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The holiday season is full of non-stop video game blockbuster releases, then normally followed by quieter months as players enjoy their new gifts.
2017 decided to buck that trend, partially due to the March release of a new gaming console, the Nintendo Switch. But those with Sony or Microsoft consoles had their fair share of big games to play in January and February too. To keep you in the know, we’re getting an early start to the best video games, and will update as the year shapes up.
The year started out with a fright and a bang as Capcom released Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, a throwback to its horror origins in the franchise. The title featured Ethan, the hero, in a search of a Louisiana bayou plantation to find his wife, who has been missing for three years.
Instead, he finds horrors as a mutated family and genetic creatures assail him physically while visions and flashbacks impact him mentally. The game drew high praise for its frightening environments, which heightened when the game was played in virtual reality using the PlayStation VR unit.
The title tried to emphasize the survival horror aspects of the franchise over the continuous slaughter of zombies. Who or what is the true evil? Who can you trust when people transform into something monstrous right before your eyes?
This is a game about survival and playing along with how the villains manipulate you. Can you unravel the mysteries surrounding this house while keeping yourself alive long enough to escape?
With the release of the Nintendo Switch, the company needed a flagship title to help it develop an early following. Instead of Mario, they chose Link, and with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it turned out to be the perfect choice.
A beautiful, open world beckons the heroic elf from his slumber as an ancient evil begins its rise to power. Link finds himself without his memories, his weapons or his sense of purpose, but those all come rushing back as the environments draw him into his adventures.
The game also marked the first time that voice acting was featured in a Zelda game, although it is limited to certain characters. However, there is plenty to do and explore in the world, with physics-based puzzles and dungeons for exploring.
“Breath of the Wild” earned many perfect scores from reviewers for sandbox design, the use of mechanics to complete tasks and the feeling of wonder instilled with gameplay. It is definitely a title and a world worth getting lost in and a perfect opening title for a brand-new console.
If strategy is more your style, Halo Wars 2 offers real-time challenges in one of the most well-known stories in gaming. While Master Chief is nowhere to be seen, the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) is still out in the galaxy, battling the enemies they need to battle.
A story-based campaign introduces a new, vicious enemy, the Banished, who are determined to run roughshod over anyone they encounter. As an RTS game, players are charged with directing squads of forces into battle while maintaining a constant supply of resources to enhance their forces.
There are three Marines who act as heroes on the battlefield and are imbued with special abilities, like taking over mechanized vehicles. Missions range from capturing and holding specific areas to total annihilation of the enemy to running away through a gauntlet.
The single-player story’s ending left a couple of cliffhangers, but it did tie in nicely to the Halo universe. There is also a multiplayer component that features a card mechanic that imbues the battlefield with buffs or special units.
A post-apocalyptic landscape, dotted with robotic creatures and rival tribes, is the setting for Horizon Zero Dawn, a role-playing adventure of survival and mystery. Players take on the role of Aloy, an outcast hunter with a hidden origin, as she searches for meaning in the world around her.
Using ranged and melee weapons, combined with stealth tactics, Aloy uncovers many different plots going on in the world. She traverses a gorgeous, open world with inviting mountaintops and rushing rivers.
As a hunter-gatherer, defeating enemies and looting them for supplies is key to help the character progress. While weapons must be purchased, ammunition can be constructed on the fly if you have the right materials.
The mix of high tech animals and environments with the “ancient” ways of the bow and arrow and living off the land blend nicely together, creating a rich mix of gameplay and experiences. The lingering questions of what happened to the world will drive players forward in their quest for answers.
Part of the flexibility of the Nintendo Switch is its ability to play multiplayer anywhere with the two detachable Joy-Con controllers. Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together! takes advantage of the ability in a co-operative puzzle game where players work together to create solutions.
The players use their avatars, Snip and Chip, to create shapes by overlapping each other and clipping away the excess. Teamwork, rather than being competitive, means success over the puzzles, and the challenges are amusing in their construction. Need to shoot a basketball? Clip it! Want to create an egg-laying bird? Clip and move the avatars together to hatch all the eggs.
The game mechanic is easy to pick up, and requires creativity, imagination, and cooperation. The solutions are only limited by what the players can create.
The year is still young, and the choices for new titles will expand just within the next few months.
In Injustice 2, we find out what happens when the regime falls and new heroes arrive. Prey hopes to thrill and scare in their shooter/exploration game that also lets players shape-shift to avoid problems. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will take Switch uses back to the fantastic tracks of the Nintendo world and adds a new twist with battles for balloons.
Many more titles are scheduled for release in 2017, and we aren’t even close to the holiday season.
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