We’ve rested at the bonfire, but now it’s time to head out to see what the second half of the 2010’s offered. Welcome back to the best games of the decade list!
For those who haven’t seen the previous part, check out Best games of the decade: Part 1, 2010-2014 to see what the first half of the decade had in store for gaming fans.
For those throwing caution to the wind and starting here, a quick guideline: we’ve picked our favourite game each year, with a cheeky honourable mention (because sometimes just picking a single game is hard). Case in point, 2015, which gave us two fantastic titles.
2015 – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
When 2015 rolled around, the latest generation of consoles had arrived. The Playstation 4 and Xbox-One were fresh on the scene and needed a game to show just what they could offer. Enter The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the latest entry in the massively popular action role-playing series by Polish developer CD Projekt RED.
You are Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher, one of a secretive order of monster hunters. In a country ravaged by war, you are feared by monsters but also hated by the people that hire you. The game follows your attempt to find your adopted daughter, who’s on the run from the mysterious Wild Hunt looking to capture her for their own ends.
Though the Witcher isn’t just about that main quest. It’s a massive open world RPG with incredible choice. Each sidequest is a delight to undertake, each NPC you meet is memorable – not to mention Gwent, a card game you will sink too much time into.
The Witcher is also a game that isn’t afraid to tackle some heavy subject matters. The Bloody Baron quest in particular handles the issue of domestic abuse and is a triumph that elevates the game just by itself. Recently released on the Switch, there’s never been a better time to check this game out.
Honourable Mention – Bloodborne
What made 2015 such a memorable year for gaming was that, not only did we get the Witcher, but we also had Bloodborne. An action RPG from the makers of Dark Souls, Bloodborne swapped dark fantasy for haunting Victorian horror. The title mixes challenging but rewarding gameplay with the great level design present in the Dark Souls games, creating a fantastic experience that shouldn’t be missed.
2016 – Overwatch
Cheers love, the cavalry’s here! Exploding onto the world stage back in Blizzcon 2014, this team-based multiplayer first-person shooter is sometimes known as a Hero Shooter. Unlike other FPS games, where you play as a faceless solider, here you take on the role of a hero with a unique skillset. Overwatch created an instantly memorable cast of characters covering a broad array of sexual orientations, races, genders and even species, including fan favourite Korean pro-gamer turned robot pilot D.va, Genji the cyborg ninja, and Winston, a genetically engineered talking gorilla.
Games of Overwatch are played in short 10 minute matches, usually fighting over a single objective. You’ll need to work together as a team to claim victory, as characters quite often counter one another, unleashing “ultimate” game changing abilities. All to try and gain the coveted “Play of the Game” when one player’s highlight is picked to be shown to everyone else. It’s a fantastic experience all round, and a great way to spend some (fairly) relaxed time with your friends.
Honourable Mention – Titanfall 2
The original Titanfall, by Respawn Entertainment, was a decent enough first-person futuristic military shooter – mostly remembered for the ability to pilot giant robots called Titans. Titanfall 2 however improved on this massively. It offers a fantastically paced single-player campaign, which puts you in the role of a Titan pilot named Jack Cooper, trying to stop an evil corporation from unleashing a superweapon that could destroy the planet of Harmony.
Titanfall 2 tells an amazing story that carries you through different situations, combat scenarios and set pieces. The greatest example of this is the absolutely fantastic level “Effects and Cause”, where Jack is forced to leap between the past and the present to navigate a research lab, while being forced to take on two different gameplay experiences at once.
Titanfall 2 had the bad luck of being wedged between several major releases in 2016, but in our opinion it really isn’t one to be missed.
2017 – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
In 2017 Nintendo dropped the Nintendo Switch, which promised both a console and a handheld experience. For this next-generation device however they needed a launch title to help sell the system and nothing encapsulated that more than Breath of the Wild. Tearing up the usual Zelda formula, Breath of the Wild is an open world RPG staring the hero of Hyrule himself, Link, who wakes from a 100 year old slumber to save the land from the calamity known as Ganon.
With its nonlinear gameplay, open world, hundreds of secrets, puzzle-filled shrines and more to discover, Breath of the Wild won over critics and players alike. It’s an immense gameplay experience that will have you wanting to explore every corner of Hyrule. It’s less about the destination in Breath of the Wild, and more about the journey.
