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Updated on Dec 9, 2019. Posted on Dec 9, 2019

The 20 Best Video Games Of The Decade, Ranked

Yes, they're ranked. Yes, you can argue with me.

20. Super Mario Odyssey

Nintendo

The Nintendo Switch dropped on us in 2017, and we were immediately charmed. Super Mario Odyssey was the perfect flagship title, providing a fresh take on the Mario franchise with a new (and kinda horrifying, when you think about it) mechanic in Cappy. It's just good old-fashioned, well-designed Mario fun.

19. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Ubisoft

This franchise has had some highs and lows over the last decade, and to me, it seems that each installment post-Ezio has had trouble lining everything up right. The game play may have been great, but the story fell flat. Or the story was excellent, but the mechanics were a bit off. Or both were good, but the game was plagued with graphical glitches. Black Flag may not have been a perfect game, but the focus on naval battles breathed new life into the franchise. And who doesn't look back fondly on sailing the Caribbean at dusk, listening to their crew sing "Lowlands Away"?

18. Borderlands 2

Gearbox

The entire Borderlands series is the very definition of "not for everyone." And that's understandable: Borderlands 2 came out in 2012, and as is the case with a lot of comedy from 8 to 10 years ago, some of the jokes do not hold up very well. Still, BL2 practically founded the loot-shooter genre, made it into something truly fun and zany, and even managed to make gear grinding a fun and rewarding endeavor. And of course, the game benefits from perhaps the most wonderfully love-to-hate-him villain in all of video game history, Handsome Jack, brought to life by a great performance from voice actor Dameon Clarke.

17. Batman: Arkham Knight

Rocksteady Studios

For a long time, Batman video games didn't really feel like Batman. The earliest iterations were basically just side-scrolling beat-'em-ups, and while Lego Batman was a ton of fun, it's practically a whole different character. The Arkham series changed all that, and Arkham Knight is the pinnacle of the set. Not only is the combat intensely satisfying and just tactical enough to make you feel like Batman, but there's always some detective work required of the World's Greatest Detective. Plus, driving around in the Batmobile is hella fun.

16. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Konami

If you can ignore the missing ending — cut because of budget, time constraints, and perhaps some corporate politics — this game absolutely belongs on the list. The way MGSV took the series' Tactical Espionage Action and put it into an open world worked seamlessly, offering what feels like infinite ways to approach each sneaking mission. It lacked some of the wackier Hideo Kojima flair of earlier installments, but there's no doubt that game play–wise, MGSV is brilliant.

15. Dark Souls

Bandai Namco

I need to admit something: I hate Dark Souls. Yes, it has some really great world building and lore, but I'm just not good enough, and I refuse to git gud. I'm an old man and I don't have the time. But I can recognize a game changer when I see it, and Dark Souls single-handedly defined a subgenre with many copycats to follow. There's something to be said for that kind of accomplishment.

14. Rocket League

Psyonix

Honestly, how could a game that combines soccer with rocket-powered race cars NOT be one of the best of the decade? Rocket League is just plain fun; it's especially a blast with friends, and it was one of the first games on next-gen consoles to support cross-play between platforms. Fun AND revolutionary.

13. BioShock Infinite

2K

Nothing could ever match the genius of the plot twist in the original BioShock, but Infinite certainly tried its best. There's a lot to unpack in this mind-bending story, and that story is supported by stunning visuals, incredible world building, and haunting use of music. It's the kind of game that almost makes you hope they never make another in the series, because how can you top it?

12. Minecraft

Microsoft

Any game that reaches Minecraft's levels of popularity — especially among younger crowds — is likely to be the butt of jokes (see Fortnite). But those games are usually popular for a reason. Minecraft is an endless well of creativity and freedom, and players have used that to every advantage, making some truly impressive builds.

11. Destiny

Bungie

It's easy to make Destiny sound like a goofy-ass game, what with all the space magic and wizards on the moon. But when it comes to lore, Destiny has tremendous depth, even when the story seems a bit light on the surface. The game play is addictive in PvE, with the loot grind and well-designed raids, and a lot of fun in PvP, even if you don't consider yourself a PvP player. Destiny 2 certainly deserves an honorable mention here as well, especially after Forsaken patched up some issues.

