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Best PlayStation games of the decadeSource: Jose Negron/Android Central

The 2010s sure flew by, didn't they? 2020 is almost here, so the Android Central gaming team decided to sit down and discuss some of our favorite games, characters, and more that graced our lives over the last decade. Some picks were easier than others, and a few strong voices managed to get nominations onto the final list. Take a look at what we loved (and didn't) over the last 10 years in gaming, starting with the best PlayStation 4 exclusives.

Decade in games retrospective

1. Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn bannerSource: Sony

This pick was almost unanimous across the entire team. While this open-world title from Guerrilla Games hooked us in with robot dinosaurs, it kept us playing thanks to a breath-taking, tragic, and ultimately hopeful story about the overuse of technology, corporatism, and climate change. The game's lead, Aloy, exudes everything about the game's themes. Her determination to rise above her station and do her part is drenched in optimism. In the year 2019, we're faced with an unknowable future, and the game reminds us that we can still conquer and rise above it all. It's a beautiful game that will keep you entertained for hours with lush landscapes but will stay with you even after that excitement has waned. It's just short of a masterpiece. - Carli Velocci

2. The Last of Us

The Last of UsSource: Sony

Naughty Dog created one of the most emotional, impactful, and unforgettable adventures with The Last of Us. Post-apocalyptic media is usually rife with meaningless action sequences and little story to care about, but The Last of Us bucked the trend — creating an intimate narrative while still keeping tense enemy encounters when appropriate. It was hard not to get invested in Joel and Ellie's lives, and that we care so much for these characters speaks volumes to how well Naughty Dog wrote them. When you combine that with gorgeous graphics, beautifully-crafted levels, meaningful combat, and a fully-realized world you'll understand why The Last of Us is one of the best games ever made. -Jennifer Locke

3. God of War

Kratos screamingSource: Sony

With God of War, Sony Santa Monica reinvented an iconic character and rebooting him for a modern age. It took a hyper-violent warrior and forced him to confront his own fears and memories while trying to raise a child. This father-son story follows a weary warrior into an unfamiliar world drawn from Norse myth, bringing Kratos once again into conflict in a way we did not expect. Incredible combat, stunning visuals, and a harrowing story backed by spectacular performances are all here, making this one of the PlayStation 4's top exclusive games. Oh, and this game introduces the Leviathan Axe, which can be thrown and called back to your hand in one of the coolest gameplay mechanics ever. -Samuel Tolbert

4. Marvel's Spider-Man

Spider-Man webslingingSource: Sony

Getting a good superhero game hasn't been easy and getting a good Spider-Man game was a long time in the making. Sony used its license to one of Marvel's biggest stars and commissioned a PS4 exclusive, and after what seemed like an eternity it finally arrived and boy was it good. Every detail of Marvel's Spider-Man delivers. First, there's the open world of Manhattan, beautifully recreated and populated with bad guys, landmarks, easter eggs, even the Avenger's Tower. Then there's the web-swinging, one of the notoriously bad parts of Spidey games since Spider-Man 2, which Insomniac absolutely nailed. While the looks and the mechanics are easy to praise, the story should never be forgotten. It's so well written that you'll laugh, you'll cry, and then you'll wish this was in the MCU. Packed with drama and classic villains, Marvel's Spider-Man is easily one of the finest games to come out on PlayStation in the last 10 years. -Richard Devine

5. Bloodborne

Bloodborne enemySource: Sony

FromSoftware made its name with the Dark Souls franchise, but this is another shining masterpiece in its portfolio. The game forgoes Western fantasy and trades it for a gruesome, gory, Gothic atmosphere that is the very manifestation of the word "dread." As a Hunter, you can wield all manner of Trick Weapons and firearms against werewolves and other Beasts as you hunt through the streets of Yharnam. Appearances are deceptive, however. As you delve further into the night, you'll find that madness and insight into the unknown are irrevocably linked. What seemed simple gives way to all-conquering horror, and what seemed like mere flesh is something beyond all understanding, ripped straight from the nightmares of Lovecraft. If you are in the mood for a difficult, dark game, this PlayStation 4 exclusive is well worth grabbing. -Samuel Tolbert

6. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

Sam and Nathan DrakeSource: Sony

It can be hard to wrap up an iconic series and create a satisfying conclusion for some of the most beloved characters to ever grace PlayStation, but that's what Naughty Dog did in Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Nathan Drake went on one last adventure for the sake of his brother to find the long-lost treasure of Henry Avery. The cinematic set pieces and action sequences the series was known for were out in full force, and the platforming and puzzle-solving were as fun as ever. Once you picked up the controller to start the game, it was difficult to put it down. Naughty Dog ensured that longtime series fans weren't let down by how it all ended. -Jennifer Locke

7. Until Dawn

Until DawnSource: Sony

This was a contentious pick. The horror title from Supermassive isn't scary enough for some and might be too scary for others. It might be messy, have some problematic depictions of mental health, and spawn moments of pure frustration. However, there's no denying that Until Dawn did the choice-driven game better than a lot of its peers circa 2015. It gives you a plethora of characters to either fall in love with or hate, along with actors like Hayden Panettiere and Rami Malek putting in top-of-the-line performances, but then goes the extra step of putting you in charge over whether they make it out of this supernatural slasher movie alive. This opens the door for a lot of replayability, with even the tiniest of decisions affecting the larger outcome. A game where the choices actually affect the story? Few titles have done it better. -Carli Velocci

8. Journey

Journey desertSource: Sony

Words and dialogue tend to be the backbone of nearly every story. But not Journey. It takes a special skill to tell a narrative through just visuals, and it's a good thing the art direction here was expertly crafted. Thrown into a vast desert with only a lonely mountain looming in the distance, you begin the titular journey. The mystery of what awaits is enough to entice any player forward, and you'll come into contact with the remnants of a long lost civilization that was left to fade away. Your journey doesn't have to be solitary, though. You're able to run into anonymous players to help you on your quest, even if you can't communicate verbally. -Jennifer Locke

9. The Last Guardian

Trico and the boySource: Sony

The Last Guardian was in development hell for so long that no one thought it would ever come out. While it may not have lived up to every expectation set for it, The Last Guardian has a lot of heart and soul where it counts. Everything in this game only serves to strengthen Trico and the boy's bond, so much so that Trico could remind you of your own childhood pet. The story told means nothing if we aren't attached to the characters in some way, and The Last Guardian delivered on that spectacularly. -Jennifer Locke

10. Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet and ClankSource: Sony

One of the first games I played growing up was Ratchet & Clank on my friend's PS2. The nostalgia I have for it alone makes it hard for any sequel to top. So Insomniac went down the right path by developing a reimagining of sorts instead of a true sequel. Ratchet & Clank (2016) is how you should reimagine the original. It's like looking through rose-colored glasses. It's not a remake by any means and much of it is different from its predecessors, but the feeling I got when playing it brought me right back to my friend's living room all those years ago. And that's what a good reimagining should do. -Jennifer Locke

Honorable mention: P.T.

P.T. wasn't technically a full game, hence the honorable mention, but it made a huge splash when it dropped on PS4, arguably one of the largest of any game on this list. P.T., which stands for playable teaser, was released by Hideo Kojima as a way to reveal Silent Hills, a game that seemingly had everything horror fans could've asked for but was canceled before we could see it. P.T. isn't available to download anymore, which is a shame for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it's an extraordinary horror experience. You're stuck in a never-ending hallway haunted by a ghostly woman named Lisa, and to escape you need to uncover the mysteries of the family that lived in that home. It's tense, atmospheric as hell, and quickly became the inspiration for future horror games. That last fact alone makes it one of the most important games of the past decade. -Carli Velocci

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Decade in games retrospective

Worst things to happen to gaming

If you need a palette cleanser after this, please go on ahead to our list of the best things to happen in gaming.

1. Gamergate

Xbox One controller triggersSource: Jennifer Locke / Android Central

2014 was the start of Gamergate, but problems had been brewing way before that. Since I started in gaming back in 2012, there was always a sense of unease in regards to being a woman in these spaces. Despite a lot of powerful voices leading the way for women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized groups, there was always the idea that gaming was a boys club hidden behind a padlocked door. I saw colleagues get forced out of the industry due to harassment way before Gamergate, but that event was just the biggest of its kind. It got covered on the mainstream news. My parents knew about it. If there was a locked door before, people were now armed with fire, willing to do whatever it took to protect it.

Gamergate was never about "ethics in games journalism." It was, first, about a jilted ex-boyfriend getting revenge. Then it became about the protection of the so-called old guard of games, this idea that games weren't political and that they belonged to one group. It was people being threatened by the outspoken and marginalized, and responding with force — everything from vague harassment online to death threats, swatting, and stalking.

