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USgamer's Top 20 Games of the Year 2017: #10-#6

On Day Three of our Top 20 countdown, we crack the top ten.

Feature by USgamer Team, .

This year we decided to do something a little different for our Game of the Year. Since 2017 was such a big year in terms of the sheer quality and volume of video games coming out, we opted to do a Top 20 list, in addition to our personal top 10s that you found on the site all last week. So, all week long we're counting down our 20 favorite games of the year. Today we're listing off numbers 10 through 6. Enjoy!

10. Divinity: Original Sin 2

Available on: PC

The RPG genre within video games has its roots in the original Dungeons & Dragons pen-and-paper role-playing game. Most of the early games based their ideas on those established in D&D, like hit points, experience gain, and the colorful array of monsters that tend to pop up repeatedly. For a while, games did their best to get across that experience in a digital form. Over the past few years though, that fell by the wayside for grand epics delivered in high fidelity, with sprawling worlds and full voice acting. Now, I enjoy those games, but something was lost.

A number of games have gotten close to recapturing that original Dungeons & Dragons feeling. The revivals of early PC RPGs like Wasteland 2 and Pillars of Eternity. In that style, 2017 saw the release of a game that I feel has done the best so far at really making D&D in a digital form. That's Divinity: Original Sin 2.

Larian Studios was already working from a solid base, as Divinity: Original Sin and its following Enhanced Edition release already stood among the best in the genre. The sequel retained Original Sin's unique style of combat, which pushed the player to think of spells and skills in terms of combinations. As an example, let's say you have a target that's giving you trouble. You cast Decaying Touch, which gives them the Decay status, meaning healing hurts them. Then you cast Raining Blood, which covers the immediate battlefield in blood. Then you cast Blood Sucker on your target, which cause them to siphon up any blood in their immediate vicinity as healing. Since the Decaying Touch is active, this healing instead causes a ton of damage.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 is full of combinations like that. Some are straight-forward, like using Rain and Winter Blast together, but veteran players have found some interesting effects that I'm sure the developer didn't intend. And that's part of the fun of the game. The spells interact with each other, the characters, and the battlefield itself. Everything comes together to create encounters that are truly random and novel at times. It's a game that encourages water cooler conversations.

Some of these skills extend to explorations and general interactions with NPCs. Solve a murder by talking to the ghost of the victim. Enter a location guarded by dogs by taking a perk to talk with animals and simply befriending them. There's a number of different ways to achieve your objectives and that freedom is why Divinity: Original Sin 2 and its predecessor work.

On top of this solid core is some great writing, good voice work, and a host of alternate gaming options. Sure you can play the game alone, but there's also a cooperative multiplayer mode with up to four-players. There's a PVP arena so you can try out those combos on your friends. There's even the all-new Game Master mode, which recalls Dungeons & Dragons in the best way, as one player becomes the Game Master, using tools to craft their own stories for friends to play through in real time.

Divinity: Original Sin was already great. The sequel builds upon that by tightening up things in certain areas, like the writing, and adding a host of options on top of that. That's why Divinity: Original Sin 2 belongs at the top of the heap in 2017. —Mike Williams

9. Night in the Woods

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux

Even though this moody adventure game took me a weekend to clear, it's a weekend I won't forget any time soon. Night in the Woods' expressive visuals, atmospheric soundtrack, and weird-but-engaging story hooked me from moment one. Though I didn't grow up in a dying coal-mining town like the game's heroine, Mae, I had no trouble identifying with her problems and the problems plaguing her friends and family. I kept playing because I wanted to see how they'd all turn out. The answer is—well, you'll want to find out for yourself, really.

Night in the Woods perfectly portrays the troubles and anxieties of young Millenials, and it throws those struggles up against a chilly, damp backdrop for maximum effect. I'll remember my time with this indie adventure for years to come. Its chill is set in my bones. —Nadia Oxford

8. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

A few months ago I was talking with my roommate about what makes a perfect horror game. After two heated hours of shouting, we settled on the fact that P.T., the playable teaser for Hideo Kojima's cancelled game Silent Hills, was about as perfect a horror game as we'd ever get. Then came Resident Evil 7.

It's unfair to call Resident Evil 7 a return to form because Resident Evil has never been in this particular form. Replacing the series' traditional third-person camera with a first-person perspective, a la P.T., Capcom takes the brief Kojima teaser and runs away with its own unique take.

