Another year is coming to a close, which means it’s time to take a look back at my favorite games of the year.
I played several new games in 2017 (though not nearly as many as I’d hoped to). Some were OK. Many were great. A choice few were excellent.
What we have in store for 2018 likely will be even better. If we’re lucky, we’ll get “Red Dead Redemption 2,” “The Last of Us Part II,” “Far Cry 5” and “Marvel’s Spider-Man,” to name a few.
But for now, I’m happy to enjoy these games—along with the handful in my backlog I never got around to playing.
Note: This list doesn’t include several very likely awesome games I haven’t yet had a chance to play this year, such as “Nier: Automata,” “Persona 5” and “Super Mario Odyssey,” to name a few. Unfortunately, I can only mention the games I’ve played through, so several didn’t make the cut. Sorry!
6. ‘Destiny 2’
I had high hopes for “Destiny 2” when it launched, and for a while, the game lived up to my and others fans’ expectations.
The gunplay is just as solid and fun as it ever was. New powers, weapons, missions and especially the raid kept me glued to “Destiny 2” for weeks.
It wasn’t long, however, before hardcore fans started realizing “Destiny 2’s” long-term experience is shallow. The game hasn’t hooked players like the original “Destiny” expansion “The Taken King” did, which is a real shame. My friends and I haven’t played much in months, and that’s unlikely to change without developer Bungie fundamentally changing several things about the game.
Still, I had a blast playing when it first released, and for that, “Destiny 2” deserves a spot on the list.
5. ‘Dishonored: Death of the Outsider’
A sequel to my 2016 game of the year, “Dishonored: Death of the Outsider” is a sequel of sorts to “Dishonored 2.” It may be shorter than the numbered entries in the series, but it’s no less fun.
“Death of the Outsider” allows you to take control of Billie Lurk, an interesting character from “Dishonored 2.” She has unique powers not before seen in the series, making it a fun challenge to sneak through levels or kill everyone in sight.
Missions are unusual and challenging, providing plenty of reasons to keep playing. With five missions that took me about 10 hours to explore and complete, “Death of the Outsider” was a welcome return to a special series.
4. ‘Middle-earth: Shadow of War’
If you’re looking for an action game that makes you feel as powerful as a god without getting bored, look no further than “Middle-earth: Shadow of War.”
This sequel feels more or less the same as 2014’s “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor,” but that’s not a bad thing. During my time with the game, I ripped through literally thousands of orcs using a variety of powers and abilities, and it never got stale.
Adding to the fun are the boss-like captains and warchiefs you must defeat, made challenging by the unique strengths (and weaknesses) they have. The new fortress attack and defense mechanic was an interesting wrinkle in the game, but it overstayed its welcome during the repetitive endgame.
3. ‘Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus’
In a few ways, “Wolfenstein II” feels like it took steps back from 2014’s “Wolfenstein: The New Order.” Regardless, it’s a solid shooter with an even better story and characters, making it one of my favorite games of the year.
Levels feel shorter and more claustrophobic. Combat isn’t as tight as it could be, and stealth isn’t as viable an option as it once was.
But it’s hard to care too much about that in such a frenzied game built around the premise of resistance fighters taking back an America overrun by Nazis. “Wolfenstein II” has a lot of heart and soul I won’t soon forget.
When I first saw trailers for “Cuphead,” I knew it would be a treat.
The side-scrolling game looks exactly like a 1920s cartoon. That’s because the passionate and dedicated developers actually drew each frame by hand like the cartoon artists from a century ago. Even if you don’t like games at all, “Cuphead” is a sight to behold; each level is a masterpiece.
But more than that, “Cuphead” is a delight to play.
Levels mainly consist of unique bosses you have to defeat. It is relentless in its difficulty, requiring nerves of steel, cat-like reflexes and no small amount of patience. Each hard-earned victory is a joy to experience from beginning to end. A stellar jazz track ties the whole package together into one of the best gaming experiences of 2017.
1. ‘Horizon Zero Dawn’
Sci-fi and fantasy, giant robots and primitive weapons, high-octane action and a smart story.
“Horizon Zero Dawn” was a new franchise introduced early this year, and what a splash it made. It’s an action role-playing game with satisfying combat, gorgeous graphics and intriguing characters caught up in unraveling the mysteries of an ancient world. Every part of “Horizon” works beautifully together to make a strong, lasting game I still enjoy to this day.
“Horizon” features a large, environmentally diverse world full of brilliantly designed, animal-like robots complete with weak points you must use a variety of weapons to overcome. Player character Aloy’s journey through the world to uncover her own mysterious origins cracks open a world-changing revelation, making the game enticing from beginning to end.
The game’s expansion, “The Frozen Wilds,” builds on the world, adding new weapons, machines and quests to uncover. “Horizon” blew me away when it launched, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for this unique series.
Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.