It’s true. 2017 was a great year for gaming. We hear this phrase a lot at this time of year, when most of the media is focused on reflecting on the games released in the past twelve months. While it’s true that we were fortunate enough to be blessed with an abundance of great games this year, I’d even go so far as to claim that 2017 was a historical year for the GWJ community game of the year. That’s not simply because ClockworkHouse has stepped down after managing the thread for years (and I thank her deeply for it; she truly made the GWJ community GotY special to me back when I was a newcomer), but also because there are a few firsts in this year’s top ten.
As always, many thanks to all community members who participated this year. This thread truly is about the community, and I strongly encourage those who haven’t checked out the thread to do so. With nearly 160 goodjers voting for over 470 games, this top ten fails to reflect the wonderfully diverse tastes of Gamers With Jobs.
#10… Mass Effect: Andromeda (119 pts)
In a nail-biting finish, this year’s BioWare game very nearly didn’t make it in the top ten, with Wolfenstein 2 just 3 points behind it. Highly anticipated, it was released in March after a troubled production cycle. Upon release, the game had quite a few bugs and facial animations landed squarely in uncanny-valley territory. And yet, those who liked it really did: Andromeda still managed to land on 24 lists and got 4 number-one votes (as many as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, placing seventh in the “most #1” ranking).
“Yes, it had a lot of problems, but it was still more Mass Effect which is a damn good thing.”
“I also came to the game without outrageously high expectations for an epic story akin to the first trilogy ... just looking for a fun romp in space.”
“Still, though, I captained a ship with various aliens under my command. I romanced a guy. I shot guns at things. I was happy with it, and I'm actually kind of disgusted at how much the community turned on BioWare. The game lacked polish, but it was not even close to the trash fire it was made out to be.”
“What can I say. I really like this game.”
– Baron of Hell
“There's easily over 100 hours of gameplay here, but if the developers sought to develop a tighter story with half the total gametime, stronger characters and plot, and more memorable/less repetitive settings, this could have easily been in the top 3. With that said, the combat mechanic is fantastic, and I hope a sequel comes out at some point that isn't in book form.”
“If the same game had been released by a different publisher, with a few changes to disconnect it from the Mass Effect universe, I think it might have received higher praise.”
“There’s so much I love. I like me a good space opera, and Andromeda tells a good one.”
“It still did the vast majority of the things I love about BioWare games to my great satisfaction, and even a B or B- effort from BioWare’s B team is still a pretty damn good game by most other standards.”
“Unjustly maligned, mostly. Was it as good as the entire trilogy that preceded it? No. It was not. Was it about on par with the original Mass Effect, a strong foundation that made me incredibly excited? Absolutely. The setup itself is killer, and it would have made the list on the strength of the theme, 'A Better Beginning,' alone.”
#9… Persona 5 (137 pts)
Announced as far back as 2013, Atlus’ newest installment in the Persona series is a worthy successor that skillfully blends dungeon crawling and social simulation. Most Persona aficionados seem to agree that Persona 4 is the (slightly) better game of the two, and yet 5's popularity is undeniable as it is the first Persona game to make it into the GWJ community top ten. Some critics have even hailed it as the greatest role-playing game of all time. It can’t be denied that battling Shadows has never looked so stylish.
“The JRPG combat is great, and the art design literally has no chains to be on … because it's already broke them all.”
“It felt like a step backwards from P4: Golden, in terms of pacing and dialog, but the style on this game made up for that in spades. Months later, I'm still listening to the soundtrack, and planning out when I can plop another 100 hours for a completionist playthrough.”
“Probably my most anticipated release of 2017 and it did not disappoint. Beautiful art direction, great cast of characters and an interesting story to boot. It kept me playing it nonstop for all 110 hours of it.”
“Partly that’s because it’s just as much a visual novel, a dating game, and a time-management sim as it is a JRPG, but more so it’s because this series, and this entry in particular, insist on having a unique, overwhelming sense of style in every aspect of the game. The art direction, the music, hell even the menus, all work together to communicate something very specific and special in a way that rarely happens in games, or in any other media for that matter.”
“Persona 5 might be the most stylish game ever created.”
“As with the switch from a small town to a big city, the story was on a larger scale and its themes resonated with me and my observations of the world in 2017.”
#8… Divinity: Original Sin II (145 pts)
Considering how popular the first Divinity: Original Sin was, Larian’s success was pretty much assured when they expanded on their vision. The stories, quests and tactical combat were definitely a hit among members of GWJ, and it is, by all accounts, a worthy successor to the good, old cRPG of yore.
“A massive improvement over the first game, both in mechanics and in story, which manages to dial back a lot of the faux-Pratchett sillyness while still giving you about a million ways to interact with the world and develop your character. Played it obsessively through to the end and enjoyed almost every minute of it.”
“This is such a meaty RPG.”
“This is a great tactical RPG with lots of ways to build your party and their abilities, with interesting characters and story. This feels like the spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate that I always wanted.”
“Talk about a juicy, juicy game world, where nearly all the content is interesting! Dense games done poorly can be a slog to work through, but Divinity 2 has been a delight. The amount of systems at play and the amount of variety means I'm hunting around every rock and down every bend in the path, talking to every NPC, and consider how I'll do things differently for the next 100-hour round when I'll boot up a completely new character and party to play.”
“Everything that was great in one is greater in two. The wit, the party design, the way you can combine your skills and the environment to blast the bunk out of people.”
“The game makes full use of these areas, packs them full of interesting places to visit and interesting people to meet, all the while developing 6 compelling personal quest and character arcs for the main characters and leaving it chock full of things to do.”
“This is the closest any cRPG has ever gotten to the pen and paper experience. The writing and VO work is significantly improved over the original, and the systems / mechanics feel custom made to entertain me. I can't understate how much better the storytelling is in comparison to the original.”
“Decent combat system with lots of possibilities to 'exploit', a ton of challenge to be found, and rewarding to play. Lots of ways to solve quests, lots of customization. The dialogue changes a staggering amount depending on which character does the talking.”
#7… PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (163 pts)
If the last two years are any indication, “pub-gee” should be number one. Although that is not the case, the game nevertheless placed fourth in the “most #1” with no less than 10 number-one spots on goodjer lists. Small wonder when one knows how much the community members enjoy playing together. With this online multiplayer battle royale type of game, they sure got their wish.
“This was by far an unexpected surprise.”
“This game made me feel like I was 12 years old again.”
“Winning a solo game was one of the most exhilarating and tense gaming experiences I’ve had.”
“Thank you to GWJ community for making my late-night duo and squad-round marathons the equivalent of poker night with insane friends.”
“The gun and shooting physics are the best I've yet to see in any game.”
“We all die in the circle. We pray to the circle. All is good in the circle.”
– Baron Of Hell
“PUBG comes in and breathes life into a genre that desperately needed it.”
“Can't remember the last time a game gave me such a strong craving to play.”
– Mr Crinkle
#6… Prey (167 pts)
Most sources define Prey as a “first-person shooter”, but it would seem Arkane conceived Prey as a spiritual successor to System Shock, tossing role-playing and stealth elements in the mix. That would make it more psychological horror in my book, but I’m too much of a scaredy-cat to find out for myself. But what do I know? Apparently, having hostile aliens, disguised as coffee cups or chairs, jump out and kill you is fun.
“Excellent, immersive sim."
“Prey is a game that challenges your sense of reality, and leaves me with many questions: How did I have the time to get all the trophies? Why was I so consumed by this game? Who am I? What is that? Is it really a coffee cup?”
“Prey was a great experience. Loved to explore the place and try to get into every room. Lots of interesting mechanisms in the game. The mimics were brilliant.”
“Far and away the best Immersive sim this year and probably ever. It’s a wonderful game that proves less is more and that hiring a writer makes hacking into people’s computers much more fun.”
“Prey lets you explore a cool space station like in Isolation, except that you're a super-powerful assassin, which is a bit more fun and relaxing.”
“It’s a fantastic game with interesting and varied powers and approaches to combat.”
“Prey is also excellent about rewarding player experimentation.”
“The creature designs are quite interesting and impact how you approach exploration and combat. The GLOO gun is a genius innovation.”
“This is the game where I got ambushed by a roll of toilet paper.”
#5… XCOM 2 / XCOM 2: War of the Chosen (195 pts)
Last year, the base game managed to place fourth, so snagging fifth place this year is quite honorable. With the expansion released back in August, Firaxis is building on an already solid turn-based tactical game. Clearly, the highlight of War of the Chosen was allowing the player to create propaganda posters featuring their favorite soldiers (which, of course, were named after fellow community members more often than not).
“I'm always reluctant to include DLC or expansions in my lists, but this one added so much to what was already a good experience. … I love the mod community, and the game is good in its basic form as well.”
