Nintendo

The year 2017 has been a banner one for gamers, with new entries for The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. performing well critically alongside unique, new experiences like "Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle" and "Horizon Zero Dawn." There's no shortage of incredible experiences for PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo fans this holiday season. If you're interested in buying video games for yourself or your loved ones, here's our list of some of the more popular games in 2017. There are plenty of options for kids, teens and adults, with pricing and ESRB rating information included for each title. Note: Some games have been played and reviewed by Deseret News writers, but in case we haven't, we'll refer to reputable online sources. Additionally, some of the more popular games are not appropriate for kids, so we've included information to help parents make the best decisions.

'Cuphead'
Microsoft

Platform: Xbox One, PC

Price: $19.99

ESRB Rating: RP

After foolishly making a deal with the Devil, Cuphead and Mugman must run and gun through a series of bosses to repay their debt in this tribute to classic 1930's cartoons.

Critics have praised "Cuphead" for its high difficulty and hand-drawn aesthetics. PC Gamer praised the responsive controls and Cuphead's "nimble and responsive" handling. IGN complimented the game's unique hand-drawn art style, and noted that "Cuphead is incredible for more than just its looks."

'FIFA 18'
EA Sports

Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows

Price: $59.99

ESRB Rating: E for everyone.

Fans of FIFA will surely be impressed with the game’s newest edition.

Starring soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo on the cover, "FIFA 18" builds on the success of "FIFA 17," adding new layers to various modes and improving the gameplay across the board.

The most notable change comes with the extended story mode. Once again, gamers can compete as the virtual soccer star Alex Hunter in an expanded version of the game’s story, first seen in "FIFA 17." The newer edition of the story succeeds last year’s model, since gamers are now more in control of how Hunter’s career turns out thanks to the new managing capabilities.

Fans of Major League Soccer will enjoy playing as new teams Minnesota United and Atlanta United. Fans of soccer in general will enjoy the attention to detail to new stadiums, character appearances and signature star celebrations. The game is slick and shiny from one end to the other. Quick substitutions is also a fun addition to this game, showing once again how well "FIFA 18" works to make its games more realistic.
Defense proves to be a tough spot, though. Many games end up with such high score lines because of the difficulty of defending in-game. FIFA has consistently improved the mechanics surrounding both defense and offense, so it’s a surprise to see how different this year’s version feels.

Soccer and FIFA fans will be delighted by this game. It’s yet another example of a game improving on what works. There are no major changes — you don’t have to get this game, it’s not a must-have — but it’s worthy of playing, especially if you’re in need of a new holiday sports game.

'NBA 2K18'
2K Games

Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows

Price: $59.99

ESRB Rating: E for everyone.

"NBA 2K18" is a game that works in many ways in terms of structure, but falls short when it comes to actual gameplay.

Playing the actual basketball game can be a little tricky. Over the years, 2K developers have added more buttons and button-combinations to institute new plays and moves for players. Now gamers are stuck having to remember which buttons to press in what combination at what time to make sure that they execute the right play. The game feels overburdened with moves.

Shooting has also proved to be more difficult than years past. Now, gamers must fill the shooting bar and make sure they’re open for a shot and shoot uncontested. Sure, this is certainly more realistic. But the difficulty of finding an open shot and timing the shot accurately while you’re trying to relax with a video game is maddeningly frustrating.

That said, the game’s various modes and menus are sleek as can be. The game’s MyLeague mode presents the most customizable franchise mode to date. Gamers can change anything they want about the NBA, including adding new franchises in an expansion team. The MyGM mode has plenty of cut scenes that bring you into a dramatic take on being a general manager (there are less and less as the years go on, so that’s a disappointment). MyPlayer is back with its usual punch, once again providing a nice escape from the mundane and sometimes tiring aspect of MyLeague or MyGm.

"NBA 2K18" is a sleek and soothing game to play when you’re in need of a little NBA fun. Just be warned that it will be difficult to compete on the court, given some of the game’s mechanics have become too complicated. But if you’re a stats person, looking to manage a league or a team, this is the right game for you.

'Pokémon Ultra Sun/Moon'
Nintendo/The Pokemon Company

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Price: $39.99

ESRB Rating: E for mild cartoon violence

Return to the Alola region in this enhanced edition of "Pokémon Sun and Moon." Players must travel across four unique islands to defeat the Island Kahunas on the way to the Elite Four. Along the way, players will meet the mysterious Aether Foundation and go toe to to with the villainous Team Skull.

