This past decade featured a plethora of stellar games like The Witcher 3, Mass Effect 2, Pokemon Go, and Overwatch that managed to captivate our attention for days at a time. With 2020 upon us, it’s time for us to look back and select 10 of our favorite games from 2010-2019.
And before we go on, this list may not entirely match up with your taste, so be sure to leave a comment below telling us your ten games of the decade. Anyway, let’s get on with our list:
Yakuza 3 (2010)
Being tasked with picking my favorite game of the last decade was easy. Bloodborne was, by far and large, my favorite game released between 2010-2019. I sat down to type, and as I did, so I cast my mind back and realized there was another, more obvious answer as long as I used a good old-fashioned loophole.
My favorite was released in 2009 and went by the name of Yakuza 3. It wasn’t until 2010 that the game arrived on western shores, it even has a different name, so I’m good.
Yakuza 3 is merely sublime, what more can I say? I spent hours and hours wandering the streets of Tokyo and Okinawa, taking on various madcap side stories and mini-games, all the while pummelling the living daylights out of street punks. I played it to death and obtained the platinum trophy before going back and finishing the Japanese version.
It even helped me navigate around real-life Tokyo as if I were some wizard, and how many other games can offer that? Yakuza 3 is a masterpiece from beginning to end, and I implore everyone to pick up the PS4 version. There’s so much to do and see. I’d need 5,000 words to go through it all.
Dark Souls (2011)
When I was a child, video games wowed me frequently. Whether it was the ominous music and eerie chirps walking around Zebes in Super Metroid or the orchestral opening cinematic to Final Fantasy VIII, everything was new. As an adult, that experience is rarer. I still enjoy games, but it takes something extraordinary to drop my jaw.
2011’s Dark Souls dropped my jaw.
I could write—as many have—about how FromSoftware’s magnum opus spawned a genre. Every other game is now referred to as “Souls-like” if it’s remotely challenging, requires timing, or employs basic respawn mechanics. And it’s true; the influence Dark Souls has had is undeniable. But, in my mind, to be truly great, a game needs to do more than effectively construct an enjoyable playing experience. It needs to haunt you.
Dark Souls grabbed me so that no amount of frustration could push me away. That goes beyond punishing combat; the world and characters blended beauty and the grotesque in a way that made me yearn to know more while the game refused to give anything but scraps. While most games hand you tutorials and exposition and beg you to invest, Dark Souls was indifferent to your feelings.
My heart still flutters when I think about the first time I looked out over Anor Londo. I was eight again and in awe.
2011 gave us a cornucopia of renowned games: Skyrim. Bastion. Terraria. The Portal, Witcher, and Dead Space sequels. I would put Dark Souls up against any game from the year, or the decade, in quality and impact.
The Walking Dead (2012)
To discuss gaming in the past decade, the conversation must include the rise and fall of Telltale Games and their first major hit, The Walking Dead. While Telltale had success updating classic 2D adventure games into 3D, The Walking Dead revolutionized the genre by focusing on creating choice-based gameplay, a solid story, and memorable characters.
The game follows Lee, a man with a dark past who must learn to survive in a world overrun by zombies while also caring for a young girl named Clementine. The game, which came out as five episodes, forces the player to make choices that have a radical effect on the story. The Walking Dead showed that not all games need to be online first-person shooters, but you can instead have players making difficult choices about characters they have become attached to in a single-player format.
Even though the Telltale Games that created this and other incredible works does not entirely exist anymore, I am grateful to the development team that took a risk and made something special.
The Last of Us (2013)
A tale of loss. A story of hope. A deep dive into the corruptibility of love. All these things can be used to describe The Last of Us. The game is a masterpiece, plain and simple.
Exploring the relationship between Joel and Ellie as they travel through the wasteland of America, we watch a familial relationship form between the pair. Sprinkle in some robust game design, excellent art direction, and a moving soundtrack, and we have a recipe for a genuine piece of art.
The Last of Us doesn’t spare us with its bleak depictions of morality, dragging us into a world with very little reason to be positive. Yet it is one of the most compelling game narratives of all time and worthy of being a game of the decade.
2014 was a transitional period for gaming; the Playstation 4 and Xbox One had just dropped in November of 2013, and all the big publishers came out of the gate swinging in 2014. So many fantastic blockbuster games were released this year. Titles like Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Destiny, Far Cry 4, Titanfall, Alien Isolation, Dragon Age Inquisition, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and Watch Dogs, all of which were released on Xbox 360 and PS3 as well as Xbox One and Playstation 4. While the core games were all the same, this generational leap showed off exactly how much more powerful the new consoles were. Higher frame rates, higher resolutions, and even extra features (in some cases).
But among those blockbuster titles, one game stood out for me like no other: Bungie’s looter-shooter, Destiny. The universe of Destiny contained so many secrets and hidden things to discover that every single day I was finding something new, and Bungie regularly released new updates for the game that added more weapons, more armor, and more riddles to solve. From an outside perspective, Destiny was a contentious game. The press declared the game was lacking content, and casual players who’d just dipped their toes into the game said it lacked the Bungie Magic that made Halo so phenomenal. But, for players who’d taken the time to experience the universe, Destiny was something special.
