We are nearing the end of the most exciting decade the video gaming industry has ever witnessed. The past 10 years have served up a number of thrilling technological developments, dazzling growth figures for the gaming sector and all manner of masterpieces. These are the best video games of the decade:
- God of War
Santa Monica Studio deserves a huge amount of praise for its magnificent reboot of the God of War series in 2018. It switched from Greek to Norse mythology and focused on the epic journey of Kratos as he seeks to spread his wife’s ashes on the highest peak of the nine realms. The game managed to revitalise the series without losing the spirit of its predecessors, and the results were stunning. Critics lavished praise upon God of War for its narrative, world design, art direction, music, graphics, characters, and combat system, and deservedly so. Crunching the Leviathan axe into enemies is gleefully brutal and the camera angles really help you get inside this compelling character.
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Esports has been the runaway success story of the video gaming industry over the past decade and it would be remiss of us not to give it a nod in this list. League of Legends is the dominant force in the competitive gaming sector, but it was released in 2009. Dota 2 is another major title, but CS:GO is the most exhilarating launch from the 2010s due to the outrageously high skill ceiling and varied combat it offers. It has spawned a passionate competitive scene featuring famous names like Astralis, Team Liquid and FaZe Clan, and the action it provides is totally gripping. CS:GO is an economic juggernaut – there are always tournaments taking place, esports wagering on it is hugely popular and sponsorship deals continue to climb – so there is every reason to think it will continue to thrive in the next decade too.
- Red Dead Redemption 2
The prequel to Rockstar Gaming’s open world western adventure title, Red Dead Redemption, grossed an impressive $725 million worldwide in its opening three days. That made it the second biggest entertainment launch of all time, behind only GTA V and ahead of every movie ever released. It swept the board at the end of year awards after setting a new bar for lifelike video games and advancing the form in manifold ways. It features a well-crafted universe, an unpredictable narrative, gorgeous graphics and varied gameplay.
- Dark Souls
Dark Souls proved to be a real game changer for the sector. It is extremely unforgiving and fiendishly difficult, which makes it frustrating and rewarding in equal measures. The world is dark, atmospheric and packed full of fascinating lore, the combat is pulsating and the whole experience feels positively warped. Yet the sheer joy you experience after finally achieving success following a painstaking trial and error process is unmatched.
- Portal 2
Valve’s puzzle game was the most surprising hit of the decade. It came out of nowhere and became a runaway success story thanks to its ingenious nature, dark humour and addictive gameplay. The mechanics are deceptively simple, and there is remarkable depth to this game and the balanced learning curve makes it rewarding.
- The Last of Us
The Last of Us is a certified masterpiece. It broke new ground for video gaming by infusing the action with the sort of masterful narrative action and emotional resonance that is usually reserved for award-winning films. The artwork and voice acting are exemplary, and the tale of Ellie and Joel’s journey across a post-apocalyptic America has gone on to earn a special place in the hearts of millions of gamers. It became one of the bestselling video games of all time, and it is also one of the most influential.
- Grand Theft Auto V
GTA V earned $1 billion on the first three days of its launch and went on to enjoy unprecedented levels of success for a video game. It was an immense feat of technical engineering, a scathing satire of modern America and an insanely fun game all rolled into one. The blockbuster set pieces, the stunning open world design, the music system, the spectacular graphics and the frenetic gameplay all amount to a wonderful experience, so it really did live up to the hype.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim somehow managed to overcome a number of technical issues to become one of the most cherished games of all time. It was initially packed full of hilarious visual glitches and besieged by crashes, yet it is testament to the sheer majesty of this game that it still seized a place in the hearts of millions of gamers. The plot, focusing on the Dragonborn’s quest to rid the world of its substantial dragon problem and vanquish Alduin the World-Eater, is as gripping as they come. Its ambition is laudable. Its scope is sensational. The lore is brilliant and Bethesda does a great job of bringing to life a dazzling visual world, packed full of rolling clouds, jagged mountains, lush meadows and bustling cities. It is utterly addictive and possible the greatest RPG ever made.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wold totally rewrites the rules of the open world genre and the result is a lean, beautiful, dangerous game that deserves a place in the hall of fame. It represents a true landmark in open world design and make many rivals in the genre feel bloated and uninspired. What sets Breath of the Wild apart is the way it blends a heroic, story-driven RPG with a spectacular level of freedom. It really rewards exploration and dangles all manner of mysteries in front of you, which are simply begging to be investigated, while problem solving provides huge rewards. The graphics are utterly beautiful and the overall experience is unique, groundbreaking and exhilarating.
Minecraft was released in 2011 and its has gone on to become the bestselling video game of all time, outstripping even Tetris. By 2019, sales surged past the 180 million mark and total player count reached an astonishing 480 million. No game has ever had such an impact upon popular culture. It is Lego for Millennials. Minecraft is a sheer force of nature, providing an endless well of creativity and freedom and showing just how vast the potential for the gaming sector is.