games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Games of 2017 So Far

July 11, 2017 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! I had a different topic planned from last week but couldn’t resolve what I actually wanted to say. So instead, we have this topic which is a good thing to think about since the year a little more than half over and a lot of really good games have come out in the beginning few months. The two big omissions on my list are The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and PLAYERUNKNOWN’S Battlegrounds. I simply haven’t played Zelda, so while I know it’s a good game, I haven’t (and likely won’t) play it this year, so I can’t really talk about it. The games on this list I have played, if not beat, aside from one. As for Battlegrounds, it’s a really cool game, but it’s still in Early Access so it’s not technically out. However, unlike other games languishing in Early Access (DayZ and Rust to name two), Battlegrounds will actually be fully released within a year, at which point, I could consider it. With that said, let’s begin:

#8: Everything

Everything isn’t for everyone but that’s just fine. It’s akin to a Katamari Damacy or (to a lesser extent) Tokyo Jungle where the gameplay is serviceable but it’s more about the experience of what you’re doing. Everything’s “goal”, and I use that loosely since it has no defined goal, is to fill out the vast groups of items, from the mundane of buildings and cars, to the esoteric, such as elements or alien animals. Everything is just a relaxing experience though and it can be peaceful to just transform into different objects and explore the environment around you.

#7: Injustice 2

This might be the first NetherRealm game that I will actually stick with. Usually when I get a MK game (or Injustice 1), I’ll play through the story, maybe a few arcade matches and put it on the shelf. Injustice 2 has two things going for it, the Multiverse mode, which is a dressed up tower mode from MKX. These put you in random battles with different effects, like random fireworks going off, or extra health regen. The mode works because it makes some conceptual sense, given the alternate reality nature of the game. The second thing is leveling/gearing up your characters, which can alter their appearance but also their basic move functionality and lets you really customize and experiment with your characters. It’s a fantastic fighting game, all told.

#6: Nier: Automata

I’m actively playing Nier: Automata right now and goddamn is it good. It’s a great marriage between an open world game, doing side quests, hunting down materials and exploring the world with a pitch-perfect battle system from PlatinumGames. I’m only about 8 or so hours into it, hence why it’s relatively low on this list, but once I beat it a few times and really dive into the story, I could definitely see it moving up. The battle system is incredibly fluid but easy to grasp (compared to some of their games), with you doing combos and shooting constantly. The world is interesting, the characters are engaging and it is taking a lot of my willpower right now to not play it constantly.

#5: Horizon: Zero Dawn

It’s funny how Automata and Horizon occupy similar spaces but approach them in vastly different ways. Both deal with an apocalyptic robot future where you hunt down said robots with weapons but that’s about it. Automata is all about fluid combat while Horizon is much more about planning out attacks, stealth mechanics, and taking down huge robots. Also, the machines in Zero Dawn are all robots, and that’s fun. The mechanics in Horizon are tried and true but feel fresh given the world you’re in. Plus, the story goes in some interesting places, probably not as experimental as Automata’s, but there are some intriguing concepts to explore. I was happy to play Horizon: Zero Dawn and I look forward to that winter DLC, whenever it gets released.

#4: Prey

Prey is a mess from a technical aspect but if you can ignore that, it is the closest we’re going to get to a BioShock 4. You’re given a big space station to explore, dozens of side quests, interesting and varied weapons and a research mechanic that lets you modify yourself to give you special powers. The zero gravity stuff is really superb as it’s one of the few games that really makes you feel like you’re floating in space. Enemies can vary between being spooky like mimics or the poltergeists or powerful, like the Nightmare thing. Prey really isn’t perfect, and the technical issues can be annoying but it is a pretty ambitious game, especially considering the history behind it.

#3: Yakuza 0

If you had told me that a Yakuza game was one of the best games of the year, I would have called you crazy but yet, here we are. Yakuza 0 has lovingly created an 80’s version of Japan, specifically fictionalized versions of Tokyo and Osaka, and filled the towns with some of the most insane stuff ever. From doing a dance off against a thinly veiled Michael Jackson, to hunting down deadbeats for Miss Tatsu, to telling insane stories to help out a living statue guy on a bridge, the world of Yakuza 0 is stuffed with memorable characters. On top of that, the battle system is deeply involved and remains fun for the entire game and combat is almost always a joy to experience, except against those bastard Mr. Shakedown guys, but a few shotgun shots takes care of them. Yakuza 0 has me interested in Yakuza Kiwame which is perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay to the game.

#2: Puyo Puyo Tetris

Puyo Puyo Tetris actually got localized for America in the year 2017 and it is a miracle. Puyo Puyo Tetris was the reason I got a PS4 in 2014, not for Infamous: Second Son, or Mordor, or Destiny, no it was a puzzle game that motivated me to buy it. And I had to import a copy from Play-Asia so that was another fun step. But now, Puyo Puyo Tetris is in American (thankfully in English) and people here can play it. PPT is a fusion of both Tetris and Puyo Puyo, you can play each game separately but the game becomes much more interesting and frantic when you are playing them together. Really, Tetris is one of the most timeless games around so adding more to it makes it an easy inclusion for a “Best of” games list.

#1: Persona 5

Persona 5 is my second favorite Shin Megami game, just behind Nocturne. It has the same traditional JRPG turn system but you have more options, with either your physical attack, gun attack, or using your Persona to dish out damage, but your ability to swap Persona’s on the fly leads it to being very tactical but always enjoyable. The characters might not be as enjoyable as some of Persona 3 or 4’s but I still found some of them endearing, particularly Futaba. The style of Persona 5 is also unmatched, and you can clearly tell that there was a lot of time spent not just on huge set pieces, but the simple acts of scene transitions or loading screens. It is a monumental work that Atlus has accomplished, now here is hoping it doesn’t take another 6 years before Persona 6 gets made.

For comments, list which have been your favorite games of 2017 so far, and why.

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Top 8 Gaming Sequels

article topics :

The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison