The 2010s have been a fantastic decade for the gaming industry.
We’ve witnessed the end of the seventh generation, the birth and final moments of the eighth, and also the pieces being put together for the ninth generation.
To conclude a fantastic decade in gaming, I wanted to share with you all some of my favourite video games that have been released over the years. With that being said, the following takes a look at my top 20 video games of the 2010s, enjoy!
20) Untitled Goose Game | Release: 20th September 2019
What started out as a funny conversation between employees soon turned out to be one of 2019’s most underrated gaming titles. Untitled Goose Game is the complete contradiction of pretty much every other game on this list and I love it for that reason.
While the game is simple, its uniqueness and creativity sets it apart. House House’s title goes against the ‘norm’ and what they delivered was simply fantastic. The idea of revolving the game around a literal goose is incredible, the background music is calming, and the puzzles have a nice balance to them which helps keep a light tone throughout.
Other features like the brief encounters with different characters and the paint-like art style helps the game feel alive too. Regardless of the platform you use, you have to try this game out. It’s cheap, charming, and most importantly, fun.
Also, there’s literally a button to honk whenever you want – what more could you want?!
19) Until Dawn | Release: 25th August 2015
I absolutely hate horror games. They’re predictable, lack entertainment, and the use of jump scares is awful too. Yet, Supermassive Games’ interactive horror game was a pleasant surprise.
Until Dawn isn’t your ordinary horror game. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s a game that revolves around a diverse range of characters, a unique story, and most importantly key choices.
Unlike other titles of the same sub-genre, this game highlights just how important your choices can be. One false move could result in the death of one or more characters and trying to save everyone is no easy task. Regardless of your stance towards horror games, Until Dawn is worth playing.
18) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate | Release: 7th December 2018
Super Smash Bros. is a phenomenal fighting game and it reaches its greatest heights in the latest instalment.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate includes everything you could ever love about the franchise and is an improvement on every over game. From over 100 playable stages to the large range of characters, there’s bound to be a set-up that suits you best.
Additional features like the ability to create your own stages sets this game apart even further and the adventure mode was a nice addition to the game too.
If you own a Nintendo Switch, you’re doing something wrong if you don’t own Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
17) Pokemon Sword and Shield | Release: 15th November 2019
It’s impossible to fail when creating a Pokemon game.
Despite all of the criticism the latest instalment in the franchise has received, Sword and Shield are still strong additions to the franchise. The new Pokemon introduced are creative, Galarian forms show appreciation to more generations overall, and the narrative feels refreshing, to an extent.
Elsewhere, new features like the wild area and dynamax Pokemon were pleasant surprises. The former should have existed a long time ago and works well on the Nintendo Switch and the limited use of the latter fits well for me personally, especially during gym battles.
The only real reason this game isn’t higher is because of the aforementioned criticism. Considering the franchise’s transition from the Nintendo 3DS to the Nintendo Switch, cutting crucial content without any legitimate reason is inexcusable from Game Freak. The situation should’ve been handled a lot better.
16) Call of Duty: Black Ops | Release: 9th November 2010
When it comes to the Call of Duty franchise, most people tend to favour the Modern Warfare series. However, I’ll always prefer Treyarch’s Black Ops. Overall, you could literally split the game into three separate sections and each deserves praise in its own right.
First of all, I have to admit the campaign was fun. Up until this point, I’ve never really enjoyed the campaign in Call of Duty games but Black Ops had its positives. The mission “Numbers” is probably my favourite in the franchise’s history.
In addition, the multiplayer experience is one of my favourite ever. Unlike in previous games, the multiplayer in Black Ops was significantly more balanced and more relaxing to play. New maps like Nuketown and Firing Range are some of my favourites of all time and features like the initial COD points and the emblem editor helped the game feel fresh in comparison to its predecessors.
Finally, the developments to zombies helped take the entire series to a new level. Every single map from Kino der Toten to Shangri-La felt unique in its own right and the conclusion to the game in Moon still feels memorable to this very day.
15) The Walking Dead: Season Two | Release: 17th December 2013 – 26th August 2014
If you know me well, chances are you know that Telltale’s The Walking Dead is my favourite video game franchise of all time.
Overall, the second season does an excellent job of developing the narrative through Clementine as the game’s new protagonist. It was going to be tough to succeed such an iconic character in Lee Everett but her development is one of the game’s strongest features.
Elsewhere, the season did an excellent job of introducing new characters, setting the scene in a new environment, and having quite a few impactful endings. Some of the final choices you have to make are far too difficult and the path I ended up choosing still sticks to me to this day.
