2017 Gaming Year in Review

In Features by MoeLeave a Comment

Without a doubt, 2017 has been one of the best years in gaming. Not just in recent times, but arguably of all time. We’ve seen the resurgence of Nintendo, Sony’s continued onslaught of killer exclusives released and announced, and some incredible hardware from the likes of Xbox, Nvidia, and AMD. There’s been something great for every genre and every gamer, with many of the top releases being truly groundbreaking.

It’s also been a year chock full of commotion. From the failure of Mass Effect: Andromeda to the extremely heated (and ongoing) controversy surrounding loot boxes, there’s been no shortage of industry-wide debates and arguments. For better or for worse, 2017 will certainly be remembered to some extent for its drama.

In celebration of such a bountiful and memorable year, it’s only right that we look back at the most significant releases, events, and controversies of the past 12 months. We’ll soon be focused entirely on 2018 and onwards, so let’s take one last look at 2017 and everything it offered the world of gaming.

February 27 — Horizon: Zero Dawn release

Horizon: Zero Dawn kicked off what would quickly become a great year for Sony. It’s a fitting first entry in our 2017 year in review.

Horizon’s success was hardly based on it being an exclusive, though. For one, this was an entirely new IP, one that many of us had been anticipating for a long time thanks to a number of memorable trailers. In an industry where sequels are far more common than new series’, Horizon’s bold attempt at being original was much appreciated.

More importantly, it turned out that Horizon was in fact an incredible game. A gorgeous open world and chilling soundtrack along with strong writing and intense, thrilling gameplay made this game a hit with critics and fans alike. For Guerrilla Games’ first foray into RPG development, it’s safe to say they hit the ball out of the park. Even towards the end of 2017, Horizon: Zero Dawn was at the center of most Game of the Year discussions.

March 3 — Nintendo Switch, Breath of the Wild worldwide release

March 3 was arguably the single most important day of 2017. For Nintendo, it was surely the most important day of the entire past decade. It marked the end of the dark era Nintendo had struggled through for the previous several years.

On March 3, 2017, the Nintendo Switch and The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild simultaneously released. Both had been tensely anticipated by Nintendo fans after so many were disappointed by the Wii U and Skyward Sword (the previous installment in the Zelda franchise).

What happened on March 3 was unexpected, as most had no clue what to expect of the Switch and this new Zelda. Would the Switch flop? Was Nintendo taking too great a risk? Would this Zelda that looked so different from most of the series be any good? Most fans were simply hoping they could breathe a sigh of relief. They would likely have been content with a solid console and a solid Zelda game. What they got instead was entirely unprecedented.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was given 10/10 scores across the board. Those of you that were on the net that day surely remember the collective chill that spread throughout the gaming world as we all began to understand that something truly special had just been released. Whether or not you agree with all the perfect scores, there’s no denying that it takes something extraordinary to be praised so highly.

Towards the end of the year, Breath of the Wild unsurprisingly took home most Game of the Year awards. For a game that dared to be so different from previous releases in the same franchise, it was incredible to see the profound level of success it achieved. Praise for this game will likely continue for years and years.

Oddly enough, the Switch itself took a backseat initially as Breath of the Wild hogged the spotlight. That was no issue, though, as the Switch would spend the rest of the year carrying Nintendo back to relevance in the gaming world.

March 21 — Mass Effect: Andromeda releases… and flops

The release of Mass Effect: Andromeda was arguably the greatest disappointment of 2017. Mass Effect had long been one of the most celebrated franchises in the gaming world, and BioWare had long been one of the most respected studios. Naturally, nobody really expected the game to flop. On the contrary, most were simply excited for another amazing entry in an incredible series.

It didn’t take long for Andromeda’s shortcomings to become the focus of countless gaming memes. Terrible animation, extreme bugs, stiff and awkward voice-acting, and shockingly weak writing made up a game that clearly was not ready for release. Beyond the serious lack of polish, many felt the game was simply lackluster as a whole. The first 10 hours in particular were a brutal slog, so much so that many players didn’t even make it past them.

All hell broke loose after Andromeda’s release. Many fans lost a lot of respect for BioWare — a studio that once could do no wrong — and they absolutely made their displeasure known. Things got so bad that the game’s planned Quarian Arc DLC that many had looked forward to was cancelled altogether, further hurting already disappointed fans.

