When I wrote this blog post last year, I praised 2016 for how much better it was than 2015. Now that 2017 is in the books, I'm in the same situation as I look back at 2017 as one of my favorite gaming years of my lifetime. Back in October, I joked in a tweet that "If you told 10 y/o Brian there'd be a year with a new Nintendo system, new Zelda, Mario, & 2 new Sonics, he'd freak out. Also 30 y/o Brian." While I said that in jest, there was a lot of truth to that. I couldn't believe how many of my favorite franchises were getting new games, and that Nintendo would also release an awesome new system. But the year didn't stop there. 2017 also delivered one of my favorite JRPGs of all time, as well as an open-world action game that could have probably taken the number one spot on my list nearly any other year. It was an incredible year for games, so I wanted to continue what I did last year and break down my top 10 list of the year.

Just so you know how I was coming into 2017, here were my top 10 games of 2016:

  1. Overwatch
  2. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
  3. Final Fantasy XV
  4. Hyper Light Drifter
  5. Titanfall 2
  6. Doom
  7. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  8. Pokémon Sun & Moon
  9. Clash Royale
  10. Pokémon Go

For all the games I finished in 2017, head here.

10. Destiny 2

I liked the first Destiny just fine, but it had substantial problems in both its storytelling and its structure. Destiny 2 drastically improves in both of those areas, delivering the out-of-the-box experience I wanted from the first game. Regardless of any issues with microtransactions or repetition stemming from the overall structure of Destiny 2, I'm still hard pressed to find any developer that does gunplay better than Bungie. The act of shooting a gun in Destiny 2 feels better than any game I can think of, and when you're talking about a first-person shooter, that goes a long way. Joining up with my fellow Guardians was a highlight throughout my September and October that I still look back on fondly to this day.

9. Cuphead

Initially, I tweeted out that I was not interested in playing Cuphead due to its punishing difficulty. I loved the art style and the studio's devotion to paying homage to animation of the early 1900s, but the gameplay only looked to frustrate me. However, as hype rose in the communities I follow, and I watched Twitch streamers try to tackle the difficult boss battles, my disdain turned to intrigue. Soon after launch, I folded and bought a copy of Cuphead on Xbox Live. While the difficulty does make me want to toss my controller into a wall from time to time, the simple core gameplay eases my frustration with each new boss. Combine the great feeling you get from learning a boss pattern with the extreme sense of triumph after you finally vanquish the villainous creature and you have an experience that I couldn't from any other game in 2017.

8. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

The story of Chloe and Nadine in The Lost Legacy is among one of my favorite tales from 2017. Watching the ragtag duo go from reluctant collaborators to lifelong friends over the course of the game is a joy. On top of that, you have a terrific Uncharted adventure that builds on what Naughty Dog accomplished with Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (my favorite in the series). With The Lost Legacy, Naughty Dog even nailed the puzzles, one aspect I typically haven't liked in Uncharted games. For me, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was the complete package, and the perfect reminder as to why the series is a must-play for me.

7. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

I've been looking forward to a true follow-up to The New Order ever since I played it back in 2014, and I was not disappointed. The New Order delivered some surprisingly human moments amidst the chaos of Nazi slaying and over-the-top narrative sequences, and Wolfenstein II takes those aspects to the next level. I distinctly remember at least three cutscenes where I caught my mouth hanging open in disbelief as the events unfolded on-screen. That's not to mention the terrific action and the awesome cast that I grew to love over the several hours it takes to beat the game.

6. Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 is an awesome game for both newcomers and franchise veterans. As a prequel entry to the main series, it tells the stories of Kiryu and Majima 10 years prior to the first Yakuza game, meaning it answers questions for fans of the franchise, while aptly setting the stage for the story for those new to the series. The distinct fighting styles are a blast to experiment with as both characters, but what I found myself most gripped by was the day-to-day soap opera of the dueling crime families in Japan. Following the drama as both Kiryu and Majima form alliances and make life-altering decisions was gripping through to the final, epic showdown.

5. Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Shadow of Mordor was my favorite game in 2014, so of course I was looking forward to Shadow of War in 2017. Thankfully, Shadow of War did exactly what I wanted it to do; it expanded the world substantially while making the amazing Nemesis system much more meaningful. The act of building up your army in each region, then assaulting a fortress was what I always hoped for in a fully realized version of Monolith's Nemesis system. But the developer didn't stop there. After you take down the fortress, you must defend it from Sauron's forces, which adds an entirely new element to the gameplay loop. The game is intricate and full of systems, but for the end-user, it feels streamlined and organic. I loved exploring what I could do as Talion as I built my power and became the ultimate threat to Sauron's forces in Mordor.

4. Persona 5

I've never been a fan of the Persona series, but Persona 5 grabbed my attention by alleviating the slow-burn intros of past entries while absolutely oozing with style. The visuals are terrific, and the soundtrack immediately hooked me, but even more impressive is how Persona 5 maintained my interest for over 120 hours. The amazing story, the compelling relationships you build, the awesome combat, and the immersive setting all come together to create one of my favorite JRPGs of all time.

3. Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn is a game that is so up my alley it's ridiculous. The world is massive while maintaining its accessibility, and the story does a great job of leaving little ambiguity in the answers to its biggest mysteries. Aloy does an exemplary job filling the role of lead character in such a huge game, and Guerrilla Games should be commended for branching out beyond its synonymous series, Killzone, with a superb first open-world effort with Horizon Zero Dawn. I can't wait to see where Guerrilla goes from here.

2. Super Mario Odyssey

I grew up with the Mario franchise, so of course I'm going to be excited for a new Super Mario game. However, with Super Mario Odyssey, I had more than my fair share of concerns going in. I wasn't sold on the capture mechanic, and I didn't really want to play as other things in the world; just let me play as Mario! However, after getting my hands on it at both E3 in June and at Nintendo of America a couple months before release, I was sold. While I still prefer controlling Mario with his versatile moveset, possessing other inhabitants of the world presents fun, new challenges unlike anything the franchise has ever delivered. I loved the constant nods to the series' past, including a few moments that stick out as some of my favorite moments in gaming in 2017. Super Mario Odyssey is an endlessly joyful experience that beats out Super Mario 64, as well as both Galaxy games, to claim the top spot as my favorite 3D Mario game of all time.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

With Super Mario Odyssey releasing this year, it would take something truly special to dethrone it as my game of the year. That's exactly what happened with the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nintendo opened up Hyrule in unprecedented ways to create one of the most explorable games I've ever played. Around every corner, I discovered new wonders that drove me to search every inch of the world. When you first leave the plateau, the fight against Ganon seems a lifetime away, and your journey gives you that experience as you find progressively better weapons, solve increasingly more difficult shrines, and devise strategies to take down some truly formidable foes. Breath of the Wild kicked off a terrific first year for the Switch, and is a game that is sure to be studied for years to come.

Honorable Mentions:

Sonic Mania - With retro gameplay, a nostalgic aesthetic, and new twists on the familiar formula, Sonic Mania delivers the game fans have been waiting decades for.

Golf Story - One of the biggest surprises of 2017, Golf Story brings back the classic top-down golf gameplay and frames it in a whacky, endearing RPG about a golfer's rise of prominence.

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle - A delightful turn-based strategy game from Ubisoft proves that Nintendo is taking more risks with its IPs.

Injustice 2 - NetherRealm's brand of fighting games are always mechanically sound, and Injustice 2's terrific story mode lets non-fighting game fans get in on the fun.

Sundered - This maddeningly difficult Metroid/Castlevania-inspired action game features smooth combat and gorgeous hand-drawn animations that continually wowed me.

Hob - I loved Hob when I first played it years prior to release, and while the world can be frustrating to traverse at times, I loved the feeling of reactivating ancient power sources to uncover the mysteries of the beautiful world.

Splatoon 2 - The core multiplayer modes that made the first Splatoon such a hit are back, and the new Salmon Run wave-based survival mode is a blast, but my favorite part of this package is probably the imaginative single-player campaign.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole - With more engaging combat, fun references to pop culture, the television show, and the previous game, and a story that goofs on superhero movies, The Fractured But Whole improves on The Stick of Truth in myriad ways.