“All the new stuff just makes XCOM 2 a more well–rounded game.”
“The latest expansion was also the most fun. It turned XCOM 2 from great to phenomenal. So much extra content that even without the Pavonis mods it is jammed full of goodies.”
“[WotC] is a significant enough change-up to the base game that it led to another long dive down the turn-based strategy rabbithole. Glorious.”
“WotC changed so much about the base game as to basically make it a new game. I love the changes and love that it feels more tactical now.”
“My favourite genre of game is the turn-based strategy, and this game delivers the best of it.”
“Firaxis calls this an expansion. Some less charitable people might call it a glorified mod. For the faithful, this might as well be XCOM 3.”
“It feels like a whole new experience, a completely refined and expanded vision of the base game. It's the Frozen Throne or Brood War of 2017.”
“I loved XCOM. I loved XCOM 2. This is just infinitely better XCOM 2. Better to play, better to stream, more satisfying killing. Worf and Counselor Troi are in it. Tactical turn-based party-based RPGs! Squad-based sure.”
#4… NieR: Automata (200 pts)
Everyone seem to agree that the sequel to NieR is a critical success, with a compelling narrative, thematic depth, gorgeous music design and a fascinating mix of gameplay genres. Focused on a proxy war between machines, the game deals with prejudice, the impulse to kill, and getting out of sticky situations. With an improved combat system, it’s no wonder that the game conquered so many hearts.
“The best kind of weird.”
“Its strength lies in the seamless transitions between bullet hell, side-scroller, and hack-and-slash, and the novelty this brings cannot be overstated.”
“The existential crisis of the sad robots hit me hard and had me thinking for months.”
“This game, particularly the final ending, resonated with me in a way that I haven't connected with a game in over a decade. Six months later, I can still remember the feeling I had when I finished it.”
“I loved the visuals and story.”
“Endings are hard. We remember beginnings and endings. Creating a good ending is a challenge in any media. … Nier: Automata also watches, and ultimately asks you a question: How will you respond to the generosity of others?”
“It starts out with craziness dialed up to eleven. In a good way. In the first 30 minutes it is switching around camera angles, recreating different game genres, finishing off the sequence with cutting off the arm of a giant robot and us[ing] the arm as a weapon against said robot. What is not to like.”
“But the opening is such a love letter to 2D shoot-em-ups, and unlike some of you, I never got tired of dropping into the hacking game. And the ending (the real one) still sticks with me months later.”
#3… Horizon Zero Dawn (340 pts)
You’d think gamers would’ve gotten tired of post-apocalyptic settings by now. You would think. But with HZD, gone are the post-nuclear landscapes, giving away to lush forests. Guerilla Games might’ve taken a risk with this first new intellectual property since Killzone back in 2004, but it’s a risk that definitely paid off. With 14 goodjers placing it at the head of their lists, it’s clear that players fell in love with castout Aloy and the exquisite, robot-populated open-world. The latter even boasts a day-night cycle and a dynamic weather system. The game is evidently to be admired even if some gamers will cringe at the player character using zip lines barehanded.
“My favorite open-world game and narrative this year.”
“A giant map with so many things to do that reward exploration. This is the first game I ever platinumed.”
“It is a merger of a great story game, Monster Hunter-light fighting mechanics and open world.”
“This game has hands-down won my heart between its writing, music, and overall world.”
– Dominic Knight
“Unlike other games featuring targets with multiple critical-hit locations, HZD utilizes its systems to allow the player a plethora of options for dealing with their enemies, each staged and nuanced, instead of dictating a set of locations one after another.”
“The combat controls are tight, the enemies are satisfying and varied, the characters are well-written and engaging, and, turns out, the post-apocalypse is f*cking gorgeous. It was a fairly easy #1 pick for me this year.”
“It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it damn well polishes everything we've seen before, and that's all it needs to do. It's the peak of existing and proven game-mechanics, with an incredibly dorky and fun game world (GIANT DINOSAUR ROBOTS HECK YEAH!).”
“Aloy is my favorite protagonist of 2017. The story is great. The combat is visceral and always fun. This is how AAA games should be made. ‘Nuff said.”
“Perhaps the best story in a game ever. Once everything got going it went on full speed ahead. There are few things more interesting than hunting robots in a post-apocalyptic world.”
