The sun is getting real low on 2017, which means we have precious few moments to take stock of everything that happened over the past 12 months. After the truly dreadful 2016 - where celebrities queued up for coffins and YouTubers scammed children - people prepared themselves for one of two equally horrible eventualities: a blockbuster multimillion-dollar sequel with fireworks aplenty, or a dim fizzle as the planet went direct to DVD.
Since you happen to be reading this, clearly the rockets didn’t fly - but that is not to say 2017 was the smoothest ride. Nope, it was the year that EA murdered the Star Wars game that literally everyone wanted, Ninja Theory fooled players with their Hellblade permadeath bluff, the director of Final Fantasy XV begged players not to make nude mods, and the plot of Half-Life 3 was finally revealed. Blimey.
A true vintage year, with a bold salty flavour and fruity notes, as you can see. But let us relive it all again, starting with...
After recovering from the all-encompassing abyss that was 2016, The Year of PlayerUnknown (AKA 2017) got off to a surprisingly bright start. Valve, having accelerated about as quickly as an overloaded 19th-century steam train in response to the colossal Counter-Strike skins gambling scene, swapped to a more high-octane fuel to combat the sudden rise of Team Fortress 2 item gambling.
Of course, what with 2017 being a year on the planet Earth and all, this good start was not to last. PC gaming tripped up on the first blindingly obvious banana skin in the road when EarlyNinja, a Kickstarter project looking to right all the wrongs of Early Access development, used a bunch of games in their advertising without consulting developers first. This led to confusion, with many people mistakenly believing that these games were confirmed for the platform.
EarlyNinja quickly apologised for their mistake, but by this point there was no saving the already struggling project. The Kickstarter failed, and today the only remains of the idea is an abandoned Twitter account with 124 followers. And so the first casualty of 2017 was laid to rest, quicker than the cocky one in a BBC murder mystery Christmas special.
There are many things that are confusing about Nier: Automata. Where did all the humans go? What’s the nature of existence? Why is 2B named after a grade of pencil? The most mysterious thing, though, is the reason why game director Yoko Taro decided to roll around on the floor shrieking “SHIT SQUARE ENIX” while being filmed for promo video.
According to perplexed Square Enix employees, Taro was given a clear script to read from, but instead opted to attack gameplay director Taura Takahisa and repeatedly shout “Nier: Automata t-shirt” as he recreated some kind of garment-induced seizure.
If Yoko Taro’s body convulsions seem strange in that Nier video, then you should see some of the moves pulled by Hearthstone director Ben Brode in this bizarrely baritone rap he wrote for the launch of the Un’Goro expansion. You will either campaign for him to write an album or wish you could be fired into the sun, which funnily enough is apparently what it felt like to be part of the No Man’s Sky development team.
Talking of being fired into the sun, it’s time to look back at the plan devised by Eve Online player Darvo Thellere, who decided to take revenge on an in-game bully who tormented him back in 2013. After spending years building his strength and setting up a mercenary alliance, he reached out to his enemy (under an alias, of course) and invited him to join the corporation. This was, obviously, a ruse, and Darvo’s fleet opened fire on the bully the moment he joined them. If Eve supported smellovision, the molten husk of the spaceship surely smelt of “Sweet Justice.”
Spending years getting revenge is not quite as sick a burn as what happened in a school in Chicago, though. A girl was sent home with a report card detailing how she had called someone a “Hanzo main” for stealing her pencil. I mean, I am all for a bit of sass in the classroom, but was there any need for the nuclear option?
A lot of games replicate real life, be that the breakneck speed of F1 races or the field fertilising of Farming Simulator. Other games try waving their hand at more mundane activities, such as… well… having a good time while watching naked people.
VR game Pixelbator, which appeared on Steam Greenlight in April, promised exactly that, tasking you with bashing the bishop without being caught by your gran. Finally, developers had found a way to make people wearing expensive boxes on their faces look even more of a wanker.
You may have spent much of 2017 staring in disbelief at currency websites, lamenting the cataclysmic nosedive your local beans were taking thanks to a variety of political and economic factors. Such issues were not a problem for Tencent, though.
