With video games being one of the most widespread forms of entertainment available today, it seems like every other month that a “must play” game hits shelves or is released online. In other words, keeping up with what’s currently popular is no easy feat. Even for those who always happen to be up on the latest trends, revisiting some of the all-time classics from decades past could also present a bit of a challenge.
But anyone who wants to call themselves a real gamer should at least make an effort to check out some of the biggest and best games of their time. This isn’t to say that people should never step away from their consoles. Only that when they are gaming, they should switch it up every once in a while as opposed to sticking to the same game or franchise every time they sit down to play.
Inevitably, everyone is going to come across a game that they heard was great, only to discover that it’s not quite their cup of tea. In which case, we’d still give the gamer credit for trying something new — even if they never ended up seeing the campaign all the way through until the end.
So let's take a look at some popular games and some lesser-known gems to reveal who the real gamers are!
The Last of Us:
Released in June of 2013 for the PlayStation 3, The Last of Us is an action-adventure/ survival horror game which finds the player embodying the role of Joel. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where Joel is tasked with taking a teenager girl named Ellie across the country under the hopes that she will help cure the zombie-like infection that has ravaged the country. The Last of Us was praised for everything from its character to its controls. Today, it is largely considered one of the greatest games ever made. A sequel is currently in the works (Wikipedia).
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
The Elder Scrolls series had been a favorite amongst certain fantasy and role-playing fans ever since the 1990s. But the action RPG found a whole new audience of gamers with the release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim back in 2011. The game is set in the massive open work of Tamriel, where it finds the player setting out on a quest to defeat the dragon Alduin. Originally released for the PS3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows, Skyrim has since been ported over to a number of other platforms where it has also enjoyed its fair share of expansions (Wikipedia).
God of War:
The latest installment of this action-adventure series, God of War was released for the PlayStation 4 on April 20th of last year. The game once again finds the player taking on the role of series protagonist, Kratos. This time, Kratos’s young son Atreus comes along for the adventure. The game follows the duo as they set out to scatter the ashes of Kratos’s wife and Atreus’s mother on the highest peak in nine realms of Norse mythology. God of War was one of the best-reviewed games of the year (Wikipedia). But did you check it out?
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
Like the majority of Zelda games, this 2017 installment finds the player taking on the role of Link as he sets out to defeat Ganon from taking over the land of Hyrule. While it may seem like a franchise that has followed the same format for decades may quickly begin to grow tired, Breath of the Wild was praised in nearly every way imaginable. The game was notable for its massive open world, which allows the player to explore virtually any place that is visible (Wikipedia).
Super Mario World:
Nearly three decades and a slew of Mario games since and Super Mario World is still largely considered by many to be the best game in Nintendo’s most popular franchise. The SNES installment finds the Mario Bros. setting out for their first adventure in Dinosaur Land — also making it the first game where Yoshi appears. Super Mario World has no shortage of secrets and challenges waiting to be discovered, even for the players who have beaten this 1990 platformer multiple times before (Wikipedia).
Horizon Zero Dawn:
In this 2017 action-adventure, players take on the tole of Aloy, a hunter who is tasked with taking down the monstrous machines that have overrun her world. To do so, the player largely relies on ranged attacks to take down the gigantic beats. Though there’s also the option to go stealth throughout the game. Horizon Zero Dawn combines elements of both RPGs and open-world games, giving players no shortage of side quests to embark on (Wikipedia). So have you played?
Gears of War:
The first installment of the Gears of War series was released for the Xbox 360 back on November 7th of 2006. The third-person shooter is set on the planet of Sera, where a group of soldiers is attempting to rid their planet of the Locust Horde, which has taken over their world. Gears of War was praised upon initial release, resulting in the launch of one of Xbox’s most successful franchise. Another sequel, simply titled Gears 5, is set for release sometime this year (Wikipedia).
A favorite amongst those who enjoy a real video gaming challenge, Dark Souls is notorious for punishing its players. But while the game is extremely difficult, few would say that Dark Souls is unfair — which is one of the many reasons that the series has become so popular since the release of the original. This open-world RPG doesn’t put the story at the forefront of the gameplay, and instead, it allows the player to explore this vast and unforgivable world on their own terms (Wikipedia).
Following a plane crash on the open seas, players take on the role of the sole survivor Jack, who happens to stumble upon the underwater city of Rapture. While Rapture was meant to be a utopia, it’s very clear from the get-go that things have gone horribly wrong in this isolated city. Therefore, Jack must fight off the deranged inhabitants using an arsenal of weapons and a genetic modification, known as ADAM, which temporarily grants him supernatural powers. BioShock was praised for its combination of FPS and RPG gameplay (Wikipedia).
