Games. Culture.

Sean Capri’s Top Ten Games of 2017

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Everyone and their Wii-Remote-waggline grandmother knows 2017 was a banner year for video games. Personally, it was the greatest year of my life thanks to the birth of my beautiful boy, Lincoln, in April. What that means for today’s discussion is a few games will be missing from my list because I simply did not have a chance to play them. Tragic, I know. Still, the games I played in 2017 were some of the most engrossing, engaging, and entertaining in at least a decade. For me, gameplay is king. And even though some games boast strong stories and performances, my list:

1. Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild is my forever game. It’s the one I’d bring to the hypothetical deserted island because no matter how much I discover, there will always be more. Typically, this vastness, never-ending content would overwhelm me but Nintendo’s masterpiece has a mind-blowing answer for every time I ask the question: “What would happen if I tried ___?” This mountain is cold but I have a sword made with fire. Would that keep me warm? Would it melt that giant ice block? Of course it does! What happens if I daisy-chain my weapons from this electricity? Oh snap! It creates a current and solves the puzzle. Breath of the Wild is my game of the year because it focuses on the fundamentals of game design and allows its simplicity to blossom into this year’s most nuanced and satisfying gaming experience.

2. Cuphead

cuphead

Hang on a second. Did that frog just eat the other one to become a slot machine? Cuphead is a wonderfully hand-crafted game from a group of new-on-the-scene artists who put their life on the line to deliver upon their vision. The cartoon visuals are as old-school as the game’s difficulty. And the “almost had it” hook keeps players trying just one more time – for hours. Heck, you don’t just die a lot, the game lets you know just how close you were to success before making you try it all over again. On top of the gameplay, it’s a totally twisted premise of collecting souls in order to avoid an eternity serving the devil. What in the world!? Despite project scope changes over the better part of a decade, Studio MDHR stuck the landing on one 2017’s most ambitious, artistically-demanding, and mechanically-sound video games of the year.

3. Nex Machina

nex machina

It appears to be a basic, twin-stick shooter. Glowy, fast, and repetitive. Before you know it, that gameplay loop hits your bloodstream. Finding the best power-ups to save every single human while maximizing score multipliers and discovering every hidden path becomes a gameplay substance-seeking addiction. Nex Machina is an undeniably gorgeous blend of perfect controls, saturated style, adrenaline-pumping soundtrack, and endless gameplay. It was criminally underplayed in this year of abundance and should be on every PS4 and PC.

4. Assassin’s Creed: Origins

With so many other games calling for my attention this year, somehow Assassin’s Creed: Origins has managed to keep me coming around for multi-hour sessions. Not since Red Dead Redemption have I enjoyed riding my horse and helping the locals with their struggles against the man. Every stitch of this enormous open-world quilt is sewn together so seamlessly. Truly, removing the minimap has made a tremendously positive impact on the series. And it’s just as well, the visuals are stunning so I’m glad Ubisoft redirected my attention towards the gorgeous Egyptian landscapes.

5. Call of Duty: WW2

When WW2 was announced and the world set ablaze with excitement, I sat in my corner with arms folded – certain this is far from what I wanted. Luckily, I play Call of Duty every year because Sledgehammer has proven, once again, they are the most dynamic and exciting of the three Call of Duty developers. Maybe its my age but WW2 made me consider the sacrifices those kids, those brave soldier made more than any other before it. Plus, the shooting is second to none and the clever squad-based gameplay allows this game to exist within the Call of Duty series without relying on too many of its tried-and-true gameplay tropes (like Wolverine healing).

6. Destiny 2

Silky smooth, inviting, and epic. Bungie’s follow-up captivated my imagination and, for the first time ever, had me arranging online meet-ups to wander the solar system and seek out that sweet, sweet loot. I actively researched the best paths to level up as quickly as possible and in doing so, learned more about the Destiny lore and the community who supports it. This ranks so highly on my list because Destiny 2 is the MMO gateway drug Bungie intended it to be and has opened my eyes to a now-maturing genre that has always intimidated me to the point of non-entry. Now, I can’t wait to try more.

7. Shadow of War

Somehow, the Nemesis System is a universally acclaimed gameplay mechanic and that is completely taken for granted. Monolith Productions folded so many new, interesting, and deep wrinkles into its patented Orc Army blueprints, on top of its fast, action-first gameplay that I simply could not leave it off this list.

8. Splatoon 2

Online-centric games are built to generate communities but I’ve never experienced anything quite like the phenomenon that surrounded Splatoon 2 on Nintendo Switch earlier this year. It completely dominated my summer and became my turn-off-the-brain-and-chat-with-friends (on Discord, of course). Splatfests and impromptu “Splatoon?” DMs continue to bring me back with immense gravity and excitement.

9. Resident Evil 7

Somehow, I find myself reward this game because of its ability to scare the controller out of my hands. I never had enough gear to make me feel comfortable enough. Plus, claustrophobic crawl spaces, sweat-inducing sound design, and get-away-from-me enemies make Resident Evil 7 one of the best in the series.

10. Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds

It’s broken as all get out. Laggy. Buggy. Framey. It is completely undeserving of any spot higher than number ten but this Battle Royale garbage-truck-on-fire will be on my Xbox forever as I continue to fool myself into thinking a Chicken Dinner is in my near future.

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