2017 is already an incredible year for video games

Let's take a moment to celebrate something awesome.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Every now and then, it's wise to stop and recognize the good things in life. And right now, it doesn't get much better than the video game industry. After dozens of Slack conversations about all the exciting titles and hardware coming out this year, a handful of Engadget editors got together to formally celebrate the year in gaming so far. Plus, we gazed into the future and offered suggestions on ways to make 2017 even better. So sit back, clear your mind and join us in an appreciation of everything good the video game industry has to offer in 2017.

Jessica Conditt, Senior Reporter

So far this year, I've crept through a dilapidated house in VR, solving puzzles, battling monsters and hiding from a family of demented tormentors. I've hunted robot dinosaurs in a gorgeous post-apocalyptic world. I've played a shining new Zelda game on Nintendo's latest console, a mobile living room hybrid that feels like the realization of every promise the Wii U didn't deliver. I'm about to dive into the weird world of Persona 5, a game that my most favorite critics (and friends) are absolutely gushing over.

This year is incredible for fans of video games.

Beyond the games themselves being incredibly entertaining and polished so far this year, the industry is leveling out beautifully after a rush of innovation and change. Virtual reality is finally a true commercial product, with a handful of different headsets and functionalities to choose from. Esports is a booming scene, and as it infiltrates mainstream television, it's introducing an entirely new audience to the wonders of competitive gaming. Consoles are more powerful than ever, offering 4K and hybrid playing options.

But really, this year is all about the games. Some we already know are outstanding experiences, like Horizon Zero Dawn, Resident Evil 7, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Persona 5. And then there's everything still to come, like Destiny 2, Splatoon 2, What Remains of Edith Finch, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Yooka-Laylee, Prey, Tacoma, Outlast 2, Where Cards Fall, QUBE 2, EarthNight, Cuphead, Full Metal Furies and a surprising number of cyberpunk-infused titles. Mmm, cyberpunk.

Even the disappointments this year aren't so bad: For example, Mass Effect: Andromeda kind of sucks, but at least we still get to hook up with aliens.

What would make 2017 even better for gaming?

A Harry Potter MMO. Always a Harry Potter MMO.

Nick Summers, Associate Editor

The past few months have given us a staggering number of creative, high-quality video games. I'm pouring my heart and soul into Persona 5 at the moment, but I could just as easily be playing NieR: Automata, Gravity Rush 2 or Yakuza 0. All of them are exceptional. Sticking with Japan, there's also Resident Evil 7 (a true return to form), and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild -- one of the highest-reviewed games in history. I've never subscribed to the idea that there are too many games (they're not going anywhere!), but right now it's genuinely difficult to choose what to play.

Looking ahead, 2017 shows no sign of slowing down. I'm curious to try Prey, the space-horror reboot by Bethesda. There's also Rime, a picturesque island puzzler that's part Ico, part The Witness, and Tacoma, the second game from Gone Home developer Fullbright. Then there are the big hitters like Super Mario Odyssey, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Detroit: Become Human. That's not to mention the deluge of titles that will be announced at E3 this summer. I know it's a cliché, but I'm going to say it anyway: There's never been a better time to be playing video games.

What would make 2017 even better for gaming?

If Shenmue 3 came out this year. Apparently it is, but let's be honest: It isn't.

Aaron Souppouris, Features Editor

It's been almost exactly five years since Fez developer Phil Fish infamously declared that modern Japanese games "just suck." That statement has perhaps never been less true. Save Horizon: Zero Dawn and a few indie titles, all of 2017's best games have come from Japan, so much so that I'm struggling to keep up.

Recently, I played (and loved) Breath of the Wild before putting that on hold to play Persona 5, which is already a strong contender for my game of the year. Before Zelda came along, I'd dabbled with Resident Evil 7 and Nioh, which are both great. Oh, and I play Fire Emblem Heroes on a daily basis. It's pretty clear that 2017 has been a special year for Japanese gaming already. I still have to catch up on NieR: Automata before Danganronpa V3, Splatoon 2, Tokyo Dark and Super Mario Odyssey all drop. As Nick already said, if you believe Yu Suzuki, we'll even get Shenmue 3 by the year's end.

