Wow. Time flies when you’re playing the best games of the decade.
It’s hard to believe, but another decade is done, and possibly the best 10 years of gaming ever has come and gone.
All of the games below were of course chosen for their fabulous gameplay, but also for their effect on the gaming industry as a whole. These games brought challenges, rewards, and most prominently a permanent change to the gaming landscape as we know it.
2020 has a lot to look forward to, but for now, let’s take a walk down memory lane in our round-up of the best-of-the-best from the 2010s.
Mass Effect 2
We all remember who we saved (or didn’t save) during the infamous “Suicide Mision” at the end of Mass Effect 2. And if you don’t, well then you’re the envy of many people who wish they could replay this gem for the first time.
Quite simply, Minecraft is a game about placing blocks; but what you create and the adventures you go on are up to you! The game’s Lego-like world is just perfect for creativity, experimentation, and modding.
Portal 2 is a singleplayer/multiplayer game that takes place in Aperture Science Laboratories– and you’re the test subject! Something nefarious is going on behind the scenes because the computer that’s in charge of administering the tests is a lot smarter, and a lot more evil than you might expect.
The second game in this award-winning series capitalized and perfected all the things that made the first game so great. With its unique combination of first person (portal) gunplay, challenging physics puzzles, creepy sci-fi setting, original story, and hilarious narration— it’s hard to come up with another game quite like Portal 2.
Grand Theft Auto V
The GTA series is one of the most popular gaming franchises on earth because it is both extremely fun and extremely controversial. Since the series’ massive revamp with GTA 3 in 2001, Rockstar Games has produced multiple award-winning, immersive, crime-ridden sandboxes for players to experiment in.
Yet the most immersive, layered, and satirical game of them all has to be GTA 5. The open-world landscape of Rockstar’s Los Angeles is an impeccably executed bizarro doppelganger of the real place.
Agree? Disagree? The numbers speak for themselves. Grand Theft Auto 5 is one of the best selling games of all time, surpassed only slightly by Minecraft and Tetris (which had a 30-year head start in sales).
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
In 2017, Breath of the Wild launched with the Nintendo Switch and helped to make the system one of the fastest-selling consoles of all time. On its own, this open-world adventure is polished, exciting and amazing. Yet, as the newest entry in a multi-generation spanning series, Breath of the Wild is perfection.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 is one of the few games in which the side-quests are just as interesting as the main story. It’s also one of the few massive, open-world RPGs to release on the Nintendo Switch. Play through the game and try to tell us you don’t miss Geralt of Rivia’s charming, grumpy face by the end of it.
You knew Fortnite was going to be on the best games of the decade list didn’t you? It has to be! Why? Because it’s free, it’s fun, and it’s reigned as one of the most popular video games (both socially and in player-count) for years now.
Quite simply, whether you like the game or not, it’s hard to deny Fortnite’s massive impact on the gaming landscape as a whole. While it didn’t invent the battle royale, it certainly defined and popularized the genre– majorly popularized. Epic Games reported that Fortnite reached a peak of 78.3 million active players in July of 2018, and its popularity has only slightly diminished since.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead
In a gaming landscape increasingly dominated by action-focused gameplay or hyper-realistic graphics, it’s unique to see a narrative-driven game that’s so successful and so impactful.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead presented itself humbly with graphic novel inspired cell-shading and a came swinging with a gripping, unforgettable story. Through the choices the player makes, TWD illustrates the power and potential of episodic video games.
Unfortunately, the other seasons of the series couldn’t hold a candle to the gun wrenching, heart-breaking plot of the first season. Perhaps that’s the result of the final episode wrapping up with such a perfectly bittersweet end.
Red Dead Redemption 2
A game like Red Dead Redemption 2 is a very rare thing.
Sure, there are plenty of excellent action/adventure games, open-world games, and games with fantastic stories. But very few are exceptional in all of these aspects at once. If you don’t take our word for it, check the reviews; like IGN’s perfect score, Game Informer’s perfect score, or The Guardian’s perfect score – it’s without doubt one of the best games of the decade.
Have you ever heard someone use the game Dark Souls as a way to describe something?
“This game is the Dark Souls of First Person Shooters;” or “dude that exam was the Dark Souls of chemistry exams;” or maybe “oh man, this hot sauce is the Dark Souls of hot sauces!”
OK, maybe not that last one…
The reason why Dark Souls has achieved this slang usage is because it’s a one of a kind game that defines an entire genre– that, and it’s really, really hard, yet also really, really fun at the same time.
Dark Souls changed gaming forever by encouraging all who played it to simply “git gud”.
We were splitting hairs to compile this list and these games below didn’t quite make the cut or we’re just slightly edged out by similar games on the list. Nevertheless, we love them so much that they deserve a mention as some of the best the 2010s had to offer:
Did we miss your favorite? Let us know your best games of the decade in the comments or on our Facebook page! However, there is one thing we can all agree on: all of these games are fantastic works of art that deserve a playthrough (or 12).