While I did love this season, it was always going to be an impossible task for Telltale Games’ to try and succeed the first season.
14) Red Dead Redemption 2 | Release: 26th October 2018
I’ll admit, I was never a fan of the initial Red Dead Redemption and I was reluctant to play the prequel.
However, after reading a variety of reviews and discussing the game with other people, I eventually decided to try the game and I’m glad I did. Red Dead Redemption 2 is an extraordinary action-adventure game.
The narrative is extraordinary, the game is visually beautiful and it’s engaging too. Game mechanics such as managing your diet and hair growth seemed quite strange initially but it helped the game feel realistic.
In addition, the game does a fantastic job of developing the new protagonist, Arthur Morgan. When he was initially introduced, I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how complex and relatable his character would eventually turn out to be.
To be honest, I’m glad I didn’t know anything about the prequel. Personally, it allowed me to feel more open-minded about the game and characters as a whole.
13) Minecraft | Release: 18th November 2011
Sometimes, the most simple ideas are the best ideas.
When Minecraft officially launched back in 2011, I don’t think anyone could have predicted its success. It’s the complete opposite of your average ‘blockbuster’ game yet Minecraft is one of the games that best defines the 2010s.
The pixelated visuals and cinematic audio are some of the game’s strongest elements and the consistent updates to the game has helped it feel fresh and new over time. In addition, Minecraft’s impact this decade has breathed a new life into the sandbox game genre overall.
With updates still occurring to this day, the possibilities are endless on what you can do in Minecraft. It’s one of the few games where you can never get bored.
12) Pokemon: Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire | Release: 21st November 2014
When one of your favourite video games of all time gets remastered, it’s difficult not to be biased towards it.
Pokemon: Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are the games that got me invested in the Pokemon franchise once again. The reinvention of Hoenn on a 3D platform was a joy to behold and I don’t think Game Freak could have improved on it in any way. The world itself felt alive and I loved discovering Pokemon in their new 3D models.
The slight changes to the story were interesting to say the least but I wish more was done to differentiate these games to their predecessors. For what it’s worth, I did enjoy the Delta episode following the main game, I wish more games in the franchise had post-game content like this.
11) South Park: The Stick of Truth | Release: 4th March 2014
South Park: The Stick of Truth is the perfect example of a video game that you never knew you needed.
The animated sitcom has experimented in the gaming industry in the past to limited success but this all changed in 2014 with their latest attempt. The decision to create a role-playing game fit the narrative well due to the different characters and the battle mechanics were surprisingly a lot of fun.
Also, from the use of offensive humour to simply walking around the town, The Stick of Truth feels like you’re playing your very own South Park episode. Speaking of which, the use of comedy is easily the game’s best feature. It constantly keeps the entertainment going and relates to your ordinary television episode too.
If you’re a South Park fan, this game is perfect for you.
10) Portal 2 | Release: 18th April 2011
I didn’t think it was possible. But, Valve somehow improved on Portal with its 2011 sequel Portal 2.
From a narrative perspective, Portal 2 is near-perfect. The developing rivalry between Chell and GLaDOS reached new heights and even took a turn that I would have never predicted. It just goes to show that with excellent writing, any genre in gaming can have an incredible story.
In addition, the introduction of Wheatley breathed new life into the game. It was nice having an additional character to focus on and the casting of the amazing Stephen Merchant to play the personality core was exemplary. I’d go into more detail, but you should really play through Portal 2 yourself and enjoy all of its glory.
9) The Walking Dead: The Final Season | Release: 14th August 2018 – March 26th 2019
Following on from the underwhelming third season, A New Frontier, I’ll admit my expectations were quite low initially for The Walking Dead: The Final Season. Thankfully, Telltale Games’ were back to their best and delivered a fantastic conclusion to my favourite franchise.
The narrative was significantly better in comparison to the previous season, the new characters introduced were written better and felt more relatable, and the overall game was a lot longer despite only having four episodes.
Unfortunately, the season didn’t do enough to reach the heights of the first season but the game was significantly better overall in comparison to what the critics said. Given the circumstances at the time of development, I don’t think Telltale Games (and Skybound Games) could have made this season any better. Thankfully, the franchise ended in the right way too.
8) Pokemon Sun and Moon | Release: 18th November 2016
It’s been a fantastic decade for Pokemon fans.
The first two games in the seventh generation, Pokemon Sun and Moon, helped to pave the way for an exciting future in the franchise. While it’s impossible to change the core gameplay, Game Freak took an innovative stance in these games and it worked out well.