Resident Evil 7 replaces the psychological horror of P.T. with Capcom's own white-knuckle brand of horror games. The game is an old-school horror, as down and dirty as the swamp mansion residence of the mutated Baker family the player faces off against. Along the way, Capcom can't help but return to its bread-and-butter staples. There are hidden science labs, a growing arsenal of weapons, and a distinctly uninteresting brand of goo monsters. But through it all, Resident Evil 7 manages to restrain itself where it matters, and accelerate the action when necessary to craft a horror game that's more than the sum of its parts.

We might never get Silent Hills, but Capcom is still here to ruin our good night's sleep. —Matt Kim

7. Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Everyone's afraid of B.J. Blazkowicz, as they should be. He's a not very lean (he's pretty buff), mean, killing machine. The Nazis even erected arcade cabinets of games with B.J. (or Terror-Billy) as the villain in his honor. Except, B.J.'s really not always that gruesome of a guy. In-between slaughtering Nazis, B.J. is tender. He cares for his lover Anya, who's pregnant with twins, and he worries for his crew of resistance fighters.

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, being the brutal shooter it is, takes its time between missions, and sometimes in them too. It balances its violence with quiet. It balances its sorrow with unabashed joy. Wolfenstein 2 is at its best when it does the unexpected: whether it's a jaw-dropping, prolonged story beat in the midst of its tale, or a silly detour quest on his home base.

But the story of B.J. wrangling a ragtag group of resistance fighters across America together is where Wolfenstein 2 postures itself confidently. Wolfenstein 2 never minces its words, nor its sights. It also feels unsettlingly familiar in 2017 in how it examines how America would deal with a sudden Nazi takeover: that is, in being complicit to Nazi cruelty. While Wolfenstein 2 fumbles in comparison to its predecessor in its claustrophobic level design and half-baked stealth, it still feels damn good to wield two guns at once, blowing away any Nazi that crosses your path. As B.J. might say, if it's good enough to kill Nazis, it's good enough for me. —Caty McCarthy

6. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Available on: Xbox One, PC

I can't help but think about Brendan "PlayerUnknown" Greene, the man behind arguably the year's biggest hit, when I think of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. He's a super normal dude, almost eerily so. He bounced from web design jobs to photography jobs before he helped usher in the most exciting multiplayer genre in possibly decades. He's lived in countries all across the world. He's a seasoned adult, not some random kid who got lucky. Then Greene started making mods, and then he made the Battle Royale mod, and now PUBG, at the time of writing this, far and away has the most concurrent players on Steam at around 1,550,000 players. For perspective, Valve's own popular MOBA Dota 2 lags behind in second place with around 560,000 players.

That statistic is astonishing for a game that spent most of the year in Early Access; perhaps even more so for a game from a once-modder. But PUBG isn't like most Early Access games that come and go on Steam. PUBG is a sensation.

That's because PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is a pure sort of experience. At its start, it was stitched together by one aesthetically-inconsistent map (and with its new 1.0 release, a better map joins it), a handful of weapons, and general clunkiness guiding you. But even as it's evolved to be a much smoother game since its Early Access debut, the core of it has remained untouched: 100 people on an island battling one another for victory, or rather, a chicken dinner. Sometimes these battles come to fruition in duos, sometimes in squads, sometimes solo. But the core has always been the same: survive by whatever means necessary.

The pure PUBG experience comes from where every time you play it, something new happens. Maybe you escaped a firefight on a motorcycle, only to flip off a hill and kill yourself in the frenzy. Maybe you holed up in a bathroom with a shotgun as you heard footsteps down below, lucking out with a few kills. PUBG has been forever-tense, that's part of its M.O., but it's also been the most consistently enjoyable multiplayer game over the past year since it's launched. There's good reason why over a million are playing the game at this very second, and there's a good reason why it's consistently one of the top streaming games on Twitch. Even with a rough Xbox One port that lags far behind its superior PC version, overall, PUBG is an unforgettable, lightning-in-a-bottle sort of game. —Caty McCarthy

Day One: #20-#16
Day Two: #15-#11
Stay tuned for Day Four's countdown with numbers #5 through #2 tomorrow!

