Looking back on the past decade of gaming is quite the challenge. The range of different platforms including consoles, laptops and PCs is ever-changing, with a wide array of video games available for each. We’ve seen the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 evolve into the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One respectively, whilst the next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are right around the corner. There have been thousands of video games fighting for our attention, so to pick out the best 10 of the past decade hasn’t been easy! Still, that’s what we’ve done, and here are our top picks…
10. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)
Hundreds of hours of gameplay are on offer with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Players are tasked with taking down monsters and supernatural beings as they settle into the role of Geralt of Rivia, controlled via a third-person perspective. Narrative-driven, the game allows the player to choose from a variety of different dialogue options in various scenarios. Those choices all pave the way to one of a massive 36 possible endings, with different characters affected in unique ways. It’s not just the main story that deserves acclaim however; the side quests are just as engaging. One in particular, about a neighbour who had borrowed a frying pan, sticks with you long after playing.
CD Projekt Red worked extremely hard to ensure that those who fell in love with Wild Hunt had plenty of content to chew through, both in the original release and the DLC that followed. There are still many gamers playing (and replaying) through the title to this day, discovering new aspects of the game that they hadn’t found before and, if you have found yourself milking this particular cow dry, Netflix just dropped the first season of their original series based on the video game, and the original novels. Henry Cavill as Geralt; who can complain?!
9. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
If there’s ever been a game that has allowed gamers to get together and spend hours telling each other stories of their adventuring, it’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Those who went in without knowing anything of what to expect will likely have jumped at the opportunity to put their combat to use against a chicken in a newly-discovered village… only to be attacked by those living there for daring to waltz in and do such a thing.
Skyrim felt revolutionary in that it was one of the first video games to do action and consequence so well. Every move the player made would change the landscape they then set out to explore, which is a model that was adapted by countless studios in video game releases of the future.
8. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
Whether you jumped in for the addictive and often hilarious campaign mode, or went straight to playing Grand Theft Auto Online, the brilliant Grand Theft Auto V is a once-in-a-generation gameplay experience. Still to this day, developers at Rockstar Games have been making additions to the online mode, allowing players to return time and again to take part in brand new heists, and gamble away their in-game currency in the recently-opened Diamond Casino.
GTA V is at its best when you join your friends online and cause absolute carnage. It allows the cerebral, animalistic side of us all to come out in a world where we can cause damage, but receive zero real-life comeback. That may be worrying to some who still believe video game violence leads to actual aggression, but all of the studies say that this isn’t the case!
7. God Of War (2018)
One of the best single-player narrative-driven experiences a gamer could have is the one on offer from the rebooted God Of War. Released as a PlayStation exclusive, players would take on the role of former Greek God of War, Kratos, as he explored ancient Norway with his young son Atreus. Doing battle against monsters and Gods, the pair would share a strange and alluring relationship; loving in some ways, but the opposite of what we would expect from a father and son in many others.
Combining the stunning world design and art direction with a striking soundtrack, memorable characters and a combat system that felt pretty perfect in every way, allowed God Of War to be named ‘Game of the Year’ by numerous publications in 2018.
6. Super Mario Odyssey (2017)
The Nintendo Switch blew all expectations away when it was released, selling out in stores across the globe as gamers brought forth a massive demand for the new system. Super Mario Odyssey was released in the same year as the console, allowing fans of the Super Mario brand to go on a brand new adventure with their favourite little plumber. Here, he was given a magical cap, which allowed him to take the form of enemies and objects he came across to traverse a 3D landscape.
Collecting Power Moons across various Kingdoms, so that he can stop the forced wedding of Bowser and the kidnapped Princess Peach, Mario set out on a quest that is arguably his best to-date.
5. Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
Though we credited Skyrim with delivering a concept that seemed very new and unique, the year before saw the release of Fallout: New Vegas, which was already setting in motion the ability to morph and shape your storyline with decisions and dialogue choices. It’s something that is now done in many different video games, but at the time, was an entirely different way of playing.
Whilst Fallout 4 was an incredible feat, New Vegas manages to pip it to the post thanks to its intelligent writing, charismatic cast of characters and impeccable voice acting. Four different endings meant that players were able to come back time and again to attack the game from various directions, discovering new ways to play, items to discover and memorable moments whilst doing so.
4. Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
The first Red Dead Redemption game was so utterly fantastic, that many wondered if Rockstar Games would be able to go above and beyond for their follow-up, Red Dead Redemption 2. Fortunately, they did exactly that, offering up a gameplay experience that was a joy to behold from its gritty start, right through to its tragic finish.
Players found themselves taking control of outlaw Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van der Linde gang. An anti-hero in every sense, he had a moral compass, albeit slightly skewed, that allowed players to take him into their hearts, despite his criminal activity. With shootouts, bank heists, horseback riding and genuinely compelling emotional relationships between Arthur and various NPCs, RDR2 was a beautiful triumph that is sure to stand the test of time.
3. The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (2017)
If you’re looking for the most complete and satisfying Nintendo Switch gameplay experience, then you’ll want to pick up a copy of The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. Players take control of Link in his most compelling adventure to-date, as he goes out on a quest to defeat Calamity Ganon before it destroys the entire kingdom of Hyrule.
The open world exploration available in Breath of the Wild is reminiscent of that which was offered all the way back in 1986, with the release of Legend of Zelda. Completely unstructured, players can complete the story in a non-linear fashion, experimenting with their approach to various puzzles and dungeons along the way. Many have pumped hundreds of hours into Breath of the Wild, and for good reason. Let’s hope a sequel isn’t too far away…
2. Horizon Zero Dawn (2018)
Another PlayStation exclusive here, with players thrown into an entirely new world, taking control of charismatic lead character Aloy. This dystopian world takes place in the future; a world which is overrun by machines due to technological advancements that went too far. Aloy sets out on a mission to discover her past, in an open world that's extremely ripe for exploration and discovery.
One of the most brilliant aspects of Horizon Zero Dawn is the way in which Aloy and the NPCs you come across now live. From an outsider’s point of view, if they simply saw the humans and how they were living, they would think that this is a game set hundreds of years ago. It’s the machines that bring the futuristic element to proceedings, and the narrative that plays out as you progress. A truly mind-blowing experience, from start to finish.
1. The Last Of Us (2013)
Coming in at number one is PlayStation exclusive, The Last Of Us. Players control smuggler Joel, who is tasked with escorting young teenage girl Ellie (also playable at points) across a post-apocalyptic version of the United States. Hostile humans and creatures who have been infected by a fungus lurk around every corner, making this stealth action-adventure one of the most intense and genuinely frightening experiences you could ever have on a games console.
Beautiful writing ensures that those playing are captured within the chaos from the very beginning. There’s a real sense of responsibility coursing through the veins of gamers as they make their way through an extremely dangerous landscape; you’re willing these characters to succeed and know that you’re playing the most important part in seeing them do exactly that.
The sequel – scheduled for release on May 29th, 2020 – has a lot to live up to. Let’s hope all those working on the game are able to deliver another incomparable experience.