25. Pikmin 3 (2013)-
Nintendo’s charming, colorful and unique take on the Real Time Strategy genre returned to Wii-U with its third iteration. Pikmin 3 doesn’t do a lot to differentiate itself from the previous entries in the series, but there isn’t really quite anything similar to the zen like comfort of listening to the relaxing ambient soundtrack while you go to an alien planet, enslave the local creatures and force them to commit genocide… Also, this was one of the few practical uses for the Wii-U gamepad.
24. Transistor (2014) –
Supergiant Games has become one of my favorite developers in the indie space ever since their breakout hit Bastion last generation, and Transistor is a continuation of their unique isometric turn-based RPG style. Gorgeously animated with amazing sound design, and the only gaming soundtrack I have in a physical medium, Transistor’s Cyberpunk world and interesting take on the turn-based RPG is a treat for any indie fan.
23. Yoku’s Island Express (2018)-
On paper, a combination of Metroidvania and pinball sounds like it would have an outcome similar to when rednecks discovered a combination of alcohol and firecrackers, but Yoku’s Island Express combines them in a wonderful way to create one of the most unique games I’ve ever played. The charming music, atmosphere and characters make my 2018 game of the year one of the most innovative and memorable of the generation.
22. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014)-
In a world where the bar for licensed games is lower than a limbo contest in a Derinkuyu salt mine, Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor shows that licensed games can still be excellent. At its core, Shadow of Mordor is a generic open world game with a perfectly adequate mixture of Batman Arkham and Assassin’s Creed, but what sets it apart is the utterly revolutionary Nemesis System. Orcs fight for power among their hierarchy, move around and get replaced as you kill them, they kill each other and struggle for power. Each orc has a unique weaknesses, strengths and personality traits that gives the game a dynamic edge that makes an otherwise perfectly fine but generic game into something truly special.
21. Titanfall 2 (2016)-
I kind of feel short changed by Titanfall 1 now that Titanfall 2 actually has a story mode and its actually really fucking good. Taking the game’s fun combination of arena shooter movement and twitch shooting and giving it a nice story about a mech pilot bonding with his mech, Titanfall 2 is one of the best single player shooters in years. I really love the technology, lore and weaponry of Titanfall’s world, and this game actually does a lot to flesh it out. The level where you switch back and forth between time periods will go down as one of the greatest moments in shooter history.
20. Ori and the Blind Forrest (2015)-
A gorgeous, emotional and wonderfully scored indie Metroidvania, Ori and the Blind Forrest is one of the best indie games I’ve ever experienced. Ori is a game that will captivate even those that don’t usually like platformers or Metroidvania type games. The story isn’t exactly original, but it hits the right emotions at the right time, and even though I don’t ever cry at games other than the in water ending of Silent Hill 2 (yes, maybe I will marry Silent Hill 2, shut up,) it was able to spark a lot of feelings off of my flinty heart. Moon Studios has definitely created a masterpiece of the genre with this title.
19. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (2014)-
An unrelentingly inventive and wildly inspired effort, DKCTF is one of the best platformers, 2D or otherwise that Nintendo has ever made, and the best game Retro has made since Metroid Prime. Some of the most varied and creative level design takes you from bouncing on top of hot air balloons in an alpine setting to jumping off bits of wood in the eye of a tornado in the next. All of this is set to David Wise’s masterful music score that is honestly worth buying the game for on its own.
18. Devil May Cry V (2019)-
One of the best games of the generation, and one of the best action games ever made, Devil May Cry V is a highlight of Capcom’s rebirth from disappointing, greedy developer in the PS3 gen to reliable hit-maker in the PS4 gen. The game keeps things fresh throughout with a fantastic combo system, varied characters and an epic soundtrack. When one of the only complaints about your game is that it doesn’t play Devil Trigger enough, you know you’ve created a gem.
17. Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014)-
Wolfenstein: The New Order doesn’t have any right being as good as it is. Yes, it’s a retro shooter in the mold of the classic games of yesteryear that I particularly love, but it’s the story and characters that really make this game special. The realization that shooting hoards of faceless bad guys is while fun, also inherently grim, no matter how much of white supremacists they are, is prevalent throughout the narrative. It’s a surprisingly well written and deep story, but it doesn’t take itself so seriously we can’t go kill Nazis on a secret moon base.
