2017 was a very good year for gaming if one were to ignore the loot box controversies and all the other shady practices, which we will for the most part. While the year definitely had its ups and downs, the sheer number of excellent tiles we got on the PC is what (hopefully) most of us will remember about 2017. So let’s look on the bright side and talk about 10 of our favorite PC games of last year along with some honorable mentions. With that out of the way and in no particular order, our picks are as follows:
Jon: Few games this year can claim to have taken the gaming community by storm quite like Indie developers StudioMDHR Entertainment Inc.’s title Cuphead. Featuring flawlessly crafted game mechanics, a perfectly fitting soundtrack, and delightfully reminiscent art style, Cuphead has become a staple for gamers of all ages. It’s rare to find a game that can challenge players to the extent that Cuphead does and still manage to keep the experience enjoyable for everyone. Either playing solo or with a friend in local co-op, it is nearly impossible to not have a blast while going through this “run and gun” title. Having now gone double platinum (selling over two million copies) since its release in late September, it is impossible to argue that this game deserves a seat among the best titles of 2017.
Jason: Isometric CRPGs have been making a major comeback these past several years, with Divinity: Original Sin leading the renaissance back in 2014. But while that was a solid game in its own right, Divinity: Original 2 is an improvement in pretty much every department and rightfully deserves to be called one of the best PC games of 2017. In fact, I would go as far as to call it the best PC exclusive of last year and a masterpiece in game design. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a highly competent RPG that allows players to approach pretty much all of its plethora of quests in a wide variety of ways. And I’m not talking about dialogue wheels or morality systems here. Instead of simply choosing from a list of actions you can perform, Original Sin 2 gives you the ability to use your imagination both in and out of combat in order to overcome its challenges. Regardless of the situation you’re facing, if a solution makes sense in your head, I can almost guarantee that you can find a way to implement it the game. Divinity: Original Sin 2 offers freedom of choice above all else and is a master at what it does.
Jon: Throughout the year quite a few titles have released into the up-and-coming Battle Royale genre, but out of the lot, few have reigned supreme. Having released in July of 2017, Epic Games’ title Fortnite clearly shined above much of its competition. Being the only free to play (PvP only is free) game on the list, Fortnite is the Battle Royale of choice for budget gamers around the world. Having everything we have come to love about the “last man standing” style of gameplay, this game is presented in a manner that is bright and easy on the eyes. On top of having the basics right, Fortnite added a simple, yet key mechanic to the mix that takes the genre to a whole new level. Unlike any other Battle Royale, Fortnite allows players to build their own structures, transforming the map into a buildable destroyable warzone. Now, having become one of the most streamed games on Twitch.TV, Fortnite has fully earned its spot among the top games of the year.
Jason: Mental illness is a very serious a delicate topic, which is why you don’t see a lot of video games attempting to approach the subject. But in a day and age when various forms of mental illness are on the rise, games like these are more important than ever and luckily we got a very good one last year in the form of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Hellblade is a very important game not just because of how well it portrays mental illness, but also because developer Ninja Theory proved that you don’t need a major publisher to create a successful title. Indeed, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice may not look like an indie game but that’s exactly what it is for all intents and purposes. The game certainly has its flaws and it doesn’t feel as well polished as a lot of AAA titles, but that hardly matters at the end of the day. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice isn’t just a game, it’s an experience, and a very emotionally powerful one at that. Hats off to Ninja Theory for taking a big risk with this project and delivering one of the best and most impactful games of 2017.
Jon: Perhaps one of the lesser known titles on the list, West of Loathing is a comedic RPG set in the Wild West. Featuring a hyper-minimalistic art style in black and white, West of Loathing is pretty easy to overlook at first glance. However, witty writing coupled with incredibly clever game mechanics are what make this game a must play. Sporting an overwhelmingly positive rating of 98% on Steam, the merits of West of Loathing speak for themselves. Being arguably one of the funniest games of the year together with its modest $10.99 price tag, comfortably lands West of Loathing among the top games of the year.
Jason: I’m not the biggest fan of platformers and I don’t play a lot of metroidvania games, but there’s just something about Hollow Knight that made me come back to it over and over again until I eventually finished it and ended up longing for more. I generally don’t enjoy a lot of backtracking in video games but in the case of Hollow Knight I was looking forward to it because I knew I would discover something new and interesting every time I would return to an area. The thing that really hooked me in, however, was the aesthetic. I’m a sucker for games with dark art styles and while Hollow Knight doesn’t look nearly as eerie as something like Limbo or Inside, the creepy crawlies of Hallownest were enough to spark my interest. And I’m sure glad I stayed for the full ride because Hollow Knight is a very solid platformer and offers one of the best value propositions of any PC game released in 2017.
Jon: Throughout 2017 there has been an undeniable decline in interest in the used-to-be powerhouse genre, the MMORPG. In an effort to keep the MMORPG genre relevant, the FFXIV Stormblood expansion had to produce some exceptional content. Although, in true Square Enix fashion, the initial launch of their anticipated expansion was riddled with technical issues. Those problems were promptly remedied, and when the dust had settled, we were left with an incredibly crafted expansion. Adding a plethora of new content to an already top-notch title, Stormblood allowed the player to master two new jobs while they explore the beautifully rendered world. Having broken records for subscribers with the expansion’s release, FFXIV breathed life into the MMORPG genre landing it a spot amongst the greats of 2017.
