Over the past couple weeks you voted and now it’s time to reveal your picks for the Ten Best Games of the Generation!
As this console generation comes to a close we decided to take a look back at the great games players have been treated to over the lifespan of the current generation. After we quickly figured out there was no way we could narrow our choices down, we let readers vote instead.
The past couple weeks have seen a slew of votes come in, and a number of close races between games, but with the votes tallied these are the titles that remained. We put our staff to the task of discussing the titles you chose and share their own thoughts on how these titles impacted our experience for the generation…
10. Super Mario Odyssey (Jordan)
Though it was a relatively early release for the Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Odyssey remains one of the consoles best spotlights. While I’ve long argued that some of the best Mario titles remain in the two-dimensional realm, Odyssey is a step forward for the franchise and platformers in general.
Eschewing the traditional level system for an open-world format seems like a strange switch, but it makes for a game that feels infinitely replayable. From the ridiculous amount of secrets to find/collect, and the scope of the maps, exploring feels as enjoyable as nailing a tricky platforming section.
Combine that with clever mechanics and ultra-polished gameplay and there’s no denying Odyssey will easily stand the test of time like other classic Mario games. Though the Switch doesn’t have the same power as the other consoles from this generation, Super Mario Odyssey proves it doesn’t need it to be relevant.
9. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Matt)
For whatever reason, whenever new friends find out how much I’m into games, they always ask “What is your favorite game?” First of all, that is such a ridiculously difficult question to answer and one I probably should’ve put a lot of thought into long ago. Second of all, I typically start talking about Uncharted. It’s just an amazing series and it was capped off by one of the all-time greats in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
By now, most people who have played Uncharted, know anything about Uncharted, or have talked to me for at least an hour know that the overall Uncharted experience feels like an epic action film. In Uncharted 4, that’s no different. What is different is the tremendous amount of heart the game has.
When Uncharted 4 starts, Nathan Drake is supposed to be retired from treasure hunting, living a quiet life with his longtime love-interest Elena. When Nathan’s brother, Samuel, returns to his life he’s dragged back into the world he’s been itching to return to, unbeknownst to Elena. However, when Elena finds out, it’s probably one of the most heart-wrenching moments I’ve ever felt in a game.
The whole game is really a beautiful send off to one of gaming’s all-time great characters in Nathan Drake. He was our Indiana Jones and it was amazing of Naughty Dog to let us have one last incredible ride in what was a generational game in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
8. Horizon Zero Dawn (Jordan)
First revealed in 2015 (still relatively early in the life cycle of the generation) Guerilla’s Horizon Zero Dawn instantly caught the attention of gamers everywhere. On top of setting up some deep lore and a fantastic futuristic setting, the gameplay teased was positively droolworthy.
When it finally launched two years later, the game not only delivered on the lofty expectations set by that initial announcement, it far exceeded them. Players were treated to an engaging story with a number of strong emotional beats all while being able to explore a vast world.
Normally I struggle with open-world games, feeling like there’s too much to do/explore and end up doing nothing. Horizon, however, managed to make the world feel expansive and open without being overwhelming. Part of this is in how the world offers up tantalizing clues about what happened, while delivering on gameplay that’s an insane amount of fun without getting repetitive.
While the concept of a post-apocalypse brought on by battling rogue AI/robots isn’t exactly a new concept, the way it was handled made it a unique experience. For me, Horizon set a new standard for storytelling in open-world action games and I’m eager to see if the sequel can do the same on the PlayStation 5.
7. Red Dead Redemption 2 (Jordan)
Rockstar Games might take a while to release new games, but there’s no denying the results. While many are STILL enjoying Grand Theft Auto V, their sequel to Red Dead Redemption is showing similar longevity…for good reason. Despite being labeled “2” the game takes us back to the past in a story set before the events of the first game.
With a surprisingly emotional story, one which several critics feel rivals the strength of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us games, fans quickly became enamored with taming the wild West. The vast open world feels alive, though every animal seems out to kill you, and it’s a major reason why gamers continue to dive into it well after finishing the story.
Much as we like to joke about Rockstar bringing Grand Theft Auto V to every new platform, I have no doubts that a next-gen version of RDR2 will fair similarly well. So saddle up!
