The 2010s provided gamers with plenty of options in a number of different categories spread throughout different platforms. Last decade we saw the end of one gaming generation with that of the Wii U, PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 and the beginning of another in the form of the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. It was a changing of the guard for sure with Sony taking the lead back from the reigns of Microsoft after being pummeled by Microsoft the generation before. This was the decade where gamers had a resounding voice when it came to battle against a new enemy in the form of microtransactions, whereas the decade before it saw gamers going against these very same developers rising up against Downloadable Content otherwise known as DLC. This was the decade where we saw indie game developers shine with some amazing titles such as Limbo (2010), What Remains of Edith Finch (2017), Celeste (2018), Super Meat Boy (2010), Inside (2016) and The Stanley Parable (2013).
As we look ahead to a new decade as games such as Cyberpunk 2077, Ghost of Tsushima, Halo Infinite and The Last of Us Part II are ready to start off this new decade quite properly. Let’s take a look at the games that, in my opinion, are what really made the 2010’s shine. This list is based solely on the games that I played so, unfortunately, games like God of War, Spider-Man and the like won’t make this list, but I wonder, would they have? These games are also in no particular order whatsoever because there were so many amazing titles that simply blew me away last decade that there is absolutely no way I could actually pick a game order from 1 to 10.
Mass Effect 2 (2010)
Let me remind you of a developer that at one point in time was on top of the video game world, a developer that those of us whenever we would hear a game be announced by them we would be excited for. That developer is none other than BioWare. This is the only game of theirs that will make this list and rightfully so. Mass Effect 2 was no doubt the best game in the entire Commander Shepard Trilogy. From using your ship to find resources on other galaxies and planets as well as for deciding exactly who your romantic interest is and let’s not forget that incredible last act of the game that takes you on a literal suicide mission where your choices have never mattered more in any other decision-based role-playing game of this decade. This is the go-to science-fiction role-playing game trilogy that you have been wanting and even ten years later this game has aged so well. I will say that this alongside KOTOR is the pinnacle of BioWare’s games that they have developed so far. Which makes it so sad to see the state they were in when they developed a certain other, unmentionable game, that came out in the same decade.
Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
Speaking of a developer that fell pretty far from the tree not to mention, a video game series, Fallout is no longer the game series that I knew and loved. However, let me remind you of a time when Fallout reached its peak. Fallout: New Vegas came out over ten years ago and it stills stands the test of being the best Fallout game. Ever. The game gives those familiar with its predecessor, Fallout 3, everything you could want in a story and so much more. The best part about New Vegas is it’s end game content as well as it’s DLC at a time when downloadable content was getting so much hate this was one game that got it’s DLC right by featuring six add-ons “Dead Money”, “Honest Hearts”, “Old World Blues”, “Lonesome Road”, “Gun Runners Arsenal”, and “Courier’s Stash” giving players plenty of post-game content. The game also is the last great Fallout game made by one of my favorite developers, Obsidian Entertainment. Fallout: New Vegas simply goes to show that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” However, it’s sad to say that after New Vegas is when the series not only peaked but also after starting going downhill with Fallout 4 and then the absolute worst game of the decade, Fallout 76. It is simply amazing how one company can start a decade off on top only to finish right at the bottom.
When gamers think of very well known developers that have done nothing but make great games, a lot of names get thrown out there, but one company in particular sticks out with that being CD-Projekt RED. This developer truly knows how to make their games Polish (yep, I did it) and by far and away they have done just that with The Witcher 3. This is by far my favorite RPG of the decade with having over 1,000 hours of content just in the base game alone and not to mention two fantastic add-ons in the form of “Hearts of Stone” and “Blood & Wine” that is if you get to them due to just how much the game and it’s world will pull you in. You’ll want to hear every conversation because they are all important to each other. If you like lore, this is the game for you, if you like games that provide choices that absolutely impact the story as you know it, this is one game you will simply not want to pass up. Geralt also wins my “badass of the decade” award simply because he just doesn’t take any shit from anyone. The lush environment that CD-Projekt RED gives you will blow your eyes out of their sockets from just how beautiful they decided to make this world. Another aspect of The Witcher 3 is just how much the series has come from the first game. Each game has improved on top of the next with Wild Hunt being the definitive Witcher experience. If you’re curious about the game just because you watched the show, do yourself a favor and pick this game up and prepare yourself to not want to put it down.