The effects are still being felt today. I know people who still can't go to conventions without fear, or who don't speak up online thanks to anxiety stemming from Gamergate and similar events (again, this wasn't anything new). The term "gamer" still causes some on our staff to feel uneasy. It may have been over five years ago, but it still lingers, proving that despite movement towards inclusion in both development and media, we still have a long way to go. -Carli Velocci

2. Developer crunch

Developer crunch ruins lives. The truth behind the practice is appalling. Employees are either forced or coerced into working what can amount to over 100 hours in a single week, not even taking a moment for themselves. They'll sleep in the office and forego meals to save time. The working conditions are deplorable, and some developers have even had to check themselves into hospitals after long bouts of crunch. However much you love a new game, nothing is worth that kind of sacrifice it took to make it. This is only one of the many reasons that such a large number of people burn out of the games industry. It's toxic, it's unhealthy, and it's sadly the norm still. -Jennifer Locke

3. Tencent

Tencent hallwaySource: Zhu Min / Zuma Press

Tencent is doing what it's supposed to. As a mega-corporation, it's buying up stakes in companies and making more money. It has its hand in multiple industries, but for this list, let's talk about how it impacts gaming. It owns Riot Games, has a huge stake in Epic Games, and minority stakes in Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, Paradox Interactive, and so many others. The amount of power it has in gaming is undisclosed, but the potential of it highlights a looming issue in games and across media.

China has been a growing power in economic spaces, but its authoritarian government and anti-democracy views makes it a reluctant member for many. We can't trace every instance of pro-China nationalism in games to Tencent, but watching both Riot and Blizzard take stances against those expressing Anti-China views is disturbing. Plus, watching Tencent buy up companies like Supercell raises concerns about oligopolies ready to streamline gaming. It'll continue to be a huge player in the next decade, but is it what we want? -Carli Velocci

4. Loot boxes/microtransactions/pay-to-win

Video games are more expensive to make than ever, and developers need to make their money back somehow. That's where microtransactions come in. What could have started out as an understandable means to fund new projects quickly got out of hand. While you can defend some cosmetic microtransactions, it's become a terrible trend to nickel and dime customers for everything that should have been in the game to begin with. And there's no justification for loot boxes or pay-to-win mechanics — they're downright predatory. That many are aimed at children makes them even more disgusting. You can argue all day whether loot boxes constitute as gambling (and they would be if not for some loopholes), but that we're even having that discussion shows just how bad the situation has gotten. -Jennifer Locke

5. Electronic Arts

EA is the grim reaper of video game publishers. Under its wing, EA has closed a couple of dozen development studios, the most recent notably being Visceral Games. It hasn't killed off BioWare yet, but it's clear as day that EA has done no favors for the former RPG king. Just look at Mass Effect: Andromeda and the state of Anthem. EA's insistence on using the Frostbite engine has done more bad than good. Throw in all of the controversies surrounding loot boxes and microtransactions, primarily in Star Wars Battlefront II, and it became a surprise when EA released a good game. That's just sad. -Jennifer Locke

6. Riot's gender discrimination lawsuit

Riot Games buildingSource: Chris Yunker / Flickr

A 2018 Kotaku report opened the floodgates on Riot Games' culture of sexism and harassment. The studio was seen as a boy's club that didn't respect the women who worked there, many of whom left because their jobs became untenable in that environment. This report led to a lawsuit filed against Riot Games that the company recently settled ($10 million was to be paid to women employed by the company over the last five years). It appears to be one of the largest settlements for a gender discrimination case in California history. Strides are being made to amend the work environment, but it's a work in progress. -Jennifer Locke

7. Always online games

The Division 2Source: Ubisoft

Where to begin when talking about the bad bad bad trend of always-online games? How about this? YOU CAN'T PLAY THEM IF THE SERVERS ARE DOWN. Just in the last few weeks, huge titles like Destiny 2 and The Division 2 have endured lengthy downtime where players are simply unable to play anything. They paid good money for a game they can't play, and that's what makes it such a bad trend. Whether you have no internet connection yourself or the servers are farting, your hard-earned cash is sitting there in an investment you can get no life from.

It isn't universal. For example, Microsoft allows you to play Forza Horizon 4 offline, albeit without all the features, but that's fine — there's something to play. However, games like Destiny, The Division, Ghost Recon, all big hitting franchises, are virtually unplayable if something is offline. The lack of offline gaming is infuriating and sadly it'll only get worse in the next decade. -Richard Devine

8. Bethesda

Fallout 1st membershipSource: Bethesda

Bethesda is a classic example of living long enough to see yourself become the villain. What was once a studio that could do no wrong in the eyes of its fans has found itself under a lot of harsh criticism. First, there was it not releasing games ahead of time to critics. Then came the disappointing Fallout 4, which was only the beginning. It really came to a head with the disastrous launch of Fallout 76. After "apologizing" for its release, along with a lot of promises left unfulfilled, Bethesda only went and made it worse with the laughable Fallout First subscription membership. The developer is a hollow shell of what it once was and only continues to screw up. Here's hoping it can get its act together over the next decade. -Jennifer Locke

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Decade in games retrospective

Best things to happen in gaming

1. Unionization advocacy and efforts

GWU members putting up a bannerSource: @GameWorkers on Twitter

Video game workers are often exploited. They're forced to crunch on games for weeks, sometimes months, without overtime pay, can be laid off or fired from jobs without severance, and are often not eligible for benefits from their employers. These aren't just reports from one company. It's an industry-wide problem, so workers are looking to do something about it.

Over the past couple of years, unionization efforts, like Game Workers Unite, have been ramping up. Public conversations and internet campaigns have become much more common as workers look to fix the issues plaguing the industry. There hasn't been anything concrete yet, but seeing so many people attempting to fix a systemic issue or looking to openly talk about them is a huge step in the right direction. If we love games (and we do) we must treat the people that make them fairly. A union is one way to make sure they're protected. -Carli Velocci

2. Push for greater inclusion

The Walking Dead final season key artSource: Telltale Games

We're nowhere near a point where the games industry can pat itself on the back for greater inclusion and representation, but we're slowly getting there. It takes time. The last decade has seen an increase in the amount of minority representation across several communities. We're seeing more LGBTQ+ characters; we're seeing more women; we're seeing more disabled characters; we're seeing more people of color. For any pitfalls that some studios may stumble into in their efforts for diversity, I'm happy to see (some of) them truly trying. -Jennifer Locke

3. Push for more disability/accessibility features

Custom gaming peripheralsSource: AbleGamers

Games are for everyone — or at least, they should be. Unfortunately, they're not always designed that way. That's why we're glad this last decade has been marked by an uptick in accessibility features so that no one is left out. You have in-game settings like colorblind modes or the ability to remap buttons on your controller. Subtitles are becoming the norm. The Xbox Adaptive Controller is a thing that exists, and I wouldn't have expected it years ago. This is another area where we still have a long way to go, but with organizations like The AbleGamers Charity (founded in 2004), the future looks bright. -Jennifer Locke

4. Extra Life really takes off

Extra Life logoSource: Extra Life

Extra Life may have been founded in 2008, but it's really taken off over the last 10 years. Extra Life is a fundraising event that anyone can participate in that raises money for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals), which provides 32 million treatments to children each year. The event has raised over $50 million in donations since its inception, with all proceeds going directly to the hospitals, by having people team up and play games for a 24-hour period every year. It's become a tradition to get people from across the gaming world together for a good cause and it works. -Jennifer Locke

5. Games Done Quick raises money for charity

AGDQ 2018Source: Games Done Quick

Games Done Quick started off the decade by hosting its first charity marathon on January 1, 2010. Since then the semiannual speedrunning event has raised over $22.5 million, much of which went towards the Prevent Cancer Foundation and Doctors Without Borders. Special speedrunning marathons have also been held to raise money for relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey and the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami. A community banding together can do a lot of good. -Jennifer Locke

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Decade in games retrospective

Best gaming twists and surprises

Please note that the following page contains spoilers.

1. Joel's decision in The Last of Us

TLOU combatSource: Sony

Throughout The Last of Us, players get to know Joel and Ellie. They see them do brutal, harsh things to survive. They see them help each other survive. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that when the Fireflies needed to carve into Ellie's skull for a fungal sample to try and find a cure, which would kill her in the process, Joel's reaction was...extreme. He'd grown incredibly close to the girl. She essentially was his daughter. So he kills every last Firefly in his way, rescues Ellie before she undergoes surgery, then lies to Ellie about what happened when she comes to. Her response? "Okay."

