We may only be halfway through 2017 but it’s already proving to be a bountiful year for great games.
That’s thanks in part to the arrival of the Nintendo Switch and its small-but-delightful early lineup, but PS4, Xbox and PC gamers alike have all been treated to a slew of awesome new games too.
We’ve gone through all of our reviews so far in 2017 and picked our favourite releases, but rather than just list ’em (as we do on our ever-updated Top 10), we’ve decided to get a bit creative with our selections. So without further ado, here are the best games we’ve played so far in 2017.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Wii U
The classic Zelda formula has been excellent time and time again, so why try to fix something that isn’t broken? Well, because Nintendo found a way to make it even better – and the result is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
It’s comfortably the most epic game in the series yet, spanning a sprawling Hyrule that kicks aside the usual gated progression and instead lets you freely explore and tackle the quest however you please. Indeed, people are spending dozens and dozens of hours just finding fun out in the wilds.
Whether you play on the new Switch or the old Wii U, it’s brilliant – and it’s a game so delightfully vast and engrossing that you could play it for the rest of 2017 and not get bored. Or at least do so until Super Mario Odyssey arrives.
ALMOST THE BEST: HORIZON: ZERO DAWN
Platform: PlayStation 4
In any other year’s first half, Horizon: Zero Dawn would have ruled this list. Zelda got in the way this time around, of course, but Horizon is no mere consolation prize for the PS4 faithful.
Guerilla’s vast adventure feels like a melding of elements from the likes of Tomb Raider, The Witcher 3, and Assassin’s Creed, yet Horizon is ultimately very much its own game.
The dazzling world – which melds natural landscapes with mechanical beasts – and premise are engaging, the action is intense and satisfying, and the game is absolutely stunning. That’s especially true on a PS4 Pro, but don’t miss this if you have either version of Sony’s console. It’s essential.
BEST WEIRD NEW NINTENDO GAME: ARMS
There’s nothing quite like a really quirky, totally out-there Nintendo experience, but Zelda and Mario Kart 8 were both known quantities and while Snipperclips is fun, it’s not exactly essential.
Fortunately, Arms just hit the Switch this month, and it’s so gloriously over-the-top, brilliantly colourful, and incredibly silly that we just can’t help but be charmed. Arms essentially feels like the next step of Wii Sports Boxing, with each Switch Joy-Con’s motion controls used to throw punches – except here, your arms shoot out across the arena thanks to spring coils. And why do the fighters have spring arms, you might ask? “Because Nintendo,” says the game’s producer.
Best Game for Forgetting Bad Comic Movies: Injustice 2
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Wonder Woman might be the turning point for the DC Cinematic Universe, but the films before it were a mess, especially last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
You know what’s not a mess? Injustice 2. The second DC fighter from the Mortal Kombat makers pits the comic world’s most recognisable heroes and villains against each other for a bit of flashy fisticuffs, but the result is huge entertainment. It even has a robust story mode, which may take a turn or two towards the dramatic at times but which never stops being fun – unlike Suicide Squad and Dawn of Justice.
Best Game to Strap on to Your Face: Farpoint
The PlayStation VR has had a relatively quiet half-year following the rush of excitement that came with last autumn’s release, but now there’s a reason to suit up again: Farpoint.
Finally released after months of anxious waiting, Farpoint is a first-person shooter that benefits from its 360-degree approach. It might be tried-and-true alien-zapping for the most part, but being able to freely look around – and find new threats creeping up on you – really amps up the excitement and immersion.
It’s even better with the Aim Controller included in the deluxe bundle, which doesn’t look like a gun in your hands but certainly feels plenty capable once you’re in virtual space.
Best Reason to Revisit a 2016 Game: Forza Horizon 3’s Hot Wheels DLC
Forza Horizon 3 was one of our favourite games of last year, but some months pass, new games come out, and our old standbys tend to disappear into the library. Fortunately, Forza gave us an incredible reason to pick it back up again this spring.
The Hot Wheels DLC comes exactly as advertised, yet it’s even better than you might imagine. You’re granted access to a new island surrounded by the glossy orange track, which loops up into the sky and around as you cruise in a handful of new die-cast-gone-digital rides. It’s some of the most fun you’ll find in Forza Horizon 3, which is already the best racer on Xbox One. You really can’t go wrong here, especially for less than £20 for the add-on.
Freakiest Fun This Year (So Far): Prey
Sure, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard could have taken this category, especially if you’re wearing the PlayStation VR – but we’re so much more impressed, and surprised, by Bethesda’s Prey.
Bearing no resemblance to the decade-old game of the same name, the Arkane Studios-developed Prey finds you exploring a decrepit space station full of unexpected alien invaders. They’re unexpected because they’re hidden in plain sight, disguised as harmless items until they transform and scare the life out of you. Prey is an atmospheric gem along the lines of the classic System Shock series, and one you might not want to play with the lights out.
Best Game We Happily Bought Again: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
We played Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U and we liked it a lot – and as DLC expanded the game even further, we grew to love it. And now we love it all over again on the Switch. Yes, it’s kind of obnoxious to repackage a three-year-old game and sell it as new (and at full price), but we’ll grant a reprieve to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe because we’re just having so much fun playing it all over again.
Why? Well, portability is a huge element: getting a full console Mario Kart game that we can play on the train or curled up in bed is an amazing perk, plus it finally has a proper Battle mode. You also get the entire package here, including all of that excellent DLC.
If you missed it on Wii U, grab it now. And if you didn’t miss it, well… grab it again.