The 2017 Action Game of the Year

This year saw its fair share of great to spectacular action games with a range of returning franchises and brand new franchises with bold direction. Let’s rundown our favorites.

Honorable mentions

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was a spinoff from PlayStation’s lauded Uncharted series that was a fraction of the cost but felt like a full game. Starring Chloe Frazier and Nadine Ross, the game was an exhilarating nonstop action experience with substantial depth and fun. Plus, the game stars two women of color, a rarity in the gaming world nowadays. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, also featuring a woman in the lead role, followed Senua as she attempts to save the soul of her lover but realizes she has a bigger battle within herself. The game explores the different aspects of mental illness and psychosis with a respect not before seen in games.  

Nioh was for gamers missing the difficulty of the Dark Souls games, for those that wanted something to hold them over until the next Bloodborne comes out. The game was incredibly difficult, but also a beautifully terrifying experience that will have you coming back for more. Gravity Rush 2, a sequel to 2012’s Gravity Rush, was an excellent follow-up to the original that built upon the game’s foundation and had players defying gravity with the push of a button.

Runner-up: Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was a surprise success when it launched in 2014, introducing its Nemesis system and a fun way to get back into Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe. With Shadow of War, the game doubled-down on its Nemesis system, made its world bigger, and gave our hero more abilities and skills. Despite some rumblings around the game’s microtransaction system, Shadow of War has a very satisfying and improved leveling system, a still superb combat system, and is absolutely stunning to look at. The game will have you traversing Mordor for dozens of hours. You can also ride dragons.

Runner-up: Assassin’s Creed Origins

Ubisoft took a two year break from releasing AAA Assassin’s Creed games after Assassin’s Creed Syndicate launched in 2015. It was great idea that gave not only fans a break and deferred any possible franchise fatigue, but gave Ubisoft more time to develop the next game in the franchise and sink themselves more deeply into a new world. The result was Assassin’s Creed Origins, quite possibly the best game in the franchise to date. Yes, even better than Black Flag.

Taking place in ancient Egypt, you take on the role of Bayek who starts the game seeking vengeance but later finds out there’s a bigger plot that involves the foundation of the Templars. Along with the great story, the game has an overhauled combat system, skill tree, and numerous Egyptian secrets found within the game that’ll have you veering off missions for hours exploring tombs and pyramids.

Runner-up: Horizon Zero Dawn

After close to a decade of making nothing but Killzone games for PlayStation, Guerilla Games switched gears and released the open world action game, Horizon Zero Dawn this year. Taking place in a dystopian future where humans have once again formed tribes and the machines of their ancestors have become sentient creatures, you play as Aloy, an outcast in search of the truth of her past and the world she lives in.

And while the game’s story is interesting, it’s the game’s look and RPG elements that made it shine this year. The open world was vast and gorgeous, and the different types of mechanized creatures were unique and fascinating. The gameplay allowed you to approach quests in a variety of ways either in stealth, arrows blazing or a combination of both.

Although the melee combat mechanics could have been tighter, the assortment of weapons to choose from made the game a blast to play. From setting fire traps and shooting off fiery arrows to tossing bombs and hacking the metal creatures, Horizon Zero Dawn was diverse and beautiful, and we can’t wait to journey back to this future Earth.

Winner: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

This year belonged to the Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had a lot to do with that. Yes, the game also came out on the Wii U, but when people were looking for a reason to grab a Switch, Breath of the Wild’s gorgeous graphics, open world gameplay, and that tinge of nostalgia propelled the game into the “must own” category.

Speaking of Breath of the Wild’s open world, it’s a first for a Zelda game and encouraged countless hours of exploration. The gameplay also offered multiple ways of solving problems or puzzles, and provided an immersive environment that had players engulfed the moment the game was fired up.

With a huge playground filled with treasure and adventure Breath of the Wild is not only a phenomenal experience but makes a case for being one of the greatest games of all time.

Congratulations to Breath of the Wild for winning Action Game of the Year for 2017!

Check out our full 2017 award list for more.