When people talk about the best year in video games, a couple answers are most common. I'm partial to 1998 -- the year of StarCraft, the original Pokemon, Metal Gear Solid and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Some might argue that 2004 was gaming's best year. Others, 2007.
Now, 2017 is very much part of that conversation.
Most years tend to have at least one or two front-runners for Game of the Year accolades, but this year has many. Tastes and preferences differ, obviously, but that's part of what has made 2017 such a wonderful year for gaming: There's great stuff for just about every type of player.
From stellar sequels to enjoyable originals, here are 10 games I thought outshined the competition.
It's not perfect, but the funny thing about Destiny 2 is that most of its imperfections don't blind you until you've already enjoyed roughly a dozen hours of an action-packed sci-fi adventure. Yes, there are areas of the multiplayer-focused, post-story grind that the developers will hopefully iron out in the months to come, but with the right group of friends, Destiny 2 is a blast that improves on its predecessor in significant ways.
Developed in Austin, Prey sets a wonderful stage with its lonely space station setting. And the fact that the game's most common enemies that hide in plain sight by shape-shifting into common objects like mugs? Appropriately terrifying. It's a shame that the plot of Prey doesn't stick the landing after a promising start, but its world still makes for some solid sci-fi horror.
Metroid: Samus Returns
Considering the number of missteps Nintendo has made with the Metroid series in recent years, it's shocking how good Samus Returns is. Technically a re-imagining of the 1991 Game Boy game Metroid II: The Return of Samus, this 2D exploratory action game hits all the right notes and gives hope for the future of the franchise.
Assassin's Creed Origins
Even the biggest fans of Assassin's Creed had to admit that the series was feeling stale, and not just because the recent movie adaptation was a huge disappointment. So the developers took a year off, and the world is better for it. Origins may have the most ancient setting (Egypt in 48 B.C.), but it also sports the most modern gameplay.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Despite being the seventh numbered sequel (which ignores seemingly countless spin-offs), Resident Evil 7 manages to both remind you of the series' best attributes while also delivering something very new. Shying away from recent games' tendency to imitate an action movie, RE7 makes you feel alone, uneasy, claustrophobic and, most importantly, scared. If you can, play it in virtual reality -- just don't expect to sleep well afterward.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
This year, there was no shortage of open-world games in which you can use a bow and arrow to hunt down enemies. Horizon sets itself apart by making those enemies robotic dinosaurs. In terms of pure gameplay, Horizon doesn't top other games on this list. But the story of a woman named Aloy discovering ancient secrets in her primitive future world will make you want to keep playing for hours and hours just to see what happens next.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
The explosive, bloody and surprisingly difficult gunplay in the latest Wolfenstein game (a series that began in D-FW) is fine, but it's the story that makes this one a must-play. Set in an alternate history in which the Nazis took over America during World War II, Wolfenstein II has some very pointed commentary about our world today. The plot has some of the most ridiculous, over-the-top scenes I've ever experienced in a video game alongside some of the most emotional, heartfelt character moments. The balance of those extremes alone makes it worth praising.
Player Unknown's Battlegrounds
If the title of "Game of the Year" should be given to the most impactful, influential game of the year, than Player Unknown's Battlegrounds has to be in the discussion, even though it's technically not out yet (the game is in "early access," allowing players to buy and play it before it officially launches on Dec. 20). This 100-player multiplayer shooter took the world by storm earlier this year, selling millions of copies and inspiring multiple knockoffs. The Battle Royale sub-genre of action games that PUBG has helped spawn will probably be around for awhile, and PUBG will likely stay at the top of the pile for some time to come.
Super Mario Odyssey
There may be no video game character more iconic than Mario, and the Super Mario games tend to be some of the best in the business. Which is why it's so astounding that Super Mario Odyssey is easily one of the best games in the franchise, and might be the best 3D entry in the series. A joyous, colorful scavenger hunt, every nook and cranny of Odyssey is fine-tuned to allow you to have fun. It's a must-have game for the Nintendo Switch.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
When Breath of the Wild opens, you step out of a cave and are met with a huge, seemingly boundless environment to explore. The best part? You are genuinely free to do so. The latest in the legendary Zelda series never holds your hand -- it merely beckons you to make the adventure your own. Its world feels vibrant and alive, with interesting things to do, enemies to conquer and puzzles to solve around every corner. The dozens upon dozens of hours you can spend in Hyrule are a high point for Zelda, a high point for Nintendo, and the highest point of 2017.
Some of the games below I played and liked a lot -- they just didn't crack the Top 10. Others, sadly, are critically acclaimed titles that I haven't had time to even touch. Maybe I'll get to them in 2018.
- Battle Chef Brigade
- The Evil Within 2
- Golf Story
- Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
- Nier: Automata
- A Night in the Woods
- Persona 5
- The Sexy Brutale
- What Remains of Edith Finch