An Overwatch character pointing two guns

The Best Games Released in 2017

The 2017 D.I.C.E. Awards nominees have been announced, featuring no less than fifty-six games. We’ve looked at the nominees and these are our winners.

(You can read the full list of nominees here.)

Game of the Year

Our Winner: Overwatch

Blizzard Entertainment’s team-based multiplayer first-person shooter was 2017’s standout game.  Overwatch has received overwhelmingly positive reviews and has continued to improve since it’s release on 23 May 2016.

The 2016 winner was Fallout 4.

Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction

Our Winner: Inside

Despite taking less than four hours to complete, Playdead’s puzzle-platformer adventure game pushes boundaries.

Inside improves on the groundwork laid by Limbo in every conceivable way.  From the brilliant opening moments, Inside goes on to build anticipation through astounding set-pieces, and a simply unforgettable conclusion.

The 2016 winner was Fallout 4.

Outstanding Achievement in Game Design

Our Winner: Overwatch

Inside is a truly special game – arguably better than Overwatch in some aspects – but when it comes to game design, we had to give it to Overwatch.

Overwatch makes the tired FPS genre feel fresh, re-introducing excitement long forgotten in the muddy battlefields of generic war clones.

The 2016 winner was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay

Our Winner: Overwatch

The Division has steadied itself after a less-than-stellar launch, the addictive Hearthstone continues to turn hours into seconds, and Battlefield 1 has delivered an exceptional online experience.  Any other year, Battlefield 1 would have won comfortably, but this year there can only be one winner.

The diverse range of characters and play styles makes Overwatch simply unbeatable online this year.  Much like Rocket League last year, Overwatch has adapted well to the world of competitive gaming and has shown signs of being an e-sport title we will be watching for many years to come.

The 2016 winner was Rocket League.

Handheld Game of the Year

Our Winner: Pokemon Sun and Moon

Pokemon is the Adele of the handheld gaming industry; whenever a new version is released, it dominates the genre.  Pokemon Sun and Moon moved away from the stale gym formula and has refreshed the franchise in innumerable ways.

As an adult gamer returning to the franchise for the first time in a decade, Pokemon Sun and Moon have rekindled my love for Pikachu and the other pocket monsters.  This is a game that I, and millions of players around the world, will not be putting down for a while.

The 2016 winner was Helldivers.

Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year

Our Winner: Civilization VI

This was the toughest decision thus far.  XCOM 2 puts a strong focus on replayability and variety.  It adds a fresh spin on the brilliant tactical combat from XCOM: Enemy Unknown and added randomised objectives and loot to unpredictable maps.

Civilization VI is the most feature-rich launch version in the Civ series.  Civ 6 makes substantial improvements over the stellar Civilization 5, then makes strong additions including spread-out cities, even more, customizable governments, research boosts, and leader agendas.

Civilization VI takes the podium; the sheer depth and the quality of the new additions are worth the price of admission alone.  Taking a civilization from nomadic tribe to World Super Power never gets old, and the variety of options to win provide a huge amount of replayability and value.

The 2016 winner was Heroes of the Storm.

Sports Game of the Year

Our Winner: FIFA 17

Without a truly unique sports title to gush over this year, FIFA 17 emerges victorious thanks to its addition of The Journey and the successful transition to the powerful Frostbite engine.  Visually, FIFA is as exceptional as ever, and despite only minor gameplay tweaks over previous versions, FIFA 17 continues to deliver a feature-rich football simulation.

The 2016 winner was Rocket League.

RPG/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year

Our Winner: Dark Souls III

The Dark Souls series is reknown for its relentless difficulty, which has earned it a cult following rarely seen in video games.  Dark Souls 3 builds on this platform, with an incredible world and awe-inspiring weapon art to make it the best in the series.

The 2016 winner was Fallout 4.

Racing Game of the Year

Our Winner: Forza Horizon 3

Despite having horrifically expensive DLC cars, Forza is an extraordinary racing game, allowing PC gamers to race against their Xbox One brethren.  Visually, FH3 is stunning, even breathtaking at times, and the responsive controls and interesting races blow Driveclub VR out of the water (or off of the track, if you will).

The 2016 winner was Forza Motorsport 6.

Fighting Game of the Year

Our Winner: Street Fighter V

Capcom’s legendary franchise most recent iteration has taken some time to flourish, but there is no denying that at its core Street Fighter V is an outstanding fighting game.  The diverse cast of characters are wonderful, and competitive players are given a stellar online experience.  And did we mention that Street Fighter 5 is gorgeous?

The 2016 winner was Mortal Kombat X.

Family Game of the Year

Our Winner: Ratchet & Clank

Super Mario Maker may have taken the throne last year, but the 3DS iteration doesn’t feel as refined as it’s big brother.  Ratchet & Clank, on the other hand, offers an inspiring 3D platforming experience not seen since Super Mario 64.  There, I said it.

Ratchet & Clank takes the characters that we fell in love with 14 years ago and gives players a gorgeous, varied world to enjoy.  The weapon system is deep and rewarding and the story is the best the franchise has had.  No other family game in 2016 could touch it.