16. Resident Evil 7 (2017)-
After Resident Evil had once again stagnated in the PS3 generation, a lot of fans were hoping the series would have a RE4 like renaissance in the PS4 generation, and boy did it ever. Going back to the series’ survival horror roots and switching to a 1st person perspective, provided just that. Also, it turns out actually writing decent story and characters for once helps as well, and it even manages to do so without losing the campiness that makes the series beloved. Crank the difficulty up to Madhouse and enjoy one of the best horror games in years.
15. Return of the Obra Dinn (2018)-
One trend that was prevalent this generation of indie games was games made by solo developers. Games like Undertale, Stardew Valley and Lucas Pope’s Return of the Obra Dinn show that it doesn’t take a 500-million-dollar advertising budget and 4 years of having strippers burst out of birthday cakes on stage at E3 to make a good game. Much like Pope’s previous title Papers Please, this monochromatic puzzle game takes an idea that wouldn’t really seem like it’d make for a fun video game and puts it in a context that makes it engaging. My only regret with this game is that I can’t experience it for the first time again.
14. Stardew Valley (2016)-
Stardew Valley is an ambitious game that seeks to answer the question “What would a 16-bit Harvest Moon game be like if it were bigger?” …Ok so it’s not ambitious at all, but nonetheless, this is a game that I’ve been playing basically since it came out. There’s something about these types of farming games that always manage to get me addicted, and with how much new content is constantly updated with Stardew Valley since launch, it’s no wonder I’ve gone back to this game time and time again.
13. Bayonetta 2 (2014)-
Bayonetta 2 is one of Platinum’s finest efforts to date. The fast-paced and often ridiculously over the top action game is a fantastic spectacle fighter in every way imaginable, especially with the varied and crazy combo system that opens up and becomes larger as you progress through the game. I really like the visuals and how it uses gothic imagery, it is definitely one of the best-looking games on the Wii-U. I also just really like Bayonetta as a character, her personality, dry wit and attitude make her one of the best female protagonists in the medium.
12. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (2019)-
This is one of those kickstarter games where the owner of an IP is being an asshole and won’t make more of a series people like, so the original creators go to kickstarter and create a game that’s basically that IP with the serial numbers filed off. But to say that Bloodstained is a Castlevania rip-off is reductive. Bloodstained plays like a greatest hits list of all the best ideas from the across the history of the Castlevania series. Bloodstained is a rare kickstarter success story and an overall fantastic game.
11. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)-
Fromsoft decided to (sort of) break away from the Dark Souls formula with their stealth-action game Sekiro. Their dark take on a Feudal Japanese aesthetic sets the backdrop for one of their most ball-bustingly difficult (and thereby satisfying) games to date. With some of the best boss fights in any game, most of the battles play out like a big budget samurai movie more than a game. Sekiro also has one some of the best lore and story in any Fromsoft game to date, and while it took a while to click with me, Sekiro is a game that I’ve played over and over again just as I have with other Fromsoft titles.
10. Nier Automata (2017)-
Combining Platinum’s razor-sharp dodge and combo-based combat with elements of bullet hell, on-rails shooters and open world games, autor developer Yoko Taro has helped create a memorable action RPG. What really makes me love this game though is the story and characters. There are some real interesting philosophical themes and gut-punching plot twists in the second half of the game. Very rarely does a game manage to marry story and varied and unique gameplay as well as Nier does. And the soundtrack. Oh my God.
9. Doom (2016)-
Doom is an old-school, fast paced, gory and over the top violent, cathartic shooter that will ignite that same love for the FPS genre that captivated so many kids in the 90’s when the first two Doom titles revolutionized the genre. I personally prefer this one over Eternal because I think it’s simpler and to the point than its successor is. Mick Gordon’s soundtrack is the audio equivalent of cocaine and sets the mood for some demon ass kicking perfectly. Doom serves as a reminder that shooters are fast-paced, bouncy, ridiculous organic fun, not 6 hours of being transported to various places in the Middle East and being told to shoot all the brown people on the other side of chest high walls.