6. Ghost of Tsushima (s0leb)
Ghost of Tsushima is one of the best games I have played in recent years. The expansive gameplay, story, graphics, and music pulled me in more than I ever thought possible. I have wanted a game set during the time of the samurai that really felt authentic forever and SuckerPunch studios has done that. Everything about this game made me feel I was living through the eyes of Jin Sakai (the protagonist of Ghost of Tsushima).
Jin became one of the last samurai left on Tsushima Island during the first Mongol invasion of Japan in 1274. Though this is based on true events, the story of Jin is fictional, but you sure wouldn’t believe that after the amazing acting job by Daisuke Tsuji. This story is filled with pain, loss, and even a beautiful/powerful redemption of a man who has done everything for his people.
The Samurai code was unbreakable and you lived by the code everyday. If you didnt you were cast out and shame was placed upon your family’s name for as long as you lived. Jin knew this and still decided to become “The Ghost” and do whatever he had to do to take Tsushima for him and his people. This is for sure the one of the best Action RPG’s I have ever played and in my opinion is the best game on Playstation 4.
5. The Last of Us Part II (Jordan)
Sometimes it feels like I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time talking about The Last of Us and its sequel over the past year, but there’s good reason for that! These are among the best video games I’ve ever played, and despite coming out this year, at the end of the generation, The Last of Us Part II has left a mark on gaming that won’t soon be topped.
The title dramatically expands on the gameplay from the original, taking relatively simple concepts and fine-tuning them. Clearing out the open-world esque environments of the infected, while avoiding the more cunning non-infected enemies is a blast. There are a number of paths available, allowing players to be more bold and go in guns/hatchet’s blazing, take the stealthy approach, or even a good combination of both. With a wider variety of enemies, no encounter feels the same as the last, making each action piece dynamic.
For me, though, where this game shines brightest is in its storytelling. It’s a haunting tale in many ways; a parable about the cost of revenge while incorporating poignant themes about hope and the ability to change. It’s a journey that often left me reeling to the point of pausing the game and simply sitting with my thoughts after specific moments. It’s an experience I won’t soon forget and shows the power of the medium for telling stories.
4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Katy)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was released initially in May of 2015, almost two years into the current generation consoles’ life-cycle.
Dragon Age: Inquisition was the fantasy-RPG that took hold of my heart early on in my PlayStation 4 ownership and, while DA: I is a fantastic game in its own right, The Witcher 3 quickly became my most beloved RPG on the system.
Although WIld Hunt was my first game to play through in the Witcher series, I never felt as though the game broke its immersion into the vast world created by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and I felt like there was instantly enamored with it.
The core gameplay loop of Wild Hunt, with the sprawling world and many many quests, along with the compelling and well-written story led to an unexpected but very welcome love for the game deep within my heart. I played through the game prior to the release of the story expansions — Heart of Stone and Blood & Wine — and knowledge that an additional 30 hours of gameplay was forthcoming left me excited for more.
The critical success of the game and franchise overall led to the creation (and success) of the Netflix original series of the same name and the blessing of Henry Cavill portraying Geralt.
A sequel to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has not been confirmed outright but rumblings have been out there for years. CD Projekt Red has been diligently working on Cyberpunk 2077 and, personally, I am not surprised the studio’s focus has not been on the next Witcher title. My guess is we’ll see it come at a similar time in the PlayStation 5/Xbox Series X | S life cycle as Wild Hunt.
3. Marvel’s Spider-Man (Jordan)
Spider-Man games were once among the pinnacle of superhero video games. With the beloved adaptation of Spider-Man 2, to Ultimate Spider-Man, and more, fans embraced the open-world style that let you take on the wall-crawler persona…Things soured quickly though and as developers struggled to craft new experiences for gamers, lost a big part of what made those games so fun.
After some noble attempts (Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions) and some poorly thought out movie tie-ins, fans were once again rewarded thanks to Insomniac. From the moment it was revealed during Sony’s E3 2016 press conference fans were enthralled. On top of looking gorgeous, it looked like exactly the type of title fans had been waiting for: a return to the open-world experience, with the freedom of web-swinging at our fingertips.
It’s release didn’t disappoint and managed to shatter even our lofty expectations. The gripping, original, story managed to combine all the beloved elements of the character into something fresh and exciting. Topped off with a refined combat system, deep/polished mechanics, and an open world teeming with life, Insomniac managed to revitalize the brand and leave us wanting more.
