In the News

December 13, 2017

Top Games and Hot Topics of 2017 at UCI’s Esports Arena

UCI’s Esports Arena coordinator Kathy Chiang (B.S., Computer Game Science, ’16) tells us about the most talked about games of 2017. She starts with the Arena’s top three.

Best Multiplayer Competitive Games

Chiang says the top game of 2017 is “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (“PUBG”), published by PUBG Corp. The early release came out in March, and another release is expected in late December. In the game, 100 players fight each other on an island, and the last player standing wins. “PUBG,” which she compares to “The Hunger Games,” is a favorite right now because it’s “extremely competitive” yet also “cooperative.” She adds that it has great “replay value” because you don’t expect to win, but every kill you get is a small victory. “It’s by far the most popular game in here.”

Screenshot from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, published by PUBG Corp.

No. 2 on Chiang’s list is “League of Legends,” published by Riot Games. Released in 2009, this online battle-arena game is hardly new, but it’s consistently popular and has a strong fan base. “It has been a powerhouse for so long; it’s a classic at this point,” says Chiang. Due to the game’s continued popularity, UCI’s Esports program has been offering League of Legends scholarships since the program began back in 2016.

Rounding out her top three is last year’s favorite, “Overwatch,” published by Blizzard Entertainment. In this game, players team up to defend specific locations on a map or move a payload. According to Chiang, its popularity started to dip just a few months ago, but she’s confident interest will surge alongside the first professional season of “Overwatch,” which officially starts Jan. 10, 2018, although the preseason kicked off Dec. 6. UCI also has a scholarship team for Overwatch that is ranked #1 in North America and will compete for a collegiate championship in early 2018.

All three games were ranked in the top 15 by PCGamesN.com, although their top three were “Overwatch,” “Diablo 3” and “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (“CS:GO”). Chiang says she hasn’t seen many people playing “Diablo 3” in or out of the Arena and adds that for this genre — action role-playing games (Action RPGs) — “Path of Exile” is also notable. “Whereas ‘Diablo 3’ has beautiful graphics and relatively simple gameplay, ‘Path of Exile’ expands on the level of customization and complexity that many Action RPG fans crave,” she says. She confirms that ‘CS:GO,’ which came out in 2012, is “one of the most popular games in the world.”

Honorable Mentions and Hot Topics

The honorable mention goes to “Animal Crossing,” published by Nintendo. According to Chiang, “the game focuses on quests performed by cute little animals, and it’s really popular with the mobile audience.” And Chiang’s personal favorite right now is “World of Warcraft,” released back in 2004. “It’s super entertaining despite being such an old game. Blizzard has done a great job revitalizing the game with each expansion.” The most requested game right now is “Fortnite,” which Chiang says is similar to “PUBG” but free-to-play and more “cartoony.”

Destiny 2,” the first-person shooter game set in a mythical world and one of the most anticipated releases of the year, was a bit disappointing. “The graphics and gameplay mechanics are awesome, but it’s been a general let-down because, according to the community, they didn’t release enough content,” explains Chiang.

Her award for “best expansion” goes to “Final Fantasy 14,” which has been around since the 1990s, but only versions 11 and 14 were made into massively multiplayer online (MMO) games. She says the series is known for its story-telling, and this year’s expansion, “Stormblood,” was the best of the year.

The top single-player game is “Nier: Automata.” She says this fantasy-action RPG is “really well-executed.”

Finally, the award for “most controversial” goes to “BattleFront II,” which she said was a PR disaster, with “people boycotting the game and petitioning to revoke EA’s Star Wars license” because of the over-the-top microtransactions included in the game. EA later agreed to temporarily turn off in-game purchases, but Chiang says the bigger take-away is that this “started a lot of conversations about what’s fair.” Perhaps we’ll see more discussions related to ethics, pricing and gaming in 2018.

Shani Murray

UCI’s Esports Arena Coordinator Kathy Chiang (B.S., Computer Game Science, ’16).

Top Games and Hot Topics of 2017 at UCI’s Esports Arena

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