This is an unnumbered, “soft” ranking of my favourite games of 2017. Since 2017 was a fantastic year for games, I also included a 2nd list (in no particular order) of games that didn’t quite make the cut, but probably would have made it into my favourites in most other years.
Let’s start with my favourite game of 2017, which has pretty much been set in stone since March:
Breath of the Wild
BotW came as a big surprise to me. The Zelda games, specifically Ocarina of Time, may have been my favourite games as a kid, but I lost interest in the series in my teens and hadn’t played a single new entry since The Wind Waker. So I wasn’t particularly interested in BotW until the first reviews rolled in, which described a game that sounded like it was made with me in mind. I played more than 100 hours in a single month, something I probably hadn’t done since my teenager days.
Hours played certainly isn’t an indicator of quality, as many games built on addicting loops illustrate, but it wasn’t the compulsion of levelling up or collecting loot that kept me hooked. There’s simply a kind of magic to BotW that’s unlike anything I’ve experienced since, say, OoT or Baldur’s Gate 2. From the very opening, in which Link emerges from his cave to a vista of Hyrule expanding below him, BotW conjures one intensely memorable moment after the other. One of my favourite moments was a remarkably simple thing. I was climbing the Duelling Peaks early in the game when I saw something enormous move in the margins of the screen. It was an ethereal dragon (Farosh, as I found out hours later) flying over Lake Hylia far off in the distance, and I just stood there, mesmerised. To me, these fleeting moments perfectly encapsulate why BotW succeeds as an open world game where so many before it failed.
Find more of my thoughts about BotW here, plus some pretty screenshots: