Is anyone else feeling the pressure? That is, the pressure to play all of the games that have generated positive buzz in 2017 so far. What an incredible year we’ve already had (at least, in the gaming industry, that is; everything else has gone to shit).
But already in 2017, we’ve had many game of the year contenders and other great games that should not be skipped or forgotten. We’re not even halfway through the year, and what are going to be remembered as the best games of 2017 have already released.
I know, I know — it’s impossible to keep up with all of the upcoming games and which ones you should actually play, and the year is only going to get worse (or better, depending on how you look at it). If your backlog is already out of control, just remember that June and July will be slower months when it comes to new game releases, so you might have time to catch up (strong emphasis on might there, though).
Whether you’re a PS4 gamer, an Xbox One fanboy, a PC master racer, or you’re looking for more new Nintendo Switch games to play, the list below contains the best games this year so far.
Resident Evil 7 Biohazard
Resident Evil 7 received impressive (and, honestly, unexpected) universal critical acclaim upon its release. It really gave the Resident Evil name a new meaning, giving the franchise an upclose and personal feel, thanks to its first-person perspective — a first for the franchise. It is a grounded horror game with supernatural elements, and the world design is some of the best you’ll find in the horror genre to date.
The game takes a much slower than usual pace for the RE franchise, and it’s filled with thrilling moments, tough boss battles, and all of the atmospheric fear you can find. Even though the game is from the first person perspective, it still has the feel of a horror adventure, as you try to make your way off of the Baker family’s estate. RE7 does a lot of things well, and very few things not well, making it an absolute must-play game for horror fans.
Three words: samurai Dark Souls.
That’s really all you should need to hear about Team Ninja’s Nioh, which released in February 2017. It’s a PS4-exclusive, and it’s one of the best PS4 games available on the platform. In fact, it’s the 9th best-selling PS4 game so far.
Nioh is set in the early 1600s during a Japanese civil war where a sailor named William (a character actually based on a historic Western samurai named William Adams) is enlisted by Hattori Hanzo to defeat yokai who are taking over the colony. It has some supernatural elements, and the combat is some of the best hack n’ slash fighting you’ll find in the genre. In Nioh, you have a plethora of different weapons available to you, and which one you choose to master is solely up to the player. What’s more, you’ll have varying levels of success against certain enemies based on what sort of weapon you’re using against them.
While not quite as unforgiving with its difficulty as Dark Souls, it has an undeniable Dark Souls feel to it (which is exactly what Koei Tecmo was marketing the game as). If ninjas and samurais are what you’re into, Nioh is a good game for you.
Halo Wars 2
You might be surprised to see Halo Wars 2 on this list of the best games of 2017, but we firmly believe that the game’s success is only a product of its poor marketing and the stigma attached to it because of it being a console RTS. The original Halo Wars was middling and polarizing, but Halo Wars 2 truly deserves your attention (if you’re an RTS fan and an Xbox One owner).
Microsoft has certainly advanced the franchise forward with this release, adding enhancements to the control scheme, adding control groups, and making the game more easy to digest in its initial few battles (thanks to a great introductory section). Despite its sort of anticlimatic ending, the campaign is memorable and well-done.
What’s more, there are numerous multiplayer game modes available, with considerably more options than your average RTS and unique modes like Blitz.
Unfortunately, no one is talking about Halo Wars 2, and it feels like a game that released to little fanfare and went away. Perhaps it was because everyone was already flooded with the other great games of 2017, or perhaps it was because of the stigma of the console RTS game. But with intuitive controls that don’t feel clunky, great visuals, and an impressive breadth of multiplayer content, it’s the best console RTS to date.
See Also: All Xbox One Exclusives of 2017
Horizon Zero Dawn
One of the most memorable games of 2017 so far is Horizon Zero Dawn, and it’s a game that has certainly been in the spotlight this year. This PS4 exclusive open world adventure game places you in the role of Aloy, a bow-wielding hunter set in a future where humans are overtaken by robots.
It has some RPG elements like skill trees and looting, as well as crafting. Its visuals are impressive, its open world is expansive and detailed, and its story is worthy of our praise. Aloy is a character who is easy to care about, and the cool tech she contains paired with her skilled archery make her a memorable character. Pair that with the fact that she’s up against a slew of cool-looking robotic enemies and you’ve got yourself one of the best new IPs of 2017.
