A new decade. A new set of games.
The 2010s started off with quite a bang and ended with the same bang that began the decade. The 2010s started with the beginning of the 7th generation of consoles still going strong and began with the release of iconic games that would define the decade and would define gaming as gaming entered a new generation of hardware in 2013 and the start of a new generation; not only did the decade begin with a bang but as the decade went on, videogames would advance into an art form with the explosion of indie games and iconic triple A games and ended with a bright future as an unstoppable form of business.
From indie games like Gone Home to Fallout: New Vegas to games that would break the barrier even more, here is the Top 20 games from the 2010’s decade.
20. God of War
If there’s any game that could represent Playstation in the later half of the decade then it would be the reboot of God of War. The 2018 God of War reboot / sequel made some major changes to Kratos and major changes to how it told its story, its major changes made it seem like a completely different game. Despite its departure from hack-and-slash combat mechanics, 2D characters, a lack of story, fixed-camera roots, and much more it still felt like God of War.
God of War showed the gaming industry that greatness had arrived and that gaming is a serious contender as an art form.
19. The Last of Us
When a game has narrative depth, poetic visuals, artistic elements and does more than just a normal regular videogame, it becomes something more and it transcends the medium. Plenty of games in the 2000’s transcended the medium and many games did it before The Last of Us but this was a work of art.
The Last of Us is an example of this, it is a glorious cinematic masterpiece. It is one of the few examples that blurs the lines between videogames, the cinema, and artwork. At a time when the Zombie fad was just a fad and was a far cry from what it was in the 2000’s, Naughty Dog brought that zombie fad back to life somehow by tapping on human nature and how human react in a post-apocalyptic setting.
It blended nail-biting moments, high-octane action, tension-filled scenarios with a captivating story. If The Last of Us was a film then it would’ve won the Oscar for 2014, it is a technological marvel. It proved that videogames are more than just a pastime, it is the culmination of games like BioShock and Call of Duty 4 put forward in their time. This is the direction that we need to go in the next generation.
18. DOOM ( 2016.)
It is only right that godfather of FPS’s have a place on this list. The DOOM franchise has always had an issue with time as it tried to adapt to the evolving nature of gaming with DOOM 3. However, by doing so, DOOM 3 harmed the franchise and it just ended up being like the rest of them. The reboot brought old-school back after a long break.
The 2016 reboot rised from expectations by cutting off modern day mechanics and just stick with its roots. DOOM was able to bring fun back to the FPS genre instead of being another Call of Duty clone, it brought back the ideas set forth by the original game at a time when things were bland and copy and paste ideas. DOOM saved the FPS genre.
17. Battlefield 1
The story of Battlefield 1 and its experience stem from one of the darkest periods in human history, the First World War. The Great War was a conflict marked by change and human loss. It was a conflict so terrible that people called it the War to End All Wars but, unfortunately, they were wrong as the worst single event in human history would begin 22 years later with the beginning of the Second World War.
The world went from 1870 to 1940 in just under four years during the course of the Great War. Soldiers began the war with the most technology-advanced equipment for the era and ended the war with equipment and gear that would change the nature of warfare forever: from machine-guns to chlorine gas, the world would never be the same after World War I. Battlefield 1 brings this conflict to life in a way that may seem disrespectful as the multiplayer was a popcorn look at World War I while the Singleplayer was very dark and somber but it shedded light on a conflict that would probably be lost to time and sparked conversation and yielded exploration into a conflict that was already lost and forgotten. If it wasn’t for Battlefield 1 then I wouldn’t have known about World War I or digged into its history. We need more games like Battlefield 1.
16. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is an iconic game in the franchise; reason why it’s so iconic was not only just its singleplayer but its multiplayer as well. It remains one of the greatest military shooters of all time.
I was introduced to the Battlefield franchise with Battlefield 1942 but I had never seen a game quite like Bad Company 2. Bad Company 2 had fully destructible buildings and all of the features that the franchise is known for today but one thing impressed me more than anything which was the sound design; explosions near and far were rendered faithfully and the changing sounds of weapons from different locations and distances are accurate to the real life thing. The sound design, the pure destructibility of just blowing up a building and see it come crashing down in its entirety, the greatest expansion ever made that released that Christmas, its epic storyline and its iconic multiplayer made it one of the best military shooters of the year and one of the best follow-ups to a console exclusive that released only two years prior. Bad Company 2 remains an icon in the military shooter genre, one day I hope that DICE will revisit this franchise and end the story of Bad Company once and for all.
