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The Legend of Zelda


 

On a personal level, 2017 was probably one of my favorite gaming years in recent memory. Video games became my job this year, but despite the fact that I was forced to play some real stinkers, the games that made my top-five list all reminded me that the medium itself was built on the idea of having fun. That’s not to say I don’t like a challenge, but when the world itself is literally toxic and people are either murdering other people for no good reason or trying to squeeze you for a few bucks they don’t even need, I want my video games—my lovable, stalwart friends—to do the opposite. Ironically, while the biggest controversy this year surrounded the concept of microtransactions and loot boxes, these five games managed to inspire joy and creativity by going back to the classic formula, which is play a game and enjoy.

#5 Publisher: Sidebar Games
Developer: Sidebar Games
Platforms: Switch
Golf Story
Deciding numbers one through four on this list was easy. Number five, on the other hand, was giving me trouble. The first game I bought when I finally got my hands on a Switch was Golf Story, and it was thoroughly enjoyable in every way. The simple yet refined golf mechanics made me nostalgic and the writing made me laugh (no small feat), but those qualities alone didn’t immediately put it over heavy-hitters like Wolfenstein II or Assassin’s Creed Origins. What did rank Golf Story at number five was playing a few rounds of one-on-one with my little brother while we sat in the back of my parents SUV after Thanksgiving break. My brother (who’s twelve years younger than me) and I bonded over games, and those rounds of golf were the most fun and most memorable multiplayer experience I’d had all year.
#4 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: Switch
Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey keeps up with Mario’s tradition of breaking tradition. Every Mario game adds something new to the series and, thus, something new to the platforming genre as a whole, and Odyssey is no exception. Capturing enemies and taking on their abilities is a revelation, and remains so even as I continue to explore Odyssey’s lush, imaginative worlds sixty hours later. My one reservation—before playing the game, mind you—was that the lack of game overs would dilute the Mario experience. What I didn’t realize until I played Odyssey was that game overs are completely irrelevant to a game that functions primarily as a virtual playground, and it sure is a fun playground. Besides, Odyssey saves the challenging platforming for the end game, once you’ve already mastered the game’s best addition, which is the ability to jump off your hat. This simple new jump—which is pretty much just a refined, skill-intensive version of the delay jump that was born from Super Mario Sunshine’s FLUDD backpack—completely changed the way I navigated Mario’s world, and made me reconsider the very act of jumping itself. By the time this jump became second nature, I completely forgot about game overs altogether, and finally gave myself fully to Odyssey’s charms.
#3 Publisher: Studio MDHR
Developer: Studio MDHR
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Cuphead
The only thing I love more than playing video games is watching and making cartoons, so Cuphead was all but destined to win my heart. What I didn’t count on, however, was just how good the gameplay would be. Listen, I know there’s nothing necessarily revolutionary about Cuphead’s gameplay, but I’d be hard-pressed to name another game (other than Super Mario Odyssey) that was more mechanically satisfying than this little 2D platformer. That’s because everything about Cuphead is made with care, whether it’s the frame-by-frame character animation, the boss designs (both visually and gameplay-wise), or even just the wonderful sounds—the pop and whizz of a successful parry, the snappy puttering of Cuphead’s basic attack, or the bonk after taking a hit. Cuphead is visual, aural, and mental candy, and the only game that could kill me over 200 times without making me want to throw my Xbox out the window.
#2 Publisher: Arkane Studios
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Prey
There was one moment very early on in my experience with Prey that made me realize this was a game I would remember forever. I’d spotted a neuromod trapped in a room that was blocked off by a pile of heavy but movable objects. Of course, at that point, I hadn’t upgraded my leverage skill enough to pick up the boxes on my own, but I really wanted that neuromod. That’s when I remembered I had a spare recycler charge. I chucked the recycler charge at the boxes and, lo and behold, those pesky boxes were reduced to usable scrap on the floor, and I was free to loot that room, including picking up that precious neuromod. Prey is one of the only games I’ve played where player agency was so fundamental to the overall experience. This is a game that rewards choice and creativity by obliterating the idea that there could be wrong answers. Whether it’s in how you upgrade your skills, how you traverse the world, or how you decide the fate of Talos I’s survivors (not to mention that of the entire world), Prey constantly rewards players who dare to experiment and think outside the box.
