Divinity: Original Sin II

What more can I say about this amazing game? It in every way exemplifies everything I look for in an RPG. Everything here is best in class, from the world building to the combat, from the rich and evolving story to the frankly staggering amount of freedom it allows. I have never been as impressed with a game as I was with Divinity Original Sin II. Not just a classic, but an essential game for any fan of the genre. (Chris Brown)

Nidhogg 2

Triumph. Tragedy. Comebacks. Reversals. Steamrolling victories. 20-minute long epic struggles. Fortune. Misfortune. Blinding skill. Stunning incompetence. Nidhogg 2 distills the very essence of PvP gaming into something that nearly anyone can just pick up and play for some of the most hilarious minutes that will ever happen in your lounge, as two people desperately compete to be the person that gets eaten by a giant sky worm. (Did I mention it's also visually insane? It's also visually insane.) Play it with your friend, brother, Mum, lover, or courier delivery person, and stab them in the solar plexus over and over again. (Ben Allan)

Horizon Zero Dawn

I am a huge fan of literary science fiction – you know, the really dry stuff where the story digs into the tiny, nitty gritty details of a world’s lore and science. That is why I enjoyed Horizon so much. Sure, I loved exploring the world, fighting robo dinos, and crafting weapons. But what really blew me away were the quiet moments of exploration in the ancient facilities throughout the game. Finding the stories in text, audio and the environment was deeply rewarding for me, and an experience I hope the team at Guerilla double down on in any sequels. (Baz Macdonald)

My love for ‘hide in bushes and throw rocks’ simulators is well known, and HZD is the best example of the genre. It takes just the best elements from Uncharted, Assassins Creed, and the new Tomb Raider games and blends them into a jaw-dropping post-post-apocalyptic playground. When it comes to open world exploration, you really can do no better than this. (Chris Brown)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

I’ve enjoyed most of the Zelda games over the years (as proof I offer up the names of my two cats: Link and Zelda), with Twilight Princess the only recent exception, so I was certainly hoping Breath of the Wild would be executed with a modern version of the love and care that so clearly went into Ocarina of Time. What I hadn’t expected was to take delivery of the best game ever made and yet that’s exactly what it is. So much attention to detail, so much in-the-moment “presence” and some of the tightest gameplay of all time. Zelda = GOAT and I can’t wait to see what they do with the next game. (Alan Bell)

Not many games will likely ever come close to giving me the sense of wonder and possibility that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild did. A perfect game to kickstart the Switch’s hugely successful year, and one to bid farewell to the Wii U’s lacklustre run, Link’s adventure was a showcase of Nintendo at its very best. And though most of this year has been filled with controversy surrounding loot boxes and microtransactions, Breath of the Wild is a reminder that some developers and publishers still prioritise what matters most to gamers: the gameplay itself. Moreover, Breath of the Wild’s gameplay is as immersive as it is exciting, and throws traditional AAA conventions to the wayside. It’s a masterpiece. (Toby Berger)

I almost did not include this game, but if I am being honest, it is just as worthy as many of the games on this list, even if I feel it is a game that gets too many passes for too many minor but persistent niggles. That being said, this is one of the best open worlds I have ever explored, and that sense of exploration never dissipated. For all of the issues I have with the simplistic combat, annoying weapon degradation, and vacant story-telling, the world keeps drawing me in. There is a richness there that cannot be denied. (Chris Brown)

Injustice 2

A perennial fan of fighting games, I didn’t even hesitate to thrust my hand in the air the moment Injustice 2 was available. Expecting more of the same (which would have been fine - Injustice was great) I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was all of that and much more. In particular, I really enjoyed the loot aspect of the title - something I’d never even speculated might make a good addition to the genre. Taking the thrill of unlocking stuff they’d already built into previous Mortal Kombat games and making the stuff you unlock cool-looking equipable upgrades to your characters gives what might otherwise be a short - or multiplayer exclusive - experience some genuine legs for those who prefer to play offline. (Alan Bell)

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

In a year where actual Nazis seemed to be making a horrifying resurgence, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus arrived as a delightfully and accidentally timely reminder of a message I think we can nearly all get behind, which is: f**k Nazis. Credit must go primarily to the game's writers, who somehow managed to combine themes as heavy as PTSD, fatherhood, and the horrors of fascism and racism with crazy sci-fi, alternative history, and ‘60s-style exploitation in a way that not actually works, but works gangbusters. With two of the most jaw-dropping sequences in gaming in this or probably any other year, the game made an appropriately single-handed case for how great single player gaming can be in a year where we all got a bit hysterical that it might be going away. Plus you get to shotgun Nazis in the face. (Ben Allan)