Considered by many as one of the last great games of the PlayStation 3 era and maybe even the best game ever on the PlayStation 3, The Last of Us is a game that has so many “calm before the storm” moments and is one of the best storytelling games of the decade. The connection between Joel and Ellie is one that will captivate any gamer and one that will absolutely pull you into the world that The Last of Us has to offer. Developed by Naughty Dog, The Last of Us will find you trying to survive throughout many different exhilarating moments as Joel tries his best to protect Ellie across the post-apocalyptic United States. Sony struck a home run on this game by being their consoles defining exclusives of the PlayStation 3 era with Part II set to release in 2020. Never before had I found myself so emotionally attached to a game until I played this and it is one I have played through on more than one occasion, especially with the remastered edition hitting the PlayStation 4 a year later in 2014. The combat in the game feels actually fun and not something of a chore like some games of its kind. The survival aspect is very well defined here from the very beginning and you will find yourself picking up every little thing you can to make sure you get through each of the game’s vast levels. Character development also really shines here as Naughty Dog does an excellent job giving you characters you want to care about and a game that you won’t want to put down until you reach the end credits.
Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
Yes, I did it, I put this game fifth on my list, but this game is definitely it’s own number one and rightfully so. Grand Theft Auto V was a return to the series roots taking players back to San Andreas but this time on a much grander scale. For the first time in series history, Grand Theft Auto V presents us with not just one, but three main characters making this game without a doubt the biggest and longest entry in the GTA series. Franklin, Michael, and Trevor are not just three very distinct personalities but they also come together in a very well done yet extremely entertaining fashion. Sure, the original release back in 2013 was something to appreciate in its own right, but it wasn’t until the game was re-released for current generation consoles, as well as PC, in 2014 and 2015 that the game really began to shine. Giving players to experience the entire game in first-person and also an amazing Grand Theft Auto Online experience that even currently in 2020, is still something I encourage people to experience. This is without a doubt Rockstar Games bread & butter for sure, by being able to pump out a ton of free online add-ons with the most recent being that of the Diamond Resort & Casino which allows players to do one of the games best heists yet. Grand Theft Auto V made its mark by telling an incredible story with yet another massive open-world for players to experience many different activities spread across its three main protagonists. This is one game you most certainly won’t be bored with and is currently available on Xbox Game Pass, so if you still have yet to experience this, do yourself a favor and check it out, now!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
I feel like this game should be on everyone’s top ten list for the decade and rightfully so. The Elder Scrolls games have been known for their many different and distinct questlines as well as putting their players into a massive open world that has you making sure you cover every square inch of its vast lands and various towns. Skyrim pushes that limit by not only giving you all of this but also putting you in the land of dragons. Being that your character is a Dragonborn giving you some incredible abilities along the way and a very rich story full of unique twists and surprises makes Skyrim my absolute favorite entry in the series. Not only that but Skyrim will most definitely pull you in when it comes to giving you many different quests as well as factions to choose from whether it be the Thieves Guild, Stormcloaks, the College of Winterhold and my personal favorite, the Dark Brotherhood. Not only is Skyrim the most successful Elder Scrolls game ever, but it also was released on various consoles and also ported over to the Nintendo Switch back in 2017 giving gamers the ability to play Skyrim wherever they choose. Skyrim is one of Bethesda’s most popular games this decade yet players are ready for the next Elder Scrolls game while Elder Scrolls Online is giving people a bit of a bone to play with until the next proper entry comes out. Until then, Skyrim is still proving just how long these games can and will last and making it through almost an entire decade.
Portal 2 (2011)
There are a lot of games out there that get the single-player aspect of a game right, but there are so very few that get the co-op version of that game correct and even more so, make it better. Valve’s Portal 2 not only improves upon its predecessor, but it excels where most games do not. Sure, Portal 2 does have a single-player mode where you can enjoy the entire story by yourself, but this game was really intended to be played with one other person simply because that is where you will find the most joy you can get out of any co-op game made this decade. Trying to work with your partner by figuring out a vast amount of puzzles and having to get the timing just right on a majority of said puzzles is the ultimate challenge here and one that yes, will get you frustrated, but will also be a teaching moment. Do you play well with others? Have you always wanted to find out just how good you are communicating with someone else? Well, that is exactly what this game aims to achieve. This game will put your problem-solving skills to the test and one that is still to this day worth playing. I have yet to find a co-op game that really challenges me as much as this one has. With familiar voices from the previous game (a game that I highly recommend checking out first before you play this) and some very familiar controls, Portal 2 will leave you feeling very satisfied once you complete it and even more so when you do with a friend.