The 2016 winner was Super Mario Maker.

Outstanding Technical Achievement

Our Winner: No Man’s Sky

LET ME EXPLAIN!  Yes, other candidates offer more complete experiences with incredible technical achievements of their own, but the immensely disappointing No Man’s Sky delivered something truly special with their procedurally generated universe.

Yes, we got some aliens that looked like male organs, and, yes, many of the worlds were bland and uninteresting, but as a technological achievement, No Man’s Sky stands (deformed) head and (ill-fitting) shoulders above the competition.

The 2016 winner was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Outstanding Achievement in Story

Our Winner: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Uncharted 4 uses cinematic flair usually reserved only for the Silver Screen to deliver a compelling story which weaves through different time periods.  Rarely does a game truly deliver an experience that can rival Hollywood classics, but Uncharted 4 is one of the few to rise to the challenge and excel.

The 2016 winner was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design

Our Winner: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

At risk of sounding like a broken record, Uncharted 4 offers a cinematic experience in every department, including audio.  The sound design is truly exceptional, offering a masterclass in the art of creating a realistic experience within a virtual world.

The 2016 winner was Star Wars Battlefront.

Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition

Our Winner: Abzu

Composer Austin Wintory, of Assassins Creed: Syndicate and Banner Saga 2 fame, deserves the plaudits here.  Rarely does a video game boast music that truly resonates with the world on the screen, but Wintory has captured the magical wonder within Abzu.  Sweeping higher frequencies paint pictures of drifting through vast expanses of water, and electronic undercurrents blend with orchestral tones.  Beautiful.

The 2016 winner was Ori and the Blind Forest.

Outstanding Achievement in Character

Our Winner: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

The Last Guardian had an interesting dynamic between boy and beast-uh, Trico, and could have won this award for the relationship which genuinely develops between the player and the characters on screen.

We chose Uncharted 4 for the way Naughty Dog expertly developed series protagonist, Nathan Drake, showing another side to a character who would have otherwise felt stale.  The quality of the character development adds further emotional depth to a true video game marvel.

The 2016 winner was Rise of the Tomb Raider — Lara Croft.

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction

Our Winner: Firewatch

British artist Olly Mos grasps the beauty of the great American outdoors with a bright, airbrushed approach.  The tantalising views of distant peaks and valleys perfectly complement the Park’s warm tones.  Some games demand ultra-realistic graphics to create an immersive experience; Firewatch bucks the trend.

The 2016 winner was Ori and the Blind Forest.

Outstanding Achievement in Animation

Our Winner: Inside

Many games are going down the route of realism; some motion-capture actors, down to their intricate wrinkles sent sprawling by every grimace.  Inside claims this award for its simplistic-yet-charming animations.  Every movement is beautifully elegant, whether stumbling across rooftops, swinging precariously from ropes in dark cavern, or struggling for a gasp of air while lashing desperately at the water’s surface.

The 2016 winner was Ori and the Blind Forest.

D.I.C.E. Sprite Award

Our Winner: That Dragon, Cancer

The D.I.C.E. Sprite Award is awarded to the game that advances the industry in some aspect, with disproportionate resources for development and exposure (as compared to AAA titles).

Nothing could be further from the sprawling teams of AAA developers than the development duo of husband and wife, Ryan and Amy Green.  Ryan and Amy created That Dragon, Cancer as a moving tribute to their son Joel, showing the bleak realities of a family experiencing a heartbreaking human tragedy.

Despite having such a small team, That Dragon, Cancer delivers one of gaming’s most touching experiences without compromise and is a title that should feature on every gamers To Play list.

The 2016 winner was Rocket League.

Adventure Game of the Year

Our Winner: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Uncharted 4 is the epitome of the adventure genre; despite offering a fairly linear experience, the each chapter offers a playground which feels like a living, breathing location.  The sense of adventure runs in Uncharted’s DNA, and Uncharted 4’s blockbuster visuals, slick gameplay and a solid story make Nathan Drake’s final adventure his finest.

The 2016 winner was Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Action Game of the Year

Our Winner: Overwatch

Want action?  Buy Overwatch – it’s that simple.  Overwatch redefines the design template for every other multiplayer FPS to follow, bobbing and weaving majestically between adrenaline fuelled offensive gameplay and thought-provoking strategy.  As you may have read, Overwatch isn’t just our D.I.C.E Action Game of the Year, it’s our Game of The Year.  It’s that good.

The 2016 winner was Star Wars Battlefront.

Mobile Game of the Year

Our Winner: Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go has been more than a game; it’s been a phenomenon.  Never before has it been socially acceptable for professional businessmen in the heart of Wall Street to spend their lunch breaks in hope of catching that elusive Charmander.  While the hype may have tailed off in recent months, Pokemon Go still commands a loyal fanbase which will continue to grow as the game develops and expands over the coming year.

Just no more Pidgey’s, Niantic, okay?

The 2016 winner was Fallout Shelter.

How does our choice of winners stack up?  Check out the list of nominees and let us know who you would have chosen (and, if you’re feeling especially wordy, tell us why).