Though Spider-Man may be based on one of the most popular comic book characters of all time, this 2018 action-adventure game serves up an original story all of its own — though once again, Peter Parker serves as the story’s protagonist. The game uses a third person perspective and allows the player to set out and explore the open world of New York City, playing as everyone’s favorite neighborhood Spider-Man. Spider-Man received praise upon release, especially for its graphics and enjoyable combat (Wikipedia).
Resident Evil 4:
Originally released in 2005 for the Nintendo GameCube, Resident Evil 4 picks up with series' favorite Leon S. Kennedy, this time as he’s tasked with rescuing a young woman trapped in a rural Spanish town that’s overrun with zombie-like creatures. Since its release, Resident Evil 4 is largely considered one of the best games in the franchise, as well as one of the greatest games of all time. It heavily influenced the survival horror genre, where its deliberately slow pacing and third-person perspective has been utilized numerous times since (Wikipedia).
Far Cry 5:
The fifth installment of the Far Cry series, this first-person shooter was released on March 27th of last year. Taking place in the fictional Hope County, Montana, Far Cry 5 finds the player facing off against a doomsday cult. But this evil faction isn’t the only enemy of Far Cry 5, as Hope County is also overrun with its fair share of dangerous wildlife. The gameplay encourages players to explore the vast landscape while utilizing the wide array of weapons and vehicles they have at their disposal. A spin-off, titled Far Cry New Dawn, is expected out later this year (Wikipedia).
While the game may be nearly 15 years old today, Half-Life 2 is still regarded by many to be one of the best and most influential video games ever released. The first-person shooter picked up years after the events of the original game and finds the player once again taking on the role of Gordon Freeman as he sets out to defeat the alien Combine that has overrun his world. Nearly every aspect of the game was praised, earning Half-Life 2 a 96 out of 100 on Metacritic, as well as numerous game awards (Wikipedia).
Donkey Kong Country:
After the massive success of the Mario platforming games, Nintendo decided to give one of their other leading characters property of his own. While Donkey Kong had previously popped up in his own arcade games, the giant gorilla had usually been painted as more of an antagonist before the release of this 1994 side-scroller. Of course, now Donkey Kong is one of the system’s most notable heroes. The game received critical acclaim upon its release, and Donkey Kong Country went on to spawn two sequels (Wikipedia).
Batman: Arkham City:
The second installment of the Batman: Arkham series, Arkham City was released in 2011 across a number of platforms. Taking place one year after the original game, this action-adventure finds the Caped Crusader imprisoned in Arkham Asylum, where he must uncover the mystery of Hugo Strange’s Protocol 10. Batman’s archenemy, the Joker, also returned to the storyline, where he was once again voiced by Mark Hamill. Batman: Arkham City garnered critical acclaim upon release, leading to a number of other sequels (Wikipedia).
From the director and creator of the Dark Souls series, Bloodborne is another role-playing game that is known for its extreme difficulty. Much like the Souls games, the player is allowed to create their own character at the start of the story before setting out in what is largely an open world environment. But differences in the game include a much more consistent Gothic look, as well as a higher emphasis on offensive, rather than defensive, combat. The game was released on the PlayStation 4 in 2015 to very positive reviews (Wikipedia).
Dragon Age: Inquisition:
The third installment of the Dragon Age series, many agreed that Dragon Age: Inquisition was a massive step in the right direction for this action-adventure RPG. The player takes on the role of the Inquisitor, who is on a quest to explore the tear in the sky known as the Breach, which has resulted in demonic monsters inhabiting the world of Thedas. Dragon Age: Inquisition leaves a lot of room for players to modify their character and their adventure, making it a favorite amongst those who enjoy role-playing games (Wikipedia).
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain:
Set a decade before the events of the original 1987 game, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain once again finds the player taking on the role of Punished “Venom” Snake following the events of Ground Zero. Here, Snake goes on a revenge mission to take down the enemies who did him wrong, and the player must use a wide range of stealth tactics to make it through the game. The Phantom Pain received universal acclaim upon release, earning it a 10/10 from GameSpot (Wikipedia).
