Rules are simple – any game released between 2010 and 2019 is eligible. Remasters are allowed – but only if they added something substantial to the original game/games or required a lot of work to update.
The majority of games are from PS4/PS3 or are available on all platforms, because PlayStation is what I mainly play on, but let’s face it, there aren’t that many good Xbox exclusives from the past decade anyway, so its not exactly a problem. If you’re a PC gamer I’m sure you’ll have some picks I missed, but as always, this is based on my opinion, not a definitive list, so feel free to comment your own.
20: F1 2019: The Formula One sim by Codemasters has come on leaps and bounds over the past decade. Since F1 2016, the series has found its sweet spot, with each new release focusing on refining experiences rather than radically changing them. F1 2019’s changes add a Formula 2 mode, a mid-season driver swap system and a new starting rivalry mechanic to make things feel more immersive than ever. Easily one of the best sport sims out there.
Highlight: Austria, Canada, Bahrain, Italy, Brazil and Russia are great tracks with excellent overtaking opportunities.
19: Alpha Protocol: From Obsidian (makers of Fallout New Vegas), this is a spy game with a great story, with plenty of freedom in what kind of agent you make main character Michael Thornton. Stealth expert, gadget master, gunslinger or hand-to-hand brawler are all viable playstyles, as is a mix of all. Your conversation options are a mix of Jason Bourne’s professionalism, James Bond’s suave and Jack Bauer’s aggression, and there are multiple endings available. A globetrotting adventure which travels to the Middle East, Italy, Russia and beyond, this is as good a spy game as you’re ever likely to play.
Highlight: The boss fight with Russian playboy/mobster Konstantin Brayko, who is high off his ass and wielding a knife, while ‘turn up the radio’ plays on a speaker system in his mansion, is perhaps the most memorable bit of the game.
18: Dragon Age Inquisition: Bioware’s third dragon age game is a revelation in places. It’s more ambitious with locations than its predecessors with some beautiful graphics which make every area to explore feel really distinct. Whether the foreboding bog of the Fallow Mire, the serene desert forming the Western Approach or the snowbound dragon lairs in Emprise de Lion, you’ll remember this game’s settings. Interesting companions, a plethora of romance options and plenty of replay value make this classic Bioware.
Highlight: The Battle of Haven is one of the most awesome sequences in gaming. Occuring around the 1/3 mark of the game, it introduces the main villain and sees the Inquisitor desperately fighting to save their home base from a massive army and a corrupted dragon…
17: Warhammer II: Total War: The only PC exclusive on this, Warhammer II is without doubt the best Total War game this decade. Its exploration of the Age of Sigmar’s New World will have you fighting through lush jungles, vast deserts and tropical islands as four new races including the High Elves, Dark Elves, Lizardmen and rat-like Skaven. DLC adds the Tomb Kings and Vampire Coast factions, who have some really fun unique mechanics. The sheer variety of units, including wizards, monsters and undead make for some epic battles, while the Mortal Empires mode (if you own both Warhammer 1+2) allows you to pit the New World factions against the Old in the largest campaign map in total war history.
Highlight: The Tomb Kings unique mechanic of not requiring upkeep costs drastically changes your playstyle. Armies of skeletons, chariots, Giant Serpents and statues make them a very cool faction to play as.
16: Hitman 2: Hitman 2 may have a forgettable story, but is a game sandbox assassin sim. You just have so many ways of dispatching targets, be they at a race in Miami, hiding in a drug lord’s estate in the Colombian jungle, in the Mumbai criminal underworld or a hostess at a castle on an isolated island. You have complete freedom to approach missions how you see fit, though stealth is the main point, you can and will have to go loud if things go sideways. With disguises galore and a host of improvised weapons, there is a ton of replay value here.
Highlight: The mission in Mumbai is a great one. Some of your options include maneuvering your targets into position so another assassin takes them out for you, sabotaging an industrial fan to blow a creepy film mogul off his own tower block or disguising yourself as a tailor or barber to catch your targets off guard.
15: Spyro: Reignited Trilogy: One of the best remasters of the last decade, the Reignited Trilogy features loving recreations of the first three Spyro games, all of which look and feel amazing and are perfectly brought into the modern game. With a host of minigames to play, collectibles to find and enemies to defeat, you’ll have a whale of a time here, with some great level design which has really stood the test of time.
Highlight: The flying challenges are sometimes frustrating, but they are the best minigames this trilogy has to offer, and your effort will be rewarded by the sheer elation you feel when you finally master them.
14: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Origins may have been the first AC game to start fully embracing RPG type mechanics (particularly with quest selection) but Odyssey is the game that truly made the jump to being an RPG-lite hit. You can chose your skills, gender, romances, gear and get multiple endings. The quests are mostly engaging, and the sheer wealth of islands, forests, mountains and tombs to explore leaves you with a game you can easily put 100+ hours into. The best in the series so far.
