Well now, that was a year wasn’t it? The Loot Box controversy threatened to swallow all, achieving the impossible and actually bringing down Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings in the same gulp. The Sonic Cycle achieved its quickest-ever turnaround. A little game with the ridiculous name of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds picked up the Early Access Blockbuster Baton from the likes of Minecraft and Counter-Strike and in less than a year popularized a whole “Battle Royale” genre. Once again we’re shocked that not only is Nintendo still alive, they’re flourishing, forcing us to buy yet another console goddammit.
And above all this, a lot of the most predictable games ended up being good, but not mind blowing. We’ll catch up with them in the Runners-Up category. Four of the GameWatcher staff were allowed to nominate two games each for our Game of the Year, as well as give a short mention of what they’re up to in the holidays. From this pool we’ll choose our Ultimate Overall GameWatcher Game of the Year 2018. What will it be?! Well, the choice may surprise you! Read on to find out!
“Origins was the glorious return that Assassin’s Creed deserved, taking many of the franchise’s ingrained issues and fixing them up while keeping the core and feel of the game intact. It’s still very much an Assassin’s Creed, but enough has changed to make the decade old formula feel fresh again. For all its gameplay improvements and engaging story, the true star of Origins is the world. The vast rendition of lower Egypt is a wonder to behold and a fantastic experience to explore.”
Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock
“Deadlock may not have come at the best time for the Battlestar Galactica franchise, but it’s a welcome game nonetheless. Finally we’ve been given a good Battlestar game. Deadlock blends epic space battles with grand strategy micromanagement, and the end result is a game that looks fantastic and plays even better. Getting your ships into position and releasing a barrage of missiles never felt this good.”
What I’m Playing In The Holidays…
“I’ll likely spend most of my gaming time finishing up Assassin’s Creed Origins, in which after 57 hours I’m still only at 66% completion. Visiting every marker and completing every single quest takes quite a bit of time. When not playing that, I’ll likely be playing whatever game is on my review schedule.”
JOSH BROWN Nominates…
“This year has been an absolute treat to gamers. There’s no other way to say that. As the type who never settles on a single platform and gets a little too invested in online games, I’m never the best to ask about ‘Game of the Year’. That being said, NieR:Automata utterly blew me away. Its PC version didn’t land in the best state – I was unlucky enough to have one of the AMD GPUs afflicted with the ‘white screen’ issue – but playing through the title on a PlayStation 4 was bound to be the same experience; and that’s how we handled the review. I went into this one blind and came out practically in tears. It’s a beautiful opera and an emotional rollercoaster. Ironically, the game features both of these in a literal sense across its desolate landscape, and it’s all backed up by a soundtrack that absolutely deserves to take up 20GB on my HDD as a 4-hour concert recording.
Director Yoko Taro may have described his story as “poop” and chose to praise Platinum’s work on the combat system instead, but everything about this game screams quality and attention to detail. The world is fairly small when compared to the rest of the open world action games we’ve seen this year, but it struck a perfect balance between exploration, story, combat, and music, and managed to do so while smashing a load of different gameplay genres together for an experience that surprised me, and many others, at every turn. Is it the prettiest title of 2017? No. But it proved that graphics have very little to do with the quality of a game when the rest is refined to a sharp point.”
Resident Evil 7
“I’m not sure how to best break this down, but Resident Evil 7 was a massive load off my mind very early into the year. Being one of those classic Resident Evil fans who throws shade at Capcom for their decisions with some of the newer numbered titles, Resident Evil 7 plotted a course for redemption. The story might be getting a bit rusty at this point, but the latest entry is genuinely scary in a real James Wan kind of way. Never settling on just cheap jump scares, it surprises you throughout by ensuring you’re never fully aware of what the Baker family is capable of. You might think they’ve pulled all their dirty tricks already, but it’s that false sense of security that Capcom plans on as things go on.
Great sound direction is on hand to give that cinematic experience, causing you to tense up for little things and shock you when you’re least expecting it. And it’s exactly that idea that made this franchise so good to begin with. Claustrophia is back in abundance, and safe rooms feel like a god-send once again. It starts to take a bit of a dip toward the end with the team obviously reluctant to let its action-heavy past go; but it’s no secret that Resident Evil 5 and 6 performed far better than past entries due to their risks and, ultimately, bland shift to rugged shooter street. Capcom managing to strike a pretty good balance here is something we have to commend and encourage for the future. Compromise is the only way both sides will win."