Shadow of the Colossus:
The original Shadow of the Colossus was released for the PlayStation 2 back in 2005. However, many modern day players may know this game thanks to the hi-def remake — which was released on the PlayStation 4 in February of last year. Both games follow a strikingly similar storyline, meaning the update in graphics and controls is really the only thing that separates either installment. Shadow of the Colossus finds the player taking on the role of Wander as venture out into the world to defeat 16 monsters and beasts and save the life of a girl in the process (Wikipedia).
The third installment of this RPG and the first to be developed by Bethesda Softworks, Fallout 3 was released in October of 2008 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows. Unlike the previous installments, Fallout 3 uses a first-person perspective — turning it into both a first-person shooter while remaining true to its role-playing game roots. Once again, the story is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where the player must venture out into the harsh environment to track down his missing father and try to save his fellow survivors in the process (Wikipedia).
Originally released for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X back in 2012, Diablo 3 has since been ported over to a number of other consoles due to its extreme popularity. Most recently, it made its way over to the Nintendo Switch in November of last year. In typical RPG fashion, Diablo 3 allows the player to customize their own character at the beginning of the game by choosing from the different character classes. From there, they set out on a dungeon-crawling adventure to try and take down Diablo (Wikipedia).
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt:
Much like The Elder Scrolls series, The Witcher had long been a franchise loved by fans of fantasy and role-playing games. But with the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt back in 2015, the series has since enjoyed a surge in popularity. Once again drawing inspiration from the series of fantasy novels, this role-playing game finds the player embodying Geralt of Rivia as he embarks on an open world adventure to track down his missing daughter. A Witcher streaming service is currently in the works at Netflix (Wikipedia).
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag:
The sixth installment of the massively popular Assassin’s Creed series, Black Flag is set in the 18th Century Caribbean, where the player gets to embody the pirate Edward Kenway. The game featured both the land-based exploration that made the Assassin’s Creed series such a hit in the first place, while also highlighting the game’s exploration of the open seas. The game received largely positive reviews upon release, and Black Flag went on to sell over 11 million copies worldwide (Wikipedia).
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves:
The second installment of the Uncharted series, Among Thieves takes place two years after its predecessor where series protagonist Nathan Drake is hot on the ancient trail of Marco Polo. After the first game received largely positive reviews, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves managed to improve on nearly every aspect of the original — causing many to call it one of the greatest games ever made. This inevitably led to a number of sequels, though many still consider the second installment to be a cut above the rest (Wikipedia).
Ever since the release of Portal 2, fans of this puzzle series have been waiting for a third installment. However, the developer Valve Corporation is known for keeping players wanting more — meaning we may just have to revisit the first two games of the franchise indefinitely. But that’s far from a bad thing, as Portal 2 received massive critical acclaim upon its release. Once again, the game featured no shortage of platforms and puzzles for fans to try and figure out (Wikipedia). So have you played Portal 2?
Grand Theft Auto V:
It’s been over five years since the last Grand Theft Auto game was released, and yet GTA V still maintains a strong base of players thanks to its online gameplay and large modding community. But it was the campaign mode that got many hooked to GTA V after the game initially released. The ambitious story found the player embodying three separate protagonists in an intertwining story set in the fictional location of San Andreas. Like most GTA installments, the game was met with its fair share of both acclaim and controversy (Wikipedia).
Super Mario Odyssey:
The latest installment of the Super Mario series, Super Mario Odyssey was released for the Nintendo Switch on October 27, 2017. The game follows Mario and his magic hat — which allows the player to embody various objects throughout the game. Once again, the ultimate mission is to recuse Princess Peach from the clutches of the King Koopa Bowser. But it’s the games clever platform designs that keep Super Mario Odyssey feeling fresh. The game received praise and has since become the consoles best-selling game (Wikipedia).
Though it may not be a game that’s known to the masses, Journey received outstanding reviews by video game critics upon the game’s release back in 2012. The indie game boils the action-adventure game down to its core, which finds the player simply headed toward a mountain on the horizon while they get wrapped up in a number of side quests along the way. The game was praised for its visual and sound design — which Journey really hinges on considering there is no spoken dialogue throughout the gameplay (Wikipedia).
The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past:
The third installment of the Zelda series, The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past was a massively important game to this beloved action-adventure series, as it established many of the elements that have since become a staple to the series. The game was originally released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, where it featured the top-down perspective of the original game while abandoning the much-mingled side-scrolling view of the second installment. Even today, the Hyrule presented in A Link to the Past is still a joy to explore (Wikipedia).
