The GameAxis Top 5 of 2017
2017 was an amazing year for games. Matured platforms such as the PlayStation 4 saw a flood of noteworthy releases, many of them pointing to Japan’s renewed interest in home consoles. The ever-growing PC market has allowed niche genres to improve and flourish, while still being a haven for indie creativity and experimentation. We also saw the launch of the Nintendo Switch, a system that not only represents new opportunities for portable gaming, but also an exciting publishing strategy for Nintendo.
Let’s take a final look at our top-rated favorites, and maybe even try to pick the best of them all.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
After a much-needed break from the annual release cycle, Assassins Creed Origins is here to bowl over fans and convince the skeptics — this franchise still has legs. As the name suggests, the game goes on a massive time leap, zooming past even Altair from the first game. Welcome to Ancient Egypt, and to the start of everything.
Seeing the circumstances and events that led to the order of assassins is highly entertaining for returning fans, yet it still has plenty of hooks to engage newcomers. This is the largest and most eventful sandbox Ubisoft has created, giving players the freedom to explore Ancient Egypt and the Giza Pyramid, or to take on the many side quests available. It’s also their most beautiful, with plenty of opportunities to soak in the sights, sound, and history. Then when the time calls for action, put the overhauled combat system to the test as Bayek wields his various, upgradable weapons.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Developer: Guerilla Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4
If there’s any game that could single-handedly display the capabilities of the PlayStation 4 Pro, it’s Horizon Zero Dawn. While “post-apocalyptic earth” might drudge up images of urban decay, the game is set so far into the future that nature has reclaimed the surface. A vast, open world of streams, rocks, and greenery paint the landscape, inhabited by fauna large and small, organic and mechanical. The animators have absolutely knocked it out of the park.
More than just a technical showcase, Horizon Zero Dawn packs an original story that effortlessly ropes players in. Just what the hell happened? Who made these artificial dinosaurs? And how did civilization regress into tribes? Join Aloy on a journey that’ll have her stalking robo-raptors, scaling cliffs, and plunging deep into long- forgotten cities.
Platform: PlayStation 4
Make no mistake: The Phantom Thieves are here to steal your heart. Taking lessons from their previous games, director Katsura Hashino and team have created what is undoubtedly one of the finest releases of 2017. With its multi-layered story, memorable cast of characters, and excellent RPG mechanics, Persona 5 has successfully welcomed an entire legion of fans into its fold, even those new to the series.
At its most basic, Persona 5 follows a group of teens using their newfound powers for good. What at first seems like a clear-cut pursuit of justice soon becomes muddied by deeper questions of ethics, corruption, and society at large. Internet culture? You’ve got it. There are themed dungeons to explore, friendships to develop, and plenty of “monsters” to negotiate with and catch. The game has its problems, but we’re happily distracted by the stylish visual designs and phenomenal soundtrack.
Resident Evil 7 biohazard
Platform: PC. PlayStation 4 (+PSVR), Xbox One
Against all expectations, Capcom have successfully brought pure, gut-twisting horror back to this zombie-slaying series. Resident Evil 7 biohazard dumps players into the home of an exceedingly creepy family. Any rational person would nope their way out of there, but our protagonist has a wife to save. Expect to find more creaking floorboards, long hallways, and dilapidated basements than flailing monsters, as less is truly more in this house of terrors.
The switch to first-person and virtual-reality pays off handsomely, letting paranoia do the work as we peek through keyholes and around corners. This isn’t just a Resident Evil in name, however; hallmarks such as finding clues, solving puzzles, and surviving boss fights are all prominent. Honestly, to say anything more would just spoil the fun.
Total War: Warhammer II
Developer: Creative Assembly
Creative Assembly raised a few eyebrows when they substituted history for wargaming lore. Where Roman legionnaires and Japanese samurai once marched across battlefields, we can now find ogres, dwarves, and even vampires. That bold decision turned out okay; its sequel, however, hits all the right marks. In fact, Total War: Warhammer II is possibly their best game so far.
It’s now bigger and better in almost every way. The sprawling main campaign is now dynamic, feeling less scripted and, surprisingly, more focused as a result. At the center of attention is the Great Vortex, a maelstrom of energy from times past. Fighting over it are the Lizardmen, Skaven, and two Elven races, all eager to bind the portal for their own agendas. Amid this multi-sided melee is a series of rituals that needs to be completed, all while the forces of Chaos bleed into the mortal world.
GAME OF THE YEAR 2017
It’s been a wild and hectic ride yet, through it all, one title consistently appears in our personal best-of lists. It exhibited stellar production values, from the technical to the artistic, possibly driving people to upgrade. It was an original single-player IP, something of a modern marvel given the AAA industry’s inclination towards sequels and live services. More importantly, playing it has been nothing but fun, be it chasing after campaign objectives or messing around with the systems on offer. Other games may (and do) surpass it in certain ways, but this was the whole package. If we had the time, we’d gladly play it again.
Our 2017 game of the year is Guerilla Games’ Horizon Zero Dawn.