GameSpot calls "Pokémon Ultra Sun/Moon" the definitive version of this Pokémon generation. IGN noted the two games refined the original versions with "smart improvements," while Polygon criticized the decision to put new content at the very end of the game.

'Sonic Mania'
Sega

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Price: $19.99

ESRB Rating: E for mild cartoon violence

"Sonic Mania" features Sonic the Hedgehog's return to 16-bit platforming. After Dr. Eggman and his Hard-Boiled Heavies uncover the Phantom Ruby, Sonic, Tails and Knuckles must travel through time and space to stop Eggman's latest evil plot.

After years of lukewarm reception to Sonic games, "Sonic Mania" was met with general praise. USGamer regarded the art style as the "pinnacle" of the series, and IGN noted the game as a great entry point for those new to the series. Game Informer praised the level design and gameplay as being in line with the spirit of the original "Sonic the Hedgehog" games.

'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild'
Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Price: $59.99

ESRB Rating: E10+ for fantasy violence, mild suggestive themes, use of alcohol

"The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" reintroduces players to a brand new Hyrule, full of danger and secrets around every corner. As Link, gamers can explore the land to uncover the power necessary to defeat Calamity Gannon, rescue Hyrule's Champions and save Princess Zelda.

"Breath of the Wild" was met with critical acclaim upon release. Jose Otero for IGN called it a "masterclass in open world design," and liked that the game encouraged exploration. GameSpot praised the game as innovative and new, while still in line with the series' past identity.

Note: A season pass is available for $19.99 through the Nintendo eShop. Season pass holders are given access to the Trial of the Sword, Master Mode difficulty, several new clothing sets, and an additional single-player campaign.

'Super Mario Odyssey'
Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Price: $59.99

ESRB rating: E10+ (for cartoon violence and comic mischief)

It’s rare that a video game like "Super Mario Odyssey" comes around. While some game makers and studios excel in numerous respects, they rarely reach the heights of perfection quite like Nintendo has. By expanding on gameplay themes from "Super Mario 64" and "Super Mario Sunshine," "Odyssey" delivers an experience that calls back to Mario’s rich 30-year history while showing players what’s next for Nintendo’s mascot.

"Super Mario Odyssey" follows Mario as he adventures across multiple worlds to save Princess Peach from Bowser. This time around, King Koopa wants to force Peach into marriage and is traveling across the planet’s diverse kingdoms to steal a wedding, literally. Anyone who has played a Mario game in the past will be immediately familiar with the story.

"Super Mario Odyssey" is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Nintendo has created a truly amazing experience, and one that pays homage to the Italian plumber while giving players a fresh, comfortable experience. If you love video games, you owe it to yourself to try it out. Everything, from the gameplay to the musical themes, is a delight to experience and will continue to impress for years to come.

Read our full review here.

'Fire Emblem Warriors'
Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS

Price: $59.99

ESRB Rating: T for suggestive themes and violence

At heart, “Fire Emblem Warriors” is a shiny, fast-paced game of rock, paper, scissors. Like in the core Fire Emblem series, swords beat axes, axes break spears and spears best swords. Added to the mix are bows, magic and mounted units, which reside in a gray area in the weapons triangle. Fortunately, the game bypasses any awkward learning curve or confusion by placing special arrow icons next to opponents’ names. If your opponent is weak to your current character, a downward-pointing arrow will be present, while an upward arrow indicates that a unit will perform well against your warrior. By strategizing character placement on the map, you can maximize your army’s effectiveness and truly turn the tides of battle. The strategy element is light but extremely satisfying and encourages you to try out different characters.

“Fire Emblem Warriors” is an absolute treat, from its satisfying combat to its rock-inspired soundtrack, which features themes and songs from past Fire Emblem titles. Each character is lovable and entertaining and provides unique abilities that help to turn the tides of battle. Deep systems, modes and replayability keep the game engaging and offer a great value for both newcomers and fans of the series.

Note: “Fire Emblem Warriors” offers a season pass for $19.99. Season pass holders will receive three content expansions, each of which includes three new characters, costumes and new historical maps to play. If players wish to buy packs individually, they will be available for $8.99 each.

Read our full review here.

'Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle'
Ubisoft

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Price: $59.99

Rating: E10+ (for cartoon violence, comic mischief and mild language)

"Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle" is a surprising, funny and creative strategy game with few minor flaws.

Ubisoft’s Paris studio threw out Nintendo’s tried-and-true platforming mechanics in exchange for grid-based gunplay, and offers a lot of content to those willing to look for it. While Kingdom Battle offers some entertaining jokes and deep strategy gameplay, your enjoyment of the title will probably depend on your opinion of Ubisoft’s annoying mascots, the Rabbids.

After a freak accident merges the Mushroom Kingdom with the Rabbids' world, Mario must team up with his friends to stop Bowser Jr. from destroying both worlds. The story is simple, nonsensical and acts as a wrapper for the game’s turn-based battles and Rabbid antics, but is perfectly suitable. Players control Mario and two other companions as they travel through four unique worlds to save the Mushroom Kingdom’s residents.

"Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle" offers Nintendo fans a lot to love, as long as they like strategy games and Rabbids. The game offers satisfying gameplay with a ton of diverse objectives, as well as a lovely art direction and soundtrack.

Unfortunately, a lack of things to do outside of battle could bore some players, and the Rabbids could upend the game’s sense of humor for some players. Regardless, "Mario + Rabbids" is a great game that will provide hours of entertainment for anyone willing to look past its flaws.

Read our full review here.

'Metroid: Samus Returns'
Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Price: $39.99

ESRB Rating: E10+ for animated blood, fantasy violence, and mild suggestive themes

"Metroid: Samus Returns" is a full remake of "Metroid II" for the Nintendo Gameboy. Following the defeat of Mother Brain and her space pirates, Samus is ordered to travel to SR388 to eradicate the Metroid species. By building on the original game's foundations, "Samus Returns" is a long-awaited return to form for the "Metroid" series.

According to IGN, "Metroid: Samus Returns" doesn't change the series' formula in any major way, but refines exploration and combat. GameSpot praised the game's 3D visuals, while Destructoid commended the game's "hauntingly beautiful" musical score. However, IGN also noted the 3DS's controls can be complicated and occasionally painful.

'What Remains of Edith Finch'
Annapurna Interactive

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Price: $19.99

ESRB Rating: T for violence, blood, drug reference, and language

In "What Remains of Edith Finch," explore the Finch family's ancestral home in the Pacific northwest, and uncover each family member's fate. Each person's story takes on a unique narrative and art style, detailing how the Finch family's curse ultimately led to their tragic downfall.

Destructoid praised the game as a "hallmark of excellence," and noted its flaws were outweighed by the strength of the narrative and gameplay. IGN called "Edith Finch" "one of the finest magical-realism stories in all of games." Polygon commended the game's focus on positivity and love, despite the tragic ends to the Finch family.

'Horizon Zero Dawn'
Sony Interactive Entertainment

Platform: PlayStation 4

Price: $39.99

ESRB Rating: T for alcohol and tobacco reference, blood, mild language, mild sexual themes, violence

"Horizon Zero Dawn" takes place in a post-apocalyptic landscape populated by small hunter-gatherer tribes. Players assume the role of Aloy, an outsider with connections to humanity's mysterious past. Dangerous, animalistic machines roam the wilderness, posing a threat to anyone who challenges their rule.

IGN praised the game on its visual fidelity, Aloy's characterization and the satisfying combat. Kotaku commended the story, but found some facial animations lacking.

Note: "The Frozen Wilds" single player DLC expansion is available for $19.99 through the online PlayStation Store.

'Star Wars: Battlefront 2'
EA

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

Price: $59.99

ESRB Rating: T for mild language and violence

"Battlefront 2" is a larger step than "Battlefront" in engulfing the Star Wars fan completely into the fandom of that galaxy far, far away. The single-player campaign is very well done, bringing the player across multiple planets in the Star Wars Universe.

The multiplayer side does a great job in putting you and your friends in action with blasters and lightsabers, X-Wings and AT-ATs in an all-out galactic war, good against evil. You can easily feel like you're living the movies and acting out all those lightsaber fights you had with your brother when you were little.

'WWE 2K18'

Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

Price: $59.99

ESRB Rating: T for Teen. Alcohol Reference, Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence

Though "WWE 2K18" has a fun in-game experience, many of the bugs and hiccups with this game make it increasingly difficult to sit through.