Fans have debated the ending of this game since release, and even Joel and Ellie's voice actors are split on their opinions, but there's no denying it makes for a riveting, shocking final act to be remembered. -Samuel Tolbert

2. Recovering the Blades of Chaos in God of War

Kratos recovering the Blades of ChaosSource: Android Central

When Atreus falls sick in God of War, Kratos is tasked with grabbing the heart of a creature in Hel. But the powerful Leviathan axe is completely useless in the land of the Nord dead. To enter, he solemnly takes a journey back to his house, while the music and atmosphere take a dark, foreboding turn. Kratos is taunted by the spirit of the long-dead goddess Athena. He has to confront his sins, but he manages to do so, retrieving the Blades of Chaos, the weapons of the Greek God of War and a remnant of what he once was and a monument to the atrocities he committed. The way the story weaves this moment is simply fantastic, doubly so as it introduces a completely new weapon and gameplay mechanic late in the game. Whether you are familiar with past God of War games or not, it's absolutely chilling. -Samuel Tolbert

3. The entirety of Spec Ops: The Line

Shooters, whether third or first-person, tend to handle war clumsily. Spec Ops: The Line didn't shy away from the subject. Players were made to deal with their thoughts on how war is treated as an entertainment commodity. Spec Ops used its interactive medium to its advantage. You're not just watching morally ambiguous decisions being made on screen; you're the one that needs to make to them. There's ownership of your actions in a way that you can't get from passive experiences. I don't think anyone expected Spec Ops: The Line to tackle war this way, but the industry is all the better for it. -Jennifer Locke

4. When Ted Faro was the worst in Horizon Zero Dawn

I can usually figure out a plot twist or a reveal way before the surprising moment happens, so much so that my husband doesn't let me guess things when we're watching a show or playing a game. However, I did not expect Ted Faro to be such an asshole in Horizon Zero Dawn. I already hated him for being the idiot who allowed his dangerous AI machines to be used in the military and then get out of his control and go on a rampage destroying the world. However, I didn't expect him to delete all of the knowledge in the APOLLO archive and then murder all of the Alphas in charge of saving humanity (I seriously got so emotionally invested when they all were asphyxiated in that room).

What I love about this twist is that while I wasn't expecting it, it perfectly fit into the story. Faro's actions are caused by a mental breakdown because he's tormented by his role in destroying humanity. In his psychotic state, he concludes that giving the new humans knowledge of their ancestors will only cause harm. -Rebecca Spear

5. Booker is Comstock in BioShock Infinite

Alright, storytime. I love BioShock: Infinite. I've played it from start to finish three times, across five years. It's beautiful, fun to play, and the characters are a ton of fun. This game is frequently on my best games ever list when recommending to friends. Yet somehow, and I'm telling you this as honestly and seriously as I can manage, I forgot that Booker and Comstock were the same person from different points in the timeline. That twist, the big twist from this end of this game, had completely disappeared from my brain. When it came up in the meeting where we decided which twists went on this list, I audibly said "Booker was Comstock? I don't remember that" and everyone proceeded to mock me, which I deserved. Anyway, this game is great and that twist is very good and I should probably take a vitamin or something before I forget my kids' names. -Russell Holly

6. The end of Inside

Inside video gameSource: Playdead

The second title from Playdead is both like its predecessor, Limbo, and a beast all its own. It's creepy and mysterious, counteracted slightly with some challenging puzzles and great platforming sections. However, what sticks in the minds of most of the people that played it is that ending. After traversing through a series of dystopian settings, and running into some monsters along the way, you become the monster — a giant, disgusting ball of flesh fused with other bodies. You spend most of the game trying to escape the sickness that seems to have infected the countryside and the experiments that adults seem to be performing, only to find you can't escape it at all. However, you can do something about it, which makes the final sequence so impactful. -Carli Velocci

7. Every route in NieR: Automata

Nier Automata bannerSource: Square Enix

There's no spot in NieR: Automata that quite beats all the other spots for how shocking it manages to be. In Route A, players are introduced to the world and the cast, with androids 2B and 9S taking center stage, with mysterious A2 off to the side. In Route B, you see the same story played from the perspective of 9S. As you nearly finish, what follows is nothing short of a bombardment of twists: 9S has been killed by 2B in the past, multiple times, for knowing too much. Humanity didn't survive.

Then comes Route C, D, and E, where 2B dies, more lies of Yorha are revealed, and then everyone and everything dies. It's not the end though — pod companions 042 and 153 offer to try and restore the three androids. A grueling shoot-em-up ensues where the player fights the very credits of the game and is eventually overwhelmed. Upon being assisted by other players, you eventually triumph. The three protagonists have another chance at life and you, the player, can choose to sacrifice your save data to assist someone else. It's an incredible, haunting moment that redefines the very nature of the fourth wall in gaming. -Samuel Tolbert

8. That death and its effects in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

The brothers working togetherSource: 505 Games

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons has a unique twist that ties in with the game's narrative and game mechanics. Players explore this world as two brothers, Naia and Naiee, and you control each brother with only one side of the controller. Each has his own specific set of skills based on their age, size, and fears that you utilize to complete various puzzles. It's a clever game mechanic that lets you experience the game in a new way — that is, until Naia, the older brother, is killed. Not only do you lose a pivotal character, but the game also forces you to use only half the controller, the part that controls Naiee. This simple design is an added punch in the gut and a heart-wrenching twist that truly makes you feel like you've lost part of yourself with Naia's death. -Sara Gitkos

9. Gone Home being happy and not spooky

When I first saw the trailers for Gone Home before its release, I didn't want to play it because I thought it was a survival horror game (I thought the same of Firewatch, too, but I digress). It's amazing how marketing can paint a vastly different picture than what the actual game is. And where the developer could have taken the easy road to end it on a sad note, Gone Home is actually happy and hopeful at the end of it. That's not something that can be said for a lot of other LGBTQ+ stories, unfortunately. -Jennifer Locke

10. Doki Doki Literature Club is not the dating sim you thought it was

Doki Doki Literature ClubSource: Team Salvato

This is less of a note on Doki Doki Literature Club and more about the state of visual novels over the past decade. Doki Doki is just one of many that utilize the medium to only then subvert it. Hatoful Boyfriend used the absurd notion of dating birds to tell a serious tale about war while Amnesia, a more straightforward dating sim on the surface, used the replayability inherent with the genre as a plot point. Doki Doki is in another league: a (spoiler alert) psychological horror game masquerading as a cutesy dating simulator. The game starts off innocent enough, but in its second act, one of the characters you can romance becomes self-aware and starts messing with the game. It then becomes something else entirely. The game is free and only a few hours long so if you haven't played it yet, be sure to check it out. -Carli Velocci

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Decade in games retrospective

Best new IP

1. Horizon Zero Dawn

Aloy fires her bow at a ShellbackSource: Sony

Sony dominated with new IP this generation, and one of the very best was Horizon Zero Dawn. It seamlessly blended elements of a long-forgotten society wiped out by a calamity with elements of a futuristic world that the current society can't quite grasp. Hulking robotic behemoths roam the land, and, honestly, coming across one of the larger ones feels like that scene out of Jurassic Park when Dr. Grant sees the Brontosaurus. Guerrilla Games knocked it out of the part, and I can't wait to see what the future of this series has in store. -Jennifer Locke

2. The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds mechSource: Obsidian

This was the Fallout: New Vegas sequel we were waiting for. Best of all, it sets up a new world for us to get lost in. Obsidian's follow-up lives up to a lot of expectations. The dialog system is varied, the characters are charming, and the quests set up an ambiguous system for the player to get lost in. What we loved about The Outer Worlds, most of all, is all the potential for going even further. It takes place in a colonized solar system in the future run by corporations and we play the people just trying to survive in it. That opens the door for a lot of dark humor, but also new sci-fi stories. We're excited to see what comes of this new IP. -Carli Velocci

3. The Last of Us

I'm a sucker for horror games and anything zombie-related, so it's no surprise that when Last of Us came out, I fell immediately in love. This game delivers a top-notch story, excellent voice acting, vibrant environments, and a world gone to hell thanks to a fungal infection that essentially turns people into zombies. The original game arrived in 2013, followed a year later by another story-driven DLC in 2014 that only made the world and the story better. It delivers a world I still want to know more about, characters I am (irrationally) attached to, and even some replayability. Best of all, we're finally getting the second installment in the Spring of 2020. -Jen Karner

4. Rocket League

It might seem odd to include Rocket League when so many new IPs came out, but bear with us. Rocket League's importance in cross-platform play can't be understated. It was one of the first major titles to support gameplay between consoles and PC, and it led the push to make cross-play an industry standard. We're not there yet, but we wouldn't be nearly as close without Rocket League. Even when you don't consider any of that, it's still a hell of a blast to play. -Jennifer Locke

5. Dishonored

A tallboySource: Arkane Studios

Arkane made a name for itself with the Dishonored series and continued to prove why the studio excelled at immersive sims with its sequel. From the industrial whaling city of Dunwall to the Mediterranean-inspired Karnaca, the world that Arkane created oozes character out of every pore. The world around you reacts to your actions and you really feel like you're changing the course of the game, for better or worse. With so many paths to explore and powers to use, you'll need to complete several playthroughs just to experience everything Dishonored has to offer. -Jennifer Locke

6. Destiny

Destiny 2 ShadowkeepSource: Bungie

Since 2014, Destiny has been one of the biggest games on the planet. It's had some low points, but the team at Bungie reinvented the game just enough to keep it moving forward and beloved by its players. Both Destiny and Destiny 2 have continued a story that is epic in scale, that spans planets and time, and has soundtracks that blow me away every time I listen. Now that Bungie has branched out on its own, it has the freedom to take the Destiny franchise to new heights. Destiny 2: Shawdowkeep has ushered in a new era for Destiny, and firmly planted it has one of the greatest MMOFPS of all time. -James Bricknell

