2010s Community Game of the Decade

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Happy new year, Goodjers! It's now 2020, and that means we're changing decades. First off, I'm going to address the "but there was no year zero" issue. Yes, that is true. There was no year "zero". HOWEVER, for some time now, we've been most commonly using the cardinal method to define a decade, meaning a new decade begins when the third digit of a numerical year changes. This is what's happening this year. We've left the twenty tens behind, and moving into the twenty-twenties. That's why we're doing the 2010s GWJ Community Game of the Decade this year, and not next year. For the sake of the games, let's not bog down the conversation with nitpicking on this particular aspect.

As far as I can tell, we've never done a Community Game of the Decade, so I had a few ideas on how to proceed. Ultimately, I decided on two approaches, and I'm very curious to see how both will turn out.

The first approach is the "classic take". Much like we all do for the GOTY edition, everyone lists their ten games of the decade, and I keep track of them all with the weighted score system. To keep things current, and since this is the game of the decade is a bit different then the GOTY, I do ask that you stick to games that were released in the 2010s.

The second approach is a bit different. I've taken all the results from the community GOTYs previous years and put them in a neat little (well, not so little) poll. The idea is to rank your top ten out of the pool of the 90+ games that were ranked by the community (a few games ranked two years in a row). As it is, that makes for a pretty unwieldy poll, so I've recapped the results of previous years in the post below. When replying to the poll, only the top ten results matter, so don't worry about ranking past #10. Unless you want to, of course. Clarification: the survey asks that you rank everything, but I'll only keep your top ten. Just grab and drag one of the entries, and it'll automatically rank all of them.
The poll is now available!!

I'm actually quite curious to see how your responses to both methods will differ. Maybe they're exactly the same lists. But maybe there's that one gem that you loved above all others, and that too few people know about. Whatever it is, be sure to share it with us.

Polls will close (automatically for the survey) on February 1st, 2020, 9am GMT+1 (that's 3am EST, or midnight PST).
Complete guidelines in Q&A form as well as references and the GOTY recaps in the posts below.

Guidelines

The survey will include the games that ranked in the community GOTYs from previous years (see list below). For your own lists, you may pick and choose from the vast amount of games that were released in the 2010s. Now that’s a LOT of games. To help you in the choosing process, you can refer to the wiki pages for each year, perhaps your own posts in the GOTY threads from previous years (sorry, can’t really help you there, it’s a ctrl+F for your handle on each page, unless you’re nuts like me and have been bookmarking your posts each year).
It’s not a perfect solution, but the top of each page will at least give you a few highlights. Additionally, I do recommend listening to the GWJ conference calls for some ideas (episode 689 and episode 690), of course!

Games per year of release:

Community GOTYs of the 2010s

For reference, you can find the results of all the previous years below.
2010 Community Game of the Year

  1. Mass Effect 2
  2. Red Dead Redemption
  3. StarCraft 2 (actually tied for 3)
  4. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (actually tied for 3)
  5. Civilization 5
  6. Minecraft
  7. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
  8. Battlefield Bad Company 2
  9. Heavy Rain
  10. Bayonetta

2011 Community Game of the Year

  1. Portal 2
  2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  3. Bastion
  4. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  5. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
  6. Dark Souls
  7. Batman: Arkham City
  8. Saints Row the Third
  9. Dragon Age 2
  10. Battlefield 3

2012 Community Game of the Year

  1. The Walking Dead
  2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  3. Mass Effect 3
  4. FTL
  5. Dishonored
  6. Journey
  7. Borderlands 2
  8. Mark of the Ninja
  9. Diablo 3
  10. Saints Row the Third

2013 Community Game of the Year

  1. Bioshock Infinite
  2. The Last of Us
  3. Tomb Raider
  4. Gone Home
  5. XCOM: Enemy Unknown / Enemy Within
  6. Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons
  7. Saints Row IV
  8. The Legend of Zelda: a Link Between Worlds
  9. Rogue Legacy
  10. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

2014 Community Game of the Year

  1. Dragon Age: Inquisition
  2. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
  3. Divinity: Original Sin
  4. Dark Souls 2
  5. Diablo 3 : Reaper of Souls
  6. Mario Kart 8
  7. South Park: The Stick of Truth
  8. The Last of Us
  9. Wasteland 2
  10. Super Smash Bros

2015 Community Game of the Year

  1. Rocket League
  2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  3. Fallout 4
  4. Bloodborne
  5. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
  6. Cities: Skyline
  7. Life Is Strange
  8. Pillars of Eternity
  9. Dragon Age: Inquisition
  10. Super Mario Maker

2016 Community Game of the Year

  1. Overwatch
  2. Dark Souls 3
  3. The Witcher 3
  4. XCOM 2
  5. Doom
  6. Stardew Valley
  7. Titanfall 2
  8. The Witness
  9. Firewatch
  10. The Division

2017 Community Game of the Year

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  2. Super Mario Odyssey
  3. Horizon Zero Dawn
  4. Nier: Automata
  5. XCOM 2
  6. Prey
  7. PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS
  8. Divinity: Original Sin II
  9. Persona 5
  10. Mass Effect: Andromeda

2018 Community Game of the Year

  1. Spider-Man
  2. God of War
  3. Slay the Spire
  4. Monster Hunter: World
  5. BattleTech
  6. Hollow Knight
  7. Into the Breach
  8. Red Dead Redemption 2
  9. Dead Cells
  10. Assassin's Creed Odyssey

2019 Community Game of the Year

  1. Control
  2. The Outer Worlds
  3. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  4. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  6. Disco Elysium
  7. Apex Legends
  8. Spider-Man
  9. Return of the Obra Dinn
  10. Outer Wilds

This is going to be a lot of fun. Thank you, Eleima, for doing all this!

Tagging for now. And thanks indeed.

"classic take" for my top ten games of the 2010's

Civilization 5
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Super Mario Odyssey
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
Grand Theft Auto 5
Red Dead Redemption
Portal
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Pokemon Go
Stellaris
FTL
Dead Rising 2

Warning: Hot Take inbound!

Control
Crusader Kings II
Destiny 2
Dishonored
Elite: Dangerous
Fallout 4
Kerbal Space Program
Mass Effect 2
Skyrim
The Secret World

This is unlikely to remain static, so don't even bother counting it. I just wanted to get something down to start with.

This seems like a waking nightmare for you Eleima. I’ll contribute!

Would some helpful soul post the GOTY year threads for those years?I would, but I am on an iPad cuddled between a three year old son and a 11 year old cat. Neither would be happy if I paid more attention to thread creation than them.

Edit: Thanks. I didn’t notice with the ipad/cat/kid situation.

UpToIsomorphism wrote:

This seems like a waking nightmare for you Eleima. I’ll contribute!

Would some helpful soul post the GOTY year threads for those years?I would, but I am on an iPad cuddled between a three year old son and a 11 year old cat. Neither would be happy if I paid more attention to thread creation than them.

I believe Eleima has hyperlinked the threads in the Original post for each year, right where it says “2010 Community Game of the Year”. Unless you’re looking for something else?

Oh man Mass Effect 2 or Rocket League? Definitely my two most played single and multi player games.

Guess I've got some time to ponder.

staygold wrote:
UpToIsomorphism wrote:

This seems like a waking nightmare for you Eleima. I’ll contribute!

Would some helpful soul post the GOTY year threads for those years?I would, but I am on an iPad cuddled between a three year old son and a 11 year old cat. Neither would be happy if I paid more attention to thread creation than them.

I believe Eleima has hyperlinked the threads in the Original post for each year, right where it says “2010 Community Game of the Year”. Unless you’re looking for something else?

Those are the results threads not the vote threads. The community vote threads are linked in those, though.

Vector wrote:
staygold wrote:
UpToIsomorphism wrote:

This seems like a waking nightmare for you Eleima. I’ll contribute!

Would some helpful soul post the GOTY year threads for those years?I would, but I am on an iPad cuddled between a three year old son and a 11 year old cat. Neither would be happy if I paid more attention to thread creation than them.

I believe Eleima has hyperlinked the threads in the Original post for each year, right where it says “2010 Community Game of the Year”. Unless you’re looking for something else?

Those are the results threads not the vote threads. The community vote threads are linked in those, though.

Yeah, those were what I wanted, so I could dig back and see what games I picked that will be behind Dragon Age 2.

jrralls wrote:

"classic take" for my top ten games of the 2010's
Civilization 5
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Super Mario Odyssey
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
Grand Theft Auto 5
Red Dead Redemption
Portal
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Pokemon Go
Stellaris
FTL
Dead Rising 2

That's twelve games, if I'm not mistaken. Do I go with...

  1. Civilization 5
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  3. Super Mario Odyssey
  4. The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
  5. Grand Theft Auto 5
  6. Red Dead Redemption
  7. Portal
  8. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  9. Pokemon Go
  10. Stellaris

Because that's what I'm writing down for now.

