It’s award season here at Twinfinite! Let’s look back at the best open-worlds from 2017. Voted on by our editors, these games, in particular, stood out as among the best sandbox experiences in 2017. Let’s start our top vote-getting honorable mentions, runner-ups, and finally, of course, our overall winner!
Honorable Mention: Super Mario Odyssey
Best Open World-Game 2017
It has to be a hell of a year for open-worlds when the effort put forth by Super Mario Odyssey is just an honorable mention. Just to be clear, it was close between all four of the games on this list and Super Mario Odyssey was a worthy contender.
Its bright and colorful worlds hearken back to the days of Super Mario 64. Each kingdom is a completely new experience. Aesthetically, they are all bright and beautiful in their own way. But not only that, each kingdom embraces Cappy in a unique way as well. The ability to explore either as Mario, one of his many transformations made possible by Cappy opens up so many gameplay possibilities. And, of course, that leads to a TON of Power Moons to collect.
Once you beat the story, and have all of the kingdoms open to you, Super Mario Odyssey’s world truly opens up. If you’re dead set on uncovering the 900+ Power Moons that are out there, you’ll need to comb every inch of every kingdom. We should all be fortunate then that Super Mario Odyssey’s is such a joy to spend time in.
Second Runner-Up: Assassin’s Creed Origins
Best Open-World Game 2017
It took nine titles over the period of a decade before Ubisoft finally hit the reset button on the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and we’re so glad that they did. Origins completely shakes up the conventions that had stagnated the series somewhat over the past few years. An all-new emphasis on RPG mechanics, overhauled combat, and an origins story that transports players to a superbly detailed rendition of Ancient Egypt has been a tremendous boon. The Assassin’s Creed franchise is back, and it’s once again standing proudly among the best open-world games of this year.
Assassin’s Creed games have always featured stunningly beautiful worlds, but things have really gone up a notch in Origins. The blemishes that so often spoiled the illusion of realism in previous games have been polished away. Origins’ environment lives and breathes thanks to well-animated NPCs and convincing dialogue. The stories within its world are a cut above previous entries in the series, with writing that does well to explain the struggles of life in Ptolemaic Egypt. The main protagonists, Bayek and Aya form an interesting duo, and the alternate history tale of the Creed’s formation contains enough twists and surprises to make it interesting until the end.
We love that Origins incorporates popular gameplay components of both Ubisoft and other popular open-world games. It ends up mashing together these elements, but with a big enough dose of classic Assassin’s Creed tropes to make it feel part of the iconic series. Origins is an exciting new direction for Assassin’s Creed, and we’re excited to see where it goes next.
First Runner-Up: Horizon Zero Dawn
Best Open-World Game 2017
Horizon Zero Dawn is the total package: a complete and polished open-world gameplay experience with an enticing premise, moving narrative, and explosive gameplay. Few all-new IPs have captured the gaming industry and garnered such a massive fanbase so suddenly, but Horizon Zero Dawn’s fascinating twist on the post-apocalyptic setting, juxtaposing awe-inspiring robotic creatures against the natural beauty of what is arguably the best looking sandbox ever made, was an instant hit.
The narrative pacing and the scope of its open-world are superbly balanced. Players find themselves thrust into the middle of a page-turning science fiction story, but there’s enough depth to its world to become totally lost in exploration or experiment in its emergent gameplay. Horizon Zero Dawn is a part blockbuster, part giant playground that thrills and entertains in equal measure.
Developer Guerrilla Games has managed to produce what will certainly become one of Sony’s most important franchises moving forward. We absolutely expect to see Aloy continue her adventure through more gorgeously rendered open-worlds in the future. It’s just a shame for Guerrilla Games that this year, its latest IP debuted alongside competition of such a high quality that its accolades are less than what they otherwise might have been. Any other year and Horizon Zero Dawn might well have made a clean sweep…