What I’m Playing In The Holidays…
“Further explaining my lack of choices this year, I’ll be busy over the holidays playing Pokemon Ultra Moon on my 3DS, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on my Switch, and some more Arena of Valor on my phone/tablet. I’ll probably be dipping back into World of Warcraft for a brief spell as a break from Final Fantasy XIV, but I’d love to find the time to play a little Cities: Skylines – Green Cities. That’s my escape right now. Oh. And Overwatch. Can’t forget Overwatch.”
MARCELLO PERRICONE Nominates…
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
“In a 2017 full of disappointing releases, it is slightly disconcerting that an expansion was what most impressed me. War of the Chosen expands on every single facet of XCOM 2 and virtually turns it into another game, adding dozens of hours of gameplay and interspersing new content with the old. The end result is a product that doesn't feel like an expansion, but a complete new game, and its orbital production values and unparalleled quality make XCOM 2: War of the Chosen my Game of the Year.”
Total War: Warhammer 2
“I don't even like Warhammer - that's how good Total War Warhammer II is. As a lifelong fan of Total War, I passed on the first fantasy foray due to its abandonment of historical roots, but couldn't escape the second due to work commitments. What I discovered was a surprisingly good game, full of pretty visuals and novel gameplay mechanics which - aside from a decidedly rushed and MOBA-like quality to its battles - is my other Game of the Year.”
What I’m Playing In The Holidays…
“After a much needed Christmas break, I'm finally back in London for the New Year. I'll be saving Gotham in the New Game + mode of Batman: Arkham Knight, and continuing my inevitable conquest of Mallus as the indomitable human Empire in Total War: Warhammer, in anticipation of the amazing Rise of the Tomb Kings DLC for Warhammer II.”
CHRIS CAPEL Nominates…
NIGHT IN THE WOODS
“A game just has to be good to make me enjoy it, or great to make me sad when it’s over. Night In The Woods actually left me devastated that it had to end. I enjoyed my time with Mae Borowski and her animal friends so damn much I’m still deeply depressed that the end credits had to roll and I was forced to stop spending time with them. While framed like a 2D platformer (there’s even a Mario-esque triple-jump) it’s actually a Telltale-style adventure game, where the choices are the events you attend and the stories you uncover.
The art is gorgeous, sound even more so, but it’s the writing that makes it a GOTY nominee. Mae and friends’ circumstances and the events of the story should be incredibly depressing, but they deal with them like real people – with humour. They crack jokes, make fun, entertain themselves, and make what should be an upsetting experience into a delightful one. It has an important message too: nothing is going to save us forever, but a lot of things can save us today. I can’t think of a single thing bad to say about it.”
“And so we go from a new fake 2D platformer to a retro classic 2D platformer. While Night In The Woods was always a GOTY nominee, my second choice had multiple options (all of which you can read in the Runners-Up after this). In the end though as usual I went with my heart, where Sonic The Hedgehog has a permanent residence. And while Sonic Forces was hugely disappointing, Sonic Mania was utterly perfect. It recaptured the feel of a brand new 2D Sonic game as if the Sonic & Knuckles team were allowed to continue making them.
Even the likes of Sonic Rush pale in comparison to Mania, which gets everything right – from the height of Sonic’s jump, the physics, the enemy, obstacle or item placement, the incredibly clever boss battles, the music, the neat Special Stages, and the levels – oh boy, the levels. My one complaint is that there are too many Remix levels and not enough Original ones, but that doesn’t stop every one from being incredible amounts of inventive, creative, speedy fun. It’s better than Sonic 2 – there, I said it.”
What I’m Playing In The Holidays…
“In-between bouts of Doctor Who and whatever box set I got for Christmas (Star Trek Next Generation), just like everyone else I’m playing catch-up with my collection. You may have noticed the absence of Divinity: Original Sin 2 on this list, well, I’ve still barely had a chance to play it. After that, Injustice 2 for my DC Comics fix, and you know what? Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s attempts to do something different with the Saga has me in the mood for the last time someone tried that - so I’m finally going to replay Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic II with the Restored Content mod. And I can’t wait to do so.”
INJUSTICE 2: Came out late and missing a lot of features, but Netherrealm have kept updating their DC Comics fighting game so it’s now on-par with the console game – and it’s one of the most fun beat-em-ups ever made, with all the recognisable characters like Batman, Superman, Harley Quinn etc making it even more so.
WHAT REMAINS OF EDITH FINCH: Arguably the pinnacle of the ‘Walking Simulator’, with every story you uncover transforming the game into a new and unique adventure, and often an incredibly emotional one. Don’t let anyone spoil it for you, just pick it up and trust us – sadly we took that advice too late to make it into these nominations.