Right-o, tanstaafl, I'm going to completely ignore your list, then!

UpToIsomorphism wrote:

This seems like a waking nightmare for you Eleima. I’ll contribute!

I rest easy that I probably won't be doing this again anyhow!
Yeah, I linked to the result threads, which theoretically should have the links to the initial threads. I might be missing a few things, and I might fine tune the posts. I was eager to push this one out so I could get back to working on the 2019 write up, apologies.

Thanks for doing this, Eleima

Eleima wrote:

The first approach is the "classic take". Much like we all do for the GOTY edition, everyone lists their ten games of the decade, and I keep track of them all with the weighted score system.

Since you're asking, I would lean toward this option. The members that will be voting on this thread are very different from the ones that created GOTY lists 5-10 years ago. Weighted lists would give a more accurate representation of this community as it is today.

I can't think of anything that can touch my top 5, but Let me do a little (a month of) research before it's counted.

1. Dark Souls
2. Overwatch
3. Rocket League
4. The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
5. The Last of Us

Dyni wrote:

Thanks for doing this, Eleima

Eleima wrote:

The first approach is the "classic take". Much like we all do for the GOTY edition, everyone lists their ten games of the decade, and I keep track of them all with the weighted score system.

Since you're asking, I would lean toward this option. The members that will be voting on this thread are very different from the ones that created GOTY lists 5-10 years ago. Weighted lists would give a more accurate representation of this community as it is today.

Well we're doing both. The survey just isn't available until I roll out the results for the 2019 GOTY.

EverythingsTentative wrote:

I can't think of anything that can touch my top 5, but Let me do a little (a month of) research before it's counted.
1. Dark Souls
2. Overwatch
3. Rocket League
4. The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
5. The Last of Us

Roger that, I'm ignoring you too for now then.

Alright, I'm going to half-ass this which is on theme for my 2010s. This is a quick list thrown together mostly using the past community lists to refresh memory about what came out.

10 - The Walking Dead
9 - Assassin's Creed: Origins
8 - Deus Ex: Human Revolution
7 - Portal 2
6 - Life Is Strange
5 - Diablo 3
4 - Dishonored
3 - Binding of Isaac
2 - Gone Home
1 - Dota 2

Eleima wrote:
jrralls wrote:

"classic take" for my top ten games of the 2010's
Civilization 5
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Super Mario Odyssey
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
Grand Theft Auto 5
Red Dead Redemption
Portal
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Pokemon Go
Stellaris
FTL
Dead Rising 2

That's twelve games, if I'm not mistaken. Do I go with...

  1. Civilization 5
  2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  3. Super Mario Odyssey
  4. The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
  5. Grand Theft Auto 5
  6. Red Dead Redemption
  7. Portal
  8. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  9. Pokemon Go
  10. Stellaris

Because that's what I'm writing down for now. :)

AWOOGA! Portal was released in 2007...

iaintgotnopants, got your list, you're good!

Uh ho. I already had ten games of the decade picked out and now I see two or three more games in the lists above that likely deserve a top ten spot. It's so difficult to choose!

Eleima wrote:
Dyni wrote:

Thanks for doing this, Eleima

Eleima wrote:

The first approach is the "classic take". Much like we all do for the GOTY edition, everyone lists their ten games of the decade, and I keep track of them all with the weighted score system.

Since you're asking, I would lean toward this option. The members that will be voting on this thread are very different from the ones that created GOTY lists 5-10 years ago. Weighted lists would give a more accurate representation of this community as it is today.

Well we're doing both. The survey just isn't available until I roll out the results for the 2019 GOTY.

Ah, gotcha. I misunderstood.

I have a pretty clear list in my mind for the last five or so years, but not the start of the decade. Gonna have to think on this for a bit.

In for a penny, in for a pound.

10. The Talos Principle (2014)
9. Spelunky (2012)
8. DOOM (2016)
7. Alien: Isolation (2014)
6. INSIDE (2016)
5. Tacoma (2017)
4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
3. Pyre (2017)
2. Hollow Knight (2017)
1. Outer Wilds (2019)

Various thoughts:

- Recency bias is a pain in the ass, but that's alright.

- Dark Souls as a trilogy–with every piece of DLC–would sit comfortably around 3 or 4, but much of my love stems from the ways in which they talk to each other, even when they disagree entirely. In my eyes, they're not meant to stand alone, so I won't make them.

- If I had played Death of the Outsider, I'd probably be writing similar words about Dishonored. I'll play it at some point in 2020, regret this list, and that's okay.

- Shoutout to Ezio. If Assassin's Creed 2 had released this decade, I'd be agonizing over whether or not to put all three games on this list just to cover his arc.

- Roughly as incredible, but ruthlessly discarded in no particular order: Thumper, Hyper Light Drifter, HITMAN 1&2, Prey, Invisible, Inc., Antichamber, Bloodborne, and the HexCells series.

Looking at a preliminary list of 36 games based on my own GOTY lists and the shared ones. But I feel like 9 of the games has to be in the top 10, so this might not be as difficult as I expected. Though it hurts a bit not being able to include many of the others
I am trying to limit it to 1 entry per series though, so I dont end up with 3 or 4 SoulsBorne games, and 2 Mass Effect games (as we all know, there was only 2 Mass Effect games in the 2010s).

I think I've got together about my top 30 or so games that came out this decade (basically, anything I could remember playing and really liking). I'll probably do my top ten, plus another 10 for honorable mentions that I want to call out as well for various reasons.

Game of the Decade 2010 - 2019


The Short List and Preamble

Here’s the short version of my list for tabulation purposes. Even though only the first 10 count, I’ve included my top 40, because top 40s are cool. Also, it’s a top 40 because I really needed to put together a list of far more games than that to even begin to get a sense of how things should be ordered, and since I made the list, you get to see it — or at least, the top 40 entries on it.

Spoiler:

1. Mass Effect 3
2. Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
3. Elite: Dangerous
4. Zelda: Breath of the Wild
5. Destiny 2
6. Red Dead Redemption 2
7. Nier: Automata
8. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
9. Assassin’s Creed 2: Brotherhood
10. Forza Motorsport 4


11. Rez: Infinite
12. Mass Effect 2
13. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
14. Forza Horizon 3
15. Control
16. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
17. Forza Motorsport 7
18. Tetris Effect
19. Dragon Age Inquisition
20. Journey
21. Dragon’s Dogma
22. Persona 5
23. Portal 2
24. God of War
25. Into The Breach
26. Outer Wilds
27. Skyrim
28. Dishonored 2
29. Forza Horizon 4
30. Transistor
31. Forza Horizon
32. Forza Horizon 2
33. Abzu
34. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
35. Witcher 2
36. Forza Motorsport 5
37. Firewatch
38. Dragon Age 2
39. Just Cause 2
40. Dead Space 2

So, here’s the deal. I’m going to try by best to not go crazy writing things up on my main list here. If you want to read deeper thoughts on each game, you can check my individual lists for each year (linked at the bottom of this post). Well, except for 2012 — if I recall correctly, I was a mixture of too depressed and too busy trying to connect with a new community (which helped with the depression) and I didn’t realize it was list posting time until it was too late. Oops!

Anyway, I’m going to mostly try to give the briefest of overviews and to talk about relative positioning in the main list, and then hopefully convey some deeper character about what my decade in video games looked like with a series of additional lists at the end. After all, we all contain multitudes, and trying to represent a quarter of my life with a single top 10 feels bad.

See, the problem is that if you ask me something to the effect of “what are your favorite games of the last ten years” or “what do you think most essentially represents that decade in gaming” or “what do you think everyone should at least be familiar with” I’m just naturally going to gravitate towards big, meaty, “AAA” style games. It’s not that don’t have broader interests and tastes, but at my heart I’m just enamored with an overwhelming, bombastic, big budget production. But, some of the additional lists below really are just as important to me, you know? (Granted, others are stupid/elaborate excuses for a joke or to cast a little shade, but you know, that’s a valuable thing too, right?)

So without further ado, here we go.


My Game of the Decade


1. Mass Effect 3
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/E6gYnRb.jpg)
I’m Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite game of the decade.

This was maybe the only easy choice on the entire list. I love this game. I love this series. Maybe I’m screwing up the chances of Mass Effect topping the community list by choosing Mass Effect 3 and leaving 2 out of the points so that I can feature other games instead, but I don’t care, Mass Effect 3 is the game for me. Even with all the complaints others had about the ending, I loved everything it did start to finish the first time I played it (before the ending patch), and I loved it even more after replaying the entire series with all the DLC, updates, and patches in all the games.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/5XLZoWL.jpg)

It’s the final summation of the story I loved so much, and it’s got the best version of the series’ combat. I know many people just rush through these games with the difficulty turned down, but if you crank it up and dig in, there’s some amazingly fun and engaging gameplay to sink your teeth into here. (Protip: I know you think you want to be a soldier or something, but trust me, you need to play as a space wizard to see the game at its absolute best.)

