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Game Of The Year 2017 – Best Multiplayer

Winner winner, squid for dinner.

And so it begins. Our annual ritual of crying from the rooftops of the internet about which games we think do one thing of another best, also known as Game of the Year. As is tradition around these parts, we’re saving that particular award for right at the very end of the year on 31st December, but we’ve got a fair bit of ground to cover before then and we’ll also give you the opportunity to have your own voice with a Community GOTY vote a little later this week.

We start things off this year with a big one: Best Multiplayer Game 2017. Will it be a return to a classic period for a first person shooter in Call of Duty: WWII? A blockbusting space opera sequel in Destiny 2? Perhaps a game like For Honor that tries to innovate with it brutal multiplayer melee combat?

Certainly innovation and genre defining games have a place in our top three with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds a hugely influential game this year and Fortnite Battle Royale its imitator, but our winner comes from a resurgent giant of the games industry and is exclusive to the hottest new console in town.

Splatoon 2 was easily my game of the summer, which I played day in, day out for weeks on end before the madness of the autumn release schedule caught up with me. Compared to the 2015 original – itself a Game of the Year winner for Best Shooter – it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, based around short and sweet 4v4 battle where splatting the enemy is a secondary concern to the real aim of the game in covering the ground with hundreds of litres of paint.

Nintendo largely spent their time refining what they had but it still feels fresh and practically unique compared to the rest shooter genre, whether tweaking weapons adding new secondary abilities or adding a spoonful of cooperative play into the mix. Salmon Run is fast, furious and sometimes utterly brutal as it drops you onto a remote island and then sends often overwhelming waves of Salmonid bosses your way.

Just as with the first game, Nintendo’s level of support has been impeccable. There’s been five new stages added in as many months, some revamped from the original game, tons of new weapons to try out, a pair of extra Salmon Run levels, and the regular SplatFests with their banal choice between mayonnaise and ketchup. I’m still bitter about mayo winning.

It’s not perfect, such as with the unusual scheduling that Salmon Run has and Nintendo still not having the online infrastructure a modern console should have, but Splatoon 2 overcomes that to be our Best Multiplayer Game 2017.

Fortnite Battle Royale – Runner Up

For a brief time in our GOTY discussions, Fortnite Battle Royale was close to being a highly controversial winner. To say that it’s been inspired by PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is to put it lightly, and it’s clear that Epic and People Can Fly saw PUBG’s success, spotted the opportunity to adapt their ailing Fortnite co-op game and lifted the Battle Royale formula wholesale.

100 players drop onto the game’s sprawling island together with nothing but an axe in hand. The simple goal is to scavenge for weapons and survive until you’re the last man standing, but that’s made difficult when the players are gradually herded toward a single spot by an encroaching storm that damages anyone caught by it.

Where Fortnite surpasses PUBG is in its execution and experimentation. Building on the foundations of Fortnite, they already had a game engine that worked well on current consoles, while the more bombastic weaponry, smaller island and colourful art style lend it a very different tone. It really differentiates itself from PUBG with the ability to build structures just as in the co-op Save the World mode and with seasonal events such as the 50v50 mode that is currently in the game.

While PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is excellent in its own way, Fortnite Battle Royale is more than just an imitator, it’s a worthy contender for the crown.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – Runner Up

While it has some stiff competition, there’s no denying the influence that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has had on multiplayer games this year. With this game, Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene has honed the gaming genre that he effectively pioneered – considering the movie inspirations, we can’t exactly say he invented it – and done so to huge, seemingly unstoppable popularity.

There’s something so compelling about the game and being dropped in on your own, in a pair or team of four, scavenging for resources and trying to be the last one left alive. Compared to its preeminent rival Fortnite, PUBG has a larger scale and deeper feeling of isolation to it, and you can easily go for 30 minutes without seeing another soul, cautiously working your way toward the final 10.

As defining and influential as it has been, the simple fact of the matter is that it’s held back by a lack of polish. It’s only just hitting version 1.0 on PC this week (sadly too late after our voting this year), and through Early Access it’s struggled with poor optimisation, lag, bugs and the general feeling of having been cobbled together from disparate parts. The Game Preview for Xbox One has also arrived clearly several months of development behind the PC version.

It’s getting there, with the months of Early Access bringing better player locomotion, first person mode, a second map and much more, but it’s not there just yet. If we had an award for the year’s most influential game, PUBG would almost certainly win, but it’s been bested by others in this category.

Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)

  • For Honor
  • Friday the 13th: The Game
  • Gran Turismo Sport

As I said, this is just the beginning for our Game of the Year awards. Stick with us over the coming fortnite fortnight as we give as many games as we can the recognition they deserve. In the meantime, feel free to tell us just how stupid and inexcusably wrong we are in the comments below.

  1. ron_mcphatty
    Since: Sep 2008

    Good choice, I’ve enjoyed Battlefront 2 more probably because of its theme and heritage but Splatoon 2 is an absolute gem. For something so innocent and colourful it had it hooks in me for months, the depth and tactics suit my low-medium ability really well and seem to get compliments from the hardcore too. More than anything else I’d say move over Killzone Mercenary, this is the best portable shooter ever :)

    Comment posted on 18/12/2017 at 12:14.
  2. Tony Cawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    Shame it’s on a platform I’ll never own, but well deserved from everything I’ve heard.

    From all the countless hours I’ve put into Fortnite, I’ve not once stepped foot in the battle royale section. Must give it a try at some point.

    Comment posted on 18/12/2017 at 12:32.
    • Starman
      Since: Jul 2011

      I played it a little but that fact that there’s no progression or rewards linked to the main game means I usually go back to killing husks after a game or two. Fortnite is my game of the year by far.

      Comment posted on 18/12/2017 at 18:25.
  3. geofduke
    Since: Dec 2011

    I love Splatoon. There is nothing like it. It’s gameplay is constantly engaging in a way that is unlike any other “shooter”, and it has kept me playing and coming back for more. Really looking forward to some more mates getting a Switch this Christmas so I can play it even more in the new year!

    Comment posted on 19/12/2017 at 13:09.