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Games of the Decade: 2010s

It just so happened that I chose the year 2010 to start keeping #GamesOfTheYear lists which puts me in the perfect position to assemble my own Games of the Decade article.

I decided it would be best to group games from the same franchise in order to prevent Monster Hunter or XCOM from gobbling up all of the spots. I am aiming to keep my reasoning for each choice to one paragraph because otherwise I will ramble on and this article will never be published.

1. Monster Hunter Franchise

I was first introduced to the Monster Hunter franchise in 2013 and it has been an integral part of my life ever since. Hell, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was the game Elsie and I bonded over when we first started dating. I have easily played over 1000 hours of Monster Hunter in the last seven years and I hope to eclipse that number in the coming decade.

If you put a gun to my head and forced me to rate the games my list would probably be:

  1. Monster Hunter X / Generations
  2. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
  3. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
  4. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

2. Firaxis' XCOM Reboot

My top three video game franchises of all-time are Half-Life, X-COM and Monster Hunter. Valve hasn't released a Half-Life game since 2007 which made it super easy for Firaxis' XCOM reboot to take second place on this list.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown was a worthy spiritual successor to the originals and its expansion, Enemy Within, simply made everything better. While the sequel, XCOM 2 and its expansion War of the Chosen, weren't as good, they still attempted to push the genre forward. Between these four games I put almost 300 hours into XCOM this decade and I cannot wait to see what they do with the next game in the franchise.

3. Dota 2

I have easily watched more Dota 2 this decade than I have played of any other game franchise. Not only have I seen almost every match of The International 2 though 9 but I even attended TI8 in Vancouver where it was a week of straight of amazing Dota. I am sure this next decade is going to be full of more of the same.

4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

If I had to pick one RPG that defined the last decade it would be The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. CD Projekt Red redefined what to expect from an open world RPG with their writing and in-depth side quests. Previously this title was held by The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but the level of fidelity that CD Projekt Red put into this game raised the bar. It will be interesting to see if they are able to push the industry forward again with Cyberpunk 2077.

5. Mass Effect 2 & 3

While The Witcher 3 redefined open world RPGs, Bioware set the standard for games with a curated story by making the player's choices truly matter. The concept of carrying the player's decisions from one game to the next was virtually unheard of before the Mass Effect trilogy. We had five full years to build up a rapport with all of the franchise's characters before coming to a bitter end in Mass Effect 3.

Combine with this world class writing, excellent third-person combat, the fantastic dialogue wheel, and enthralling voice acting, you have an RPG franchise that set the bar for years to come.

6. Heavy Rain

I am a sucker for interactive storytelling and I think few people do it as well as the developers at Quantic Dream. They released three games this decade but I still think that Heavy Rain, the one they released first in 2010, is the best.

In my opinion it has the most pure and relatable story. A gripping whodunit centered around a grieving father trying to save his son. I was completely enamored with the story from beginning to end and did not see the big reveal coming from a mile away. I still think that even a decade later Heavy Rain is one of the best examples of how to do interactive storytelling.

7. Portal 2

What can I say about Portal 2 that hasn't already been said. It is a perfect marriage of puzzle solving and comedic writing. Nearly a decade later and there still no puzzle game that could be considered its equal.

8. Persona 5

Persona 5 is easily my favourite JRPG of the last decade and potentially of all time. The story, the characters, the combat, the music, the art style, hell even the UI were just top-notch. I love this game so much that even after putting 90 hours into it I cannot wait to replay it through Persona 5 Royal this March.

9. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

Speaking of JRPGs, Dragon Quest XI is a quintessential one and you are going love it or hate it based solely off the story. It managed to really strike a chord with me which was why I played 73 hours of this game and loved nearly every minute of it. I would probably play Dragon Quest XI over most Final Fantasy games at this point.

10. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

My 2014 Game of the Year was Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and it is on this list for a single reason: the Nemesis system. It was an absolute stroke of brilliance and I am utterly shocked that it has not been copied by any other game. I can barely remember any of the story of Shadow of Mordor. Something about a ranger who died and now wants revenge. So original. But I can remember the super satisfying combat that I used to brutally murder all of the named orcs who wronged me.

11. The Walking Dead

Telltale's The Walking Dead didn't necessarily invent the things that made it a critical success. But they executed on a level that most gamers had not seen way back in 2012. The quality of the writing and voice acting was far beyond the norm. Most games did not get you as invested in the characters as The Walking Dead managed to. This was also caused by their amazing dialogue system, which was similar to Mass Effect or Fallout, but instead focused on decisions that had ambiguous outcomes rather than stereotypical good or bad ones.

It is incredibly sad that Telltale was not able to survive the decade that they helped shape. I highly recommend you check out Noclip's amazing documentary on the people behind The Walking Dead.

12. Titanfall 2

If I was only allowed to play one FPS from this decade the no-brainer answer would be Titanfall 2. It has nearly perfect gunplay, the locomotion is super smooth, the campaign harkens back to the days of Half-Life 2, and is topped of with incredibly fun multiplayer. No other FPS has this complete package.

13. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was my first exposure to the Deus Ex franchise, like a lot of gamers this decade. I actually knew very little about the game and only gave it a shot because the reviews were so glowing. I proceeded to have my socks blown off because I was expecting a relatively linear game and received nothing but. The sheer number of ways you could traverse the open world was like nothing I had seen before and have rarely seen since. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the main reason I am so excited for the release of Cyberpunk 2077. A marriage of The Witcher's storytelling with the open ended nature of Deus Ex could be one of the greatest video games of all time.

The boss fights were absolutely garbage though. So if you end up trying the game because of this article please, for the love of god, just look up YouTube videos for how to easily beat them.

14. Resident Evil 2 Remake

I wrote about this in my 2019 Games of the Year article, but I truly believe the Resident Evil 2 remake is a nearly perfect "video game". In my opinion, the most important part of a video game is the gameplay and Resident Evil 2 knocks this out of the park. The core loop of exploring the police station, solving puzzles and fighting monsters completely engrossed me. I was never paralyzed with choice or bored of what I had to do next. I was so enthralled with this game that I actually tried to speedrun it.

15. Devil May Cry 5

There had to be a hack and slash game on this list and the best one of this decade happened to be released in the very last year of it, Devil May Cry 5. Instead of trying to "modernize" the franchise by making it more serious or gritty, Capcom just doubled down on what made the originals great. Sick combos, awesome music and corny one-liners.

16. Alan Wake

I will readily admit that Alan Wake is not a video game for everybody. Heck it isn't even a great video game by my standards because the gameplay does not hold up. But Alan Wake's story is really something special and I won't forget my feelings playing it until the day I die. I really hope Remedy takes a risk one day and finally makes a video game that doesn't have third-person shooter combat and instead focuses on interactive storytelling.

17. DOOM

Just listen to that video and imagine running full speed at demons for 10 hours, shredding them with bullets before ripping and tearing them apart. If that didn't get your blood pumping then there is no hope.

18. Battlefield 3

While everyone seems to be jumping on the battle royale train, the king of multiplayer video games will always be Battlefield to me. And of all the games DICE released this decade, Battlefield 3 is easily my favorite. It may not have the destructibility of the later games, but its scale was just as massive and the maps will go down as the some of best in franchise history.

19. Fire Emblem Awakening

A turn based tactics video game with an anime story. Sign me up! Fire Emblem Awakening was my very first entry into the franchise and not a single game has surpassed it since.

Pick a god and pray!

20. Dishonored

Dishonored is on this list for the same reasons as Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It is another fantastic open world game where the number of solutions to your problems is so numerous it feels infinite. I honestly don't really know why I chose Deus Ex or Dishonored. Probably I'm a bigger fan of science fiction and all of that computer hacking in Deus Ex really was a ball.