7. Control/Alan Wake

Control MazeSource: Remedy Entertainment

When we got Control from Remedy Games in 2019, we weren't expecting it to tie back into the studio's earlier new IP, Alan Wake, from 2010. Somehow, Remedy managed to surprise everybody by not only creating a great new title but by also setting up a multiverse of spookiness. Control is a fascinating horror-inspired action game with incredible world-building, a mysterious antagonist, and a range of cool powers to play with. However, when you pick up that first document with "Bright Falls" mentioned, or when you find Alan Wake hiding in a secret area of the government agency at the heart of the game, you realize that it's all bigger than you thought. With new DLC set for 2020, including one that seems to promise an Alan Wake/Control crossover, the possibilities are now endless. -Carli Velocci

8. Overwatch

Overwatch kicked off the hero shooter craze in part thanks to Blizzard's ability to make character shorts worthy of Pixar Animation Studios. The genre became so popular that other companies tried to emulate it with little success. Blizzard captured magic in a bottle with Overwatch, and it's no wonder that people fell in love with it. With an ever-growing team of lovable heroes (and villains) and Overwatch 2 on the way, there's a lot to look forward to. Now please, go defend the payload and protect your support heroes. -Jennifer Locke

9. No Man's Sky

No Man's Sky is proof that you can rise up and be what people always dreamed you could be. Overhyped from Day 1, Hello Games has spent the last three years constantly improving the game with massive updates, each one redefining how the game plays, looks, and feels. The current iteration of No Man's Sky — called Beyond — is as close to the ideal that was promised then I could ever imagine. There is no end in sight either. Hello Games are continuing to update No Man's Sky regularly, bringing in new base building mechanics, animal farming and riding, and even virtual reality, and they do it all for free. If you haven't had a chance to play, you should make it a goal to pick it up before the end of the year. -James Bricknell

10. Fortnite

fortnite loading screenSource: Epic Games

What's there to say about Fortnite that hasn't already been said? Like it or not, it's without question one of the biggest new IPs from the past 10 years. From fairly humble beginnings it exploded almost overnight, becoming the darling of streamers and their viewers alike.

Exactly why can be put down to plenty of reasons, but ultimately, Fortnite was in the right place at the right time and at the right price — as in free. Capitalizing on the Battle Royale boom that drove the gaming industry crazy throughout 2018 and 2019, Epic Games turned Fortnite into something quite special. Deals with Marvel and Star Wars, live concerts inside the game, and an ever-evolving world that engages with its players, Fortnite deserves its place among the elite. -Richard Devine

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Decade in games retrospective

Best lead character

1. Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn)

Aloy in Horizon Zero DawnSource: Guerilla Games

Aloy is a no-nonsense badass who isn't afraid to do what she thinks is right no matter the social or political repercussions. Despite repeatedly being told what she can or can't do, she always thinks things through, casts aside biases and superstitions, and comes to her own logical conclusions. In addition to that, she doesn't mind telling people when they're being stupid, which you often want to do when playing a video game. This makes her incredibly intelligent and relatable. She just seems like a person you could actually be friends with. When it comes to combat, she takes on massive mechanical monstrosities with just a bow and arrow and she utilizes every resource she comes across. Another thing I love about Aloy is that she doesn't need to prove herself as a female lead by being overly sexy or by proving that she isn't the "average" woman. She feels like a real human being who happens to be female. -Rebecca Spear

2. Geralt (Witcher 3)

In an RPG, being stuck with a pre-set character is both a blessing and a curse. In the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, CD Projekt Red managed to make it entirely a blessing. Geralt is always compelling, from Doug Cockle's wry delivery of different lines ("Oh all god, help a poor wretch in need. Pretty please") to his dead serious, I-pretend-not-to-have-emotion-so-I-don't-get-hurt attitude. Geralt is funny, charming, a ladies' man without being misogynistic, a capable warrior, a near philosopher, and a good friend. Is it any wonder players took to liking him so much? -Samuel Tolbert

3. Kratos (God of War)

Reinventing an icon is dangerous, to say the least. It doesn't usually work out and it's almost always asking for trouble. Yet with God of War (2018), Sony Santa Monica did just that to both critical and commercial success. Kratos is every bit the cunning mind and brutal warrior he used to be, the same one that slaughtered the Greek pantheon, except he's tired and can't quite take hits like he used to. His age is showing and he has a son to look out for. Under Cory Barlog's incredible direction, the team breathed life into an irredeemable character — one who is forced to confront his mistakes — and gave him a new life. Much like the players moving from one console to the next, Kratos grew up and is hopefully just a bit wiser. -Samuel Tolbert

4. Joel and Ellie (The Last of Us)

Joel and EllieSource: Sony

The Last of Us has two main characters: Joel and Ellie. While Joel is mostly the point of view character, as the game goes on, Ellie becomes a stronger presence of her own. The two spectacularly work off each other. Joel is protective to a fault, with problems of his own that he can't overcome by the game's end while Ellie starts off the game unaware but grows into a self-sufficient adult (that's still unaware of a lot going on). The two need each other to survive but are each other's worst enemies. What makes The Last of Us so fascinating is partially the creepy atmosphere and unending sense of dread, but mostly it's this dynamic. We want them to survive, but at what cost? -Carli Velocci

5. Nathan Drake (Uncharted 4)

Nathan Drake has become an adventuring icon like Indiana Jones or Lara Croft. He's a rebel with a heart of gold. He's charming, he's funny, he's handsome, and he's easy to love. Best of all, he makes mistakes; he's not perfect. That's exactly what Naughty Dog intended to make him more relatable. We get to live out our dreams of treasure hunting vicariously through Nathan Drake throughout four games, all of which saw him undergo significant challenges and character development. -Jennifer Locke

6. Senua (Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice)

Senua in HellbladeSource: Ninja Theory

Senua's struggle in Hellblade is deeply intimate and immediately felt by a lot of players due to Melina Juergens' impeccable performance. For someone who had never done voice-over or motion capture before starring as Senua, she had no right to be as good as she was. How Senua handles her psychosis shines a new light on mental health awareness, and it does so without casting Senua as a villain. She's the hero. Senua is someone you want to see overcome every one of her obstacles and come out stronger for it, and she does. -Jennifer Locke

7. Ezio Auditore

Ezio Auditore in Assassin's CreedSource: Ubisoft

Ubisoft took Ezio's immediate popularity and ran with it, making him the star of three games in the expansive Assassin's Creed franchise. From a brash, charismatic young playboy to a wiser, weary adult, Ezio underwent a lot of character development. We, quite literally, got to see his story unfold from birth until death. No other assassin in the series managed to capture our attention and love like Ezio did. His willingness to sacrifice for the greater good of an unknown future will always be admirable. When you think of the face of this franchise, it's Ezio's that you see. Requiescat in pace, Ezio. -Jennifer Locke

8. The Goose (Untitled Goose Game)

Untitled Goose GameSource: House House

The Goose is a late entry that makes its case by simply being what it is: a goose. Geese are assholes. I know it, you know it, and God knows it. It's just how they're designed — they're Satan's pets. They'd be roaming the campus back at my old college and everyone knew to stay away from them. The people in Untitled Goose Game should probably take the same advice. This is all a way of saying how awesome the goose in Untitled Goose Game is and I'm in love with every single meme that has come out because of it. Long live the goose. -Jennifer Locke

9. Quill (Moss)

Quill in MossSource: Polyarc

A lot of the time VR games have less-than-memorable lead characters, but not so with Moss. Quill, our little mouse partner in the game, is as fully realized as any AAA game title could wish. Not only is Quill a badass mouse with armor and a sword, but she is also much more clever than you, the player. Using sign language Quill can communicate to you how to solve the puzzle you are working on if you're taking too long to complete it. It's real ASL too, so if you know how to sign you can read what she is saying. Watching her as she tries to explain to you — the dense spirit that is helping her — how to accomplish the very simple task she wants from you is a joy. -James Bricknell

10. BJ Blazkowicz (Wolfenstein: The New Order/The New Colossus)

BJ has been with us for decades already, but starting with Wolfenstein: The New Order in 2014, he's been an entirely different BJ — and for the better. He's an ass-kicking, Nazi-killing Terminator in an alternate future where the Nazis win World War II, which is the kind of pulp we expect from the Wolfenstein series. However, with the reboot by MachineGames, BJ becomes a sensitive soul. He's bogged down by the weight of the world, but can't let up for the sake of those he loves. He's heavy with the weight of his Jewish past, which allows The New Colossus to have one of the best depictions of modern Judaism I've seen from games. He's the hero we desire, but he's more complicated than that. If anything he's tragic, which makes the Nazi killing even more satisfying. -Carli Velocci

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Decade in games retrospective

Best PSVR games

1. Beat Saber

Beat Saber sliceSource: Beat Games

Beat Saber has taken the VR world by storm. The combination of electro dance music, neon visuals, and fantastic gameplay make this the only choice for the best PSVR game. In my review I said that "Beat Saber feels like the reason the PlayStation VR exists" and it's true. The game is essentially a dance mat game, but it takes on a whole other level in virtual reality.