That's not to say there aren't things to look forward to from elsewhere. Nex Machina -- a sequel to the PS4 launch hit Resogun -- is due soon, and Absolver is still looking great. Eitr might finally happen, and Dead Cells is making me very excited. So really, it's a combination of the Japanese gaming renaissance -- and the continued strength of the indie scene -- that's making 2017 a year to remember.

What would make 2017 even better for gaming?

June 11th, 2017. Phil Spencer takes the Microsoft E3 stage. After revealing the new Xbox, it's time for one more thing. A grand piano rises from the orchestra pit, played by Hideki Kamiya, who is wearing a fedora and Oakleys. "It takes a big company to admit its mistakes," says Spencer. "We are that company." Lights fade to black. A new Scalebound trailer drops, Kamiya-san's piano playing punctuated by the game's heavy-hitting brostep soundtrack. The game launches the following day to rave reviews.

Rob LeFebvre, Contributing Editor

2017 has been pretty fantastic in terms of both hardware and games.

Even though Overwatch launched last May, there's still enough content and fun play to keep me going well past the point I'd usually quit a multiplayer shooter (spawn, die, respawn, repeat). Destiny 2 coming soon makes me even giddier, as it was another title that hooked me and kept me there for a while. Being able to play on a team or socially with others is my hook, and these two titles, plus The Elder Scrolls Online and Diablo 3, are my jam, lasting well beyond the typical expiration dates. The new Zelda game has made me a fan of the IP for the first time ever, and I'm excited to jump into Persona 5 as my first taste of the franchise.

As for hardware, the Nintendo Switch is as good as the hype says it is. Having a console-level portable gaming system where the console is the game keeps me wanting more titles to play on it. The hardware came out sooner than it should have, but that's surely helped me focus on Breath of the Wild more than I would have if there were several other must-play games on the machine. The PS4 Pro excites me, especially with the potential for a better VR experience too.

What would make 2017 even better for gaming?

A broader, more diverse selection of games for the Switch, for one. I'm excited to play Skyrim on the thing (though an Elder Scrolls Online version would be even better). New Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem entries for the console would allow me to let go of my 3DS too. Ultimately though, 2017 is already a delightful year for gamers.

Nathan Ingraham, Deputy Managing Editor

We're only four months in, but 2017 is already being heralded as a banner year in gaming. For me, what's made it great comes down to two titles that will surprise exactly no one: Horizon Zero Dawn and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In fact, as someone who loves playing games but doesn't have a ton of free time these days, I feel like these two massive, open-world adventures could be enough to get me through the rest of the year.

I've loved just about every entry in the Zelda series, even games like Twilight Princess that everyone retroactively decided were lame. But I'm more than ready for the entirely new experience Nintendo finally cooked up. I doubted whether the company could truly divorce the series from its core gameplay elements while still keeping it familiar, but it seems Nintendo has absolutely nailed that.

Horizon Zero Dawn is less ambitious but no less beautiful, expansive and entertaining. I'm a sucker for post-apocalypse games, so seeing a society way beyond whatever calamity reduced humanity to a shell of its former self is fascinating. The lead character, Aloy, is a great window into this world, and the scenery is amazing: I could spend hours playing with photo mode, not actually accomplishing anything.

But what impresses me most about these games is that they're both massive open-world adventures that aren't too difficult to get into. You can pick them up and play for an hour or two, put them down for a week and get right back on the path. I've shied away from games that I felt were too long or too big in the past, but both Horizon Zero Dawn and Breath of the Wild are approachable enough for me. But their vast scope means I should be kept busy for a good long while.

What would make 2017 even better for gaming?

The answer for me is easy: a surprise early launch of The Last of Us Part 2. Barring that unlikely scenario, I'm hoping for more good Switch games -- it can't survive on Zelda alone!

Devindra Hardawar, Senior Editor

We knew 2017 was going to be an intriguing year for games from the start. Ever since Nintendo unveiled the Switch last fall, I was eagerly counting down the days until I could get my hands on one during the January launch event (which was a blast). And when I finally had the chance to review it, I was happy to find that it mostly lived up to my expectations. Next up on the hardware horizon: Microsoft's Project Scorpio, which will be unveiled on June 11th during E3.