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/ER3G8E2.jpg)

And speaking of that amazing combat design, it also was the game that had my favorite multiplayer horde mode of the decade. ME3 multiplayer was the best, and I’m sad for anyone who missed the chance to enjoy it in its day.

(Also worth noting that ME2 was released in January of 2010, and thus only barely counts as this decade. Just saying folks, we need to rally round ME3 and make this thing happen. :P)

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/eYLHCVc.png)


The Runners Up


2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/GYoayLD.jpg)
The Witcher 3 is very close to my ideal RPG in a great many ways. It’s visually stunning both technically and artistically, it tells a rich and expansive story populated by complex, interesting, challenging characters, it provides a large, beautiful open world teeming with life and detail to explore, it offers a nice mix of well designed, crunchy character progression and customization systems and a little of random bullsh*t that adds unique flavor to the mix, and once you modify the controls to let you cast multiple spells without opening a select wheel, the combat is a hell of a lot of fun.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/1v2hdqs.jpg)

While it was a little hard to settle on an order for items two through five six on my list, ultimately this had to be number 2 because the impressive combination of scope, scale, and polish, and simply because it gave me so much of what I always want video games to be. It did sit below Elite: Dangerous in my list the year it came out, but the fact that CD Project Red delivered effectively an entire game’s worth of additional content as DLC and expansions afterward that on their own ranked at number three on my list the following year makes it feel appropriate to give Witcher 3 the nod here.


3. Elite: Dangerous
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/lQF2jg7.jpg)
Elite: Dangerous has hands down the most fun, immersive moment to moment experience of flying your own personal spaceship imaginable, and then gives you a life size galaxy as a sandbox to enjoy it in. That’s not hyperbole at all; I’ve spent months flying to the other side of it and back again twice as part of a player organized fleet whose only purpose was to peacefully explore the vast unknown expanses of space together. Both trips are easily among the best things I’ve done in video games this decade, or perhaps even in my life.
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/7HEmAq0.jpg)

Really the only question that should be asked is why I didn’t rank it higher on this list. It was number three on my list the year it came out, and then it topped my list the following two years thanks to continuing expansions, updates, and support for the game. I suppose it’s mostly because I loved Mass Effect 3 and Witcher 3 just as much but in different ways, and right now those ways feel slightly more important. But also, I will admit that I also think those games have a better chance at making use of my vote — after all, so few of you philistines properly appreciate the glory that is this game.


4. Zelda: Breath of the Wild
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/EhWBCfD.jpg)
If hard pressed to identify either my favorite or the “best” Zelda, it would be an incredibly close call between this and A Link To The Past, which should make very clear why it’s number 4 on this list. While I absolutely loved every entry in the era of Ocarina of Time clones, Breath of the Wild feels so much more like what a 3D Zelda game should be, which is funny since until it existed we all felt pretty sure that the established idea of what a 3D Zelda was probably couldn’t be beat. Turns out, though, that more than the predictable formula of collecting new equipment from a series of cleverly designed dungeons, Zelda is even more about fearlessly exploring strange, dangerous, barren, quixotic wild and wastelands using the traditional toolbox of abilities in creative new ways to overcome imaginative and outlandish challenges.


5. Destiny 2
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/QHGdBdm.jpg)
Bungie makes the best first person shooter gameplay in the industry. They always have, and they still do. Somewhere along the way, though, you all decided you were more interested in having a stupid Jerry Bruckheimer modern military wank fest for years on end, and you stopped paying attention to the kings of the genre. But that’s okay — just know that if you ever decide you want it back, it still exists. Yes, it may be saddled at times with some of the less desirable aspects of this era’s business trends around “games as a service,” but actually, despite what you might have heard, much more than that it also has a whole lot of the best things that come out of that trend as well — as will be witnessed in my “Most Played Games of the Decade” list below.


6. Red Dead Redemption 2
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/6s7Qsg4.png)
After sputtering out on GTA5, I was pretty sure the era of me appreciating Rockstar games was at an end. So many other developers in other genres were doing so much better things with the ideas and concepts that Rockstar pioneered, and doing in it ways that were far less crass and cynical. For examples of such, see two of the four games listed above, or the Ubisoft Game Design Singularity, or Just Cause 2, or a million other games.

But, you know, Red Dead 2 showed they still had the capacity to make something I’d love, and more impressively they had the confidence to buck common wisdom and make choices that dramatically reduced broad appeal while adding qualities that weirdos such as myself would appreciate. I’m so glad that they did, because I love the game so much more for that resolve. They wanted to tell a story that was slow, and deliberate, and that required you to invest and immerse yourself in the world they built to get the most out of it, and having the pace of the gameplay and the very nature of the controls reflect that was masterful. Totally understandable for people to hate it, but for me it worked incredibly well, and made me that more invested in the sad but beautiful story of Arthur Morgan’s pyrrhic path to redemption.


7. Nier: Automata
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/RfRQUDP.png)
This beautiful, sad, creative, stylish, messy mash of big ideas and small moments exemplifies everything I love about Japanese video games, and that I wish I could have more of in my life again. Stunning evocative art and sound, stories and characters painted larger than life with broad brushstrokes (made up of fine grained bristles), interface and system design that are refined within an inch of their life, but still have the rough edges that show the humanity behind their creation. Oh, and like, tons of silly but delightful Anime bullsh*t, you know?

Anyway, Nier has the responsibility of holding that place on this list alone. I was sorely tempted to bump Fire Emblem or Persona 5 or a Xenoblade game up the ranks a bit to give it company, as I do love those games quite a bit as well, but in the end they didn’t quite have the certain special spark of novelty and exceptional creative intent that Nier does, and the games below also deserve to get special mention as well.


8. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/5hdKKCA.jpg)
I spent a lot of time worrying that I was letting recency bias sway me too much here (and that same concern is part of what kept Fire Emblem out of my top ten), but I think it’s fair to say this belongs here for me. As I said in my Game of the Year post, this was my first Souls game, and although I never doubted it, it showed me just how right fans of those games have been all this time. The masterful design work that goes into creating scenarios that challenge players to push themselves to do things they would have thought impossible is mind-blowing on its own. Building gameplay and control systems that support that design work as well as has been achieved in this game is a whole other thing entirely.


9. Assassin’s Creed 2: Brotherhood
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/Cg38IZR.jpg)
Look, I know it’s a bit of a joke what an overwrought and commoditized thing this series is. There are just so many of them, and other than changing the set dressing they are so often very, very similar to each other. But, part of why that’s true is because what these games are is very good and very fun. I know, because I’ve played all but two of them.

So, why Brotherhood on this list rather than any of the others? I mean, if someone asked me which they should play right now, I’d probably point them at one of the two most recent entries (Origins or Odyssey), mostly because the gameplay is still pretty similar (even after the “big” shakeup with Origins), the newer ones are undoubtedly the most beautiful of the lot, and both feature charming and compelling protagonists.

But, there’s two things:

First, Brotherhood is representative of the apex of where Ubisoft figured out what would become the formula the later games would work from. It was mostly there in the original Assassin’s Creed 2, but Brotherhood crystalized and perfected it (and, crucially, was released this decade, where AC2 was not :P).

But, most importantly it introduced probably the single most delightful and satisfying single button press feature in any video game ever. As the game starts you begin recruiting and rebuilding the Assassin’s Brotherhood, and before long you are given the ability to summon your recruits to assist you. You just look at a potential target, press the button, and then the game programmatically determines the best possible place where an Assassin could have been hiding (a hay bale, or a wagon, or a shed, or a rooftop, or whatever) and makes them suddenly appear and swiftly and brutally merc the sh*t out of whoever you are pointing at, then just as quickly disappear again. Maybe they stick around if somehow they failed to kill the target immediately, but who cares about that part. The important thing is that start to finish in the game, there was not a single time I pressed that button where I wasn’t surprised and delighted by the amazingly creative ways the game found to make death in human form appear and stab whatever I was looking at in the neck in the most dramatic fashion possible.

They did keep that feature around for a few more entries in the series, but then for some unimaginable reason they phased it out. I think it sort of returned in Odyssey as one of the many abilities you could unlock and equip, but it was a shadow of its former self. There was no creative hiding and stabbing, they’d just run up and start fighting. Which, you know, is fine, if you’re into that sort of thing.


10. Forza Motorsport 4
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Given how big a part of my life the Forza games have been, I somewhat feel like I’ve given them short shrift on this list. Part of that is that Forza games are like a solid, dependable utility — when I want a fun sim-light driving experience to play with my wonderful cockpit setup, Forza is always there providing exactly what I’m looking for — but these games aren’t trying to be the greatest, most memorable gaming experience of your life. They’re just damn good at what they do.

