If I’m being completely honest, 2017 hasn’t been a particularly great year for Xbox. While Nintendo has come back strongly with new classics like Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, PlayStation made up for a lean start to the generation by having exclusives like Horizon Zero Dawn, Persona 5, Nier: Automata, Nioh, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Xbox has been a little quieter with various titles delayed until early 2018 (Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves) and other exclusives not quite achieving the level we would like (Halo Wars 2). There have still been some great titles released though, and these are my top 5 games of the year.
Special mention – Xbox One X
While not technically a game I thought it was worth mentioning how great an addition the One X has been to the Xbox ecosystem. Games like Forza Motorsport 7, Gears of War 4, and Wolfenstein II look stunning and even older catalogue titles like Halo 5 and Quantum Break show significant improvements. The form factor is great with the box feeling surprisingly petite for such a powerful system. Microsoft has outdone themselves with the One X, and things are now looking good for the future of Xbox.
5 – Cuphead
When the launch date for Cuphead was announced, it felt like the game had been in development forever. Fortunately, though, the game reinforces the old adage that ‘good things come to those who wait’. Cuphead may have had a long development period, but we have been graced with a truly unique, brilliant game. Everything from the animation, to the soundtrack, gameplay, and design are great. The difficulty may be too tough for more casual gamers, but anytime you die it is always down to player error rather than glitches or the game just being unfair.
Cuphead is a unique experience that brilliantly shows off the dedication and passion of its developers.
4 – Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Wolfenstein II was looked upon as the underdog in the shooter stakes this holiday period. But with Battlefront II and (to a lesser extent) Call of Duty: WWII getting mired in the loot box controversy, Wolfenstein rose up, squeaky clean, to remind people there was another option; And what an option. The game looks almost as good as the other blockbuster shooters, plays just as well, but has a story that is not only gripping but features some of the best writing in a video game for many years. It is laugh out loud funny with memorable characters and a plot that teeters on the edge of absurdity but never drops over the cliff.
Wolfenstein II provides some of the best Nazi killing fun ever featured in a video game.
3 – The Sexy Brutale
The Sexy Brutale is a game that came out of nowhere and provided us with a brilliantly twisted surprise. The game sees you trying to stop a series of murders with the aid of a time-traveling pocketwatch given to you during the first puzzle/murder. These puzzles are fiendish with you learning new clues each time you go through the day until you know enough to be able to stop the next murder. Each of these killings leads to a larger story that provides shock and surprise in equal measure.
The Sexy Brutale sneaked up from nowhere to be one of the best puzzle games of this generation.
2 – Forza Motorsport 7
This is my third GotY list for Xbox Enthusiast, and it is the first time that a Forza title hasn’t taken the top spot. Forza Motorsport 7 may only take second place but this is the best racing game on Xbox One, of this console generation, and possibly ever. The game looks stunning on Xbox One S and jaw-dropping on Xbox One X. Career mode has been given an overhaul and is much less daunting with a more accessible, concise, yet still comprehensive selection of events and championships that will keep completionists busy for weeks and months to come. Gameplay is the tried and tested, yet still superb, Forza handling model with the usual array of assists and driving aids to tailor the difficulty from noob to racing pro.
Forza Motorsport 7 is a worthy next step in the Forza franchise and shows that the team at Turn 10 are wizards when it comes to getting the most horsepower out of the Xbox hardware.
1 – Aaero
My two main hobbies are gaming and music. So when a game comes along that combines these two things I am immediately intrigued. I have loved games like Rez, Guitar Hero, Chime, and Boom Boom Rocket but the way that Aaero integrates music and gameplay feels far superior & more intuitive than these games. You pilot a ship that has to navigate a ribbon of light that follows one part of the music (usually the melody) as well as shooting various enemies that come your way. The soundtrack for the game is top-notch and features big name EDM artists like Flux Pavilion and Katy B. The boss levels are particular highlights and find you going up against giant creatures like spiders, worms, and other beasties. While this isn’t the sort of game to go for photo-realistic graphics, the visuals work well enough and focus your attention on the sublime gameplay and pumping soundtrack.
Aaero may not be the most technically advanced game out there, but it is the game that I keep coming back to and have had the most fun with this year. It is much more than the sum of its parts, and as a complete package, it is my game of the year.
Well, those are my choices, have you tried all of these games? What is your game of the year? Feel free to shout out in the comments section below.