Of course, the fact that you are slicing the world around you with lightsabers brings more joy than I can express. I may never be a Jedi, but I can step into Beat Saber and for a little while losing myself in lightsaber combat, all the while getting healthier. The activity aspect of Beat Saber brings to light how VR can help you play games and stay healthy. The PlayStation VR is the most popular VR headset in the world and Beat Saber is the very best game to play on it. -James Bricknell

2. Doom

For many, Bethesda dedicating resources to virtual reality was a sign that this tech was going places. Sure, the other games available on these platforms are fun, but when you see names like Fallout and DOOM in the store, you know shit just got real. DOOM in VR wasn't a huge game, but it was a frenetic, action-packed thrill ride as well as one of the first games to take advantage of the special Aim Controller. All told the game made a lot of folks very excited to bathe in the blood of demons, and for that Bethesda has happily earned a spot on this list. -Russell Holly

3. Moss

Moss in VRSource: Polyarc

Moss takes the traditional side-scrolling platform game and elevates it to greatness in VR. While you do control the main character, Quill, you don't actually play as her directly. This means that while you move her around with the control sticks, you can also use the DualShock 4 motion controls to move the scenery. This adds a big puzzle element to the game, allowing you to turn handles, lift statues, and even pick up enemies and use them against themselves.

One of my favorite things about Moss is the less than hectic pace that it offers a VR player. PlayStation VR can be an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride a lot of the time, and that's great. Sometimes though, it's nice to just sit down and play a fun game with gorgeous visuals and a mouse for a friend. -James Bricknell

4. Blood and Truth

Blood and TruthSource: Sony Interactive Entertainment

In Ready Player One, there is a section where the protagonist gets to star in a version of WarGames. He has to do all the actions and all the dialogue to complete his task. It's an intriguing idea, and one that is nearly realized in Blood and Truth. Although you don't get to read the dialog, the game feels like a movie where you are the star, with gunfights, stealth, and a cast that sells the story of you. It's a cinematic, story-driven FPS that is entertaining from the moment you put on the PSVR until the moment you take it off. -James Bricknell

5. Farpoint

Fun fact: I love Starship Troopers, and when a game came out that dropped me in the middle of a world crawling with Arachnids and the closest thing to a new and unique RPG for PSVR I was all in. Even better was the fact that Farpoint can use the PSVR rifle, which made the game feel even more real. It had an amazing story of scientists stranded on an extra unfriendly planet and looked gorgeous. Also, it let me use the phrase "this place crawls" while shooting through a variety of different terrible arachnids, which was more fun than I can explain. It felt like an action RPG built for PSVR, which can't be understated. -Jen Karner

6. Rec Room

Rec Room is not just one of the best PSVR games, it's one of the best VR games period. Based on the rec rooms and youth centers of our childhoods, it's full of crazy games to play, adventures to go on, and people to meet. It even has its own Battle Royale paintball game. While it's incredibly kid-friendly, there is a lot there for adults too. You can build your own rec rooms too, allowing you to make games for the other people in the game. I know a group that plays D&D inside Rec Room so they can interact with each other more naturally.

Rec Room is a fully shared experience that can be played on almost all the current-gen VR and what's even better, it's completely free. If you haven't got this on your PSVR you are missing out. -James Bricknell

7. No Man's Sky

No Man's Sky: Beyond in VRSource: Hello Games

The VR version of No Man's Sky is amazing. That's it, that's the post.

The first day I played NMS I thought about how good a VR version would be and I wasn't disappointed when it became a reality. Built from the ground up to work with VR the latest update, Beyond, gave us an immersive universe with literally billions of worlds, all of which you could see through your own eyes. The combat was also reworked to make VR feel urgent and sometimes dangerous. The ship combat is especially great in NMS VR as you get to use your controllers as the throttle and joystick. It's like being in a '70s show, like Buck Rogers or Battlestar Galactica. -James Bricknell

8. Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-Ality

Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-alitySource: Owlchemy Labs

Job Simulator is cool and all, but what if you could play as Morty instead of a nameless, faceless human? This game not only managed to capture hearts and minds all over with its clever puzzles and Rick-diculous humor, but it also caused Rick and Morty's creators to start their own VR gaming studio to release its own excellent VR titles. This blending of pop culture and incredible VR experiences made adding it to the list an obvious one, and everyone should enjoy try and enjoy it as soon as possible. -Russell Holly

9. Here They Lie

Horror games are my bread and butter. I love being scared of exploring a messed up world and seeing how things got to the way they were. So when Here they Lie delivered the first story-driven horror title for PSVR, I couldn't run fast enough to put my headset on. There isn't much explanation or combat, but there's still a compelling story, jump scares, and a beautiful and genuinely unsettling world to explore. You could tell that these developers wanted a horror title built for VR. It translated gorgeously, especially when horrific monsters with the bodies of people and the heads of different animals chased you down to kill you. When it comes to horror on PSVR, it doesn't get much better than Here they Lie. -Jen Karner

10. Job Simulator

Job SimulatorSource: Owlchemy Labs

While the folks at Owlchemy Labs have made some incredible experiences so far, Job Simulator was the first "big" game for VR. This is the game that showed up on YouTube from all of the most popular streamers and encouraged dozens of other VR developers to create environments where players felt encouraged to experiment and play instead of just moving through it like it's just a background. Job Simulator remains a shining example of what makes VR great, but its continued explosive popularity is a big part of why it's on this list. -Russell Holly

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Decade in games retrospective

Hardest video games

1. Dark Souls (and the spawn of a new genre)

Dark Souls combatSource: FromSoftware

This should be self-explanatory at this point. Dark Souls became synonymous with difficulty this decade. If any game was had even an ounce of the unforgiving gameplay that Dark Souls had, the comparisons would be drawn in an instant. I'm guilty of it, too, even though it did spawn the Souls-like genre as a result. Dark Souls takes no prisoners and parts are so difficult that it borders on downright unfair. There is no hand-holding; no reprieve; no ability to bump the difficulty down. You either "git gud" or die trying. It's almost a right of passage to complete a Dark Souls game. -Jennifer Locke

2. Super Meat Boy

Super Meat BoySource: Team Meat

If you don't die at least a few hundred times while playing Super Meat Boy, you're either an all-powerful platforming god or you haven't played it. Each level requires such precise timing that there is no room for error. Jumps that should become muscle memory at a certain point will almost always give you a hard time. Super Meat Boy is just diabolical, and there are no checkpoints in a level to give you a moment to catch your breath. You finish it in one go or you don't finish it at all. Good luck. -Jennifer Locke

3. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

It took me hours to defeat what I thought was the first boss in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It turns out that it was only a mini-boss of sorts, and would be one of the easiest to defeat. I was stuck on the Chained Ogre, another early-game mini-boss, for several days. Enemies you wouldn't give a second thought to in any other game could kill you in an instant, even a rooster. You want to save the game and heal yourself? Good luck, because the enemies will respawn. This game crushes your very soul. It chews you up and spits you out into an unforgiving world. -Jennifer Locke

4. Celeste

Celeste screenSource: Matt Makes Games

This platformer, released in 2018, is not only a part of a genre defined by difficulty, but it manages to overcome a lot of its peers by being demanding in multiple areas. To complete Celeste, you need skills in timing, jumping, speed, and even combat, which comes in handy with ever-changing encounters. The game is also emotionally demanding, letting you experience the mind of a person struggling with mental health issues that become real. Therefore, the difficulty is warranted. The game is so tough that the developers (thankfully!) built in an assist mode. They recommend that you don't turn it on unless you have to so you can experience the game in all its challenging glory, but in many of our playthroughs, we kept it on a lot. -Carli Velocci

5. XCOM 2

I've been playing XCOM games since the mid-90s, so I'm used to aliens murdering my crew and me without any mercy. XCOM 2 brought that to the next level. Unlike the reboot of the series, we humans were put on the run, and when I say these aliens want you to die fantastically, I'm not kidding. For every recruit that got a promotion, at least two died. You're continually outmanned, outgunned, and up against tech that is built to make the game more challenging. Luckily, it made humankind the rebels fighting back against oppressive alien overlords, and that made every win more satisfying. -Jen Karner

6. The Witness

The Witness game Source: Thekla Inc.