#1 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platforms: Switch
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The genius of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can be summarized in two words: “climb” and “glide.” These two mechanics are Breath of the Wild’s harmonic yin and yang, and despite the fact that Nintendo was pretty late to the party in terms of creating rich open-world experiences, the combination of climbing to a high place and then gliding over to another high place proved that Nintendo and Zelda both had something to add to the genre. That being said, as satisfying as climbing and gliding is, they would amount to nothing if Breath of the Wild’s world wasn’t worth exploring. Thankfully, whether it was stumbling across a hidden shrine and tackling its clever, engaging puzzle or simply finding a beautiful new vista that works as a backdrop for an epic fight against a lynel you had no idea was there, Breath of the Wild felt like an epic adventure through and through. Even after unlocking all the towers and shrines, I more often than not chose to ignore fast-travel in favor of riding across Breath of the Wild’s beautiful, ecologically diverse version of Hyrule—the wind whipping through my hair and the melancholic, nostalgic, and yet ultimately hopeful notes of the score reminding me that this was why I started playing video games in the first place.
Best VR Game that Wasn’t a VR Game Award
Get Even
Get Even might not be the best game, or even a good game, but it was one of the most memorable gaming experiences I had in 2017, due mostly to its evocative sound design and trippy visual segments. These qualities, plus the fact that the main character is practically wearing a VR headset that lets him relive his own (and, sometimes, someone else’s) memories, made me wonder why the publisher didn’t simply make this into a VR experience. Instead, they tried to shoehorn some lackluster, more traditional first-person shooter elements in and posit it as a triple-A game, and missed out on creating the exhilarating example of what developers can do with virtual reality that it should have been.
The “Best Reason to Stick with the Normal DLC Model” Award
Battlefield 1 DLC
In a year when Star Wars Battlefront II traded a normal DLC model for an ultimately disastrous microtransaction system, DICE’s other shooter, Battlefield 1, proved that sometimes it’s better to just stick with the expansion-pack model. The three (of four) expansion packs we’ve gotten so far—They Shall Not Pass, In the Name of the Tsar, and one-half of Turning Tides—have already earned their $60 price tag by more than doubling the amount of maps in the game and giving players more weapons than they can handle, and there’s still a few more months of content to go. When the most vocal minority of the community is trying to convince DICE to abandon the Premium Pass model in favor of post-launch content based on microtransactions, maybe it’s time to stop listening to them and stick with what works.
Best Director Award
Ashraf Ismail, Assassin’s Creed Origins
Ashraf Ismail did what I previously thought impossible this year: he made me care about Assassin’s Creed again. I’d all but given up on the series, but Origins brought me back in full force. It was the first Assassin’s Creed game I actually played to completion since Assassin’s Creed II, and I plan on going back for more. But, in this age of nonstop scrutiny and overexposure (for which we’re partially responsible, after all), Ismail handled the other side of being a game director—that is, the public-facing side—with as much class, transparency, and believable passion as any other director this year, all while making a game with the future of an entire series riding on its shoulders. For the first time in a while, I’m looking forward to the next Assassin’s Creed game. Just maybe stick to taking a year off. That seemed to work for you.
EGM’s Best of 2017 Coverage
We’re taking a look at the best games of 2017 all week, from Christmas day through December 30th. Check back every day for our Top 25 Games of 2017, as well as our personal lists for the games we loved most this year. Check here for everything that’s been posted so far.
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About Michael Goroff

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Michael Goroff has been gaming for almost three decades. He's a lover of all games and systems, but he mostly plays Xbox. That being said, if he's a fanboy, he's a fanboy for the game industry as a whole. Spit white-hot fanboy hate at him, trash talk his Gold II rank on Rocket League, or maybe just send him a cordial hello on Twitter @gogogoroff.

