The Fanatical Blog
Decade of gaming - Our pick of game releases from 2010 to 2019
By Sam Jones - 26th Nov 2019Games
We pick nine of our favorite games from the 10s
We're six weeks away from 2020, a new decade that will no doubt be filled with shocking celebrity revelations, tedious political feuds... and more great game releases!
If someone told you to look back over the last 10 years and pick a favorite for each year, you'll no doubt find yourself in the same dilemma as our team. There have been so many iconic, fun titles launched on PC and console between 2010 and 2019 - so many in fact that we found it very difficult to choose between a handful of games in one year.
Whether you played and enjoyed all of the mainstream AAA launches, or found more pleasure in smaller Indie type releases, your list will probably differ from the next. Below, our Content Manager Sam looks back at his favorite games from each year of the past decade and why he enjoyed them so much.
Red Dead Redemption
Release: May 2010
Developer & Publisher: Rockstar San Diego & Rockstar Games
I remember seeing early reports of Red Dead Redemption and was told 'Just think of it as GTA but with horses'. A somewhat brief summary of this Wild West action-adventure, but an accurate one nonetheless. You take on the role of John Marston who is forced to round up the remaining members of his old gang by by Bureau of Investigation agents in exchange for his family's safety.
The game sees you travel across old America into parts of Mexico in Story missions, side quests and general free roaming opportunities, along with mini challenges like hunting and helping strangers which grants you new outfits and equipment. The 'Dead Eye' gunslinger mechanic was pretty awesome too, allowing you to slow down time to shoot specific targets - a quirky mechanic that would also feature in Red Dead Redemption 2 eight years later.
RDR also allowed players to team up in a posse in online multiplayer and wreak havoc in competitive game modes. More often than not, you'd be in an open free roam feud with another player in which both of you spend an hour finding each other on the map and blowing a hole in the other player's face with a shotgun, before one of you grows tired of dying and leaves the session.
The eerie Undead Nightmare standalone expansion launched later in the same year, turning this Western world into a zombie apocalypse. Eurogamer rated Red Dead Redemption among its top 50 games of our generation, and I have to agree with them there.
Personally, this was one of the - if not the - best games from my Xbox 360 days, it's stunning game world and thoroughly enjoyable story campaign had me hooked for weeks. Man, that was a great summer/year.
Gears of War 3
Release: September 2011
Developer & Publisher: Epic Games & Microsoft Studios
What an emotional roller coaster this was... Epic Games' formidable third-person shooter franchise looked set to end on third instalment (thankfully we've had more games thanks to The Coalition).
Marcus Fenix and the gang went into a climatic battle against the Locust Queen and her remaining army, as well as the Lambent - a mutated version of the Locust that had prolonged exposure to the natural lava-type substance called Imulsion. The game, much like its predecessors, had a heavy focus on cover combat and squad-based tactics - combining flanking and all-out carnage shooting.
The story's progression has been nothing short of brilliant throughout the Gears series, but Gears of War 3 really hit home and tugged on the old heartstrings. It's been eight years so I'm guessing that's a pretty big window for spoilers, so don't blame me for talking about this now!
Dom Santiago's death in Gears 3 was, by far, one of the toughest in-game death scenes that I've witnessed in my 20-odd years of gaming. I remember sitting back in a stunned state trying to figure out if I'd missed a split second of footage where Dom had jumped out of the tanker/truck which plowed into the fuel depot, that somehow he would reappear later in the game.
Sadly, this wasn't the case. Dom sacrificed himself so that Marcus and the group could continue on their mission to save scientist Adam Fenix (Marcus' dad) and attempt to put an end to the war against the Locust and the Lambent.
The game had a refined, less edgy look compared to Gears 1 & 2 and introduced some additional online multiplayer modes like Beast Mode, where you could play as the enemy and hunt a team of survivors, and Horde 2.0, which sees players working together against up to 50 waves of enemies.
Its brutal combat would often see bodies dismembered and bones smashed through grenades, chainsaw lancers and curb stomps - and we wouldn't have it any other way. Gears of War 3 certainly sealed a big chapter in the game series, with Gears of War 4 and Gears 5 taking players down a different and fresh narrative with familiar characters.