So, why Forza 4? You can see my extended power rankings in my Forza of the Decade list below, but Forza 4 was the culmination of the series for the Xbox and Xbox 360 eras. It had all the cars, all the tracks, all tools you would want to customize and drive your cars to your hearts content in that era. Forza 7 currently is the same thing for this era, but, relatively speaking it feels like Forza 4 was just a bit more pure, and a bit more focused. Forza Motorsport in the Xbox One era has struggled a little bit trying out new approaches to player investment and reward structures, and while I don’t think those experiments have made the games less worth playing, they have taken a bit of the focus away from what made Forza 4 immaculate. There was nothing in the game that wasn’t purely about the experience of creating and driving your cars.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/WziPi2p.jpg)

However, if you want to play Forza today, the recommendation is simple.

If you want slightly more simmy driving on circuits (including a great many of the most famous real world circuits), get Forza 7. 6 and 5 had interfaces I found slightly more appealing, but literally all their actual content is contained in 7, so that’s the one.

If you want a more arcadey driving experience, pick the Xbox One era Forza Horizon with the setting that’s most appealing to you. And then pick all the others up too, because you can’t go wrong with any of them.


Honorable Mentions


You can see my full Top 40 ranking above, and I’ll chat about a number of other games in my additional lists below, but here’s a few games that either came very, very close to making the top ten or just deserve a bit of extra time because they didn’t fit with any other collection of games discussed below.


Mass Effect 2
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/QvLSYoW.png)

Look, as much as a part of me wanted both of these on the list, I just needed to talk about other games too. If possible, I’d just frame it as “The Game of the Decade is 2/3rds of the Mass Effect Trilogy” but that’s not really going to work. Anyway, I definitely agree with the prevailing opinion that this game had a slightly more compelling cast of playable characters, and that it did great things with the opportunities presented by being the middle of a story. Oh, and that cold open was stone cold classic and is hard to beat. Nevertheless, I stand strongly by my assertion that overall, Mass Effect 3 was the better and more impactful game.


Fire Emblem: Three Houses
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/jxBm3lC.jpg)
As you’ll see in the lists below, this was my JRPG of the decade, and I’m pretty sure that’s not just recency bias talking. As you’ll also see below, it’s overflowing with fun, richly painted characters that demanded that I care about them in a way that I’ve not felt since the Mass Effect games. And as you might guess from my affection for Mass Effect, that’s a quality that really endears a game to me, and more than makes up for whatever minor quibbles I might have about other aspects of the game. As such, I struggled not to put it on the big list above, but in the end it couldn’t quite compete with how big a thing the Forza and Assassin’s Creed games have been in my life this decade.


Control
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/bm5YHTZ.jpg)
This one probably would have been recency bias, but I still wanted to mention it. It’s a remarkable game, and if I had played enough other Metroidvania style games this decade, I would have made a list of them and put this at the top. The successful marriage of artistic and technical work to deliver a cohesive, striking aesthetic both visually and audibly is nigh unparalleled, and that alone nearly merited it a spot on this list (seriously, play this game with a powerful surround sound setup if you can). Add to that a masterfully slow played build to an amazing power fantasy within a weird and engaging X-files meets Twin Peaks setting, and I’m still finding myself agonizing that I couldn’t make room for it.

Also, that realtime raytracing thing is legit and this game makes me f*cking ecstatic to see the next generation of games.


Dragon’s Dogma
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/6qfGwyb.jpg)
Realistically, this one wasn’t that close to the big list, but it also doesn’t fit anywhere else, and it deserves mention because it truly was special. If you’re curious to learn what I mean, go find one of the many places where Austin Walker has devoted time to talking about this game, because every bit of effusive praise he has to offer is dead on. There’s an alternate universe where justice truly exists and this game spawned a new genre in the same way Demon Souls did, or maybe better yet, where a genre was spawned that took inspiration from both games, since in many ways they were at least kissing cousins.

In that universe, this game is enshrined at the top of its very own list, where it belongs.


Other Lists of the Decade


Most Played of the Decade

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1. Destiny 2
2. Elite: Dangerous
3. Forza series
4. Assassin’s Creed series
5. Mass Effect series
6. World of Warcraft
7. Skyrim
8. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
9. Zelda: Breath of the Wild
10. Xenoblade Chronicles 2

This was a close one, but with my dubious decision this fall to pursue a VERY grind intensive achievement in Destiny 2, it unquestionably overtook Elite: Dangerous as my most played game of the decade. That said, Elite is still FAR ahead of everything else, and that’s saying a lot when you consider that for entries two through five, I’m counting my time spent playing (and in the case of Mass Effect, replaying) entire series’ of games.


Indie Game of the Decade

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1. Elite: Dangerous
2. Everything on the “Small Game of the Decade” list below

Seriously, Elite deserves to be at the top of SOME list, and since Destiny just took the most played crown, I think it’s worth celebrating that this amazing game is developed and by published Frontier Developments, a scrappy little studio that’s been going strong in its current incarnation since 1994, and is really an outgrowth of David Braben’s business efforts that began with him and his friend Ian Bell developing the original Elite in 1984. Even if you want to take the more conservative measure of just 25 years, that’s an impressive run in this industry.

Like many indie games of the early 2010s, Elite started as a kickstarter project, but unlike so many others (including another notable space sim that has raised a LOT more money through crowdfunding and still only barely sort of exists outside of alpha form), Elite was launched on time, and has been aggressively expanded and supported ever since on the merits of the community’s ongoing engagement and interest. 2019 did see the pace of updates slow from the relatively rapid schedule that had been maintained since the initial launch in late 2014, but that’s only because the team has been focusing a major update targeted for mid to late 2020. Frontier has kept their cards fairly close to their vest, but we do know (because it was delayed from a previously scheduled update) that will at least include significant updates to the graphics engine. Other likely possibilities are that it will finally add either landing on planets with atmospheres, or the ability to walk around inside your ship and/or stations, or that more guided narrative experiences might be added to the game to supplement the mostly procedural and community driven mission systems and storytelling.

All of which is to say, if they deliver well, perhaps don’t be surprised to see Elite make my game of the year list at least one more time in the future — and you should expect no less from what is unquestionably the Indie Game of the Decade!


Small Game of the Decade

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1. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
2. Tetris Effect
3. Journey
4. Into The Breach
5. Outer Wilds
6. Transistor
7. Sayonara Wild Hearts (Late addition)
8. Abzu
9. Firewatch
10. Superhot
11. Pyre

I actually think most of the games lower on this list are technically better games, and many of them also elicited strong emotional responses (Journey, Transistor, Abzu, Firewatch, and, amusingly Tetris Effect), but Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons hit me so unexpectedly on such a personal level that it deserves top billing here.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/QlmOLbw.jpg)

The game does a remarkable thing where it uses both traditional narrative techniques and novel mechanical ones to build a warm, familiar, resonant representation of the kind of relationships we build with family members and close friends as children, and then uses the same methods to communicate with powerful results happens when you lose those connections. It made me feel the grief of lifetimes lost by pulling a trigger on my controller. It did the remarkable thing that art does, and gave me a new window of perspective on my life and new ways of understanding and processing what events in my life meant and can mean moving forward. It deserves far more discussion than just this, but this will have to suffice if I want to mention any of these other games at all.

I suppose this list is mostly saying how much I love three things in a small game:

Beautiful, emotionally evocative, impressionistic audio visual experiences.
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/VjPPYWp.jpg)
Quirky, character driven, personal narratives.
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Tightly crafted, mechanically dense, elegantly designed challenges to both reflexes and the mind.
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Everything on this checks at least two of those boxes, and honestly ordering this list was nearly as challenging as creating the big list above, as all of these games are so wonderful in their own specific and unique ways.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/XTRwrdJ.jpg)

EDIT: And a few even hit all three, such as the last minute addition at number 7 on this list, Sayonara Wild Hearts, a hyper stylish, rhythm game/schmup/runner mashup that tells a sweet, touching story about learning to love yourself and find joy in the world again again after heartbreak.


Forza of the Decade

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1. Forza Motorsport 4
2. Forza Horizon 3
3. Forza Motorsport 7
4. Forza Horizon 4
5. Forza Horizon
6. Forza Horizon 2
7. Forza Motorsport 5
8. Forza Motorsport 6
9. Forza Motorsport 6 Apex

A few important notes:

Forza 6 rates lowly only due to the existence of Forza 7, which contains everything in Forza 6 and more (and Forza 5 gets points for being an amazing start to the Xbox One era of the games). Indeed, I actually preferred some of the interface and design treatments in Forza 6, but what really matters in these games is cars and tracks, and Forza 7 is king in that regard.

Forza Horizon 2 through 4 are all equally worth playing. Pick the environment you prefer — 2 for France and Italy, 3 for Australia, 4 for Great Britain — and have a blast.


