WellPlayed’s Games Of The Decade

A decade is a long bloody time (about ten years), and it’s impossible for one to go by without major changes. We’ve seen a new generation of consoles come and almost go, Jordan Garcia getting into PC gaming and never shutting up about it, Assassin’s Creed games going from being revered to reviled then back to revered, and the steady rise of contentious microtransactions such that they’ve become more or less ubiquitous in the gaming landscape. This decade also saw the birth of the important indie website WellPlayed (formerly known as Do You Even Game Bro?), so yes, it’s been a wild ride. In the spirit of bringing in the roaring twenties tomorrow, we asked our writers to pick apart the last ten years and crown a game of the decade. These are their stories *dun dun*.

If you’d rather listen than read then check out our last podcast for the decade where we discuss our GOTDs (and unsolicited Uno dick pics).

2010: Heavy Rain
2011: Dead Space 2 
2012:
Dishonored
2013:
The Last of Us
2014:
Wolfenstein: The New Order

2015: Soma
2016: Quantum Break
2017: Wolfenstein: The New Colossus
2018: The Council
2019: Resident Evil 2

Game of the Decade: Dishonored

The 2010s were the years that helped me rekindle my love for video games to some degree. For a handful of years prior all I played was FIFA, NHL, Football Manager and Resident Evil games, more so due to time restrictions than a lack of interest. Although I mostly played sports games, story-driven games were my ultimate jam, and Heavy Rain was a great way to kick off the decade (may ‘Jason!’ be forever etched in my mind). Being a huge (massive) survival horror fan, Dead Space 2 ticked all of my boxes, but it really wasn’t until 2012 that my mind was truly blown. I said it on Episode 30 of the WellPlayed DLC Podcast, but nothing had captivated me up to that moment as Dishonored did – in fact it’s hard to think of a game that has since. Everything about that game was just phenomenal, which is why it’s my official Game of the Decade™. Which makes it even more confusing as to why I haven’t finished Dishonored 2 (it’ll happen). The second half of the decade had some cracking titles, such as Quantum Break, The Council and Resident Evil 2, and I have no doubt that the 2020s will be just as difficult to pick a top ten. However, if there’s ever a sequel to The Order: 1886, just assume that’s my pick of the bunch.  

2010: Super Mario Galaxy 2
2011: Portal 2
2012: Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed
2013: Rayman Legends
2014: The Talos Principle

2015: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
2016: Inside
2017: What Remains of Edith Finch
2018: Life is Strange 2
2019: Death Stranding

Game of the Decade: Rayman Legends

I hate doing these things. Picking a favourite anything makes me anxious enough, let alone selecting just one game from every year of the last decade – and then one game for the whole ten years. Fuck that. But I have to, so I tried my very best. In the end, I decided that my choices should reflect the games from each year that have stuck with me the most. Games that I still think about constantly, or even still play in my regular rotation. There were definitely a few years that were particularly tough to make a final decision on – where I had to go with my gut and just make the call. I still wonder if picking Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed over Spec Ops: The Line makes any kind of sense, but that’s just something I’ll have to live with now (mostly because I already said it out loud during the WellPlayed DLC Podcast and the guys will know if I change my answer). At the end of the day though, it’s clear that the last decade has really provided us with some absolute gems. New IPs and even whole new genres have surfaced, classic stories have been retold, and more people than ever have had the chance to tell their own stories.

Also Rayman Legends is the best game of this decade and I won’t be told otherwise.

2010: Mass Effect 2
2011: Batman Arkham City
2012: Journey
2013: The Last of Us
2014: Shovel Knight

2015: The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
2016: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
2017: Persona 5
2018: God of War
2019: Resident Evil 2

Game of the Decade: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

It wasn’t until the dawn of this decade before I started my new journey into the world of video games. 2010 was the beginning of a new era for me, where I broadened my horizons beyond the Grand Theft Autos and Nintendo games that made up most of my experiences in the past. I got my first job, which meant I had disposable income and I started university, which meant I had more time to do stuff. The Xbox 360 and PS3 introduced me to new genres and gave me a new door to the types of experiences you can have. Fast forward to now and I’ve accumulated a room with 200 video game statues, 250 video game Pop! Vinyls, 110 video game steelbooks, 75 Amiibo, 10 Xbox One controllers, 4 PS4s (one signed by Hideo Kojima), and a selfie with Phil Spencer all in 10 years.

