Welcome, finally, to the top ten games of the 2010s. It has been a long decade with tons of beloved games making everlasting changes to our hearts, minds, and memories. Here are the ones that were found by our staff to be the best of the past ten years. Thanks to our Twitter followers for helping us to partially determine the ordering of these as well.
“There hasn’t been anything in all my years of gaming that has made me feel quite like loading up Minecraft for the first time (back when we still played in-browser) and figuring out what to do, surviving my first night, digging a hole in my first cave, building my first house on a lakebed. I can’t possibly check how many hours I put into Minecraft, but I doubt any other game would compare. There are so, so many things to do in this game, and from sixth to tenth grade, I wanted to try them all.” – Max Broggi-Sumner
“Minecraft’s greatest strength is its accessibility. It would be difficult to find someone who doesn’t have at least a little bit of experience with Notch’s brainchild, and it’s still going strong today. Memories are forged in this game, and for good reason. Its simplistic but instantly recognizable visual style and bottomless well of gameplay opportunities add up to make one of the most influential video games of all time.
“I’m not short on nostalgia for Minecraft either. The nights I stayed up until 6 am playing with my friend are uncountable. It’s not all about the nostalgia, though. Minecraft’s consistent free updates keep players invested and bring old fans back for more.” – Lewis Mackin
“Undertale is one of those games that blows your mind when you play it. Normal rules don’t apply in Mt. Ebott, where exp doesn’t measure your strength but emotional callousness, and hugging your way out of fights is a valid strategy. Every single boss in Undertale feels fresh, stealing the show as they torment you through each region of the game before finally challenging you to brilliant fights and make sure to keep in touch with you after you best them. Each of the three major endings has its own incredible set pieces, between the neutral boss who breaks the game rules entirely, the genocide boss who knows killing you is pointless and tries to force you to give up instead, and the emotionally intense true pacifist boss who just can’t bring himself to destroy you. All of this is wrapped together with an absolutely beautiful soundtrack with expert use of leitmotifs, making Undertale a game where you don’t want to say your last goodbye. Here’s to a bright future with Deltarune.” – Max Broggi-Sumner
“Simply put, Undertale is one of my favorite video games. It’s quirky as hell, funny, and gives you a heavy dose of the feels. The multiple ways you can play through the game culminate in one of the most unique uses of the video game medium. Don’t dismiss the game due to the sloppy graphics; they actually add charm to the already oozing-of-charm adventure that Toby Fox and company have put together. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced and has a killer soundtrack as an added bonus.” – Nathanael Hueso
8. DOOM (2016)
“Rip and tear! The gory, goopy, and gratuitous violence of DOOM (2016) is just one of the reasons why people have loved this franchise for decades. For historical context, the DOOM franchise has never reached the glory days of the original PC games, and fans have lost trust in id Software in rekindling that one-of-a-kind flame. With 2016, id Software not only satiated the desire for an old-school FPS that doesn’t hold back, but it debatably exceeded the quality of the original 1993 classic. DOOM 2016 will be regarded as one of the best FPS games of the decade and rightfully so.” – Peter Finaldi
“DOOM’s 2016 installment was destined to fail by all accounts. The ridiculous periods of development hell, the shady denial of review copies, the fact that post-Skyrim Bethesda was behind it– It was a train wreck everyone had binoculars for, yet despite all of this negative reinforcement, id Software came out of the woodwork to prove everyone wrong.
