As 2017 ends and 2018 begins, Eric takes a look at some of his favorite gaming experiences of the past year, and ends looking ahead to the next.
Favorite Gaming Moment of 2017
Back in 2015, I called The Unfinished Swan’s third level my favorite gaming moment of the year, because of how it subverted the expectations earlier levels had set up. This year, studio Giant Sparrow released next game, What Remains of Edith Finch, and I was even more impressed. In Edith Finch, the player walks through a towering house, experiencing vignettes with a whimsy reminiscent of The Unfinished Swan. Though each vignette ends similarly (spoiler: everyone dies), they were all well-crafted stories told in starkly different ways, whether that’s through a series of Polaroid pictures, a comic book, or a merging of fantasy and reality in a fish cannery. It was both the game that impressed me the most with its design breadth, and the game that had the strongest emotional impact on me this year. Not bad for something I completed in an afternoon.
Honorable Mention: Butterfly Soup had me at 사랑해.
Favorite Game of 2017 That I Didn’t Play
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds gave me an experience unlike any I’ve had before in gaming. The frantic beginnings of a match, watching as someone parachutes down beside you and knowing whoever can’t find a gun first will soon be dead. The tension of looting a house with gunshots in the distance. The panicked rush across an open field to avoid the blue circle, knowing you’re unprotected from anyone who sees you. The harrowing final moments searching for the last few alive, and the elation of winning after 30 anxious minutes. PUBG is the only game that’s given me all those emotions in such a short amount of time, and I don’t even have the hardware to play it. Instead, I spent the year living vicariously through those who did, watching as Heather Alexandra won a chicken dinner in the first match she streamed while Crowbar and Sickle struggled for months to get theirs, staring in awe as various players have singlehandedly taken down 30+ opponents in a single match, and enjoying the wild moments (and bugs) from DearSomeone’s highlight videos. I wish I could’ve played PUBG myself, but because of the community around it, it’s still one of my favorite games of the year.
Honorable Mention: I don’t have a Nintendo Switch, so I don’t have The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild either. But I’m blown away by all the shenanigans I’ve watched and read about, that are possible only because Nintendo made a game that so naturally acts as a wonderful playground for its players’ curiosity.
Most Anticipated Game of 2018
“Most Anticipated” too often means “Best Marketing,” and having been burnt before, it can be hard for me to get too excited about future releases without skepticism seeping in. That said, there’s no game I’ve wanted more, ever, than a new, proper console version of Monster Hunter. The PS2’s Monster Hunter is one of my favorite games of all time, but its online mode is dead, and I’ve only been able to sparingly play the latter games in the franchise. The series has of course changed over the past decade, and Monster Hunter World looks like it’s significantly evolved from the game I knew. Whether that evolution is for better or worse, I won’t know until I play it, but I am beyond ready to sink another hundred hours into the series. January 26 can’t come soon enough.
Honorable Mention: To be totally honest, there’s nothing that I’m looking forward to anywhere near as much as Monster Hunter World. Rather, I’m banking on the games I’ll end up enjoying most being ones completely off my radar until release (see: What Remains Of Edith Finch, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds). That said, there’s plenty of games I missed in 2017 that I still want to play, particularly Nier: Automata.