Even now, as we wait (not so patiently) for the expansion, Miles Morales, on the PS5 swinging around and punching bad guys is strangely cathartic. Much like I remember doing with Spider-Man 2 on the PlayStation 2, I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent simply traveling via webshooter across the map. Even doing nothing feels heroic, making this a no-brainer for one of the best games of the generation.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Matt)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild could easily go down in history as one of the best launch titles to every release with a new console. Incredibly, as of this writing some 3 years later, it has ranked among the top 10 best-sellers each month on Nintendo Switch and has never gone below 7th place. Furthermore, it ranks as the 10th best-selling game on Nintendo platforms in the U.S. In other words, in Nintendo’s historic 131 year run, Breath of the Wild ranks as the 10th best-selling game in the U.S. Let that sink.
The reason for this is easy to understand. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a departure from the classic linear approach of iterations past. We now had this expansive, open-world of Hyrule to explore and reclaim. With all new features, it made doing so even easier. For instance, Link could finally climb, jump, cook, and had a load of amazing new abilities that, when used right, could make you feel unstoppable.
Additionally, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild featured a really inventive take on the common Zelda tropes of games past. It told a story of our hero Link having memory loss and walking into an unfamiliar Hyrule. Shortly into the game, you find that Calamity Ganon has taken residence in Hyrule Castle and has been infecting the rest of Hyrule for the last 100 years. As you progress, you learn that you lost the war with Calamity Ganon and you must retake the ancient weapons to bring him down once again.
With the incredible combat, inventive storytelling, gorgeous landscape, and a soundtrack that used a piano in ways I never thought possible in a game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is without a doubt a generational game and one of my all-time favorites.
1. God of War (Matt)
I’ll never forget sitting in the audience at E3 2016. The air was electric, as we all sat impatiently waiting to see Sony’s E3 Press Conference, Suddenly, the lights dimmed a bit and then we heard the drums beat to a familiar rhythm. Then, the music came up, the curtains pulled back, and the first trailer for God of War 2018 began. This first look at Old Man Kratos and his son Atreus set the stage for what would become the best game of the console generation.
Director Cory Barlog and the entire Sony Santa Monica Studios team did something truly special with 2018’s God of War that merit it being Game of the Generation.
On a story aspect, the history (er…mythology) of God of War is a 13 year investment that paid off in ways we never would have imagined. From 2005 to 2010, we got to know this younger Kratos consumed by rage and let his bloodlust guide his every action. When he disappeared at the end of God of War III, it was unclear what would happen to him now that he’d systematically annihilated both the Gods and Goddesses of Greek mythology and Greece itself.
Yet, when we saw Kratos just roughly 6-7 years later, we got to meet a more subdued Kratos. One that had finally found peace and control over his anger and had someone to live for in his son Atreus. What we experienced in God of War 2018 was an incredible journey of a father and son. It saw two people grow and connect within a dangerous, unforgiving, mysterious world within Norse mythology. Together, they fought Ogres, Dragons, Valkyries, Gods, Valkyries, and more Valkyries.
The combat was also something special. In the game, you used and obtained a variety of weapons both new and old. We started out with the now-iconic Leviathan Axe and eventually found ourselves binding the chains of the Blades of Chaos back on our arms, in what was a really emotional moment. You could also easily use Atreus to fight enemies from afar and even unleash special attacks. The movesets and advantages of each weapon, mixed with some of the most mind-blowing boss fights I’ve ever played in a game, made for a truly special experience.
Two more highlights of the game were the exploration and the world-building done within this seemingly endless realm. Once Mimir becomes part of your group, you are opened up to this rich world of mythology. As you row across Midgard, Mimir tells stories that provide backstory to many characters we have met and some we haven’t yet. Plus, when you needed to go handle something ashore, he’d stop and hold his place for when you got back in the boat. It was all just clever storytelling.
Also, realm jumping was just awesome. There were so many really cool places to explore, each with their own architecture, species, and history. Plus, there were also quite a few places we couldn’t yet go to, which made us even more eager for the next game. As if, we couldn’t be any more eager after the unforeseen reveal at the end of the game.
This console generation saw tons of brilliant games deliver unforgettable moments. So many, in fact, that it was really to compile a list to have you vote on. When we started compiling games for you all to vote for as the game of the generation, the one consistent game we each had on our lists was 2018’s God of War. Now, thanks to your votes we can happily crown it as Game of the Generation.