“It’s not that DOOM reinvented the wheel or anything like that, it just put a new set of familiar tires on – tires that made Doomguy reach the human-defying speeds he was known for and gave unlimited inventory space for all types of fantastic weaponry, leading to gunfights excelling in verticality and pacing. Not only did it defy expectations, it defied what a First-Person Shooter should be.” – Sam Taylor
7. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
“I’ve been playing Super Smash Bros. since the one for Nintendo 64, so you could say I’m a bit of a veteran. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate takes basically everything from previous entries and puts it all in one, complete package. There’s so much in this game I don’t even know what to do with it all. And it’s not just quantity, it’s quality. This is the best Smash game yet. They have freaking Banjo-Kazooie. Banjo-Kazooie. Let that sink in. I can’t wait to see them continue to update it and treat it with care.” – Nathanael Hueso
“‘Everyone is here’ for the Smash Bros game that fans have been dreaming about since the series’s inception. Truth be told, it’s a bit of a miracle that despite the dizzying roster of fighters, everyone feels unique and fun to play. It’s the only game you’ll see Solid Snake, Mario, Cloud, and Sonic duking it out in a fighting free-for-all, and that’s indicative of the game’s real power: Smash Ultimate has become bigger than itself. By drawing in so many characters, worlds, and music tracks from so many franchises, it’s no longer just a cutesy fighting game, it’s a wonderful museum and a bombastic celebration to honour our beloved hobby” – Theo Durrant
6. 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
5. Super Mario Odyssey
“Super Mario Odyssey is my favorite Mario game. Period. It’s like a fresh breath of air on top of another fresher breath. Odyssey is platforming at peak performance with chunks of levels dedicated to Mario’s form changing. Like, honestly, who comes up with these ideas? They’re so bizarre but make so much sense. They just work. Odyssey elicits a similar feeling of freedom that Breath of the Wild does. You feel like you can do anything with no one to stop you.” – Nathanael Hueso
“3D Mario games built their success on a simple collect-a-thon premise compounded by unique qualities that only Mario can provide. 64 had you exploring all sorts of environments by jumping through paintings and had a number of power-ups you could unlock by exploring the castle, Sunshine gave you the FLUDD which unlocked all sorts of tricks, Galaxy brought all sorts of new power-ups and gravity puzzles, and Odyssey introduced Cappy. Cappy’s most well-known for allowing Mario to take control of enemies, allowing him brief control over new mechanics with which to traverse the world, but Cappy also gives Mario his most impressive platforming move set yet, giving him so many new moves players have used him to beat the game without incrementing the jump counter or walking. Throughout Odyssey, you’ll see multiple paths to the same objectives: a simple path anyone can take and more complex paths that require deeper experience with the mechanics. Combined with its collect-a-thon nature, even young players can beat the game, but veterans and completionists can still get a fantastic challenge.” – Max Broggi-Sumner
“Believe the hype; Mario Odyssey is every bit as good as it looks. Mario’s sense of mobility and control has never been sharper, and the freedom the game gives you in exploring its wondrous kingdoms is a real breath of fresh air. Its central capture mechanic is just inspired, making for some hugely entertaining and upbeat gameplay since everything from controlling a leaping frog to driving Mario on a motorbike is just pure joy. Its greatest success lies in its ability to respect what came before it and then building on it rather than simply cashing in on nostalgia. Mario Odyssey is a gorgeous, sprawling adventure that kept a smile on my face.” – Theo Durrant
“Super Mario Odyssey revitalized the Mario franchise in the best way possible. Odyssey finally minimized linear level design in favor of a more open-ended structure akin to Super Mario Sunshine. Nintendo brought back their creative environmental designs, removing the stereotypical biome aesthetic the franchise has struggled to experiment with in the past few years. Mario’s maneuverability opens the potential for intuitive shortcuts the developers secretly implemented. Super Mario Odyssey is the most refined Mario game Nintendo has made, and I hope we get a sequel soon.” – Peter Finaldi
“Super Mario Odyssey doesn’t do anything particularly bold with everyone’s favorite plumber, but you’ll have a hard time playing this one and not appreciating the refined platforming and fun possession mechanic.
