For generations, gamers have taken the first few days of the year to pause and recollect all the great things that happened in the last 12 months of gaming.
Everyone here at GPT has been doing just that, but my contribution will break the mould of standard GOTY articles, mainly because I couldn’t think of a large number of games that I really enjoyed this year, probably because it’s getting harder to keep up with the gaming world.
2017 had it all, from a new Nintendo console (that actually met expectations), to a new Zelda and Mario, and some great new chapters of both Resident Evil and Wolfenstein series. Impressive indie games like Cuphead and Hellblade, as well as a “new” game genre (Battle Royale) that took the world by storm through games like PUBG and Fortnite.
Focusing more on my own year in gaming, I believe my key gaming experience was acquiring the Switch and how that changed the way I game.
Having a long commute, I’ve tried to play some mobile games here and there, but the truth is that the mobile market is filled with variations of puzzle and social games, making it hard to find games that are really compelling, for my particular taste. With the Switch, I was able to take advantage of those previously dead times in my day, and that made me grow as a gamer.
And why is that, you so kindly ask?
Simple: Because it’s the first Nintendo system I’ve ever owned, and it’s my first real experience playing both Mario and Zelda games on my own, rather than just my usual "looking over the shoulder" experience.
It’s true that I’ve played a bit of Zelda/Mario in the past, but just a bit here and there. I’ve never gone through those games by myself, so I never really understood what was the big deal about them.
But I do now…
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Full disclosure, I have not finished Zelda yet, since I picked it up later in the year and well, it’s pretty long. But I will, eventually!
That said, this is the first time I have the pleasure of adventuring through Hyrule, and I quickly grasped what the deal is with the Zelda saga.
I mean, this game is so vast and beautifully crafted, using a brushstroke technique that sets it apart from other games just by its look and feel.
I was well aware that the story behind this game was always very well presented, but in my opinion what really elevates this game to a GOTY is the fresh and innovative approach to game design.
I’m not used to playing games like this, so a lot of this looked new to me, but details like starting a fire to create an updraft that will make you fly off from a flat terrain are pretty damn cool. Also, being hit a by lightning during a storm because you’re wandering around with metal gear, can be annoying but is also really clever. Even little details like swimming with the current to save stamina, which is just plain common sense in real life, but I’ve never seen it in other games before. I’m sure that other games might do it, but likely not to this level nor dimension.
It’s still my go-to game for when I have a bit more time and am ready to use my brain a bit, and it’s one of those cases where the hype around it is real and completely justified.
Super Mario Odyssey
Okay, this one I “finished”. I mean, I haven’t collected ALL moons, but I went through the main story and started venturing past that, but I’m nowhere close to completion. But that’s okay, I’m not a completionist and this game has already given me so much!
It’s such a cleverly designed game that makes you feel like a million bucks when you manage to grab a moon that looks just plain impossible to reach. It’s challenging but extremely rewarding, and Mario is an incredible lead, exploring this vivacious and ever-changing collection of worlds that are so unique and different, always with a smile and ready to wear the weirdest clothes (if any). It definitely brightened my daily commutes.
Both Switch games are works of art that made me appreciate their relevance in the gaming world. So many have tried to copy them, but somehow each new iteration still has something new to show us, taking advantage of Nintendo’s latest console and its new features.
It’s also worth mentioning Sonic Mania, a game that made me go back in time to the 1990s since SEGA decided to give us what we wanted. A simple and pure rendition of our favourite blue hedgehog game, heavily inspired by the first Mega Drive versions. I missed playing Sonic since I wasn’t really convinced by the more modern 3D versions, and I have to admit that playing it on a Nintendo console was a bit weird, but hey, we already know who won the SEGA/Nintendo wars, so if you can’t beat them…
Gaming Moments of 2017
Lastly, I’d like to mention 2 games that left a mark on my gaming experiences last year.
The first is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which is generally considered one of the top games this year, mainly due to its original approach to "simple" game modes.
It got my attention back in April. Soon after taking the early access for a spin, almost everyone in GPT also wanted to take a look and slowly… one by one… they all got hooked.
And so came numerous nights where our crew teamed up to play in squads of 2 or 4, always having a crazy highlight to share with our audience. In spite of mainly playing by myself, this was a game that I was drawn to and didn’t disappoint, setting a new standard for the Battle Royale genre.
The second game is LawBreakers. This one gave me and the GPT crew so much joy, even though it was the most short-lived experience of 2017.
Earl says it all in his article, where he describes the game’s appeal and problems, but I’d summarise it by saying that it was the shooter that brought most of us together, a game where we laughed and cried as a team. But as all good things come to an end, this was no exception, since several technical issues and a very, very limited user base forced us to leave it to rest. We had our fun and might go back if it comes out as part of the free PS+ monthly games (please make it so).
It’s a game I value very highly for its mix of the best bits of both Overwatch and Unreal Tournament, giving it a pace and complexity that could rival any of the top FPS, thus making it one of my best gaming moments of 2017.
Want To Play From 2017
There’re some games that came out this year that have a certain je ne sais quoi, that makes me want to give them a go. Some of the easy picks are Resident Evil 7, Wolfenstein 2 and Assassin’s Creed Origins. Even though I’ve never been a Creed fan, I have to admit that this one might be different enough for me to try and forget about any hard feelings I had with the game.
If I manage to get together with some of our guys, I’ll give Cuphead another go, but I won’t do it alone as I’d risk losing my mind.
The odd ones (for my personal taste) would be Fire Pro Wrestling World (never played any of the old ones, and both Dan and Earl have made sure we all knew about this one with their streams and matches with our personalized characters), and What Remains of Edith Finch, cause it’s a Tom kind of game, and we should all play one of those at least once a year.
What am I excited about in 2018?
This is that time where I make promises to be a better person during the new year and share the announced games that I’m excited about.
I'm really looking forward to the new God of War and Monster Hunter World, Red Dead Redemption 2 (even though I haven't played any of the previous ones haha), Vampyr, Spider-Man and A Way Out.
And now the kicker! On GPT’s GOTY 2018, I’ll look back at this list and run through it, checking which ones I loved, the ones I cared less than anticipated, and will shame myself for the ones I couldn’t actually play.
Is it a good idea to start the year punishing myself for the commitments I missed? Not really, but then again I’m fairly certain that I will achieve all my goals (let’s maybe aim for 90%, that’s still pretty decent), and it will be a time of celebration!
Positive thoughts and may you all have a Happy 2018!!!