Hidden Machines (HM) were finally removed, Alolan forms were introduced, and the biggest change of all saw gym battles removed in place of trials. After years of feeling repetitive, Pokemon finally felt fresh and different in these games.
In addition, the story in this game is another highlight, it’s one of the only times that I’ve engaged with a Pokemon game. Characters like Hau and Gladion were written well and I loved watching Lillie’s character development as the narrative played out.
The only criticism I can give this game is the abundance of tutorials at the beginning. Usually, the tutorials in Pokemon last a few minutes at most but in Pokemon Sun and Moon, the first few hours consist of painful hand-holding. If this problem never existed, these games would have easily made my top five, at a minimum.
7) Fortnite Battle Royale | Release: 26th September 2017
For years, I’ve wanted to re-experience gaming at its very peak like with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops 2 and Epic Games’ Fortnite Battle Royale is the closest I’ve come to that.
I’ve enjoyed battle royale games in the past but Epic Games’ unique take on the genre played a crucial part in its success. The vibrant and colourful visuals feel significantly better than your average military map and the building mechanic, in particular, has helped take the game to new heights, quite literally. Also, the addition of the battle pass deserves a lot of praise too since many other games have adopted the approach.
Meanwhile, the regular updates prevents the game from getting too repetitive and it gives the player more freedom over the setup they can use. The different seasons has brought about considerable success too considering the impact it has had on fans. I still remember the days of seeing everyone debate where the meteor was going to hit and what the black hole really meant.
I’ve enjoyed many multiplayer games through the years but Fortnite Battle Royale is one of the most memorable to me.
6) Life is Strange | Release: 30th January – 20th October 2015
For some reason, I never got invested in the Life is Strange franchise when it was originally introduced back in 2015. Despite my love for interactive games, Dontnod Entertainment’s take on the genre never appealed to me initially.
However, after I tried out the first episode when it was made free on the PlayStation 4, I realised how foolish my previous thoughts were. Life is Strange is a fantastic and compelling video game. It highlights the importance of friendship, trust, and making the right decision but it also raises awareness to important issues in society like mental health and sexuality.
In addition, the inclusion of the rewind feature builds on the overall narrative and it helps make the game feel different in its own right. Although I dislike how it offers you the option of changing your choice, it relates to what I said about the importance of making the right decision.
With that being said, what is a right decision and what is a wrong decision is completely up to you. You can only find out by playing the game.
5) Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 | Release: 12th November 2012
Regardless of what anyone says, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is the greatest game in the franchise’s history. You couldn’t ask for a more complete and innovative game that was also enjoyable at the same time. Just like with Black Ops, you could split the game into its individual modes and each deserves significant praise.
Black Ops 2 did a great job of following on from Black Ops’ campaign. I loved the different jumps between characters and their timelines as well as the branching stories that were used. Meanwhile, given my love for interactivity, I enjoyed how Treyarch introduced player choices to the campaign and focused on different choices giving the player a different ending.
Regarding multiplayer, Treyarch created the most balanced and competitive rendition of the mode yet. The Pick 10 system and the removal of kill streaks in favour of score streaks provided players with even more freedom to choose their preferred class. Also, the progression system for weapons gave the player even more goals to achieve. Meanwhile, the introduction of league play introduced Call of Duty to the eSports world and provided more challenges to the overall game.
Finally, in my opinion, the zombies game mode reached its greatest heights in Black Ops 2. From the beginning, it was clear that Treyarch had high hopes for the story and it’s a shame they struggled to achieve their goals at the start with TranZit. However, the aforementioned map was still a success in its own right and played a crucial role in the future of the franchise. Elsewhere, Black Ops 2 saw the unveiling of Mob of the Dead and Origins, my two favourite maps of all time, as well as innovative maps like Die Rise and Buried.
I wish I could go back to 2012 and 2013 and relive this game at is peak.
4) Detroit: Become Human | Release: 25th May 2018
After a lot of debating with myself, Quantic Dream’s Detroit: Become Human just misses out on the top three. The game was my personal favourite from 2018 and is easily one of my favourites of all time.
I’ve had mixed feelings towards David Cage’s work in the past but his work in Detroit: Become Human was exemplary. If you thought Heavy Rain or Beyond: Two Souls were good, you have to give this game to chance.
I loved the idea behind having three key characters. The stories of Markus, Connor, and Kara were influential in their own rights and I loved how they were all completely different yet intertwined at the same time. The writing is this game’s biggest success.
