The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 dominated the gaming market through most of the 21st century by the time 2013 rolled around, but it was time for a brand new era of power and game design. The games from 2013 served as the last words of the seventh console generation and the first words of the eighth console generation.
The games that drove this transition also drive this list. Beautiful visuals, compelling stories, and chaotic gameplay all make appearances here:
10. Risk of Rain
The progression system works great. Risk of Rain drip feeds your characters who all feel wildly different. Each one synergizes with the various items you collect in different ways. The items are plentiful, but there aren’t so many as to where you can’t familiarize yourself with them relatively quickly. Once I got to that point, I found Risk of Rain to be pleasantly methodical, and I never felt cheated when I failed to get far in a run because I probably just stayed out waiting for the rain too long.” – Lewis Mackin
“Risk of Rain is one of the few games I actually played on my PC. It wasn’t available on any other platforms at the time, and I didn’t want to wait for it to be ported. I’d argue the game is meant to be played with friends, but it’s still excellent on your own. This is a roguelike that stands toe-to-toe with the best of them, even with the market beginning to feel crowded.” – Nathanael Hueso
9. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
“Revengeance is squarely in the PlatinumGames character-action realm as much as it is the Metal Gear universe, and it’s a deadly combination making for the most maximalist game of 2013. The chaotic and fluid combat, instituted by PlatinumGames’ Bayonetta, is carried over and bound to a weapon that tears the player’s environment apart relentlessly. Even the dumb bliss of chopping a tree into hundreds of bits foreshadows the firework show your high-frequency katana provides. Revengeance is the silliest, pulpiest game in the MGS franchise, which suits the narrative’s brand of satire and Platinum’s design tendencies mutually. It’s as pick-up-and-play as an MGS game has ever been, and that is something to be admired.” – Zach Kauz
“Despite the ridiculous name, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is actually pretty damn good. The name and the box art of Raiden cutting through an enemy android tell you exactly what you’re in for – 7 hours of pure, high-octane hacking and slashing.
“From former Maybeline advert model to badass cyborg who drinks his enemy’s spinal fluid, Raiden takes on a plethora of foes including giant bipedal mechs and the president of the United States to name just a couple. PlatinumGames are kind enough to let you cut your enemies in any which way you please, too. Whether you’re here as a Metal Gear fan or just want an exciting character action game, Metal Gear Rising is fun however you slice it.” – Lewis Mackin
8. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
“With the advent of the 2010s, vultures were circling the Call of Juarez IP. A misguided pounce towards the present day panned out in the embarrassing Call of Juarez: The Cartel, known more for its ethical blind spots than any sort of memorable playing experience. The franchise needed more than a back-to-basics redux, it needed to double-down on what made the western, FPS series enthralling, and by God, Gunslinger does. Starting from the clever framing device of playing out your sheriff’s (not always truthful) tall tales, Gunslinger operates at a breathless pace, more in line with DOOM than Red Dead Redemption. Despite its status as a $20 downloadable, Gunslinger boasts some of the most anarchic set-pieces of the decade with gunplay that ignites your surroundings in an instant. Alongside Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, it also unearthed the promise of smaller-scale titles from established FPS franchises being able to experiment more with their presentations. Though Gunslinger is yet to have a follow-up, it remains the most persistently enjoyable wild-west FPS on the market.” – Zach Kauz
7. Grand Theft Auto V
“Grand Theft Auto encompasses what many associate with the word ‘fun’. For the past two decades, Rockstar Games refined and perfected the genre of the sandbox, open-world game. Grand Theft Auto V may be considered overrated by some, and perhaps it is in certain perspectives. However, that should not expunge why Grand Theft Auto V is such a landmark in gaming. It is the quintessential sandbox open-world crime mayhem game and rightfully earned its historic success.” – Peter Finaldi
“The true victory of GTAV is its extraordinarily impressive use of chaos. Chaos defines its gameplay, cutscenes, atmosphere, and characters. Chaos is always at the center of everything, but sometimes it appears in subtle ways, creating a brilliant contrast that keeps the player engaged and chomping at the bit for more. There are critical points in the story that show a distinct lack of chaos, and those can be some of the most chaotic moments of all as the scene gets enveloped by tension, a tension that eventually employs further madness. This will be how Grand Theft Auto V is remembered for many years to come. This is why even today, six years later, the game is just as relevant as ever. People are still searching for that chaos in different ways, and Rockstar’s true genius shows through as people find them hidden in the map and in multiplayer.” – Brandon Pero
6. Tomb Raider (2013)
“I’d never really been into the Tomb Raider games growing up. Sure, I’d played some of them here and there, but they didn’t really interest me. The 2013 reboot finally got me into the series. It was a grittier version of Uncharted with less memorable characters but really engaging gameplay mechanics. It set the stage for excellent sequels but is a fantastic game in its own right.” – Nathanael Hueso
5. Super Mario 3D World
“When someone asks me what the happiest game I’ve ever played is, my mind always circles back to Mario games, but there’s something about Super Mario 3D World that makes me giddy with glee. A wealth of new gameplay mechanics like the Beat Block, the Double Cherry, and of course, the Cat Suit are all wonderful tools to play around with, and levels are designed to maximize their gameplay potential in ways that consistently amaze. That infamous ‘Mario Magic’ has been distilled and doled out into bite-sized portions here. Combined with the music and the presentation, Nintendo has crafted a game that’s prime to keep a smile on your face.” – Theo Durrant
4. Rayman Legends
“Rayman Legends is one of the few 2D platformers that gives Mario a run for his money. The brilliant level design works flawlessly with its smooth, buttery controls. The music continues to be underrated to this day. The art direction is stunning to the eye. Rayman Legends refuses to slow down and take a breather. It is like going to Six Flags and starting and ending with all of the best rollercoaster rides. Ubisoft, if you’re listening, make another Rayman game of this kind.” – Peter Finaldi
“in 2011, Ubisoft brought Rayman back into the spotlight with Rayman Origins – a tight 2D-platformer designed for up to 4-players.