15. Battlefield 3
I want you to think about this for a minute: What were you doing in early 2011? What were you doing at this time and were you beginning to feel the hype for the return of the mainline Battlefield franchise?
Whispers of the game came in June 2009 when EA confirmed that DICE Sweden was working on the next mainline installment in the franchise after years of spin-off games like Bad Company 2 and 1943, the WWII spin-off game from the original Bad Company game. The last mainline title into the franchise released in 2005 with the release of Battlefield 2, a game that would become my personal favorite and one of the best games of the 2000’s.
2011 came around and after whispers and rumors, EA DICE released a small snippet of the game and what came after would be a masterclass in hype and marketing. After several teasers, a full gameplay trailer released that hit home that Battlefield 3 was a game that would be peerless and solidified that the Frostbite Engine was the best in its class. Marines ran realistically, their bodies moved realistically, weapons moved and fired realistically, it was one of the most realistic games for that time and it was a true sequel to Battlefield 2. Battlefield 3 transcended the military shooter genre with how it portrayed modern military and how it portrayed warfare in the 21st century. There’s a lot to learn here from what DICE and EA did with the marketing of Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 3 as a whole, it remains as one of the best shooters of the early 2010’s.
14. Call of Duty: Black Ops
The Cold War and the Vietnam War is a very interesting setting and a very interesting time period to set anything in, personally it is one of my favorite settings and time periods just because of the amount of things and history that has occurred in this period: From the American failure in Vietnam to the ever escalating tension of the Cold War to spies operating behind the Iron Curtain and much more, you can do so much in this period and that’s what Call of Duty: Black Ops did, it is one of the most interesting military games of the early 2010’s.
Call of Duty: Black Ops takes all the classic stuff from the period and spins it in such a interesting way that I’ve always wanted to see more of and I hope one day Call of Duty does return to this fascinating period. The game is set up as a sequel to one of the franchises’ most iconic games, Call of Duty: World at War, and takes place in the 1960s and follows Korean War veteran and CIA Operative Alex Mason as he attempts to recall certain memories to locate a numbers station, the campaign ends up being a very classic Cold War story and the multiplayer itself ended up being very iconic and Call of Duty: Black Ops ended up being one of the best shooters right at the beginning of the decade.
13. Call of Duty: Black Ops II
One of the most iconic Call of Duty games of the decade and one of the most beloved titles in the franchise and the bittersweet title, Black Ops II is all of this wrapped up in one big bundle. You can’t talk about the original Black Ops without bringing up it’s epic sequel, both really go hand and hand.
Black Ops II built on the original Black Ops and was a true sequel in every sense of the word; bigger, better, and a true sequel. Black Ops II expanded upon the Cold War setting and placed it in the far future, a future that is now only 5 years from today in real time. The plot was a connected storyline with branching paths and different endings, the campaign for Black Ops II was refreshing and signaled a new path for Call of Duty.
However, Black Ops II is solely remembered for its groundbreaking multiplayer like much of the games of the early 2010s. The multiplayer for Black Ops II was addictive, really good, and pushed ideas that really hasn’t been since in the years following its release on top of introducing competitive play with League Play and made competitive an actual reality within Call of Duty. Black Ops II belongs to the golden age of Call of Duty and for good reason.
12: Mafia II
Mafia II is in many ways a postcard from 1950s America, in many ways it’s a love letter to a time and place that no longer exists in America. America stood at the summit of the world and the fruits of victory that had occurred in the previous decade brought about immense prosperity, a boom that hadn’t been seen since the 1920s. America rode high in this era of newfound wealth and prosperity that hadn’t been seen after the end of the Great War and Mafia II perfectly captures that but through the eyes of the Mafia and through the eyes of Vito, a veteran who has returned home and just wants to find work after his service in the Army.
Mafia II gave us a very small glimpse into post-war America despite it’s topics and what the game is generally about. Mafia II was about climbing the ladder and scrapping to get money, while going through a story that was very reminiscent of the Goodfellas. It may not be a true to life representation of the era as many things within the game are anachronistic but it was a small and fascinating glimpse into a time and place that is generally considered one of America’s most prosperous times.