The colossal Chinese company behind League of Legends developers Riot made over $7 billion in the year’s first quarter. The company also announced its plan to develop an esports town - complete with theme park, university, data centers, and community facilities - presumably using all those dollar dollar bills to finance it. Thus continues our descent into a Syndicate-like corporate owned dystopia.
Tencent were not the only ones brewing up strange esports stories in May. PGL, an esports broadcaster, decided to finish up their coverage of the Dota 2 Kiev Majors with a creepy montage of women. The seemingly endless series of shots, filmed in slow-motion, featured a variety of cosplayers and spectators, and came across as nothing less than leery.
It was the kind of thing you would expect to see in the cold opening of a police procedural, with the man behind the camera revealed to be a shut-in abusive troll. The sequence upset many fans, among them the manager of women’s Dota 2 community Desoladies. PGL apologised, but it is likely not enough to erase their new reputation as esports’ peeping Tom.
The great thing about PC gaming is that we have the best input device available: the mouse and keyboard combo. The other great thing about PC gaming is we can simply plug anything into a USB port, be that a joystick, Xbox controller, or loaf of bread. Yes, internet sensation Dylan “Rudeism” Beck used a baguette in June to play Overwatch. It is the natural input for any Widowmaker main.
Of course, crusty bread is no good for PUBG players, which is why Rudeism plays the brutal battle royale game with a frying pan.
Elsewhere, Icelandic developers CCP were dealing with unusual backlash against their decision to make Eve Online free-to-play. Upon learning that an unknown package had been delivered into the country for them, they requested that customs open the parcel. The authorities reported that the shipment contained “two candy gummy bags in the shape of penises, glitter, penis shaped confetti, and a coupon that says ‘Eat a bag of dicks’.” It is currently unclear if CCP did or did not eat the package of penises provided, but is dignity too much of a price to pay for chomping on delicious fruit-flavoured sugary genitals?
As the world beyond our monitors continued to crumble and rot, a few scientists came to the conclusion that it was the evil videogames that were destroying the prospects of young people, rather than the collapsing job market. Not only that, but Brexit - now a year into its turbulent plan to separate the UK and the EU - caused League of Legends prices to skyrocket in the UK. Ah, 21st century Earth, there really is nothing quite like it.
As things progressively went to hell in a handbasket, some Brazilian gamers decided it was time to find a new faith. And so was born the Church of Hanzo, fathered by Matthew Mognon of Brazilian gaming site Adrenaline. It is a genuine church with official Brazilian paperwork, although it appears to have been created to demonstrate how absurdly easy it is to establish a church rather than provide a religion for devout Scatter Shot users. The church’s key rule is that the slur “Hanzo main” is outlawed, which means the kid from back in March may have a little trouble joining up.
Meanwhile, the battle for the most absurd marketing stunt was in full swing. EA and BioWare decided that the best way to advertise Anthem was to draw a giant picture of a mech suit in a field of corn, rather than, say, releasing another trailer as face-meltingly exciting as the one shown at E3. Deep Silver, not satisfied with something as tame as gaming’s take on an Art Attack episode, instead produced a fake sex tape in the style of a 1980s cartoon. Whether that is as classy as the Dead Island: Riptide mutilated boobs statue is an unsettled debate, but you certainly can’t argue against the artistic merits of this sacred medium.
Potentially inspired by the Basic Rocket Science episode of Community, in which the cast must use the Colonel's secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices to escape a fake space shuttle, KFC released a VR game in August that was half training event, half the setting for the next Saw movie. The terrifying virtual lesson demanded you learn how to flawlessly prepare fried chicken in order to be granted freedom from the Colonel’s creepy clutches. Presumably KFC are now swamped in a series of claims for VR-inflicted PTSD.
Those not locked in the Colonel’s torture room may have been a part of Twitch Plays PUBG, the crowdplay project where hundreds of viewers attempted to achieve a very different kind of chicken victory. Like with 2014’s Pokemon experiment, viewers controlled a PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds character via the medium of text chat. Essentially a game of Simon Says where every single person in the chatroom is called Simon, the whole thing was clearly doomed from the start. While no chicken dinner was scored, the Twitch audience did manage to score a respectable third place. Turns out the will of the people won’t quite get you to safety, but will ensure a long and arduous journey, mostly comprised of hiding in squalor.