Puzzle games are a guilty pleasure of mine. I've played enough that there aren't many left that get me to take our a pen and paper to solve. That's what The Witness did. It takes such a simple premise — drawing paths on grids — and makes it so difficult by not explaining the parameters by which you must solve the puzzle. You need to figure out everything on your own. When you factor in that these puzzles can get progressively harder as you progress, it makes completing the over 500 in the game a daunting task — but one that's immensely satisfying when you beat it. -Jennifer Locke

7. Nioh

Nioh is challenging in a similar vein to Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Combat requires players to be tactical, not just button mash in the hopes of success. The enemies aren't pushovers, either. Some of the more formidable bosses can even one-shot you. Needless to say, playing Nioh takes a tremendous amount of skill and practice. Thankfully the game has a lot of mechanics and tools at your disposal to use in combat, but if you don't use them properly they might as well be worthless. -Jennifer Locke

8. Alien: Isolation

Alien IsolationSource: Feral Interactive

In space, no one can hear you scream. With a xenomorph hot on your tail, you'll need to do everything in your power to stay one step ahead, and sometimes this means trying not to make a sound. You spend Alien: Isolation running from the titular alien. You can use a motion tracker to dial in on its position, but using it will also alert the alien to your own. It's a calculated risk/reward scenario. The xenomorph pursues you relentlessly, and one wrong move will cost you your life. You don't have a lot of ammunition or weapons with which to save yourself, either. All of this culminates in an experience that is both challenging and stressful. -Jennifer Locke

9. Beat Saber

Beat Saber Oculus QuestSource: Beat Games

There were a lot of discussions when making this list around letting hard modes be considered. Beat Saber on easy is just that, easy. It's a fun distraction for a few minutes and the music is good to listen to. On medium things become a little challenging but it's still an enjoyable way to play. Hard mode — and the insanity of expert mode — is a great way to get a significant workout and offers a challenging experience. The physicality of VR games makes them exponentially harder than most of the games on these lists by virtue of having to use your old body to play not just your thumbs. -James Bricknell

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Decade in games retrospective

Games that made us cry

This list will contain spoilers. You have been warned.

1. The Last of Us

evac notice in The Last of UsSource: Sony

The Last of Us might be a horror-survival style game, but it was the story and the characters that made it come alive for so many people. This game starts with a bang and doesn't slow down. I was less than an hour in when it broke my heart the first time, and it wasn't the last by a long shot. The emotional punches didn't stop coming, but it was the conclusion that hit hardest. You've spent the whole game trying to get Ellie to the Fireflies only to find out that they intend to lobotomize her. I cried while saving her, and I cried when I murdered Marlene to ensure the Fireflies never came back for her. I might still be crying today. -Jen Karner

2. Telltale's The Walking Dead

Lee and Clementine in The Walking Dead Season 1Source: Skybound Entertainment

The Walking Dead is a series that's meant to play with your emotions. It posits a world where nothing good happens and there's no hope, so you have to do the best you can. That was the case in the comics, the TV show, and, in the case of this entry, the Telltale game series. While there have been many entries into this franchise, the end of the first season takes the cake as one of the most depressing endings in the history of games. You play each of the five episodes as Lee, hoping to do that aforementioned best, but that's not enough. You get bitten by a zombie and do everything to try and stop the spread of the infection, but you can't. At the very end of the season, you succumb in front of Clementine, your surrogate daughter. The death weighs heavily on her for the rest of the series and still weighs on players to this day. -Carli Velocci

3. What Remains of Edith Finch

What Remains of Edith Finch is an absolutely devastating video game experience. I went in with little information or context and was left shaking. In a brief two-hour session, I was overcome with a wide range of powerful emotions. Masterful game design and haunting storytelling push you through the painful memories of a family with a tragic past. There has never been a game that has taken the same emotional toll on me as What Remains of Edith Finch. This is the perfect example of how video games as a medium can offer experiences that simply can't be matched by other forms of art or entertainment. File under 'B' for bawled my eyes out. -Miles Dompier

4. Night in the Woods

This story-based game, which came out in 2017, isn't tragic in the typical sense. None of the main characters die and the world isn't ending, but the stakes are still real. Here you play as Mae, a woman who drops out of college to return to her small mining hometown to find that things are going downhill. Many people are out of work, her friends are struggling to make ends meet, and there might be a supernatural cult killing townsfolk. Frankly, the latter is the least of your worries. Mae's mental health struggles, how she relates to her friends and family, and how she deals with the economic realities in her home make up the core of the game. If you've ever been in a similar situation, the cute animal people and the quirky humor can only do so much to cover up the depressing reality. Night in the Woods is one of the most grounded games of the decade, which lends itself to a lot of tears along the way. -Carli Velocci

5. Life is Strange

Life is StrangeSource: DONTNOD Entertainment

Nothing is quite as heartbreaking as becoming attached to a character and then being told they need to be sacrificed for the greater good. That's exactly what happens in Life is Strange. After reconnecting with her childhood friend, Chloe Price, and saving her from death again and again, Max — or rather, you — have a decision to make. Allow Chloe to die and save your town from destruction, or let nature take its course and save her. Some of us grew so attached to Chloe and felt for her story that we simply couldn't let her go, even at the cost of an entire town. Standing there at the end, making that decision, is when the tears started flowing. -Jennifer Locke

6. Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3Source: Electronic Arts

The third game in the Mass Effect franchise wrapped up Commander Shepard's story and the story of their many companions. It meant dealing with not only Reapers but the fallout from various in-game choices that happened both during and prior to gameplay. It's been seven years since Mass Effect 3's release, and I'm still not okay after watching Mordin Solus straight up sacrifice himself to fix the Genophage that kept the Krogan race from reproducing. As he leaves for the top of the tower, he tells Shepard, "Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong." I might never stop crying over this scene and how it all ended, and this is just one aspect that punched you in the feels during the third part of this epic story. -Jen Karner

7. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has plenty of great emotional moments. Finding out what happened with the Bloody Baron and his wife, reuniting with Ciri after so long, the death of Vesemir at the battle of Kaer Morhen, and potentially even the ending, whereas Geralt and Ciri could set out as Witchers together, be forced apart as Ciri becomes an Empress, or even left to stew in Geralt's grief. Throughout this 100+ hour journey, CD Projekt Red wove in an emotional narrative — one that leaves few dry eyes. -Samuel Tolbert

8. Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is the story of a man who is out of time. He doesn't know it yet, of course, but Arthur Morgan's luck is about to run out. His gang will fall apart, his leader (who was also a father figure) will go insane, and he'll contract tuberculosis. Throughout it all, he strives. He beats lawmen to death and guns dozens more down. Yet amidst it all, near the end, he finally breaks down and says "I guess...I'm afraid." Those few words delivered by Roger Clark in a stunning performance are some of the most tear-jerking words of gaming in the last decade. When Arthur does finally die, he dies buying time for John and his family to escape, to be what he couldn't. That's worthy of a solid cry or two. -Samuel Tolbert

9. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

environment in Brothers: A Tale of Two SonsSource: 505 Games

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons takes grief to the next level. Though the story begins with the younger brother, Naiee, paying respects to his mother's grave, the heart-break comes in the latter part of the game. As the two brothers search for a cure to help their ill father, misfortunate preys upon the family in the form of a deadly spider disguised as a young girl. While battling this foe, Naia, the older brother, is mortally wounded, and Naiee attempts to save him with the Water of Life. However, he returns too late, and he must bury his brother. What's more, players can only do this with half their controller, the part used to control Naiee. While this game has many tearjerking scenes, this one is hard to top. -Sara Gitkos

10. Marvel's Spider-Man

Spider-Man for PS4Source: Insomniac Games

If you didn't cry at the end of Spider-Man are you even human? If you haven't played it yet, firstly, are you nuts? Secondly, stop reading. Spider-Man was an absolute rollercoaster from start to finish, but it wasn't just about epic battles. There's a softer side, too, and some emotional moments both for Peter Parker and Miles Morales. You might get a trophy for visiting Uncle Ben's grave, but it's still a touching moment that'll bring a tear to the eye. However, it's the not-so-happy ending that really turns on the waterworks. The final cutscene between Spider-Man and Aunt May is a real heartbreaker. -Richard Devine

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10 of 17

Decade in games retrospective

Most annoying video game villains

1. Giant spiders (Skyrim, Limbo, Metro, etc.)

Skyrim frostbite spiderSource: Bethesda

As a Certified Arachnophobe™ (yes, it was difficult for me to grab a picture for this section), this is my plea to all developers: Stop putting giant spiders in your game. I don't care how well they fit the setting. I hate them. We all hate them. They're annoying, they're ugly, and they shouldn't exist. Spiders in real life are bad enough, I don't need a spider the size of a car (or even a small dog) chasing my ass through the wilderness. I have enough anxiety, thanks. And to everyone who mods games to change the giant spiders into some less heinous creatures: Bless you. -Jennifer Locke

2. Wheatley (Portal 2)

I admittedly like Wheatley as a character, but damn there is no denying that he's meant to be annoying. It's part of his charm — in part due to Valve's wonderful writers and voice actor Stephen Merchant. That charm isn't for everyone, and this little British robot is someone that you love to hate (or hate to love). He acts as a great foil to GLaDOS and a not-so-great test chamber buddy. He also ends up turning into a huge asshole that exists to make your life more difficult, so there's that. -Jennifer Locke

3. The Calypso Twins (Borderlands 3)

Calypso Twins in Borderlands 3Source: Gearbox Software

The Calypso Twins are a pair of villains who are meant to be annoying, but your mileage may vary on whether you hate them or appreciate the act — so I guess they're serving their intended purpose either way. They're caricatures of influencer culture that only care about the #content. They do have some ulterior motives for building up a cult in Borderlands 3, but there's no getting around some of their cringe-worthy dialogue and actions. -Jennifer Locke