I loved MachineGames’ first crack at the Wolfenstein IP back in 2014, even though it was flawed and disjointed throughout. The sequel, however, does exactly what a follow-up should: it improves on almost everything (as well as righting most of The New Order’s wrongs) to make The New Colossus one of my favourite games of the year. It’s bizarre, it’s crazy, and it’s exactly the kind of title that demonstrates how important single-player gaming still is in an age where multiplayer-oriented experiences are becoming more and more of the norm. (Toby Berger)

William ‘Terror Billy’ Blazkowicz is very good at killing Nazis. Machine Games is very good at taking something old and making it new again. This was true in The New Order, and remains true in The New Colossus. Darker, and even more brutal than the previous entry, Wolf II is a joyous bloodbath of bullets, body-parts, and B-movie shlock. The story is mental, tonally schizophrenic, and pushes the boundaries of credulity at every turn, but that’s kind of its charm. And of course there is always the fact you can dual-wield automatic shotguns and “stealth-kill” by chopping people’s feet off. I mean, what’s not to love? (Chris Brown)

Sniper Elite 4

That Wolfenstein game was okay I guess, but I had far more fun killing socialists (it's right there in the name, people!) in Rebellion's latest slow-mo nut-shot-stravaganza. Best played with most if not all assists off, Sniper Elite 4 is a slow-paced game that's as much about planning and positioning as it is about launching bullets across its scenic and expansive Mediterranean maps. Once you get the hang of its bullet physics and idiosyncratic booby traps, you feel like a gun-toting ghost; a hidden menace who exists just to utterly terrorise scores of Third Reich invaders. The x-ray gore makes every kill satisfying, but despite – or perhaps because of – its po-faced gritty exterior, Sniper Elite 4 is also surprisingly funny. It's satisfying, systems-heavy sandbox satisfaction. (Matt Maguire)

Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey was easily one of my top-most anticipated titles of the year - hell, of the decade. Mario games are always a highlight for my wife and I, who have played through every one of them together since Mario 64 (she even replayed that one on the DS). Was it good? It sure was. Was it the best game of the year? Not even close. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a blast, but I’m not sure it’s even in my top-5 Mario games - let alone games full stop. It just lacks tightness in the controls for me; it feels a little… disconnected. I liked it and will get all 999 moons eventually but I doubt I’ll look back on it with the fondness of Mario 64. (Alan Bell)

My first Mario experience in more than 20 years, and what a joy it is. Despite my giant hands fumbling with the Switch’s child-sized JoyCons, I had a blast during Mario’s hat-flinging, world jumping adventure. It does feel a little gimmicky, and even to someone well out of the loop for many years, it is rather familiar in places. But the platforming remains exceptional, and offers a simple and more innocent sense of fun than basically any other title this year. Another stupidly additive title from a company that seems to specialize in them. (Chris Brown)

Prey

Let’s be clear here: this is not a Prey game. There are no portals, there’s no link to the first game, and in fact, nothing to tie it to that game at all. What it is, though, is an engaging sci-fi survival-horror shooter. Taking the System Shock formula and diverging slightly from the path BioShock took, Prey allows you to explore more freely than those games as you unravel the mystery of your current predicament more or less at your own pace. There are a few stumbles, but this tense and beautifully presented game got sadly overlooked by many. It is not only worth your time, but is also deserving of a lot more praise than it has received. (Chris Brown)

Tacoma

I remain baffled by how negative people are about narrative exploration games, especially when they are as creative and progressive as Tacoma. Though this game may not have created quite the reaction Gone Home[i] did, its unique narrative structure, brilliant characters, and compelling mysteries are equally deserving of praise. Games like [i]Tacoma are pushing the boundaries of what can be accomplished in interactive storytelling, and to me, that is the field of gaming with the most exciting potential. (Baz Macdonald)

Persona 5

Persona 5 is everything I could have ever wanted from a Persona game, containing a large breadth of content, a cracking storyline to adventure through, and excellent gameplay that felt immersive and enjoyable throughout the entire 90-hour experience. My only gripe was that I couldn’t take the game with me as I travelled a lot this year, but that’s not to take any feather away from Atlus’ cap – Persona 5 is gaming perfection, and serves as one of my favourite games in recent memory. It was a long wait for its localisation and subsequent release, but it was damn worth it. (Toby Berger)

Beautiful, confusing, charming, and endlessly inventive, this was perhaps the most surprising game to make my end of year list. I am not usually a fan of JRPGs – their convoluted stories, over-long melodramatic cut-scenes and strange characters often put me off. Here, though, it all just works, by not actually avoiding any of these things. Persona 5 succeeds for this western RPG fan, not because it dropped any of its JRPG-ness, but because it executed those elements better than any JRPG has done before. The soundtrack is sublime, the art direction is vibrant and filled with personality, the combat is deep and ever-evolving, and its unique take on psychology, the id, and self-empowerment all delivered with bombastic over-the-top flare was nothing short of a revelation for me. (Chris Brown)