The Walking Dead: Season One
Release: (Episode one) April 2012
Developer & Publisher: Skybound Games & Telltale Games
Having been a big fan of AMC's The Walking Dead TV show, I was excited to see Telltale Games take on the franchise from the comic book perspective. Season One of the narrative driven single-player game follows protagonist Lee Everett, a convicted criminal, who unfortunately finds himself in the middle of a zombie apocalypse in Georgia, USA.
Lee stumbles upon a young girl named Clementine, who becomes a key figure throughout Season One and indeed the entire TWD game franchise from Telltale. During your playthrough, there are numerous quick time events and dialog trees that determine how you interact with other characters and what happens later in the game.
With such a fractured, lost world, NPCs will challenge and test your intentions to see what kind of character you really are. Others will rely on your help, and you have to make swift decisions on who trust and who you should save.
Seeing the text '[Character name] will remember that' flash up after you've hit a response gives you a sense of relief or dread, depending on the calm or angered expression on the other character's face. Lee's father-daughter relationship with Clementine is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time - the pair have a great bond and look out for each other on their mission to help find her parents alive, which was in vain - and add to that the gut-wrenching moment that 'Clem has to kill or leave Lee after he's infected with the zombie virus, I was certainly an emotional wreck after all five episodes.
The news that Telltale Games closed its doors was frustrating, given the talent that was on show across its number of episodic narrative adventure games. But, if it's any consolation to Telltale, I and millions of others have very much enjoyed TWD and will have fond memories of how it portrayed Robert Kirkman's popular post-apocalyptic world.
Grand Theft Auto V
Release: September 2013
Developer & Publisher: Rockstar North & Rockstar Games
Ah, 2013... I remember this year very well thanks to Grand Theft Auto V. I'd pre-ordered my copy from GAME and travelled over to Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield, UK, with my friend (hi Josh If you're reading this) for the midnight launch.
I've never, NEVER, seen a queue so big for a game launch, it was insane. After finally getting into the store, collecting my copy and arriving home, I powered up my console and installed the game - then went straight to bed as it was 3am!
But when I did jump on GTA V and begin playing, I knew I was onto something good. The open-world action-adventure brings the ever-popular traits of former GTA titles to a crisp clean environment with incredible detail.
Following the story of three playable protagonists, you embark on a series of dangerous, chaotic missions in the fictional city of Los Santos with the end goal of becoming a multi-millionaire. GTA V's strengths lie is just how much its game world has to offer.
Head to the strip club to 'chill', enjoy a round of golf or a game of tennis, or take your precious cars to the garage to get them suited up 'Pimp My Ride' style and park them in the spacious garage next to your luxury home. The fact that the single-player free roam experience was so enjoyable meant GTA Online (the online multiplayer mode) become an instant hit.
Players could do everything from team deathmatch and racing type missions to sitting in each other's apartments getting drunk/high. Heck, some players would fly over Los Santos in a P-996 LAZER jet fighter freshly stolen from the Fort Zancudo army base (or purchased from the Warstock Cache & Carry for $6.5 million) which would often be the case just as you roll out of your garage for a drive... thank heavens for car insurance!
From the quirky trio of Trevor, Michael and Franklin and their hilarious rags to riches story to the pure exploration that this game has to offer, it's no surprise that GTA V is one of the biggest selling games in history.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Release: September 2014
Developer & Publisher: Monolith Productions & Warner Bros.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King games found a fun single-player and co-op formula for Peter Jackson's record-breaking films - based on the famous books by J. R. R. Tolkien of course - while The Lord of the Rings: War in the North introduced us to a more action RPG angle for the franchise.
All three of the above were great representatives of LOTR, but Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor set the bar even higher. Set before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring, SoM sees Gondor captain Talion seek revenge for the death of his family at the hands of evil forces, led by the Dark Lord Sauron. Accompanied by Elven spirit Celebrimbor, Talion can harness supernatural powers to aid him in combat against Uruks and Orcs.
The game not only has pretty neat free-flowing combat, very similar to the Batman: Arkham series, but it also has elements of stealth, parkour, puzzles and skill-tree progression. There's also the game changer known as the Nemesis system, which can track Uruks/Orcs that Talion has faced, defeated or been killed by - and this will have an impact on enemy generals being replaced or promoted due to their actions.