Horizon Zero Dawn is the best-selling new first party IP on the PlayStation 4 to date.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Link’s newest journey is as unforgettable as they come, and it serves as an impressive showcase for what Nintendo’s new console/handheld hybrid can do. In fact, we’re now two months after the release of the Switch, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild still gets the majority of our time.
There are virtually no major flaws in BoTW, and it has quickly become one of our favorite games of all-time here at Nerd Much?. Solving puzzles, killing Moblins and Bokoblins, and finding loot are some of the elements that make the game great. Gliding off of a tower, snowboarding on your shield, and cooking are some of the game’s most satisfying moments. It’s also one of the most difficult Zelda games to date, as you’ll frequently see the “Game Over” graphic pop up while you’re playing.
Breath of the Wild is the most wholly satisfying game on this list.
Another great Nintendo Switch game is Fast RMX, a game that feels like a new-age version of F-Zero. It was Switch launch title, and it did a great job showcasing the Switch’s power, running at mostly 1080p and 60fps while docked, with zero framerate issues or other graphical hiccups.
Despite its weak and forgettable soundtrack, the high-octane racing gameplay makes it a great experience. Each track has its own vibe, and there are some unique obstacles to overcome with each. The course variation is top-notch, and each race is challenging. What’s more, it has offline, splitscreen multiplayer, so you can play some good ole’ fashioned couch co-op with your friend or loved one. It’s not a full-price game, which earns it extra bonus points, as it’s a purchase you really can’t go wrong with.
For more upcoming Nintendo Switch games, check out our roundup.
Ghost Recon Wildlands
Ubisoft’s latest open world attempt is Ghost Recon Wildlands, which for all intents and purposes serves as reskinned The Division (without the flaws). If you’re looking for the best game to play online with friends, Ghost Recon Wildlands will give any new 2017 game a run for its money. While solo play is just as viable, the game is at its best when you’re scheming with your friends on how to take down a hideout.
While it does become a bit repetitive in nature, there’s enough to keep you engaged and wanting to play more with your friends. It’s also graphically impressive, with plenty of visual eye candy to chew on, ranging from lush jungles, mountains, and snowy terrain. The majority of launch bugs have been ironed out as of now, so the experience is even better than it initially was. If you like the idea of playing a tactical shooter with your friends, Ghost Recon Wildlands is a great option.
Nier: Automata has been successful in bringing in a new audience for Nier. The action role-playing game from PlatinumGames is one of their more polished products. Automata is set during a proxy war between alien-created machines and the last remaining human civilization, with you taking on the role of YoRHa No. 2 Model B (referred to as “2B” for short), a female-model android, who is accompanied by a recon android named 9S and a prototype droid named A2.
It’s Nier: Automata‘s uniqueness that makes it such a great game to check out. The live action combat paired with RPG elements and incredibly fun movement abilities makes it a must-play.
The game is filled with beautiful environments and a memorable soundtrack, and 2B has become a fan favorite of the franchise.
Plus, there are zombie clowns. Zombie. Clowns.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Facegate 2017 got in the way of most enjoying Mass Effect: Andromeda. But now that EA has updated the game and fixed that issue, it’s safe to pick-up Andromeda again — and it’s a game you really shouldn’t miss.
You’ll take on the role of Ryder as he (or she, depending on your customization options) commands the Tempest, his (or her) ship. The game spans over 50 hours and is set in an expansive world, and it contains quite a few memorable moments that are reminiscent of the first three entries in the Mass Effect series. Its spacey soundtrack helps to fuel the sci-fi atmosphere, and the game has some of the best shooting mechanics found in a third person shooter.
It’d be a shame to let the game’s botched launch ruin its appeal, but we’re to confirm that it’s actually quite a fun action-RPG now.
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Sumo Digital
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
Genre: Platformer Puzzle Game
Snake Pass slithered its way to success in March, and it seems to be a game that both the PC gamer and Nintendo Switch crowd are gravitating towards. It’s a physics based game that places you in the roll of a snake, tasking you with traversing through levels as a snake would. It holds “Very Positive” reviews on Steam with most noting its high level of amusement. It looks great too, and it has a nostalgic charm while, at the same time, being a refreshing take on the platforming genre. The 3D snake adventure is one of the most endearing games of 2017 so far, and it’s one of our top choices if you’re looking for something to play on the go for your Switch.