Nier: Automata

Batshit insanity meets heart-breaking emotional rollercoaster all swirled together within an RPG shell with spectacle fighter DNA. There really is nothing quite like Nier: Automata out there. It’s not for everyone with its slow roll and obtuse storytelling. But given time you will fall for 2B’s charms, and the adventure you will share will be long remembered. And if you don’t care for any of that, there is an ocean of giant sword wielding epic robot annihilation to keep you busy for many hours. (Chris Brown)

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Every now and then, you discover something you can do in a game that never ceases to be entertaining. In Shadow of War, you can sprint like The Flash, leap like a flea, and dice orcs like onions. You can seize the minds of your enemies, shame them until they are gibbering wrecks, and ride an assortment of devastatingly powerful creatures. Witness gasp as you slash the throats of their colleagues, flee in terror as you alight their friends, and return for revenge with a new speech in hand, only to be humiliated again. All of these things are extremely satisfying, and there’s a lot else to like about Shadow of War's fluid, ferocious Arkham-style combat and protagonist Talion’s astounding powers. But the one thing I think I will never tire of in Monolith’s LOTR spin-off sequel: grabbing orcs and biffing them off cliffs. It's the most entertaining move of 2017, bar absolutely none. (Matt Maguire)

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

While I could write pages about the themes of mental health and personal demons at the core of this one, and I would like to. It’s the emotional journey and how it is presented that really impressed me. The sound design, voice acting, and graphics are breath-taking. Easily the most affecting title of the year (and it had some stiff competition), Senua’s Sacrifice not only stands strong as a great hack and slash game and a beacon of the pedigree of the sub-AAA space, but also serves as a shining example of how the art form has matured. (Chris Brown)

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Ubisoft made a Mario game. It made a Mario game, combined it with XCOM. And it’s fantastic. This for me is THE standout Switch game of the year – it’s deceptively deep and endlessly fun. Ubisoft manages to not only honour the Mario name, but its knowing, self-deprecating humour elevates Kingdom Battle above anything Nintendo has done with the property in years. I love this game so much, I actually needed to see a physio about the pain it was causing my hands, because I could not stop playing it – even when my thumbs began to cramp up. (Chris Brown)

Destiny 2

Whatever missteps Bungie makes in trying to keep its often vocally demanding player base happy (and what MMO game isn't having to adjust all the time?), it has a secret weapon up its sleeves with the Destiny series: it's a lot of fun to play. Destiny 2 kept that intact while stumping up with more of Bungie's beautiful "70s sci-fi concept art" worlds, simplifying a lot of the arcane nonsense that could make its predecessor frustrating, and actually adding a satisfying story that made much better use of their world's enjoyable characters. Calling it the "Destiny: What It Should Have Been In The First Place" edition may be fair in a way, but remember how great we all thought Destiny would be in the first place? You get onto a forum and start grouching about drop rates, if you like; I'll be over here fighting a legion of armoured alien warrior toads with my heavily beweaponed space wizard. (Ben Allan)

Nioh

Nioh does one thing better than any other game I have played this year, and that is to make you feel like a badass. It will also just as quickly serve you up a big ‘ol slice of humble pie when you get a little too cocky. Team Ninja’s take on the Souls genre eclipses anything FromSoftware has produced on a mechanics level. Its faster, more rhythmic approach, coupled with enough room to embrace multiple approaches to combat, makes this the perfect game for any fan of the technical hack and slash titles. It also helps that there are fewer slices of cheese served with each boss. (Chris Brown)

What Remains of Edith Finch

Proving that size doesn’t actually matter, Edith Finch succeeds by focussing on delivering powerful drama. The walking simulator moniker is in my opinion not only dismissive, but wholly inaccurate when it comes to this game. While it pares back many typical gameplay elements, it immerses you so effectively that those ‘missing’ items become immediately irrelevant. It’s been about eight months since I played this game, and it still resonates. (Chris Brown)

Paradigm

I love point and click adventure games. I adore Paradigm. This one-man ode to the bizarre should be played immediately by any fan of the genre. One of the funniest games I have ever played, it also possesses a completely warped but internally consistent logic that meets and in many ways exceeds the genius level insanity Sierra and LucasArts gave us back in the ‘90s. (Chris Brown)

