Top 10 Video Games of the 2010s

The best of a decade full of great games

Garret Roberts, Arts and Entertainment Editor

While many genres of media have had a successful decade, none have seen the jump in culture that gaming has. From the Nintendo 3DS to virtual reality, gaming is nothing like the previous generations. Stories have got deeper, music is fully orchestrated and graphics are becoming more life-like every day.

As a result, this decade has been great for video games. Offering a variety of ways to play, here are just a few of the games that defined a generation of gaming. The games included were only those I played, so if your favorite didn’t make it, it may be one of the many gems I missed over the past 10 years.

#10 – Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018)


While “Iron Man” may have fathered the MCU, Marvel’s Spider-Man redefined what a licensed game looks like. While series like Kingdom Hearts have found unique and strange ways to tell stories with established characters, such as casting Mickey Mouse as a darkness slaying warrior, Insomniac Games took a much simpler route and made a new story for a beloved superhero.

While Spider-Man has seen plenty of screen time in video games, Marvel’s Spider-Man gave the web-slinger the treatment he deserved. The combat is nothing to write home about, but the world exploration and crime-stopping side quest immediately hooked players into loving the new game. The new era of superhero games is beginning, with Sony taking the charge in full stride.

#9 – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)


The Elder Scrolls series has been around for a long time, with a legacy spanning all the way back to 1994 on the MS-DOS. While the series was never unpopular, having a cult following until the eventual release of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the game that truly put the Elder Scrolls on the map was none other than The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

The pure staying power of Skyrim is impressive, offering itself to players for multiple adventures and save files to experiment with throughout the past nine years. Despite the glitches and odd voice acting, the game is considered a classic among players and remains one of the most beloved games of all time. There is no point in Skyrim that you want to skip, even when trying to use a plate to speed run.

#8 – DOOM (2016)


If you want a complex game system with emotional storytelling, “DOOM” is not the game for you. A metal-fueled romp through Mars and Hell, Bethesda’s new incarnation of the 1993 classic offers plenty of simple-minded fun of blowing things up with a big science gun.

That’s what makes DOOM so special: it’s simple. Rather than a horror game with a tragic villain, filled with large orchestral pieces, Bethesda gave players something to turn their brain off and play. There’s no puzzles in DOOM, unless you consider shooting floating eye monsters and skeletons a brain teaser.

While I’m convinced the Doomslayer could not solve a rubric cube, the intense metal soundtrack and pure juvenile fun of the game makes the experience worth picking up. Redefining the single-player shooter, DOOM is a one of a kind series that has finally recovered from the awkward state it was left in before this game came out. I cannot recommend the game to everyone; not every player can stomach a game where the main character rips demons in half. But for those interested in the future of first-person shooters, DOOM is a necessary adventure.

#7 – Horizon: Zero Dawn (2017)


To be perfectly honest, I bought Horizon: Zero Dawn to get a PlayStation beanie and completely forgot about it for the longest time. To this day, that was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. As a result, I missed out on one of the best PlayStation Originals for years and didn’t get to experience this breathtaking game with the rest of the world.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is a unique combination of primeval hunting and science fiction that should not work as well as it does. Offering some of the best stealth mechanics in gaming, as well as a complex combat system and interesting world, the game is one of the most complete open-world experiences you can play.

While games like Skyrim may offer more hours overall, Horizon: Zero Dawn has a story worth telling and lets you have fun as you learn about it. Offering an example of how the open-world genre should operate,and giving players full agency in a complex area, this is one worth giving a chance.

#6 – Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018)


Super Smash Bros. has always been a beloved series, serving as both a fighting game and celebration of gaming. Before this decade, it had only been a celebration of Nintendo games with the occasional character from outside their own systems, such as Solid Snake.

Jump to 2018’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the statement “everybody is here” couldn’t be more true. Featuring series like Persona, Final Fantasy, Banjo and Kazooie and Dragon Quest, the game allows fans of any genre to enjoy the game and makes a great pastime when you want to play a simple, but fun game with friends.

Offering pure fun, as well as competitive potential, Smash Ultimate is a game that anybody can enjoy regardless of skill level. Characters are easy to use, but hard to master, making the game an easy way to lose your time. This entry into the series shows no signs of slowing down with updates in 2020, making it a game that keeps on giving.