Final Fantasy of the Decade

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1. Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster for PC
2. Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster for PS4
3. Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster for Xbox One
4. Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster for Nintendo Switch
5. Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster for PS3
6. Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster for PSVita
7. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13-3
8. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy 15
9. Whatever those Final Fantasy 15 anime episodes were called
10. Final Fantasy 13-2
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All joking aside, I actually did have a great time with Final Fantasy 15 and its silly boy band road trip, but largely for the wildly experimental things it did with its combat systems. Also, the inclusion of Kingsglaive and the anime episodes there is only barely a joke — those did a great job of making me interested in both the world and the characters of Final Fantasy 15, and made the game itself a lot more enjoyable (particularly since it failed to make me care about it narratively in its own right at all).

IMAGE(https://gamegator.net/thumbnails/final-fantasy-x-x-2-hd-remaster-big.jpg)

It’s also no joke that I’m much more likely to play FF10 and 10-2 six more times each before I ever touch any of the FF13 or FF15 games again.


JRPG of the Decade

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1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
2. Persona 5
3. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
4. Xenoblade Chronicles X
5. Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster
6. Dragon Quest 9
7. Xenoblade Chronicles
8. Final Fantasy 15
9. Octopath Traveler
10. Bravely Default

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Look, I know I’m coming off like a bit of a fake JRPG girl here, but I swear, I love the genre! It’s just been a rough decade for our relationship, you know? I feel like this list would be a lot more solid if I had gotten around to playing Dragon Quest 11 or Valkyria Chronicles 4 as I had hoped to this year, but, that’s just how it goes sometimes I suppose.

Also, I recognize that Fire Emblem being at the top is going to read like some super strong recency bias, but I swear that of these ten games it spoke to my heart the most powerfully. The only other game that came close was Persona 5, but Fire Emblem even did many of the things I specifically like about Persona games better, you know?

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As for the Xenoblade games, none of them ever quite did what I wanted them to do, which is to give me a modern Xenogears, or even a modern Xenosaga, but they still scratched some of that itch, and added in some wonderful open world exploration as well. Xenoblade X got closer since it gave me direct control of my giant robots, but if I’m being honest the other two were probably better games narratively, even if the writing skewed much more towards being targeted for children and pre-teens.

Anyway, I hope the next decade will be one where I get to indulge in my love of JRPGs a lot more frequently than I did in this one. The critical success of games like Nier: Automata does give me hope that the Japanese development community might be finding inspiration (and resources) to get a bit more wild and risky with their work, so I’m optimistic for the time being.


Immersive Sim of the Decade

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1. Dishonored 2
2. Dishonored
3. Metal Gear Solid V
4. The Outer Worlds
5. Bioshock Infinite

Only meant as a mild dig at Bioshock, actually. I think I enjoyed it more than many did, but it really did get severely outshined by the Dishonored games this decade. Also worth noting that the recent Deus Ex games and Prey are still languishing in my backlog, so my list here is hardly exhaustive.

And yes, MGSV and The Outer Worlds count, at least the way I played them.


Bioware Game of the Decade

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1. Mass Effect 3
2. Mass Effect 2
3. Dragon Age Inquisiton
4. Dragon Age 2
5.
6.
7.
8.
9. Mass Effect Andromeda
10. The Outer Worlds

That’s all of them, right?

And yes, The Other Worlds counts, at least the way I played it.


Bethesda Game of the Decade

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1. Fallout New Vegas
2. Skyrim
3. The Outer Worlds
4. Fallout 4

Not really sure The Outer Worlds counts here though. No crash bugs, no broken quests, there were characters who I was interested in and even cared about to some extent, and the story interested me through to the end. Come to think of it, those last two points might also disqualify New Vegas. Oh well, not much of a list here after all.


MMO of the Decade

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1. Destiny 2
2. Elite: Dangerous
3. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
4. Guild Wars 2
5. FInal Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn
6. Black Desert Online

Easy one here.


Expansion Content of the Decade

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1. Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
2. Elite: Dangerous Horizons
3. Destiny 2: Forsaken
4. Mass Effect 3: Citadel
5. Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker
6. Forza Motorsport 6: Porche Expansion Pack
7. Forza Horizon: Rally Expansion Pack
8. Mass Effect 3: Leviathan
9. Forza Horizon 3: Blizzard Mountain
10. Forza Horizon 2: Storm Island

Tons of great expansions and DLC this decade, really, and this list could be much longer as a result, but man did the Forza Horizons games really deliver with their expansions every single time.

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Also worth noting that the Forza 6 Porche expansion did a wonderful thing with a terrible situation. For years licensing bullsh*t made it so that games made by anyone but EA couldn’t have cars from Porche in their initial releases. However, EA would relicense the IP for expansions from time to time, and for Forza 6 Turn 10 went all out and made it worth our time to care, providing an amazing new campaign of races and other content designed to serve as an interactive document of the history of Porche as a manufacturer. Honestly, I kind of wish they had taken lessons learned there and applied them to the structure of the single player campaign in Forza 7, since I at least would have enjoyed it much more than the approach they ultimately took.


Remake of the Decade

1. Rez: Infinite
2. Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster

Okay, I know two items don’t really make a list. But, I don’t really count the Last of Us PS4 remaster, since that was barely changed at all and should have just been a PS4 game to begin with, and I didn’t play the Shadow of the Colossus or Resident Evil 2 remakes that everyone says are so good.

Mostly, I just needed a place to talk about these two (or depending on how you count it, three) games. Both of them were among my favorite games of the previous decade, and in both of these cases the remakes do amazing things to revitalize them and at least in the case of Rez, make it relevant all over again.

Indeed, every opportunity to give more people the chance to play Rez is a good opportunity to take, but updating it to support VR has essentially given it the chance to be the game it always was meant to be, and I’ll wager it will remain among the best VR games available for years to come. At least, that is, until Mizaguchi gets someone to fund him finally making Rez 2. It was very hard for me not to put Rez: Infinite on the main list, but at its heart it IS a 20ish year old game, so I decided to let it be.

As for Final Fantasy 10 and 10-2, I think I’ve already made it clear above that this remaster is the best Final Fantasy of the Decade, and that really wasn’t (just) hyperbole designed to throw shade at Square’s output in recent years. These two games were and remain spectacular, and if you can get past some of the notoriously clunky voice acting early on, you’ll find yourself enjoying the best Final Fantasy games not just of the decade, but ever. And now you can do it on just about any platform you could ever want!


Protagonist of the Decade

1. Commander Shepard (Jennifer Hale edition)
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/tgzy5FQ.jpg)
2. Geralt of Rivia
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3. Arthur Morgan
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4. 2B (YoRHa No.2 Type B)
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5. Byleth, The Ashen Demon
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6. Kassandra of Sparta
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7. Marian Hawke
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8. Bayek of Siwa
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9. One Armed Wolf
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10. Old Man Kratos and “BOY!”, aka Atreus
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11. Director Jesse Faden
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12. Emily Kaldwin
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13. Ren Amamiya, aka Joker the Phantom Thief
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14. Kat
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15. Ezio Auditore
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/S40CRqR.jpg)

I couldn’t quite narrow either of these character lists down to just 10, so I just went for 15. The top three, at least, were easy.

Shepard and Geralt are both treasures and testaments to the power of creating RPGs with a predetermined protagonist. I love more open ended character systems well enough, but I’ve never grown nearly attached to the resulting characters as I have well authored and well performed characters like these two. I realize it’s mostly a matter of personal preference, but I’ll always prefer a game where the player shapes the general tone and approach of the character, but the writers and the actor have crafted something much deeper to sink your teeth into than a collection of dialogue choices. (See also: Marian Hawke compared to the Inquisitor.)

And Arthur Morgan is a similar story, although the level of player agency is much more limited — mostly it’s a question of how much ludonarrative dissonance you’re going create with how you play the game. Still, though, the character’s arc is made all the more powerful by the fact that I was complicit with the writer and actor in creating his deeply sad and affecting story.

Below those three, the main culprit in blowing up this particular list was the Assassin’s Creed series — just too many charming and delightful murderous psychopaths, you know?

Oh, and a quick world about Kratos. How on earth did they make him interesting again? Or, maybe they made him interesting for the first time ever? I mean, I suppose the way they did it was to surround him with interesting characters that help his existence in the world actually have meaning beyond ragefully eviscerating mindless hordes of enemies. As such, he shares his entry on this list with his son, and other characters from his story earn spots on my lists below.


Supporting Characters of the Decade

1. Mordin Solus

2. The Iron Bull
. IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/HXIi8it.jpg)
3. Edelgard von Hresvelg
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/Ty0zDs0.jpg)
4. Liara T’Soni
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/Z0q1VXP.png)
5. Casper Darling

6. Sadie Adler
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/dVsE2dL.png)
7. Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/HdUZR3F.jpg)
8. Sojiro Sakura, the Coffee House Owner
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/wFdUs2t.jpg)
9. Pyra and Mythra
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10. Garrus Vakarian
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11. Freya
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12. Bernadetta von Varley
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13. Varric Tethras
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14. Makoto Niijima, aka Queen the Phantom Thief
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15. Colonel Elma of BLADE
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Honorable Mention: Urdnot Wrex, who made only small appearances in games this decade, but was a star in one of the games of last decade.

