What are the best PC games from 2017? It’s a year of change and uncertainty, which means it’s also a great time to retreat to the world of videogames and wait for the real world to sort itself out. Speaking of, we hear reality’s patch 2.3.9001 is nearly ready for release any day now. Until Earth’s gameplay designers roll out the latest balance changes, here are a selection of fine releases from 2017 thus far.
Looking further afield? Try the best upcoming PC games in 2017 and beyond.
Resident Evil 7
Within the first hour of Resi’s comeback title (the Resinaissance, some are calling it) you’re punched, kicked, stabbed with a screwdriver, attacked with a chainsaw and force-fed a decidedly unappetising dinner. Things only get nastier from there.
Bringing the horror closer with a perspective change to first-person turned out to be a bit of a masterstroke for Capcom, enabling the developers to breathe life into an ailing series while also allowing space to hark back to its survival horror roots via its level design and mechanics. The dilapidated house you find yourself in during Resident Evil 7 isn’t much like the very first game's now-famous mansion aesthetically, but as you tread and retread the same corridors you recognise that its architect is ‘90s survival horror level design, and its mise-en-scene is made up of the familiar herbs and storage lockers that gave the series its quiddity over 20 years ago.
The essence of the fighting game, distilled and then applied to an entirely unexpected genre and setting. For Honor might look like a triple-A developer’s take on Mount & Blade, but under its armour lies a complex and demanding combat system to do Street Fighter proud.
It’s a very modern game release: beta tested within an inch of its life, and thusly pretty stable from release day onwards. Ubisoft have had to step in and address some imbalances, along with - and you’ll be shocked to hear this - banning some players who were using the multiplayer game to basically be dicks, but broadly, For Honor has been a success story from day one.
Don’t go into it expecting a solo experience with meat and substance, though - this is really all about meeting people in the online servers and trying to cleave them in half before you run out of breath.
Want more? Here's our For Honor review.
Torment: Tides of Numenera
Curiousity killed the cat, or so the less-outlandish proverbs of our own dimension tell us. But once death becomes a mere bump in the road, what’s to stop you from embracing curiosity and the strange and dangerous devices the Ninth World has to offer?
Tides of Numenera takes the immortal shtick from its namesake, the fondly remembered Planescape: Torment, but at the centre of its universe are the Numenera themselves - powerful objects left behind by far more advanced civilisations. They’re what you’re driven to find and understand, in an unusually talky take on RPG questing. And they’re the tools you rely on to get yourself out of a sticky situation: either detonating a chemical oddity, or coating your teeth in a strange paste to achieve a persuasive rictus grin that’ll get you through a diplomatic nightmare without raising a Galvanic Hammer.
Just like those Numenera, Torment’s story is about legacy - the eight worlds that came before, the good and bad done by a mysterious and elusive Changing God, and the damage you might do with your own words and actions. Lots of games promise choice and consequence; Torment really, really means it.
Want more? Here's our Torment: Tides of Numenera review.
Sniper Elite 4
Ever wonder what it’d be like if there was an Oscars for videogames? For one thing, you’d probably be playing a lot of social realist games about injustice and historical tragedy around February ever year. For another, Sniper Elite 4 would never get near a gong.
And in many ways, it’s that fundamental silliness that gives Rebellion’s long-range shooter its greatest strength. It’s an unashamed B-movie of a game, full of exuberant animated shattering skulls and googly eyes in X-ray vision watching slow-mo bullets about to enter them.
Developers Rebellion are getting better at open-world design, and at disguising the fact that this is effectively an indie game doing a very good impression of a triple-A, polish and all. World War II slapstick at its most likeable.
Want more? Here's our Sniper Elite 4 review.
Night in the Woods
The cast of doe-eyed animals and faintly cheerful cartoon art style will only throw you off the scent - Night in the Woods is a sombre and mature piece of storytelling and character study. If you got your kicks with Always Sometimes Monsters, Life is Strange, et al, you’ll recognise and appreciate the social realist tone - that being a relative term in the world of videogames, of course.
Still, a game in which cartoon cats, birds, and bears battle low self-esteem, mental health issues, being outsiders, and managing difficult relationships is at the very least a refreshing experiment in form conventions, if not quite a Ken Loach screenplay. It’s a surprisingly meaty adventure too, running much longer than its indie credentials might initially suggest.
Halo Wars 2
At long last, a Halo game releasing on PC at the exact same time it appears on Xbox. Admittedly it’s a real-time strategy game featuring precisely 0% Master Chief and none of the slick FPS design the franchise is built upon, but we’re still very happy to have Halo Wars 2 here on PC.
Blitz mode is a particular highlight, somehow blending CCG mechanics - really - into multiplayer RTS skirmishing to great effect, and a possible future in esports. Across the board though, Creative Assembly leverage the mighty Halo IP for a shiny, colourful, and explosive array of solo and competitive modes, which - though lacking M.C. himself - hark back to the shooters’ Hollywood lustre.