While no doubt the decade will be at least partially remembered for all its controversies and bad industry practices, there are also a lot of reasons to celebrate. The rise of independent developers have paved the way for aspiring video game artists to create unique and meaningful games, while the Nintendo Switch makes for one of the biggest comebacks in the history of the industry. Let’s not forget to mention that some of my favourite games of all time have come out in the last decade. In fact, there are more games that are special to me in this decade than there has been in the preceding two decades combined. Seriously, making this list mostly involved me randomly selecting from a shortlist of three to five games for each year. There’s been some incredible stuff. 

While it might be a boring choice, my favourite game of the decade is an easy one. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is everything I loved and wanted for as long as I can remember. While other games have come close, none nail the immersion, scope and world-building this juggernaut had to offer, setting the bar for all open world RPGs after it. Whether it is uncovering a political plot, strolling the streets of Novigrad, scouring the mountains for a Griffin or taking in the sound of the wind of the forest, there was just an amazing sense of place which is unrivalled in our medium. I feel it also took elements from arguably the best games of the last decade like Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption, Batman Arkham City, Dark Souls and Mass Effect and added its own Witcher flavour on top of it all with memorable characters and storylines making it my favourite game of all time. Truly, there are a dozen games that can earn the right to the title for game of the decade (including everyone else’s choice on here) , but the Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is an undeniable contender.

2010: Vanquish
2011: Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3
2012: Max Payne 3
2013: The Last of Us
2014: Titanfall

2015: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
2016: DOOM
2017: What Remains of Edith Finch
2018: God of War
2019: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Game of the Decade: God of War

Game-wise , the last decade has seen some absolute monsters, and picking the best games of the past ten years has been a wondrous trip down memory lane. Whether it was the game that inspired my love of online adversarial shooters and competitive trash talking (Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3), or the title that raised the bar in narrative-telling prowess in the AAA space (The Last of Us), every year had dozens of titles which brought a smile to my face just remembering the time spent with them. This decade also saw me finally giving the kudos well overdue to indie games, with What Remains of Edith Finch being one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had with a controller in my hand. But if I had to crown one king of the decade, it would have to be God of War. A AAA game that is so unbelievably polished in absolutely every aspect, from narrative to combat to level design, does not come along often, and when it does it reminds of just what sort of thing is possible when a developer’s grand vision is executed to complete perfection. With a new generation of consoles bringing in the twenties, I’m sure ten years from now I’ll have hundreds more titles to gush about, potentially from the comfort of a hoverboard, or from the non-comfort of a desolate wasteland due to accelerated climate change. See you on the other side!

2010: Halo: Reach
2011: Dark Souls
2012: Spec Ops: The Line
2013: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
2014: Destiny

2015: Bloodborne
2016: Titanfall 2
2017: NieR: Automata
2018: Monster Hunter: World
2019: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Game of the Decade: NieR: Automata

This decade is a bit of a weird one. For the first half, I was still in school so I barely played any games but for the second half I played a lot of games which made all the choices difficult in their ways. It was also the second half of the decade where I joined what was formerly Do You Even Game Bro? and proceeded to regret every choice I had made in life learn more and more about how games are made and the different technologies that were being developed to push the industry forward. Also of note, in  2017 I finally built a PC and became an enlightened gamer ultra nerd for PC tech. But if there is one thing that this decade really did for me, it was my cat…wait that isn’t gaming related. Well, I guess I could say I’ve grown a lot over the years and really want the industry to grow as well (and actually allow developers to unionise). Here’s to the next decade being rife with more positives than negatives, both in and out of the gaming industry.

