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Letters from the Front

Some of the best games that we have seen have came out of this decade but the 2010s was also a decade filled with triumph, controversy, turbulence, and so much more for our beloved videogames. Game development costs has skyrocketed to new and unbelievable heights, one might say that another crash might be on the way to live services becoming a mainstream thing and indie game development soaring to new heights; our beloved videogames have also reached beyond what they were capable of in the 2000s and delivered beautifully rendered worlds and intimidate narratives. These are the best games that were of their time and the best games that stood out to me, here is the decade edition of Game of the Year. Please enjoy.

2010: RED DEAD REDEMPTION

Red Dead Redemption is a game unlike any other, a game that solely comes under a blue moon. It may be the greatest Western game ever made.

The American Frontier lasted 300 years; from the early colonialism days to the days of the outlaw until law and civilization came from the East to destroy a way of a life that was always there; quaint, peaceful, and at times brutal. This particular era in American history is so fascinating and wondrous; from the wars that raged across the Great Plains to the bounty hunting in a small town in Texas to real life leaders that became stoic and cowards as time passed by to the downfall of the American West. There is nothing quite so iconic as a bounty hunter or a cowboy riding across the desert into the sunset, there is nothing as iconic as the American West.

Red Dead Redemption is set in 1911, at a time in a point when the American West has already faded into existence and the West is no longer the West as technology like the telephone, steam trains, and civilization has already made its way to the West and is transforming the land. You play as John Marston, a former outlaw, who must find his fellow outlaws and bring them to justice or else he won’t see his family again. Red Dead Redemption is perhaps the ultimate Western game, this game changed everything right at the beginning of the decade and that is why it won my Game of the Year for 2010.

2011: BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY

Before Christopher Nolan’s re-imagining of Batman and Rocksteady’s epic re-imagining of the Batman IP, the Batman IP was not in a good spot. The Batman film IP was missing in action and the videogame side of things was suffering with the Lego games seeing major success. There were movie tie ins with Batman Begins and a potential The Dark Knight videogame adaption but that was scrapped until Eidos Montreal picked up the license.

A decade ago, superhero games weren’t at all profitable nor had a lot of value but Eidos Montreal gave the chance to a small studio called Rocksteady to develop Arkham Asylum, a game that forever change the course of history.

In 2011, the Batman videogame franchise was reborn into a powerhouse with the launch of Arkham Asylum and that led to the sequel, Arkham City, a game that further changed the course of history. Arkham City was bigger and better in every way; a true sequel in every sense of the word. Arkham City is the best Batman game ever made and it’s impact and legacy can be felt to this day; while everyone gave the Game of the Year award for 2011 to Skyrim, I gave it to Arkham City. Arkham City changed the course of history and was the definite Batman game.

2012: Mass Effect 3

While I do have my issues with Mass Effect 3 and that includes the multi color ending, it was an epic conclusion to an overall stellar trilogy that started in 2007 and told the story of an epic space opera that rivaled the likes of Star Wars and Star Trek; the Mass Effect Saga is our own version of Star Wars.

Mass Effect 3 was an epic conclusion to an otherwise stellar trilogy; if BioWare wasn’t already iconic with their RPGs from the 2000s, Mass Effect made them really iconic and put them at the top of RPG genre and at the best of their class alongside Bethesda Game Studios; BioWare was the top RPG developer to beat in the early to mid 2010s, there was nothing like the Mass Effect trilogy and there will never be again.

2013: BioShock Infinite

2013 was an iconic year for gaming; from Grand Theft Auto V to the introduction of a brand new console generation and brand new games, 2013 was a great year for gaming. 2013 was consumed by announcements after announcements and games after games; the landscape was in flux but it also marked a new era for gaming.

It’s hard to talk about 2013 without mentioning the new consoles that released and the games like The Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto V, and BioShock Infinite.

BioShock Infinite was the biggest departure yet in any game. Much like Rapture did before it, Columbia was a theme park that made you think: in one moment, you were standing in awe of this city in the sky and the next, experience the immense racism that was prevalent in the early 20th century, especially in 1912. Booker and Elizabeth’s adventure throughout this famed city in the sky may appear to be a shooter but it was more then that and the concepts that were thrown at you at the very end of the game had you thinking for weeks, prompting the kinds of conversations that were had at the end of Inception. BioShock Infinite was the one of the strongest games of the entire year and of the decade.

2014: Alien Isolation

Horror was in a very different place in 2014, especially after the releases of Dead Space 3 and Resident Evil 6. Dead Space 3 and Resident Evil 6 destroyed the horror genre and turned the genre into an action romp with horror elements attached and the genre silently went irrelevant after these two games until Alien Isolation and 2014 in general was a weird year for gaming.

At the beginning and throughout most of the year, we were still dealing with broken game hangover; Battlefield 4 suffered a lot of issues, Driveclub stalled right out of the gate, Halo: Master Chief Collection and Assassin’s Creed: Unity also suffered and there way too many remasters coming out for the new generation. While 2014 sucked in general, it was also very good for the horror genre.

