The 10 best (and 3 worst) games of 2017

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2017's Best and Worst

This year in games, Nintendo released a new console-portable hybrid that put them back on top thanks to Zelda and Mario. Resident Evil and Sonic the Hedgehog were brought back from the brink of irrelevance, and bold new titles starring robot dinosaurs and a charming anthropomorphic cup made a splash. Over 20 million players made an early access title the breakout game of the year, and slaughtering aliens, orcs, and Nazis remained as engaging as ever. Here’s a look at the best and worst games of 2017.

BEST

10. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (multiplatform)

B.J. Blazkowicz has been blasting Nazis since the early ’90s, but it’s never felt more relevant—or cathartic. In this grim alternate history, the Nazis won WWII, and it’s up to you to—as the game’s marketing slogan trumpeted—“Make America Nazi-Free Again.” While there’s nothing subtle about the run-and-gun gameplay, the story is surprisingly thoughtful, nuanced, and ultimately hopeful. —AM

9. Sonic Mania (multiplatform)

It took over two decades, but Sega finally recaptured Sonic the Hedgehog’s glory days with this love letter to the series. The game is loaded with Easter eggs and callbacks to the Genesis era, but it continually surprises, subverting players’ expectations by introducing fresh new ideas in familiar places. Mania is more than just a blast from the past; it thrusts Sonic bravely into the (retro) future. —AM

8. Middle-earth: Shadow of War (multiplatform)

This over-the-top sequel to Shadow of Mordor is bigger and better in every way. The Nemesis system, which lets you dominate charismatic orcs and use them as pawns in your war on Sauron, is unlike anything else in gaming. While the game’s take on Tolkien lore may irritate purists, it makes up for it in the sheer audacity of its epic battles. —AM

7. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (Xbox One, PC)

Twenty million players can’t be wrong; PUBG is the breakout game of the year. Released on Steam early access in March, the multiplayer online battle royale game birthed a new genre, dominated Twitch streams and social media, and became Steam’s most played game ever. Not bad for a game that’s not even finished yet. —AM

6. Destiny 2 (multiplatform)

The Destiny sequel learned from its predecessor’s shortcomings, offering up a compelling campaign that expands the franchise’s gameplay beyond multiplayer shoot-em-ups. With an expansive open universe that allows you to easily toggle between side quests, public events and actual missions, the ability to join other random players on a fireteam, and its multiple character classes, Destiny 2 has cemented itself as the most replayable game of the year. —NA

5. Cuphead (Xbox One, PC)

Don’t let the the game’s charming 1930’s cartoon aesthetic fool you; Cuphead is the most sadistic, punishing game of 2017. Prepare to die a lot as you run, jump, and shoot your way through a surreal yet adorable hellscape teeming with ruthless adversaries and punishing boss encounters that somehow always leave you begging for more. —AM

4. Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)

What a delight to see Guerrilla Games liberated from the Killzone series to create their chef d’oeuvre. This stunning open-world action-RPG introduces a bold new heroine and a brave new world where nature has reclaimed civilization and feral Machines rule the land. Did I mention you hunt giant robot dinosaurs? It’s the best original creation of the year, and the start of an exciting new franchise. —AM

3. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (multiplatform)

After the misguided Resident Evil 6 almost killed the franchise, RE7 brought it back from the dead like one of its trademark zombies. The switch to a first-person perspective is the most significant and effective change in the series’ history, and the optional PlayStation VR experience is almost unbearably scary. It’s genuinely terrifying, bloody disgusting, and the best Resident Evil game in a decade. —AM

2. Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

The sheer expansiveness of Nintendo Switch’s sandbox-style Mario entry is mind-boggling. The titular hero travels across 17 different kingdoms, amassing nearly 1,000 power moons in increasingly surprising ways in his bid to save Princess Peach—culminating in a twist ending many fans laud for bucking the conventions of the franchise’s nearly 40-year history. —NA

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch, Wii U)

In the opening moments of Breath of the Wild, you run hero Link to the edge of a cliff, at which point the camera pans out wide, showing off the Studio Ghibli-inspired land of Hyrule in all its glory. The expansive world beckons, and you’re free to go absolutely anywhere. You could even march straight to Hyrule castle and challenge final boss Ganon. You’d die, of course, but you could do it. Or you could spend the next 100 hours savoring the best game of the year. Breath of the Wild breaks free from the franchise’s rigid formula and embraces more modern open-world games, while pushing the genre to stunning new heights. It rediscovers the pure joy of exploration first introduced in the 1986 original. Walk in any direction, and there are countless areas to find and untold mysteries to solve. This is the type of game you discuss with friends, compare notes, and regale them with stories of your adventures. Because of how open the game is, no one will have the same experience, but everyone will experience something truly magical. Breath of the Wild isn’t just the best Zelda game ever made; it’s arguably Nintendo’s greatest triumph, and quite simply, the stuff of legend. —AM

WORST

3. 1-2 Switch (Switch)

Nintendo had an incredible year with the launch of Switch; just check the top two spots on our best list. But this tepid collection of multiplayer minigames, which looked to recapture the magic of Wii Sports, was easily the worst launch title. 1-2 Switch tries to show off the system’s unique Joy-Con controllers ... by having players mimic milking cows or pretending to shave. Creepiest of all was the minigame that has you cradling the console while a baby cries on its screen. Fun? It’s a party game that will end your party. —AM

2. Justice League VR: The Complete Experience (multiplatform)

Last year’s Batman: Arkham VR proved that donning a cape and cowl in VR can be a transportive experience, but this terrible cash-in on the Justice League movie feels like a tech demo gone wrong, and it looks even worse than Henry Cavill’s freakish Shrek face. —AM

1. Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back (PS4, PC)

Mascot platformers came back in a big way this year, with Mario and Sonic offering some of their best experiences in years. But who exactly was waiting for the return of Bubsy the Bobcat? The 16-bit original was mediocre in 1993, but this update is just plain bad, with simplistic level design and dull, repetitive boss battles. Even more annoying: Bubsy constantly spouts cringeworthy cat puns. What a cat-astrophe. —AM
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