Overall, while some effort was made to improve the game, ultimately it was abandoned and left as what could only be considered a failure. What does this mean for the future of Mass Effect? As it stands, nobody really knows. Here’s hoping for the best.

March 23 — PUBG takes multiplayer world by storm

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was released in Early Access on March 23rd, and the already thriving battle royale scene jumped on it altogether and all at once. H1Z1’s battle royale had been doing great for a long time, but PUBG’s release saw nearly all H1Z1 fans switch over to the newer and better game.

If there’s anything that’s been “all the rage” in the gaming world this year, it’s PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds. Despite being a buggy and unpolished game in Early Access for most of the year, it constantly boasted ridiculous numbers in terms of active players. On Twitch, PUBG is almost always at the top of the most-viewed games list. It’s fun to watch and even more fun to play — enough so that players have been willing to purchase it even in an incomplete state.

While Epic Games’ Fortnite has quickly risen to equally impressive heights, it’s safe to say that PUBG is still the king of battle royale, at least for now. The battle royale scene is obviously very volatile though, so it’s hard to say whether or not PUBG will last. Either way, one thing is for sure: PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds has been one of the most central games of the entire past year.

April 4 — Persona 5 worldwide release and streaming controversy

Persona 5 was our pick for Game of the Year, and for good reason. ATLUS managed to go way beyond fan expectations with this game, creating what’s easily one of the greatest JRPGs of all time. And fan expectations were sky high after waiting a decade for the sequel, so that’s saying a lot.

The game’s incredible writing both in terms of its narrative and characters quickly earned it a hardcore fanbase, and to this day social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram are full of fantastic fan art and fan fiction based around the game. Its stellar music and stylish gameplay did the rest as it made nearly all Game of the Year shortlists despite being a niche game in a niche genre.

Unfortunately, Persona 5’s release wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. ATLUS imposed unexpected restrictions on all streaming/sharing of their game, which left many players disgruntled. In today’s gaming world, platforms like Twitch and YouTube and social media sites like Twitter are important to millions of players. ATLUS’ attempt to stop these players from streaming/watching the game and even taking screenshots was understandably upsetting for many.

The company actually ended up changing their restriction after a while to let players stream the game for much longer than they had initially allowed. While that decision wasn’t very impactful, it fortunately didn’t matter much in the end because the amazing game they had created rose far above the controversy their decisions had stirred up initially. While the game’s release was tainted a bit by the streaming drama, what it’ll be remembered for is the fact that it’s undoubtedly a masterpiece.

June 13-15 — E3 2017

It’s interesting looking back at this year’s E3. At the time, most were disappointed as the show was quite underwhelming. Bethesda’s highly anticipated conference was surprisingly disappointing, while Sony’s was painfully predictable as they merely showed us bits of games that had already been announced for the most part. The rest of the conferences were decent, but again there wasn’t much that was mind-blowing.

Now that we can look back at the year as a whole, it almost feels as though it would’ve been too much if E3 2017 was as amazing as it had been in 2015-16. This year has been full of monumental hardware and software releases — we really didn’t need more to be happy. As such, it’s for the best that most studios held out on us this year in terms of announcements. We’re already almost halfway to E3 2018 anyways, and there’s an (almost ridiculously) incredible lineup of games set to release before then, too.

e3 open to public

Something also worth mentioning that set E3 2017 apart from previous years was that it marked the first time fans were allowed to attend. Whether that was for better or for worse is certainly tough to say, but it was a big change regardless. Many, many fans finally got to live the dream of attending gaming’s most important show.

September 6 — Destiny 2 release

After three rollercoaster years with the original Destiny and millions of sales, it’s no wonder Destiny 2 was hotly debated both before and after its release. Hell, it’s still being debated by many. Few franchises are as polarizing with their fanbase as Destiny.

Fortunately, the sequel has been well received by most and has a great 85% Metacritic rating. Our own review praised the game for having a solid amount of content at release — something that the original game lacked. Most importantly, the game is sure to grow and improve over the next few years with expansions just as the original did, making it a big player in the industry both now and in the foreseeable future.

September 29 — Cuphead releases, representing a year of indie greatness

Cuphead is another game that fans had waited years for, and it didn’t disappoint. One of the most original games ever made, Cuphead took home our awards for Best Indie Game, Best Creative Vision, and Best Art Direction. Its 1930s graphics and fast, challenging gameplay make it a true indie gem.

