Editors' Choice Awards 2017, Part Three - Gaming
- 20 December, 2017 09:00
Despite more than a few high-profile duds like Mass Effect: Andromeda, Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Agents of Mayhem, 2017 still managed to offer up a surprisingly robust catalog of games for both enthusiasts and casuals alike. Though it'll likely go down as the year Nintendo bounced back with the handheld Switch, that's only part of the story. All things considered, 2017 might actually be one of the strongest years in video games in recent memory.
Here are our highlights:
Best VR Experience
Winner: Robo Recall
It felt like 2017 was the year that VR gaming finally began to mature. Robo Recall kicked off this trend in spectacular style. Developed by industry-vets Epic Games, it delivered a level of swagger, polish and outright fun that isn’t often found in the indie-driven VR scene. While the game’s exclusivity to the Oculus Rift has been a point of contention for some, it’s still an absolute blast in motion - regardless of whether you’re playing or spectating. Robo Recall wasn’t the only VR game to rise above the label of ‘good for a VR game’ this year. However, it’s arrival in March set a heightened tone - not to mention level-of-quality - that the rest of the year’s VR releases strove to follow.
Runner Up: Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-Ality
Winner: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
There’s a fairly strong argument to be made that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds should be named Game of the Year. Despite only being in early access, talk of and on-going fascination with the online sandbox “battle royale” shooter permeated every corner of the gaming world.
Fortunately, this hype wasn’t without good cause. The simple setup, combined with refreshing reliance on unpredictable human interactions, made for a flavor of dynamic online multiplayer experience that was well worthy of the avid community around the game. Rarely has a game been so worthy of the lightning-in-a-bottle success and attention it's garnered.
Runner Up: Destiny 2
Winner: Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy
It’s 2017, and a Crash Bandicoot game sold out at launch. The fact that such a sentence can be dismissed as ‘fake news’ is about as solid of an argument for Crash to take out the crown as these things come.
Remixing an older game to match not just modern standards but the nostalgia-enriched memories of its fans isn’t always an easy task to accomplish but Vicarious Visions managed to trump the odds here.
Runner Up: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Nintendo Switch)
Winner: Wolfenstein: The New Colossus
We could go on and on about the outstanding level design, sublime storytelling or gritty gunplay of Wolfenstein: The New Colossus. However, for the sake of time, we’ll defer to our review of this year’s Best Sequel.
“At a baseline, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus is a superbly-polished, sharply-written and well-designed first-person shooter that’s tremendously fun to play. However, perhaps more impressively, they’ve managed to execute on a story-driven shooter that’s culturally relevant without being hamfisted about it or defined by it. It doesn’t necessarily lean on the political “moment” we are all collectively experiencing - but it is definitely elevated by it.”
Runner Up: Persona 5
Next Page: Best Game Of The Year, Best Gaming Mouse, Best Gaming Keyboard, Best Gaming Headphones
Best Gaming Mouse
Winner: Logitech G903 + Logitech G-Powerplay Charging Mouse Pad
Only a few years ago, it’d have been easy to write-down (or even write-off) Logitech’s ambitions to taken as a serious player in the gaming space. However, the brand’s 2017 palette left no rock undisturbed. Looking for a minimalist mechanical: the G413 Carbon fits the bill. After a no-holds-barred feature heavy keyboard? The G910 Orion Spectrum will do you nicely. Furthermore, when it comes to mice - and wireless mice especially - Logitech continued to be a frontrunner, with their G903 continuing to set the pace for the competition.
As put in PC World’s review: “”Powerplay or not, the G903 is a premium mouse, with a premium look and premium performance. It’s luxury all around.”
Runner Up: Corsair M65 Pro
Best Gaming Keyboard
Winner: Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum
In 2017, gaming keyboards were good. Sure, they were often quite similar - regardless of what brand you went with. However, that homogeneity was often paired up with the reality that most mechanical keyboards are quite good. What’s more, no matter your taste - clean and minimal or loaded up with bells, whistles and RGB lights - there was always a healthy serving of options on the table.
That said, we came away particularly impressed with the Logitech 810 Orion. As put by former editor Nick Ross, “Everyone who tried this keyboard preferred it to the others: it’s quieter, more solid and arguably the most comfortable to use out of everything we tested - whether gaming or typing. It’s not cheap, but it’s one of the cheapest on test and, to us, it's the best.”
Runner Up: Razer Ornata Chroma
Best Gaming Headphones
Winner: HyperX Cloud Alpha
HyperX have long proved competitive in the gaming space when it comes to headphones but, unlike much of their competition, they’ve proved resilient to going the way of virtual surround-sound setups. The Cloud Alpha headphones answered the question of why.
As we said in our review: “At first glance, the Cloud Alpha looks a lot like the other headsets that HyperX have on their roster - specifically, the original Cloud and Cloud II. However, below the more-vibrant (rose red paired with a stark black) exterior lies some new tech that distinguishes from what’s come before in a pretty major way.”
“If you think the hype around the dual-chambered design sounds good, let me tell you, the real thing sounds even better.”
Runner Up: ASUS ROG Centurion 7.1
Next Page: Best Game of the Year
Best Game of the Year
Winner: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Generally speaking, this is always a tough category to rule on. Do you go for the sequel that manages to reinvent the formula, that one multiplayer game that everyone can’t stop talking about or the rare original idea that brings with a ambitious and well-executed take on a familiar formula? This time around, we opted for the third option.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice builds on the already-great legacy of character-action aficionados at Ninja Theory. It takes the format to a place that, prior to playing Senua’s Sacrifice, it’s hard to imagine anyone being able to successfully pull off. Hellblade is an utterly engrossing experience that’s worth commending on the strength of its storytelling, sound-design, or cinematic visuals alone. Throw in Ninja Theory’s willingness to tackle representing mental illness without resorting to cliche and you’ve got a game that’s worthy of praise across the board.
While PUBG and Breath of the Wild are both games that fans and critics can’t stop talking about, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is one that we can’t stop thinking about.
As we said in our review, “For all the pedigree that action-game developer Ninja Theory bring with them, there are plenty of ways that this project could have gone wrong or off the rails entirely. Instead, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice holds up a triumph of storytelling, gameplay and presentation. It’s a harrowing journey into the soul of its hero - along with the demons that haunt it - and as much a game worth playing as it is an experience worth seeing.”
Runner Up: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds