Between us gamers, the best video games or at least the most engaging video games are the ones that require you to beat the living crap out of something be it another player, a monster or a gigantic boss. These, of course, are action games. But why do we seek an adrenaline rush, or to be more specific, why do we seek violence? We love watching action movies with explosions, seeing people get knocked down in sports like boxing, so what gives? It’s probably our animal instincts to battle for territory, food and protecting our families. Whatever the case is, the rush of adrenalin, the excitement and the thrill of battle makes action games the most popular type of video games ever.
We’re still early in 2018 and while certainly there are tons of action-oriented games coming, they won’t be showing up anytime soon, or at least after this year’s E3 conference in June. So while we wait for them, let’s look back at 2017 and check out the best action games that are worth playing!
Honey’s Anime has covered some of the games in categories like RPG, Adventure, etc., but we’re going to rank video games from all genre in one convenient list. Now that that’s all set, let’s get cracking!
10. Call of Duty: WWII
- System: PC, PS4, Xbox One
- Publisher: Activision
- Developer: Sledgehammer Games
- Release Dates: November 3, 2017
The Call of Duty franchise has returned back to its roots from playing as space marines in the far future back to one of the biggest events of human history--World War 2. And, uh, that’s it. There is a story somewhere about a guy fighting against the Germans at the Western Front and the story can be summed up like this—US soldiers enter Europe, shooting Germans, things go wrong, explosions, patriotism, more explosions, and the story ends. Come on, this is Call of Duty, the meat of the game is in the multiplayer and zombies mode, and LITERALLY, no one cares for the single player. This is not Modern Warfare.
Like every Call of Duty before it, Call of Duty: WWII’s polished gunplay and robust multiplayer are reasons why the franchise has a large player base and why we keep getting these games every year. If you want a good dose of frantic action, knife people, rise up on the leaderboards, make clans, make new friends and hear kids yelling at the mic, the Call of Duty multiplayer experience is very, very good.
- System: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: PlatinumGames
- Release Dates: October 19, 2010, May 25, 2017
Vanquish is one of those games that you probably never heard of before because, well, probably because it wasn’t too popular or it was released back in the 7th generation of consoles. Vanquish got a remastered version on PC and it’s definitely the definitive version with higher frame rate, better visual fidelity and can be played up to 4K resolution.
So what is Vanquish? Vanquish is a fast-paced cover shooter developed by Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil and Evil Within fame and PlatinumGames. You play as American soldier Sam Gideon, a DARPA researcher wearing an advanced power suit called the Augmented Reaction Suit. The ARS was sent out to real combat after the Russians hijacked a US space station and used its solar energy to decimate San Francisco. Sam must board the space station and put a stop to this madness.
What sets Vanquish apart is it’s very action-packed and the game encourages you to zip around the battlefield, jumping out of cover and take out Russian death machines in slow-mo with a transforming weapon that you can switch from a standard rife and to a shotgun, or even a rocket launcher. Sam is so fast and nimble, you’ll experience sensory overload with a lot of things to monitor like dodging bullets, look out for incoming enemies, punch one of them to death and run for cover in a span of 2 seconds.
You can play Vanquish like any cover shooter, but if you’re aiming for high scores, you’d better dart around because you get point deductions for running to cover. Yeah, a cover shooter that discourages you to get into cover.
8. Bayonetta Remaster
- System: PC
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: PlatinumGames
- Release Dates: April 11, 2017
Uhmm… Bayonetta’s story is really a confusing mess, but we’ll try to get a basic synopsis of the story. 500 years ago there lived two clans—The Umbra Witches and the Lumen Sages. They live together in peace balancing light and darkness until someone broke a pact to never make love to the opposite clan. An Umbra Witch and a Lumen Sage fell in love with each other and conceived a child. Upon discovering this blasphemy, the two clans have resulted to uneasy terms. The child, named Cereza, grew up, and the war started. Cereza was put into slumber for hundreds of years and woke up as Bayonetta, an Umbra Witch with a great sense of fashion and also hates angels.
