This is always the hardest category for me to pick and I always spend weeks thinking about it. What makes a game better than all the others? Does it have to be revolutionary? One of a kind? Bigger than any other game? Not necessarily. GotY is usually for a game that exceeds expectations and feels solid, structured, fun, and memorable, and just stands out as a whole over any other game. This was a hard year to pick from as there were so many fantastic games that fell under these criteria.
It was really only a close call between God of War and Red Dead II this year with Spider-Man right behind them. This was one of those rare years where I had to analyze each and every piece of both games to determine the winner. They both have fantastic acting, characters, gameplay elements, and visuals. God of War however did most of this with more finesse and less experimentation. I felt the story of Kratos and Atrius cut a little deeper and I felt more attached and wanted to die to see the next cut-scene while Red Dead II was a really slow burn. The gameplay in God of War single-handedly reshaped combat for its own genre while Red Dead II just refined it. They both had large open worlds, but God of War’s was more memorable and had so much incredible detail that Red Dead just didn’t have.
A great multiplayer game makes you want to come back and engages all players. Communication, fun factor, and great modes are what make a multiplayer game great. We didn’t get too many multiplayer exclusive games like we did last year, that really stood out, but some had great multiplayer modes.
Monster Hunter: World
You don’t always have to wipe each other out or curse profanities at someone because your quick-scope wasn’t quick enough. Sometimes playing together can be just as rewarding as fragging someone and Monster Hunter World proved that this year. There’s nothing more satisfying than wiping out a high-level monster with 3 friends and screaming and cheering on the mic…or dishing out mom jokes when they don’t listen to you. Guess you can’t win them all.
2017 was a somewhat weak year for fighters as some of the biggest names produced lukewarm sequels. With no Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat this year, we were left with some other well-known games in the genre.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Smash Bros. has always been a great fighting franchise, and this year is no exception. With Nintendo pouring all of their assets into one game, they were sure to big or go home. With dozens of characters and stages, Ultimate is the culmination of the series with nearly endless content and online play that just couldn’t beat this year.
This was one of the strongest console launches I can ever remember. For a first-year, Nintendo pumped out some fantastic games, as well as the strongest third-party support they have had in a decade. The system still has room to grow, but so far it’s impressive.
The Switch had a good year but was mostly filled with more ports and remasters, and Octopath shows Square still love Nintendo and can make amazing RPGs. While the game still feels old-school, there’s enough story and great characters to keep you hooked for hours.
The best multiplayer games usually keep the player glued to the game and keep it hard to get away from. 2014 saw a lot of that especially with the addition of next-gen consoles really starting to show their muscle.
Super Smash Bros. For Wii U
While most multiplayer games this year were more of what we have already seen, Smash Bros. brings back the joy of playing games with your friends as a kid. Seeing your favorite Nintendo character that you remember as a kid or grown up routing for is something that no other game and beat. Smash Bros. has always been one of the most competitive games ever created and the addition of smooth online play just made it that much better.
While there haven’t been really any heavy-hitting fighting games like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter (a new Street Fighter anyway) there were a lot of great lesser-known fighters this year.
Super Smash Bros. For Wii U
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that SSB won this year. While the other fighters are great they are more of what we have seen from those franchises already. SSB continues to improve on the already loved formula with more characters and tons of recognizable content that re-ignites memories from our childhood and past and nothing can top that feeling.
The Wii U may be the weakest link in terms of sheer content, but Nintendo proved one thing. Its core franchises are running stronger than ever on the system. Call the Wii U a Nintendo only machine if you must, there were some heavy hitters this year.
Super Smash Bros. For Wii U
Super Smash Bros. remains one of the best fighters around. It is the only fighting game with nearly every character recognizable by almost any gamer. The Wii U update adds more characters, better graphics, and overall a better-balanced game. The Wii U had a few solid games this year, but this one takes it home.
The 3DS is still going strong and this year there were many great games for this little system. Nintendo shows that it can still dominate the handheld market with its first-party games and a number of loyal third party developers.
Shovel Knight isn’t just any old 8-bit platformer clone. Shovel Knight does it exactly like we all remember back in the day but with a touch of today’s better controls and level design. Shovel Knight is very hard, but just the right amount of hard that only a few areas require constant restarts but they are oh-so-satisfying.