Feature

Game Informer's Best Of 2017 Awards

by Game Informer Staff on Jan 04, 2018 at 12:27 PM

2017 saw the release of so many great games that our yearly deliberations for choosing the best of them was a longer, more drawn-out fight between our editors than usual. From groundbreaking entries in long-running series to a slew of innovative newcomers, players of all kinds of games had something to love.

You can find our yearly list of the 50 best games of 2017 in the latest issue of Game Informer, but we've also doled out several other honors, including the best platform exclusives, the most exciting games to refine and move genres forward, and more. Check out the full list of winners, including Game Informer's Game of the Year award.

Best Exclusives Awards

Best Sony Exclusive: Horizon Zero Dawn

Foregoing a sequel to create a new franchise is always a risky bet, but it paid off for Guerrilla games, which made pivoting from first-person shooters to action-RPGs look easy. Horizon's world is not only gorgeous, but filled with lots of hunting, quests, and enemies to pursue. Aloy's story is also filled with both intriguing mysteries and plenty of spectacle, making it the best Sony exclusive in a competitive year.

Best Microsoft Exclusive: Cuphead

Microsoft may not have had the strongest exclusive lineup this year, but that doesn't make Cuphead any less impressive. Although most players will come to it for its jaw-dropping cartoon visuals, most of them should stick around for the tough-as-nails shooter gameplay, which not only makes each boss a visual treat, but a satisfying challenge to overcome.

Best Nintendo Exclusive: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nintendo had one of its strongest years ever in 2017, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the biggest reasons why. It breaks the Zelda formula apart and builds a more trusting, adventurous world out of it – one where you never know what the next snow-capped mountain or jungle basin will show you.

Best PC Exclusive: Divinity: Original Sin II

In Divinity: Original Sin II, absolute freedom of choice melds with a fun and strategic combat system to give players the chance to explore a majestic fantasy world. Whether you want to beat down the opposition, blast them into oblivion, or even talk your way out of trouble, this PC RPG is one of the best.

Best Mobile/Handheld Exclusive: Metroid: Samus Returns

MercurySteam's take on Metroid in Samus Returns feels true to what has made the series great throughout the years: Diverse environments, secrets galore, and backtracking that feels self-motivated instead of tedious. Even better, the melee counter fixes the issues with close-range combat, and the Aeon abilities streamline many of the original game's pacing issues.

Best Genre Awards

Best Action Game: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild's combat might seem simple at first glance, but reveals its depth with every group of enemies you encounter. Although slicing or dodging your way to victory works well enough, figuring out how Hyrule's many environments, weather formations, and physics interact with each other lead to dozens of memorable one-off moments.

Best Adventure Game: What Remains of Edith Finch

What Remains of Edith Finch's somber tales excel at keeping you riveted even as you know what's coming. Each member of the Finch family has their own story to tell, and seeing them play out as you explore their family home not only makes for several great moments, but builds a larger tale about the nature of death and how we make meaning out of it.

Best Competitive Multiplayer: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

The Battle Royale genre isn't new, but nobody has done it better than PUBG. Stripping out some of the more tedious elements of the genre while infusing it with more streamlined and active ones, PUBG finally made the appeal of surviving all on your own (or with friends) click, and the combination of hilarious hjinks and heart-pounding shootouts is like few games we've played before.

Best Cooperative Multiplayer: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands

Ghost Recon Wildlands makes great use of its enormous world by making the entire, 60-hour campaign playable with your friends. Playing with a group made every session the right mix of tactical and comical action, whether you were coordinating attacks with one person manning a drone or watching an idiotic ally waltz into a heavily fortified base with their safety and suppressor off.

Best Fighting Game: Injustice 2

Injustice 2 both refines and expands the core of the series, and made for an interesting test-case along the way. Injustice 2's fighting not only feels faster and more fluid than ever, but the story mode is breezy and fun. The loot system offers players of any level a reason to keep playing, making it easier to get better and learn the game's nuances.

Best Racing Game: Dirt 4

The Dirt series encompasses multiple offroad racing disciplines, but what makes Dirt 4 exceptional is its new career structure that includes upgradable facilities and staff members, and the need to constantly repair and improve the parts of your cars. Add in the pair of compounds for some freewheeling fun and the limitless rally stages you can create and share via the Your Stage feature, and Dirt 4 is both a triumphant return for the franchise and a bright beginning.

