The end of the console generation is coming up, and with the PS5 and the Xbox Series X box One X looming on the horizon like Lovecraftian abominations, I figured it’s time to document my top 50 games of the current generation so that I can argue with people on the internet about why God of War isn’t on here. The only rules here are that it has to have come out on the PS4, Xbox One, Wii-U or Switch or from November of 2013 onwards. No remasters or ports, but I will allow remakes if I feel that they are different enough from the original to warrant being on this list. I will not include handheld games on this list just to focus it down. I decided to do my top 10 most disappointing games as a lot of games that would end up in a worst list already made it in my top 10 worst games of the decade list. Keep in mind this is my own personal list, not a definitive or objective “Best of” list. Without further ado, here is my top 50 games of the generation.
50. The Last Guardian (2016) –
I know that this game was disappointing and frustrating for a lot of people, but I think that was unavoidable considering it was in development longer than Trump’s totally real healthcare plan. Yes, this game is the weakest of Team Ico’s unofficial trilogy, but it is a clever enough puzzle game with their trademark ruined but melancholically beautiful world and story to still make my list. This is really a case of a company making something that is really unique that I personally enjoy more than some of the bad aspects can take away from it.
49. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (2018) –
If you told an AI to play every JRPG ever made and then generate its own JRPG from that, DQ XI would be that game. It’s about as generic a JRPG as you can possibly make, but it has enough of that classic Dragon Quest charm, especially in the art style, tone and characters that it doesn’t bother me. I would describe this game as JRPG comfort food, something every fan of traditional turn-based JRPGs should enjoy.
48. Soma (2015)-
Speaking of comfort zones, Frictional Games refused to leave theirs for the second generation in a row, as they substituted the Lovecraftian setting of Amnesia for the Sci-Fi setting of Soma. I’m not as much a fan of the gameplay this time around because shitty B-Movie monsters aren’t as unnerving as the Lovecraftian horrors of Amnesia, but I love the story, setting and atmosphere, especially the more existential and philosophical themes in it, which are far scarier than the monsters ever could be.
47. X-Com 2 (2016)-
I don’t think X-Com 2 is better than Enemy Unknown, but it is still a fantastic strategy game. The customization alone is more of a time-sink than I want to admit, and it’s still challenging as hell, even if some of the more annoying elements are held over from its predecessor. This game has plenty of fantastic expansions as well. X-Com 2 is a title that any fan of hardcore strategy games has probably played over and over again.
46. Horizon: Zero Dawn (2017)-
A game that doesn’t have an original bone in its body, but I can think of worse gimmicks to center your game around than robot dinosaurs. I like the characters, story and setting, and I like how Ayyyyloy’s story synchronizes well with the gameplay as her world view expands alongside the player exploring the open world. It does enough to put a twist on the tropes of the open world genre that it is worth adding to my list.
45. Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order (2019)-
Staying with the theme of games that don’t have an original thought in their heads, Jedi Fallen Order is a mixture of Dark Souls, Metroid Prime and Titanfall. Fortunately, I like explorative Metroid-vania games, I like the aesthetics of Star Wars, and I like the movement of Titanfall. Sometimes all it takes for me to like a game is for it to combine 4 or 5 things I really like. This game deserves to be on this list purely for escaping the dual corporate grinding wheels of EA and Disney and actually turning out good.
44. Celeste (2018)-
There is a 2D pixel art indie platformer released at a rate that seems like nanoseconds nowadays, so for one to stand out, it has to be really good. Celeste is a fast-paced and simple platformer, with good atmosphere and music. While the depression metaphors in the story are way too on the nose for me, the clever level design and just right difficulty make this game a standout in an oversaturated genre.
43. Prey (2016)-
An organic action RPG with some lovely Bioshock influences, Prey is an RPG that actually makes player choice matter outside of a superfluous dialog tree. There’re so many different ways to play this game, and I quite like the atmosphere. If Arkane could ever manage to put some personality into their games, they’d be golden.
42. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (2016)-
It’s hard to expect anything but greatness from Naughty Dog, and Uncharted 4 is no different. A brilliant action adventure game, Uncharted 4 is a great conclusion to Naughty Dog’s quadriliogy. Some of the best voice acting, writing and overall presentation in any game to date, Uncharted 4 heavily refines the gameplay mechanics showing off some truly impressive set pieces and incorporating a grappling hook, which makes it like automatically 10 times better.
Undertale is Earthbound for a new generation. A game that is equal parts moving, hilarious, charming and nostalgic, Undertale is a tremendously well-written and imaginative game, with tons of meta commentary and in jokes about gaming and the medium as a whole. This is the game I’d say is my favorite of the generation if I was in a room full of Redditors wearing “All your bases are belong to us” tee-shirts.
40. Astral Chain (2019)-
Platinum Games has established themselves as one of the best and most consistent developers in the industry. Part police investigation game, part high-octane action game, Astral Chain’s gimmick of using the second analog stick to do combos in combat is awkward at first, but ends up becoming a fun and interesting mechanic. One of the best games on the Switch, this won’t be the last time Platinum shows up on this list.
39. Super Mario 3D World (2013)-
This game will never get the credit it deserves in the cannon of 3D Mario outings because it isn’t as wildly inventive as games like Galaxy or Odyssey, nor is it as revolutionary as Super Mario 64, but 3D World is nonetheless a colorful, fun and masterfully designed platformer with a great soundtrack. The game is a blast with friends as well, as the simple but genius crown system makes every level a competitive battle for bragging rights.
