Since the beginning of the decade, we have seen both glorious highs and dismal lows within the video game industry. Many classics have been born — some of the best games in human existence, I would have to say; however, in the same 7-year-breathe, many game franchises and game developers have also had their names tainted and their creations shunned… *Cough* Hello Games *Cough* .
As a species, our technology has skyrocketed, and with this exponential growth, the gaming community has become more diverse and interconnected than ever. The players have a far louder voice, and their opinions now make all the difference to the success of a game’s release. It is so easy for a game to crash and burn if it lacks or exceeds in community hype. “All aboard the hype-train,” so the say.
The number of video game platforms has also increased alongside our technologies, naturally; and I must say, the rivalry between them is stronger than ever, as I am sure many of you with access to the internet are aware.
Although the decade has not yet concluded, I think a quick re-cap of what I believe to be the decade’s best games is necessary. This “best game list” has been created irrespective of gaming platforms, and is based solely on my personal experiences as an average Australian gamer… and as a fresh member of the PC master race. (I cannot tell you how glad I am to finally rid myself of mum’s work laptop!)
Be realistic guys, I cannot dedicate my entire existence to video games. So, many of the games the community considers to be top-10’ers may not be included in this list. It might be simply that I have not yet had the opportunity to play them! (And in my preemptive defense, I am about 15 minutes from finishing downloading The Last Of Us Remastered!)
Oh look, a countdown:
10: Battlefield 4 (2013)
With utmost certainty, the most laughs I have had in a video game.
Playing EA DICE’s Battlefield 4 (BF4) with the release of the PS4 for the first time is fond memory of mine. I remember being blown away by the intense visuals and sheer scope of the online multiplayer; and lets be real, people play Battlefield games for the multiplayer. In-depth customization; a ton of different vehicles, each to tame a certain medium of combat; and a good mix of maps and game-modes, some with massively destructive in-game “levolutions” (such as the falling of a skyscraper) — the game has endless content and so many possible interactions (particularly with up to 64 players in each match for the large conquest game-mode). BF4 was released in 2013 and I still play it today… even with the current variety of online first-person shooters (FPS) available.
9: Transistor (2014)
I picked up Supergiant Games’ Transistor as a monthly Playstation Plus freebie, not expecting much. It took me a while to get used to the “frozen planning”combat style (as I am so used to hack and slash’s), but only seconds to fall in love with the games gorgeous visuals and hypnotic soundtrack. Transistor, I found, was quite a deep and emotional experience. The game-play doesn’t divulge excessive amounts of lore directly — it allows the player to explore and build the backstory on their own; and I have to appreciate it this as I consider it to be good story telling. As a gamer, I don’t like to be babied so much; I want to think harder and look deeper to find clues and meaning. Video games are a form of art, after all, and art is often up to interpretation. Transistor was the game that opened my eyes to the realm of indie games, and also Supergiant Games’ other masterpeice, Bastion, which I enjoyed just as much.
8: Destiny (2014)
The initial release of Bungie’s Destiny left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, and this was completely understandable. Bungie had a massive budget for this sci-fi FPS — something near 500 million dollars, I had heard (but apparently this was majorly exaggerated). With a budget like that, you would expect the developers to deliver upon their promises… however this was not the case. The game was “unfinished” and took several paid expansions to achieve what is expected in release-content of a full priced game. I have to agree, disappointment does suck; but I consider myself lucky, as I did not board the hype-train for Destiny, and when I purchased the game I honestly had such a brilliant time playing it — mainly in the player-vs-player (PVP) Crucible however. Hopefully we will see Bungie accommodate for the features that Destiny lacked with the release of the soon-to-be-announced sequal.
7: Countertrike: Global Offensive
In terms of a competitive FPS, Valve’s Counter-strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) sets the standard. The Counter-strike series has had a long time to establish itself — and the result of this time is a well balanced, skill-based competitive FPS with a steep learning curve, but also a highly satisfying reward/ranking system… Or is it frustrating? I can’t remember. I love the emphasis CSGO places on teamwork and effective communication. Yes, you can solo carry a team; and yes, you can remove your microphone, listen to heavy metal, and ignore the responsibility of making calls — but more often that not, it is essential to maintain good communication and provide valuable insight for your team (maybe on enemy positioning or an intended bomb site plant) to achieve victory. To top it off, CSGO continues to stay strong in the Esports scene, and I do not expect this to change any time soon.
6: Bloodborne (2015)
“Prepare to cry.” Oh, I literally did… Came all too close to launching my Playstation controller over my back fence as well. I honestly thought I was a decent gamer — above average at least, and pretty versatile among genres — then I played From Software’s Bloodborne. Bloodborne — and similar games from From Software, i.e. the Dark Souls franchise — are well known for their extreme difficulty and epic combat systems. All of the creatures and bosses in Bloodborne were equally wretched, cruel and unforgiving. I have never been so frustrated in a video game, never felt so rewarded either. Hmmm, and then I see people completing the game using a Band Hero drum-kit or something. Feels bad, man.