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Comments 14

  • Avatar for mattcom26 #1 mattcom26 A month ago
    More solid choices... looks like Nintendo will have a good presence in the remaining top 5. I'm eagerly awaiting Divinity: Original Sin coming to console.Edited 2 times. Last edited last month by mattcom26
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #2 MetManMas A month ago
    Wolfenstein 2's a li'l too brutal for me (says the guy who enjoys Fallout games), but I do like the effort it goes to when it comes to humanizing its cast. PUBG...well, I appreciate the scope, but I'd be more into this kinda thing if it gave the middle finger to the real world and took place in more of a sci-fi or fantasy setting. Like, I'd be down for a Fallout or Final Fantasy themed battle royale.

    Divinity: Original Sin 2, I'm in no rush to play since I've barely scratched the surface of DOS1, but I'll definitely keep an eye out for any console ports. Night in the Woods has been on my must buy indie list for a while but there's lots of other stuff on there, too. I'll definitely be checking it out, though.

    Resident Evil 7 was a fun time. A bit on the short side, but it didn't overstay its welcome and there's DLC available.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #3 NiceGuyNeon A month ago
    I was a little disappointed with Wolfenstein II myself. Would it make a top 10 for me? Maybe, I haven't played enough games in 2017, and I doubt I'd enjoy any shooter more than Wolf II anyway since it was a fairly weak year for the genre minus a few standout games.

    I like the themes of Wolfenstein II, I just hope that for a possible third game they actually improve level design, gameplay and weapon variety. Wolf 2's best moments are typically out of the hands of the player and I take issue with that. That jaw dropping story beat that Caty linked to was one of those "so what's the point of this?" moments I had with the game. I get what it does, but it also feels unnecessary to what the game is. I actually was scratching my head at that sequence and the immediately following sequence. Whereas in the second half, especially with how it dealt with Hitler, had me very much into the story.

    That said, I really need to get to Divinity: Original Sin 2. I haven't played the original, and based on Mike's review I likely won't need to. It's just the time sink. These games take so much time and I don't have enough to give every RPG. I know, life is hard. I'll probably play Night in the Woods too, and I'll probably skip RE7 because from what I hear, it's damn terrifying and I'm a chicken lol
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  • Avatar for DrCorndog #4 DrCorndog A month ago
    Now I'm wondering whether Samus Returns will appear in the top five, or miss the list entirely.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #5 MetManMas A month ago
    @DrCorndog My bets are on (in no particular order) Mario, Zelda, Persona, and Nier being four of the Top Five. The fifth one's more of a mystery, but Yakuza 0 seems most likely since it got a good amount of love in faves lists and USG didn't care much for Horizon Zero Dawn.Edited last month by MetManMas
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #6 NiceGuyNeon A month ago
    @MetManMas people, listen to me, FIFA 18, dark horse GotY. We just gotta BELIEVE!
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #7 chaoticBeat A month ago
    I loved every second of Wolfenstein 2. The simple fact that game got made is fantastic.
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  • Avatar for Flipsider99 #8 Flipsider99 A month ago
    @MetManMas I'm pretty sure you nailed the top 5. Yakuza 0 seems like a given, and Horizon Zero Dawn not making the top 20 is no surprise. I wouldn't put it in the top 20 either. But then again, that leaves out Cuphead... so one of those games is getting shafted. Both are weird games to exclude, especially when there's some questionable inclusions like Assassins' Creed and Uncharted. I'm pretty sure no one would bat an eye if neither of those games were on the list.

    I'm disappointed that it looks like Gravity Rush 2 won't place. Oh well, can't have everything!
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  • Avatar for Positive-Touch #9 Positive-Touch A month ago
    patiently waiting for dragon quest builders to appear
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  • Avatar for Wellman2nd #10 Wellman2nd A month ago
  • Avatar for VotesForCows #11 VotesForCows A month ago
    Fifteen games in and I still haven't played any of these! Not sure what I've been up to this year. Based on not playing any of these, I still sort of think that Divinity 2 should be game of the year. I don't really have the patience for it, but it sounds like a monumental achievement.

    @MetManMas You're probably right. Would love to see Gravity Rush sneak in there like@Flipsider99 but Yakuza might be more likely. At least I've played a few of those :)
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  • Avatar for Flipsider99 #12 Flipsider99 A month ago
    @Positive-Touch Dragon Quest Builders was 2016, wasn't it?
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  • Avatar for Positive-Touch #13 Positive-Touch A month ago
    @Flipsider99 what the hell apparently it was. where has my life gone
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  • Avatar for Flipsider99 #14 Flipsider99 A month ago
    @Positive-Touch It was definitely one of the 10 best 2016 games, though! Of course 2016 was a much weaker year than 2017.
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