Honourable Mention – Persona 5
Some games improve with each iteration, and the Persona series finally perfected their formula with their latest instalment. Persona 5 is a turn-based JRPG where you play as a Japanese teenager codenamed “Joker”. You lead the Phantom Thieves, a group of teenagers able to venture into literal Mind Palaces, using their spirit companions (called Personas) to undertake exciting heists. Pitting themselves against varied foes, from abusive gym teachers to Yakuza blackmailers, the Phantom Thieves look to better society, while also trying to get through an even greater challenge: high school!
Persona 5 is a sleek-looking game, with an amazing soundtrack to boot. It’s hard to do justice to it in words only, so we can only recommend you see this game in action for yourself.
2018 – God of War
Some game franchises burn themselves out over time. Stagnation creeps in and before you know it something that once received critical praise is now circling the drain. God of War, up until 2018, had started to border on a guilty pleasure, forcing its titular character Kratos – the eternally angry Spartan – to find more and more over the top ways to murder the Greek gods. The cracks where starting to show, and something radical needed to happen – and it did.
God of War (2018) is a sequel, but also a soft reboot to the entire series. Set many years after his murder spree across the Greek pantheon, the Spartan now lives a quiet life in Norway (or Midgard as everyone calls it). This Kratos is a quiet man, given an emotional depth by Christopher Judge’s outstanding performance. A widower struggling to cope with both the death of his wife and how to best raise his son Atreus. A simple journey to spread his wife’s ashes from the tallest mountain in the land ends up becoming an epic quest, full of dragons, dwarves, skeletal warriors – and perhaps the hardest task of all: bonding with his son.
God of War manages the balancing act of telling a heartwarming story of strained family relationships, deconstructing the hyper masculinity of its main character, while also providing a tightly controlled combat experience that will stick with you long after the game is done. As Kratos would say: “Play it. Boy.”
Honourable Mention – Super Smash Bros Ultimate
So, you’ve had your fill of deep and moving story games. You’ve overcome almost insurmountable challenges. Now on to drop kick Yoshi in the face! Super Smash Bros is a series of fighting games that lets you play as classic Nintendo characters, such as Mario, Pikachu, Link, Kirby & more.
In 2018 however Smash Bros Ultimate took that to a whole new level, featuring every character who had ever been in a Smash Bros game, as well as some new fighters, for a total of 74 characters. Playable by up to eight people, it’s chaotic fun like no other, and you’ll have a blast trying to beat down your favourite video game characters.
2019 – Fire Emblem Three Houses
One of the best things about following a game series is watching it find its stride. Fire Emblem is a series of tactical role-playing games that while popular in Japan has been slow to catch on elsewhere. It was the series’ move to the 3DS that started their ascent, and Fire Emblem Three Houses finally brings the game into the spotlight, providing us with our favourite gameplay experience of 2019.
The game takes place in the Kingdom of Fódlan, a medieval fantasy land divided between three different kingdoms. You play the role of a new teacher at the Garreg Mach Monastery, an academy for the elites of all nations. You’ll pick a class, representing one of these three Kingdoms, to teach, and take them through a unique story, mixing tactical grid-based combat with a social simulation that has you deepening relationships with an amazingly well-written cast.
With four unique storylines to play through, dozen of characters to befriend and classes to assign to them, Switch players won’t have to look far for a gameplay experience that will keep them hooked for hours.
Honourable Mention – Pokemon Sword & Shield
Sometimes all a game needs to do is scratch that itch. Pokemon Sword & Shield streamlines the household game series for a new generation. And includes some interesting new Pokemons to catch along the way, such as Sinistea the ghostly cuppa Pokemon, and Yamper the electric corgi.
Pokemon Sword & Shield might not tell the most exciting story, but its core gameplay experience is satisfying as ever. With an ever changing wild area, meaning you now have to take into account weather patterns before hunting, on top of the thrill of raising a squad to fight all oncomers, it’s an easy recommendation.
So there we go, an entire decade’s worth of gaming condensed into 10 – sorry, 20 – games. It wasn’t an easy task and there was a lot of hard sorting to be done. Plenty of other great games were very close to making the cut, which just goes to prove just how fantastic the last years have been for the industry as a whole.
Disagree with our choice? Maybe you preferred Death Stranding to Fire Emblem? Hollow Knight to Breath of the Wild? Or maybe different games altogether made your list. In which case why don’t you leave a comment or tweet us here – and see you in the year 2020 for more great gaming!