DAR Games: The 5 Best Games Of 2017

By @Peagle05

We're about a week away from the end of the year and 2017 has not been a disappointment in the slightest when it comes to video games, and here I'll be giving you my 5 favorite games of the year ending with my personal Game of the Year.

5. Assassin's Creed: Origins

-I'll be the first to tell you, I was NOT anticipating this game at all. I kept up with it because that's what I do, but I had no intention of even THINKING about buying it. Ubisoft had all but destroyed my confidence in the series. Despite a slight return to form in the excellent Black Flag, I had a serious hesitance about going back because I figured one good game out of the last 4 or so just wasn't enough to seriously revisit the series. After all, I only ended up with Black Flag because of a sale and a dry period after clearing my backlog at the time. I'm saying all of this to say that it took a sale on PSN and 100 bucks given to me by my Uncle to make me buy Origins...and I couldn't be any happier that I did. I was aware of the more expansive open-world in this game but figured the map would be cluttered with the usual crap and the side-quests would give me little to no incentive to explore the world. WRONG AGAIN. Ubisoft did an excellent job of not only cleaning up the map interface but making the side-quests worth the time, with not only great gameplay but great writing as it feels like these side-quests flesh out the protagonist, Bayek. Now the one thing I have to give Ubi props for here is giving us the most compelling AC character since Ezio. Bayek is wonderfully acted and written, his characterization makes me WANT to do the side-quests and in turn, learn more about him.

Of course, this is Assassin's Creed and what would this game be without its movement system and combat? The locomotion in the game is tweaked slightly to avoid a good amount of the series' legacy issues when it comes to traversal but the real star here is the combat. In past AC games, if you found yourself in a 1 on 5 fight, it was really just a series of five 1 on 1 fights like you would see in the movies. Not here. Movement is key, blocking is important, and prioritizing targets in a group setting is a must. On top of all of that is a RPG-like leveling system that will see you grinding a bit just so you can handle some of the tougher enemies. All in all, it appears that Ubisoft was listening and right near the end of the year, gave us a great entry in what should have been an all-time great franchise. A pleasant and welcome surprise, and the number 5 entry in my list.

4. Destiny 2

-Believe it or not, I am a fairly anti-social gamer. I'll play online occasionally, even throw on the headset from time to time. For the most part though? I like to play alone. For Destiny 2, however, I was ready to break out of that and jump head first into group based co-op and some PvP play. I loved the first game and while I recognized its flaws, I saw great potential in what Bungie had created and was anticipating this one. When the time came, and my digital copy had downloaded, I sat in party chat with some friends and watched as Bungie reminded them of some of the accomplishments that they had achieved in D1 with others and it was that moment that had me chomping at the bit to get going. As we met up day after day for 3-4 hours at a time, finding our way through the game's Leviathan Raid, it all clicked for me. The coordination it took and the communication necessary with your five other teammates stuck out the most for me and I began to actually enjoy playing with other people.

All of this is a testament to Bungie's ability to craft intelligent and meaningful objectives in what is essentially a First-Person Shooter. Bungie listened to the criticisms of the first game and gave us a more fleshed out story and better endgame content. And of course we know Bungie knows how to code and program gunplay as the sound and feel of these guns is unmatched in video games. The controls are tight as usual, but the real star of the game is the aforementioned Leviathan Raid. With 3 puzzle-solving rooms leading to a 4th with the boss, Calus, this raid is a true test of coordination and your fireteam's skill. Timing is crucial in every room and the feeling you get when you successfully complete a room is amazing. It truly feels earned and the last room after beating Calus is one of the coolest post-boss fight reveals I've seen in a long time. While Bungie is still getting some flack from gamers about the endgame content in D2 (I don’t know why, there’s way more to do than in D1), I see no issue with it only a couple months from release. There is still so much more they can do with the game and I look forward to seeing what else I can get into with my fireteam.

3. Super Mario Odyssey

The Nintendo Switch released this year and has blown UP. It's consistently one of the top selling consoles every month and that was before Nintendo released this atomic bomb in October. The latest in the classic series featuring Nintendo's mascot, Odyssey finds them playing with the Mario formula a bit and giving gamers far more expansive worlds to play through. More than that, Mario's hat is the new hook this time around. Possessed by a spirit named Cappy, the hat Mario is so known for can now be thrown to give him an extra boost or possess an enemy and use their abilities. And in true Nintendo fashion, when they introduce a new mechanic, they leave no stone unturned. You can possess just about anything in the game world, including a sleeping T-Rex in one level. Of course the story is standard Mario fare, Bowser has kidnapped Peach and he's planning to marry her on the Moon. To say any more about how the story plays out would give away some of the awesome gameplay moments but I will say this: Odyssey contains two of the best end-game sequences in Mario game ever and they must be seen to be believed.