4. Baldur (God of War)

You love to hate him. From the first moment Baldur's smug face walked onto our screens, we knew he'd be trouble. He spends the entire game making Kratos and Atreus' lives hell, going so far as to chase them across the nine realms. Just because he's Odin's son doesn't mean he gets a free pass at being an arrogant asshole. Plus (spoiler alert), he tries to kill his mom near the end of the game. He's about as annoying as annoying can get, even if he makes for a great villain to test Kratos' resolve. -Jennifer Locke

5. Helis (Horizon Zero Dawn)

Helis is that psychopath who believes in manifest destiny but got where he is in life through nepotism. HADES may have manipulated him during the game, but Helis was terrible his entire life. His whole attitude is "I'm the best and everyone else isn't worth my time." He once gladly served a tribal leader that raided neighboring villages for human sacrifices, and when he became a leader himself, he was all too happy to carry on the carnage. -Jennifer Locke

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Decade in games retrospective

Best video game dogs

1. Dogmeat (Fallout)

Dogmeat in Fallout 4Source: Bethesda

In the echelon of great dogs in video games, one stands out. Dogmeat is everything you could want in a companion and a dog. He's loyal and will follow you across the Wasteland. He'll fight enemies for you and, for the most part, you don't have to worry about his safety. He'll even carry your stuff for you (if you're anything like me in Fallout and pick up everything in your path, this is probably his best feature). Dogmeat isn't just dressing: he can even help you out during quests! It's not required to adopt Dogmeat in Fallout 4, but you'd be missing out if you don't. He's the very definition of a good boy! -Carli Velocci

2. Boomer (Far Cry 5)

The bestest boy (all dogs are bestest boys and goodest girls). Boomer stuck by our side through thick and thin in Far Cry 5, nuclear apocalypse be damned. If anything needed to be done; or enemies needed to be killed, Boomer was there. After a hard day's work, you could give him a nice pat on the head to show him what a good boy he was. Boomer exemplified why dogs are called man's best friend, and his loyalty made him an integral part of the team. -Jennifer Locke

3. Sif (Dark Souls)

Sif is a great gray wolf who wields a sword in his mouth, which is enough to warrant his place on this list in the first place. Going beyond that, this boss provides something no other enemy in Dark Souls does: remorse. If you go out of your way to complete the Artorias of the Abyss expansion quest line, you'll have fought alongside Sif far in the past against an ancient terror. When you meet Sif again and are forced to fight, the wolf will remember you and be in anguish. Combined with the haunting soundtrack and location of the duel, it's a fight to be remembered. Rest in peace with your master, Sif. -Samuel Tolbert

4. D-Dog (Metal Gear Solid V)

D-DogSource: Android Central

How can you not love a dog that wears an eyepatch? This big guy sticks with Venom Snake through it all, and he's got the will of a wolf, which is fitting given that he bears a strong appearance to one. He was only in one game in the Metal Gear Solid series, and he managed to capture our hearts in it. The way he and Venom Snake can interact in MSGV is done better than most games, and D-Dog makes me happy to have him by my side. He's a good boy. -Jennifer Locke

5. All dogs. Just literally every dog ever.

They're good dogs Brent. No dog will be left out of this list. I don't care if it's technically a wolf, a fox, or whatever the hell Trico in The Last Guardian is. You can consider them on this list. If they happen to be enemy dogs trying to stop you? They're just doing their job. They caught you slipping, that's on you. Does the dog happen to blow your cover while you're being stealthy? He was trying his best. They're all too pure for this world and whatever video game world they're found in. -Jennifer Locke

Honorable mention: Bullet (Blair Witch)

While Bullet didn't quite make the cut for our 'Top 5' video game dogs of the past decade, this list simply wouldn't be complete without at least mentioning this courageous pupper. Bloober Team crafted something truly special in Blair Witch with a game system that completely revolves around building a relationship with this dog. As a literal emotional support animal, Bullet helps guide you through some devastating moments of horror and existential crisis. In the darkness of Black Hills Forest, Bullet is your shining light of hope and I've never been more attached to a video game dog in my entire life. -Miles Dompier

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Decade in games retrospective

Best toilets in video games

1. Borderlands

Borderlands 3 toiletSource: Android Central

I'm obsessed with the ideas of flushable toilets in games in the same way that many people always want to pet the dog. Most of the time there's no reason to have a flushable toilet, yet many developers go out of their way to make it so. Sometimes just being able to interact with a toilet is satisfying, but what if the toilet gave you something in return? Enter Borderlands, which not only lets you flush the toilets you find around the game but rewards you for doing so. You get loot! Whether it's cash, ammo, or even guns, walking up to a toilet or porta-potty and hitting a button will net you something. This very important discussion wouldn't be complete without Borderlands toilets, and it probably won't get much better, either. -Carli Velocci

2. Prey

If you play as a man in Prey, the toilet seat in your apartment is up. If you play as a woman, it's down. It's a small detail that Arkane uses to make the world that much more believable. What makes the toilets in Prey so special is that there are times where you can flush mimics down them before they have a chance to scare the shit out of you, no pun intended. Plus there's a skill in the game that lets you turn into toilet paper. So that's cool too. -Jennifer Locke

3. Dishonored 2

It's a travesty when toilets can't be flushed in games. Part of Dishonored 2's appeal as an immersive sim is all of the little details packed into the far corners that someone may never even see during their playthrough — like flushable toilets. Is there any reason for them? Absolutely not. Did I get a small thrill when I realized I could flush toilets in Dishonored 2? You bet I did. I want to be able to interact with the world around me in a game, and if that means flushing a toilet in some plague-ridden world while I play as an assassin trying to overthrow an evil witch, then so be it. -Jennifer Locke

4. Death Stranding

Death Stranding toilet adSource: Android Central

Technically you can't flush toilets in Death Stranding but you do get one better: the entire world is your toilet. You see, Sam Porter Bridges' bodily fluids are special, and can even be used as a weapon (OK, Kojima). Plus, as you walk throughout the world, you'll become exposed to chiralium, an element that can have dangerous consequences. So it's not only recommended that you empty your bowels — it's required! You can unzip your fly in the wilderness and grow a mushroom (yes really) or you can do your business in your private room, which allows you to create some grenades. Never has peeing been so… complicated. -Carli Velocci

5. South Park: The Fractured But Whole

South Park is no stranger to toilet humor, and like it's predecessor, The Stick of Truth, toilets can be fun. Rather than get a battle item, using a toilet (or all the toilets) in The Fractured But Whole earns an achievement or a trophy. There's a whole mini-game featuring 21 separate toilets across South Park. Each toilet comes with a different set of instructions players will have to master. The difficulty ranges from 2-4 stars, and once you complete them all to mastery, you unlock the Crappin' Forte achievement. While you don't get much for completing the mini-game, it can be a lot of fun earning that trophy. -Sara Gitkos

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Decade in games retrospective

Best gaming beards

1. Kratos

Kratos and AtreusSource: Sony

Kratos was never known for his beard before. If anything, you thought of his distinct ghost-white skin and red markings. However, God of War (2018) changed that... to an extent. He's still got his signature look (courtesy of an oracle's curse forever burdening him to wear the ashes of his dead family) but now he's sporting a hefty beard, completing his transformation into a true dad. It's not as elegant as Rost's from Horizon Zero Dawn (see below) but damn do we love it and everything it brought to his character. -Jennifer Locke

2. Geralt

Geralt's beard is so well-known and tied to his video game character that fans were in an uproar when it was announced that Henry Cavill would be playing Geralt sans beard in Netflix's adaptation of The Witcher. Honestly, you can't blame them. Just look at his beard. He may be called the White Wolf, but he's really a silver fox. What makes his beard even better is that The Witcher 3 actually allows you to style and cut it at a barber because it will grow as time passes, just like in real life. -Jennifer Locke

3. Arthur Morgan

Arthur Morgan doesn't ask for a lot. He wants a stable environment where he can rob to his heart's content. He also sometimes just needs a good shave. In Red Dead Redemption 2, you're quickly given a shaving kit in camp, which you can use to craft Morgan's ever-growing beard however you want. He's on this list not just because he has extraordinary facial hair, but because the player can craft it themselves. Want mutton chops? A mustache? A goatee? The world is your oyster. -Carli Velocci

4. Joel

I don't think Joel's beard will win contests anytime soon, but it's a staple of his character that he looks wrong without. Joel without a beard is Cursed™, but I digress. It's a decent beard in its own right and perfectly suits his face. He obviously did himself a favor by letting it grow out from the point it was at in the beginning of the game. You can shave or trim it, but I like to think that it's fine as it is. Why fix what isn't broken? -Jennifer Locke

5. Rost (Horizon Zero Dawn)

Rost from HZDSource: Sony

There are plenty of epic beards out in the video game world, but few of them manage to have the intricacy and sheer length of Rost from Horizon Zero Dawn. This post-apocalyptic father figure has a beard that reaches halfway down his torso in a flawless braid. It has three separate strands in smaller braids that meet in one braid that nobody else can match. How does this man get dressed with a braid that long hanging from his chin? I don't know; I only know that if you love robust beards, he has to get a shout out. At the edges of his jaw, there are also smaller pieces that turn into itsy bitsy dreadlocks, and throughout the beard is the same blue and red paint you see on his face. 10/10 for beard game is what I'm saying. -Jen Karner

