Runners-up: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Mario Odyssey
Winner: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild received the Best Switch Game Award not because it’s simply a Zelda game, but because it goes back to the original 1986 formula, in that players were allowed to create their own travels and take their own paths.
Since the NES classic, fans of the series have roamed Hyrule, traveling from temple to temple, collected specialty item X, Y, and Z, and defeated Ganon. This formula took place on the Super NES, Nintendo 64, GameCube, and Wii. After a while, this sadly became the norm and disappointed some who have stuck with the franchise since the beginning. But Breath of the Wild, finally, and thankfully, managed to change things up a great deal.
Aside from the amazing soundtrack, Breath of the Wild returned to the ways of the past, and gave players the opportunity to roam Hyrule as they see fit — they even got to explore temples in any particular order. Yes, Hyrule had to be saved once again by the Legendary Hero of Time, Link, but the road to being Hyrule’s savior was difficult and at times daunting.
This time around, weapons and items were more valuable than before, and most broke which served a difficult time. It’s things like this that finally brought some intense level of difficulty to the Zelda series, which in turn would make players utilize resources more sparingly, and also forced the individual to think more broadly about the adventure as a whole.
Change isn’t always good, and some may even argue that point with the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But the change found in Breath of the Wild is a good change, not to mention a healthy switch for the franchise — a breath (no pun intended) of fresh air, if you would, which is why it’s more than deserving of the Best Switch Game Award.
Runner-up: Forza Motorsport 7
Oh Cuphead, how I still have nightmares about you.
As painful as it was to play, it was also very entertaining and rewarding, which is why Cuphead deserves the Best Xbox One Game Award.
With its beautiful art-design and musical score, Cuphead is easily one of the best looking and sounding games of 2017.
The level of difficulty found in this game is quite intense, so much so that it will have you throwing your Xbox One controller (or anything within proximity) at your TV. But this intense combat is manageable, mostly through identifying enemy attack and movement patterns, which harks back to the classic NES days, i.e., Mega Man and Castlevania.
Runners-up: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Nier Automata
Winner: Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn released early in 2017 but left a mark we didn’t soon forget. The machine hunting gameplay, amazing 4K HDR graphcis, and nuanced performances all combine to earn Horizon a handful of VGN’s 2017 awards, including overall Game of the Year. Rather than repeat myself, check out the link for more on Horizon Zero Dawn
Runners-up: Divinity: Original Sin 2, Battlerite
Winner: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
I can’t imagine anybody who is even casually interested in video games who missed out on the impact PUBG has left on gaming in 2017. Though it only left Early Access late in December, PUBG took gaming by storm in 2017 and remains near the top of the most watched games on Twitch. One hundred players parachute onto an island and fight until one player or team is left standing. The maps are gigantic, but you’re kept moving as the playing area consistently shrinks, making it increasingly difficult to avoid engaging the enemy.
The matches are tense and can take upwards of 30-40 minutes to complete if you’re going to take home that chicken dinner. Even if you have a couple places you like to start at, each round is different with how the plane flies over the map, how many people drop near you, where the circle ends up, and what kind of loot you’re fortunate to find. It’s got roguelike appeal in terms of replayability. Diving into games with friends can make matches more tactical, as you have the ability to set up flanks and coordinate strategy with one to three other players.
Given its wild popularity, the basic concepts of PUBG have begun to infiltrate other games. Most notably Fortnite brought the mode to their game, but China is getting a battle royale mode for Call of Duty sometime in 2018 and hero shooter Paladins just announced similar plans for worldwide release.
Runners-up: Framed 2, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Winner: Monument Valley 2
When the original Monument Valley first came out it was a critical and commercial success. Critics and players alike loved it for its simple and beautiful direction, while it also appeared on hit shows like House of Cards.
Monument Valley 2 builds upon it’s established theme and adds new elements that make players want more when they have completed the experience. The sequel has new mechanics, characters, and story that mesh well with its intricate puzzles, vibrant colors, and captivating atmosphere.
Monument Valley 2 is our Best Mobile Game of 2017 because it’s beautiful, puzzling, and never forgets its a mobile game, fully embracing what mobile devices can do. With a reasonable asking price, iOS and Android compatibility, ustwo games have made a title that shouldn’t be skipped.
Runners-up: Fire Emblem Echoes, Pokémon Ultra Sun / Moon
Winner: Metroid: Samus Returns
Samus Return is a modern remake of 1991’s Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Nintendo Gameboy. Building this from the ground up for the 3DS, players have unparalleled control over the gunplay when compared to the stiff 45-degree adjustments available with the Gameboy’s directional pad. The ability to counter attack brings a new layer to combat as you explore planet SR388 in on a search and destroy mission to exterminate any living Metroids.
A new selection of powers called Aeion abilities given Samus the chance to do things like scan for hidden pathways, and Teleport Stations enable fast travel across the map, shortening some of those long back and forth treks.
Metroid: Samus Returns brought a somewhat forgetten Metroid title back to the masses, and has earned our 3DS Game of the Year award for 2017.