The reason Cuphead is included here isn’t just because of its own success, though. Cuphead represents indie greatness, and 2017 was a year blessed with wonderful indie titles. Hollow Knight, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Absolver, Tacoma, Night in the Woods, What Remains of Edith Finch, Slime Rancher, Rime — the list goes on and on. This year wouldn’t be anywhere close to as phenomenal as it’s been without these games, so here’s to all the indie devs!

October 27 — Super Mario Odyssey, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus worldwide release

As far as single days go, it’s hard to think of many as monumental as October 27 when it comes to game releases. Assassin’s Creed Origins, Wolfenstein II, and most importantly, Super Mario Odyssey all released simultaneously on October 27. Most of you surely remember the eager anticipation and grueling wait in the days leading up to these releases, and the joy when it turned out that all three of these games were excellent.

Super Mario Odyssey’s immediate success felt a lot like Breath of the Wild’s reception earlier in the year. For the second time in the same year, one of Nintendo’s keystone franchises was getting perfect scores from critics almost universally. If there was any doubt in the world that Nintendo was back in form with the Switch and its games, Odyssey shot it down. 2017 was Nintendo’s year, and the Switch has planted itself firmly as one of the top consoles on the market.

xbox one x

November 7 — Xbox One X release

Xbox had a quiet year in terms of game releases as they focused almost entirely on the Xbox One X. Without getting into the specifics of the console’s capabilities and value, it’s safe to say that there is no console as powerful on the market today. The PS4 Pro — PlayStation’s own 4K console — is a clear step down in terms of power and performance. Many gamers have been wanting to improve the visual quality of their games without having to dive into the world of PC gaming, and the Xbox One X has given them the best opportunity to do just that.

The beefy console released on November 7, and while there aren’t many new games to enjoy on it yet, a good number of games have received enhancement patches for it. As aforementioned, 2017 has been a weak year for Xbox in terms of games, particularly considering exclusives. But the Xbox One X has only just been released, and there will surely be a variety of releases benefiting the console in 2018.

November 27 — Star Wars: Battlefront II release and loot box controversy

While Andromeda’s failure was the year’s biggest disappointment, even that didn’t cause as much anger and uproar as Star Wars: Battlefront II’s disastrous release. Battlefront II being released so soon after the prior game was, in the first place, due to the first release having already been disappointing. Many figured that EA would surely get their act together with the next release, but unsurprisingly, they did not.

The controversy surrounding loot boxes and micro-transactions in games has been raging for years already. Just this year, Overwatch, Destiny 2, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, and many others were caught up in serious drama because of loot boxes and micro-transactions. But no title drew as much attention and anger as Battlefront II.

Players were extremely upset that they had to work to earn iconic Star Wars characters after having already paid full-price for the game — unless, of course, they paid extra to get the characters quicker. They were so upset that EA’s initial response to the uproar quickly became the most down-voted Reddit comment of all time.

A lot has happened since, but this isn’t the place to get into all that. All that really needs to be said is that it’s tragic for such a beloved franchise to be hurt by greedy business practices like this. Especially considering that, aside from the micro-transaction nonsense, Battlefront II is actually an exceptional game.

December 7, 2017 — The Game Awards

The Game Awards ended the year on a high note. The show continues to improve each year, and this year’s production was the best yet. There were some great trailers, awesome live music, and the awards that were given were very fair for the most part. And who can forget Josef Fares’ incredibly entertaining segment when he unexpectedly shouted, “F*** the Oscars!”

More than anything, The Game Awards was a great celebration of the amazing year that the game industry has had. It’s a fitting way to close out this year in review, because the show brought together all the people that make the gaming world so wonderful to be a part of.

2017 has been one of the greatest years of all time for gaming. It’s a bit sad to say goodbye, but it’s time to look forward to 2018. And who knows… maybe this next year will be even better than the last?

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Founder & Editor-In-Chief
I'm a happily married 24 year old dude living in western Canada. I started Obilisk by myself in 2017 -- something I'm extremely proud of.

Non-gaming things that I love: philosophy, which was my university major; photography (check out my Instagram!); sports, especially soccer; and all sorts of fiction, from old-school novels like Lord of the Rings to modern-day anime like Naruto.

Also, The Witcher 3 is the greatest game ever made.

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