During particularly tricky boss fights or in close-fought multiplayer matches, you may have what is referred to by immensely popular YouTuber and gaming celebrity PewDiePie as a ‘heated gaming moment’. You know, like when you shouted ‘balderdash!’ after dying for the eighth time to Ornstein and Smough. PewDiePie also has these moments, but his choice of vocabulary is considered exclusively unwise.
In September he used a racial slur on a PUBG stream, prompting outcry from fans, critics, and developers. Campo Santo, creators of Firewatch, even issued a takedown notice that forced PewDiePie to remove his Firewatch let’s plays from his channel. It was a truly unfortunate situation for poor PewDiePie to have found himself in, especially just months after he’d made anti-semitic jokes that resulted in Disney cutting ties with him. The world just does not understand him.
Meanwhile, hate had found its way into Destiny 2 via the medium of fancy green sleeves. Road Complex AA1, a gauntlet armour for Hunters, featured symbols similar to those seen on the ‘Kekistan’ flag, a piece of iconography now used by hate groups. The symbols were quickly erased from the item and an apology issued, but the mistake was not exactly the best news for Bungie’s colossal new game to launch with.
A heavy month, but no need to feel down: here’s Oculus founder Palmer Luckey wearing a bikini and a blue wig.
October re-introduced us all to an incredibly novel concept: Nazis are bad. Despite the lesson being taught as part of several political affairs, certain circles of the planet’s population had somehow come to the conclusion that it wasn’t clear cut if Nazis - a group responsible for the systematic murder of several million people - were actually the baddies, and so rallied against the marketing of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, a videogame about killing Nazis.
This led to Bethesda’s VP of marketing Pete Hines releasing a statement saying, “We don't feel it's a reach for us to say Nazis are bad and un-American, and we're not worried about being on the right side of history here." It is a debate most people assumed was concluded in the 1940s, but apparently is alive and well in 2017.
In less hateful headlines, Neir: Automata director Yoko Taro made the front pages again after revealing that he would like to make an adult movie. Of course, this came as a massive surprise to literally no-one on the planet, mostly thanks to Nier: Automata being a game about looking up an android’s skirt.
Not quite a month ago in a galaxy only an ethernet cable away, the evil empire was crushing the players. They did so not through violent oppression, but through the most nefarious tactic of all: loot boxes. Of course, a resistance banded together to stand against them, but not necessarily the people you’d expect. The Belgian, Dutch, UK, and US government authorities all conducted investigations into Star Wars Battlefront II’s loot boxes, all in an effort to determine if they were considered gambling or not.
The UK commission concluded that they were not, although perhaps in this instance a public referendum would be a pretty smart idea. The US, meanwhile, are continuing to fight on, with politicians in the Democratic party declaring that new measures must be taken for the game industry to self-regulate themselves when it comes to random loot.
EA may have a problem with this since, in their opinion, the reason Battlefront II’s loot boxes had to contain gameplay-adjusting perks instead of cosmetics is because new costumes would ruin the Star Wars canon. As you well know, no-one in the Star Wars universe is capable of changing their clothes.
In December, we all gathered around YouTube for the traditional annual Merry Geoff Keighley-mas festival. The 2017 Video Game Awards were an extravaganza of big new reveals - among them, Death Stranding’s throat fetus and the terrifying new FromSoftware project - and plenty of people were excited. No-one could possibly be more hyped than developer Josef Fares, though. When invited to the stage to debut a new trailer for his co-op game A Way Out, he began a lengthy impassioned rant about how “the Oscars can fuck themselves up,” with a trio of extra ‘fucks’ to hammer the point home.
He proceeded to big up A Way Out, claiming it is impossible for people not to like it. “It doesn’t have anything [to do] with the EA shit going on, with the loot box and stuff,” he added, which would make an excellent back-of-the-box bullet point… were it not being published by EA in the first place. It is easy to imagine the next string of f-words coming Fares’ way may be shouted in the office of an EA executive.
At times, it may have seemed that we wouldn’t make it to the end of 2017. But everything was alright in the end; we managed to get past everything from Overwatch-based slurs to the actual loot box apocalypse. Which means, hopefully, you are ready to do it all again. Because if anything is for certain, 2018 will be just as upsettingly and/or joyously bonkers as the previous 12 months we endured.