Rabidgames’ GOTY Awards 2017: Of JRPGs, Lootboxes and Pyramid Surfing

Yeah, it’s already March, but Monster Hunter World keeps one busy these days, doesn’t it? Anyway, better late than never, right?

2017 was a pretty good year for gaming, but also a pretty fucked up year. Funny how both come together, right? Let’s start with the elephant in the room – Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nope, it won’t appear in the top 10, and neither will any other Nintendo stuff. And after watching videos and playing it for a bit, Rabidgames can state it would probably have appeared in the top 10, but not in the top spot – the ridiculous hype around a game that would not have been hyped that much on other consoles was too much in that empty world where the only really cool thing is how you can play with the physics. But the fighting is pretty standard, breaking weapons is the dumbest design decision since ages, and the story is paper-thin at best, too. That being said, it still looks like a great game where you can have fun exploring for a long time. Just not like the epochal super game of the century all the fucking hype makes you believe …

Now this out of the way, let’s start with the reasons why 2017 was a bad year for gaming:

Fuck you of 2017 1

Simple: Lootboxes. What else needs to be said? One could say now that lootboxes that just include cosmetic shit are one thing (looking at you, Assassin’s Creed Origins), but lootboxes to progress (yes, fuck you, Battlefront 2) or make grinding towards the end bearable (fucking piss off, Shadow of War) a just fucking crimes against humanity. Declare them gambling and off with their heads!

Fuck you of 2017 2

Again, Battlefront 2 shows up on top of yet another shit list to spit into our faces! anyone surprised? Remember the hype about playing the game from an Imperial perspective? EA being EA, that was a lie. You play a disgusting villainous turncoat who turns her back on the Empire as soon as possible, which means you see everything from the shit boring vanilla goody two shoes Republican side. For the umpteenth time. Fuck you EA!

Disturbing Trend of 2017

Who else absolutely fucking hates the term “games as a service”? Everyone? Thought so. It is completely fucked up. The reasoning by some fucking suits and CEOholes is that a game is not something that should be served on as one, but something juicy that should be cut into tiny little pieces to be spoon-fed to us over years – for a whole shitload of money, of course. Lootboxes, microtransactions, micro DLC, the kind of Destiny DLC (where content gets taken out of the game even AFTER release to be put into the DLC), all of this fucking shit fucking sucks.

But Rockstar actually went one step further. Rockstar, who used to release the best singleplayer DLC for a while, decided to completely stop giving a fuck about it. Instead, they only serve fucking GTA Online, that stupid money machine where grinding for hours or shelling out real cash are the only means to get your hands on the latest shit. How fucking ironic that GTA V, a biting satire on capitalism, has become one of the worst offenders to embrace the disgusting stinking body of capitalism! And if the trend continues, the future looks bleak for Red Dead Redemption 2, and especially GTA VI

Disappointment of 2017

Where to start? It’s hard to say. Too much stuff went wrong. Lootboxes, Shadow of War and Battlefront 2 have already been named and shamed, but there are more games that just failed to entertain. Agents of Mayhem proved that Overwatch for singleplayer might be a good idea, but forgot to remember singleplayer games should have more depth and story than multiplayer games (a sould would have been nice, too), Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 was an unfinished mess of games full of glitches and crashes, and for whatever idiotic fucking reason Square decided to hide the bonus episode of Life is Strange: Before the Storm behind a fucking paywall – to make the game more expensive than its predecessor although featuring less content and no rewinding time as well – no one even knows.

But that pales compared to the massive checklist of disappointments that was Mass Effect Andromeda – an unfinished game with horrible facial animations, an unfinished story that will remain unfinished because – again, fucking EA – decided to stop supporting an unfinished mess of a game developed by the B team of Bioware, a game where all tactical depth has been removed for more action (hint: it didn’t work), a game where the writing ad the story are shallow at best. Sure, exploration is more meaningful than it was in Inquisition, but overall, Andromeda is a mess of a game.

There’s only one thing left to say: Bioware, rest in peace. Sadly, the Bioware us RPG fans loved and adored, the Bioware that brought us Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Dragon Age Origins and the first Mass Effect, this incarnation of the original, true and only Bioware is dead. Gone. We have a husk left that is barely breathing, a shell whipped by EA to now work on the Destiny clone Anthem. And Andromeda, with it being unfinished and essentially missing heart and soul, the essence of Bioware, proved this. Shame!

 

 

DLC of the Year

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is Uncharted: Lost Legacy. A great addition to a great game, but also kind of stand alone. So is it DLC? Or a game of its own? Let’s give it a honourable mention here and let it be a reminder how much effort can be put into creating an add-on of sorts to get pretty high quality.

In terms of traditional DLC, we’ve had a few decent ones, too: Horizon Zero Dawn’s Frozen Wilds adds more snow and ice to its world, while Mafia 3’s Sign of the Times adds pretty cool missions fighting a satanic cult – and we finally get a base of sorts!

But the winner is Diablo 3’s Necromancer! Sure, it costs money. Quite a bit of money for one new character, new abilities, new equipment and a new set of dungeons perhaps, but fucking hell, it has been worth it. Especially Corpse Lance will make you sadistically giggle at least once per session if you have a black heart!

 

Remake/Remaster of the Year

2017 saw a shitload of remakes, and Square was leading with remastered version of arguably the best Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy XII, and the best Star Ocean, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. And then we also got Star Ocean: The Last Hope later in the year. Not as great but still good, right?

