With 2018 just around the corner the Gaming Nexus Staff is taking some time to reflect on the games they played in the last year.
The theme for today is our favorite gaming memories from the games we played in 2017. It doesn't matter when the game was released, just that the moment was experienced this year.
My favorite gaming moment for this year goes all the way back to the beginning of March and the release of the Nintendo Switch, more specifically the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The Legend of Zelda has been one of my favorite franchises for quite a while now with my favorite games in the series being A Link to the Past and the original Legend of Zelda on the NES. That's not to say I don't like any of the other Zelda games, but I've always liked the top-down style of gameplay over the 3D gameplay of games like Ocarina of Time and Skyward Sword. To help add context to this memory, I have this thing where I have a lot of games in my collection but I have to be in just the right mood to play something. Besides anything I do for Gaming Nexus reviews, a lot of the time I'll play a game for an hour or two with the full intention of coming back to it later, but then I feel like playing something else and the original game gets put on the back burner indefinitely. I have a lot of games I've started but never finished because I just don't have the urge to play them at the moment.
Then came The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I was really anticipating this as it was very reminiscent of the original NES game in that there's not much telling you what to do; you can do whatever you want, go wherever you want to go, and explore a huge landscape to your heart's content. Even though both Breath of the Wild and the Switch were brand new, there was always that thought lingering in my mind that I'll get tired of playing after a few hours and never pick it back up. Well, that didn't happen. I plugged so many hours into Breath of the Wild in the weeks after it's launch just running around and finding the various shrines. I enjoyed exploring the vast landscapes, going through the divine beasts, and ultimately beating Ganon. It was pretty much the only game I played for a good few weeks, which was the first time that had happened in a long time. In fact, it wasn't the only time this year where this happened as two more games kept me playing in the same way: Blaster Master Zero and Super Mario Odyssey. Needless to say that my favorite gaming memories of 2017 all revolve around the Nintendo Switch.
My favorite memory this year was the feeling of awe I felt when I booted up Total War Rome 2 on my new gaming computer for the first time. I had been playing that game for a few years on my laptop at the lowest settings at an average of about 11 fps. It was only the pure love and dedication to the series that got me through it. Seeing a game I love come to life at 60 fps on ultra was such an exciting feeling, and it instantly made the questionable amount of money spent on my computer worth it.
My favorite gaming memory of 2017 was watching my fiancee discover The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. She's an old hand at the 16-bit era and regularly replays Super Mario World, but she skipped the 3D era of the mid 90s to focus on school and pretty much stuck to retro games ever since. She'd never played a Zelda game before either, at least not seriously. She was enthusiastic about the Nintendo Switch and watched me play a lot of Breath of the Wild for the first couple months, giggling at the many painful deaths my Link endured as I acclimated to the game's steep difficulty curve. You can imagine my surprise when I returned home with some takeout to discover her riveted to the TV, starting her own playthrough. I wouldn't recommend Breath of the Wild as anyone's first 3D Zelda--it's considerably harder than Ocarina of Time or Wind Waker--but my fiancee stuck with it and it's been an absolute joy to watch her learn and grow her gaming skills on one of the best games of the last decade. Now we routinely discuss timeline theories and she's been dropping hints that I should pick up the expansion pass, and she's working her way through Mario Odyssey as we speak.
I'm cheating; my favorite gaming memory was stirred not by a game I played, but by a game I watched my partner play. When Dragon Age: Inquisition came out, I immersed myself in the world of Thedas constantly (playing the third game first like a bad fan) and created about fifty different Inquisitors. In case you don't remember (but how could you forget?!) you're immediately greeted by the very stabby Cassandra Pentaghast, who probably would have murdered you if Leliana hadn't been there. This demeanor continues throughout the game; she's stoic, no-nonsense, and tough, and she would have absolutely been a flat and boring character had she not began to drop her façade midway through. (To be honest, at first I was worried that BioWare had just created a constantly angry woman with no depth, and intended on keeping her that way for the whole game.) We're given a gradually-widening window into the realization that yes, oh my god, Cassandra was actually a human all along, and she has the complex emotions and motivations of one. And she can be funny. She isn't a stereotype; she isn't the "angry woman" that was just putting on a front and was never really angry in the first place, nor is she a completely flat character that's just there to be pissed off all the time. She is Cassandra. She is herself. She can exist with multiple sides at once, which I feel like game companies often forget about their characters. Aside from the fact that I'm so bitter I couldn't romance her, and that she has her flaws here and there, she is one of the best-written characters in the third game. (And, surprise surprise, this sudden influx of emotion and recollection on my part was prompted by none other than the "It's literature" cutscenes - which, of course, I can quote word for word).
And by the way, remember that glitch in Skyhold where she would sometimes just be shuffling in place for no reason? It pairs perfectly with the song "That's the Way" by KC and the Sunshine Band. Just saying.
I don't have a tendency to get very wrapped up in the stories that underlie the actual game play, so I can't say that I ever get all teary eyed and emotional about in-game events. What I do have fond memories of are the multiple spectacular explosions and vast mayhem offered up by over-the-top shooters. I've had dozens and dozens of laugh out loud experiences this year, but nothing has given me anywhere near the utter joy that arises from being a complete and irredeemable jerk than Just Cause 3. It was taking me quite awhile to master the various things that can be done with the reel, so I decided to spend some time just practicing. It turned out that the problems I was having were related to a weak right mouse button, but the practice itself became quite amusing. I knew I had gotten the hang of it when I was able to use the reel to attach an AI enemy to an oil drum, and attach him again to the top container in a large stack of shipping containers. When I ran in the cables, the soldier flew up and smacked hard into the side of the container, the oil drum was right behind and smacked into the container and the soldier, exploded, threw the soldier to the ground, whereupon the container slowly dropped off of the pile and landed right on the poor soldier's head. It wasn't the most incredible conflagration by any stretch, but the Three Stooges nature of it had me laughing for hours!
