It had just turned April when we declared that 2017 was a great year for video games. The post-holiday quarter is usually fairly quiet for new releases, but in 2017 it brought us legitimate contenders for game of the year in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn and Persona 5 -- and that's not to mention Resident Evil 7's return to form. Now the year is almost over, and we've had a stunning Mario game, another great Wolfenstein title and even an Assassin's Creed game that exceeded all expectations.
Getting an entire editorial team to agree on just one game is tough, and ultimately not that fun, so we didn't try. Instead, we each picked the one game that stood out to us the most -- avoiding duplicates -- and then named the title we're most looking forward to for 2018.
Assassin's Creed Origins
I never expected that an Assassin's Creed game would end up being one of my favorite games this year. But yes, Origins really is that good. Thanks to strong writing, a compelling lead and a gorgeous rendition of ancient Egypt in 4K and HDR, it's easily the best game in the series.
I didn't think I'd have patience for yet another massive open-world game, let alone one in a franchise that's embodied the worst elements of big-budget game development. But once I moved beyond the (admittedly clunky) opening sequence, I had a hard time putting it down. While the game starts out as a revenge story, I was more compelled by simply helping out the people of Egypt. Throughout its missions and side quests, it's hard not to feel the same sense of duty that drives Bayek, Origin's noble main character. Perhaps that's why, in this age of antiheroes and misfits, he feels like a breath of fresh air.
Runner-up: Life Is Strange: Before the Storm
Somehow, a Life Is Strange prequel without any time-travel powers is actually more compelling than the original. I didn't expect much from Before the Storm, especially with its new cast, but it ended up being a heartbreaking portrait of teenage angst.
2018: Red Dead Redemption 2
The first Red Dead Redemption is as close to perfect as a game can be. So who needs a sequel? While I have my concerns, I still can't wait to see what else Rockstar does with that world. As a developer, its narrative strengths are often overshadowed by the wackier and raunchier elements from Grand Theft Auto. If this next game manages to capture a fraction of the original's magic, it will be worth it.
Senior Editor, Database
Dream Daddy isn't the first to break from the heteronormative conventions of traditional dating sims, and it's easy to dismiss its quirks as mere gimmicks. But unlike titles that turn the genre on its head, like Hatoful Boyfriend and Doki Doki Literature Club, Dream Daddy shines in how it treats its relationships thoughtfully, and how the romance isn't necessarily the be-all and end-all of the game. The characters aren't just machines you drop niceness tokens into until a happy ending falls out. The game cares more about the time you spend together than where the relationship ends up. Sometimes you won't get the good ending, and Dream Daddy wants you to know that's okay: You'll always have your quirky daughter Amanda and your terrible dad jokes. Terrible, terrible dad jokes.
Runner-up: Doki Doki Literature Club
If Dream Daddy is a love letter to the frivolity of dating sims, Doki Doki wants you to know that they're complete bullshit. The choices are unsatisfying and the emotional content is empty. So the game strips away your choices and in the process hits you right in the gut. You can't save her, but God dammit you will try.
2018: Pokémon for Nintendo Switch
2016 was a pretty solid anniversary year for Pokémon, thanks to the solid 1-2 punch of Pokémon Go during the summer and Pokémon Sun and Moon in the fall. However, 2017 has been the year of Switch, with franchises like Zelda and Mario rightfully dominating the headlines. While this year's Ultra Sun and Moon were somewhat underwhelming, next year may bring us a Pokémon game for Switch. It's not just that the Switch is looking like it will be Nintendo's most popular console of all time or that Pokémon is a popular franchise: This will be the first core Pokémon game on a home console. The fact that the Switch is also portable probably factored into the decision to put it there, as it won't stray too far from the series' roots. Face-to-face interaction has always been a hallmark of Pokémon, and the Switch's early marketing played up the social aspect of the system. Pokémon Switch might be the title that truly realizes that potential.