Patrick’s favourite things of 2017

Nintendo Switch

The MobileSyrup team likes to joke that I hate everything.

While there is some truth to this statement — the older I get, the more cynical I’ve become about, well, a lot of things, especially in the tech space — amid the dumpster fire that 2017 has been, there were a few awesome things, particularly in the gaming and tech spaces, that I think are genuinely exciting and really great.

As always, a few items on this list aren’t even close to being directly related to mobile, the core of what MobileSyrup is and always will be about, but they’re definitely examples of some of the best things to drop this year in tech from my perspective.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

There’s a reason I called The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild one of my favourite games of the last 10 years. My experience with Nintendo’s reinvention of the Zelda franchise is one I won’t soon forget.

Luckily, I was able to get my hands on the game few weeks early. This meant that I was left to my own devices when it came to solving puzzles and navigating other aspects of the game. The moment I randomly discovered Eventide Island, an area of the game that removes all of Link’s armor and weapons, throwing the player into a Naked and Afraid-inspired challenge, will likely go down as one of my fondest gaming memories.

If you’ve drifted away from the Zelda series over the last few years, or even gaming in general, you’ll likely find Breath of the Wild feels like a breath (pun intended) of fresh air in an industry rife with video games that are incredibly similar. Nintendo’s latest Zelda title manages to harken back to the series’ open-ended early days on the classic Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), but with a modern spin, amounting to an unprecedented accomplishment.

If there’s one game you end up playing from 2017, make sure it’s Breath of the Wild on either the Switch of the Wii U. For more on Nintendo’s latest Zelda game, check out my story on why it’s one of the best games of the last 10 years.

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch

Speaking of Nintendo, the Japanese gaming giant’s Switch video game console will likely go down as one of my favourite video game systems of all time.

The inherent concept of the Nintendo Switch is instantly appealing to my lifestyle. I’m often on-the-go, whether that means sitting at the airport waiting for what seems like countless hours, or commuting back and forth between the office everyday. This makes the Nintendo Switch’s home console-portable nature fit in with the way I game incredibly well.

In fact, while I once spent much of my commute playing mobile games, I now often opt to pull out my Switch and get in a few minutes with Nintendo’s console instead. That’s not to say that the Switch is a perfect system, because that’s far from the case. For example, the console’s Joy-cons aren’t very durable and begin flexing considerably when attached to the console after only few months of use. The rear of the tablet portion of the system is also easily scratchable.

Then there’s the question of what 2018 holds for the Switch. While 2017 was an incredibly solid year for the console, choked full of must-play games like Splatoon 2, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and of course, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo’s Switch release schedule for 2018 is sparse currently. With E3 (sort of) just around the corner, that’s likely set to change. Also Nintendo, where’s the Switch’s virtual console? Get on it!

Still, if you’re like me and as a child dreamed about a portable system that could turn into a home console as a child, the Switch is the console you’ve been waiting for.

For more information on Nintendo Switch, check out the comprehensive review I put together earlier this year.

iPhone X

iPhone X on table

Apple’s iPhone X is an incredibly expensive smartphone. Seriously, it costs so much money that it’s almost comical.

That said, the sleek-looking device is by far my favourite smartphone of the year. Yes, I’m a big fan of the Pixel 2 XL despite the issues the smartphone has encountered over the last few months, but the iPhone X holds a special place in this list for a variety of reasons.

To start, the phone feels like a modern device thanks to its nearly edge-to-edge display, a trend we also saw in many Android devices this year. I’m also fond of the device’s Notch — and no, Apple didn’t pay me to write that. While I initially found it off-putting, I’ve quickly grown to really like it. The Notch gives the iPhone X a unique look and helps it stand out in the sea of other black, slab of steel and plastic smartphones.

Since using the iPhone X for the last few weeks, I’ve found it difficult to go back to any other smartphone on the market, particularly those with larger, more substantial bezels. Seriously, bezels might not matter to you now, but once you’ve taken a smartphone with minimal edges for a spin, it really is hard to go back.

Taking things a step further, the user interact gestures that once felt foreign are now second nature to me. I also really like Face ID. Security issues related to Apple’s facial recognition technology are obviously still a concern, but the feature really works quite well — I’d even argue that it’s more convenient than Touch ID.

Not to sound like Apple’s Jony Ive, but I also think the iPhone X is one of the best looking smartphones ever released, let alone even just iPhone — and it should be given the device’s $1,319 Canadian price tag.

For my full review of the iPhone X, follow this link.

Call of Duty: WWII

Call of Duty World War II

One of the first stories I wrote that was published by a large publication was entitled, ‘How Call of Duty is ruining gaming.’ Years later, however, my thoughts on the long-running first-person shooter franchise have drastically changed.

Call of Duty is like an old friend from high school that never really grew up, but that you still enjoy hanging out with for a few days a couple of times a year. If you chill with them too frequently though, they get annoying.

The latest entry in the long-running series (perhaps too long-running if you ask some passionate gamers) is a throwback to the franchise’s early days when its titles were set during World War II. All I wanted from this entry in the Call of Duty series was a game set during World War II that featured the modern technical advancements the first-person shooter genre has experienced over the last decade. While FPS WWII games were once the go-to historical era for shooters, those days are a thing of the past — at least until now.

With this in mind, Call of Duty: WWII delivered, melding the bombastic set pieces and over-the-top action the franchise is known for, with a relatively grounded and mature story that follows a squad of infantry soldiers to the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, Ludendorff Bridge, and many other historic moments from WWII’s eastern theatre.

The game’s classic multiplayer remains as well, along with a Zombie Mode that feels slightly out of place given the singleplayer campaign’s focus on telling a sombre, respectful tale.

Still, if you set your expectations appropriately and like me, enjoy turning off your brain and engaging in the Call of Duty series’ over-the-top action movie-like gameplay once a year, you’ll find a lot to like about Sledgehammer Game’s latest game.

For more of my thoughts on Call of Duty: World War II, check out this story.

Lil Peep

My musical taste has a tendency to lean towards the genres I enjoyed in my youth, which mostly consists of the more pop side of the punk genre, emo and of course, the occasional catchy rap tune.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy other music — for example, I’m really into Taylor Swift’s Reputation right now — but the above genres have remained in heavy rotation in my Spotify account, even as I’m pushing 30. Before you mention it in the comment section, I’m well-aware my taste in music would be considered by most to be pretty horrible.

That’s why Lil Peep (Gustav Elijah Ahr), the leader in an emerging genre commonly referred to as ’emo rap,’ quickly caught my attention, but unfortunately only after he tragically passed away following what has been reported as an accidental overdose.

The simplicity of the tattoo clad 21-year-old rapper’s music harkens back to high school summers spent listening to Blink 182, while the rawness of Lil Peep’s voice is reminiscent of bands like The Used, Taking Back Sunday and even Nirvana.

His often off-key voice and repetitive, juvenile lyrics that have more in common with trap-style rap, are admittedly an acquired taste, but Lil Peep’s ability to blend the music I enjoyed as a teenager, with a dash of early 90s grunge (some have even referred to him as the Kurt Cobain of emo rap), into something that sounds surprisingly modern, grabbed my attention and fascinated me.

It’s a shame Lil Peep was taken from this world so early in his young life, especially given his first major label release, Come Over When You’re Sober, shows a tremendous amount of potential.