Also, I’ve mentioned it a few times now but interactive adventure games are my favourite video game genre. From a narrative perspective, I love witnessing the impact that decisions can have on the past, present and also the future.
From an interactive perspective, Detroit: Become Human is the greatest game I’ve played. Unlike other games in the genre, every choice matters. Failing a quick time event can result in the death of one character or making the wrong decision can result in the death of another. It’s no surprise either that there are more than 40 unique endings to the game, the possibilities are nearly endless.
3) Grand Theft Auto V | Release: 17th September 2013
While this list was supposed to rank my favourite video games of the 2010s, it’s now at a point where I’m ranking my favourite video games of all time. I’ll always cherish these final three video games and Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V just misses out on the top two.
On one side, there’s the story. Similarly with Detroit: Become Human, Grand Theft Auto V follows the route of having three different main characters albeit they were the first to do this. Unlike the aforementioned game though, Rockstar does an excellent job of connecting Franklin, Michael and Trevor to one another and I love the bond the trio develops over the course of the game.
On the topic of the story, “Bury the Hatchet” is without a doubt the best mission in the game, including the heists. Visually, the mission felt intense while in North Yankton and the eventual reveal of Brad’s death left me on the edge of my seat.
Meanwhile, there’s also the online mode. While I’ve enjoyed many multiplayer games in the past, Grand Theft Auto V takes the cake as the best I’ve ever played. I have so many fond memories from completing heists to exploiting glitches to just setting random tasks with friends and completing them, there’s simply too much to do in this game. The additional updates over the years has consistently revived the game and it says a lot that it is still popular to play on this very day.
I have no idea how Rockstar is going to top this game with the eventual release of Grant Theft Auto VI.
2) The Last of Us | Release: 14th June 2013
In the end, I just couldn’t justify putting The Last of Us any higher on my list. Naughty Dog’s take on the post apocalyptic genre is a gaming masterpiece and is deservedly considered one of the greatest video games of all time.
Regarding the narrative, The Last of Us is perfect and I don’t say that lightly. Every game beforehand in this list has their faults, even if they’re minor, but there’s literally nothing to critique in this game. The pacing is spot on, the developing story is engaging, and the bond shared between Joel and Ellie is surprising yet relatable too.
I loved the dynamic between the pair and how they grew closer as the story unravelled. Their relationship started with a lot of tension but it concluded with a lot of love. While he obviously never admitted it, Ellie gave Joel a new purpose in life and something worth fighting for. It broke me in the end when Joel opted to lie Ellie about the fireflies but it was clear he didn’t want to her, just like he lost his daughter, Sarah, in the heartbreaking prologue.
The Last of Us is the greatest PlayStation exclusive, the greatest game from Naughty Dog, and one of the greatest video games that I’ve ever played in my life. If you haven’t played this sensational game before, you need to leave the rock that you’re living under and play it as soon as you can. With the sequel being released next year, now is the perfect time to do so.
1) The Walking Dead | Release: 24th April – 20th November 2012
Finally. We’re here. The Walking Dead is not only my favourite video game of the 2010s, it’s also my favourite video game of all time.
It’s not everyday that fictional material can have a major impact on myself but Telltale Games’ take on the The Walking Dead franchise is powerful, emotional, and engaging at the same time.
Before Telltale, most zombie games were focused on the zombies themselves but this game introduced a completely different perspective to the post-apocalyptic world. By putting survival and the story at the heart of the game, Telltale highlighted just how quickly you could be invested in a particular character or moment. In less than 30 minutes, I was completely dedicated to keeping Clementine and Lee alive for as long as I possibly could.
Speaking of which, while I loved Joel and Ellie’s bond in The Last of Us, Clementine and Lee’s relationship in The Walking Dead is on another level. From the beginning, Clementine always had that level of trust in Lee and it was touching to see how their relationship was built over time. Moments like their time on the St John’s farm and Lee teaching Clementine how to survive were some of my favourite moments between the pair.
In addition, I liked how their bond slowly fractured at times depending on certain choices that were made. In helped restore that sense of realism between Clementine in particular and I personally liked how decision to run off later in the game resulted in Lee’s fate.
The episodic adventure game has entertained me, kept me on the edge of my seat, and even made me cry. Yes, cry. I never would’ve thought I would cry at a video game but then The Walking Dead came along. I genuinely don’t think it’s possible to keep a straight face when deciding between shooting or sparing Lee. The final episode of the season is a work of art. If you’ve played through the episode, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Just like with what I said before with The Last of Us, if you haven’t played this masterpiece before, you need to leave the rock that you’re living under and play it as soon as you can.