Even as 2019 comes to a close, I still find myself spending a couple of hours a day playing Destiny 2, with the same character I created on the launch night of the first game. It holds a special place in my heart, not just as a game but also as a social experience, as so much of the game couldn’t be done by your lonesome. Destiny defined 2014 for me, but the experiences and expectations that I’d had with the game tempered the rest of the decade as well. Eyes up, Guardian.
Fallout 4 (2015)
2015 is a hard year to tackle because so many amazing games were released and have remained incredibly relevant. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Rocket League, Bloodborne, and Metal Gear Solid 5 are just a few of the titles that took the world by storm in 2015.
After listing such amazing titles, the game I’ve chosen as my holy grail of gaming may seem like an unpopular opinion. With that being said, my favorite game of the entire decade is Fallout 4.
I have always loved the Fallout series. Exploring an unsettling wasteland never knowing what to expect and meeting the wacky inhabitants of that radiated new world clinging on to any form of civilization are just a few reasons why. I also adored flipping on my pip-boy radio and listening to classic show tunes that, to this day, are still stuck in my head (Bingo bango bongo I don’t want to leave the congo. Oh no no no no no).
Fallout 4 perfectly captures what any good Bethesda game does. It creates a world that I yearn to visit over and over again. And each time I do, I discover something new and exciting.
Titanfall 2 (2016)
Almost four years later, Titanfall 2 is still one of the better multiplayer games that have released this console generation. Two years after the new IP of Titanfall, we were blessed with the second iteration of the series. The best part? It was improved upon in almost every way. Don’t get me wrong, at its core; the game was Titanfall. In the second title, nothing was wildly different. But all of it was better.
More Titans, more customization, better loadouts, the whole nine yards. Multiplayer felt polished, fair, and it still stood out against your standard Call of Duty or Battlefield games. The part about Titanfall 2 that is most memorable, one that I still hear people talk about to this day, is the single-player campaign. Unlike its predecessor, Titanfall 2 had a single-player experience and one that left everyone I spoke to impressed.
It was a welcomed surprise to experience a multiplayer shooter that interesting story elements combined with variety. The campaign felt genuinely unique. The team at Respawn didn’t drop you in and say kill these people just because. Titanfall 2 had depth. It left you caring for the characters and on the edge of your seat. It pulled all this off with a campaign that had no fluff and was well-paced. In the end, I got more than I could have ever asked for in a sequel to one of the great multiplayer shooters.
Breath of the Wild (2017)
I could talk about how fantastic The Legend of Zelda is ad nauseam (and I have). Each entry astounds me with new mechanics and items. It should say something that, in a sea of greatness, Nintendo only recently released the most substantial addition.
Many open-world games only tease their sprawling worlds while steering you in a particular direction so that you still follow a path. But Breath of the Wild did give us more freedom to explore whatever areas we wished. Plus, it’s something much more special than just an open-world Zelda game.
The element of discovery is palpable throughout. I’ll never forget walking over a ridge and finding a dragon lazily gliding across the sky for the first time. With so many moments like this and so many unique ways to tackle objectives, your playthrough was undoubtedly different from mine. I remember a particularly annoying motion-control shrine where you must guide a giant ball through a maze. Instead, my friend flung the ball in the air, turned the maze upside down, and easily used the flat surface to get the ball where she needed. Breath of the Wild encourages exploration and outside-of-the-box thinking in ways that few games probably ever will.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
2018 was a remarkable time for video games. Marvel’s Spider-Man perfectly embodied the legendary web-head with a great story and fun gameplay. God of War was a deeply engrossing tale that featured gods, beasts, and epic prophecies. But at the end of the day, it was just a simple story about a father and his son. These two games were well deserving of many awards, and I can’t fault anyone for putting them in this spot. However, Red Dead Redemption 2 barely nudges them out for a few reasons.
The Red Dead Redemption prequel had so much detail put into the game from its impressive visuals to the gripping main story to even the mysteries you can unravel long after you finish the epilogue. Arthur Morgan, the game’s protagonist, is arguably the most complex and well-written character Rockstar Games has ever created. On top of that, the game is just a blast to play.
For a prequel of an excellent game, Rockstar could’ve phoned it in with this one. Instead, we got possibly one of the best games of the decade and maybe, one of the best games of all-time.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled (2019)
There are too many great 2019 games up for consideration for a spot on this list. However, there are several titles I am very fond of. Some will live on in my memory. For that reason, my choice for 2019 goes to Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled.
It’s wacky and fast and makes me grin more than a Cheshire Cat. It’s a remastered edition of the iconic PS2 racing classic and a gaming highlight of 2019. It’s also one of the genuinely great titles of the last ten years.
Its revival established CTR once again as the best racer title on the market today, a feat it initially achieved over twenty years ago in 1999. It’s undoubtedly the greatest kart racing game I’ve ever played, an old school classic that defined a large part of my gaming during childhood.
Nitro-Fueled remains faithful to its original counterpart as much as it propels the franchise forward in a fresh and modern-day direction.
It’s been a fantastic decade from the games to the consoles we play them on. Hopefully, the 2020s will be able to continue that success. Again, our list above may not line up with your own, so be sure to let us know your games of the decade in the comments below!