11: BioShock 2
At the time of BioShock 2’s release, it was met with great indifference as many people including myself thought that the sequel was completely unnecessary and that it was pushing an idea that was seen in the original game and that idea was told perfectly from beginning to end. I will always believed that BioShock should’ve been a one and done game and leave it be because the original will always be the greatest thing and you can’t really capture lightning in a bottle again so it’s much better to leave it be but that doesn’t negate BioShock 2 and what it turned out to be.
I personally came to love BioShock 2 but not as much as the original game. BioShock 2 at it’s core is a much better game than the original from a gameplay point of view and mechanic wise; it is the best game in the franchise when you look at the game through those lens.
Returning to Rapture in the sequel didn’t do it any favors because it’s something that we’ve already seen and it’s a world that’s quite familiar to us and all you got was hints of nostalgia and that was it but there was something there that was very beautiful and very underrated. BioShock 2 was one of my favorite games of the decade despite its reputation that we as a community placed on it from the very beginning.
10: Dead Space 2
Dead Space 2 was engrossing, fabulous, and all around a fascinating romp and is one of my favorite horror games of all time.
EA and Visceral Games ( now defunct.) knew exactly what they were doing and they captured what horror is and captured what it means to be a horror game and they nailed it. If Dead Space was Alien then Dead Space 2 was Aliens: it was less about discovery and the creeping dread and horrible acts of violence and more about straight up action while still keeping with the original vision of the original Dead Space: that creeping sense of dread, horrible acts of violence, not knowing what’s lurking behind the corner or behind the door. By the end of it all, Dead Space 2 was a fascinating horror game; one that remains as part of an era in which horror was about to resurge only to be shot down by the likes of it’s sequel and Resident Evil 6.
9: Alien: Isolation
A very underrated game from 2014.
Horror was in a very different place in 2014 and 2014 in general was a really bad year for gaming as we just entered a new generation and it was in between the period of last generation and this new generation before the generation fully kicked off in 2015. The horror genre was in a bad space as games like Dead Space 3 and Resident Evil 5 and 6 turned the genre into something resembling the action adventure genre with monsters and spooky stuff but a game would bring the genre back to its roots and that was Alien: Isolation
Alien Isolation was such a risky game featuring gameplay and mechanics from games such as Outlast and Amnesia, horror games that ruled the waves at the beginning of the decade. After countless Alien games being a disappointment, Alien Isolation saved the video game side of the IP and brought it up as a franchise that had potential. I hope to see a sequel to this underrated gem of the decade in the coming years.
8: L.A Noire
L.A Noire is a very different beast of a game. It’s unlike anything I have ever seen and ever played and it’s unlike anything Rockstar has ever put out. You’re a cop who is determined to clean up the streets of Los Angeles in 1947 after your return stateside after serving in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
L.A Noire is a very different type of game and it is why it has landed here on the top 20 best games of the decade, it’s slow paced and very boring but it was designed exactly as that. The focus is on your investigative skills and not on the quickness of your trigger finger, L.A Noire used MotionScan which delivered pure performances in-game and hasn’t been used since it’s release in 2011. Every wrinkle, every twitch, facial movements and swallows are captured and showed on screen. It was striking then in 2011 and still striking now as many videogames are cinematic experiences but this was on a very different level: L.A Noire was a complete cinematic experience from top to bottom and a game that transported you back to a 1:1 recreation of 1947 Los Angeles.
L.A Noire wasn’t a perfect game all around but even with all of it’s flaws, it’s a game that ultimately never comes and it’s not everyday that you see a game like L.A Noire and that is the beauty of it.
7: Resident Evil 2
The remake of the decade. The remake of the year. Possibly the best remake of all time, Resident Evil 2 is a complete hit from top to bottom and a very nice welcome surprise.
Out of all the remakes and remasters that released at the beginning of the generation, I least expected Resident Evil 2 to be one of them. Resident Evil 2 wasn’t a remake, it was a complete full blown remake, where the game was designed in mind for today’s generation and today’s standards. Resident Evil 2 wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last but this is the remake of the decade, hands down. Capcom ended up being the king of remakes with this game.
6: Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption is a game unlike any other, a game that rarely ever comes. It and it’s sequel is probably one of the best Western games ever made.
The American Frontier lasted for 300 years and the history that belongs to this period is one of fascination and so wondrous; the events that took place in this period of time forever transformed America. There is nothing quite iconic as cowboys, bounty hunters, sheriffs, outlaws, and Native Americans riding across the desert into the sunset. This period in American history is so iconic and nothing can be as iconic as the American West.