Bayonetta is another game that got a remastered version for the PC platform, and like Vanquish, Bayonetta on PC is the definitive version thanks to its higher, constant frame rates, better textures, and 4K resolution. Old games getting a remastered treatment is a good thing because it gives them longevity and action games need the high frame rates for responsive and smooth gameplay. In the 360 and Wii U version, the game chugs, and it’s even worse on the unpatched PS3 version with sub HD resolutions, missing textures, abysmal frame rates and long loading times.
A lot of people say Bayonetta is the spiritual successor to Devil May Cry and it shows because both were created by Kamiya Hideki. Bayonetta has the core over-the-top hack and slash gameplay with a wide assortment of weapons and abilities you can purchase using halos, and a ton of gigantic bosses. Bayonetta is extremely fast and combo-heavy that it will definitely tire out your thumbs and wear down your controller fast.
7. Tekken 7
- System: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Arcade
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
- Developer: Bandai Namco Games
- Release Dates: June 2, 2017
The Mishima Clan’s long history of infighting is coming to a close, however, a new challenger approaches that will change everything between Kazuya and his father Heihachi. Tekken still remains the best technical fighting game in existence and no other game can close to its complexity and variety.
If you’ve been playing fighting games like Guilty Gear Xrd or Street Fighter V, Tekken 7 or any mainline Tekken game plays differently since it follows stricter rules. Jumping and dashing usually spells trouble in Tekken because you can easily be countered, grappled, pinned to the wall where you’re the most vulnerable. Each fighter is very distinct and it will take a long time, or even years, to master each one. But once you do master a few of the fighters, you can go online and get your ass kicked immediately because let’s face it, there will always be someone who is better than you.
As a whole though, Tekken 7 is another great entry of a franchise that has an easy-to-learn but a hard-to-master fighting system that often gets overshadowed by other games like the aforementioned Street Fighter V. If you want to invest in a fighting game that’s very different, then go check out Tekken 7. You can’t go wrong with it.
6. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Biohazard 7: Resident Evil)
- System: PC, PS4, Xbox One
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Release Dates: January 24, 2017
The wife of Ethan Winters, Mia went missing and is presumed dead. Four years later, Ethan got an email from his supposed dead wife to come for her in the Baker Residence in Dulvey, Louisiana. Upon arriving at the dilapidated home of the Bakers, Ethan soon discovers the horrors hiding behind the closed off windows.
The Resident Evil series is like the Dragon Ball series—Humble beginnings to becoming so over-the-top, a lot of people stopped taking you seriously. Resident Evil started off as a survival horror game with slow gameplay with item, ammo and health management, and a serious tone, to bullet-dodging like in the Matrix film, filled with action sequences and explosions that’ll make Michael Bay proud. Resident Evil lost its identity and fans hated Call of Duty-like Resident Evil 6, despite its high production values and polish.
Capcom redeemed itself with Resident Evil 7 by offering a new first-person perspective, visual fidelity while keeping the things that made Resident Evil, well, Resident Evil with the slow gunplay, item management returns, locked rooms with themed keys, puzzles that involve finding 3 pieces of something, the campy dark humor, and most importantly the survival horror. Gunplay is slow as already mentioned, but the pace does get slightly faster and become more action-oriented around the second half with better weapons and gear. Resident Evil 7 may look like Outlast or other first-person horror games, but make no mistake, Resident Evil 7 is not a clone, nor a copy—the DNA of the franchise is still there.
5. Nioh: Complete Edition
- System: PC, PS4
- Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment, Koei Tecmo Games
- Developer: Team Ninja
- Release Dates: February 7, 2017
William Adams has washed ashore in feudal Japan filled with vicious warriors and supernatural beings called the Yokai. Tenacious and determined, the now samurai, William Adams, fights his way throughout Japan in order to bring back that which was taken from him.
Nioh shares traits from Ninja Gaiden and Dark Souls to give players a tactical yet visceral combat set in fantasy feudal Japan where you fight samurais, ninjas, and yokai. Nioh is a hack and slash action game with RPG elements and a tactical approach to combat like stamina management and exploiting enemy patterns and weakness. William is fully customizable to fit any player’s playstyle. Tons of weapons ranging from katana, axes, spears, bows, and guns. There’s also magic and summoning of guardian spirits to aid you against smart and deadly AI. Got tired of playing Dark Souls and Bloodborne, and want to experience a new kind of punishment? Nioh will really satisfy that itch.
