Writing this list was truly difficult. These all are amazing games and there are so many more that didn’t make it on. I tried to keep it concise and really focus on what games came to mind when sitting down to write. I also tried to keep this to one game in a series, although there are often other amazing options in the same series from this decade.
10. Bioshock Infinite
It feels like there has been some revisionist history with this game. I remember when this was released it was critically lauded. I remember discussions about this vs. The Last of Us (released a few months later) over which was going to be Game of the Year that year. While The Last of Us definitely seemed to take home more awards and went on to be more favorably remembered, I feel like Bioshock Infinite connected with me more personally. I know it is not everyone’s favorite, but just as I loved the shooting/upgrades in the original Bioshock, I love the gameplay here. There is a weapon variety I really enjoy, only made better by the Vigors that can be combined in creative ways. The story is also a highlight for me: the world with classic Americana vibes really appeals to me. The way the story unfolds was something I definitely didn’t expect the first time through and I was so hooked that I played 80% of this game in one sitting. After beating it, I immediately restarted again from the beginning (something I think I’ve only done for one other game in Mass Effect 2). While this game had a rough development cycle which I think kept us from getting the fullest version of the game originally intended, I still think this is a great game and a lot of fun.
I, like many, was a huge fan of the Spider-Man games on PS2. Spider-Man PS4 is just as amazing as you remember those games being. Even better, honestly. Never have you felt more like Spider-Man in a game, from swinging through the city to dropping out of the sky to deal with random crimes down below. This is where the game’s combat comes into play. It definitely has those Batman Arkham vibes, which I love. I even feel like it’s almost done better here. To me, it feels much faster and more fluid to swap gadgets and engage groups of enemies. It’s so satisfying to web enemies to a wall, then toss a trash can or sewer grate into another, while finally kicking off the wall and roundhousing the last criminal standing, all without being touched. After this, you encounter groups of civilians taking photos and thanking you, before simply swinging away onto the next encounter. This sounds like a story-based moment, but this just randomly happens when swinging through the world, trying to carry out the missions that Peter Parker needs to accomplish. It furthers that feeling of being Spider-Man by feeling like a balance between doing things for the city and doing things for Peter. The overall story and performances in this game are also great and Insomniac has really carved out there own version of Spider-Man in there own little universe.
8. God of War
I wrote about this game as part of my personal ranking for That Ultimate Video Game List Show (which should go live later this week). I think what I said there and on the show reflects my thoughts on this game overall the best.
There is really no way other to say it than Masterpiece. I really feel that way about God of War. The entire game is in one continuous shot, which they take full advantage of for some really incredible cinematics and set pieces. It has some of the best storytelling in a game to date. The relationship between Kratos and Atreus really connected with me. I really feel for their struggles and can identify with each side they represent. This game also has some of the best boss fights, especially starting right out of the gate with “The Stranger” fight. This is the best exclusive on PS4. That is hard to say with such a great library, but I really do recommend everyone who has the system play this game.
7. Wolfenstien: The New Order
This game was my first foray into the Wolfenstein series, but it’s safe to say that I was blown away. It had already been released to critical acclaim years prior to me playing it for the first time in 2017, but on a boring summer day having nothing else to play I decided to dive in, only having heard great things about the game. The story and world were immediately captivating, set in an alternate reality version of the 60’s where the Nazis succeeded in winning WW2 and subsequently took over the entire world. You play as series staple B.J. Blazkowicz after having been hospitalized early on in the game (something that arguably lead to the Nazi victory). From here, you attempt to start a new revolution after all previous attempts have failed. This hook is what I really love about this game. The style and technology of the alternate reality are fascinating, while hunting through this enemy controlled world and stealing their equipment to mount a rebellion never gets old for me. I would be remiss to not mention the combat in this game. Being from Machine Games, the shooting is on point. While stealth is an option for most areas (almost required for high difficulties), this is one game I get the most enjoyment out of by setting the difficulty to easy and running through the halls screaming, while wielding dual shotguns and leaving a pile of Nazis in my war path. Highly Recommended.
6. Far Cry 3
I’ve loved the Far Cry games in the last few years and for me this is where it all started. It was tough for me to decide which I wanted to put on the list. I really enjoy Far Cry 4 and I also think Far Cry 5 had some great quality of life improvements. But after recently playing (and Platinuming) Far Cry 3 Remastered on PS4, I can say this is definitely my favorite. The tropical murder-filled gameplay is still here. The memorable moments like burning down a weed field are still amazing. The weapons and the upgrades are still fantastic. And, of course, Vaas. I did miss some of the quality of life improvements from Far Cry 5, but I really feel this game is still a stand out in the series and is my most recommended.
5. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
This is a series that is truly one of my favorites, I have played every one going back to the original Assassin’s Creed. When the series was beginning to lose even me, they took extra time completely re-inventing the game with Origins. Odyssey takes everything Origins does well and improves on them in every way. The addition of dialog trees is surprisingly welcome given how well it is done. Ultimately, it isn’t the most varied but it does impact the overall story, let alone the little things in your world. You decide who to be nice to, who to date, who to kill, and even your motives in some moments. Were you in it to help or only to get drachmae? Your choice. The gameplay is more varied than before with multiple different weapon types to choose from and how you spec out your skill tree and what gear you equip impacting your playstyle. Personally, I went with my classic style of stealth, until every has to die. In this scenario, I heavily leaned into the warrior skills and weapons, brutalizing my way through some glorious battles. I kept changing up my weapons, usually loving the heavy options available but also keeping faster weapons on hand for certain combat varieties.
The sense of progression is fantastic. I was a god by the end of the game: destroying shields with my spear, charging forward 30 feet (this was great for stairs), and Spartan kicking people across the world. And this is just a fraction of what you can do. I love that you can also respec at any time. Combining this with new gear can basically change your entire game. The last thing I will remark on is the sense of adventure here. Sail to a new island, meet new people, find the problem, kill the problem, and sail on to your next adventure as the number one misthios. I love Kassandra and I love how I shaped her story through my adventures in this world. I’m definitely hooked on what comes next.
4. Borderlands 2
I really only realized recently when revisiting Borderlands 2 that this really is one of my favorite games ever. Going back to finish the “Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary” DLC before diving into Borderlands 3 hooked me right back into Borderlands 2 and I ended up spending another 10+ hours with the game. finally even walking away with the game’s Platinum. As with many of the games on this list, I really love the world and characters in this game, but what really kept me coming back over and over again is the gameplay. Not only is it fun to blast your way through enemies, but the hunt for constant loot keeps you driving forward, even farming raid bosses over and over again. After nearly 10 full playthroughs across 5+ different characters on 3 consoles, I’ve enjoyed every moment of my time on Pandora and the time spent with my friends who joined me along the way.
3. Hotline Miami
This is one of my favorite games of all time. I genuinely love everything about this game: the beautiful neon graphics, the soundtrack, and the fantastic gameplay. It just comes together in the perfect way. I was addicted to going through levels, trying to get better grades, and unlocking new masks along the way. These masks are what you wear on missions and they alter how the game plays, like giving you melee-only one-hit kills or starting you off with a silenced uzi. There are also special letters to collect. Escape the level alive with these and collecting all of them gives you the game’s secret ending. As I said, I really love everything about this game. This is one that is never getting uninstalled.
2. Mass Effect 2
Another game from TUVGLS and another one of my top games of all time, Mass Effect 2 truly is something special. You will never feel more like a commander of a spaceship/ragtag crew than in this game. To me, this has the best stand-alone story in Mass Effect, while also doing the work of continuing to move the world forward. This game is all about assembling a crew for a suicide mission everyone agrees they probably won’t come back from. I love this hook in the game. Getting a new dossier and recruiting new crew members is exciting every time but you truly get to know these crew members through the missions, including specific loyalty missions built for each character, and earning their trust by the end. The RPG mechanics and sense of progression also really had me hooked the first time through and again on subsequent playthroughs. For me, this really is a perfect game. I wouldn’t really change much of it even if I could. I even love the theme that plays while mining planets for minerals.
1. Persona 4 Golden
It’s funny to see how many games crossed over to this list from our first season of That Ultimate Video Game List Show. I guess it makes sense when talking about the best games, many of which have been in the last decade.
This is honestly my favorite game of all time. I feel like I played this at a very pivotal time in my own life. The characters in this game and the growth they have really connected with me. It features some of my favorite characters in any game. I not only remember who they all are, but what personal struggles they overcome and who they become. This is all set against the backdrop of a kid being transferred from the big city to the small town of Inaba in Japan. Around this time, mysterious murders begin to occur and the game becomes about assembling a growing “Detective Team” to find the serial killer. I certainly don’t want to get into spoilers, but the way this all wraps up in the Good/Golden Ending is really amazing: truly unexpected my first time through. I really never get tired of this world, the characters, or the gameplay. I also still love and listen to the game’s soundtrack. I might be overdue for a revisit as I have been wanting to go back for a while.
(As mentioned above I tried to keep it to one game in a series, to have that be the representative for the franchise. I do wanna say that Persona 5 is also amazing. It completely deserves to be on this list as well. I highly recommend it as one of the best games on PS4 and another one of my favorites from the generation/decade.)