth? eleventh?) return to the base game struck a nerve with me and after so many attempts previously, it finally began to click. At least from a gameplay perspective.
Something about the game just made sense. I dunno if it was the class I settled on or the fact that I stopped trying to view it from the typical MMORPG lens, but it was a literal epiphany when I started to dig in and romp around as my big, fluffy, yellow kittyman. It felt great and definitely deserves a personal merit.
Now all I need is to find some people to stick with for in-game adventures and roleplay goodness and Guild Wars 2 could actually become a bit of a new home for me. I’m just not sure those exist. Particularly the RP part.
Diablo 3: Rise of the Necromancer
2017 will stand out to me as a year in which the ARPG made sense and I have Diablo 3 to thank for that. A genre that previously didn’t really enthrall me absolutely locked itself into my head and granted me understanding on why people play these games.
The biggest reason for that is Diablo 3’s Rise of the Necromancer pack, which added the cornball brilliance of the Necromancer class. I adore this campy edgelord bastard so very much; the class tries so hard to be a badass and heightens the universe of Diablo 3 to new levels of hyper-violent cheese.
Does this mean Blizzard didn’t take the game seriously enough? I don’t care, frankly. This is the direction they chose; a spaghetti western dressed in a Halloween costume that used way too much fake blood. And I love every second of it. So much so that I’ve included the ARPG genre into my personal radar.
Super Mario Odyssey
No-friggin-duh, right? But it’s impossible to deny this game. A new Mario game is always something of an event and this year’s entry into the series was not only the perfect Mario game but the perfect platformer.
The watchword of Odyssey is “charm”. Charming characters, charming settings, charming gameplay and charming moments. All backed by an astonishing soundtrack full of variance and brilliance.
There are countless things I can recount about this game that just bring a shit-eating grin to my face. Almost everyone nods to New Donk City and That Festival, but I instantly think of the very last moments of the game which houses the single greatest song in the game’s soundtrack. Even better than Jump Up, Super Star.
Of course, there’s more to this game than that, like the arrival to Shiveria. Or playing fetch with the doggo in the Seaside Kingdom. Or the surprising aesthetic of Bowser’s Castle. Or nearly every single boss fight in the game.
Just typing those moments makes me happy and that’s what gaming should be.