It’s been a great decade for gaming. Heading into the next one, here’s my list of the best games of the decade.
I feel like it wouldn’t be right going into the next year without discussing some of the best games I had the privilege of playing over the last 10 years. It can be said that this has been the absolute best decade in gaming history. Obviously, it’s also subjective and we can’t forget the classics that have come before it. But, the one thing that’s for sure is how games will continue to evolve in the future and it’s a very exciting prospect.
Compared to other lists, I’ll be doing this list a bit differently. Instead of listing whatever game from any year in the list, I’m going to be taking it by year starting with 2010 all the way till 2019. There will be one game, along with a runner-up and some honorable mentions. There are simply way too many games that come out in a year to just list one. At the end, once the list is made, I’ll also make another list ranking those games. Before we get into that, let’s begin with 2010.
2010: Red Dead Redemption
It can be argued that this is the best game Rockstar Games has ever developed. With open-world games being the developers specialty, I feel Red Dead Redemption does it best. The developer is mostly known for the Grand Theft Auto series, and although most of the games in that series are great, I don’t think they deliver the same riveting and emotional storytelling as Red Dead Redemption. The gameplay is also fantastic, which includes traveling a huge, immersive world full of different characters to encounter. John Marston is also a unique character, unlike any I’ve ever played as in a video game. A memorable experience indeed.
Runner-Up: Mass Effect 2
This is, without a doubt, the best game in the entire trilogy (yes, I don’t consider Andromeda part of it). The story flows best in this one, along with the fun gameplay and the choice factor is always something entertaining to play with since some decisions to change the outcome.
- Super Mario Galaxy 2
- Fallout: New Vegas
2011: Batman: Arkham City
Without a doubt, Batman: Arkham City is the best superhero game ever made. Although the first installment, Arkham Asylum, is fantastic in its own right because of the stealth elements, the combat, and the killer Joker performance by Mark Hamill, Arkham City is the game where you truly feel you’re embodying Batman at his full potential as you play. It takes every single element from the first game and takes it up a notch with the open-world elements and how you travel in it. I’m not sure whether Rocksteady Studios will ever return to this world after its recent efforts, but I sure hope they do.
Runner-Up: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
It says quite a bit about a game when people are still encountering new things almost 10 years after its release. It’s also worth noting it has been ported a number of times just so that every gamer who didn’t play it when it first released can experience it. It’s a huge game with a variety of things to do and one of the best projects Bethesda Game Studios has ever created.
- Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
- Gears of War 3
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012: Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead
This game was never really in my radar. It wasn’t until it won “Game of the Year” that year where I decided I’d give it a shot. Mind you, I wasn’t even a fan of the show prior to playing this. The Walking Dead is one of the greatest story-based games I’ve ever played. Although the gameplay isn’t exactly appealing, this isn’t a game you play for the gameplay. You start it and stick with it because of the characters and their story as you play through all the episodes. An all-time favorite of mine, for sure.
Runner-Up: Far Cry 3
I’m not entirely sure whether or not Ubisoft believed Far Cry 3 would be as successful as it was. Without a doubt, it’s the best game in the entire series and it’s not even close. The ones that have followed it aren’t bad, but they haven’t been able to replicate its success. You can still play this game till this day and see how well it holds up compared to the most recent ones in the same genre.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops II
2013: The Last of Us
To date, this is the best game Naughty Dog has ever created. There are certain games you play that stick with you for the rest of your life and this is one of them. The combat is absolutely gritty and brutal and sometimes, it feels more like an interactive movie rather than a video game. Joel and Ellie are some of the greatest video game protagonists of all time and I’m glad I’ll be able to see where the story goes next in Part II next May.
Runner-Up: BioShock Infinite
My personal favorite in the series. Although the gameplay isn’t as great as the first game, the plot twists and turns are what stand out to me the most. I remember being absolutely floored at the finale of this game and how everything ended up turning out. The change of setting was also something I was worried about since it was so different from the others, but it ended up paying off big time.
- Grand Theft Auto V
- The Wolf Among Us
- Super Mario 3D World
2014: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
The Nintendo Wii U was mostly a forgettable console for many and honestly, it’s a bit disappointing since there are a lot of gems many people never got the chance to play. One of those is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which is extremely underrated. In my opinion, it’s the best game the Wii U ever produced and one of the best plat-formers of the decade. The sweet, funky soundtrack goes exceptionally well with the characters and all the different courses available to play. It may make you rage a ton, but the satisfaction of finally completing the level is unmatched. Thankfully, you can play this on the Switch if you haven’t done so.
Runner-Up: Mario Kart 8
This is the definitive Mario Kart experience. It contains the largest array of characters to choose from, some fantastic courses, both new and old, and great tunes to jam out to while you’re racing along. This may also make you rage from time to time due to the uncalled for blue shells whenever you’re about to win a race, but you always come back for more no matter how many times you get screwed over. It’s also the ultimate friendship ruiner, at least for a short period of time.
- Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
- Bayonetta 2
- Shovel Knight
2015: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
After the release of this game, anything CD Projekt Red touches is gold. In my mind, the developers can do no wrong because of how close to flawless this game really is. I still haven’t beat this game, if I’m being honest, but I’ve spent countless hours getting lost in the world fighting a number of monsters while also completing a ton of side-quests. The story is also very compelling and if you put in the time and make the right choices, you can get the ending you desire. By far, what’s most intriguing about this game is the massive world. I truly hope another game in this series is in the works.
It’s still baffling another entry in this series hasn’t been considered. Well, never say never, but it has been almost five years since its release and I think it’s way too good of a game to not get a sequel. If you’ve ever played Dark Souls and enjoy it, then you’re going to love this. The difficulty level isn’t for everyone, of course, so you need a ton of patience. But, once again, it’s a satisfying experience when you’re able to best that boss after dying countless times.
- Rocket League
- Super Mario Maker
2016: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
I still can’t believe this masterpiece lost out to Overwatch for “Game of the Year.” I mean, yes, in its time, Overwatch had a lot of hype surrounding and rightfully so since it’s, in many ways, the first of its kind. But, it’s obvious the game isn’t as popular anymore and, for many, it isn’t as good as they once remember. Uncharted 4 is still a cinematic storytelling marvel with action-packed gameplay and an always clever and witty protagonist in Nathan Drake. Sadly, we may never see another game in this series again, but what a way to go out.
I love Firewatch more than most. That being said, I haven’t replayed it since its release, so maybe my thoughts on it have changed. However, I still think it’s an incredible game with a story that grabs ahold of you and locks you in until you complete it. I wanted a bit more closure, but I also have to give credit to the writers for leaving a lot of it up to interpretation and getting me hooked from the start. I highly recommend trying it out if you haven’t done so.
- Final Fantasy XV
- Dishonored 2
2017: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild most certainly lived up to the hype in almost every way imaginable. Yes, the constant delays were a bit heartbreaking, but the payoff was totally worth it. The Zelda series has never gone this route. Well, you can say the first game gives you a lot of freedom to make decisions, but it’s never looked as gorgeous as this. I do have my gripes with the game, such as the lack of traditional dungeons and the classic storytelling I love, but it isn’t enough to detract from how incredible it truly is. Hyrule has never been seen like this before and I can’t wait to revisit it in the sequel. One of the best games of this generation, without a doubt.
Runner-Up: Horizon Zero Dawn
It’s truly very had for me to not choose this game as the best of 2017. In all honesty, it’s right up there with Breath of the Wild since they’re both very similar in terms of gameplay and the world exploration. This is another game I want to revisit in the future and all signs point to a sequel releasing on the PS5, which I’m completely on-board with. There’s so much potential with the world this game has built to introduce new characters, new areas to explore, new ways to play, and new creatures to encounter. I’m definitely looking forward to it.
- Super Mario Odyssey
- Persona 5
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
2018: God of War
If you thought the other games in the series were great, the newest entry completely blows them out of the water. The hack-and-slash aspect, along with killer combos, are still very much there. However, the perspective has changed a bit, which falls in the games favor. The visuals are stunning as well. The way the world seamlessly appears before you is something I haven’t seen before. How you traverse through it is also spectacular. But, the most memorable aspect is the relationship between Kratos and his son, Atreus. I’m hoping their story will continue in another game.
Insomniac Games is one of the greatest developers of all time. Taking on the task of creating a Spider-Man game was risky since there arguably hasn’t been a good one since Spider-Man 2, although I enjoyed Ultimate Spider-Man. It paid off in every way imaginable since this game is so fun to play. It captures the true essence of the character, in my opinion. The acrobatic gameplay, the combat, and even all the villains are comic book accurate while still being original to the story. A sequel is all but confirmed, which is exciting.
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
- Monster Hunter: World
- Red Dead Redemption 2
2019: The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds was a pleasant surprise. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t completely sold on it after seeing some gameplay earlier on in the year. But, it’s safe to say it surpassed my expectations. It’s the Fallout experience I’ve been waiting for since New Vegas. All the characters you meet and decisions you make based on your encounters with these characters are extremely crucial and vital to the story. There are countless endings for this game and I’ll probably never get to all of them. I did beat it already, but I definitely plan on revisiting it sometime in the near future just to experience Halcyon all over again. There’s some DLC planned for it as well, which is something I’ll definitely check out.
Runner-Up: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
This game was another surprise. This had everything going against it and mostly because of EA. But, I trust Respawn as a developer because it actually cares about the games it makes. It definitely shows with this game, which is the best Star Wars game I’ve played in years. It’s challenging, full of great puzzles, beautiful worlds to explore, and some callbacks to the series with nostalgic moments and fan-favorite characters.
- Apex Legends
- Teamfight Tactics (League of Legends)
- Gears 5
Now, here’s my ranking of the 10 games.
- The Last of Us (2013)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
- God of War (2018)
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (2016)
- Red Dead Redemption (2010)
- The Walking Dead (2012)
- Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (2014)
- The Outer Worlds (2019)
- Batman: Arkham City (2011)
What are some of your favorite games of the decade? Let me know in the comments down below!