There was thin competition for the online scene of 2017. I’m not sure if this is due to the small number of releases or that every new game was just overshadowed by the insane popularity of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds.
Rising Storm 2: Vietnam kept the fire of online tactical shooters alive with some enjoyable level design and asymmetric combat but turned out limited in scope and production value. LawBreakers didn’t pierce the veil of an overly saturated market where true arena shooters are just a dying breed. Battlerite is back on track getting out of the Early Access stage with the additional content it deserved and a road map to reassure the players. Guild Wars 2’s second expansion, Path of Fire, did a good job at continuing the narrative while providing additional content for the players. However, the game’s oldest flaws still stand in the way of what could be a great MMO experience.
This year’s winner is pretty much a no brainer. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds is a trend setter for the rise of the Battle Royale subgenre. What made PUBG so popular is its addictive gameplay combining a few survival elements and the thrill of losing everything on death within an environment designed for competitive play. The gameplay is at the crossroads between simulator and arcade which makes it extremely accessible yet incredibly hard to master allowing both casual and hardcore players to enjoy it. The vast maps allow players to approach each new match the way they like while the input of randomized elements keep the matches fresh. The gameplay is full of options with plenty of weapons and attachments, drivable vehicles and other cool mechanics like an in-depth vaulting system which open the gameplay to unpredictability. The game can be tought at times, but teaming up with friends for duo or squad matches makes the online experience all the more enjoyable.
Like pretty much all the online games of the current age, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds has released with some obvious flaws. But an active development with a roadmap to be revealed soon and a developer that’s actually open with their customers has made me hopeful like I haven’t been in a long while. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds has beaten any expectation with over 26 million copies sold which prompted many developers to put their own spin on Battle Royale. I never thought I’ll have the patience to play the same game for hundreds of hours after I burnt that part of myself during my hardcore MMO days. Yet here I am with over 700 hours spent in PUBG and many more to come, a game whose influence will affect the industry for years to come and without a doubt 2017’s best online experience.