Oh, hello you! Here’s what you’ve missed so far:
40. Sniper Elite 4
Martin Robinson: The Sniper Elite games might have started off as something of a guilty pleasure, but over time they’ve evolved into anything but; here’s a stealth-led action game that can hold its own against the very best in the business, and it’s all delivered with the verve and swagger of developer Rebellion at the top of its game. This is Metal Gear Solid 5 without all the bollocks, basically, and where you’re actively encouraged to snipe away at Nazis’ nutsacks too.
Oli Welsh: Surely that makes it with all the bollocks?
Boss Key Productions
Martin Robinson: Pity poor Cliff Bleszinski. Okay, so he’s probably not that poor and still rolls up to work in a Ferrari, but Lawbreakers deserved a better fate than the one it’s currently enduring. See through the generic artwork and you’ll be met with one of 2017’s very best shooters, one that’s inventive and full of boisterous energy. It’s brilliant, in short, and if there’s any justice it’ll end up finding its audience.
38. Call of Duty: WW2
Sledgehammer Games, Raven Software
Martin Robinson: After a few too many years tinkering with the near future, who knew that what Call of Duty really needed was a step back to its past to feel truly fresh again? Well, just about all of its fanbase, to be fair, and it turns out they were right: in going back to World War 2, Activision’s trademark series is as exciting now as it’s ever been, all that expertise and polish being poured over a time-honoured template for a shooter that’s an absolute delight to play. It helps that developer Sledgehammer Games knows a thing or two about how to pack a punch. A shame that the launch was fluffed somewhat, but now that everything’s up on its feet – and there’s a seasonal sprinkling of snow across several of the maps – it’s a good time to dive in.
Wesley Yin-Poole: I’d like to talk about War. Not the very real threat of impending doom that casts a shadow of the real world right now – I mean the game mode in Call of Duty: WW2. It’s a lot of fun! For a terrible Call of Duty player like me, War is a blessing. It ignores players’ kill/death ratio in favour of objective-based gameplay that most players engage with. Sure, I still die a lot. But I’m having fun. And I’m really good at building walls and turrets and then blowing them up. Also, I like how silly it is that your tanks only move when there’s a friendly soldier standing next to them. That’s definitely how tanks work in real life.
Christian Donlan: This all-life-on-Earth-simulator-thing is Simon Parkin’s favourite. My daughter played it for the best part of an afternoon and the sight of a deer tumbling head over heels across a sodden landscape never got old for her. Even having spent time with it, I still have no idea what Everything actually is, but it gets a big thumbs-up in our house regardless.
36. Nier: Automata
Martin Robinson: I’ll admit I’ve struggled through this in fits and starts this year, because, you know – and this is just an opinion, and the opinion of an idiot at that – it’s just not a very good video game. The second-to-second action never feels that much better than Platinum’s C-tier licensed efforts, and its opening hours are all a bit of a dreary drag. But I don’t think anyone really expects a slick action experience from this unlikely follow-up; instead it’s a scrappy game that’s full of big ideas, and those rough edges end up being part of the charm.
Oli Welsh: It’s just so structurally inventive, and this really is a game that gets a lot more interesting the more hours you put into it. Sure, moment-to-moment it’s simple enough, but it piles up layer upon layer of perspective shifts, genre switcheroos and deep character customisation until it becomes a great deal more than the sum of its parts. It’s such an charming and interesting world, too, with stuff to say about machine intelligence and the soul. On the other hand, I get that it was more ambitious than its budget and that’s cool, but I could wish it wasn’t self-effacing to the point of actively trying to put players off for those first few hours. Still, Yoko Taro’s a treasure and I’m delighted his latest game has really found an audience. Can’t wait to see what he does next.
Martin Robinson: It’s been so long since an unapologetically brilliant solo effort from Team Ninja, you’d be forgiven for forgetting this Tokyo developer was once known as one of the best in the business, afforded the kind of adulation that From Software now enjoys. Indeed, I think there’s members of the Eurogamer team who weren’t even born when the brilliantly muscular Ninja Gaiden first released.
How lovely to have a reminder of what made this developer so special then, and how delightful that they’ve scaled the heights by borrowing more than a little from From themselves. The cribbing of the Souls formula is unabashed here, but just as noticeable is that hard-edged, brilliantly brutal combat that made us all fall in love with Team Ninja back in the day.
Edwin Evans-Thirlwell: A concrete-on-silicon dystopia in which day never really dawns. A weary cyborg detective equipped with the ability to dive into brains, reliving the final moments of the deceased. An ongoing conversation about what it means to be human when everybody is part-machine and the concept of society is a glitching memory. Observer’s core themes are hardly unusual for a cyberpunk story, but few cyberpunk games pursue those ideas so intelligently at the level of environment design and incidental writing, and Rutger Hauer’s turn as voice actor is both fitting and accomplished. Think of it as a Deus Ex spin-off starring an aged, deadbeat Adam Jensen whose implants have begun to malfunction.
33. Last Day of June
Christian Donlan: A small game with some big themes, this is a devastating examination of love, loss, disability and the power of art. (As a weird bonus, it was actually released on the last day of August.)
Christian Donlan: I won a game of this because I was hidden in some shrubbery while I had a long conversation with Chris Tapsell about the book he was reading. I am the worst, basically.
Oli Welsh: One of the year’s weirder stories, this. Years in development, lots going for it but never really came together, then it made an undeniably opportunistic lunge for some of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds scraps that was almost unseemly in its haste. And why are we rewarding that kind of behaviour with a place in our games of the year list? Because it turned an empty game into a really fun one, and that’s always a happy event.
31. Horizon: Zero Dawn
Martin Robinson: Okay, I’m sorry I didn’t like it quite as much as most of you, but it turns out I still liked Horizon Zero Dawn more than most members of the team. There’s something a little overfamiliar about its open world formula, but good god is it generous with it, and when it comes to sheer spectacle I don’t think anyone’s come close to matching that of a robo-dinosaur stalking Horizon’s beautiful plains. It’s simply staggering to behold, a technical masterclass that shows Guerrilla Games acquitting itself well in uncharted territory for the team.
Oli Welsh: If I didn’t already have open-worlder fatigue (and I did), then Zelda: Breath of the Wild – which released within days of Horizon – would have ruined this genre for me anyway. That’s a tough comparison for anyone. But you’ve got to love Sony for throwing everything at an original title like this, since it’s something their rivals at Xbox are conspicuously reluctant to do, and I’m delighted it worked out so well for them and Guerrilla. Also, here is a triple-A game that clearly set out with a mission statement about diversity of representation, delivered on it, and then went on to rack up millions of sales. We may not have fallen head over heels for Horizon here at Eurogamer, but we salute it as one of 2017’s best feelgood stories.