EGM’s Best of 2017: Michael Goroff’s Editor Awards

Mike gives his thoughts on the year in gaming that was 2017

By Michael Goroff | 12/26/2017 09:00 AM PT | Updated 12/26/2017 12:04 PM PT

Features

On a personal level, 2017 was probably one of my favorite gaming years in recent memory. Video games became my job this year, but despite the fact that I was forced to play some real stinkers, the games that made my top-five list all reminded me that the medium itself was built on the idea of having fun. That’s not to say I don’t like a challenge, but when the world itself is literally toxic and people are either murdering other people for no good reason or trying to squeeze you for a few bucks they don’t even need, I want my video games—my lovable, stalwart friends—to do the opposite. Ironically, while the biggest controversy this year surrounded the concept of microtransactions and loot boxes, these five games managed to inspire joy and creativity by going back to the classic formula, which is play a game and enjoy.

#5 Publisher: Sidebar Games
Developer: Sidebar Games
Platforms: Switch
Golf Story
Deciding numbers one through four on this list was easy. Number five, on the other hand, was giving me trouble. The first game I bought when I finally got my hands on a Switch was Golf Story, and it was thoroughly enjoyable in every way. The simple yet refined golf mechanics made me nostalgic and the writing made me laugh (no small feat), but those qualities alone didn’t immediately put it over heavy-hitters like Wolfenstein II or Assassin’s Creed Origins. What did rank Golf Story at number five was playing a few rounds of one-on-one with my little brother while we sat in the back of my parents SUV after Thanksgiving break. My brother (who’s twelve years younger than me) and I bonded over games, and those rounds of golf were the most fun and most memorable multiplayer experience I’d had all year.
#4 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: Switch
Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey keeps up with Mario’s tradition of breaking tradition. Every Mario game adds something new to the series and, thus, something new to the platforming genre as a whole, and Odyssey is no exception. Capturing enemies and taking on their abilities is a revelation, and remains so even as I continue to explore Odyssey’s lush, imaginative worlds sixty hours later. My one reservation—before playing the game, mind you—was that the lack of game overs would dilute the Mario experience. What I didn’t realize until I played Odyssey was that game overs are completely irrelevant to a game that functions primarily as a virtual playground, and it sure is a fun playground. Besides, Odyssey saves the challenging platforming for the end game, once you’ve already mastered the game’s best addition, which is the ability to jump off your hat. This simple new jump—which is pretty much just a refined, skill-intensive version of the delay jump that was born from Super Mario Sunshine’s FLUDD backpack—completely changed the way I navigated Mario’s world, and made me reconsider the very act of jumping itself. By the time this jump became second nature, I completely forgot about game overs altogether, and finally gave myself fully to Odyssey’s charms.
#3 Publisher: Studio MDHR
Developer: Studio MDHR
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Cuphead
The only thing I love more than playing video games is watching and making cartoons, so Cuphead was all but destined to win my heart. What I didn’t count on, however, was just how good the gameplay would be. Listen, I know there’s nothing necessarily revolutionary about Cuphead’s gameplay, but I’d be hard-pressed to name another game (other than Super Mario Odyssey) that was more mechanically satisfying than this little 2D platformer. That’s because everything about Cuphead is made with care, whether it’s the frame-by-frame character animation, the boss designs (both visually and gameplay-wise), or even just the wonderful sounds—the pop and whizz of a successful parry, the snappy puttering of Cuphead’s basic attack, or the bonk after taking a hit. Cuphead is visual, aural, and mental candy, and the only game that could kill me over 200 times without making me want to throw my Xbox out the window.
#2 Publisher: Arkane Studios
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Prey
There was one moment very early on in my experience with Prey that made me realize this was a game I would remember forever. I’d spotted a neuromod trapped in a room that was blocked off by a pile of heavy but movable objects. Of course, at that point, I hadn’t upgraded my leverage skill enough to pick up the boxes on my own, but I really wanted that neuromod. That’s when I remembered I had a spare recycler charge. I chucked the recycler charge at the boxes and, lo and behold, those pesky boxes were reduced to usable scrap on the floor, and I was free to loot that room, including picking up that precious neuromod. Prey is one of the only games I’ve played where player agency was so fundamental to the overall experience. This is a game that rewards choice and creativity by obliterating the idea that there could be wrong answers. Whether it’s in how you upgrade your skills, how you traverse the world, or how you decide the fate of Talos I’s survivors (not to mention that of the entire world), Prey constantly rewards players who dare to experiment and think outside the box.