Now here, it’s largely due to Fire Emblem, Mass Effect, and Persona that we can’t have ourselves a nicely pruned top ten. Recency bias is definitely weighting this much more heavily towards Fire Emblem, but those old Mass Effect classics still are tops. If you didn’t fall in love with the hyperactive musical loving mad scientist in Mass Effect 2, I’m not sure what’s wrong with you, and I will brook no comments about my blue space girlfriend. And of course I could also fill a few more slots from Bioware’s other great work, but I’ll just leave that task to The Iron Bull, as we all know how capable he is at filling slots.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/g3aLqMZ.jpg)

He f*cks, is what I’m saying.

Indeed, The Iron Bull well and truly f*cks. My Inquisitor can give you all the details, if you’re interested.

Also worth giving special mention to Casper Darling. Even if for some reason you aren’t going to play Control, please at least watch that collection of his educational videos on Youtube. He is a bizarre delight.

And then there’s Sojiro, that sweet grumpy man. He’s the secret hero of Persona 5 — a parental figure who genuinely cares about his kids (despite his best efforts hide it), and does everything in his power to take care of them. Love that guy.


Villain of the Decade

1. Dutch Van Der Linde
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2. The Reapers
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3. The Hiss
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4. The Illusive Man
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5. Archbishop Rhea
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6. Solas, The Dread Wolf
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7. The Owl
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8. Baldur
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9. The Outsider
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10. Goro Akechi, the Detective Prince
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/f016cOJ.png)

Amazing villains, on the other hand, were fewer and farer between this decade.

Dutch takes the cake though, even over the excellent duo of villains from the Mass Effect universe, however, because with out the great care and humanity that went into painting the tragic, lovable monster that is Dutch, we would not be nearly as able to sympathize with the full arc of who Arthur Morgan is. The presentation of who those two characters are and how they interact is just so spectacularly done, and is a large component of what makes Red Dead 2 such a special game.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/YGcY42z.jpg)

Funny enough, though, just this year was ripe with them, with all three of my favorite games of 2019 offering up excellent bad guys — most notably the Hiss, one of the most terrifying, effective, and creative versions of the “unknowable extra-dimensional eldritch horror” trope that I’ve had the joy of encountering in a game. I was sorely tempted to bump them up even higher, but I figure unseating one half of the Mass Effect bad guys is pretty good already.


Ships of the Decade

1. The Faulcon DeLacy Anaconda “ZSE Weltall Omega”
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/13KwJ3P.jpg)
This is the ship I spent the most time in this decade. In fact, I spent orders of magnitude more time in just this one ship than I did playing most other games.

It’s not the prettiest, or the fastest, or even the deadliest. It is instead the ultimate jack of all trades, a ship capable of being outfitted for whatever you need, and doing it well. It’s maybe not the best cargo hauler, but it can be made close enough that you’ll get the job done well. Other ships will melt your enemies a bit faster, but configure it right and the Anaconda will let you fly away from any combat encounter alive and with minimal drama.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/ckwcyXt.jpg)

But it is the best at one thing, and that’s the thing I did most this decade: it will fly you to the distant reaches of the galaxy faster and safer than anything else money can buy. As such, this is the vessel I choose to spend months of my life crossing a life sized galaxy with a fleet of thousands of other players in 2016. And then I did it again last year.

Hands down, no competition, Ship of the Decade.

2. The Systems Alliance Reconnaissance Frigate “SSV Normandy SR-2”
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/0n4tQhH.jpg)

It may only get second billing in the list of things that make the Mass Effect series special, but this ship is the beating heart of that universe.

3. The Lakon Spaceways Asp Explorer “ZSE Andvari”
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/27fgoM6.jpg)

These days newly minted commanders in Elite have a number of choices of what to fly as their bank account starts to grow, including ones that probably replace this old workhorse for many of them. (That Krait Mk.2 is a fine piece of kit!) But ask anyone who played in the first few years and they will tell you how important this ship was to them. It’s basically a budget little brother to the Anaconda, but don’t let that fact diminish your impression of it — this is the ship where every great fortune was seeded, and it’s the vessel in which the most important discoveries in the galaxy were made.

4. The Greek Mercenary Trireme “Adrestia”
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/AOdfp1c.jpg)

Like the Normandy, this ship is the unsung hero of Assasin’s Creed Odyssey — there are necks that need stabbing on a thousand distant islands, after all, and Kassandra isn’t going to get them all properly stabbed by swimming.

5. The Outer Wilds Ventures Scout Lander
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/AUPLfU1.png)
An extremely last minute addition to the list, but also an extremely worthy one. This little guy literally is held together with tape and baling wire, but great moments of exploration and discovery aren’t made by being timid obsessed with safety.

6. Tie: Vanguard Jumpships “Spear of the Fore” and “Iron Pendragon”
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/b4WV0RI.jpg)

Ships in Destiny are purely cosmetic, so you’d think that most would be earned by doing cool things. One of my mild disappointments with the game is that generally speaking, that is not true — they either drop randomly or can be purchased directly from a modern free to play style store. Oh well. Thankfully, there are a few that do mean something that I particularly like. Above is the “Spear of the Fore,” earned by completing a rather hard three person activity this fall.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/vVMWRmN.jpg)
And here is the “Iron Pendragon,” earned by playing the special time limited recurring PvP event known as Iron Banner during season 2 of year 1. That was maybe the lowest point in player engagement over the game’s now three year life, so only the most dedicated of players have this one.

7. The Core Dynamics Federation Corvette “ZSE Dammerung”
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/ptdlker.jpg)
You know how I was saying that other ships could pack more destructive power than my beloved Anaconda? Well, this is the ship! I made a very large part of my billions of credits in Elite by engaging in some good old fashioned war profiteering in this ship.

8. “New Los Angeles,” the wreckage of the Ark Ship “White Whale”
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/fBzKtya.jpg)

If I wasn’t too lazy to bother setting my Wii U back up, I’d have added at least one or two of my mechs (“Skells”) from Xenoblade Chronicles X to this list. Oh well! They were pretty cool, but this is too! The premise of the game is that one of the gigantic generation ships upon which the last remnants of humanity escaped the destruction of Earth has been destroyed by hostile alien forces, and your job is to protect and expand the city built around its wreckage. Which, by the way, is rendered in full scale along with the rest of the truly gigantic world provided for you to fly your giant robots around fighting aliens and monsters and whatnot.

Goddamnit, hey Nintendo, can we please have a Xenoblade X2? Thanks!

9. The Core Dynamics Scarab Surface Reconnaissance Vehicle
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/TLCW3e7.jpg)
I suppose this is more of a buggy than a ship, but it can fly for limited distances, particularly on low gravity worlds. Also, it’s my list, so I can put whatever I want on it. Anyway, a good SRV is an essential tool both for exploring the galaxy and for gathering the resources needed to improve your ship. Without one aboard, no other ship could be Ship of the Decade

10. Yakita LHA 120A-2 Apex Transport “The Unreliable”
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/OQPw0I2.jpg)
I was tempted to put another ship from Elite here, but I was worried about hurting ADA’s feelings, and hurting the feelings of a rogue AI that controls the airlocks and frequently expresses homicidal inclinations as though they were humorous asides seems like a choice that’s likely to be bad for one’s health.


‘Ships of the Decade

Okay, I admit it, I decided to write the shaggy dog story of a list above almost entirely to serve this stupid bit of word play. I mean, I’m sure at least some you are also super into boats and spaceships and crap, but now we can get down to the sexy fun stuff that everyone can enjoy.

1. Commander Shepard and Liara T’Soni
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/iaSgdtR.jpg)
I know it’s not the most salacious or dramatic of relationships, but it was sweet, supportive, and well developed over the course of the full trilogy. Sure, the Shepard/Garus bromance is fun, and Tali is adorable, but this is the one true canon romance written in the stars.

2. Kassandra and all of Greece
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/otRrydY.png)
Kassandra might be a statuesque goddess of war and vengeance come to life, but the Grandaughter of Leonidas is also a peacemaker and a lover, and she will reunite the peoples of Greece one passionate night at a time if she must. It doesn’t matter if you are a youthful maiden of Sparta, an elderly Athenian war veteran, or any age, gender expression, or nationality in between, she will sweep you off your feet, solve all your worldly problems, and then give you a life changing experience between the sheets.
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/UDuboKX.jpg)
That said, do take care to treasure those moments where you are like sculptors clay in her hands as they happen, because chances are you’ll get at most one or two return engagements — the Isles of Greece are vast, and Kassandra’s firm guidance is sorely needed throughout the Hellenic world.
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/6mUSCIU.jpg)

3. The Inquisitor and The Iron Bull
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/6NblRcR.png)
As we’ve already discussed, The Iron Bull f*cks.