10. Undertale

Toby Fox

It's tough to properly describe Undertale in a way that does it justice, and looking at a screenshot might raise more questions than it answers. But the game's innovation while paying homage to games past, heart while creating a distinct atmosphere, and simplicity while providing depth of game play are all beyond impressive. Add on a killer soundtrack and voilà, you have yourself a cult hit.

9. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

CD Projekt

When it comes to story and character, Witcher 3 is nearly unmatched. There's a reason why this game is so beloved by fans, and why it's being adapted into a Netflix show due out this month.

8. The Last of Us

Naughty Dog

Voice acting in video games can be tough. There can be hours of dialogue, in addition to little quips here and there that you might not even have context for. But the acting in The Last of Us is some of the best you'll find in any video game, and it's just one piece of what makes this title one of the best of the decade, if not all time. It's a testament to the emotional core of this game that it can be a little tough to play through, not because it's difficult or excessively gory, but because it's just that devastating.

7. Mass Effect 2

Bioware

For many, Mass Effect 2 is the pinnacle of video game storytelling. It rivals any Hollywood production, providing characters with depth and a gripping story, all supplemented by satisfying action RPG game play. It's the kind of game that people will be talking about for decades.

6. Red Dead Redemption

Rockstar

We could talk about how Red Dead Redemption 2 came on the scene and wowed everyone with its attention to detail, but let's give some props to the original. RDR was a morality tale about the cycle of violence disguised as a Western shooter. It's one thing to make a fun game with a good story; it's quite another to make a game with something to say.

5. Stardew Valley

Sickhead Games

It's not just a farming game. Stardew Valley is pure happiness distilled into an indie title that also happens to be a farming game. There are few games out there that show so much heart, where you can feel how much love went into making it. Wait for a rainy day, make a mug of hot cocoa, wrap yourself in a blanket, and play it.

4. God of War

Santa Monica Studios

The earlier installments in the God of War franchise were fun, provocative...and always a little embarrassing. It's tough to take a game seriously when it starts with a quick-time-event threesome. But those games were never really meant to be taken seriously; God of War is. This reboot is a complete tonal overhaul, centering on an emotional, intimate story involving a father grieving over the loss of his wife and trying to care for a son he doesn't really know how to care for, all while being swept up once again in the machinations of the gods (Norse, this time). The addition of the simple yet satisfying weapon mechanic (Kratos's ax isn't Mjolnir, but it feels like it!) is just the cherry on top.

3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nintendo

I need to admit something shameful: I didn't like Breath of the Wild. I know, I'm a tasteless idiot. Something about how open the world was, how fragile your weapons were, and the overreliance on crafting made me feel overwhelmed. HOWEVER, I can recognize a beautiful piece of art when I see it, and this is one. The freedom of this game is spectacular; it was just too much for me.

2. Portal 2

Valve

There are a lot of games that attempt humor, and some of them manage to get it right. Portal 2, however, is one of those games where you eagerly await every new batch of dialogue because you know it'll delight you. It's a game that — along with the original — spawned memes and still has people quoting it, thanks to the sharp, hilarious dialogue. But on top of that, you also have game play with deceptively simple mechanics that provides devious and satisfying puzzles. Call me a fanboy if you want, but few games have ever been as memorable to me as Portal 2.

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Bethesda

Bethesda (the studio that created The Elder Scrolls) has a reputation in the gaming world for outlandish — and often hilarious — visual glitches. Skyrim is full of them. But it's a testament to the game that none of that matters; it's all just part of the charm. Skyrim is endlessly replayable, full of deep lore and gripping story, and packed with details and secrets. The addition of fan-made mods on the PC version creates even more customization and challenges. At release, it was a phenomenon, and years later, it's still the subject of many a meme. The impact of Skyrim on the gaming landscape of the 2010s is undeniable.

Did I leave anything out? Does one of these games definitely NOT deserve to be here? Yell at me in the comments!

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