By 2014, the horror genre was dead but it was slowly coming back after the disasters of Dead Space 3 and Resident Evil 6. Two of the best games from 2014 helped the horror genre make its greatest comeback and Alien Isolation was one of those games.

Alien Isolation shocked me to my very core because it was so risky and many of its gameplay mechanics could be traced to Outlast and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, two horror games that took the world by storm in the early part of the decade and that is why it won my Game of the Year for 2014.

2015: Fallout 4 / The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

2015 was one hell of a year. It was a pretty iconic year in gaming history; from The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt to Fallout 4 to beyond, 2015 was one for the history books.

To begin with, this year was really a hard choice for me because I really loved Fallout 4 and at the same time, I felt like The Witcher 3 deserved all of the awards because it was truly an astounding game and one that barely came. Fallout 4 was a game that I became disillusioned with but at the same time, I really loved because it’s a game that Bethesda can only do but at the same time, it wasn’t the sequel that I had hoped for since 2008 and wasn’t the game that I had hoped it would be. However, Fallout 4 did a lot of good which was overshadowed by the more larger issues that it had raised and made a lot of people concerned, meanwhile, The Witcher 3 absolutely obliterated anything Fallout 4 achieved and was the brand new gold standard for RPG’s going forward.

The Witcher 3 set a new standard in RPG’s going forward, one that said that Fallout and it’s elks were no longer the king of RPG’s but the past and now was a new vision for RPG’s. A new vision that put CDPR on the map and was recognized for their efforts; The Witcher 3 is more impressive and ambitious than any Bethesda game or BioWare game that wasn’t their classics or the Mass Effect saga. It was one of the best RPGs of the year and of the decade, The Witcher 3 did something new and broke the barrier that was set forward by The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

2016: Battlefield 1

2016 was an epic year for gaming. Lots and lots of videogames came out but it was also quite a strange year, a year marked by epic blockbusters like DOOM and Overwatch but it was also a year that brought a certain franchise out from the shadows and into the light and that was Battlefield, the military shooter that was always a second tier franchise compared to Call of Duty and one that was really niche.

Much like Battlefield 3 before it, Battlefield 1 put Battlefield on the map and made the franchise explode into the mainstream with its fascinating take on World War I, a setting that was never before seen in the Triple A space and took the world by storm. The Great War as a setting was never before seen in videogames and the battles were never before seen in videogames, this was new territory and uncharted ground. Battlefield 1 broke ground and made everyone aware of The Great War and the sacrifices these men did a century ago; it made The Great War relevant again and placed the setting on the map as a great setting for a videogame.

Battlefield 1 took place at the end of the Great War and took us through some of the journey of the Great War, eventually, concluding with some of the epic battles that were lost to time or only remembered by the countries that participated in a war that forever changed the globe. By the end of the Great War, history had been made.

2017: Assassin’s Creed: Origins

Much like Battlefield 1 in 2016, Assassin’s Creed: Origins redefined gaming and pushed it further than ever before. Ancient Egypt is a place that we have never seen before in gaming, it was an interesting point in the history of human civilization with Greek and Roman influence sweeping across the land and changing Egyptian culture.

I had reservations for the setting but Ubisoft sold me on the setting because it was vast and the variety made it different than anything else out at that point in time. The open world was refreshing and it made Assassin’s Creed a completely different game from what came before.

2018: Red Dead Redemption 2

The Wild West is a place in time that is unlike any other. It is one of intrigue and fascination, the tales are often ones of conquest but also one of survival in a changing America as the nation expanded from coast to coast. No other nation in the world has taken a specific point from it’s past and created an iconic image that is just as equal as the Cowboy or the Native American and equal to the creation of the Wild West.

Red Dead Redemption II, much like its predecessor at the beginning of the decade, changed gaming forever and pushed the medium forward and became one of the many gold standards that emerged at the very end of the 2010’s. It is one of the greatest games to emerge from the modern era; it is a beautiful deception of an era that is long gone and no longer exist. Red Dead Redemption II is a videogame of rare quality; a polished open world that immersed you in the closing days of the Outlaw and the closing days of the American West.

2019: The Outer Worlds / Resident Evil 2

And we have come to the end of the decade, a decade marked by immense change in the gaming world and a decade marked as one of the greatest decades in gaming history; from Red Dead Redemption to The Witcher 3, the 2010s was a decade marked by the seventh generation consoles, a changing economy thanks to the 2008 recession and a great market shift alongside some iconic games that will forever be in the history books.

2019’s Game of the Year award went to The Outer Worlds and Resident Evil 2, two games that stood out as the best for me out of this year’s entire lineup and for good reason; Resident Evil 2 was a nice surprise and continued the rebirth of the franchise after 2017’s Resident Evil 7. And The Outer Worlds was the return of classic RPGs and came at the right time when legacy studios like Bethesda and BioWare are faltering, The Outer Worlds deserve every ounce of praise and award handed to it because it is a fantastic RPG and blazed its own path between the styles of Fallout and Mass Effect amongst the classic RPG games of the past.

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