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The 100 best games of the decade

40. Civilization 5

(Image credit: Firaxis Games)

Year: 2010 | Developer: Firaxis Games

It's been a good decade for Frixaxis' signature series, with two new Civilization games launching in 2010 and 2017 respectively. Now both could have been on this list, but we plumped for Civ 5, as it opened up the series to players who might have found earlier versions less-than-accessible, as well as shaking the series up by introducing hexagonal tiles and only having one combat unit per tile. Fun fact: My dad has played 2001 hours of this game, so I feel confident saying it's quite good. Ben Tyrer

(Image credit: PlatinumGames)

39. Nier: Automata
Year:
2017 | Developer: PlatinumGames

Nier: Automata is a philosophical action RPG that truly begins with its first true ending. Its tale of robots and androids on a post-human Earth is equal parts enchanting, confusing, depressing, and amusing. Even if that doesn't sound like your kind of game, the core battle system will keep you locked in with an exciting blend of combo-driven melee combat and shoot-em-up bullet dodging. Nier: Automata is PlatinumGames' trademark action at its most accessible, and JRPG storytelling at its most existential. Connor Sheridan

(Image credit: Infinite Fall)

38. Night in the Woods
Year:
2017 | Developer: Infinite Fall

"At the end of everything, hold onto anything." It's not often that you come across an adventure game with a focus on exploration that so excellently blends relatable anthropomorphic characters with bizarre and outlandish occurrences, but Night in the Woods does just that and so much more besides. Mae Borowski is arguably one of the best protagonists of the last decade, and Infinite's Fall's destigmatising exploration of mental health has resonated with players everywhere for its honest and respectful portrayal. Heather Wald

(Image credit: Mossmouth)

37. Spelunky
Year:
2012 | Developer: Mossmouth

It's already been seven years since Spelunky was remade for console, and I'm still not certain that we've seen everything that it has to offer intrepid explorers. Mossmouth's wondrous 2D platformer brings organised chaos to procedural generation, and the result is a masterwork of level design. Spelunky teaches its systems, mechanics, controls, and rules through a consistent stream of punishment, and yet it's impossible to put down once it sinks its hooks into you. Josh West 

(Image credit: Resonair)

36. Tetris Effect
Year:
2018 | Developer: Monstars, Resonair

Turns out the perfect halfway point between "hallucinogenic spiritual experience" and "ideal virtual reality demo" is a Tetris-powered music visualizer. Tetris Effect is a game in which you play Tetris surrounded by beautiful star whales and monks that chant aggressively while on fire. It's a damn fine game of Tetris regardless of whether you're dropping blocks on a standard screen or in a VR headset, but the latter option truly makes Tetris Effect into an unforgettable and otherworldly experience. Connor Sheridan

35. Red Dead Redemption 2

(Image credit: Rockstar North)

Year: 2018 | Developer: Rockstar Games

Every tree in Red Dead Redemption 2 feels like it's been hand planted, fertilised, and watered each day until it's exactly the right size, as ordained by the technical wizards at Rockstar. This wild west tale is the closest thing we have to historical simulation, and frankly, anyone who takes an easy shot at Red Dead Redemption 2's control scheme needs to boot it up, saddle the nearest horse, and take a trip across open country to remind themselves of why it is true Game of the Decade material. Alex Avard

(Image credit: Media Molecule)

34. LittleBigPlanet 2
Year:
2011 | Developer: Media Molecule

Building on the success of its original creative toolbox, LittleBigPlanet 2 gave players the chance to move beyond simple platforming levels to build RPGs, racing games, and more. For budding Hideo Kojimas there was a new cutscene creator too, all delivered with the same irresistible Media Molecule charm and delight that we've come to know and love. LittleBigPlanet 2 is a game that celebrates creativity, giving you everything you could possibly need to leave your own mark on the wonderful world of video games. Rachel Weber

(Image credit: Bungie)