WOLFENSTEIN II: THE NEW COLOSSUS: The best FPS of the year by far, with incredible and imaginative combat encounters and a story that’s both terrifying and ridiculous in equal measures. Nevertheless having one too many metallic Nazi bases and leaving the actual “American Revolution” part for Wolfenstein 3 meant it could’ve been better.
SNIPER ELITE 4: The best sniper game around, and there’s something really satisfying about caving in a Nazi’s skull a mile away with a long-range rifle. It wasn’t quite good enough to get on to our GOTY list but it’s well worth your time.
THE EVIL WITHIN 2: Another game on Chris Capel’s “almost” list that Sonic Mania pulled rank to get ahead of, it’s a tough call which out of Evil Within 2 and Resident Evil 7 is the best survival horror of the year. Ultimately Shinji Mikami’s sequel lost out to the other series he helped create, but Evil Within 2 is still fantastic - and you can even play it in first-person, too.
WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY: Unless I’m mistaken, our only 10/10 score of the year didn’t quite get nominated as reviewer Josh Brown favoured Resident Evil 7 and Nier Automata over it. Square’s homage to the Final Fantasy series is one that fans need to pick up.
CUPHEAD: For many people, Cuphead is the perfect game. The unique, gorgeous early-20th Century cartoon look combined Contra-style bullet-hell boss rush gameplay. For others though, it’s got a great look but it’s far too hard to recommend. It’s great at what it does, but Cuphead is not for everyone.
DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN 2: We know what you’re thinking. “Wait, they’re not even nominating Larian’s amazing sequel? The one PC Gamer gave game of the year to?” Yep, we’re not, because of the members of the GameWatcher staff who joined in the GOTY awards only one of them has played Divinity Original Sin 2, and he’s the one person on the planet who didn’t actually like it. Having differing opinions sucks, sometimes.
STARS IN SHADOW: This wonderful indie take on the 4X space strategy, in particular Master of Orion 2, got a release and an expansion in 2017 and we loved both of them – but not quite enough to make them GOTY candidates.
STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT II: HAHAHAHAHAHA No.
Right! The votes have been tallied and the results may surprise you – they did the hell out of me, anyway.
The GameWatcher Game of the Year 2017 is…
Resident Evil 7 AND Total War: Warhammer II!
Yes! For the first time in GameWatcher/Strategy Informer history, we have a tie! We counted all the votes, and two games not only stormed above the rest – they hit exactly the same amount of votes! Resident Evil 7, an excellent reinvention of the classic survival horror from Capcom, and Total War: Warhammer II, the latest and perhaps greatest RTS from Creative Assembly - both amazing games and both superb examples of long-running franchises (Total War is 17 years old, Resident Evil is 21 years old). RE7 changed up the formula by going first-person but also getting back to its scary horror-in-a-house roots, whereas TW:W2 just had to add Rat Creatures and Mean Elves to Total War and we’d be happy.
In short, they’re both incredible games and definitely deserve to win Game of the Year 2017 – separate or together!
From our reviews:
Resident Evil 7: “A marvel when it comes to its ability to shake you to your core, its clearly a love letter to both those who adored the claustrophobic nightmares of the original games and those introduced to horror with more recent Hollywood attempts like The Conjuring and Insidious.”
Total War: Warhammer II: “Total War: Warhammer 2 is one of the most engaging and awesome marriages of turn-based and real-time strategy out there. Whether you’re sitting on your high horse among the elven factions or unleashing primal fury as the bestial races, there’s a great deal of enjoyment to be had that will keep you busy hour upon hour through multiple campaigns, skirmishes, and battles. Total War: Warhammer 2 continues to hoist the bar even higher for both Total War and Warhammer.”
That’s it for 2017! How’s that then, TWO Games of the Year! Wow! But then again, any of the nominees could’ve won and we gamers would be the true winners!
Like our choices? Think something or something should’ve won? Disagree or agree violently? Sound off in the comments below!
Now, let’s roll on 2018! We’ve got a dozen more Total War games coming, but will the third Total Warhammer be among them? Will shooters like Metro Exodus or Far Cry 5 shine, strategies like BattleTech or Surviving Mars conquer, co-op titles like Strange Brigade or Warhammer Vermintide 2 addict, or will RPGs like Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Vampyr rule? Will Bioware’s Anthem gamble pay off, or will they too fall to the EA Developer Hit List? Which of the Dinosaur Park Sim Games will prove top dog out of Jurassic Park Evolution, Parkasaurus and Prehistoric Park? And most importantly, will the PC bloody get Red Dead Redemption 2?
Stay tuned to GameWatcher in 2018 for the answers to all these questions and all your PC gaming needs!