Beyond new consoles, the biggest surprise for me this year has been the relentless onslaught of must-play titles. Horizon Zero Dawn blew me away with its narrative and luscious visuals. Resident Evil 7 was a return to form for the series, and it also proved that an entire console game could be crafted for VR. And The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild turned out to be one of the best games ever made. No big deal.

My big dilemma right now? Finding time to finish all of these games, especially with Persona 5 on the horizon.

What would make 2017 even better for gaming?

It's hard to imagine the year getting much better for games, but a few surprises at E3 wouldn't hurt.

Timothy Seppala, Associate Editor

Thinking about 2017, I'm reminded of the hits as much as the misses. Resident Evil 7 wasn't a game I expected to like. Each release since Resident Evil 4 in 2005 ranged from middling to patently awful. Seeing Jess almost throw up after her infamous PSVR demo at E3 last year and the motion sickness I caught playing in 2D once home from Los Angeles didn't inspire hope that I'd enjoy the finished product. Imagine my surprise when I found myself white-knuckling through the batshit-crazy opening hours, mouth simultaneously agape in horror and twisted into a grin. By the time Resident Evil 7 settled into its moment-to-moment exploration and puzzle solving, I was hooked.

Counter that with Mass Effect: Andromeda, a game I should've adored immediately. Why it turned out so poorly is a mystery to anyone outside of publisher EA and developer BioWare. The studio's last game, 2014's Dragon Age: Inquisition, was well-received, and thanks to how the underlying Frostbite tech works, it's not like the studio had to start development from scratch. Yet Andromeda still feels unfinished.

Ubisoft's Ghost Recon: Wildlands felt rushed out the door too. Its opening cutscene was intriguing, but the game quickly devolved into a franchise entry that fell far below the high standards set by its predecessors.

What I keep coming back to, though, is Horizon and Zelda. Both are open-world action-adventure games, but they're different enough that jumping between the two is incredibly difficult. What's most impressive is how confident each feels. You'd never know developer Guerrilla Games had exclusively made brawny first-person shooters prior to Horizon. As for Zelda, Nintendo's first foray into open-world raises the bar for the entire sub-genre -- and in many places demolishes it entirely. I hope Rockstar is paying attention.

What would make 2017 even better for gaming?

Proof that Sony hasn't abandoned PSVR, Nintendo destroying E3 with one megaton announcement after another and Microsoft moving beyond its Halo, Gears of War and Forza release pattern. Oh, and time for actually playing; I still haven't gotten to Night in the Woods, and now Aaron is goading me into trying Persona 5.

Sean Buckley, Associate Editor

2016 wasn't a bad year for gaming, but somehow it left me drained. Despite adoring the power fantasy of Doom, the quirky characters of Overwatch and the crushing challenge of Dark Souls 3, I felt like I was just going through the motions. I was desperate for something new. Something exciting. Then, two weeks into the new year, Nintendo told the world when we could buy its new console and how much it would cost, and it showed everything we could play on it. The mere anticipation of the Nintendo Switch was like a breath of fresh air.

It's no secret that I'm an avid fan of Nintendo. The company's weird consoles, quirky game gimmicks and lovable characters fill me with a joy that rivals visiting Disneyland. The company is unapologetically nostalgic yet still strives to be novel, unique and original -- and combining the old and familiar with the new and exciting is exactly what I needed to pull me out of my 2016 gaming rut.

The Nintendo Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2 are all great, but Nintendo isn't the only part of the gaming industry striking a genius balance between nostalgia and novelty: This year, Resident Evil 7 simultaneously took the survival horror series back to its roots while exploring a sinister narrative in a completely new style. Torment: Tides of Numenera dragged dialogue-heavy isometric gameplay back out of the grave. Yooka-Laylee promises to resurrect the 3D platformer for new hardware. Combined with the depth of creative games we saw at GDC last month, 2017 is easily shaping up to be one of the most refreshing years of gaming in recent memory.

What would make 2017 even better for gaming?

I'd selfishly ask for Nintendo to get just a little more support from third parties. How is it that a collection of Disney-themed NES games isn't coming to Nintendo's latest console? Come on, Capcom. Get your shit together. Oh, and Nintendo could stand to release plans for how it's going to support its own back catalog of classics too.