Looking for a challenge, my fellow gamers? Pick up Bloodborne… Enter the hunters dream…
5: The Witcher 3 (2015)
The single greatest regret of my life is allowing Triss Merigold sail away from me… CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3 has won more awards than any other video game in history — and this is totally justified. It is often a feat of RPGs to exhibit many monotonous quests, some of which being similar to quests previously repeated i.e. find 30 of this item… or kill 30 of this creature. It is with these common traits that the Witcher 3 disagrees. Quests in the Witcher 3 (yes, even the side quests) are all unique and will often divulge new enemies to murder, new allies to befriend or seduce, or fresh new places and landscapes to explore. I found that the depth of character interaction was unalike any game I had played before. The way you interact, and the decisions you make, influence the world quite significantly; there are many paths which you can take playing as Geralt of Rivia, and all of them are as interesting and unique as the last.
4: League of Legends (Late 2009 – oops)
I admit, I have gone completely off Riot Games’ multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) League of Legends (LoL), but I cannot leave it off this list, simply for the sheer amount of time I sunk into it. (And yes, I realise the game was released toward the end of 2009, but I had never heard of it). This game broke me into the MOBA genre, and allowed me to facilitate some of the greatest friendships I hold to date. The game-play is fast-paced, skill-orientated, and often requires an effective use of teamwork to claim victory. Even though LoL remains a giant within the realm of Esports, it is often correlated with a highly “toxic” or “salty” community/player-base, and is therefore considered of bad taste among many “mature” gamers — myself now, being one of them. Me…mature? It is unfortunate that LoL has taken this sort of path, but I do believe that “salt” is near inevitable in any online competitive environment. At the very least, LoL allowed many gamers to branch out from previous genres, and explore the quick-action stresses of a MOBA.
3: Overwatch (2016)
Of course Blizzard’s Overwatch is in this list: it is such a polished game, and in my opinion, only short of perfect. What can I say? It ticks many of my boxes: FPS — check; online — check; team-based — check; stylized visuals — check; and the list goes on. This sort of quality is to be expected when a game is backed by Blizzard. I am looking forward to seeing how Overwatch evolves and will forever do my very best to claw my way out of gold division.
2: The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (2011)
There is simply no single player experience that can compare to Bethesda’s Skyrim. A vast, open world riddled with threats ranging from a mud crab to a dragon; one of the most in-depth character creation and skill/item customisation systems in video gaming; beautiful scenery — expansive plains, icy mountain peaks, festering volcanic wastelands; a plethora of interesting quests supported by a diverse range of NPC’s — Skyrim has it all. It is the benchmark for single player RPGs, and what I consider the pinnacle of the Elder Scrolls series. The best thing about Skyrim is its thriving modding scene. Modding allows the game to stay fresh, as people other than the game’s developers, can add new features… Like a Bob Ross moon, for instance. On top of consistent player modding, Bethesda themselves recently released Skyrim Special Edition, a remastered version of the game. Really, it ceases to amaze me how incredible this game truly is. I think I will always go back to it, maybe even show my hypothetical children.
1: DOOM (2016)
If you had read my earlier article on shooting games, you would have seen this one coming… I can say, with a straight face, that id Games’ DOOM franchise is the greatest in the entirety of video gaming. Of course, this is my personal opinion… but who doesn’t enjoy this kind of fit-inducing carnage? DOOM (2016), to me, is the epitome of a video game: fast-paced, challenging, beautiful and utter fun. If the developers had nailed DOOM’s online competitive element it would be impossible for a reviewer to score it less than an 11/10. Just like the original games, I think I will go back to this classic time and time again.
Fight like hell.
Some Honorable Mentions
Making that list was hard — real hard. Perhaps a “top 100” would have been easier? I hope you find yourself in agreeance with at least some of the games in my “10 best games of the decade so far” countdown. If not, take a quick look at the list below! In no particular order, here are some close contestants that I unfortunately failed to make the cut:
Bastion (Supergiant Games) — 2011
Journey (Thatgamecompany) — 2012
Abzu (Giant Squid) — 2016
Battlefield 1 (EA Dice) — 2016
Rust (Facepunch Studios) — 2013
Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft) — 2012
Tomb Raider (Crystal Dynamics) — 2013
God of War 3 (SIE Santa Monica Studio) — 2010
Bioshock Infinite (2k Games) — 2013
Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar Games) — 2010
Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar Games) — 2013
Mass Effect 3 (BioWare) — 2013
Helldivers (Arrowhead Game Studios) — 2015
Thank you, fellow gamers. Let us all hope that the remainder of the decade provides us with a plethora of great and unique video games across a wide span of genres. I can expect that game developers will learn from their own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others — and therefore, I remain optimistic for the future of the gaming industry. See you for a final countdown at the end of the decade!