There's no better feeling than hearing about a general giving it the big talk for you to track them down, exploit their strengths and weaknesses and either send their head flying with one swing of your blade... or control their mind and turn them into an ally. Causing fights within the Uruks/Orcs own army is awesome, and adds more chaos to the battlefield.
Release: January 2015
Developer & Publisher: Techland & Warner Bros.
Bringing post-apocalyptic zombies and parkour together in harmony, Dying Light arrived in 2015 and has continued to go from strength to strength as a hit horror action-adventure. Following the story of protagonist Kyle Crane, you find yourself in the city of Harran, which has been overrun by flesh eating creatures after a virus outbreak.
Thanks to the parkour system, you're able to seamlessly traverse across a vast, open environment, which is handy for escaping mass hordes of zombies. Scavenging is the norm now in Harran, and this helps you upgrade weapons to deal devastating blows to undead and living enemies.
There are also airdrops that are occasionally dropped over the city with medical supplies and flares inside - but be warned as Rais' thugs, a rival faction, will attempt to hunt down these supplies before you arrive. As well as an engaging story, vast crafting and skills system, and effective day & night cycle, what makes Dying Light really great is its array of horrifying zombies.
From the common infected such as the Biter and Viral to the brute Demolisher and self-destructive Bomber, each zombie type has its own unique characteristics and challenges. For me, it was the Volatiles that gave me the most spine-chilling experience when playing the game.
When the sun goes down, these beasts emerge and possess incredible speed and aggression. I spent around 30 minutes hiding behind a bin once because I was too far away from the safe zone and didn't want to risk making the journey in the dark.
After adding the free online multiplayer mode 'Be the Zombie' and the vast expansion DLC The Following, there are so many reasons why you should play it. The DLC adds a new campaign, buggy vehicles and a new environment to explore beyond the walls of Harran.
Release: (Episode one) March 2016
HITMAN 2016 was the first in the stealth action series to go episodic, launching new missions and challenges across six episodes every one to two months. Of course, the Game of the Year edition includes all episodes, challenges, etc - so those of you jumping in for the first time now will have access to everything, you lucky sods.
I've been a fan of the HITMAN franchise since the PS2 days and being able to focus on specific episodes made me really go for it in terms of completing as many objectives as possible. From the fashionable mansion in Paris and the beautiful scenery of the Amalfi Coast in Sapienza to the bustling hidden alleys of Marrakesh and militia-filled farm in Colorado, every one of these exotic locations offers up primary targets and plenty of opportunities to take them out.
Electrocute them, push them off a ledge, make light fittings fall on them, throw a coin to distract them and whip out your trusted fiber wire to finish the job - the possibilities are endless in this sandbox-esque world.
I've taken out dozens and dozens of targets, dozens and dozens of times, but the mission in Sapienza still springs to mind whenever I think of HITMAN. After poisoning the chef's beloved Bolognese, I wanted to try a different approach for my target.
Disguised as a gardener, I made a quick trip over to the mini driving range set up in the garden, where I sneakily replaced the target's standard golf ball with an explosive one. Peeping from behind a small decorative bush, I witnessed the target take a big swing with his club before being blown into the air in dramatic fashion.
Little did I know that his body would slump over the side of the bush WHERE I WAS HIDING, meaning that I had to make a swift exit... once I'd finished howling with laughter, that is.
Release: April 2017
Developer & Publisher: Tarsier Studios & Bandai Namco
Little by name, big by success and popularity - Little Nightmares was most definitely one of my favorite games of 2017. This horror adventure puzzler had the charm and character of a Tim Burton animated movie, combined with a fantastic survival-like play style.
You guide a young girl called Six through the Maw, an eerie ship occupied by some weird and wonderful characters. At its core, Little Nightmares tests your problem-solving skills with a series of rooms to progress through, as well as attempting to avoid and run from ghastly figures such as the Twin Chefs and the Janitor.
There's a certain mystery surrounding the protagonist, how she got into this mess and why is she so damn hungry that her stomach growls like a bear. As you make your way to the latter stages of the game, you start to see this eerie atmospheric story become even more bizarre - with Six now quenching her hunger/thirst by eating innocent little Nomes and rats.
