Best Games Played 2017: Greatest Feat

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2017 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2017, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.

Genre fusions are difficult to do, but Sloclap, developers of Absolver, has pulled it off. They’ve combined the mechanics of the 3D fighting genre – à la Tekken or Soul Calibur – with the persistence of a massively multiplayer online game, within a massive open world.

What Absolver establishes is an incredible groundwork for a future potential genre, but this proof-of-concept stands on its own – both in the innovation of its premise as well as the polish of its presentation.

Playing as warriors in the land of Adal, you are tasked with collecting new moves and armor from other enemy combatants by defeating them in martial arts. The action is like graceful dancing, where refined combat fuses the 3D fighter mechanics with the animation prioritization and unforgiveness popularized by the likes of Dark Souls.

You assign moves from your collection to a combat deck, which allows you to determine the order with which you use specific attacks. This customization of the flow of your strikes creates a deep metagame of trade-offs. You can chain moves seamlessly together and create an endless barrage for an enemy, putting you at risk of being predictable and easily-countered, or you can create several shorter combos to promote mix-ups at the cost of a sharper learning curve for your thumbs. Some moves can even break an opponent’s block, and each character can learn to use dodges, armor, and spawn weapons to keep this system unique and full of surprises for you and your enemies.

After a duel, the social features of the game help promote sportsmanship and encourage friendliness. Warriors can communicate only in premade emotes, preventing hateful language from ruining the experience and turning off players. During player versus player duels, it has become traditional for players to bow before beginning the fight. It’s even been reported that players have taken their character’s own lives in a duel if they’ve achieved a win through dishonorable means. Players who have beaten the game – an achievement marked with a unique piece of gear – often hang out in the starting areas of the game to pick up new players as disciples. Where learning a move in Absolver would normally require defeating an antagonistic opponent who already possesses it, playing with a teacher allows you to acquire those techniques faster while also honing your skills.

These tenets of respectability and cooperation, combined with a steady stream of new content, has kept the world of Absolver fresh and fun. Sloclap has captured lightning in a bottle with this game, and we can’t wait to see more.

Best Games Played 2017: Coolest Experience

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2017 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2017, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.

Titanfall 2 is a game built on, out of, and all about the rule of cool. Juiced to perfection in every direction from punchy sound, hyper animations, dazzling effects, and mechanically slick movement, Titanfall 2 delivers an experience that rises above and beyond what you see in so many action first person shooter games today. Titanfall 2 is capital-V Video Games. Fun above all else.

Its campaign is in a class of its own, readily offering new mechanics at every level and just as quickly taking them away before they get boring. Time travel, switch flipping, moving platforms, and wind tunnels all play a part for some truly fantastic moments that test your movement and reflexes. Set pieces are both a gauntlet for free-running and gunning as well as a sandbox for massive battles with the Titan mechs.

While the campaign’s story may seem unremarkable at a glance, don’t let that fool you. It delivers staggering emotional beats by establishing the bond between a pilot and his Titan. Even when seperated, your Titan is providing support through either dynamic conversation or by activating sonar pulses to highlight enemies or even dropping ordinance in the midst of battle. Showing the bond between these characters through gameplay rather than cutscenes is a subtle but ingenious design choice. In fact, Titanfall 2 has no cutscenes – every scripted moment plays out in first person with stellar animation. Even though Titanfall 2 is written like a Saturday morning cartoon, this only plays to its strengths, and smartly toys with your expectations.

In the singleplayer as well as the multiplayer, Titanfall 2 ensures that you always feel powerful. Even if you’re feeling like a god in your Titan, you’ll still feel nimble and quick as a pilot on the ground. There’s no loss of control in any situation. Whether it’s wall running into battle or launching out of a mech while it explodes, digging into a pack of grunts on the ground or trying to take on a Titan as a pilot in your own personal parable of David and Goliath, Titanfall 2 is all about ensuring you have fun and feel incredible doing it.

The simplest examples of this philosophy are in the multiplayer loadouts – you are allowed the option of your standard FPS frag grenades, but how about ninja stars that explode into flames, or gravity wells that let you trap other players and curve rockets and bullets? You can pick the Titan that slowly lumbers across the map firing 40,000 rounds per second, or the one carrying a sword the size of a school bus. Neither is inherently better than the other, but thematically you get to play the exact kind of super space-soldier you want to be.

We could go on about primary loadout abilities, which strike a perfect balance between being capable of both offensive and defensive maneuvers, or how every weapon – no matter how simple or complex – feels satisfying to use, or how dense the mind-games can get when two enemy Titans meet in an open field. There’s so much to love about this game. It can be hard to talk about it without its small install base, but we’ll encourage where we can: play Titanfall 2. Become a pilot. Meet your Titan.