#1 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platforms: Switch
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The genius of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can be summarized in two words: “climb” and “glide.” These two mechanics are Breath of the Wild’s harmonic yin and yang, and despite the fact that Nintendo was pretty late to the party in terms of creating rich open-world experiences, the combination of climbing to a high place and then gliding over to another high place proved that Nintendo and Zelda both had something to add to the genre. That being said, as satisfying as climbing and gliding is, they would amount to nothing if Breath of the Wild’s world wasn’t worth exploring. Thankfully, whether it was stumbling across a hidden shrine and tackling its clever, engaging puzzle or simply finding a beautiful new vista that works as a backdrop for an epic fight against a lynel you had no idea was there, Breath of the Wild felt like an epic adventure through and through. Even after unlocking all the towers and shrines, I more often than not chose to ignore fast-travel in favor of riding across Breath of the Wild’s beautiful, ecologically diverse version of Hyrule—the wind whipping through my hair and the melancholic, nostalgic, and yet ultimately hopeful notes of the score reminding me that this was why I started playing video games in the first place.
Best VR Game that Wasn’t a VR Game Award
Get Even
Get Even might not be the best game, or even a good game, but it was one of the most memorable gaming experiences I had in 2017, due mostly to its evocative sound design and trippy visual segments. These qualities, plus the fact that the main character is practically wearing a VR headset that lets him relive his own (and, sometimes, someone else’s) memories, made me wonder why the publisher didn’t simply make this into a VR experience. Instead, they tried to shoehorn some lackluster, more traditional first-person shooter elements in and posit it as a triple-A game, and missed out on creating the exhilarating example of what developers can do with virtual reality that it should have been.
The “Best Reason to Stick with the Normal DLC Model” Award
Battlefield 1 DLC
In a year when Star Wars Battlefront II traded a normal DLC model for an ultimately disastrous microtransaction system, DICE’s other shooter, Battlefield 1, proved that sometimes it’s better to just stick with the expansion-pack model. The three (of four) expansion packs we’ve gotten so far—They Shall Not Pass, In the Name of the Tsar, and one-half of Turning Tides—have already earned their $60 price tag by more than doubling the amount of maps in the game and giving players more weapons than they can handle, and there’s still a few more months of content to go. When the most vocal minority of the community is trying to convince DICE to abandon the Premium Pass model in favor of post-launch content based on microtransactions, maybe it’s time to stop listening to them and stick with what works.
Best Director Award
Ashraf Ismail, Assassin’s Creed Origins
Ashraf Ismail did what I previously thought impossible this year: he made me care about Assassin’s Creed again. I’d all but given up on the series, but Origins brought me back in full force. It was the first Assassin’s Creed game I actually played to completion since Assassin’s Creed II, and I plan on going back for more. But, in this age of nonstop scrutiny and overexposure (for which we’re partially responsible, after all), Ismail handled the other side of being a game director—that is, the public-facing side—with as much class, transparency, and believable passion as any other director this year, all while making a game with the future of an entire series riding on its shoulders. For the first time in a while, I’m looking forward to the next Assassin’s Creed game. Just maybe stick to taking a year off. That seemed to work for you.
EGM’s Best of 2017 Coverage
We’re taking a look at the best games of 2017 all week, from Christmas day through December 30th. Check back every day for our Top 25 Games of 2017, as well as our personal lists for the games we loved most this year. Check here for everything that’s been posted so far.
0   POINTS
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About Michael Goroff

view all posts

Michael Goroff has been gaming for almost three decades. He's a lover of all games and systems, but he mostly plays Xbox. That being said, if he's a fanboy, he's a fanboy for the game industry as a whole. Spit white-hot fanboy hate at him, trash talk his Gold II rank on Rocket League, or maybe just send him a cordial hello on Twitter @gogogoroff.