As we near the end of what could be considered the greatest year in gaming history (can you think of another year with so many quality AAA and Indie titles alike), it’s time to hand out our top honors. From big multi-platform releases, to the revival and resurgence of Nintendo via the Switch, to the small indie games that blew up big – 2017 has been a year for the ages. Buckle up and take a look at the best games of the year in GameSpace.com’s Game of the Year Awards 2017.
MMO OF THE YEAR – ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE
Few games in the MMO space continue to gain new players month after month, and the Elder Scrolls Online from Zenimax Online Studios and Bethesda is one of the lucky few. It doesn’t hurt that it also keeps getting some of the best regular content updates in all of MMO-dom, including this year’s stellar Morrowind expansion and Clockwork City DLC. With now over 10 mln players worldwide, ESO is here to stay.
COMPETITIVE GAME OF THE YEAR – OVERWATCH
There may be no more competitive sector of gaming than well… the competitive online gaming genre. From Battlerite to LoL, DOTA to Smite, to newcomers like PUBG and Fortnite, it’s hard to pick a winner. But our writers have spoken, and Overwatch wins the 2017 award. Why? Not only does it have more players globally than all the rest, but Overwatch is pushing into the professional esports realm harder and with more aplomb than any other game. In 10 years, if esports are as commonplace as the NBA and NFL in America, it’ll be because Blizzard and Overwatch made it so.
RACING GAME OF THE YEAR – MARIO KART 8 DELUXE
There were a few great racing games this year – Forza, F1, Dirt4… but none of them were quite as riotous and fun as the Switch’s Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. You could argue that it’s a re-release, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still the best game in the storied series, and still getting a ton of play across the GameSpace offices months later. It’s hard to imagine how N will top 8 Deluxe with a sequel.
ACTION GAME OF THE YEAR – SUPER MARIO ODYSSEY AND CUPHEAD
It’s our only tie, and rightly so because both Super Mario Odyssey and Cuphead are prime examples of why the platforming genre is still King decades after the former plumber first made the NES a star. Both games are pinnacles of design, and Cuphead deserves a place among 2017’s best for not only defying the odds (MDHR is a small studio, Cuphead their first game), but also bringing back the love of hardcore platforming action with superlative art direction.
ADVENTURE GAME OF THE YEAR – WHAT REMAINS OF EDITH FINCH
Adventure games like those that Telltale made famous again are all over the place. But few set an example of what a developer can do if they focus solely on one purpose, and less on gimmicks. Last year it was Firewatch, this year – What Remains of Edith Finch stole our hearts and minds. It may only be a few hours long, but you won’t likely find a better way to spend your time for the money this year.
STRATEGY GAME OF THE YEAR – TOTAL WAR: WARHAMMER II
It was tough to beat the raw talking point of Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, but if there’s any strategy series that can beat Nintendo and Ubisoft’s mash-up power, it’s Creative Assembly. This year’s Total War: Warhammer II is a prime example of two forces (Total War and Games Workshop) combining to make something akin to Peanut Butter + Chocolate in game form. The IPs go together almost too well, and this year’s release gives players new to the Total War franchise room to get absorbed and the tools to make this game one they’ll play for years to come.
SHOOTER OF THE YEAR – WOLFENSTEIN 2: THE NEW COLOSSUS
We awarded Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus one of our highest scores of the year, and it goes without saying that this single-player brutal journey in a 1960s USA that wasn’t is worth every penny. One of the best stories in video games that somehow wasn’t overshadowed by its over-the-top gore and violence accompanies the best shooting action and best open level design in ages. MachineGames is a national treasure, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for Terror Billy.
RPG OF THE YEAR – DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN 2
It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, Larian Studios was on the verge of extinction. This year they’ve made what can only be described as a landmark RPG in the vein of Ultima VII, The Witcher 3, and other such grandiose fantasy tales. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a perfect example of what a developer that cares about its fans and its craft can do if they’re just given the chance. Now… about that Nintendo Switch port, please?
SYSTEM OF THE YEAR – THE NINTENDO SWITCH
10 million sold units later, in less than one year, there’s no question that amid the power of the PS4 Pro and XBox One X, all the momentum is in Nintendo’s favor with the Switch. And unlike the Wii, this time Nintendo seems to have developers on its side when it comes to making their console a success. We’ve played more games on our Switch this year than just about any other system, and it’s largely in part because you can play it anywhere. The portability and “powerful-enough” specs make the Switch something special. Proving they’ve not lost their touch, it seems Nintendo has once again started a trend that other console makers are going to have to follow.
GAMESPACE.COM’S 2017 GAME OF THE YEAR – THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD
What else, right? Nintendo’s back with a vengeance in 2017, and it’s largely in part to first-party offerings. But with the possible exception of Super Mario Odyssey, no game is as perfect in 2017 as Breath of the Wild. This sprawling, inventive, and incredibly detailed RPG is one for the ages, a game that people will be discussing in a decade just like Ocarina of Time or Link to the Past. Well done, Nintendo. Let’s see what 2018 brings.