Photo Credit: Remedy Games, Control
With 2020 upon us, we’re all taking a look back at the last decade. It’s crazy to think that when 2010 hit, we were still in the Playstation 3 era. I was in my third year of college, and was taking a job working at a local Laser Tag facility. Needless to say, things have changed greatly over the last 10 years. Here are my votes for the best game of each year of the last decade.
2010 – Mass Effect 2
The irony of me selecting this game is that it flew completely under my radar when it came out. I wasn’t into the Mass Effect games as they were releasing. In fact, I only played Mass Effect 2 for my first time in 2018! That said, even in 2018, it was a game that made shivers run down my spine.
I would easily put the middle entry in the Mass Effect original trilogy up there with the greatest sequels of all time. Sure, it opened up some questions like “why did they go back to having ammo?” But the characters were incredible, the dialogue was amazing, the gameplay was fun, and the story was powerful. Mass Effect 2 takes the win in a crowded 2010 competition.
2011 – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
I had to be talked down from the ledge on this one. I wanted very much to give the win to Dark Souls, but the calm and collected cast of CheckpointXP talked me out of it. And in all fairness, they’re right. The Elder Scrolls V was a cultural milestone from gaming. People are STILL buying the game on new platforms today.
The amount of money Bethesda has made on Skyrim rivals the GDPs of some countries, and even today the game serves as fodder for memes. Whether it was taking an arrow to the knee, or waking up on a wagon, Skyrim remains relevant 8 years after release. If Elder Scrolls VI is half as successful, then I can’t wait.
2012 – Mass Effect 3
This was incredibly difficult. I had to take this one around the office and debate between ME3 and Borderlands 2. We also considered Dishonored, but I don’t think it’s quite on the same echelon as the other two. We wound up going with ME3, and yes, even in spite of the ending.
Like many of you, I HATED the ending of Mass Effect 3. I thought since I was playing it for my first time in 2018, that I would have a more measured reaction to the ending. I thought 6 years of time to prepare for a disappointing finish would somewhat numb me to it. I was wrong. That ending was god awful.
However, it doesn’t change the journey. Mass Effect 3 was a powerful, emotional conclusion to a great story. The characters are once again incredible. The story is fun, the music is amazing, and the game play is stellar. And no, Andromeda will not win for 2017.
2013 – Grand Theft Auto V
This was decided on a razor’s edge. If GTA Online hadn’t launched in 2013, I would have given the nod to The Last Of Us. But Grand Theft Auto V has gone on to make more money than any other piece of entertainment ever. Think about that. A rated M game in 2013 holds the title for most financially successful piece of entertainment in history.
The Grand Theft Auto franchise has not had many missteps along the path to glory. From basically GTA 3 onwards, each game has been more popular than the last. Fans are ravenously awaiting news of a 6th installment in the mainline franchise, and rumors suggesting we may be revisiting Vice City in the modern era. Since Vice City was my favorite game so far, I’m all for it.
2014 – Hearthstone
Launch years for new consoles are known for being rough and 2014 was no exception. Technically, the Playstation 4 launched in November of 2013, and 2014 seemed to struggle to get new titles out. Dark Souls 2 didn’t exactly move the denim, and neither did Destiny at launch or Bayonetta 2.
However, Blizzard released an attempt at capturing the Magic: The Gathering crowd with Hearthstone. The game exploded in popularity, launching into the mainstream. As someone who was playing Magic at the time, I remember the game dipping in popularity as people discovered a slightly more accessible version of the game in Hearthstone.
In recent years, Hearthstone has begun to dip in popularity. However, there is no denying that the game was brilliant when it released. It was simple, easy to adapt to mobile, monetizable, and as much as I hate to say it: esports ready.
2015 – Undertale
This is the entry on the list that forces me to remind you all that this is MY list of the best games of the decade. Don’t get me wrong, I think you could argue that Undertale belongs on anyone’s top games list. However, 2015 was a GREAT year for games. Metal Gear Solid 5, Soma, Fallout 4, Rocket League, Bloodborne, Life Is Strange, and The Witcher 3 all came out in 2015.
But I gave it to Undertale because as good as those games all were, none of them made me feel like Undertale. What Tobyfox manages to do on a budget that would barely get you through the McDonald’s drive-thru is nothing short of incredible. The music is amazing, the characters are beloved, and the story will make you feel. What you feel is largely up to you, but you will feel.
2016 – Pokemon GO
In a year where Overwatch, Firewatch, and presumably many other Watch games came out, it genuinely hurts to give the nod to Pokemon GO. But here’s the thing. Flash back to August 2016. I left my house and went for a walk, where I encountered people of three different generations working together and playing in harmony. That is an experience we’re unlikely to see again until the meteor is T-Minus 2 days from impact.
2017 – Resident Evil VII
Put down your pitchforks. I liked Breath of the Wild too. I thought it was a ton of fun, but I just don’t think it did as much for its franchise as RE7 did. To be fair, the Zelda franchise needed a lot less saving than Resident Evil. But spare a thought for the development team at Capcom who had to sift through the lobotomized cesspool of a failure that was Resident Evil 6 and try to create something good.
Resident Evil VII functioned as a reboot of the franchise, remembering what made the games scary in the first place. Gone are the run and gun action sequences, replaced with limp and hope you still have enough bullets left horror sequences. It also spawned the Resident Evil 2 remake, which was stellar, and the upcoming Resident Evil 3 remake. Fingers crossed!
2018 – Fortnite
It makes me sick to my stomach not to give the nod to Super Smash Bros Ultimate or God of War. This is a mark of the way games are developed these days. This game technically released in 2017, but didn’t become what we think of as Fortnite today until 2018. There’s just no denying that the game has captured an audience like no game ever has before. A whole new generation of gamers are coming into the scene because of Fortnite and for that I give it a great deal of respect.
Now. Personally, I don’t like Fortnite. If I’m going to play a battle royale shooter, it’s going to be PUBG. For my dollar, God of War and Spider-Man were the two best games released in 2018. However, I was already selfish with my 2015 selection so Fortnite gets the win here.
2019 – Control
Super Smash Bros Ultimate released in 2018, so while I recognized it in our Game Awards votes, it doesn’t get the win here. Control was a late August release that snuck up on me in the same way that Horizon: Zero Dawn did. I saw the premise and thought “sounds like SCP Containment Breach. Should be cool.” I was not expecting it to be one of my favorite games of the year.
The game benefits from a great sound track and unbelievable art design. The game play is weird and does a good job of making you question whether you’re really in control at all. It plays up the eerie horror vibes without making you feel like you’re just strapped into a roller-coaster going through a haunted house. Remedy knocked it out of the park with this one and I look forward to what they tackle next.