Red Dead Redemption is set in 1911, at a time in point where the American West has already faded into existence as the emerging technology of the era comes it’s way West and transforming the way of life that was once there before the 1910s. You took control of John Marston, a former outlaw who must find his fellow outlaws and bring them to justice in order to see his family again. Red Dead Redemption and it’s sequel are perhaps the ultimate Western games, there is and will never be something quite like this ever again.
5: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The game that changed it all.
It only seems like yesterday when Skyrim launched and changed the game forever. It’s popularity is something I haven’t seen in any of my years in gaming since Call of Duty 4, it was explosive and unprecedented.
There’s a reason why Skyrim continues to mean “an open-world fantasy RPG done spectacularly well” in our industry is because the game was accessible from the very beginning, pretty comfortable, and is one of the best RPGs you still can play today. For me, personally, Skyrim defined 2011 for me and it occupied and continues to occupy a place in my heart, a place where only very few things get to. Skyrim is and was a fascinating game and it continues to be an inspiration to everyone, games are still looking to Skyrim to nail their open world.
4: Mass Effect 2
The Mass Effect saga helped define the previous generation with the original’s release in 2007, a year that is forever ingrained in video game history as one of the greatest years in gaming history. If the original Mass Effect helped define a generation and splashed itself onto the scene, Mass Effect 2 took that and upped the ante and defined what RPGs could be in the generation. Mass Effect 2 is one of the best games and an extraordinary RPGs of the decade, there is no fact that can prove this wrong: Mass Effect 2 is one for the ages.
3: Red Dead Redemption II
If Red Dead Redemption was one of the greatest games of the early 2010s, the sequel is one of the greatest games from the end of the decade. If the original Red Dead Redemption was super influential, Red Dead Redemption II destroyed it and built upon it. Red Dead Redemption II is Rockstar’s best work and I rightfully believe that.
Rockstar Games pushed the envelope even further and broke the glass ceiling and told us that the sky was the limit, Rockstar Games crafted a fantastic companion piece that blends directly into the original and meanwhile, crafted a game that can also stand out on it’s own and that pushes the medium forward. Red Dead Redemption II is the next generation of open world videogames and is now the gold standard moving from here on out.
2: Batman: Arkham City
The Batman IP was in complete disarray before Christopher Nolan’s epic re-imagining of the Dark Knight and Rocksteady’s hit Arkham Asylum. Before 2009, superhero videogames were not at all profitable and didn’t have a lot of value until Arkham Asylum released in August of 2009.
After the epic rebirth of the Batman videogame franchise in 2009, by 2011, it was a powerhouse and turned into one of the best franchises all around with the launch of Arkham City. Arkham City changed the course of history and is the best Batman game ever made, so much so that it’s impact and legacy can still be felt today. Definitely one of the greats.
1: The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
If Skyrim was the gold standard in the early 2010s, The Witcher 3 is the gold standard in the late 2010s and destroyed what Skyrim did by taking it to new levels and new heights and the RPG genre will never be the same after The Witcher 3 released in 2015 and solidified CDPR as the new kings of the RPG genre.
The Witcher 3 set a new standard in RPGs, one that said that games like Fallout and it’s elks had its day in the sun because things are changing and there is a new day ahead of us. The Witcher 3 is more impressive and ambitious than any Bioware or Bethesda Game Studios game ever put out outside of the Mass Effect saga. The Witcher 3 did something new and now we are in a new day thanks to The Witcher 3.
0: Grand Theft Auto V
And now we have come to the end of the Top 20 best games of the decade. Grand Theft Auto V is the decade’s absolute best game, there is nothing like Grand Theft Auto V until Grand Theft Auto VI is in our hands.
Not only is it the most influential game of the decade, it is the best game of the 2010s. Grand Theft Auto V is a complete achievement from top to bottom. The release of Grand Theft Auto V cemented the franchise’s place not just into videogames but in the history of US culture which it already had a place in, Grand Theft Auto V just cemented the obvious. In it’s opening seven years ago, Rockstar Games made a boatload of cash that only grew with time and now has exceeded everything.
Many of us, including myself, grew up with the franchise and played every release since GTA III. A forbidden fruit of gaming that, at a young age, I couldn’t keep curiosity away from it any longer and now it has exploded and has stayed relevant ever since the release of GTA V. It is a monster that cannot be stopped and has ingrained itself into American culture and American society, everybody knows of Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto is everywhere. GTA V is something else entirely, an achievement for the ages.