33. Destiny 2
Year:
2017 | Developer: Bungie

Destiny 2 is both hauntingly reminiscent of its predecessor and superior in almost every way. It, too, stumbled in its first year and only found its footing after a fundamental overhaul. But by inviting players into its narrative and embracing its MMO influences, Destiny 2 has grown into the engrossing, evolving space drama that Bungie always wanted to create. It's the silkiest shooter ever made, and after all these years, there's still nothing else like it – and there won't be until Destiny 3. Austin Wood

(Image credit: Mobius Digital)

32. Outer Wilds
Year:
2019 | Developer: Mobius Digital

Outer Wilds is about the search for truth; a pursuit which, at the end of this particular decade, feels more important than ever. Knowledge is power in this handcrafted cosmos, where the discovery and application of information represents the only viable path to progress. Don't confuse Outer Wilds for a cold and distant space sim, however; beneath that intelligently designed outer crust, you'll find a moving meditation on some of the biggest questions of the universe, posed with masterful elegance and humanism by developer Mobius Digital. Alex Avard

(Image credit: Visceral Games)

31. Dead Space 2
Year:
2011 | Developer: Visceral Games

Dead Space 2 is an assault on the senses. It's as if Visceral Games uttered an incantation of pure terror and summoned this unyielding experience into the ether. The studio reinvented (and immediately redefined) the survival horror genre when this landed in 2011. Dead Space 2 is an intense and innovative adventure, effortlessly fostering a pervading sense of unease through its atmospheric environments, abrasive mechanics, and cut-throat combat. It's an incredible achievement of action and horror that developers are still trying to replicate to this day. Josh West

30. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

(Image credit: Konami)

Year: 2016 | Developer: Kojima Productions

Metal Gear Solid 5 is a contradiction. It's the biggest the series has ever been, giving you two massive sandboxes full of idiosyncratic touches that make Hideo Kojima games so compelling. It's also notoriously been debated to death over how finished it was (it's not, that's the point). Ignore that noise, though, as the real joy of the game is discovering the sheer breadth of Punished Snake's abilities. Discovering what you can do with the Fulton extraction system is one of this decade's greatest pleasures. Ben Tyrer

(Image credit: Fullbright)

29. Gone Home
Year:
2013 | Developer: The Fullbright Company

Gone Home set a new standard for narrative-driven adventure games. It is further proof that video games can, and should, be about anything and everything. Its haunting atmosphere, exhaustive attention to detail, and focus a quietly personable story – one told entirely through environmental storytelling and exploration – helped establish Gone Home as a unique, relatable, and heartfelt expression love and loss. Gone Home is a focused and determined experience; a game built by curious designers for curious players. Josh West

(Image credit: Obsidian Games)

28. Fallout: New Vegas
Year:
2010 | Developer: Obsidian Entertainment

Fallout: New Vegas will be remembered for many things (Matthew Perry, Fisto the sexbot, the list goes on) but, for me, it'll always be the Fallout game that respected my curiosity. Turn a corner, and a semi-cognizant ghoul will be pitching a get-rich-quick scheme in irradiated organ harvesting. Spelunk a cave, and some engorged abomination will emerge, asking for a shoulder to cry on. New Vegas is a nightmarish wonderland of freaks and tomfoolery and remains a joy to explore almost a decade on from launch. Alex Avard

(Image credit: Polytron)

27. Fez
Year:
2012 | Developer: Polytron

Fez is best described as wickedly inventive. It's a game that unequivocally exists within a league of its own, a mind-bending puzzle-platformer that revels in embracing an obtuse design and an extraordinary execution. Fez draws its challenge out across wonderfully intuitive 2D spaces in a fully three-dimensional world; it asks you to gain perspective through discovery and pushes you to embrace the freedom it affords you, it's an esoteric adventure that's best explored when you're blind to its mysteries and depth. Josh West

(Image credit: Nintendo)

