Includes local co-op, online co-op, as well as online competitive matches.
Gaming has its roots in players playing against each other in arcades, whether by directly facing off, or just trying to beat each other’s high scores. So of course, multiplayer is a hugely integral component of video games. 2017 saw a great amount of fantastic multiplayer games- and yet, one stood out over all others… Let’s look at them.
Destiny 2 takes all that was great about the original game, while also fixing up its flaws, to deliver one of the standout multiplayer experiences of the year. Yes, there are problems- once again, the end game is lacking, and there are balance problems that need fixing. But Bungie has shown us previously that they know how to maintain a community over the long term- and with Destiny 2, there’s a strong foundation laid down already.
This brutally difficult, incredibly stylized and charming 2D action platformer allows you to make things a bit easier for yourself by bringing a friend along in local co-op to take on its formidable stages and bosses. Sorry, did I say easier? Like with any co-op game, the shenanigans make it harder if anything. And that’s the beauty and fun of it- working together, in spite of the urge to work against each other, to conquer a game that is truly difficult, delivers one of the standout multiplayer experiences of 2017.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands:
GTA with friends- not GTA Online, actual GTA. That’s the pitch of Ghost Recon Wildlands, and, hey, it works! What is a middling and average open world action game is elevated into becoming hugely fun and memorable when played with friends- and throw in Ubisoft’s great support for the multiplayer, for example with the recently added PvP, and you can see why this game has taken on a life of its own.
Fighting games are always great- ARMS stands out because of how unique it is. The game almost plays like Smash Bros. in 3D, with an emphasis on movement and mobility options, but the exceptionally full featured suite of multiplayer options within it, as well as support for motion controls, further makes it a hugely inviting pick up and play multiplayer game that we can’t get enough of.
Epic’s newest game launched in early access, and while it stood out right away after launch, it was only when it gained its PUBG inspired battle royale mode that it gained notoriety. Fortnite is hugely fun to play, no matter what mode you pick- and with Epic’s excellent community engagement and post launch support, it is bound to get even better over time.
Speaking of PUBG- PUBG. Has any other game in 2017 been as much of a sensation, or captured as much of the zeitgeist, as PUBG did? It’s such a simple concept- 100 players on an island, and the area of play keeps contracting. You’re defenceless at first, and must scramble to find something to survive with. If you die, you die. And yet, it is so infinitely variable and thrilling and entertaining, that it has spawned an entire genre in its wake.
For Honor is another one of those games that is so unique, it stand out. Melding imaginative close range melee combat with large scale PvP like in a modern shooter, with an excellent meta game layered on top, For Honor wins points for sheer uniqueness. And while it had issues at launch, Ubisoft has since managed to iron out a lot of them, and continues to work on the remaining ones.
Call of Duty: WW2:
The Call of Duty series struck back this year with Call of Duty: WW2, the game that took the franchise back to its roots with a new game set in the Second World War. delivering an exciting and thrilling campaign was all well and good- but getting to play classic boots on the ground Call of Duty, with none of the over the top science fiction weapons and perks that had begun to pervade the series in recent years, reminded us all why we fell in love with the franchise to begin with.
Halo Wars 2:
Real time strategy games should flat out not work on consoles, but The Creative Assembly made it happen with Halo Wars 2, that took Bungie’s flawed original effort, and elevated it beyond what we might have imagined. The true quality of Halo Wars 2 shone in its multiplayer mode- and playing a multiplayer RTS on console was a surreal experience for sure.
Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle:
Yes, this had multiplayer! Originally just co-op, with more modes added over time, there is a delightful fun to be had playing the simplified chess that Mario+Rabbids presents you with- and the multiplayer, yet again, highlights the Switch’s strengths in the local multiplayer experiences that it, and it alone of all the hardware on the market, seems to so squarely emphasize.
Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you? There is something about Cuphead- take the feeling you get when you overcome a hugely insurmountable challenge, or when you beat a very hard boss- but now, take that feeling, double it, and share it with your friend, who is sharing it right back with you. Cuphead gets to the spirit of cooperation in multiplayer that so many modern games have lost sight of. In a year when so many other games are about trying to be better than the other player, Cuphead is content to let you revel in simply working with your friend in taking down yet another formidable foe. That is truly admirable.
Note: GamingBolt’s Game of the Year categories, nominations and awards are selected via an internal nomination, voting and debate process. You can check the rest of categories and the respective winners here.