4. Byleth and Edelgard
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/FkCuLDr.jpg)
Look, I know Edelgard has made some mistakes. Big ones, really. She let her traumas overwhelm her good sense, she trusted the wrong people a few too many times, she lost sight of what her goals really were. But the only thing she really needs to be the world changing disruptor of the corrupt social order that she wants to be is the love and support of just one of the right people. And Byleth, well, she’s the right people.

5. Garret Hawke and Anders
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/m4G7lGh.jpg)
It is generally accepted that the female versions of Bioware protagonists are always better, and that held true with Marian and Garret Hawke. However, Garret probably came the closest to parity of any of them, and more to the point it was well worth playing the game as him at least once to see his tragic, star crossed romance with poor Anders.

6. Tie: Petra and Dorothea, Ingrid and Sylvain
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/2JCjC8q.jpg)
Okay, so I could easily build a full top ten list of all the wonderful relationships that are possible among the supporting cast of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but that’s probably a matter for a different time. Here though, let’s talk about two of my favorites. Both relationships are stories of good hearted people finding in each other both the inspiration and the support they need to face their troubles and heal their damage, and in the end they all get to be at peace and lead happy, fulfilling lives together.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/kfzPGHZ.jpg)

Also, I’m not unaware that Sylvain is a bit of an annoying f*ckboi at the start, and the trope of such a person finding redemption in a previously overlooked childhood friend is a problematic one, to say the least. Be that as it may, the way that he and Ingrid’s story plays out is deeply satisfying and cathartic, thanks in no small part to the deep pathos and humanity found both in the writing and in the vocal performances (at least in Japanese — I can’t vouch for the quality of the English voice performances).

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/oPcjB9q.jpg)

7. Joker (the pilot Jeff Moreau) and EDI
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/J39hT7S.jpg)
Just the simple, sweet love story of a boy and his anthropomorphized ship, you know? I suppose this one was maybe a bit divisive, but given that other than Commander Shepard the two most important constants in the Mass Effect series were the Normandy and her pilot, I found it delightful and charming that they found a way to be together in the end.

8. Joker (the Phantom Thief) and Makoto
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/zFmUR3k.jpg)
Aside from her just generally being the best in every way, both Joker and Makoto are clearly switches, so you know this one will work out well.

9. Mòrag and Brighid
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/tUwirL8.jpg)
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/LTD5Iow.jpg)
You know there’s a lot more than resonating crystals between these two, but it’s a children’s story, so you’ll need to use your imagination.

10. Zelda, Link, and Mipha
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/qHhvCIv.jpg)
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/rommTyS.jpg)
We all know Mipha is totally into Link. We also know that Link’s devotion to Zelda is a bit more than that of a knight to his princess. But what my fanfic presupposes is, maybe the land of Hyrule has enlightened attitudes about polyamory, and maybe Zelda is all up in them fish guts as well.
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/MhFeMwR.jpg)

Honorable Mention: Lord Shaxx and Queen Mara Sov
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/6xtLSE5.png)

Last Minute Addition/Honorable mention: The Girl and Herself
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/PI1lJDo.jpg)
Sometimes you have to travel a long, neon, electro pop themed road (and overcome the tarot powered hot as hell queer biker gangs that populate it) to get there, but you aren’t ever going to find a relationship that works for you until you at least start to love yourself — even those parts that might be a bit hard to come to terms with.


Games I Should Have Played of the Decade

Outer Wilds
Battletech
All the VR games I bought last summer
Subnautica
Return of the Obra Dinn
Dragon Quest 11
Valkyria Chronicles 4
Disco Elysium
Prey
Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Mankind Divided
Enslaved: Journey to the West
Divinity Original Sin 1 and 2
Banner Saga 1 and 2
Wolfenstein: The New Order and The New Colossus
Uncharted 4
Spiderman
Dead Cells
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night


Year of the Decade


And finally, let’s take a quick look at just which year in the last decade delivered the best collection of games.

1 .2017
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Destiny 2, Nier: Automata, Mass Effect Andromeda, Persona 5, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Mario Odyssey, Forza 7, Dishonored 2

Seriously, look at how stacked 2017 was. Two more top five games, another top 10 entry, TWO JRPGs, even more great console exclusives from all three manufacturers, and the Immersive Sim of the Decade to boot. Wow.

2. 2015
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Elite Dangerous: Horizons , Witcher 3, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Fallout 4, Metal Gear Solid 5, Forza 6, The Beginner’s Guide, Halo 5, You Must Build A Boat, Ori and the Blind Forest

And another one. Two of my top three games of the decade, a quirky as hell but delightful JPRG, Fallout and Metal Gear, and some smaller indie stuff as well? Not quite as deep a bench as 2017, but other than that it’s hard to argue with what 2015 offered up.

3. 2012
No link!
Mass Effect 3, Forza Horizon, Journey, Dishonored, Borderlands 2, Dragon’s Dogma, Xcom, Guild Wars 2, FTL, Mark of the Ninja, 1000000

I suppose it should be expected that the last year in a console era should deliver, but 2012 didn’t disappoint. It had the Game of the Decade, obviously, but also a really great collection of games that either summed up the Xbox 360/PS3 era, or gave previous of great things to come.

4. 2018
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Red Dead Redemption 2, Destiny 2: Forsaken, Tetris Effect, God of War, Forza Horizon 4, Into the Breach, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Pyre, Gravity Rush Remastered and Gravity Rush 2, Rez Infinite

The second to last year in a console cycle should also deliver, too, and 2018 definitely brought a lot to the table. Two appearances by top ten games of the decade, a VERY strong year for Sony exclusives, and a return to from for Ubisoft made for a very eclectic year.

5. 2019
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Control, Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, Death Stranding, Valve Index, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, The Outer Worlds, Keep Talking and No One Explodes, Gears 5

You know, this year wasn’t bad at all, was it? Middle of the pack, sure, and maybe this is a bit of recency bias talking, but, that’s a really strong, memorable top three there, isn’t it?

6. 2010
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Mass Effect 2, Assassin's Creed 2 Brotherhood, Red Dead Redemption, WoW: Cataclysm, Halo Reach, Just Cause 2, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Fallout New Vegas, Dragon Quest 9, Heavy Rain

I’m struggling a bit about this one. I mean, what a lineup, right? But, I suppose 2010 suffers a bit simply because there’s been so much time for some of these stone cold classics to fade a bit in my mind, or be replaced in affection by more recent versions. Still, can’t say the decade didn’t start VERY strong indeed.

7. 2014
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Dragon Age Inquisition, Forza Horizon 2, Elite Dangerous, Transistor, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Link Between Worlds, South Park Stick of Truth, Shadow of Mordor, Threes, A Story About My Uncle

Not a weak year by any stretch, and it was the year that Elite Dangerous started, but it really reached it’s top three of the decade status in 2015. Other than than, a solid Forza entry and Dragon Age are great, but they just don’t make the year pop the way many of the above do.

8. 2011
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Skyrim, Forza 4, Xenoblade Chronicles, Portal 2, Witcher 2, Dead Space 2, Batman Arkham City, Bastion, Dragon Age 2, Saints Row 3

Like 2010, 2011 also suffers a bit because a lot of these games have been supplanted in my mind by more recent games. Also, as much as I loved Skyrim, in retrospect it’s like most Bethesda games for me where I am infatuated with their world, but only mildly impressed by what they choose to do within it.

9. 2016
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Elite Dangerous Content Updates, Forza Horizon 3, Witcher 3 DLC, Abzu, Final Fantasy XV, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Firewatch, The Witness, Inside, No Man’s Sky

This year was the real culmination of my love of Elite, and those were some AMAZING updates. Also, that Witcher 3 DLC is basically a full length, GOTY quality game of its own. And Forza Horizon 3 is still probably one of my favorite driving games ever. But it’s a nice but mild tempered list other than that, and the anchors weren’t anything truly new, just great additions to existing great things.

10. 2013
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Forza 5, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Assassin's Creed 4, Mass Effect 3 DLC, Bioshock Infinite, Rogue Legacy, Gone Home, Tomb Raider, GTA5, Forza Horizon Rally Expansion

The first year of a console cycle is always a bit of grab bag, right? Tons of promise and potential, but like 2010 and 2011, tons of opportunities to say that potential has now been fully realized in more recent years. Forza 5 was amazing, for example — there has never been a stronger console launch game that wasn’t Halo 1 or a Mario game, and it deserved top billing here — but Forza 7 contains that entire game and so much more now.