World of Warcraft

I’ve been playing WoW since the very start (technically beforehand - I rolled my first ‘toon in the open beta) and this year marked my first real absence. My 6 month break ended around October and I just can’t put the game down again; Legion’s combination of end-game activities is super compelling and the just-about-to-release improvements to old leveling content, which I’ve been trying out on the test realm, might force me to pay for a second account (I already have the maximum 50 characters on my first account, and they’re all high level already). This do-no-wrong era for the title looks set to continue, to, with the recently announced Battle for Azeroth expansion packing some sweet new features into an already feature-rich experience. (Alan Bell)

Thimbleweed Park

It’s not often you get a great point and click adventure these days, so the fact that we got two in 2017 is something of a miracle. Having said that, when you have Ron Gilbert at the helm, you should expect something special. Thimbleweed Park is a darkly comic adventure that feels like a breath of fresh air, while also feeling so very familiar. The multi-perspective story and genuinely smart (but not pointlessly difficult) puzzles are easily the best in the genre. This is Maniac Mansion all grown up, and is exceptional. (Chris Brown)

Overwatch

Last year I gave Overwatch a 9/10. The game was amazing when it launched, but it still had so much to prove in keeping up with regular updates, growing the game competitively and working with the community. A year and half on, Overwatch is a 10/10, because in all three of those categories, Blizzard has smashed it this year. We have gotten so many new characters, maps, features, and events, the game has gone from strength to strength in its esports scene – with next year looking even brighter – and the company is unparalleled in how well it has worked with the community, both in terms of lore and gameplay. (Baz Macdonald)

Cuphead

Cuphead is S and M for those afraid of pain and bruises. It abuses, punishes, and mocks, but you keep going back for more. The peak of exhilaration at the climax of each encounter is soon replaced by more punishment and frustration as you are again and again denied the satisfaction of completion. The allure of reaching through the pain, and the promise of that heady rush never subsides. It is the ultimate tease, and I kind of love it for that. (Chris Brown)

Fortnite

Earlier this year, Epic Games took one look at the heat PUBG was drawing and thought, "We'll have a piece of that!" The result was a quickly cobbled together battle royale mode for just-released sandbox survival title Fortnite. It had a shaky launch, but a flock of patches quickly raised its quality, and now Fortnite battle royale runs like an absolute dream on PC and consoles. It is much, much smaller scale and far more cartoon-y than PUBG, and there are no vehicles or gun attachments, but it's perfect for a few quick 15-20 minute matches before bedtime, and its mining and building mechanics add an extra layer of strategy and fun. Whether you are building ramps to ascend mountains, disguising yourself as a bush, shooting or smashing your way through your opponent's cover, or searching for hidden gun stashes that sing when you are near, Fortnite battle royale is a great wee multiplayer shooter, and best of all, it's completely free! (Matt Maguire)

Assassin's Creed Origins

It’s good. It’s actually really good. Ubisoft took some extra time to refresh the formula, and it worked – it is again fun to explore the wide-open spaces of an AC game. The new RPG elements help to give a sense of progression, and while it doesn’t start all that strongly, the story is genuinely interesting, and helps keep the whole experience moving forward. It also helps that the Animus bollocks has been pushed all the way back into a dark cave for the most part. This is the best game in the entire series behind Black Flag, and a much-appreciated return to form. (Chris Brown)

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Is this cheating? Probably. As I had been away from Nintendo consoles for quite a while, experiencing Mario Kart 8 on the Switch (and on the go) sucked up a lot of my life over the year. It’s a fantastic party game, and it’s on the perfect system to truly thrive. I think getting it on Switch in April meant it saw (and continues to see) a lot of love from adopters of Nintendo’s hybrid console, too. Its new additions are also welcome, and it serves as a go-to almost every time I have a few minutes spare when I’m travelling. (Toby Berger)

Planescape: Torment – Enhanced Edition

My favourite RPG of all time got the enhanced treatment this year. From a pure story standpoint, Planescape is unparalleled in the genre, and perhaps within the whole video game space. Some of its mechanical sins are more obvious after a couple of decades, and despite a good polish, it is showing its age, creaking a little when it moves, but its quality cannot be denied. Planescape remains unique, and is just as engrossing now as it was back in the late ‘90s. If you want to experience something special, a bit twisted, and perhaps a little deeper and darker than you’d think, I cannot recommend it enough. (Chris Brown)

The Nintendo Switch

I know it is not a game, but the Switch has undoubtedly been the best part of gaming for me in 2017. No matter where I go, it has been with me. I use it literally every day – when commuting, on lunch breaks, while vegging out in front of the TV. It has allowed me to invest in a range of indie titles that I probably never would have tried if it weren’t for the easy and portable nature of the console. I bloody love the thing, and have had some of my best experiences in gaming on it already. I now dream of a future where I can play any game on this nifty little device. Viva La Switch! (Baz Macdonald)