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The 100 best games of the decade

10. Journey

(Image credit: thatgamecompany)

Year: 2012 | Developer: Thatgamecompany

They tell you magic lies in the mountain, but in fact, it starts from the very moment you lay a spindly foot upon the twinkling sand. Music and movement combine to make a ballet of gameplay, with twirling scarves emphasising the purity of the motions as you float across the sky. Silent companions join your journey via anonymous multiplayer, invoking emotions that few games can do without words. It is capable of taking you on an emotional journey like no other. Sam Loveridge

9. The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Year: 2011 | Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

Before Game of Thrones, it was Bethesda's mega fantasy RPG that had previously sane people obsessing over dragons and magic. The game felt so huge, with stories hiding around every tree stump and in every cave, that you had no choice but to immerse yourself completely in life as the Dragonborn. There's a reason the game is still selling on new consoles eight years on, and why Elder Scrolls 6 can send us into raptures with the merest mention. Rachel Weber

8. God of War

(Image credit: Sony Santa Monica)

Year: 2018 | Developer: Sony Santa Monica

"Don't be sorry. Be better." Kratos' stern advice could well have been the motto for Santa Monica's approach to rebooting one of gaming's most contentious icons. The Kratos of old gave some of the greatest games from PlayStation's past, but this demigod's days of unabated rage were always numbered. Instead of letting the past die, however, God of War builds something from the ashes of its protagonist's mistakes; an exquisitely crafted action game, yes, but also a fascinating rumination on fatherhood, and what it means to be human. Alex Avard 

7. Grand Theft Auto 5

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Year: 2013 | Developer: Rockstar North

It's hard to sum up how much of a behemoth Rockstar produced with GTA 5, as alongside an explosive storyline featuring three disparate protagonists carrying out increasingly elaborate heists, they also created an entire living, breathing world you could fully immerse yourself in for hundreds of hours. This is borne out by the success of GTA Online, which remains massively popular more than six years after its initial release, and now includes entire criminal empires for players to run for virtual profits. Iain Wilson

6. Mass Effect 2

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

Year: 2010 | Developer: BioWare 

Mass Effect 2 catapulted BioWare's space-faring RPG to starry new heights. It arrived with one of the most memorable opening and closing sequences of the decade, and perhaps it's no surprise that the sequel completely changed the RPG landscape when it landed in 2010. Mass Effect 2 proved that going in a bold narrative direction could really payoff for BioWare, giving the franchise a new lease of life as it worked to find a larger audience. BioWare's brilliant writing drove one of the most affecting RPG experiences of all time, and it delivered some of the most unforgettable characters in the genre in the process. Heather Wald

5. Zelda: Breath of the Wild

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Year: 2017 | Developer: Nintendo EAD

Zelda: Breath of the Wild broke over 20 years of its own game series' rules and convention, in favour of gifting its ever-curious player base with a world that kept on delivering. We all became rich with secrets, treasures, and gloriously unceasing to-do lists, always encouraged to see what was over that next hill. Excellent combat gave way to clever puzzles, quests to a remarkable cast of characters, to create a Zelda game that would reinvent the series, and push other open-world games to do infinitely better. Sam Loveridge

4. Red Dead Redemption

(Image credit: Rockstar North)

Year: 2010 | Developer: Rockstar Games

By the time Red Dead Redemption rolled around, Rockstar had tackled the worlds of modern crime, private education, and, uh, table tennis, leaving few certain of what the studio's take on the western might look like. The result was one of its most personal works yet; one which offered poignant ruminations on regret and retribution, while again raising the high bars we had come to expect from its open-world power fantasies. John Marston may be dead, but his legacy will last well into the next decade and beyond. Alex Avard

3. Portal 2

(Image credit: Valve)

Year: 2011 | Developer: Valve

It's hard to state just how good the writing in Portal 2 is. Wonderfully inventive puzzles aside, it's essentially a game about listening to speakers, whether that's the joyfully murderously GlaDOS, your floating Alexa, Wheatley, or the recorded conversations of long-dead Aperture founder Cave Johnson. The words sing with humour and life in a game made of sterile empty corridors devoid of human contact – a feat some games fail to match with hours of mocap, crowds of A-list talent and miles of environmental storytelling. Leon Hurley

2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

Year: 2015 | Developer: CD Projekt Red

The Witcher 3 excels at discovery. Around every corner of its stunning fantasy world lies a new adventure; a new story thread to pull; a new character to befriend, bemoan, or betray; a new decision to deliberate over; a new romance to pursue; or a new vista to watch the sun sink into. With characters as fallible and interesting as the lands they inhabit, together they create a rare world that you won't begrudge a minute you sink into it. Sam Loveridge

1. The Last of Us

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

Year: 2013 | Developer: Naughty Dog

The Last of Us is an outstanding accomplishment. It is a pure and heartfelt expression, an expertly-paced and weighted exploration of love, loss, and the human condition. For as good as the combat, set-piece design, and enemy AI is in The Last of Us, it's a game that is remembered so fondly because of its characters. Joel and Ellie – a heartbroken father and his feisty surrogate daughter – might have been on a journey to salvage what little of the human race remains, but it's the trials and tribulations that they face along the way that left the largest impact on our collective psyche. The Last of Us is a narrative-driven adventure game that set the tone for the generation of games that would follow it, and it is yet to be bettered in the six years that have passed. Josh West

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

Extended reading: Games that defined the Decade: The Last of Us pushed video games to be smarter, bolder, and greater