8. Resident Evil 2 Remake (2019)-
Remaking any game is ridiculously hard, because you have to be able to draw in new fans without alienating the old ones, but also make it fresh enough that people on the internet don’t bitch about how you’re overcharging for a game that hundreds of people spent thousands of hours of their life working on. Remaking a game that’s also a pivotal title in a genre is exponentially harder than that. R2make is not only a fantastic reimagining of the original classic, but I would go as far to say that it is better than the original in basically every way. Modernizing the controls, visuals and combat without losing any of the horror elements, the atmosphere of Resident Evil 2 has never been better. This game also has tons of extra content added in the form of challenge runs and different side activities to keep you occupied after you’ve finished all 4 of the game’s main campaigns. The crown jewel of Capcom’s redemption arc this generation.
7. Hollow Knight (2017)-
I might be a bit biased because I was one of the first people who supported this game on kickstarter, and even took notice of it back when all it had as a description was “Insectoidvania” on steam greenlight, Hollow Knight is an incredible Metroidvania game. It has elements of games like Dark Souls, but those elements are incorporated in a way that it doesn’t take away from the originality of the game. With gorgeous hand-drawn and lively animation, the creatures of this beautiful and ruined world really leap off the screen. The gloomy and emotive soundtrack and the map collecting gimmick really take this game up a notch. There has even been more and more content added to this game for free since the developers have continued to reward the fans that supported them back when this game was still just a kickstarter dream.
6. Shovel Knight (2014)-
I don’t know what it is about games with “knight” or “night” in the title, but they seem to be the only ones that come out of kickstarter and actually live up to expectations. Shovel Knight, an 8-bit retro platformer in the style of NES classics is a resounding indie success. While it takes elements from NES games like Ducktales, Mario Bros 3, Castlevania and others, to say it is just a tribute to those games does a disservice to how amazing Shovel Knight is in its own right, as it can easily stand alongside the 8-bit classics it pays homage to. The soundtrack is superb, the difficulty is just right, and Yacht Club games have become one of the most beloved indie developers in the industry due to the fact that they released 3 free revamped campaigns based around new playable characters that massively changes up the gameplay to make the experience fresh again.
5. Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)-
You know, I used to think that AAA games costing so much nowadays meant that they had to be dumbed down to appeal to a wide audience so they have some snowball’s chance in hell of recouping their budget. Lo’ and behold, I was proven wrong by CD Projekt Red. Turns out, you can still have a high budget AAA game with tons of depth and complexity in both gameplay and story, you just have to work your fucking ass off to do it. I don’t even want to think about the soul crushing amount of effort that must have went into making this game as story-rich, complex and interesting as it is. When a game says that your choices matter, they usually don’t, but Witcher 3 has so many well-developed story lines that I killed a demonic tree in a seemingly random side quest and it completely changed the storylines of like 3 characters. Anybody who has played Witcher 3 knows how fantastic a game it is, so I’ll just say this; I really hope ass-reattachment surgery isn’t painful CDPR.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)-
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a magical game. After a string of great but by the numbers titles, BOTW finally returning to the roots of Zelda with a true open world and thousands of secrets to find is a breath of fresh air. Breath of the Wild is a sandbox game to its core. You can go anywhere after the Great Plateau at the start of the game, even straight to fight Gannon an hour in if you dare to do so. The so called “Chemistry Engine” paired with the physics engine, allow the player to come up with fun and unique ways to approach combat and getting around the open world. This extends to the dungeons and the new shrines dotted across the land, as you can often times solve puzzles in whatever way you find, even if it isn’t the intended way. I love this type of organic game design, but what really makes BOTW special is the world. The sheer size and verticality of the open landscape really stimulates the sense of adventure, as knowing you can go anywhere on the map that you see is an incredible feeling. Sure, there’s a lot of repeated content and the main dungeons and bosses aren’t great, but BOTW can truly stand on its own as one of the best titles in a series full of all-time classic games.
3. Super Mario Odyssey (2017)-
Once in a while, Nintendo releases a game that’s so damn good, it makes you look at other AAA developers and wonder “What the fuck are these companies doing with their time?” Even by the ridiculously high standards Mario has set over 30 years as one of the most innovative and important franchises in gaming history, Odyssey is a standout title. Returning to the open-ended levels of the original 3D Mario games like 64 and Sunshine, Odyssey is the ultimate collectathon, equal parts wonderous and varied. The simple mechanic of morphing into enemies opens up so many creative and interesting gameplay scenarios it’s insane, yet it still feels like it barely scratches the surface of what the mechanics are capable of because it never dwells on any one idea too long. The movement is fantastic, and the game revels in letting the player experiment and find their own ways to solve problems. The orchestrated score is phenomenal, and the ending will go down as one of the most incredible celebrations of gaming in the history of the medium. Mario is the king of platformers, and the king came back for his crown in a big way with Odyssey.