What else did we have? Of course, Dragon’s Dogma!!!!!!! For console gamers, we now finally have a stable and complete version of Dark Arisen. So surely, that’s the winner, right? Well, in terms of fun to be had or time played, surely.

But what about Yakuza Kiwami? A proper remaster, the game was not just visually upgraded but actually reworked, including new fighting styles. So, with a bit of objectivity in mind, sorry dear Arisens, the price of Remake of the year must go to Yakuza Kiwami. The game has been truly remade!

 

Before we jump into the Top 10, let’s mention a few games that just fell short for different reasons; Persona 5 is a decent game, sure, but what can you do when you struggle to get into a game while there are other games waiting to be played? The same goes for Pillars of Eternity – a good old-fashioned RPG, but when other games ask for your attention, it’s hard to find time for such a game. Maybe this summer and the usual gaming drought might help for some of these games …

What else did we have? Night in the Woods tells an interesting animal noir story about life in times of depression (economic and personal), WWE 2K18 and F1 2017 are both good sports games that just fall short of the top 10, and Yakuza 0 is a great Yakuza game, sure, but Kiwami and 0 within one year feels a bit too much, sorry.

Rabidgames’ Top 10 2017

10. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
We truly live in strange times when a game about killing nazis is controversial all of a sudden. The New Colossus picks up where The New Order finished, and we accompany BJ on a pretty dark mission to liberate the US from the nazi regime, where it also portrays the collaboration between the occupied and the occupiers  . Where it falls a bit flat is the gameplay though – instead of focussing on the alternatively quieter routes of The New Order, it rather follows the hectic arena-style fights of The Old Blood. Couple that with the bullet-sponge mentality on Normal and that you die 10 times quicker than in the predecessor, and it is a shame that the actual gameplay lets the game down a bit. With more balance there, Wolfenstein 2 might have been able to march down this list … Oh, and fuck nazis!

9. YS – Legacy of DANA
This pretty – and pretty decent – action JRPG flew below the radar for many, and it’s quite a shame. Sure, the gameplay isn’t the deepest, and the character follow JRPG tropes a bit too often, but fighting is still fun and exploring the island and the past of the name-giver, Dana, keep one entertained for hours.

8. ELEX
Yes, the game has issues; there are bugs and fighting feels clumsy and it’s not fun early on, but the jetpack will allow you to flee conveniently. And the world building works pretty well. If you’re a fan of Gothic or Risen and you don’t mind the glitchy AA feeling, you can’t go wrong with ELEX and its addition of technology.

7. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Sure, the gameplay isn’t what brings you there, it is the broken mind of the Celtic warrior Senua on her quest to save her lost love, and especially the cacophony of voices in her head! Hellblade is best enjoyed with headphones, and then it can unleash a very intense atmosphere of insanity.

6. What Remains of Edith Finch
How good can a 3 hours walking simulator actually be? Turns out, it can be pretty good, especially as you get to play certain events in the game that are both interesting as they are sad. Saying anything more would be giving away things that should be discovered by yourself while playing the game!

5. Ghost Recon: Wildlands
In terms of gameplay, this squad-oriented tactical shooter  surely delivers. The massive open world full of villages, towns and different areas (snow, jungle, desert, it’s all there) as well as collecting and playing around with all the weapons and tools was also fun. Why only 5th, you ask? Well, the underwhelming DLCs as well as the terrible DLC/microtransaction policy (like you could fight the Predator but still had to buy the costume – fuck off!) … they sucked and brought the game down a bit. Still, Wildlands is a pretty versatile game where you can do everything from pure stealth to massive shoot-outs, whatever floats your armoured boat.

4. Horizon Zero Dawn
There might be some truth to the claim Horizon Zero Dawn copies the Ubisoft formula – at least on the surface – but it alters it as well as brings a bit of Witcher feeling and then some post-apocalyptic to it. Besides, fighting what’s best described as robot-dinosaurs and breaking them apart feels quite unique – and especially satisfying. The story itself is okay, but travelling through the world of Horizon Zero Dawn and witnessing massive steel robots roaming the ruins of ancient (or rather present) civilisations is a sight to behold …

3. Tales of Berseria
In a strong year for JRPGs, Tales of Berseria is arguably the strongest traditional one: a deep fighting system, a dark and mature story, and a pretty different protagonist – Velvet Crowe is snarky, sarcastic and she hates almost everything and everyone. It is definitely a welcome change of perspective that many have been craving for in JRPGs.

2. Nier: Automata
Another JRPG? Yes. Not your usual one though. Nier: Automata is a strange action adventure/shooter hybrid with even crazier elements. Nevermind the fact you have to play through the game 3 times, and only then you get to see the real ending. The story about a war between androids and robots on a ravaged earth devoid of humanity with lots of philosophic undertones also creates a rather unique experience.

1. Assassin’s Creed Origins
Just another Assassin’s Creed, right … or rather not. A brand-new fighting system, new animations, the step from action-adventure to action RPG with tons of loot, well-written side quests, a new protagonist and the real star – the massive world! From the massive deserts in the south to the Nile delta in the East to Alexandria in the North to Roman-controlled Libya, Origins offers a lot of different views. Views you can also admire from the eyes of an eagle, making for even more impressive vistas. While the origin of the Assassins isn’t told flawlessly in Origins, Bayek’s story is a gripping tale of revenge by itself, and it also brings us closer to daily life and death in ancient Egypt.

And if you’re still not convinced, you can pet cats in Origins! And there is even an entire village where only cats are left.

Cats!

A purrfect dream!

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