The final battle against the Lady, a terrifying masked Geisha-like figure, is no hack and slash slug, it's a creative and well thought out puzzle. Mastering the Lady (killing her) and consuming her supernatural powers leads to an easy and, for the guests, deadly escape as Six makes her way out of the Maw.
Tarsier and Bandai followed the base game with the Secrets of The Maw expansion, which is included in the Complete Edition, featuring three additional chapters we you get to play as The Runaway Kid, another young protagonist caught up in the Maw's antics.
Despite little to no dialog, Little Nightmares still created an enchanting narrative and proved to be a hidden gem among a busy 12 months of game releases.
Monster Hunter: World
Release: January 2018
Developer & Publisher: Capcom
Okay, it was a toss up between this and Red Dead Redemption 2 - and while I loved both games, one got me hooked from the beginning and I still play it A LOT.
Monster Hunter: World is Capcom's best-selling game to date, and the first from the franchise to launch on console outside of Japan, a decision that has paid off massively for the publisher. You take on the role of a Hunter who is sent to the New World to help the Research Commission - here, you'll scout for clues around sighting of Elder Dragons as well as hunt or capture large monsters.
If you love the grind, MHW rewards you for your precious time. The satisfaction of slaying a difficult beasts to progress in the campaign, or unlock new weapons and armor to craft, is ridiculously satisfying.
When things get tough, you can rally around other players and head into quests together, or send out an SOS Flare if you've already decided to brave it alone. With so many species of new and returning monsters - made even bigger by the Iceborne expansion - you'll sink tens if not hundreds of hours into this award-winning action RPG.
One thing that I love about MHW is the vibrant ecosystems that you can explore, it feels like the world continues to live even after you've logged off and gone about your day. Chasing a wounded Great Jagras through the vines and foliage of the Ancient Forest, only to be confronted with a seriously angered Anjanath; or stocking up on Cold Drinks and braving the lava-filled caved of the Elders Recess to take on a Lavasioth or Azure Rathalos; there's always something new and exciting around the corner.
When I read about new features for MHW and Iceborne, or write posts like this one, I'm itching to get back on it and sink a few more hours into hunting wild ferocious beasts. Yeah, I've had my share of being 'carted' and failed missions, but dusting yourself off and going again until you beat that tough monsters is so worth it.
Resident Evil 2 Remake
Release: January 2019
Developer & Publisher: Capcom
I remember a time when I could only watch my older siblings or friends play Resident Evil games as a scared youngster - now, I embrace the fear that these survival horror games deliver so well. The Resident Evil 2 Remake carries the nostalgia over the original 1998 title with pride, but focuses on bringing it to the current generation of gamers with high-end graphics and remastered gameplay mechanics.
You can take on the role of newbie cop Leon S. Kennedy, who experiences probably one of the worst 'first days on the job' in the history of video games; and college student Claire Redfield, related to STARS soldier Chris Redfield. Battling your way through the zombie infested Raccoon City Police Department, there's a constant sense of suspense as you begin unlocking doors and making your way down dark corridors.
Being able to board up some of the windows and visiting safe rooms to save your progress gives you a brief moment to relax, but the station - and in fact most of the locations beyond it - is always looking to test your bravery.
Aside from clever creaks and scuttling noises, there's the obvious threat of zombies, the disgusting 'Lickers' and, of course, the persistent Tyrant known as Mr X. The over-the-shoulder camera view first introduced in Resident Evil 4, compared to the fixed room camera in the original, is a fine addition to the remake and makes you feel even more immersed as you aim nervously into the dark with your flashlight catching the faintest reflection of an enemy close by.
With both protagonists, you get the opportunity to experience different parts of story that intertwine with one another - as well as unlock A and B stories by completing game as both Leon and Claire. The 4th Survivor mode with Hunk and The Tofu Survivor with, you've guessed, Tofu - combined with The Ghost Survivors mode - gives you hours more content to test your skills at staying alive with minimal weapons, ammo and general resources.
I really enjoyed Resi Evil 2, and so did a lot of you guys judging from the Metacritic score which still has it among one of the best games of 2019. Here's hoping we get to see more remakes and new Resi Evil titles in the future!