Best Role-Playing Game: Persona 5

Persona 5's plot turns the premise of the series on its head, making your band of teenagers into the agents of change instead of the vanguard against it. What's more, the combat system and dungeons were more intricate than ever, with new elements and tactics to keep every encounter fresh and challenging, even 100 hours in.

Best Platforming Game: Super Mario Odyssey

Cappy, Mario's new best friend in Super Mario Odyssey, is much more than a gimmick. His abilities make Mario's movement better than ever, as it lets him jump to new heights and play as all kinds of other characters. Add to that the dozen-plus worlds with their own secrets to uncover, and you have a platformer for the ages.

Best Puzzle Game: Bye-Bye Boxboy

Boxboy has been the quiet puzzle hero of the 3DS since its first entry in 2015 (which also won the award for best puzzle game that year). The third entry in the series, Bye-Bye Boxboy, is the best of the trilogy. It doesn’t reinvent the core puzzle mechanic of creating boxes to make your way through a level, but it adds a collection of new box types that radically change puzzle solutions and are fun to use.

Best MMO: Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood

Take the adventure underwater with two new job classes and a wealth of new adventures. The Samurai and Red Mage offer two new ways to play damage-inflicting roles, and there's a ton of new content to explore, from raids and dungeons to picturesque new cities.

Best Rhythm/Music: Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone

Even as Hatsune Miku becomes a worldwide phenomenon and music sensation, she hasn't forgotten her interactive roots. Project Diva Future Tone is a jam-packed rhythm game, with over 220 songs for players to master across several difficulties. As you learn the nuances and earn higher marks, you unlock dozens of costumes, making for a game fans won't soon put down.

Best Shooter: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

PUBG's enormous maps, player count, and single-life premise create shootouts that are tense, euphoric, and endlessly varied. Seeing a player running over a hill at a distance might make you wary of their sniper rife, but spotting them inside the halls of the school you're ransacking is even more terrifying.

Best Simulation Game: Slime Rancher

Slime Rancher combines a number of fun activities and integrates them all into one satisfying loop. Catching and effectively managing by crossbreeding them and upgrading corrals creates a great sense of progression. The more you dig into Slime Rancher, the more you can experiment with and optimize your own playstyle, making for a sim that's not only cute, but deep.

Best Strategy Game: XCOM 2: War of the Chosen

We’re not surprised Firaxis was able to deliver another robust strategy experience, but we are surprised this expansion adds so much to XCOM 2’s base game without breaking the balance. Every mission seems to dish out a new enemy, mission type, or environment to explore, and the new character archetypes make great additions to your squad. The titular Chosen are challenging foes you fight several times, but nothing is more rewarding than putting the final nail in their coffins.

Best Sports Game: NBA 2K18

It's a repeat victory for the NBA 2K franchise, and part of that is that this year's title continues the series' evolution in multiple modes. Walk around The Neighborhood and bolster your MyCareer player via a new progression system, play through the new MyGM story mode, and enjoy improved gameplay thanks to a revamped motion system. NBA 2K18 was rightly criticized for the MyCareer grind, prominence of its VC microtransactions, and continuing server problems, but it's still the strongest sports title of the year.

Best Virtual Reality Game: Robo Recall

In a year filled with lackluster VR releases, Robo Recall was the one that roared. An exciting, Time Crisis-inspired jaunt through a futuristic city that allows you to bowl decapitated robot heads into enemies or deflect bullets back at them, this Oculus exclusive is VR’s strongest, most creative action showcase yet.

Best Remaster: Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

The Zodiac Age spruced up Final Fantasy XII's graphics for PS4, but the most important improvements were to gameplay. The revamped license board makes it easier to plan out your party's progression, and speeding up exploration and combat help make FFXII's enormous zones less tedious to explore. This makes FFXII even better than you remember it – the mark of a truly great remaster.

Game Of The Year

Game of the Year: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nintendo could have kept riding the Zelda formula to success with Breath of the Wild, but they didn't. Instead, they broke that mold open and fulfilled the series' promise of creating a rich world you could explore on your own terms. Along the way, Nintendo made its own mark on open-world games, letting players plan and carve their own path across Hyrule without dozens of icons goading them to explore. As such, each new discovery feels like a surprise rather than an expected treat. In a year packed with landmark titles, our Game of the Year debate was intense and difficult, but Breath of the Wild's reimagining of how we explore video game worlds won out.