This decade has been a great one in the world of games; the introduction of the PS4 and Xbox One along with improved graphics engines and more commercial interest meant developers could be more creative with games than ever before, and the results are impressive. We’ve seen amazing reboots, like 2018’s God of War, along with games like Minecraft that have left a lasting impact on the gaming industry.
But with literally thousands of titles to choose from, which are the best games of the decade? We’ve come up with a list of our ultimate favourites right here.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us was a generation-defining game for the late-PS3-era whose popularity continued well into the age of the PS4 in the form of a well-timed remaster, offering a cinematic gaming experience with satisfying stealth and combat mechanics. It set a new standard for AAA gaming and won more awards than we can count. And, let’s be honest, the Clickers scared the living daylights out of everyone right?
It’s a title that PlayStation gamers hold dear to their heart after following the emotional journey of Ellie and Joel, and that is evident by how much the community is looking forward to the release of the follow-up, The Last of Us 2, in 2020.
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
The final instalment of the coveted Witcher series didn’t disappoint – so much so that four years after the original release, there are still plenty of people around the world playing the huge open-world RPG. In fact, the release of The Witcher 3: Complete Edition on the Nintendo Switch in 2019 shows not only that the game has ‘replayability’, but that it’s still actively in demand.
For those that haven’t explored the gorgeous, detailed world of The Continent and its various regions, you play as Geralt – a Witcher – tasked with tracking down the Child of Prophecy, a living weapon that can alter the shape of the world itself and dealing with The Wild Hunt once and for all.
The game is huge, spanning hundreds of hours of gameplay across the base game and all DLC, and for many fantasy fans, it’s the best open-world RPG of this decade.
The Summer of 2016 was a glorious one, and that’s down to one reason: Pokémon GO. The game allowed nostalgic Pokémon fans to live out the ultimate Pokémon fantasy in real life, as you explore the real world looking for AR-powered pocket monsters to catch, raids to join and more.
It actively encouraged players to go outside – something that can’t be said for most games in this list – and we must admit that, even in London, complete strangers would chat to each other about the Pokémon they’ve caught and where they found them.
While the hype has died down a bit since the initial launch, the game still boasts a huge daily player base, and with Niantic constantly adding new Pokémon and features, it’s not hard to see why. Pokémon GO, in our minds, is the defining mobile game of the decade.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The fifth instalment of the Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim, holds a special place in the heart of many gamers. It’s a phenomenal game and almost a right of passage for gamers, following the story of your custom character, the Dragonborn, prophesied to defeat Alduin the World-Eater before it destroys the world. The game was a huge improvement on the open world of Oblivion with varied environments and memorable characters to interact with.
It wasn’t perfect, of course, but that’s one of the reasons gamers took to Skyrim. The bugs, glitches and other issues contributed to the charm of the game and inspired a flood of Skyrim-inspired memes that are still being shared online today. That, and the sheer number of mods that – in some cases – completely transforms the game.
And besides, with the game available to play on everything from the PS3 and Xbox 360 to the PS4, Xbox One, various VR headsets and even the Nintendo Switch, you’ve got plenty of ways to get involved if you haven’t already.
We can’t do a roundup of the best games of the decade and not mention Minecraft. The voxel-based game launched back in 2011 after a two-year period of beta testing, and was eventually bought by Microsoft for a whopping $2.5 billion due to its popularity.
The block-based game has no real storyline, but the possibilities for building and crafting are near-endless, and truly talented people have constantly pushed the boundaries of what is possible over the years.
It’s the creative nature of the game that has kept gamers young and old coming back time and time again, and the upcoming release of Minecraft RTX with real-time ray-tracing will provide a significant visual upgrade and breathe life into a game that largely looks the same as it did at launch.
Grand Theft Auto V is hands-down Rockstar’s most popular game of this decade, besting even Red Dead Redemption 2 with a huge world full of things to blow up, characters to shoot with and cars to recklessly drive around – and we’ve not even mentioned the most popular aspect of GTA V – GTA Online.
GTA Online, as the name suggests, allows players to meet up in Los Santos and create carnage however they’d like. Want to go up against an enemy player? Set up a roadblock outside their penthouse and lay in wait. Want to rob a Casino? With a recent Heist update, that’s possible too!
It’s the frankly outstanding amount of free content that keeps players coming back though; unlike other games that utilise paid DLC or a ‘battle pass’-esque monthly subscription, all content is completely free for all players. The wholesome approach to online gaming means that GTA V is still hugely popular six years after it was initially released – and there aren’t many games that can achieve that.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, better known as PUBG, kicked off the battle royale craze that’s still going on today. The premise of the game is simple; 100 players drop into a large open-world map, scavenge the land for weapons and kill each other until only one player remains. Oh, and did we mention the map gets smaller as time goes on?
The game, though simple, proved incredibly popular with gamers despite the less-than-optimised state at launch. The game has gone from strength to strength, despite a declining player base due to free-to-play competition, offering new maps, weapons, modes and more. It’s the OG battle royale game, and it gets a hat tilt from us at Tech Advisor.
That competition we mentioned? It comes in the form of Fortnite, Epic Games’ free-to-play battle royale game that offers a more family-friendly experience when compared to the gritty, realistic PUBG.
What made Fortnite stand out was the ability to build as well as shoot; it gave gamers a way to respond to incoming fire, building complex structures to provide cover and gain the upper hand in an intense battle. The Battle Pass provides players with missions to complete over the days and weeks of each season, giving gamers something to work towards, with the reward of cosmetics to give your character and weapons a unique look.
It’s a simple concept, but it’s one that saw Fortnite rocket to the heights of fame within months of release in September 2017. With 250 million players worldwide, we don’t see the Fortnite hype train slowing down any time soon!
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild is hands-down the best Zelda game to date, selling over 16 million copies since release in 2017 alongside the hybrid Nintendo Switch console. Set 100 years after the events of previous games in the series, Link is awoken from a slumber with the sole purpose of defeating Calamity Ganon before it can destroy the entire kingdom of Hyrule.
The game boasted significant upgrades over previous games in the series, introducing a detailed physics engine, a unique visual style and, surprisingly, voice acting. The world itself is unstructured and can be completed in any way you’d like – you could even go from the starting level to the final boss, but you might struggle a bit.
The open-ended gameplay and attention to detail resonated with fans, with many calling it one of the best video game of all time, not just this decade. With numerous awards – including many Game of the Year awards – and more sales than any other Zelda game, it’s clear to see that Breath of the Wild has set a new benchmark for Nintendo fans.
Best game of the decade: Reader Poll
As well as selecting what we think are the best games from the past 10 years, we've also asked you, our readers. We had over 21,000 responses, and here's how the results shape up. Is your favourite in the list?