26. Super Mario Galaxy 2
Year:
2010 | Developer: Nintendo

It's frustrating, it's superfluous, it's bloody brilliant. Super Mario Galaxy 2 takes the best parts of the original and turns the dial up to 11, dropping you into trippy worlds with trippy physics that demand your rapt attention. It feels like Nintendo had a bit of freedom to go buck wild – the game came out shortly after New Super Mario Bros. Wii, so perhaps no one was tethered to the worries of turning a profit. And thus, greatness was created. Alyssa Mercante

25. Assassin's Creed Odyssey

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Year: 2018 | Developer: Ubisoft 

The Assassin's Creed series could have easily taken another hiatus following the operatic prestige of Origins, but Ubisoft struck gold once again not one year later. The franchise had been dipping its toes in the role-playing genre for years, but Odyssey completed the full pivot, giving players total control of either Alexios or Kassandra in both conversation and combat. The result was an AC game that felt just as fresh and exciting as its Egyptian predecessor, reminding us once again that this series is far from losing its relevance. Alex Avard

(Image credit: Blizzard)

24. Overwatch
Year:
2016 | Developer: Blizzard

It's not easy to make you care about characters in a game that has no campaign, but Overwatch pulls it off. The rare mix of rich, thoughtful lore and genuinely fun, vibrant gameplay makes this hero shooter one for the ages. You find yourself torn between choosing a hero not just because of their abilities, but because of your personal connection to them. Plus the dev team adjusts the game religiously, keeping it (relatively) fair and balanced despite regular additions to the squad. Alyssa Mercante

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

23. Bloodborne
Year:
2015 | Developer: FromSoftware

If Demon's Souls established the template of pain and punishment that has become so ubiquitous in gaming today; if Dark Souls is responsible for streamlining the core systems and mechanics of play; then Bloodborne is the glorious culmination of six years of dutiful iteration and evolution for developer FromSoftware. This gothic nightmare is a game of ingeniously designed boss battles, balanced combat, and undoubtedly one of the coolest and most atmospheric spaces we've seen a game this decade. Josh West

(Image credit: Niantic)

22. Pokemon Go 
Year:
2016 | Developer: Niantic

Pokemon Go was marketed as Pokemon come to life; the first-ever advert showed Snorlax asleep in the middle of a bridge, Charizard wandering around some mountains, and Pikachu scampering through an alleyway. While it's not quite as realistic as that, Pokemon Go is the closest thing there is to becoming an actual Pokemon trainer yourself. Niantic got us up off the sofa, out of the house, and into the real world to try and catch 'em all – the importance and impact of that can't be overstated. Ford James

(Image credit: Arkane Studios)

21. Dishonored 2
Year:
2016 | Developer: Arkane Studios

This decade has given us some of the finest levels and set-pieces in gaming history, and Dishonored 2's Clockwork Mansion – an Escherian labyrinth of shifting structures and deadly traps – is up there with the very best of them. It's just one standout in a complete package of stealth-gaming greatness, however, as Arkane's sequel distils the science of supernatural slaughter to perfection, conjuring up another indelible immersive sim saturated with history and character. Dishonored 2 is the stealth game of the generation. Alex Avard

20. Dark Souls

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Year: 2011 | Developer: FromSoftware

Dark Souls' magic lies in its mix of gothic design and gameplay that tests players to destruction. Exploring the shadowy open world is a lesson in caution and patience, as dangers and grotesque enemies lurk in every dimly lit corner, and death means losing your hard-fought rewards. Dark Souls' punishing difficulty meant finishing the game was a badge of honour for the hardcore – like a Transylvanian Tough Mudder – and a satisfying challenge for anyone who could make it through. Rachel Weber

(Image credit: Epic)

19. Fortnite
Year:
2017 | Developer: Epic Games

Fortnite changed the games industry. You can argue until blue in the face whether that's for better or for worse, but there's no denying that Epic Games' battle royale experiment has been transformative. It has brought players from all walks of life together, a true global phenomenon that has penetrated popular culture unlike, arguably, anything else released this decade. Perhaps more importantly, though, it has helped to tear down the cross-platform play barriers and set a new standard for live-service storytelling. Josh West

Rocket League Rankings

(Image credit: Epic)

