The best PC games of 2017

With every year it seems we’ve finally arrived in the best 12 months for gaming ever, only for the next one to roll around with yet another slew of contenders ready to take that title. So here we are again, at the end of 2017, with a quite staggering calendar of gaming behind us on PC. Whether you’re a RPG diehard, a shooter purist, an indie devotee or a collector of curios, 2017 has served up dish after tasty dish of must-have interactive experiences. And it’s been tough to whittle all these gems down to a powerful ten, so sit back and prepare to been amazed all over again. Do you really think we could put together a top ten PC game of the year list and not include Bluehole Inc’s battle royale masterstroke? No other game has come close to catching the hype train that is PUBG, brushing aside claims of blatant infringement and laughing in the face of similar BR-esque titles that have followed in its wake. It also put the painfully buggy H1Z1 mercifully to the sword. The game’s success has helped put top Twitch streamers on the map (such as the tache-toting swagger of Dr Disrespect) and seemingly burned the words ‘Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner’ into the subconsciousness of every gamer on the planet. While the issue surrounding Bungie’s control of XP (and how it feeds into the ongoing issue of microtransactions in full-priced games) has taken off at least some of Destiny 2’s sheen, there’s no denying the shooter sequel improves on the first game in almost every way.  A substantial story campaign addressed plot concerns, improved matchmaking made teaming up far easier and a move towards a more Overwatch-style setup in the Crucible all proved Bungie was listening to its fans. With some exciting new DLC already incoming, and plans to support the title with new updates and events, Destiny 2 looks likely to remain in GOTY lists long after 2017 has drawn to a close. Originally revealed in 2014, it took many a delay to get Cuphead out into the wilds, but the way proved more than worth it with one of the most challenging run and gun platformers we’ve ever played.  Even its gorgeous art style – which nails the aesthetic of the 1930s golden era of animation – continues to wow critics and players alike. Sure, it’s a tough little cookie that rewards the bold and mercilessly punishes those that make the slightest mistake, but every level and each boss offers such a font of unique personality that you’ll instantly jump back in for another run. Mental health and suicide have always proved difficult subjects to cover, especially in a medium like videogames where interaction and involvement are key, but somehow What Remains Of Edith Finch tackles both with an unrivalled grace and poignancy.  From the same studio that produced The Unfinished Swan, WROEF follows the story of a family whose members have all died an untimely death. While it falls into the ‘walking simulator’ subgenre, it’s a game of many facets that’s absolutely worth experiencing blind. It’ll surprise you, make you shed a tear and almost certainly remain with you long after its story comes to a close. The Creative Assembly had quite the challenge on its hand when it set about following up 2016’s Total War: Warhammer and yet a year later the British studio did just that – and then some. Okay, it’s still not called Total Warhammer (even though it really should by now), but it innovates and improves on practically every element from the first game. It’s real-time strategy is much improved with four distinct armies to choose from, a genuinely engrossing story and a streamlined approach to battle management that made its turn-based and real-time DNA sing mid-skirmish. With plenty more updates and expansions to come, RTS games don’t come much better. Yes, the reanimated corpse that is Resident Evil 7 really did shuffle into our lives and onto our PCs in 2017 – but only just, with its release date back in January. And what a return it’s been. Wisely acknowledging the renaissance for horror games and pioneering work of Amnesia, Outlast and the like, Capcom took its premier series first-person and created one of the most terrifying games in years. With legendary jump scares (because bosses burst through walls now, apparently), PT-esque freakout moments and the usual creature features you’d expect from a Resi game it all coalesces to create an interactive horror that drips with menace both in VR and on traditional screens. Much like predecessor, Divinity: Original Sin II does something very special. It harks back to the days when isometric RPGs such as Baldur’s Gate infused the genre with both personality and deep mechanics, while taking the genre forward and cementing itself as one of the new cornerstones in PC gaming. While the ability to build a party of full-playable companions is hardly anything new, it’s the charisma of the world you’re exploring and ability to unlock new story threads and quests at any moment, weaving your very own fantastical tale that grows in depth without becoming convoluted. It looks incredible, has a standout soundtrack and offers all the hallmarks of truly great RPG. Long gestating as Prey 2, the game that eventually reemerged had very little in common with the original Prey from 2006.  Instead, its ‘alien catastrophe aboard a space station’ storyline headed in a direction more akin to the open-ended, choice-driven creativity of the Bioshock series. Part System Shock, part Dead Space, Prey may look like a first-person shooter but it holds far more depth than simply firing off some guns. Myriad powers can turn your character into a hybrid god, but each one comes at a cost that will make the game that bit more difficult. There are secrets to uncover, puzzles to solve and a wave of monstrous aliens trying to kill you. No one quite expected the Wolfstein: The New Order to be the brutal, bombastic hit it turned out to be, but that placed a tidal of wave of expectation on its inevitable sequel.  That second outing, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, does something remarkable – it manages to not only better its predecessor in both level design and the agency of its violence, but how it builds a story with moments that will shock and surprise you with equal measure. Its gunplay mechanics might not be perfect, and its difficulty curve might still be steeper than a cliff face, but The New Colossus offers a new landmark in single-player driven shooters. There’s nothing quite like NieR: Automata, which is quite the feat considering it’s a spin-off from a spin-off and a product of hyperactive Japanese studio, PlatinumGames. On the surface it looks like a generic action-RPG with a big emphasis on combat, but beneath there’s so much more. The combat model has the depth and nuance of the early Devil May Cry games, its story fits perfectly with the bizarre plot threads of the original NieR, and its score is deliciously easy on the ears it’s almost a crime. It’s a game as strange and charismatic as its director, and there’s no denying Yoko Taro has produced another classic that walks to the beat of its own drum.

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