Highlight: Navigating the Labyrinth before taking down the f*cking minotaur itself… as epic side quests go, you can’t get any better.
13: Mass Effect 3: It’s ending may have needed some dlc to fully work, but Mass Effect 3 still is a high note for the trilogy and gaming in general. Your decisions in the previous 2 games will have a major impact here, with the fates of characters, planets and entire races up in the air. Romance options are far better implemented, there’s a better variety of weapons and abilities, and the game still looks great now for something designed for the 360 and PS3.
Highlight: The Battle of Rannoch. Not only do you get an epic one-on-one boss fight with a Reaper destroyer, but the Geth – Quarian conflict provides one of the biggest (and best) dilemmas in the game…
12: Batman Arkham City: The sequel to Arkham Knight builds on its predecessors strong foundations in every way, with more enemy types, more gadgets and combat moves for Batman, a larger area to explore, side quests featuring major and minor villains, and of course, even more Riddler trophies to collect. With a huge selection of challenge maps for combat and predator modes, a New Game Plus mode and Catwoman focused content, this is an amazing game even 8 years later.
Highlight: The final confrontation between Batman, Joker, Talia al Ghul and Clayface is easily the best final level of any game in the Arkham Series, featuring sterling voice work from Mark Hamill (Joker) and Kevin Conroy (Batman) in particular.
11: Detroit Become Human: The latest Quantic Dream game is perhaps its best, featuring three intertwined narratives of Androids in Detroit, where humans treat androids little better than slaves and a rebellion is brewing. Its hardly the most original concept, but its so well done and builds up to a great finale. Character deaths and complete failure are entirely possible, and there’s enough branching pathways to encourage up to half a dozen playthroughs here. As narrative focused games go, this is a great one.
Highlight: Markus’ raid on a local Newsroom at the top of a skyscraper, which sees him hijack the broadcast to give a speech to humanity condemning their treatment of androids, is a great level, and one which can have major consequences moving forward depending on the decision you make.
10: Fallout New Vegas: New Vegas took everything good about Fallout 3 and asked… what if everything was a little bit wackier and a lot crazier? A hugely increased variety of weapons? Check. 4 distinct main factions to pick from? Check. Side quests with cross-dressing super mutants, cannibal cults in casinos and a Quarry overrun by deathclaws? Check. This game was epic from start to finish. Its too buggy and prone to freezing on consoles, but when its working, god its good.
Highlight: Old World Blues DLC. Giving you a crater full of rogue scientific experiments to explore, run by scientists who are now just brains in robotic platforms, this dlc embraces Fallout’s wackier side and never let’s go. Heck, you have a talking stealth suit and a boss fight with a giant Robotic Scorpion. Enough said!
9: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End: A masterpiece of storytelling, Uncharted delivers one of Nathan Drake’s best adventures as he and his long lost brother search for the lost pirate city of Libertalia. With vehicular set pieces, sprawling environments to explore and a kick-ass pirate storyline underpinning everything, this is a great Uncharted game and the best one to release this decade.
Highlight: Drake and Elena’s levels late in the story are exceptionally well designed, particularly their gunfights in the pirate HQ of New Devon. Great soundtrack too.
8: Ratchet and Clank (2016): This reboot makes Ratchet and Clank fun again after a few mindless spin-offs and the mixed Nexus game brought the series to a relative low point. Tying into the animated movie (which isn’t half as good as the game), this reworks elements from the original game and reintroduces key characters like Dr. Nefarious and Captain Qwark. The difficulty is a cakewalk, but its so damn fun you won’t care. With R+C’s signature mix of ridiculous guns, gadgets and minigames, this is just a smashing good time, if not anything particularly revolutionary.
Highlight: A side mission where you have to jet around a fiery landscape collecting brains for a Blarg scientist is both fun as hell and downright hilarious, and absolutely classic Ratchet and Clank.
7: Horizon Zero Dawn: One of the most imaginative games of the past decade, Horizon Zero Dawn blew me away the first time I played it with its beautiful game world, film worthy main story and compelling main character. A post-apocalyptic game like no other, I won’t say too much in case you haven’t played it yet, but its a must have, and I can’t wait for a future sequel.
Highlight: Aloy’s discovery of just what Project Zero Dawn entails is a game changing revelation that sees several pieces of the puzzle finally slide into place – as gaming eureka moments go, its one of the best.
6: Shadow of Mordor: What do you get if you cross assassin’s creed climbing and platforming with Arkham style combat mechanics and Lord of the Rings lore and enemies? One of the best damn games of the decade! Seeing your character take on entire hordes of Orcs with stealth, archery and close combat, this game has an excellent combat system and a revolutionary nemesis mechanic – fail to dispatch an Orc Boss or get wounded by one? They’ll not only remember, they’ll get stronger for it!