“Each enemy you can take over with Cappy provides a fresh perspective on each stage, helping each world retain a sense of wonder and mystery. Every time I encountered a new bad guy, I was anxious to take control of them and see what they can do.” – Lewis Mackin
4. Portal 2
“Portal 2 is one of my favorite games not just of 2011, but of all time. There are few games that have so successfully established themselves in the comedy genre, but it’s not just the narrative and punchlines that are expertly handled. The puzzles are a work of genius. Valve knew they had something special with the first game and took every aspect as far as it would go. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they added a co-op mode that doubles the number of portals and somehow still shines.” – Nathanael Hueso
“Portal 2 is puzzling at its finest. Lacking the typical combat and dramatic set pieces of typical first-person titles, the game manages to uphold the core values of its predecessor while improving upon it exponentially. The portal mechanic remains untouched and continues to challenge players in new ways with plenty of acid pits along the way.” – Lewis Mackin
“Stephan Merchant’s performance as Wheatly continues to be lauded, with all of it culminating in a finish that’s absurd but in line for the type of game Portal 2 aspired to be. Slap on some of the greatest co-op puzzle gameplay of all time, and you have a game that, while it isn’t at the same perfected height of its predecessor, manages to fit a perfect hole in its own rights.” – Sam Taylor
3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
“I’d been used to the 3D Zelda formula since the Ocarina of Time days. Every release, up until Skyward Sword, didn’t really try too many new things. Breath of the Wild is almost unrecognizable as a Zelda game but still manages to capture the same spirit of the franchise. You’re going to feel like you’re never going to run out of things to do in this game. Just look online and you’ll see players are still finding out new ways to experiment with Breath of the Wild. The combat is satisfying, the puzzles challenging, but the most significant feature is the actual freedom of choice you possess as a player.” – Nathanael Hueso
“Breath of the Wild is what the past decades of the series were leading to. It samples everything: the puzzles of the early games, the relationship between Link and Zelda of Skyward Sword, the vast world of Wind Waker, the diverse landscape of Ocarina of Time. Even with that, Breath of the Wild still feels unique and special with the complete and total freedom given to the player. Throughout the hours-long game, the question “can I do that?” will cross your mind accompanied by all sorts of unlikely ideas, and the answer will almost always be yes, whether you’re planning an angle of attack on an enemy base, devising a new battle strategy, or trying to rush Ganon’s castle immediately after leaving the tutorial. Link has the tools to do anything, and the game has no plan to stop him. Add in a beautiful aesthetic and a criminally underrated soundtrack, and Breath of the Wild can keep you playing forever.” – Max Broggi-Sumner
“I don’t typically expect a good story in my platformers outside of my princess getting kidnapped. The story in Celeste helps make it one of my favorite platformers in years. This game seriously has it out for the player; damn is it difficult. Celeste keeps track of how many times you die, which will be plenty. Maybe it’s because it keeps track, but I don’t I’ve died this many times in any other game. But that just makes succeeding that much more satisfying. Did I mention the game is gorgeous? Because it is.” – Nathanael Hueso
1. God of War (2018)
“God of War is the pinnacle of action games. It’s fun, brutal, and dynamic. What I didn’t expect was the meaningful story we got. God of War nails the dynamic between Kratos and his son, mirroring real-life, father-and-son relationships. It’s a believable relationship in an over-the-top, fantasy world. Previous God of War entries were superficial, violent romps. This game is a mature, vibrant trek. The reinvention of the franchise is the best thing ever to happen to Kratos. Masterpiece.” – Nathanael Hueso
“To just call God of War cinematic would undersell how essential its gameplay is to the narrative. The growth of Kratos and Atreus is felt through the player in a game that isn’t relentlessly an epic. God of War sets its stakes, gradually giving additional weight to monolithic boss battles by positioning a thoughtful character dynamic at center stage. It also helps that God of War boasts not only a rebooted aesthetic but vastly more nuanced combat. You work your way towards the blades of chaos only through patient strategy, an immediate contrast to earlier entries where the blades are inseparable from the character. The game functions as more of an Action-RPG in its scope than its predecessors that only saw fit to volley players from one set piece to the next. God of War bypasses indulging players with pandering power fantasy yet continues to compel on its own terms.” – Zach Kauz
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.