2. Persona 5 (2016)-
Many RPGs attempt to get you to bond with a huge cast of characters and most of them end up being hit or miss. Persona 5 on the other hand has one of the most likeable group of heroes from top to bottom in any game ever. I’m a sucker for any turn-based RPG and Persona 5 is the best one we’ve gotten this decade. The combat has a hypnotic rhythm to it as the flashy animation and striking color schemes are constantly playing across the screen. But honestly, it was the day to day life sim elements that really hooked me. Turns out, I like being a high schooler in Japan. The amazing, nostalgic and smooth soundtrack is going to make it hard to handle when I have fond memories for this game in the future. Sunset Bridge playing at the end of the game during the final cutscene perfectly sums up Persona 5; fun, warm, full of cherished memories, and ultimately bittersweet. I will definitely be picking up Persona 5 Royal and replaying it at some point. If you’re looking for a good dungeon crawler, Persona 5 is a damn good place to start.
1. Bloodborne (2015)-
What’s that smell? The sweet blood, oh, it sings to me… It’s enough to make a man sick…
Top 10 Most Disappointing Games of the Generation
10. Fallout 4 (2015)-
Is Fallout 4 a bad game? No, it’s really not. Is it a bad RPG that, even compared to Fallout 3 is a dumbed down experience with a horrible main plot and still using the same busted ass engine that looks dated and is about as hard to break as a Trump supreme court nominee in front of congress? Yes. This game is perfectly fine with mods and the expansions, but… Fallout New Vegas hasn’t gone anywhere has it? Sure, the shooting mechanics are infinitely better, but it’s the lack of any depth or ambition whatsoever that really kills Fallout 4’s replay value for me. Why would I put any amount of time into this game when The Outer Worlds exists?
9. Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)-
You know what I thought that the Arkham games needed to supplement their signature brand of stealth action and finesse, rhythm-based combat? Being in the Batmobile shooting shit for half the game. Oh wait, I didn’t think that, I’m just being a condescending asshole again. When Arkham Knight is actually being a Batman Arkham game, it’s great. Unfortunately, it has some design choices that absolutely ruin the game for me. And don’t get me started on the story, the twist is so predictable and underwhelming it’s honestly pathetic. The Boss fights are awful and that’s not to mention the PC port is without a doubt one, of if not the worst PC port of all time. Oh, and what the fuck is up with needing to collect all the Riddler trophies to see the real ending? I’m moving on before I start ranting about this game again.
8. Yooka- Laylee (2017)-
We’ve talked about games like Bloodstained and Shovel Knight, kickstarter titles that are made to emulate nostalgic franchises that people love. Yooka-Laylee was made to be a stand in for the Banjo-Kazooie franchise, which Microsoft seems to have forgotten they own. The problem is, that while a game like Shovel Knight is reminiscent of NES games, it does a lot to stand out on its own as a great title in the genre. Everything about Yooka-Laylee is just blatant nostalgia baiting, and reveling in the fact people want to be reminded of Banjo. There are just levels of polish that aren’t applied to this game that really needed to be. The first and last levels are the only decent ones, the soundtrack is inconsistent at best and it just doesn’t have the wild inventiveness of the games it’s trying to ape. I definitely don’t hate this game, but I was severely let down by it nonetheless.
7. Star Wars Battlefront (2015)-
I know it’s hard to really be disappointed by a game published by EA with the blessing of Disney, but the first Star Wars game of this generation was a complete dud even by those low expectations. Yes, it looks nice, but with such little content and bullshit day 1 DLC, it’s easy to overlook. EA and Dice said that this game has a single player campaign, and this is why everybody calls them liars. I’m sorry, I know games like Battlefield are really popular, but I just don’t get it. All these big server shooters all end up playing the same. You run around either shooting people who didn’t see you or getting shot by somebody you didn’t see; rinse and repeat and at the end somebody wins because math exists. Thank god for Fallen Order, otherwise Star Wars games would have been in a real dark place this generation.