Highlight: The first major boss fight with an enemy called the Hammer is epic, with him and the player character Talion pretty evenly matched in a straight fight – just make sure your timing is on point…
5: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit: Easily the best Need for Speed game, even if its lack of split screen is a major oversight. The Seacrest county map lets you race through exotic beaches, snow covered mountain passes, thick forests and over a rain drenched dam, just to name a few highlights. With a wide variety of modes for both racers and cops, I’m yet to find any racing game half as fun as this one was on PS3.
Highlight: Hot Pursuit mode is a blast whether you play as a racer or a cop – the takedowns are extremely fun and satisfying to pull off.
4: God of War (2018): The God of War series moves into a more open-world, story focused territory with a fantastic combat system and new abilities for Kratos and his son, Atreus. The story and world-design is amazing and the enemies provide a real challenge even on normal (particularly the optional Valkyrie bosses, who are REALLY tough to take down). With collectables to find, side quests to complete and numerous areas to explore, there’s a lot to keep you interested here, while the games use of Norse mythology is a great innovation and makes it a must have for anything into that kind of thing. The best God of War game, bar none. Hopefully, any future follow ups maintain this level of quality.
Highlight: The combat challenges in the fire realm of Muspelheim are a great way to hone your skills and are some of the most difficult combat encounters in the game. The realm of fire looks bloody epic too.
3: The Last of Us Remastered: One of the most renowned games of the decade, The Last of Us is a masterclass in storytelling, world design and emotional moments. Joel and Ellie are two of the best characters I’ve played as in game, and you’ll care about their journey as they make their way through deserted towns, evade zombie-esque enemies and fight humans who are so depraved they’re easily the real monsters of the game. Some elements of the gameplay could be improved, which is why it misses out on the top two spots, but overall, its one of the best games I’ve ever played. The sequel is only a few months away too…
Highlight: The final mission is dramatic, tense and heartbreaking all into one as Joel attempts to rescue Ellie from the Fireflies. Games can rarely make you cry – but this is just one moment of many The Last of Us is capable of inducing just that.
2: Skyrim Special Edition: Skyrim had to up here. I’ve probably put more hours into this fantasy RPG than any other game this decade. The sheer volume of quests, playstyles and possibilities will keep you going back for more, with the DLC providing even more locations to explore and abilities to learn. With Combat, Magic and Stealth all viable, you’ll have plenty of fun deciding what you want your character to be – an Orc Berserker playing mercenary in Skyrim’s civil war? Check. A Breton Mage burning enemies to ash and resurrecting the dead? Check. A stealthy Khajiit assassin working for the Dark Brotherhood? Check. There’s so many different things you can do here. The game had a few flaws on release, but the special edition has fixed the vast majority of annoyances and got me back into the game just as my interest began to wane. Hopefully Bethesda can overcome their recent failures and make a sequel to this that wins the fanbase back to their side. Even if they do, Skyrim will still be a game we’ll all go back to at some point.
Highlight: Hard to call, but I’ve always been a big fan of the Dawnguard questline, particularly the excursion in the Soul Cairn, one of the most distinct environments in the game. Serana has to be the best companion in the game as well, which greatly adds to proceedings.
1: Mass Effect 2: This released in 2010, yet still topped my list. Despite almost every game that came after it having better graphics, more powerful hardware to work with etc. Yeah, its just that brilliant. It expands on everything the original did well, and while the side quests aren’t as memorable, the DLC, companion stories and main quests are amazing. A great soundtrack, good visuals for its time, excellent voice acting and fun gameplay make this something I’ll keep coming back to again and again. Its final mission is legendarily good, and that alone made it worthy of topping this list. But everything that builds up to that final mission? There’s very, very little I’d change, which speaks volumes for how well designed this was.
Highlight: The Suicide Mission. Unparalleled in gaming, its easily the best finale to a game ever. Rushed through things? Good luck getting your squad out alive. Everyone can die here if you mess things up. Commander Shepard’s assault on the Collector Base remains the standout sequence of the trilogy – and the last decade in gaming.
There you go – my full list of games I’d recommend to anyone and everyone who’s into gaming. Hope you enjoyed it (BTW, if you’re wondering where The Witcher 3 and Red Dead Redemption 2 are, I still haven’t played them so couldn’t place them anywhere – blame my ridiculous gaming backlog – we’ve all got one). As a bonus, I’ve also included some awards I’d give to particular games, characters, actors and companies.
Gaming Awards 2010-2019:
Best Character (Male): Connor (Detroit Become Human)
Best Character (Female): Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn)
Best Console: Playstation 4 (No contest – PS4’s vast amount of exclusives has swept Xbox aside this generation – hopefully Sony can make the PS5 a similar success story).
Best Racer: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
Best Shooter: Star Wars Battlefront
Best Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
Best Strategy Game: Total War Warhammer 2
Best Looking Game: Horizon Zero Dawn
Best Combat: God of War (2018)
Best Soundtrack: Mass Effect 2
Best Writing: The Last of Us Remastered
Best Remaster: Spyro Reignited Trilogy
The final one of my best of the decade series should be up tonight, as I examine the best of what cinema has had to over the past 10 years.