#5 – Dead Cells (2018)


When I first saw Dead Cells, it didn’t interest me enough to make the investment into buying the game. Seemingly copying the formula of another “hard” game on this list, the repetitiveness of dying turned me away around its release. I heard nothing but good things about the game but didn’t take that plunge until the turn of the decade.

Dead Cells is exactly what indie games should strive to be: simple, aesthetically unique and fun. Every environment is memorable, the story is worth playing through and the game makes you want to keep playing every time you fail. Dead Cells is a unique kind of game, offering the charm and joy that only an indie game can provide.

#4 – God of War (2018)


God of War had always been a fairly simple series, featuring a very angry generic protagonist doing unspeakably brutal acts to Greek gods. After the third entry to the series, it seemed an end had finally been reached in Kratos story and the gaming world would soon forget the incredibly angry Spartan. those assumptions would soon be shattered.

God of War isn’t a reboot or re-imagining of the first game, instead it revealed itself to be a progression of the series in a new direction. Now armed with a son, Kratos faces the struggles that come with being a father and demigod. While the family angle of Kratos’ life sounds like the set up to a sitcom, the inclusion of Atreus adds an immense amount of impact to the emotional narrative of the story and makes the journey with Kratos a lot more personal.

Of course, God of War wouldn’t be the same without mythological combat. Fighting the Norse pantheon of creatures and gods is still as fun as the originals, now with a more in-depth combat system that encourages players to think on their feet. Despite the joke title of “Dad of Boy,” this is a game with a compelling narrative, beautiful world-building, and amazing gameplay that you don’t want to miss.

#3 – Dark Souls (2011)

As a fan of the series, Dark Souls is a special kind of suffering. The games are genuinely difficult, requiring perfect timing on attacks, dodging and frame perfect healing to succeed. Even with all of those elements mastered, players who have an unoptimized load out or build will soon find themselves wishing they had stuck with Super Mario Galaxy.

Setting the bar for the “hard game” genre, Dark Souls offered a challenge to other game developers to stop holding the hand of players and create games worth sitting through the struggle of failure. Instead of offering a light challenge and offering praise, games took a dark turn into difficulty and deeper storytelling. While RPGs like Skyrim were bringing the curve down to accommodate everyone’s play style, Dark Souls required players to adapt and overcome their own weaknesses to provide a true test of skill.

While Dark Souls 3 may be the more polished system overall, having mastered the aesthetic and game play through time, the original entry to the story of Lordran and the Chosen Undead ultimately made an impact that is hard to forget.

#2 – Minecraft (2011)

Minecraft is fun, but I cannot tell you why it’s so fun. My favorite memories of the game were spent with friends, in both modded and vanilla versions of the game. When I dive into the game, I’ll spend hours building a house with enough room to house everything and editing the outside to make it more than a dirt box in the middle of nowhere. When modded, I like to experiment with the magic mods while my long-time Minecraft co-op buddy plays with science.

That’s what makes Minecraft special. I could never describe this game in a way that would do it justice because my experience is what makes it so unique. It is not the mods, not the building, not the survival, but the personal experiences that each person has playing through the game. Whether with friends or solo, the game has something that attracts individual people into spending hours and hours looking at blocks in a digital world.

Minecraft made something unique for gaming: a shared experience of fun and creativity. Everybody has their own unique map, story, and style of play, but everyone also shares the experience of getting killed by Creepers. Other games have tried to take the spot of King, but nobody can dethrone the beast that is Minecraft.

#1 – Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a one of a kind video game, possibly making it one of the best games of all time. Going against many of the designs that made the previous games immensely popular, this entry to the Zelda series completely rejuvenated the franchise and set a new bar for video game excellence.

For Nintendo, the Legend Of Zelda series has always been a critically acclaimed console pusher, but the pure beauty and innovation in Breath of the Wild made it an experience worth buying. Hyrule is a beautiful landscape, with something to do in every nook and cranny. Accompanied by the classic Nintendo flair for excellent aesthetics, the world feels more lively than anything else this decade.

To make it better, the game doesn’t even require you to see any of what makes it beautiful. If you want to run all the way to Gannon in your boxers with a tree branch, the game lets you. If you want to do everything possible in the world before you have to leave it, that’s possible too.

Nintendo’s goal ever since their creation has been to create games that are fun for everyone, not worrying about appealing to one audience or demographic. I actively went out of my way to not complete this game for the longest time, not because I felt an obligation to a side quest or grind for the final boss, but because I was having too much fun.

In the words of the former president of Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Aimé, “If it’s not fun, then why bother?”