Want more? Here's our Halo Wars 2 review.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Let's get this out of the way early doors: it isn't the high tide mark for the Mass Effect series, and the facial animations aren't great. Phew. We feel better. Now that's out of the way, we can enjoy Andromeda for what it is: a gorgeous space exploration game with fantastic combat and some pretty great chats too - if slightly cheesy at times.
Bioware haven't been hugely advenurous with regards new alien races and that does affect the sense of wonder you'll have as Ryder. But when the guns come out your new jetpack and quick dodge abilities make Andromeda feel lithe and elegant in combat like it never has before. And yep, you can still romance all and sundry throughout space, so it'll always have that going for it.
Want more? Here's our Mass Effect: Andromeda review.
Taro Yoko and Platinum Games' collaboration in the open-world action game space is, against all odds, a complete success. Nier: Automata eschews genre conventions and boundaries, telling a story about death and friendship via two cyborg ninjas.
It's not much like the Ubisoft open worlds of trinkets and upgradeable wallets we've become used to lately, mind. Nier: Automata takes more inspiration from latter day Zelda than anything else, and that's a nice treat for us on PC. Oh, and it's absolutely bonkers. Did we mention that yet? No? Oh, well yeah - it is. Unpredictable in the most entertaining way you can imagine, and well worth the three playthroughs that most would consider a bare minimum to enjoy the game proper. There are 26 total endings...
Want more? Here's our Nier: Automata review.
Dawn of War 3
Returning to the grim darkness of the 40th millennium may sound awful, but Dawn of War 3 is a rip-roaring ride back to the world of Warhammer 40K. While it plays it fairly safe when it comes to new additions and mechanics, Relic Entertainment’s return to the world of Orks, Eldar, and Space Marines will please any real-time strategy fan.
Eschewing Dawn of War 2’s squad-based combat and returning to the large armies of the original, Dawn of War 3 is at its best when hulking Space Terminators and malformed Meganobz are beating the ever-loving snot out of each other. Add each faction’s super unit to the mix and a standard skirmish in Dawn of War 3 looks and sounds like the end of the world. It doesn’t reinvent the RTS wheel in any way, but everything in Dawn of War 3 is done with enough polish and character that any 40K fan will have a blast.
Want more? here’s our full Dawn of War 3 review.
Dark Souls III may have ruled the hardcore action-RPG roost in 2016, but with that series at an official end it’s time for a new contender to the throne. Step forward, The Surge. Developed by the same team that made that other notable Dark Souls clone - Lords of the Fallen - The Surge takes the brutally challenging combat of the Souls franchise and places it in a near-future apocalypse replete with shuffling, exosuit-clad zombies and sentient smelting robots.
All of FromSoftware’s now essential mechanics and features are there: basic mobs that can kill you with a single hit, ruthless boss fights, environmental storytelling, losing all of your currency if you die, and losing it permanently if you can’t reclaim it before dying again. But The Surge layers plenty of its own ideas over that established formula. Foremost among them is its disturbingly compelling crafting system, that has you acquire, build, and upgrade new gear by dismembering its enemies. It’s also got a proper story outside of the clues strewn about its environments (put your pitchforks down, Dark Souls fans), one that’s told through cinematics, audiologs, and NPCs.
You’ll go in expecting a sci-fi Souls-like, and while that goes some way to describing The Surge, it’s not quite the full story.
Want more? here’s our full The Surge review.
Arkane have recently proved themselves to be the masters of immersive sims with their Dishonored series, and the developers show no sign of slowing down with Prey. A dense, detailed, and loving homage to the likes of System Shock 2 and Deus Ex, it asks you to investigate the dark secrets of the Talos-1 space station.
Discovering the station’s history will lead you from sector to sector; a maze of laboratories, living quarters, reactors, and even gardens. How they interlink is one of Arkane’s greatest triumphs, with twisting air vents and a multitude of corridors allowing various approaches into each of the station’s zones. You’ll want to explore every inch of them, since not only does each room hold new items and audio logs detailing the lives of the recently deceased crew, but you’ll also need to vary up your approach to the enemies inside.
You see, Talos-1 has been infected. The Typhon, a race of shadow-like aliens, are everywhere. And the worst bit? More often than not, you won’t even know they’re there. The mimic Typhon can take the form of pretty much any object in the game. Coffee mugs, chairs, and even that health pack that you thought would save your life could actually be a Typhon in disguise. It makes exploring every area an exercise in controlling your own paranoia, and that’s something that really sets Prey apart from its collection of inspirations and rivals.
Want more? here’s our full Prey review.
So concludes our list so far this year, but we're expecting it to get a lot bigger with every passing month. Keep checking in to ensure you don't miss any of 2017's finest treats.