As we say goodbye to the last decade and stagger bleary-eyed into the new one, terrified at the amount of money we need to save to afford all the amazing titles and next-gen consoles, we thought it would be a good idea to pay homage to the quality library of games from the last ten years.
I spoke to the team and got their thoughts on which games between 2010 – 2019 they’d crown GAME OF THE DECADE and which console they thought was deserving of PLATFORM OF THE DECADE…
James Bowers – Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
It may sound like an obvious answer (because it is) but Skyrim showed us just what an open world game could be. Elder Scrolls has been a double-edged sword throughout history for Bethesda, allowing for crazy internal expansion when times are good and nearly shuttering the studio when instalments don’t meet expectations. No worries about what side of the line Skyrim falls on. It was so successful it has since been ported to almost every platform imaginable, you can even play it on a gosh darn Amazon Alexa for crying out loud! There aren’t many games that allow you to have 50+ hours of side quest adventures before really getting into the main campaign, and even if you do, you never feel like you’ve broken the game by doing so. The sheer amount of customisation, exploration and possibilities mean no one’s experience with the game is the same. You might have been a Stormcloak rebel who lead the continent to xenophobic revolution, only to turn your back on the cause to join The Dark Brotherhood whilst I, on the other hand, crushed the rebellion as a loyal Legate of the Imperial army whilst hiding my lycanthropy and escapades with The Companions from those around me. I daren’t even think about how many hours I’ve sunk into this cross platform legend over the last few years…probably too many; but no regrets!
Dan Dudley – Fallout: New Vegas
New Vegas is a standout of the RPG genre and the only modern Fallout game to consistently recapture just what made the originals so great. It has some of the strongest writing and worldbuilding of the franchise, let alone the genre, with the DLC stories able to stand as exemplary games in their own right. Opening with a Tabula Rasa & just letting you carve your own story through the wasteland, NV even manages to bring a new twist to that with the Ulysses arc. Having a team led by Josh Sawyer & writing from Chris Avellone from the original Fallout series developers Black Isle, now at Obsidian & commissioned by Bethesda to create the game, may have helped just a teeny little bit.
David Heath – Spider-Man PS4
Spider-Man PS4 actually managed to shed the shackles of cheap-feeling movie tie-in. Games based on TV, film or comic properties have historically felt like a knock-off version of what a game should actually be, but this one went above and beyond what any of us expected. Based during a later period in Peter Parker’s life, a setting not really explored outside of the Parker Industries run of Marvel comics, we were treated to a surprisingly engrossing original story. Developed by veteran studio Insomniac, it was delivered with all the polish of a AAA blockbuster. It was well acted, played well and I don’t think I could ever get tired of swinging through the city. It’s one of the very few games I’ve 100% and I can’t wait for a sequel to be announced.
Daniel Hawkins – Pokemon GO
For most of the decade I only really played mobile games, and although I’ve started to diversify that a little bit, I couldn’t really give this nomination to anything else. It’s the game that mobilised the globe. EVERYONE was doing it. You couldn’t nip to the shop without bumping into someone throwing virtual poke balls at a Pidgey. As well as getting out and burning calories, there’s been great news stories about Pokemon GO players helping the environment (litter picking etc). The organised events and social interactions have been pretty unparalleled, with local trainers joining up at their community or shopping centres to take on a new raid or rare Pokemon. As the first truly successful location-based game, I can see a lot trying to mirror this formula going forward. Pokemon is a huge IP for my generation, and I was so pleased to see it back in the wider public eye!
Paul Grant – Call of Duty: Black Ops
Released WAY back at the start of the decade, it was the best instalment in the series since the original Modern Warfare in 2007. I spent a lot of my formative high school years racing my friends to the top of the online leaderboards, which included a lot of late nights. The Pentagon map was a classic location, and one of my favourites, for the Zombies game mode. I don’t think it has been matched since. This was classic Call of Duty, back before the franchise went absolutely mental with exo-suits and space combat. Don’t get me wrong, the newest Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is shaping up to be a fantastic re-imagining of the series, but there’s just something about Black Ops that’s stuck with me all of these years.
Jordan Bateman – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade is like no other game I’ve played in the last decade. The sheer amount of research that went into making it and the end result that it created is enough to justify my vote. The exploration into mental health issues highlighted by the themes within the game, the Norse/Celtic history that serves as the backdrop and the technology that allowed it all to come together work in harmony to create something truly unique. The face and motion tracking on display is astounding throughout and that can be seen even more clearly with the recent announcement of a sequel for Xbox Series X. It’s currently on Game Pass so if you haven’t picked this up, please do so!
Rian Luke – Monster Hunter: World
Monster Hunter World was such an awesome return to form from a series that’s been stuck in the handheld space for years. It not only met my expectations but blew them out of the water, giving me easily a hundred hours of enjoyment plus when I look at just the base game content. To then follow this up with the Iceborne DLC was more than I could have hoped for. As endgame content goes, this has to be up there with some of the best expansions ever released. With big monsters and bigger swords, what’s not to love?
Jasmin Ali – Life is Strange
I find I gravitate to more interactive visual novel-based games when I want to unwind, and this is a great example of the genre! It makes you really think about the choices you make, knowing that every one of them will probably come back to haunt you later in the game. When I was finished with it, I immediately wanted to jump back in to explore the other ways the narrative could have gone. You definitely don’t get that with many games! The game evolved from a little title not a lot of people had heard about to the darling of 2015. No small feat for a game by a small and relatively unheard-of French studio! The main themes are time manipulation and friendship, which sounds like a cheesy 80s movie premise, but trust me, it’s handled much better than that.
Molly Shepherd-Boden – Animal Crossing: New Leaf
This family friendly life-sim has always been incredible, hasn’t it? That being said, the most recent instalment for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems is the best yet (or at least until March when we get New Horizons for the Switch). The series has never been stingy with its rewards system, but this instalment boosted the day-to-day volume of new collectables and customisation options you’re given to an insane degree. You’ll still be doing everything you’re used to, collecting furniture and paying off your ever-present debt to that loan shark raccoon, but the amount of customisation and identity building on offer means you can enjoy this game any which way you like. Unlike SIMS, you’re not going to be driving yourself mad with urgent status meters flashing red.
Kirsten White – GTAV
I love open world games, and what an open world this is! The diverse missions and the fact they were split across three very colourful protagonists made me fall in love with this game instantly. There aren’t many titles where you feel like the missions could be optional to your own chaos. The sandbox like nature of just doing your own thing for a few hours and making your own fun is the holy grail of game development as replayability becomes infinite. This was expanded upon, admittedly quite late after launch, with GTA Online. Being able to mess things up with friends or strangers, anywhere in the world, was (and still is) incredible. It might be coming into its 7th year, with Rockstar having made more money than Jeff Bezos is worth from it, but the server population tells me this won’t be slowing down anytime soon!
The Switch couldn’t be anymore peak Nintendo if it tried. Ignoring the competition and pushing innovation, the gamble has certainly paid off for them this console generation. The console has not only become home to excellent first party titles, but a porting haven for indies and mammoth sized studios alike. Who’d have thought we’d get to play The Witcher 3 on the commute to work?
Was your favourite game not on this list? Let us know your thoughts @AardvarkSwift!