6. The Order 1886 (2015)-
The Order 1886 has so much going for it. The idea of a story where King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table survived into Victorian era England by drinking water from the Holy Grail and are now using steam punk technology to fight werewolves is a great concept. Visually, and presentation wise, it’s still one of the high points of the generation despite coming out early on in it. The problem is the gameplay is a generic 3rd person cover shooter. I could overlook the generic gameplay if the story was good… But it’s really not. The character’s motivations are stupid, the dialog is erratic in consistency and you only end up fighting like 3 werewolves in the whole damn game, and it’s quite literally the same exact boss fight copy and pasted. The posterchild for the idea that presentation and graphics alone cannot save a mediocre game.
5. Broken Age (2014)-
I’ve said a fair share about kickstarter successes and failures, and it won’t be the last time I talk about it on this list, but Broken Age is another disappointment in a long line of kickstarter disappointments. Yes, I’m salty because I backed this game, as they said it was a return of classic point and click adventure games, directed by Tim Schafer who, back in the day, made games I really liked such as Day of the Tentacle and Psychonauts… Ok, pretty much just Day of the Tentacle and Psychonauts, but it’s one thing for a kickstarter project to be a disappointment, it’s another thing for it to be a disappointing mess and also cut it in half for no reason so even people who payed to make it exist in the first place have to pay for the second half. Go fuck yourself Tim Schafer.
4. Mass Effect Andromeda (2018)-
I honestly feel bad for Bioware. Once a name in the WRPG space that used to bring joy to every hardcore RPG gamer, they’ve made so many seminal titles in the genre. Now, having lost all their important members that made games like Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic and the original Mass Effect trilogy such special games, they’ve been relegated to pumping out whatever EA forces them to, and Andromeda is both a disgrace to Bioware’s name and Mass Effect’s legacy. A buggy, dumbed down mess, this game’s launch was basically made a massive meme in the gaming community due to the number of hilarious glitches that occurred, especially in the animations. Mass Effect was defined by its characters and story, and there’s not a single interesting story point or well written character in this game. The only reason Andromeda will be remembered in 5 years’ time is because of how memeable some of the dialog is. My face is tired.
3. Mighty Number 9 (2016)-
For me, Mighty No. 9 has to represent the absolute worst of Kickstarter funded projects. It reminds us that games like Shovel Knight and Bloodstained are anomalies. Most kickstarter backed games have been seriously disappointing. We can’t assume that a developer is going to be as passionate about making their game as Yacht Club Games or Team Cherry is. When you give anybody a massive amount of money, the likelihood it actually ends up showing in the game is very small. As for the game itself? It’s an often horribly designed, frustrating experience that’s at best an ok Mega Man clone, but since we have Mega Man 11 now, which ended up being really damn solid, there is literally no reason for this game to exist.
2. No Man’s Sky (2016)-
One of the most notorious disappointments of not only the generation, but in gaming history, No Man’s Sky has to make the list. Personally, I never got the hype, because you just can’t replace actual game design with procedural generation, and unlike some people, I have the ability to remember Spore. That being said, despite all the lies about features and all the misleading trailers and demos, I have to hand it to Sean Murphy, he’s a fantastic salesman. If he had just come out and revealed that it was a generic indie survival game where you punch rocks, build a base and try to survive, I seriously doubt there would have been anywhere near the same level of hype as it generated. But, by keeping the core gameplay more or less a secret, they managed to milk like 3 E3’s worth of insane hype out of the game. Apparently, it’s gotten better over time, but I think you can say the same thing about being boiled alive. At least the soundtrack is good.
1. Destiny (2014)-
A game that is not only an infamous disappointment, but a game whose fallout lasted years after release, the failure that was Destiny is truly a tale of why we shouldn’t fall victim to the AAA hype machine. We have a developer in Bungie who made one of the most influential shooters of all time in Halo creating a new sci-fi shooter. We have Activision, a big-name publisher, and a new generation of consoles that desperately needed something to show off what they were capable of. What we got was a poorly written, boring game with content obviously stripped out to be sold separately as DLC. I fucking hate this game. I hate that it validated the business model of releasing half finished, grindy garbage and “improving” it later. I hate that it justifies spending an absurd amount of money on a AAA game (apparently 500 million dollars went into this train wreck) and not caring as long as it sells enough to casuals to make its money back. But most importantly, I hate what it stands for at its core. I hate that companies think so little of gamers that they can have the audacity to claim that the story is “Like Lord of the Rings in space” and then release such an incomplete and incomprehensible story without any repercussions as long as there are some pretty graphics in a trailer. Destiny, and especially Activision can go fuck themselves.