If you're a "South Park" superfan, you probably already own "The Fractured But Whole." If not, and you're not sure, know that this is a game for you. Even if you hate role-playing games, you can turn the combat difficulty way down and just enjoy a very long South Park experience.
If you're anything like me, a casual "South Park" fan at best who just wants to play a good game, "The Fractured But Whole" is also for you. It might not be one you have to rush out and grab today, but it's one to keep in mind as the holiday season rages on.
Video games never look as good as "Cuphead." It's a ridiculously gorgeous game, and that's because it's all hand-drawn. Seriously! Just gawking at "Cuphead" is enough to impress. Playing it, however, is even better.
If you're familiar with "bullet hell" games, you'll be right at home with "Cuphead." The gist is this: A bunch of different things are happening on screen at any one time, and you have to decide where to prioritize your actions. Perhaps it's most important that you keep jumping from cloud to cloud, lest you fall to your death. Or perhaps it's most important that you shoot that enemy in its stupid face.
The only constant in "Cuphead" play is change — you're constantly deciding what to prioritize, and that can change from second to second. It's a tremendously challenging, tremendously satisfying game with more style than most games.
On its face, "HQ Trivia" is a simple, multiple-choice trivia game. You watch a host as he/she rattles off question after question — if you get the answer right, you get to keep playing. Miss one, and you're out.
What's amazing about "HQ Trivia" is how that simple concept is implemented.
At two times every day, the game goes live through the app. This isn't a pre-recorded segment, though — "HQ Trivia" is live every day. That means you and a couple hundred thousand of your closest friends are all competing live, together. And that's led to some amazing stuff in real life, like groups of friends playing live together.
In 2016, "Pokémon Go" got people together in huge groups to hunt down pocket monsters. In 2017, "HQ Trivia" is that cultural phenomenon — using the modern smartphone in a way that no one else has before: to create an incredible game!
7. "Assassin's Creed Origins"
"Assassin's Creed Origins" is the best "Assassin's Creed" game in years. Not since 2010's "Brotherhood" has "Assassin's Creed" felt so fresh, so expansive, and so purely focused on what the series is known for: Assassinating.
As a lapsed fan of the franchise, I was wary of "Origins." After dozens of hours spent exploring its gorgeous, vibrant Egyptian world, I'm happy to say it's a return to form for the mercurial series. It shows a path forward for the ailing franchise, marrying historical tourism with a fresh new fighting system. Best of all, it's a great game to spend time exploring.
I knew next to nothing about "Battle Chef Brigade" before it came out on November 20 on Nintendo's Switch and on PC. As such, it was an impressive surprise when I started playing over the weekend and, 10 hours later, my wife and I were still playing it.
I've laughed aloud at "Battle Chef Brigade" many times while playing it. Not because of a mistake or something silly, but because it's a genuinely funny and charming game full of funny and charming characters. The story is endearing, as is the art style, and the gameplay is familiar to most folks — who among us hasn't played a match-three game before?
In short, there's a lot to love about "Battle Chef Brigade" — whether you're a hardcore "gamer" or an occasional game player.
The theme of 2017 is "reinventing franchises," apparently. "Resident Evil 7: Biohazard" is a great example of this — it's a re-thinking of the entire franchise, with a heavy dose of looking back at the series' roots.
Unlike more action-heavy "Resident Evil" games from the past few years, "Resident Evil 7: Biohazard" focuses on survival above all else. You've got limited ammo, limited weaponry, and you're just a normal dude (not a special forces trooper, or whatever). Will you survive the night in a terrifying house full of creepy monsters and, worse, a tremendously creepy family? That's the challenge!
Better still, you can play "Resident Evil 7: Biohazard" entirely in virtual reality through the PlayStation 4's VR headset. I did that, and it was insane. Strongly suggested!
Nintendo really set the tone of the tremendous first year of the Nintendo Switch with "Breath of the Wild" in March.
More than a great new entry in a classic franchise, "Breath of the Wild" moves forward the entire video game medium. Through meticulous game design that demanded more from players, Nintendo once again demonstrated its uncanny ability to redefine foundational aspects of gaming.
It's the kind of game that changes player expectations — what they expect of themselves and what they expect from games. It's also an excellent game to dig into while traveling over the holidays.
In 10 years, people will still be talking about innovative things that "Horizon Zero Dawn" does. They'll still be talking about how gorgeous it is, how smart and funny its main character is, how it succeeded commercially in the shadow of a new Nintendo console and a new "Legend of Zelda" game.
While playing games, I often experience a small handful of emotions: frustration, accomplishment, fear. While playing "Horizon Zero Dawn," that list expanded dramatically — outside of delighting in the graceful, smart gameplay systems that underlie the game's narrative focus, I often laughed out loud at Aloy's smart quips (she's the protagonist you see above). I found myself endlessly curious about the surprisingly deep lore of the game's world, its people and religions, and the main character's story arc. Perhaps most important, I actually cared about the main character, believed her motivations, and wanted her to succeed.
"Horizon Zero Dawn" is a magnificent accomplishment of a game that stands out among standouts. And I didn't even mention the giant metal dinosaurs.
"Super Mario Odyssey" is excellent. It's so good, in fact, that you should seriously consider buying a Nintendo Switch just to play it. Really!
Here are just a few reasons why "Super Mario Odyssey" is so great:
- It feels brand new, despite starring a decades-old character. - It looks far better than it should on the Switch, a console that's not as powerful as its rivals. - And it represents a fun evolution of the long-running franchise; where in the past you could play as only one of a handful of characters, you can now play as dozens.
Best of all, "Super Mario Odyssey" is straight up delightful. It's a game that's full of joy, constantly encouraging you to play just a bit more, to find that next moon, to make that insane leap. In year full of great games, "Super Mario Odyssey" is an incredible standout.
"PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" — "PUBG," as it's known — is the most fun I've had with any game in 2017.
Never heard of it? The premise is simple: Parachute to a deserted island with 100 actual people, scavenge for weapons, and fight to the death. It's basically "The Hunger Games," but without the obvious dystopian hero story.
The game is essentially a mixed first- and third-person multiplayer shooter. The twist is that it's a 1-vs-100 death match on a massive, deserted island. And everyone starts unarmed, by parachuting onto the island from a nightmarish plane. When and where you choose to leap out is the first choice you'll make of many. Let's say another player lands near you in a town. Here's how that might play out:
-You both land around the same time, see each other, and head toward separate buildings. -Maybe your building has a good weapon, or maybe it has a police vest for protection. Maybe it has nothing. -But what about that other player? You've lost them, and they could have a killer weapon. Do you head out to another nearby building, hoping they aren't in the same one? Do you wait near a window, keeping an eye on the building they're in, waiting for them to leave? Do you take off running toward another nearby town, hoping for better supplies?
This is the central tension of "Battlegrounds," and it starts immediately.
But don't just take my word for it: The game is only available on PC thus far (it launches for Xbox One on December 12) and it's only got one map, but over 13 million people have bought it. It's consistently the most popular game on the world's largest gaming platform (Steam). And there's a good reason for that: "PUBG" is like nothing else that came out in 2017.