2017 is coming to a close, and with it I’m left to reflect on what was an incredibly challenging year for me, personally. For me it was a year where I faced setbacks at every turn, had numerous family members die, and watched my son go in for brain surgery; and that was just the last three or four months! While it was a trying time for my home and business, there were a few things that got me through it…
So, here we go with another part of my looking back at 2017 series, all titled “A ‘Best Of’ List”. So join me as we start things off with a look at my favorite gaming experiences of 2017:
Battle Chef Brigade
At this point you all have heard me talk about Battle Chef Brigade to the point of annoyance. Look, I love the shit out of this game and I want everyone to know it. From the first moments of the game I was hooked, the hand-drawn visuals and beautiful music pulling me in. What Battle Chef Brigade does is it takes disparate elements that on paper may not make sense — choose 3 puzzle, side-scrolling beat em up, high stress cooking competition, anime’esque storyline, hand drawn visuals — and makes them make sense. More important than that, the game is just fun.
As such, my experience of the year is taking part in a cooking competition in Battle Chef Brigade. It’s not the first time competing as Mina, or the second, or any other time, but just the way competitions are structured. Frankly, I can’t help but feel like an actual cooking competition would give me the same level of anxiety and stress. Every time I go up against an opponent I get set on edge with questions, “How am I going to balance my dishes?”, “Which dish should I put most of my focus on?”, “Fuck, there’s 30 seconds left and I forgot to grab any water ingredients?!” This is the nature of the game, and it’s just so damned fun at every moment.
Super Mario Odyssey
Let’s address the elephant in the room: I have disliked or hated just about every main Mario title released since Mario 64. To be fair, I never played Mario Sunshine, so I can’t count that as a positive or negative here. I have craved an experience with my first favorite gaming character that measured up to the N64 title for years, but figured that time had passed. Then along came Super Mario Odyssey to jump its way back into my heart.
Unlike Nintendo’s other major first party release in 2017, Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey isn’t some brand new take on the franchise. Honestly, that’s probably in part why I love it so much. From the layout of levels to the collectible-filled nature to even to “floaty” controls, I felt like I was playing a prettier version of one of my favorite childhood games. It didn’t hurt that Nintendo packed Odyssey full of nostalgia. Anyone who saw me crying on a flight to New York in October was probably confused, but they didn’t know that I had just wrapped New Donk City. Seriously, the emotion packed into that sequence was startling and amazing, and frankly made the entire experience worthwhile.
You can’t go wrong with Super Mario Odyssey as an experience, whether handheld or rocking a Pro Controller.
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
In the past I’ve spoken at length about my love for modern XCOMtheir use of self-manufactured stories games. These personalized stories come from the ability to customize nearly every squadmate you recruit, from name and looks to a short biography. For 2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown I ignored most of the customization, instead simply becoming attached to my randomly generated soldiers. For 2016’s XCOM 2 I eschewed this tendency, instead diving in and creating the entire Constantly Calibrating roster, as well as assorted Facebook friends. What came from this was a heightened attachment to all of my characters, one that led me into heavy “save scrubbing” in an effort to not have my wife (my best sniper) or Brad (my primary psychic) die.
For 2017’s XCOM 2: War of the Chosen I decided to challenge myself a bit more. As I had planned to stream my time with the game, I opted to turn on the game’s Ironman Mode, which limits you to a single autosave, and nothing more. No “save scumming”, except to maybe — if timed right — jump to the start of a turn. I did cheat a little bit and keep the difficulty on normal, but I’m also relatively incompetent at strategy games. I had to do something to keep it somewhat fun. What unfolded was a 8-12 hour experience of joy an exasperation. This culminated in one of my favorite gaming experiences of 2017: My first time “rage-quitting” a video game.
You may be asking how I made it 32 years of my life without getting so angry or upset that I quit a game, so let me clarify: I’ve gotten mad enough at other people to quit a game suddenly, but never had a game fuck me over so royally — intentionally or otherwise — that I simply walked away.
What caused this experience? That’s easy, this bitch. Anyone who has played War of the Chosen knows The Assassin is a complete pain in the ass. Compared to the relative pushover that is The Warlock, the Assassin is simply a nightmare when she appears. Still, despite some sweeping losses on a previous mission, I jumped at the opportunity to go to her base and take her down — an experience you only get one shot at. The mission was going splendidly, as I had two level-3 bonded teams sweeping the base, while my other squadmates pulled up the rear. That’s when I stumbled on the room that would frustrate me to no end. I opted to send my team into the center of a well guarded room in an effort to set up an overwatch killzone and wipe the enemy out.
What instead happened was numerous RNG fails, leading first to my own character’s death, followed by his bondmate (Brad) losing his shit and opening fire, which took out an Andromedon who died and jizzed acid all over my primary ranger (Jim), killing him. This made his own bondmate lose her mind and run into an overwatch crossfire, dying on the spot. All of this happened in the span of maybe one minute, but for me it was an eternity. I simply clicked Alt+F4 and after three or so months I still have never opened XCOM 2 up again.
The wound is still too deep.
All these months later and I still feel pain thinking about this. That being said, this moment was perfection to me and exactly what I would’ve wanted out of this game. Honestly, I can’t recommend XCOM 2: War of the Chosen enough, even if I have no willpower to play it again anytime soon.
Well, there you have it, my best gaming experiences of 2017. What were some of your best gaming experiences in 2017?
Note: This article contains affiliate links to one of our partners, Humble Bundle. This link is provided purely for information & advertising purposes and had zero effect on our decision to promote this game.