18. Rocket League
Year:
2015 | Developer: Psyonix

Indoor football with pimped-out cars, crackerjack goals, and rocket boosts. Psyonix has added tie-ins with franchises such as Ghostbusters and Back to the Future during its flagship game's four-year history, yet it hasn't needed them to endure. The simplicity of those soccer-on-steroids foundations, and resulting 2am just-one-more-go factor, are what maintain its lofty spot among the greatest esports (and sofa play!) time sinks. There's every chance it appears in this list again come 2029. Ben Wilson

(Image credit: Telltale Games)

17. The Walking Dead: Season One
Year:
2012 | Developer: Telltale Games

Has there ever been a more effective storytelling tool than "Clementine will remember that"? Through those four words, Telltale was able to realign moral compasses with relative ease. Through a blur of confident writing, strong characters, and simple mechanics, The Walking Dead hit with what felt like the weight of the world behind it. The impact of every one of the decisions made felt integral, which ultimately ensured that the story reached a heart-breaking crescendo that won't soon be forgotten. Josh West

(Image credit: Bungie)

16. Destiny 
Year:
2014 | Developer: Bungie

While Destiny started off a little aimless and shallow, even in the bad times its gunplay was so good, and its world was so intriguing, that players managed to find their own fun. It wasn't until the release of The Taken King that Destiny really made its mark. That's when everyone – including Bungie – realised Destiny's true power. This is what Destiny is: a new breed of cooperative experience that takes RPG conventions and fires them out of fantastical guns into alien faces. The industry would never be the same again. Austin Wood

15. What Remains of Edith Finch

(Image credit: Giant Sparrow)

Year: 2017 | Developer: Giant Sparrow

Giant Sparrow raised the bar for storytelling in video games. The studio was able to effectively funnel a quaint story through short vignettes, giving us a window into the trials and tribulations of the Finch family. Over 30 different intuitive control schemes interlinked seamlessly with a beautiful narrative framing, the result is a moving and arresting piece of interactive storytelling that highlights the true power of the medium as a tool for ambitious storytellers. Josh West

(Image credit: Respawn Entertainment)

14. Titanfall 2
Year:
2016 | Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Titanfall 2 is an easy game to fall in love with. It's a creative and energetic shooter, the type of release that – much like Half-Life 2 in the previous decade  – threatens to redefine one of the oldest and most-important genres in the industry. Between its wildly inventive and impeccably designed single-player campaign, and its high-energy, effortlessly-impressive multiplayer offering, Titanfall 2 stands as a true giant of the generation. Josh West

(Image credit: Mojang)

13. Minecraft
Year:
2011 | Developer: Mojang

Whether you love it to death, or couldn't care less, you can't deny that a world without Minecraft would be a world that feels… incomplete, like your first 4x4 house missing that one block of oak. What's more, as an experience that has continually stretched its own parameters at no further expense to play, Minecraft is the textbook example of how creators and communities can come together to build something that transcends the sum of its relatively modest parts. Alex Avard

(Image credit: ConcernedApe)

12. Stardew Valley
Year:
2016 | Developer: ConcernedApe

Concerned Ape's delightful pixelated farming sim brought it's own unique spin on Harvest Moon to bring us a truly wonderful adventure in Pelican Town. Aside from growing and developing your farm, there's so much depth to the little town than first meets the eye. The residents are at the heart of the game, and everyone has a relatable and often surprising story to tell. Stardew Valley truly brought life back to the genre, and it's all the more impressive when you consider a one-man team was at the heart of it. Heather Wald

11. Super Mario Odyssey

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Year: 2017 | Developer: Nintendo EPD

One of Mario's most iconic and recognisable features – aside from his moustache – is his cap with the signature M insignia. Super Mario Odyssey introduced the ingenious idea of making the hat a full-blown controllable character called Cappy. Venturing to a myriad of different kingdoms with plenty of nods of past Mario games, Cappy helps Mario take control of everything from a big cube of meat to a T-Rex with a tiny little 'stache. Simply put, its creative charm and originality make it an instant classic. Heather Wald