2010: Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver
2011: To the Moon
2012: Tribes: Ascend
2013: Papers, Please
2014: Shovel Knight

2015: Undertale
2016: DOOM
2017: Star Fox 2
2018: Celeste
2019: Disco Elysium

Game of the Decade: Papers, Please

These last ten years have been a period of personal growth, as it is for all people stumbling through their 20s in a drunken stupor. Video games, it seems, have encountered growth of their own. Over the course of the 2010s,  games dived head-first into more complex subtext exploration with thanks, in no small part, to the explosion of the indie game. But for every high of the 2010s, there were lows – some unthinkable. Are video games and their industry better or worse than they were ten years ago? I would personally say that we’re in a golden age of the indie game, and that’s where the decade’s best experiences were found. However, the publisher complex grows ever-more stale in pursuit of the widest audience(s) possible. Nowhere were these rumblings of changes to the balance of gaming power more evident than in this dichotomy. Asking whether the present is better than the past is irrelevant. What matters is how the past changed into the present, and taking those lessons into the future. Here’s to another decade of indie triumph!

2010: Civilization V
2011: Pokemon Black and White
2012: Pokemon Black 2 and White 2
2013: Animal Crossing: New Leaf
2014: Fantasy Life

2015: Yoshi’s Wooly World
2016: Stardew Valley
2017: Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
2018: Dragon Quest Builders
2019: Dragon Quest Builders 2

Game of the Decade: Stardew Valley

This decade has been a big one in gaming for me. We went from a two-screened handheld to a 3D one, to a handheld-home console hybrid that rocks my world. While I started out the decade being pretty even between PC gaming and my 3DS/DS, my gaming time would eventually get almost entirely skewed towards my more portable choices due to limited time (thanks adult life) and the access to a great gaming library on the go. There have been so many great games in the last ten years, games that have made me laugh, cry, extremely frustrated and many times a few I’ve found unable to put down. One of the games on my list I even own two copies of because one save file just wasn’t enough. It was difficult to pick just one game from each year as I have so many memories, hence the honourable mentions. Memories of strategising, of completing my Pokedex after another adventure, of being in debt, of changing classes on the fly, of cute clever art styles, of making a lot of dough, of that breathtaking first view of the world after 100 years and building whatever I desired two times over. This decade gone has me excited for the games to come. We have come so far – from seeing the pixels, to hiding them, to making them an art style. I look forward to next year and returning to some of my favourite franchises to see how they have grown and how they will entertain me for the decade to come.

2010: Super Meat Boy
2011: Portal 2
2012: Far Cry 3
2013: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
2014: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

2015: Super Mario Maker
2016: DOOM
2017: Wolfenstein: The New Colossus
2018: God of War
2019: Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Game of the Decade: God of War

Most avid WellPlayed readers, as well as listeners of the WellPlayed DLC Podcast would know that over the last few years I have been studying computer science and games technology at university, in the hopes of becoming a programmer/developer. When it comes to my picks for games of the year, they are often games that reaffirm why I decided that making games was the career I wanted. Super Meat Boy released when I was 13 and I was in awe of the fact that this game was made by two people. It was my game of that year and ultimately the game that made me decide I wanted to make games one day. Portal 2 and Far Cry 3 in the following years showed me the allure of higher-scale game projects, with both games exhibiting excellent gameplay and interesting stories. Special shoutout to Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead for coming a close second to Far Cry 3, as its stunning story encourages me to constantly make sure my games projects have interesting stories. 

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is another gem with a great story to tell, while The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is procedurally-generated gameplay bliss. Super Mario Maker is a gift that keeps on giving, albeit in the form of its sequel, but that game was the sole reason my Wii U remained plugged in as long as it did (goodnight, sweet prince). 2016 was a rough time for me personally so I played hardly anything, but after playing DOOM earlier this year it was an obvious choice for that year. Wolfenstein II was a damn epic, as was God of War in 2018. This year my vote went to Fire Emblem: Three Houses, I’ve gushed about it a fair amount on the podcast if you want to hear a man’s borderline freakish love for a virtual experience. This decade was full of masterpieces as far as the eye can see, however my vote for the overall best game of the decade has to be God of War. I don’t think a game has ever had me gripped by both gameplay and story as much as the 2018 release did. Despite lofty ambitions and impressive scope, the game’s execution was virtually perfect.

2010: Skate 3
2011: Portal 2
2012: Far Cry 3
2013: Grand Theft Auto V
2014: South Park: The Stick of Truth

2015: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
2016: Forza Horizon 3
2017: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
2018: Marvel’s Spider-Man
2019: Judgment

Game of the Decade: Portal 2

This decade has been one filled with highs and lows, not only in game releases but also in my personal life. Finishing up high school in the first few years of the decade, I definitely had a lot more free time to really dive into awesome online experiences and just relax and chat with mates while trying to break as many bones as possible in the Hall of Meat mode in Skate 3. But as my free time (and spare cash) became more and more scarce, I definitely fell more into just watching let’s plays online, with The Witcher 3  being one such title that I watched completely through LPs. Even though I consumed such a massive world in such a passive way, I still appreciated its world and story, as well as its impact on the games industry. 

I was scared to drop eighty bucks on a new game unless I felt that it was a sure hit. South Park: TSoT and Forza H3 were two safe bets that paid off amazingly during this time, hitting two nostalgia points from my childhood. The last three years though really saw me take more risks and expand my horizons when it came to trying out new games from series I never played before, like The Legend of Zelda, or ones from series that I only just recently found out about (like Judgment, a spin off of the Yakuza series). Breath of the Wild, Spider-Man and Judgment all reminded me just how fun games can be, reminding me of games of the past that I enjoyed, innovating on gameplay and storytelling to raise them above so many others.

But the one that shone most brightly for me was Portal 2. After having the Orange Box and playing through Portal, the simple yet sometimes difficult puzzles and amazing character of Glados left me wanting more. Valve did an amazing job not only taking this gameplay and adding new and exciting ways to interact with the industrial environment that was your prison/test, but also created a narrative that built off the strong foundations of the first game. This is not to mention the brilliant co-op mode that is so timeless I still play it with my roommate to this day. 

2010: Darksiders
2011: Batman Arkham City
2012: Darksiders II
2013: Grand Theft Auto V
2014: Infamous: Second Son

2015: Fallout 4
2016: DOOM
2017: Wolfenstein: The New Colossus
2018: God of War
2019: Mortal Kombat 11

Game of the Decade: Darksiders

It’s interesting looking back at my decade in gaming. The last ten years coincide with so many personal life developments, like getting married and buying a house – so gaming changed in interesting ways. It was really the period where I started to more closely look into game development, and would garner personal interest in a project well before the marketing machine started to build ‘hype’. It means that so many of my favourite titles were games that captured my interest early, when the very core of their concept was first starting to germinate. This, coupled with my vast reserve of spare time allowed me to immerse myself in huge epic worlds, chasing the narrative experience and the comic book fantasy I adored so much.

My tastes still lingered on the absurd side of gaming, with huge set pieces and crazy characters, beautifully characterised by my obsessive playtime within Arkham City and Infamous: Second Son. These titles encompassed every bit of my passion for comic book experiences. For a more grounded (but still ridiculous) experience, titles like Grand Theft Auto V and God of War would stimulate that same corner of my brain, but with a little more emotion and narrative investment. For the intensely gratuitous, I had the luxury of masterful platforms such as Doom and Mortal Kombat 11 representing a quick shot of concentrated madness amongst the story driven paths of my other appreciable titles.