One of the most underappreciated games on the Switch right now is Frozenbyte’s Has-Been Heroes, and we definitely recommend the Switch version if you have Nintendo’s latest console. The game is perfect for on-the-go fun. Basically, you’ll pick a party of three former heroes to control in a series of turn-based battles of varying difficulty. You’ll have to manage your time as best you can to defeat your foes as quickly as possible before they’re able to take out one of your characters. Each character has a cooldown between attacks and spells, and each has a different set of spells. What’s more, you’re able to unlock new spells as you play. And as you continue to get further and further in the game, you’ll unlock more characters to choose from in future rounds. The art style is gorgeous, and it’s a cool little indie game to keep you amused during your daily downtime.
MLB: The Show 17
If you’re both a gamer and a baseball fan, there really is no other option than MLB: The Show 17. The series is undeniably a system seller for Sony, as each year its quality is taken up a notch. Its graphical prowess is also undeniable, and if you want to live the lives of your favorite baseball all-stars, it is the best baseball game there is, hands-down.
This year’s game brings a brand new feature, Retro Mode, which takes things back to the 90s with a top down view and one button gameplay. What’s more, it’ll be couch co-op — so prepare to tear apart your friend’s pitching style in a heated game of classic baseball.
Persona 5 has taken the series’ popularity in the U.S. to an entirely new level, bringing in a massive new audience. While it does have the same vibes that Persona 4 did, it feels like simply more; it’s Persona, but to the nth degree. The game is brimming with style — a unique style, at that — and that seems to be the element that is catching the eye of newcomers. The game sets you in Tokyo at a fictional school after wrongfully being put on probation for an assault he didn’t commit. Throughout the school year, the protagonist and other students awaken Persona powers, becoming masked vigilantes known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. The Phantom Thieves of Hearts explore the supernatural Palace realm by night, stealing ill intent from the evil hearts of adults. To do so, they’ll battle these enemies using Personas, manifestations of their psyche.
The RPG is one of the most unique in the genre, and it’s just one of the reasons that Persona 5 is held to such high acclaim.
Developer: Red Barrels Studio
Publisher: Red Barrels Studio
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Mac
Genre: Survival Horror
There’s no denying that horror games are on the rise, and thanks to Resident Evil 7 and Outlast 2, 2017 has been off to a great start for horror fans. The direct sequel to 2013’s Outlast from Red Barrels Studio is terrifying on all fronts. The story is focused around a journalist by the name of Blake Langerman and his wife, Lynn, who will attempt to find out more about the murder of a pregnant Jane Doe in the Arizona desert.
But when their helicopter crashes, man and wife are separated, and you’ll take on the role of Blake in an attempt to find Lynn, tasking you with traveling through a strange village inhabited by a cult who believes it’s the end of days. The cult partakes in some crazy rituals using scripture, and it’s loaded with religious undertones that give it a sort of True Detective Season 1 vibe.
Little Nightmares is a AAA game with an indie game’s soul. It’s a puzzle platforming adventure game with some horror vibes, feeling like a Tim Burton movie made for the Saturday morning cartoon crowd. Its incredibly crafted nightmarish world is its most impressive attribute, thanks to its unique art style that captures every grotesque detail of the characters and the world around them. While it isn’t exactly scary, and the puzzle elements are easy, it’s a game worth experiencing, especially when you factor in that it isn’t a full-priced game.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Honestly, what’s not to love about Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? It’s one of those games that most Nintendo fans skipped the first time around because it was on the Wii U, and, well, no one really bought a Wii U. The Deluxe version comes with all maps and characters already unlocked, and a revamped Battle Mode that’s absolutely incredible. There are also new maps and characters exclusive to the Switch, and it runs at 1080p 60fps when docked, with every pixel brilliantly displayed. It is, hands-down, the best Mario Kart to date.
Prey is certainly one of the strangest video game developments we’ve seen in quite some time. It’s using the name of an old license that Bethesda had, but the game isn’t related to the original Prey from 2006 at all. But the atmospheric borderline horror game plays like BioShock but with morphing aliens — that statement alone checks a lot of boxes.
You’ll control Morgan Yu as he explores space station Talos I, a research station performing experiments on hostile aliens, deriving weapons and abilities from the aliens that are being studied. It has interesting world design that basically is one continuous game world, as opposed to missions or levels. You’ll have to traverse back and forth to areas you’ve been to before in order to advance the story, all while avoiding the alien race that has overtaken the space station. It’s part sci-fi horror and part mystery, with unique gameplay elements. Its soundtrack is also one of the most unique you’ll find in 2017 so far.
See Also: Upcoming Games