38. Dark Souls III (2016)-
Dark Souls III is not my favorite of the series by any stretch of the imagination, and in the context of the series, it isn’t really that original or imaginative a sequel, especially when it comes to story and visuals. That being said, it’s still Dark Souls and I’ve still played it like 50 times. Dark Souls III is by far the deepest, most polished and most varied game in the series with some of the best boss fights and arguably the best soundtrack in the entire franchise. The DLC is also some of the best Fromsoft has made to date.
37. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (2015)-
Another possibly controversial choice, as this game doesn’t really get the credit it deserves, Metal Gear Solid V shows exactly what open world games should be; an open-ended sandbox with tons of mechanics and tools to execute objectives in the most creative way possible. Nobody will have the same method of completing a mission. I know the ending is worse than the end of the 1930’s for Poland, but I think the reputation of it unfairly tarnishes what is a fantastic stealth action game.
36. Salt and Sanctuary (2016)-
A faithful translation of the popular Dark Souls games into a 2D space, Salt and Sanctuary takes its obvious influences and creates something that captures the feel and playstyle of the games it is imitating while also being a fantastic side-scrolling metroidvania game in its own right with some unique twists on the formula. This game plays exactly how I’d imagine a 2D Dark Souls game to play. The only Dark Souls clone I would put up there with Fromsoft’s own efforts.
35. Fire Emblem: 3 Houses (2019)-
Fire Emblem 3 Houses is a fantastic strategy game with tons of varied and different story routes to add replayability. Three Houses is one of my favorite games in one of my favorite series, and is the first console iteration of the franchise in almost a decade. The characters in this game are better written and more fleshed out than almost any other game in the franchise, and story-wise, it’s hands down one of if not the outright best, as it takes on the feel of medieval Harry Potter.
34. Sunset Overdrive (2015)-
Insomniac’s eclectic and colorful combination of Ratchet and Clank and Jet Set Radio combines wacky weaponry with a fantastic traversal system that takes the familiar open world formula and puts its own spin on it. Hands down the best Xbox exclusive this gen and almost worth owning an Xbox One for by itself.
33. Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018)-
Another Insomniac game to add to the list, the annoyingly titled Spider-Man with no subtitle so we have to call it “Spider-Man PS4” is hands down the best Spider-Man game to date. To say it nails the web-slinging is an understatement as it has never been better. Traversal require finesse and has tons of style to it. I also like how they used an unfamiliar villain in Mr. Negative to keep the story somewhat fresh, even if a lot of the game borrows heavily from a lot of other standard AAA tropes.
32. The Outer Worlds (2019)-
Obsidian’s lighthearted, corporation satirizing, interplanetary RPG is a mixture of Fallout New Vegas and Mass Effect. Fantastic sidekicks and deep RPG elements truly let you play the character you want to play, as different play styles open up different story routes. The game is short, but it has tons of replayability as story paths often change and open up depending on your in-game choices. If you’re a fan of classic modern WRPGs, The Outer Worlds is the perfect game for you.
31. Yakuza Zero (2017)-
A prequel to the original Yakuza game, Yakuza Zero is part open world game, part beat em’ up and 100% ridiculous. The open world is small, but dense and interesting with plenty of stupid side bullshit that is practically better than the rest of the game. The game has a very serious story about very serious men growling about very serious things, but not so serious that we can’t hit dudes that are built like double decker busses over the head with a park bench.
30. Final Fantasy VII Remake (2020)-
The long-awaited remake of this groundbreaking and beloved JRPG did not disappoint. While I have a ton of small gripes with the game, it’s hard to imagine how they could have done a better job bringing (the first part) of this classic back to life for both new and old fans. Some of the best graphics and presentation in any game to date, FF VII Remake really brings the characters and setting of the original to life like never before. A lot of the new additions are fantastic and the gameplay is a very refined and fun take on an action RPG system. Also, the soundtrack literally sounds like god is massaging your eardrums.
29. Doom Eternal (2020)-
Doom Eternal may be the poster child for the phrase “bigger isn’t always better” but it’s still a fast paced, insanely cathartic and fun shooter. The additional movement and combat options are a great supplement to the already amazing combat, and just having an open-ended shooter with no regenerating health in this day and age is a breath of fresh air. Mick Gordon’s brutal and visceral soundtrack really ties the whole package together.
28. Octopath Traveler (2018)-
A classic JRPG in every sense of the word, Octopath Traveler is the spiritual successor to SNES JRPGs like FF VI and others. The beautiful water color art style really evokes the classic RPGs of days past, and the unique take on a traditional turn-based system is like a nice warm, relaxing bubble bath for fans of old-school, class-based JRPGs like myself. One of the best games on the Switch and one of the best RPGs period in years.
27. Subnautica (2018)-
I’ve never been a fan of survival games. I sure as hell respect games like Minecraft for what they set out to do and what fans of the games can achieve, but it’s never been my thing. The lone exception to the rule is now Subnautica. I’m not sure really what’s different about Subnautica as it’s a pretty standard survival game in every way that counts. Maybe it’s that there is actually goals it sets out for you other than going around to punch rocks, build a base and see how long you can survive. Maybe it’s the hostile underwater world that lends itself to exploring the unknown. Whatever it is, I spent a lot of time playing this game, most of it punching rocks to build a base and see how long I survive, so it shows how much of a hypocrite I am.
26. Cuphead (2017)-
Cuphead is a tough as nails, beautifully animated 2D platforming game that is more of a boss-rush mode than a traditional side scroller. The wonderful hand-drawn animation seeks to ape the style of Disney cartoons from the 30’s and 40’s without the overt racism. It never manages to not be a treat, as the boss design is absolutely amazing. One of the few games that gives me the exhausted satisfaction of a Dark Souls game without actually being a Dark Souls clone. The amazing soundtrack is just the cherry on top.