A game that deserves to be on every single video game “best of decade” list. Breath of the Wild is such a truly stunning game and one that I am glad I finally got to play two years after its release. This Zelda game is the pinnacle of all Zelda games before it due to in part with there being such an overwhelming amount of things to do while yet not feeling so overwhelmed by it all. I found myself several times just stopping Link to take in the sheer amount of beauty that this game has and the folks at Nintendo no doubt wanted to present one of the best Zelda games that they have put out so far. Nintendo decided to take a risk and make BOTW an entirely different type of Zelda game by giving it some very “Diablo-esque” gameplay in the form of cooking, hunting, crafting and so many other elements that make this Zelda game as close to an RPG as any other while still truly being an action-adventure game. Being tasked with over 100 shrines to complete and each one being its own puzzle or even a really tough battle is what makes this a very one-of-a-kind Zelda game and set it apart from the rest. Every single thing in this game is a challenge, from finding your first horse and breaking it in, to trying to figure out how to climb each region’s unique towers as well as navigating the overly-massive Hyrule Kingdom. This is the definitive Zelda experience if there ever was one. This is the kind of Zelda game that I promise you will pour hundreds of hours into. The game does a wonderful job of telling Link’s story and his fight with Calamity Ganon providing some backstory that you will have to also go and look for which is spread throughout the land. The combat system is masterfully well-done here and the soundtrack is one that you will truly adore. The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild is a game that all Nintendo Switch owners should experience and one that all Zelda fans have to check out.
Red Dead Redemption (2010)
At the beginning of the last decade, Rockstar Games decided to go a direction that not a single person ever expected them to go after their success of Grand Theft Auto IV, the Wild West. Being as that I am a fan of any and all things having to do with that period of time, up until this point we never really had any games that even came remotely close to being a truly good Wild West game. Sure, Rockstar Games had put out Red Dead Revolver back in 2004 which was the first game in the series and wasn’t all that bad of a game, but it really wasn’t anything worth getting all excited over. However, when Red Dead Redemption was released we were introduced to the character John Marston, a former outlaw that was trying to simply do right by his wife and son by trying to take on members of his former gang. The game’s setting is one that is akin to that of Grand Theft Auto IV, yet this being a massive open-world version of the Wild West. Being able to take your horse and ride all across the new worlds of New Austin and West Elizabeth while encountering bank robberies, lassoing up criminals for bounty missions as well as being able to set up camp at night in the desert or even heading into a saloon and taking on others in a game of poker. Red Dead Redemption is a game that does such an excellent job of making you really feel like a cowboy during that period of time. With a very deep story, John Marston is a character you grow to love all the way to the very end. Rockstar Games created a new franchise and one that would pave the way for the next entry of this beloved series. Speaking of that next entry…
It wouldn’t be until 2018 when we would revisit the Wild West, but this time in a much earlier setting than the previous game. Yes, RDR’s John Marston would make an appearance, but this time the main protagonist would end up being Arthur Morgan, a prominent member of the Van Der Linde Gang, the very same gang that Marston is part of. This time around, Rockstar Games made certain to create a world that was plum full of activities to do and an incredibly deep story with characters you will care about just like in the previous game. I was surprised by just how much character development Red Dead Redemption 2 has and it was great to finally know the story behind Dutch van der Linde and the rest of his gang. Being as that you are part of a gang in this game, the game has you set up a camp in which you can upgrade different components of such as the food rations, how big or small you want the camp to be and also being able to donate your own money to help make other improvements to the camp which will unlock other opportunities in the game. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a gaming masterpiece, a game that should not be rushed when playing and a game that everyone should take in and really experience every single thing that it has to offer. Rockstar did an incredible job of maximizing the graphical upgrades with current-generation technology to make this game be the complete package and the details just show the amount of thought that they had into crafting such a near-perfect game.