Jason: A game that needs no introduction by this point, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was by far the most successful PC game of 2017. I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical at first when it comes to PUBG, but after pouring more 200 hours into in over the past several months, I can definitely understand why so many gamers have jumped onto this bandwagon. Sure, the game is still plagued by a myriad of technical issues even after version 1.0 launched, however, it’s surprisingly easy to overlook most of them once the action starts. The main appeal of PUBG comes from the fact that each match feels completely different than the last and you can choose to play it whoever you see fit. The game simply gives you the tools and lets you learn everything else at your own pace. It’s up to you whether you want to snipe people from a mile away, beat them with a frying pan or run them over with a car.
Jon: There is not a more reputable series in the Horror game genre than that of the Resident Evil series. Having just come off of some scrutiny on the 5th and 6th installments, CAPCOM went back to their roots, focusing on simply scaring the pants off of players. Being developed for both VR and standard users, gameplay can feel a pinch slow for non-VR players at times, but that doesn’t take away from the creepy horror aspect in the slightest. Not only will the game creep you out for hours during your first playthrough, but Resident Evil 7 also offers a respectable amount of replay value. Players will find themselves playing through the terrifying story on the completely unique “Mad House” game mode, where just about every aspect of your encounter with the Bakers is completely different. Standing out from the crowd and staining trousers of both VR and standard players alike is what locks Resident Evil 7: Biohazard in as one of the top games of the year.
Jason: There was a time when Japanese developers seemed to almost completely ignore the PC and launch their best games exclusively on consoles. Fortunately, that time has passed. Nier: Automata is a very special title and represents an important milestone for the industry. While the game could primary be considered an action RPG, Nier: Automata tackles many different genres and somehow manages to not feel overwhelming or confusing while doing it, which is a feat in and of itself. Add to that a deep storyline, memorable characters and an excellent soundtrack and it’s easy to see why this was one of the most well-rounded games of 2017. Some may dislike the fact that you have to beat the game multiple times to get the real ending/s, however, each playthrough feels like a different chapter of the same game so I actually enjoyed that part. The amount of creativity on display here is truly impressive and its success is a kick in the face to major publishers who think that single-player is dead or that loot boxes are the future of gaming. Platinum Games absolutely smashed it out of the park with this one on every level and I hope they continue to release even more titles for the PC.
Jason: I mentioned earlier my fondness for dark and creepy aesthetics and I have to say that Little Nightmares is exactly right up my alley in that regard. The game draws a lot of inspiration from Playdead’s titles but brings to the table a unique and quite disturbing setting. Clocking in at only around three hours or so, Little Nightmares is a short game that can be completed in one sitting, which is less than ideal given its price tag. Still, those few hours of gameplay you do get out of Little Nightmares will stick with you for a long time thanks to the game’s haunting atmosphere and unsettling characters.
Jon: Middle-Earth: Shadow of War easily could have been one of the top games of 2017. Although some complained about it becoming slightly repetitive after a while, Shadow of War had everything it needed to be great. The main problem with the game, however, had absolutely nothing to do with the gameplay at all. In a sad attempt to scrounge more cash out of consumers, Shadow of War introduced micro-transactions into their AAA single player title. Being forced to buy a $60 box to only be greeted with the opportunity to shell out more money for silly powerups is an unacceptable precedent. Everyone hates, yet tolerates micro-transactions, but for a game of this magnitude to attempt to snake some extra revenue off of players keeps Middle-Earth: Shadow of War off the list.
Jason: Endless Space 2 is what Civilization Beyond Earth could have been if Firaxis put as much effort into it as it does with the main series. Having not played the original, I can’t say how much Endless Space 2 improves upon its predecessor, however, I can say that this is a very competent 4X title that was able to scratch my ‘one more turn’ itch in a big way in 2017. Despite some technical issue at launch, Endless Space 2 was still an enjoyable experience and something tells me that it’s only going to get better moving forward.
Jon: The incredibly hyped title, Mass Effect Andromeda hit the masses in late March 2017 and was all the gaming community could talk about. Although it had the makings of a decent game, decent is not good enough to follow the powerhouse trilogy that preceded it. Being riddled with technical issues and bugs, it just didn’t seem like EA took enough time to fully polish the game prior to release. As the actual gameplay is pretty well crafted, it is surrounded by an underwhelming story which struggles to bring players in. Immense hype can be a blessing and a curse, and ultimately Andromeda fell short of what a Mass Effect game should be.
Jason: It felt a bit like cheating to include War of the Chosen on the main list since it is an expansion but this was definitely one of the best gaming experiences I had in 2017. XCOM 2 was already a pretty complex and difficult game to being with so adding a huge expansion on top of that could have resulted in a complete mess. Fortunately, Firaxis proved once again and they know what they’re doing when it comes to expansions as War of the Chosen feels like the perfect complement to the base game. You’ve got new gameplay mechanics, new aliens, new factions, a propaganda system, and a whole lot more to play around with. The main highlight, however, is the three Chosen themselves who will put your skills to the test every time you meet them in the field. Good luck Commander. You’re gonna need it.
Jason: In an attempt to make room for new IP on the list, I decided to list Total War: Warhammer II as an honorable mention but make no mistake because this game would sit up there with the best of them under normal circumstances. Thanks to the addition of the Mortal Empires mega-map, this is undoubtedly the ultimate Total War experience that will keep you playing for countless hours. Nay, countless days. If you’re looking for something to quench your thirst for grand strategy games look no further because this is it. Also, it seems like Sega is taking it easy with the DLC this time around, which is definitely nice to see.