– Flintheart Glomgold
“Unique take on post-apocalyptic environment, solid story, very fun combat against interesting enemies, and of course it's pretty.”
#2… Super Mario Odyssey (353 pts)
Mario sets out to save Princess Peach from his nemesis Bowser. Same old story? Perhaps not. While SMO is indeed a platformer featuring the now world-famous plumber, the game returns to the primarily open-ended, exploration-focused gameplay which was popularized in Super Mario 64. It was a bit of a surprise to see this game do so well when it was released at the end of October, but the numbers are there: The game sold over two million copies within three days of its release. It wasn’t #1 very often, but it was nevertheless on no less than 51 lists.
“Great platformer, and it finally sold me on a Switch.”
“Full of great surprises, beautiful art, fair challenges, and so many things to do. An even better iteration on the gameplay, level design, and themes of past Mario 3D titles than I might have thought possible.”
“A very charming game and probably my favorite 3D Mario game.”
“In news to precisely no-one, it turns out that Nintendo are really bloody good at 3D character action games. Really, really good.”
“I'll play every Mario game you throw at me, because Nintendo are experts at what they do, and I love a good platformer.”
“Superb nostalgic jumping filled with aha!-moments of discovery and joy.”
“Mario Odyssey is not frustrating. It has its challenges, but they await you rather than ambush you. This Mario game respects your time.”
“When this game finally was released this year, I spend a lot of time running around in a 3D world, collecting outfits and moons and thoroughly enjoying the creativity of the developers.”
“Around every corner it feels like there is a surprise, and being able to discover all the secret moons is a joy.”
#1… The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (537 pts)
Placing first in all categories (weighted score, most votes, most #1), this Nintendo exclusive won by a country mile and then some. It really shouldn’t be surprising considering the game has broken many records since its release back in April, particularly sales-wise. But beyond the business aspect, BotW has been hailed as the game which truly departs from most games in the series. Boasting a large, lush, open-world environment and a new physics engine, the game’s key concept is freedom. Like other popular games this year, it rewards player experimentation: running, climbing, swimming, paragliding, hiking … and cooking.
“So good I completed it twice! ... Also, it's the first Zelda game I've ever finished.”
“Bravely and brilliantly replaced the longstanding Zelda trope of 'do a few large dungeons, get the Master Sword, do several more large dungeons' with a huge world that's really worth exploring.”
“Zelda games and I have had a long love affair. This just made me love it even more.”
“This is one of the best designed open-world games out there, both mechanically and with the amount of content involved.”
“If there is something that I value in a video game above all else, it is the legitimate feeling that I am on an adventure in an unknown land. BotW had that in spades, and that's before the fun factor and the things it accomplished mechanically.”
“Most importantly the game feels good to play from jump street, allowing you to fuddle your way through bits you might not enjoy, while also really get into shield-surfing and carrying around a 3-star restaurant's worth of cooked meals.”
“The difficulty is just right, and the pick-up-and go nature of it was perfect for my lifestyle. It's a damn fine example of what the Switch was made for.”
“Easily the best game I've played this year.”
“Before I'd even finished the game's starting area on the Grand Plateau, I knew that Breath of the Wild was something unique and different. Imbued with a restless and relentless energy, Breath of the Wild continually pushes – no, shoves – players out of their rhythm, out of their comfort zone, out of their habits and into a new and volatile situation.”
- SteamWorld Dig 2
This sequel to the indie darling would’ve been ninth had we been counting the number of times a game featured on a player’s list (we don’t).
“Solid digging gameplay with lots of fun character upgrades, both major and minor.”
- SUPERHOT VR
Clearly, the most innovative VR-shooter gamers have played in years.
“No game has ever made me feel like such a badass.”
- The ones who got pushed away
Four games used to be on someone’s list until that list got edited, and those games were abandoned. Let their names be uttered lest they be forgotten! Mysterium: A Psychic Clue Game, Titanfall: Assault, Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) and ENYO.
Two Nintendo exclusives take the cake with Zelda placing first, ME:A still made tenth and The Witcher 3 was NOT the first game in goodjer history to snag a spot three years in a row.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (537 pts)
- Super Mario Odyssey (353 pts)
- Horizon Zero Dawn (340 pts)
- Nier: Automata (200 pts)
- XCOM 2 (195 pts)
- Prey (167 pts)
- PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS (163 pts)
- Divinity: Original Sin II (145 pts)
- Persona 5 (137 pts)
- Mass Effect: Andromeda (119 pts)