It should be noted that WWE games are filled with material that’s not considered family-friendly. Graphic violence, harsh confrontations and sexual content make it a rather difficult game to present to children. For adults, it’s a fine game to play in terms of mature content — if you’re comfortable with "Call of Duty," you’ll be comfortable with this game too — but the mechanics of the game make it difficult.

Let’s start with the in-game options. There are so many different modes to play with various options in how to customize. The Universe mode can be edited beyond belief, with gamers having the ability to add custom television programs, wrestlers and championships belts into the mode. But the structure of how to make these customizations is unorganized. And, when gamers find where they can change their settings and options, loading screens suck away gametime.

Building your own wrestler, entrance, moveset, championship belt and arena all seem like great options until gamers realize they’re sitting and staring at the TV for more than a half hour waiting for the next screen to load.

The in-game mechanics have highly improved, though. Wrestling fans will enjoy how realistic this game has become, giving gamers a chance to compete with various moves that were previously unseen in a wrestling game. The graphics are on-point too, providing wrestling fans with realistic portrayals of all the wrestlers.

Anyone wanting to buckle down with some fun wrestling games will enjoy "WWE 2K18." But just be wary of the various modes and options. They can be organized and slow. Gamers may lose a lot of their time waiting for the game to get going.

'Injustice 2'
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Price: $59.99

ESRB Rating: T for alcohol reference, blood, language, suggestive themes, and violence

Set in an alternate reality, "Injustice 2" explores the aftermath of Batman's victory over Superman's authoritarian New World Order. As the evil Brainiac arrives to destroy the Earth, Batman must grapple with the notion of releasing an evil Superman to combat the extraterrestrial threat. Players are given the opportunity to fight as a number of DC Comics heroes and villains through single player modes and multiplayer matches.

Eurogamer highly praised the game's story mode, motion capture performances, voice acting and action choreography, calling it impressive and a step up from the first "Injustice." Game Informer noted the controls were notably improved from the first game, and IGN commended NetherRealm Studios for including a large amount of single-player content alongside its multiplayer offerings. Kotaku criticized the game's microtransaction and gear systems a a weakness.

Note: A season pass is available online for $39.99. Season pass holders are given access to nine new characters, three premiere skins and a suite of collectible gear. Each character and premium skin is also available individually for $5.99, or in pack of three for $19.99.

'Assassin's Creed Origins'
Ubisoft

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Price: $59.99

ESRB Rating: M for blood and gore, drug reference, intense violence, nudity, sexual content, strong language, and use of alcohol

"Assassin's Creed Origins" is both a revitalization and an innovation of Ubisoft's open-world series. Players assume the role of Bayek, the last Egyptian Medjay (the ancient equivalent of a police officer) during Pharaoh Ptolemy's rule. After the death of their son, Bayek and his wife, Aya, join forces with Cleopatra and Julius Caesar in an attempt to assassinate the shadowy organization behind Ptolemy's regime.

Although the controls are generally simple and intuitive, they can still cause frustrating mistakes within the gameplay. Exploring ancient Egypt provides a lot of opportunities for interesting gameplay and storytelling, but anyone interested in the title should note that "Assassin's Creed Origins" is intended for mature audiences.

"Origins" smartly pairs traditional Assassin's Creed gameplay with traditional RPG elements, giving players a sense of growth and achievement as they explore ancient Egypt. Bayek can scale buildings, leap between rooftops and subdue weaker enemies silently from the shadows. It's frustrating to fight through areas full of overpowered enemies early in the game, but after leveling up Bayek's abilities and equipment, these danger zones become much more manageable. It feels great to return to high-level areas after taking the time to explore other regions.

"Assassin's Creed Origins" is meant to be played by a mature audience. Driven by a dark and emotional tale of revenge, this game is full of violence and scary situations. Bayek's targets are terrifying and twisted, and some of the most cathartic moments involve their downfall.

The game also includes some content that just doesn't feel necessary. Harsh language is scattered throughout conversations and tends to feel out of place at best and comical at worst. Additionally, one particular side quest takes place in a brothel, and occasionally players may witness some nudity while exploring the premises. It's encouraging that this moment is totally optional and avoidable, but its trivial inclusion seems to argue that the moment just shouldn't be in the game at all.

Note: A season pass is available online for $39.99. Season pass holders are given access to new weapons, armor, side quests and a single player story expansion.