Super Mario Odyssey is without a doubt a top entry in the series and I would go as far as to say it's the best in the series. The strangest thing about the game is, it's really just so well executed level design and mechanic wise that it takes that title. It is truly something I can't explain but it just has to be played to understand. There is so much to do after the main game is over that it all asks to be explored and with that, comes the expansion of your skills in the game navigating the world. It's an amazing experience and it solidifies Nintendo approach to software.

2. Horizon: Zero Dawn

This game would be my unquestioned number 1 if it had released in a different year. Guerrilla Games, known for their Killzone FPS series, gave us an undisputed classic open-world third-person adventure game. The world is set in a post-apocalyptic environment that sees humankind brought back to almost caveman like times. The twist here is that the world is populated by animal like machines. These dangerous, wild robots attack on sight and are all over the place. Their attack patterns are aggressive and vicious, I absolutely had to be on my game at all times. The protagonist, Aloy, is outcast from her adopted tribe due to her past that even she knows nothing about. The story leading up to the reveal of her lineage, the reason for her treatment and her eventual rise as a leader of her people is amazing. With every new development, I wanted to continue her story just to get her the answers she deserved. That is a testament to the excellent writing and voice acting throughout the game. Aloy's weapon of choice is a bow and arrow with multiple arrow types and traps made specifically to hunt and take down these machines. With an expansive crafting and loot system, I very rarely found myself out of ammo. Only in the toughest of fights did I find myself scrambling for more materials.

Even more impressive is the real-time crafting system. In mid fight, I can replenish fire arrows, to continue exploiting a weakness in my enemy. The trick is to pick and choose the spots in which to re-up so that an enemy can't tear me up with an attack. Graphically speaking, this is one of the best looking games of this console generation and I'd have to think it looks even more amazing running on the PS4 Pro, as the environments look alive and the sound design in the game is incredibly detailed. This is a game that needs to be experienced by anyone that owns a PS4. As I said, ANY other year and I'm picking this number 1 with no hesitation at all. It just happened to fall in the same year as this absolute beast...


1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

For me, there is no other choice. The Nintendo Switch's flagship launch title, BotW is literally EVERYTHING a Zelda fan could have possibly wanted out of a next-gen Zelda game. I just never thought Nintendo would do it and damn sure not in the way they did it. For years, gamers have asked for an open-world Zelda. The series has the lore for it, it has the cast of characters, the enemies, the environments. This series was made for open-world gameplay. But what Nintendo did was go above and beyond the call of duty and give us what was essentially Zelda and Skyrim mashed together and it was EXACTLY what the series needed to be if it was going open-world. They tossed out years and years of previous formula to give the game the necessary room to grow. As much as I love the series, it has become formulaic over the years. Three intro dungeons to start, a story beat that starts the game proper, 7-8 main dungeons in which lies an item important to that dungeon that may or may not be used again. I mean think about it, how many items are truly important to the series? Sword, Shield, Bow and Arrow, Hookshot. EVERYTHING else is basically superfluous and interchangeable depending on the game. But in BotW, every item matters, be it to cook or to attack. Hell, the game can be beat without ever even seeing the Master Sword or Hylian Shield. And dungeons? They are by and large replaced by the many shrines in the game which are basically self contained puzzles similar to what would be found in a classic Zelda dungeon.

Nintendo flipped the entire series on its head and it was better for it. Now every item means something, even that random stick on the ground. That stick could be the difference between life and death when I'm down to that and all my other weapons have broken. Yes, durability matters...with everything. And yes, death is ever present. This is not the Zelda that gamers have become used to over the years. Death is a certainty and I couldn’t love it any more if I tried. Survival is necessary here, frozen environments will kill Link if he is not properly dressed or if there hasn't been any food cooked to offset the effects of the cold. Finding hearts in the grass to pull off a last second save is a thing of the past, cooking is a necessity when looking to regain health, meaning learning what can be cooked with what means the difference between getting back 5 hearts and getting back 10 hearts plus a damage boost. And when it comes to the world itself? Nintendo outdid itself tremendously. Weather plays a huge part. Get stuck in a lightning storm with metal weapons equipped and watch Link die in a flash of lightening and fire. See a rock on a cliff and wonder if it can be launched into the distance with Link on top of it? Use the tablet like Sheikah Slate to freeze the rock in time and smack it around, jump on top before the timer expires and enjoy the ride. Nintendo has created this game with the mindset of “If I think I can do it, I should be able to do it” and it has resulted in some of the most creative open-world gameplay in quite some time. Look up videos of the game on YouTube and see how many people are doing crazy things in the game that don't actually seem all that crazy. Nintendo has in a way created one of the most realistic games ever. A game that is almost entirely free from “video game logic” and BotW benefits greatly from it. There's already confirmation of a new Zelda game in development as Nintendo tends to start work on the next game immediately after releasing one. I can say for sure though, that Breath of the Wild has given me more than enough to do until then. For me, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is without a doubt THE Game of the Year and possibly of this generation.



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