All Yearly Lists In Chronological Order


Spoiler:

2006
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Lumines Live, Final Fantasy 12, Shadow of the Colossus, Okami, Zelda: Twilight Princess, Oblivion, Gears of War, Chromehounds, Viva Pinata, Dead Rising, Saint’s Row

2007
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Mass Effect, Rock Band, Halo 3, Bioshock, Persona 3, Portal, Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Forza 2, Super Mario Galaxy, Crackdown

2008
Missing link!
WoW: Wrath of the Lich King, Rock Band 2, Fallout 3, The Witcher Enhanced Edition, Far Cry 2, Burnout Paradise, Fable 2, Left for Dead, Gears of War 2, Saints Row 2, Persona 4, GTA4

2009
Missing link!
Borderlands, Assassin’s Creed 2, Dragon Age, Forza 3, Shadow Complex, Batman Arkham Asylum, Uncharted 2, Flower, Red Faction Guerrilla, Left for Dead 2

2010
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Mass Effect 2, Assassin's Creed 2 Brotherhood, Red Dead Redemption, WoW: Cataclysm, Halo Reach, Just Cause 2, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Fallout New Vegas, Dragon Quest 9, Heavy Rain

2011
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Skyrim, Forza 4, Xenoblade Chronicles, Portal 2, Witcher 2, Dead Space 2, Batman Arkham City, Bastion, Dragon Age 2, Saints Row 3

2012
No link!
Mass Effect 3, Forza Horizon, Journey, Dishonored, Borderlands 2, Dragon’s Dogma, Xcom, Guild Wars 2, FTL, Mark of the Ninja, 1000000

2013
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Forza 5, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Assassin's Creed 4, Mass Effect 3 DLC, Bioshock Infinite, Rogue Legacy, Gone Home, Tomb Raider, GTA5, Forza Horizon Rally Expansion

2014
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Dragon Age Inquisition, Forza Horizon 2, Elite Dangerous, Transistor, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Link Between Worlds, South Park Stick of Truth, Shadow of Mordor, Threes, A Story About My Uncle

2015
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Elite Dangerous, Witcher 3, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Fallout 4, Metal Gear Solid 5, Forza 6, The Beginner’s Guide, Halo 5, You Must Build A Boat, Ori and the Blind Forest

2016
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Elite Dangerous, Forza Horizon 3, Witcher 3 DLC, Abzu, Final Fantasy XV, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Firewatch, The Witness, Inside, No Man’s Sky

2017
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Destiny 2, Nier: Automata, Mass Effect Andromeda, Persona 5, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Mario Odyssey, Forza 7, Dishonored 2

2018
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Red Dead Redemption 2, Destiny 2: Forsaken, Tetris Effect, God of War, Forza Horizon 4, Into the Breach, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Pyre, Gravity Rush Remastered and Gravity Rush 2, Rez Infinite

2019
https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/...
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Control, The Outer Wilds, Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, Death Stranding, Valve Index, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, The Outer Worlds, Keep Talking and No One Explodes

So yeah, this is a weird one for me as I got back into gaming a couple of years before this time frame. So by this decade I was gaming less edit: you know, on second thought, not only did I game less and less, I did so more and more as just a way to waste time when there was time that couldn't be put to more productive use. It started out *strong* with Mass Effect (lol) 2 and (barely ineligible) Borderlands being pure joy, and finished up with Persona 5's timesink quality being just what was needed along side its many, many charms. So here's to hoping that this new decade is the reverse of the last one.

1. Persona 5
2. BioShock: Infinite
3. BioShock 2
4. TitanFall
5. TitanFall 2
6. Borderlands: the Pre-Sequel
7. Borderlands 2
8. Bayonetta
9. Gone Home
10. Mass Effect 2

2nd(ish) edit: OH! just realized another parallel: I think the decade started with finally getting a PS3 (man that was a good looking console at that point), and Persona 5, the last game date-wise and the first game rank-wise, will probably be the last game played on that PS3!

zeroKFE wrote:

And speaking of that amazing combat design, it also was the game that had my favorite multiplayer horde mode of the decade. ME3 multiplayer was the best, and I’m sad for anyone who missed the chance to enjoy it in its day.

your whole post was amazing, and if the posts hadn't of crossed, it would have been hard to keep ME3 off my list after being reminded of that multiplayer. It really was the best.

zeroKFE wrote:

So without further ado, here we go.

I'll just say; damn. Lists of the decade.

I'd like to suggest that we be able to group game series. So Mass Effect instead of Mass Effect 2/3. I think that's a little more in the spirit of things? And I'm not sure there are many sequels that are so different from their originators that they demand separate entries.

kazooka wrote:

I'd like to suggest that we be able to group game series. So Mass Effect instead of Mass Effect 2/3. I think that's a little more in the spirit of things? And I'm not sure there are many sequels that are so different from their originators that they demand separate entries.

Maybe.

Except I explicitly want to state I'm not counting Dragon Age 2 if I list Inquisiton.

zeroKFE wrote:

Game of the Decade 2010 - 2019

Is this a record for the longest post on GWJ?

Seriously, I have to respect the effort you put into this...

Post of the decade.

1. Stardew Valley (PC, Mac) (my 2016 GOTY)

The unlikely marriage of charming pixel art, and wholesome storylines with the efficient maximization of resources and old-school keyboard controls combined to make Stardew Valley my game of the decade! With most games, you get a pretty good sense of the kinds of things that the game has to offer after an hour or two of gameplay; not so with Stardew Valley, which pleasantly surprised me with new events and new types of things to do and discover even many hours into the game.

2. Crypt of the Necrodancer (PC, Mac) (my 2015 #2)

Another game controllable with the arrow keys, this game's fantastic soundtrack, rhythm-based gameplay, easy-to-learn, hard-to-master skill curve, and fun leaderboarded daily run mode kept me playing this game for a long time; and many of the tracks are still in my listening rotation for work.

3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch) (my 2019 GOTY)

Although I never got deep into the single-player content, Smash Ultimate gave me the gift of bonding with my teen son, playing 2v2 couch co-op vs online on a regular basis, which earns it a high spot on this list. Plus, this has got to be the greatest cross-over game ever, right? This game lets you actually get empirical answers to heretofore-crazy questions such as "If Simon Belmont and Bowser teamed up against Mega Man and Cloud Strife, who would win?"

4. Slay the Spire (Mac) (my 2018 GOTY)

Slay the Spire really mastered the transformation of deck-builder games such as Dominion into a video game. Exploring and inventing strategies afforded by the characters, cards, items, and enemies was right up my alley.

5. Super Mario Maker (Wii U) (my 2015 GOTY)

This game might win the award for most pleasant surprise of the decade, for me. In retrospect, it should have been obvious that for me -- who, as a kid, spent time in class when I should have been paying attention to the lesson instead drawing new video game levels in my notebooks -- this game would be a great fit! It was also a perfect fit for it's platform, with the Wii U's pressure-based touch screen and Miiverse social features.

6. Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch) (my 2017 GOTY)

Breath of the Wild finally realized what the original Legend of Zelda (NES) was envisioned to be: A full open world for Link to explore, with dungeons to explore, secrets to uncover, and enemies to defeat. BotW really did give me the same feeling of discovery that I remember from playing the NES Zelda as a kid, of turning a bend and discovering a strange new dungeon or location to explore.

7. Starcraft 2 (PC)

One of the few games I've attended a midnight launch for, this sequel to the original masterful multi-faction RTS did manage to surpass the original, delivering both interesting single-player campaigns and quality, skill-based multi-player matchmaking. I briefly flirted with the idea of trying to play competitively shortly after the game's release, before realizing that I'd never be able to keep up skill-wise with the Gamers Without Jobs and others who make up the game's top skill tiers.

8. FTL (PC)

I loved the way FTL let me act like a Star Trek captain, giving orders like "Target their weapons!" or "Target their bridge!", and having those decisions absolutely be meaningful to the outcomes of battles.

9. Mario Kart 8 (Wii U, Switch) (my 2017 #7)

While appearing relatively low on my original Game of the Year list, Mario Kart 8 has proven to have some surprising legs due to One Weird Trick that I discovered with it: I have an annoying and persistent fear of airline turbulence (despite knowing that flying is as perfectly safe as anything can be), but while playing MK8, that fear almost goes away. I guess, while concentrating on racing, my brain thinks the bouncing around is just nice special effects of the in-game driving...? In any event, this game has continued to help me in a real way, and so earns a spot on this list.

10. Vigil RPG (iPhone)

Vigil RPG let me realize my game of becoming a real game developer. It was pretty darn cool deciding that since I couldn't find the game I wanted to play on the iOS platform, I'd write it myself... and having that come out pretty well! Although not at all a commercial success -- I intentionally decided not to go the route of a potentially lucrative freemium game, since that wasn't the game I wanted to play -- it was still a thrill to have Touch Arcade name Vigil RPG one of the top 10 RPGs available on iPhone, on a list alongside such series as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest! Most importantly, I enjoyed playing Vigil RPG myself quite a bit, and many of those few others who have discovered it have offered some very kind words as well.

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