One day I was flipping through the PlayStation Store (as I often do) and my wife looked up from whatever she was doing and saw a glimpse of the trailer for Bound. My wife pretty much ignores my gaming ways, but for whatever reason, the visuals of Bound caught her interest. She thought that the main character, who dances her way through a beautiful world of platforms, was pretty. I quickly purchased it and strapped my wife into the PS VR headset, where she happily played Bound for 90 minutes before losing interest. This 90 minutes was more time than she has ever spent playing a game. It was fun to watch someone with no gaming vocabulary discover simple mechanics like running and jumping, and take delight in each newly discovered ability. I took pictures.
Runner-up: Tormenting my PUBG loving friends by constantly proclaiming that Fortnite is a better game. I don't really know, I've never played PUBG, but Fortnite is pretty fun.
One of my favorite memories was firing up Elite Dangerous on my Vive and spending some time just flying through asteroid fields. As someone who grew up on Star Wars the ability to pilot a ship in such an immersive game was a great way to disconnect from the world. The fun part was seeing how close you could get without wrecking your ship.
Through the generosity of Gaming Nexus Owner John Yan and Editor-in-Chief Chuck Husemann, I rejoined PC gaming this year. My last gaming-worthy rig was from 2008, and it's not like that old laptop was an Alienware or nothin'. Within two years it could only run new games on medium, at best. Two years after that? Good luck running anything. I was already sick of the PC arms race. I retired to consoles and was determined to be happy there. And for a while I absolutely was. But, at heart, PC still had the games I really wanted. So, many of the good times I had gaming this year were due to John hobbling together a top-shelf gaming rig for me, and Chuck equipping me with the biggest, brightest, most beautiful monitor I've ever owned.
I'm almost certain they'd want me to hide their generosity. To just not mention it. One, because they're modest folks and, two, because it took 10 or 15 years of dedicated bellyaching on my part to become the surprised recipient of such generosity. An actual grown adult would've bellied up to the bar, saved the dough, and plunked down the cash for their own gaming PC. I was not this actual grown adult I speak of. Either way, I've had the best year of gaming I've had in a long, long time, by coming back to the horizon-expanding world of PC gaming. My Xbox 360 was a heckuva machine (all three of them, including the two that red ringed). My PS4 still gets fired up every single day (for Netflix, if nothing else). But right now, if you asked me to name my favorite gaming memories of the year, all of them took place on PC. It's good to be back.
This answer is going to be short and sweet, but my favorite gaming moment was the first time I strapped on a VR headset and looked down at the gun I was holding. I turned my hands and the gun rotated with me. Whoa. This tech holds promise that others interfaces couldn’t even aspire to.
My favorite gaming moment of 2017 is tied up between three specific moments. First, there's the car boss fight in Resident Evil 7. This is where the game went full on grindhouse and instantly became one of my favorite games of 2017. The sheer ridiculousness of this fight, between the player's Ethan, and the mad patriarch of the Baker household, Jack, kicks it in to high gear when Ethan thinks he can escape the family, only to be ripped from the driver's seat and is then forced to fight for his life as Jack plows the car around a tiny garage. It's an intense moment that really set the tone for the first quarter of the game, a shame that it didn't carry throughout.
Moment number two, is the final sequence of Super Mario Odyssey. Talk about flipping the script. I spent the whole game using Cappy to take control of countless enemies, only to find one last enemy for the final sequence. The soundtrack kicked in with a great closing song, and I'm grinning like mad at how awesome it is to finally be in control of this one specific character. It was a great finale to the best game on the Switch so far.
Lastly, and this is probably the most profound, comes from the very end of NieR: Automata. As a game that posits the question, do you want a better ending? It demands that I fight for it. And in doing so it put me on a very touching path that ultimately left me in tears, multiple times, when I saw what other people had to say. I've been pushing this game so hard on people, because this one moment, has felt like it was directed not just at me, but at every person who has ever put their hands on a video game. It's a moment that has been spoiled in countless other places, but I'll keep that mysticism going for just a little while longer. This is up there with that moment in Earthbound, when you discovered just how important Paula's 'Pray' skill really was.
The best memory - by far - I had this year was with a reasonably good game called Super Cloudbuilt. I had reviewed the game (which was reasonably good) just after it came out and I remember being on a level that was giving me fits. I labored for a good while til I finally asked my 15 year old son to please come and give this a shot. Knowing he was great at Roblox's parkour levels, I was happy to think he was going to fail miserably. Never in the history of gaming had I been more wrong. He picked up the controller and after one death learning the controls, he picked up the controller and proceeded to not only do the level, but with only losing one life in the process. With a smirk on his face, he took off to the other XBox to continue his Call of Duty game. Sad, sad.
I absolutely loved playing games with friends and talking on Discord. Between Elite Dangerous, 7 Days to Die, and even playing some single player games along with my friends, just being able to talk with others and engage in some fun banter really brought forth some fun and memorable 2017 experiences. And since I stream a majority of the time, I'm happy that I was able to save some of those moments and relive them whenever I want now. Here's hoping that continues in 2018.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.