The gaming year 2017 in review

2017 has been a year where I found myself struggling to play catch-up to all of the new video game releases. Not because I have lacked motivation in playing games, but because 2017 has been filled with so many excellent games releasing month by month that I am too busy playing September's new releases to even begin contemplating October's.

So how does one choose the best games of 2017 in a year where there are multiple titles that would easily be crowned game of the year in any other year but this? Our editors have a diverse array of opinions, and our nominees in each category reflect that. I am just thankful that this year has been as great as it is, as there have been plenty of surprises that no one could have seen coming.

A summary of the past year in video games would not be complete without talking about one of the biggest success stories not only of 2017, but in PC gaming history: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. Launched on Early Access in March, PUBG quickly became one of the hottest games of the year thanks to its simple premise, fast-paced gameplay, and incredible ability to ensure that each match unfolded in increasingly unpredictable ways.

Ask anyone who has played the game what their favorite moment was, and you'll hear tales of desperate crawls through fields of wheat, all-out battles between a dozen players in an apartment block, drifting a car through a hail of gunfire and many more filled with equal parts comedy, action and horror. There is a reason that PUBG has managed to sell over 20 million copies in less than a year, and I still find myself starting it up every couple of days to try and earn another Chicken Dinner.

But beyond the inherent greatness of the gameplay, PUBG is a shining example of how to do an Early Access game. PUBG is set to launch on Dec. 20, meaning that it will have transitioned from beta to full release in just over nine months. Considering that DayZ, Rust, and numerous other titles are still in Early Access despite years of development, what PUBG has accomplished since the beta launched is impressive, and should serve as an example for future Early Access games going forward.

2017 is also notable for me because of two excellent role-playing games that were released six months apart from one another that could not be more different: NieR: Automata and Divinity: Original Sin 2.

NieR: Automata is an unconventional Action RPG that uses multiple playthroughs, fourth-wall breaking gameplay and a story that slowly explores death, self-awareness and the nature of humanity to create a game that is memorable in the way few games are, with an ending that is among the best in the entire medium. By contrast, Divinity: Original Sin 2 creates what is arguably one of the deepest and most intricate RPG's in recent memory, taking what made the original great and adding countless gameplay systems that further your interaction with the extremely well-written world you explore over hundreds of hours.

While these two games helped to make RPG's stand out in 2017, they are not the only ones to make a splash this year. The Surge, Nioh, Pyre, Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, West of Loathing and Torment: Tides of Numenera all managed to stand out from the never-ending glut of games releasing each week, and there will be plenty more to look forward to in 2018.

While there was plenty of good to be found this year, one company stood out for all the wrong reasons: Electronic Arts. If there was a chance to create goodwill and make great games, rest assured that EA could find a way to screw it up.

The year got off to a bad start in March, when it was revealed that Mass Effect: Andromeda looked much worse both graphically and in animations than the original trailers had shown. But that was the tip of the iceberg, as the technical issues were quickly overshadowed by poor writing and quest design that made the game pale in comparison to the original trilogy. Things got worse in October, when EA closed Visceral Studios while they were working on a new Star Wars game. And while reports suggested that the game was not shaping up to be good, the handling of the closure was a disaster for all involved.

But none of that came even close to what would happen when Star Wars Battlefront II launched in November. With plenty of players grumbling about the increasingly popular loot box trend in recent months, EA's decision to tie player progression to loot boxes in Battlefront II ignited a firestorm that continues to burn to this day, with Disney having to get involved to deal with increasingly outraged consumers. Congratulations EA, 2018 surely can't be worse than this.

Preston Dozsa
Contributing Editor