The five most dramatic moments to come out of games this year

More than great titles, 2017 also brought us some fantastic moments in storytelling and gameplay.

There’s no such thing as an objectively good game. Attempts can be made to quantify the value of the graphics, the fluidity of the gameplay, or the intricacies of the plot, but games ultimately depend solely on one key element; the player. It is the experience of the player that determines what games stand the test of time.

For this reason, I wanted to focus on not the “best” games of the years but on the top five experiences I found personally impactful. These are the moments that defined 2017 in games for me, and I’m sure 2018 will bring even more pleasant surprises.

SR388 from Metroid: Samus Returns SR388 from Metroid: Samus Returns

Metroid: Samus Returns – Landing on SR388

I approached this year’s E3, as I always do, with a sense of cautious optimism. And this year, my expectations were blown away. Metroid is back. Not just any Metroid, but a 2D Metroid, a style of game that we haven’t seen since 2004.

It had been nine years since the last well-received Metroid title, and the series was presumed dead. But the wait was worth it. The entire game was a beautiful, seamless experience, with the fantastic Metroidvania style I grew up with making a grand comeback. Classic gameplay mechanics were complimented by new twists and techniques, creating a unique gameplay experience that I thought would be lost forever. It wasn’t any one boss fight, area, or story scenario that made Samus Returns memorable, but the sheer pleasure of playing a new Metroid game easily made it one of my favorite gaming experiences of 2017.

Inside Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood's Doma Castle Inside Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood's Doma Castle

FFXIV: Stormblood – Siege of Doma Castle

When I first started playing it nearly four years ago, Final Fantasy XIV came close to ruining my college life. With the release of Stormblood, I was ready to give it a chance to do so again, and it nearly succeeded.

The Final Fantasy series has always depended on experience grinding in order to proceed, and Final Fantasy XIV is no different. Often times, the experience the main story quest confers is not enough to meet the level requirements needed to continue, and the player must re-run dungeons, grind FATEs, or spam PvP in order to get enough points to level up. Running the same content over and over isn’t fun, especially when you often get paired with a healer who’s trying to do more damage to the enemies than heal their teammates, a tank who doesn’t want to use their cool down abilities, or damage dealing classes who seem to have an affinity for standing in the big glowing red damage circles.

At level 67, though, it all became worth it. I sieged the gates of the occupied Doma Castle, my party rushing through as debris from the battle was washed away in a torrential flood caused by the resistance fighters. Magitek battleships from Garlemald soared overhead, doing battle with Xaela warriors from the Azim Steppe, riding atop their massive Xu birds. Retaking Doma Castle was the crux of ending Garlean rule in Othard, and later Ala Mhigo; a massive plot thread that had been dangling in front of players since A Realm Reborn launched in 2013, and the experience of finally carrying it out was one of the most satisfying moments I’ve experienced in a Final Fantasy title.

Breath of the Wild's open world went way further than it needed to, and the results were fantastic.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – World Mechanics

With the Switch, Nintendo ceased creating games in the traditional sense; now it creates worlds.

Breath of the Wild’s logic extends the open world experience further than virtually any game I’ve seen. If you see a tree, you can cut it down. If you’re wearing metal in the rain, you could get struck by lightning. For me, my favorite experience with Breath of the Wild wasn’t finding the Master Sword, exploring the innards of the Divine Beasts, or venturing into the corrupted Hyrule Castle. No, my peak experience with this game was when I discovered that I could block an enemy from moving by surrounding it with boulders, and then dump firewood on top of it before lighting it on fire. Watching that Silver Lizalfos burn alive showed me that games have grown exponentially in just a few years, and they show no sign of stopping.

Yakuza 0 is way more Majima's story than Kiryu's. Yakuza 0 is way more Majima's story than Kiryu's.

Yakuza 0 – Storming Dojima Family HQ

Goro Majima has lost everything. His sworn brother, his position in the Tojo Clan, his safety, and now, the last thing he had left was clinging to life in a hospital bed. The last vestiges of his calm façade fraying, his rage transforms him into the man who would later be known as the Mad Dog of Shimano.

Even as Kazuma Kiryu’s story is wrapping up elsewhere, Majima finds his story ending in the same place that Kiryu’s began: the headquarters of the Dojima Family. Majima tears through wave after wave of Dojima Family grunts, smashing skulls and cracking ribs. This chapter of Yakuza 0 is the most cathartic yet, allowing for a satisfying way to physically end Majima’s story, while still presenting a catalyst for his transformation into the wild card rival that would plague Kazuma Kiryu for the rest of the Yakuza series.

The bystanders even shout "Jump, Man!" at you.

Super Mario Odyssey – Jump Up, Super Star

It’s been 10 years since the release of Super Mario Galaxy, and in the time since its release, there hadn’t really been a Mario game that truly captured the spirit of Super Mario 64. Until this year, which saw the release of Super Mario Odyssey. The game takes you through several wonderful worlds before finally introducing you to New Donk City, the site of where Mario’s first ever adventure took place.

Here, you’re treated to a live rendition of ‘Jump Up, Super Star’, the game’s main theme, and a visual celebration of Mario’s origins and legacy through one amazing fun-filled romp through the city. Odyssey is the only game on this list that brought me to tears; the overwhelming cheerfulness, positivity, and child-like wonder that the game embodies was enough to tip me over.

What were some of your favorite game moments from 2017?