Mass Effect 2:
The second installment of the Mass Effect series was originally released for Microsoft Windows and the Xbox 360 back in 2010. The role-playing game finds the player taking on the role of Commander Shepard, who heads up a team of soldiers responsible with stopping a species of evil insectoids from ending the human race. Though the game uses the first-person perspective, Mass Effect 2 was praised for its role-playing elements, which allow the player to affect the outcome of the story (Wikipedia).
Final Fantasy VII:
Often considered one of the greatest installment in this role-playing series, Final Fantasy VII was originally released for the PlayStation back in 2017. But due to its extreme popularity and critical acclaim, the game has been ported over to various consoles since. There’s even a hi-def remake currently in the works for the PlayStation 4. Once again, the game follows Cloud Strife, this time, as he takes up arms against a corporation which seeks to end the planet (Wikipedia). So have you played this '90s classic?
Released in 2002 for the Nintendo GameCube, Metroid Prime was the first installment of this action-adventure series to break away from the two-dimensional, side-scrolling format of the previous games. Instead, players were able to take on the role of the space bounty hunter Samus Aran in a first-person perspective. The game was well received upon release, and it helped pave way for the Metroid games which have been released since. But unless you own a Nintendo, this sci-fi series may have never come your way (Wikipedia).
Call of Duty: WW2:
After a decade which shifted its focus toward modern and future warfare, the massively popular Call of Duty franchise decided to visit the World War II format that made the series such a success in the first place. Call of Duty: WWII was released on November 3, 2017, where it would receive largely positive reviews and go on to make over a $1 billion worldwide. The game’s campaign mode is set in the European theater, but it was inevitably the online multiplayer that had many players picking up a copy (Wikipedia).
The side-scrolling platformer may largely seem like a genre of the past. But thanks to more recent games like Celeste, the platformer has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in recent years. The indie game was released back in January 2018, where it quickly earned critical acclaim and went on to become one of the best-reviewed games of the year. The game follows a girl named Madeline, who is tasked with making her way up the eponymous mountain despite a warning from her grandmother (Wikipedia).
Gears of War 4:
Picking up a quarter century after the events of its predecessor, Gears of War 4 follows J.D. Fenix — the son of the original trilogy protagonist, Marcus Fenix. The game was meant to help introduce a whole new generation of players to the popular Xbox series, and Gears of War 4 went on to earn critical acclaim just as the other installments did before it. The story follows J.D. as he departs from the Coalition of Ordered to join the Outsiders instead. A sequel, titled Gears 5, is currently in development (Wikipedia).
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus:
Released in 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is the eighth major installment of the FPS series. The game takes place in a fictional 1961 where the enemy forces have taken control following the events of World War II. Therefore, the player is tasked with embodying war veteran B.J. Blazkowicz, who aligns himself against the powers that be. The game received positive reviews upon release, with a sequel — titled Wolfenstein: The Old Blood — currently in the works (Wikipedia).
Dark Souls 3:
The third and supposedly final installment of the Dark Souls series was released back in 2016 for the PS4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. The role-playing game once again found the player customizing their own character before setting out into a vast and mysterious world full of unforgiving enemies. The difficulty and design of the boss fights was once again a standout of the gameplay, as Dark Souls 3 managed to earn an 89 out of 100 on Metacritic. Two DLC packs have been released to date with Ashes of Ariandel and The Ringed City (Wikipedia).
Sonic the Hedgehog:
After the massive success of the Mario games on the NES and SNES, the rival console Sega Genesis sought to launch their own tentpole platforming series with Sonic the Hedgehog. The game was originally released in 1991, and thanks to its speedy title character, the levels were often much more faced paced than what Mario players were used to. Sonic the Hedgehog received positive reviews upon release and went on to spawn a successful franchise (Wikipedia). But have you played the game that started it all?
Released in 2008 for the PlayStation 3, LittleBigPlanet is a puzzle-platforming game that put heavy emphasis on customization. The basis of the game revolved around the player taking on the role of a Sackboy, who the player can customize before tackling the game’s various levels. However, LittleBigPlanet also allows the player to create levels all of their own while also interacting with players online. This sandbox gameplay is what earned LittleBigPlanet massive acclaim upon release (Wikipedia). But have you played?
One of the most anticipated games of the 2000s, Halo 3 was originally released for the Xbox 360 in September of 2007. The game concluded the storyline of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, which once again found the player taking on the role of Master Chief. But it was inevitably the online multiplayer mode that had many players rushing out to be a copy, as Halo 3 made an astounding $300 million in its first week of release (Wikipedia). But did you ever complete this game’s campaign mode?