“Rayman Legends improved on the characters resurgence, polishing the fast-paced action to a mirror sheen. Characters have a real sense of momentum, there’re tons of different skins and abilities depending on who you play as, and it’s a wonderful game to just pick up and play with friends.” – Lewis Mackin
“The success of Rayman Legends is as simple as being a platformer whose every mechanic is in the right place. Its controls operate from such a solid foundation that every challenge thrown at you is a treat. Platforming isn’t as twitchy as many of the 2D platformers the 2010s housed are. Rayman instead boasts his own distinct lilt that makes platforming a bit more thoughtful. Progression is more intricate with a more measured pace and gorgeous art design allowing environments to constantly introduce new puzzles and off-the-wall obstacles.” – Zach Kauz
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
2. BioShock Infinite
“The revisionist opinion of Bioshock Infinite paints the game as a shallow and convoluted mess, but I’ll gladly defend this game until the day I die. I will concede that the game is an exercise in spectacle rather than subtlety, but it’s hard not to get swept up in the characters and the action. Skyrails are an exhilarating addition to combat, and blasting nationalists with Vigors is a great time. Infinite‘s ‘Buried at Sea’ DLC proudly stands as one of the greatest story expansions ever, neatly bringing the franchise’s narrative around full circle while still preserving its own sense of identity. Infinite may not be as book-smart as the original game, but once you’ve boarded this roller coaster, you’re locked in.” – Theo Durrant
“Bioshock was revolutionary, but for me, Bioshock Infinite is the far superior game. Infinite has the set pieces, gameplay, writing, and graphics that blew the original out of the water. The world of Columbia left me in awe from the moment I first set foot above the clouds up until the credits rolled. By the end, you’re left with a cocktail of feelings that few games can create. Go out and experience this game; you owe it to yourself.” – Nathanael Hueso
1. The Last of Us
“Naughty Dog’s foray into the post-apocalyptic brought us one of the greatest gaming experiences of all time. A compelling world met with an emphatically human story wrought players’ hearts from the outset, and with stirring performances from Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, it’s easy to see why many fans are rabid with excitement for the series’ return next year.” – Donogh Moore
“The Last of Us is one of the few games I make time to go back and replay every few months. It has stuck with me like few other experiences have; I can say that this game made me a better person. This isn’t a pleasant game by any means; it’s violent, depressing, and reflects the worst in humans. The Last of Us doesn’t revolutionize the third-person shooter genre but elevates what a video game can be. If I had to recommend one game, and one game only, it would be this one.” – Nathanael Hueso
“Naughty Dog has always been respected by both gaming fans and the industry, but The Last of Us elevated them to the top tier. Its masterful writing, emotional narrative, unforgettable characters, and thrilling gameplay make it one of the most well-made video games of the decade. It didn’t quite push the envelope in terms of gameplay structure, but the narrative exceeded what most non-gamers expected from a video game, and The Last of Us will forever be cherished for that achievement.” – Peter Finaldi
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Brandon is a young writer who loves going deep into games to explore meaning, purpose, and life. He believes that there’s nothing better than getting lost in a world full of characters to love and lessons to learn. He has a special place in his heart for single player games such as Mass Effect and Life Is Strange, but he also blows off some steam playing some of his favorite multiplayer games, like Paladins.