4. NieR: Automata
- System: PC, PS4
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: PlatinumGames
- Release Dates: March 7, 2017
NieR: Automata tells the story of androids 2B, 9S and A2 and their battle to reclaim the machine-driven dystopia overrun by powerful machines. In the very far future, Humanity has been driven away from Earth after it’s been overrun by sentient machines from another world. In an effort to reclaim Earth, the last humans created an android force to finally destroy the machines. As 2B, 9S and A2 explore the ravaged planet, meeting fellow humans and machines alike, they slowly uncover the truth behind the machine invasion and the human survivors residing on the Moon that spanned thousands upon thousands of years.
What if you let PlatinumGames—known for fast-paced and over the top action games like Vanquish, Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising Revengeance—make an action RPG? You got NieR: Automata. The story of NieR: Automata is a sad, heart-breaking, and grim game that questions your purpose of existing in the world and questions what the meaning of life is. While it has its funny and happy moments, NieR: Automata peers down to your soul and mentally drain you as you progressed through the story and replay the game several times. The story and characters alone are reasons enough to invest in the game’s world.
But… if you don’t care about all of that and just want to kill a ton of robots, while wanting to see 2B’s well-shaped derriere, then the combat is very satisfying. Combat in NieR: Automata is combo-focused that encourages you to rake up hits by mixing up light and heavy attacks until the robots explode into tiny pieces. There are also bullet hell elements where you either dodge or attack slow-moving projectiles flying around in patterns. If you’ve been playing hack and slash games like Metal Gear Rising Revengeance and Bayonetta, then the combat will feel familiar as you combo away enemies, slow down time a bit after a perfect dodge and deliver a counterattack.
- System: PC, Xbox One
- Publisher: Studio MDHR
- Developer: Studio MDHR
- Release Dates: September 29, 2017
Cuphead and Mugman had the mistake of losing in a casino owned by the Devil himself. The titular characters begged the Devil to not take their souls, so the two become contract collectors and must take the souls of debtors that are hiding in this strange and cartoon world. Can Cuphead and Mugman get away from the Devil’s clutches or will their heads end up as his new addition to his devilish tea set?
Cuphead is a funny case, really. With a distinct art style from the late 1930s and the characters—especially the brothers Cuphead and Mugman—it attracted a horde of casual players curious at this unique and colorful little game. And then suddenly YouTube and Twitch are filled with videos of players screaming at the game from the top of their lungs, breaking their controllers and immediately uninstalled the game because they found out Cuphead is an extremely hard and unforgiving game. Cuphead is so unforgiving, players can’t progress if they play on easy difficulty.
Cuphead is a boss rush, action platformer game with a run and gun bullet hell gameplay. You run around levels shooting down enemies either solo or two players, all the while dodging a ton of enemy projectiles. Shooting is your main form of attack, so no using the environment to your advantage or stomping on enemies. Cuphead is a pure old school game that will kick your ass.
You’ll die many times while playing Cuphead and the bosses are very vicious and ridiculous, but that’s the charm of Cuphead. Once you got the rhythm right, dodging and shooting will become second nature and beating a boss gives you this euphoric high that you’ve finally done it after numerous tries. Progressing through Cuphead is a reward in itself because each time you clear a level or beat a boss, you’ll be treated with art style and visuals that you will never find in any other game. Encountering new bosses is also a reward since each boss is visually unique that you’ll be awed looking at their 1930s cartoon designs. But don’t stare at them too long though because… Oh… you just died. Again.
We’re living in a generation where games hold your hand like a protective parent by giving the players objective markers, very easy modes that let the player breeze through the game with little effort, a constant message prompts like your health is low or when a game tells you to take cover, and so on. Cuphead had a goal in mind: Be the game that it wanted it to be and not bow down to people who had a hard time clearing the basic controls tutorial segment. No really, that actually happened!
2. PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS
- System: PC, Xbox One
- Publisher: PUBG Corporation
- Developer: PUBG Corporation
- Release Dates: December 21, 2017
You and 99 other players paradrop into a huge island with one goal in mind—take cover, find weapons, kill everyone and be the last man standing.
PUBG came out last December 2017, but it had a long life in 2017 as an Early Access (fancy way of saying beta testing) title on Steam. Also, PUBG is one of the few instances when the critics love it giving the game high scores, but fans hated and gave it so many negative reviews. PUBG currently has mixed reviews on Steam. Developer PUBG Corporation isn’t a saint and has made a ton of decisions that angered the fans like shoving ads to Chinese players, microtransactions even while in Early Access, poor net code, hackers infest the game, and PUBG lacks polish with inconsistent framerate even on high-end PCs. But despite all of those, PUBG became one of the most successful games in history with active players reaching more than 2 million daily. TWO MILLION!
There are many things why PUBG is popular and why it’s one of the best action games of 2017. You’re fighting against 99 other players on a huge map filled with trees for cover, abandoned buildings to lie and wait for unsuspecting players, grab vehicles to dart through the map in hopes of finding better weapons and gear, and so on. But the biggest draw of PUBG is perhaps its unpredictability, especially in a match with 100 human players determined to be the last man standing. Ammo and weapon stash randomly spawn, players paradrop anywhere as they please, so every game session is different every time.
In one match, you’ll end up weapon-less and have to use your fists to take down a well-equipped player, or you’re dropped somewhere on the map with no action going on for minutes on end, and use this brief moment to stock up on supplies and snipe anyone who was unfortunate enough to be in the same place as you. Every kill matters and every mistake is fatal.
All of these experiences can’t be replicated in other multiplayer games with fewer players, the maps are small and fixed--every match often plays out the same, and there’s little advantage in killing a player or the consequence of dying because you’ll respawn a few seconds in. PUBG is truly a battle royale game.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- System: Wii U, Switch
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release Dates: March 3, 2017
After one hundred years of slumber, Link wakes up in Hyrule besieged by the evil forces of Calamity Ganon, the personification of evil, rage hatred, and malice. Calamity Ganon was sealed away inside Hyrule Castle, but his power and influence are slowly getting stronger. Guided by a mysterious voice, Link sets out to unlock his memories of the past and defeat Calamity Ganon once again.
If there’s a reason to buy a Nintendo Switch, it’s this game. Zelda games are constantly evolving every incarnation from progressing the game whichever order you prefer to motion control combat to explore the biggest Hyrule ever, no Zelda game played similarly. Breath of the Wild combines the best parts of every Zelda game and puts them into one that lets you immediately explore the vast open world of Hyrule, battle against monsters, meet various people, freedom to experiment with the tools you have, get rewarded for being creative, and then put your acquired skills to the test by tackling dungeons and bosses. The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild is a must-have action adventure game for any gamer.
Open world games are everywhere and pretty much has done everything from finding secret areas not shown on the map, going to a tower to reveal new locations, and open chests scattered throughout the world. So what makes Breath of the Wild different? The most common mistake of open world games is the bigger the map, the more it makes the world immersive. No. Traversing a huge map for minutes with nothing interesting to see or do in between towns and dungeons is just busywork.
A good open world game is where every square foot of the map has a purpose and doesn’t try your patience, be it a well-crafted mountain pass, showing a grand vista where a tower lies ahead of the horizon, a small ruined town with clues only to be found by an attentive player, or mountain climbing that leads to a small patch of rare plants. Games like Breath of the Wild, The Witcher 3, and Fallout New Vegas didn’t change open world games, they helped refined it.
And that concludes our list of the 10 Best Action Games of 2017, covering various gameplay types! Yeah, we get it, Vanquish and Bayonetta didn’t come out in 2017, but the PC version of the games did. And the PC versions are the best version of these games and the higher frame rates and resolution has breathed new life into them and they’re as good, if not better than any high-budget action game out there. As for the rest, they’re definitely the best in 2017 and if you wanna test your skills and reaction times, then you won’t go wrong with any of them.
Of course, these are not the only action games that came out in 2017, so did we miss some action games? If so, are there any more games that are worth checking out? We love to hear them from you in the comments section!