But really when I really stop and think about what I appreciated most from my decade of gaming – a time that really spurred my own personal video gaming maturity when I reflect – there was one title that ticked every box for me. A comic-book tale that oozed with style, sporting a pulpy narrative and a world that left me begging to explore it – and that was the world of Darksiders. From my initial discovery of a screenshot denoting an odd cyborg looking bloke in a post-apocalyptic world(*), Joe Madureira’s visual identity spoke to me, and as I tracked its development it just spoke to me more and more. I now proudly sit atop a set of accomplishments that range from having completed it on every platform it was released on, as well as having conquered every achievement that you could name – even going so far as to deliberately handicap myself in unique playthroughs of the game where I will neglect helpful weapons and powers to increase the challenge further. The game captivated me, and will long sit amongst my fondest memories of video gaming as a part of my life.

2010: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Sky
2011: Batman Arkham City
2012: Journey
2013: Hotline Miami (PSN)
2014: Infamous: Second Son

2015: Rocket League
2016: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
2017: Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice
2018: God of War
2019: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Game of the Decade: God of War

In 2009 I got my first job, meaning that for the first time I had my own money to spend on whatever I pleased. Prior to this my gaming habits relied on gifts, hand-me-down games from my brother and the good old-fashioned method of replaying the games I already had. But at the dawn of this decade that all changed and I was finally able to fuel my desire to play the games I would covet in magazines and store shelves. If the 2000s wass where my love for video games began, the 2010s is where it was refined.

Dragon Quest IX on the DS was my jam coming into the decade. My mate and I would play hours upon hours of it, grinding for XP and crawling through dungeons in our free time (which back then we had a lot of). Just a year later Portal 2 would spark my love for puzzlers that has been going strong ever since. Hotline Miami hit me like a train in 2013, devouring every spare moment that I had while showing me the Devolver were in the business of publishing games specifically to my taste (I’m pretty sure that’s their specific business model judging by their releases). My beloved Infamous got another sequel in the form of Second Son, I became a Rocket League addict, Nathan Drake’s story was resolved in glorious fashion in Uncharted 4 and I was blown away by the spectacle in Hellblade all in the space of four years. Even after all of this, 2018 was the defining year for me in gaming, as God of War launched and shattered my expectations. GoW exemplifies the evolution and growth of Kratos as a character, Santa Monica as a studio and the gaming medium itself. It is beautiful in appearance, engaging in execution and is also fun as Helheim. God of War isn’t just my game of the decade, it very well might be my favourite game of all time. 

2010: Red Dead Redemption
2011: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012: The Walking Dead
2013: The Last of Us
2014: Destiny

2015: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
2016: Stardew Valley
2017: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
2018: Red Dead Redemption 2
2019: Dragon Quest Builders 2

Game of the Decade: The Last of Us

When I look back on my favourite games of the decade it honestly looks a little vanilla. Truth be told, it’s so hard to narrow down a year in gaming to just one title, but if I was able to list all of the games that impacted me over the last ten years we’d be here until 2030. All of the games on here pretty much speak for themselves in terms of clout, filled with gripping narratives, dashing heroes (or anti-heroes) and enough hours of gameplay to take up a generous portion of my life since release. 

Red Dead Redemption taught me that our pasts do not define us, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was the reason I bought a Wii and provided some beautiful back-story to my favourite franchise. The Walking Dead made me feel like a befuddled father in a horrific situation and Destiny showed me that things needn’t be perfect for me to enjoy them. The Witcher 3 gloriously concluded the tale of my beloved monster hunter Geralt and Stardew Valley reminded me that simplicity is truly special. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the reason I bought a Switch and completely changed my perspective on what an adventure game could be. I honestly don’t think that I have fully processed Red Dead Redemption 2 and Arthur’s story, but I saw that kindness and hope can come from the strangest of places. Dragon Quest Builders 2 was just pure fun and creativity. 

I could honestly gush for hours about everything on this list but a special mention has to go out to The Last of Us. I had just turned 25 and returned from a month-long trip to Japan and, as such, I had grown very introspective. The story in The Last of Us is one about love and loss, found families and the will to survive against all odds. I fell in love with Joel and Ellie, all of the characters really, and was so transfixed by their journey that it still sits with me today. 

See you in 2030 space gamers <3