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Decade in games retrospective

Best gaming dads

1. Kratos (God of War (2018))

Kratos and FreyaSource: Sony

It's not easy to be a somewhat positive example of masculinity while playing a character who literally rips his foes apart with his bare hands, yet God of War does just that with Kratos. This old, grizzled veteran is clearly out of his depth raising a child, initially barking orders the way he would to a soldier (he's more the Dad of Boy, not Atreus). Slowly, he learns. He softens and learns to restrains himself, showing hints of compassion. He embraces Atreus and holds up his son to embrace his nature as a god while not losing touch with his humanity. The two work and fight side by side, their movements and interactions becoming more natural together as they grow together. In doing so, one of gaming's most violent, hateful, revenge-driven protagonists is redefined and becomes one of the best dads we've seen. -Samuel Tolbert

2. Lee (Telltale's The Walking Dead)

He may not have been Clementine's biological father, but Lee, the star of the first season of Telltale's The Walking Dead, is the closest to a real dad the series ever gets. He supports her and protects her from the horrible world, but doesn't keep her sheltered. He attempts to keep the whole group together despite inner conflict, thereby being a dad to everybody involved. Even when Kenny, another member of the group, loses his son, he attempts to be there as a confidant. Most importantly, Lee is the best parent because he does the unthinkable and makes the ultimate sacrifice. By succumbing to the zombie infection, he teaches Clementine and the player a valuable lesson about connections, something that The Walking Dead often struggles with. It's a loss we still feel to this day. -Carli Velocci

3. Joel (The Last of Us)

Parents in video games aren't usually front and center, but one of the few games that gave us a great gaming dead (albeit a traumatized, adoptive one) is The Last of Us. Joel doesn't want to take Ellie on her journey to the Fireflies initially, but over time as they bond, he becomes super protective of her, going so far as to essentially sacrifice the hope of humanity's return to normalcy for her life.

While it's clear Joel has serious issues stemming from the loss of his daughter during the early days of the outbreak, you watch as he comes to love Ellie for Ellie and not his lost Sara. It all comes to a head when the Fireflies try to kill her and think he'll let them get away with it, hope for the future or not. One of the most heart-wrenching moments is Joel's murmuring to her unconscious form, and the lie he tells her to protect her from what he's done. This is a man who is willing to sacrifice anything and everyone to protect his girl, and if that's not great dad material, I'm not sure what is. -Jen Karner

4. Corvo Attano (Dishonored 2)

Corvo's idea of "take your daughter to work day" is essentially teaching her how to be a spy. The assassin skills are just a bonus. His entire arc in the first game revolves around saving his daughter from the clutches of those who would harm her, and he goes to hell and back to do so. His love is unquestionable, and beneath his gruff exterior is a sweet and caring father who only wants the best for his daughter, who also just so happens to be the Empress of the nation. -Jennifer Locke

5. Big Daddy (BioShock series)

Big Daddy and Little SisterSource: 2K Games

What constitutes a Big Daddy for the purposes of this list? Is it the faceless monsters that stomp around in the first Bioshock, protecting Little Sisters from you potentially harvesting them? Is it the Big Daddy at the center of Bioshock 2, who not only gets put into the suit but then fulfills a larger purpose for one special Little Sister? Whichever Big Daddy works for you is the one that goes here. Whether you're terrified of them or grow to be sympathetic to their plight, one thing is certain: they'll do anything to protect their children. -Carli Velocci

6. Geralt (The Witcher series)

Geralt isn't physically Ciri's father but he might as well have been. Drawing on the background from the books, their relationship is finally realized in-game as Geralt undertakes his biggest contract ever, to find the young princess and bring her back. As adoptive father and daughter, the best ending for Ciri isn't achieved by telling her what to do but to let her simply be herself. Don't restrain her power, embrace it. Geralt is a far better father to her than her flesh-and-blood dad ever was and even gets to pass on the legacy of being a Witcher if certain choices are made. -Samuel Tolbert

7. Octodad (Octodad)

OctodadSource: Young Horses

He's an octopus. He's a dad. He's Octodad! He also happens to be hiding the fact that he isn't a real person, and is merely a wolf in sheep's clothing -er, octopus in human clothing. All he wants to do is live a quiet, mundane, happy life with his family, going so far as to expose his true nature to save them, despite knowing it could cost him their love and trust. He's a dad through and through. Here's to you, Octodad, the best octopus there is. -Jennifer Locke

8. Bayek (Assassin's Creed Origins)

Bayek's fatherhood is unbearably tragic, but the lengths he will go to for revenge in Assassin's Creed Origins show how deeply he loved his son. The entirety of the game — and the events that formed the Assassin Order — can be linked back to one moment between Bayek and his son that forever changed the course of history in the game's world. Despite the tragedies that life has thrown at his, Bayek has a heart of gold and only wants to help others. -Jennifer Locke

9. John Marston (Red Dead Redemption)

Okay, yes. John Marston is an outlaw and member of an infamous gang, but that doesn't make him a bad father. Immortal, perhaps, but he loves his family. He renounces his old way of life and wants to make amends for his actions. In doing so, he even tracks down and kills the members of his former gang, men he had called friends, all to protect his family. That love is never more apparent than at the end of Red Dead Redemption, where he makes a one-man stand against federal soldiers, knowing he wouldn't make it out alive so his family could escape. -Jennifer Locke

10. Greg Universe (Steven Universe games)

Imagine falling in love with a giant woman who is actually the light projection of a sentient rock from another planet, and then being told your physical intimacy with that sentient rock has caused it to turn into a magical child with a sentient rock for a belly button and that your space wife is now dead.

Greg Universe has seen some shit, OK? But he never stopped being the most supportive father he knew how to be. He's so supportive and encouraging that it literally became his power in the Steven Universe games, using his bitchin' guitar to make everyone else on the team more powerful. The world needs more people like Greg Universe. Also, play the Steven Universe games and watch the show. They're both amazing. -Russell Holly

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Decade in games retrospective

Best romance options

1. Yennefer (The Witcher series)

YenneferSource: Android Central

Yennefer and Geralt are forever linked together by destiny, and it's not wrong to call them soulmates. Even though you can romance others, Geralt will always inextricably be tied to Yennefer. It's no wonder that we feel drawn to her, too. That she's a badass sorceress and isn't afraid to speak her mind only makes her awesome. Plus, how many characters could (or would) conjure up a life-sized unicorn to have sex on top of? Not many. -Jennifer Locke

2. Garrus (Mass Effect 2)

This is the galaxy's bad boy, everybody's favorite Turian. It was a crime when we couldn't romance him in the first Mass Effect, and BioWare heard our pleas. The scars he would get only made him hotter. I romanced Liara (sorry, Garrus. In my defense, the galaxy had a lot of eligible aliens), but Garrus was always on my team, and he deserved a spot on this list. There's no Shepard without Vakarian. We'll meet you at the bar, buddy. -Jennifer Locke

3. Chloe Price (Life is Strange)

You can't help but fall in love with Chloe, and her relationship with Max only makes her more endearing. She's one of the few LGBTQ+ romance options out there, and the buildup to this relationship was both raw and real, like any awkward teenage romance. Max and Chloe are partners in crime (and time) for a reason. Should you romance Warren Graham instead, it felt like settling for the underdeveloped, second-best choice. -Jennifer Locke

4. Iron Bull (Dragon Age: Inquisition)

Iron BullSource: EA

I think if you just look at a picture of Iron Bull, you'll understand why he's on the list. He uh, he gives a new meaning to "riding the stallion" — or bull, if you would prefer. Anyway, ignoring that, Iron Bull's a cool dude who doesn't pressure you into anything more than you want, whether it be a casual fling or serious relationship. And he's voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr., so that's a win in my book. -Jennifer Locke

5. Everyone in Stardew Valley

When you move to the Stardew Valley after leaving your corporate job, you're introduced into the culture of the small town near your farm. There are a lot of characters to get to know, from Pam the alcoholic, Emily the bartender with dreams of her own, to Shane, a man struggling with depression. Getting to know them and building relationships is at the heart of the game, but with a lot of them, you can go even further. If you put your mind to it, you can start dating and then marry one of 12 bachelors or bachelorettes. This task unlocks even greater ways of getting to know the townsfolk, creating a satisfying and sometimes adorable goal for the game, which is already full of those. -Carli Velocci

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Decade in games retrospective

Best video game soundtracks


DOOM SlayerSource: Bethesda

While imagery of demons, horrifying ghouls, and excessive gore have been heavy metal staples for quite some time, it wasn't until the original DOOM dropped in 1993 that players got the beautiful marriage of these elements in video game form that led to the creation of one of the most iconic first-person shooters of all time. Now in 2019, DOOM is synonymous with heavy metal, thanks in no small part to the absolutely crushing soundtrack from Mick Gordon for DOOM 2016. Mick managed to take some of the heavy metal cliches of old and reinvent them for modern audiences with music that was not only fitting of the violence but genuinely unique and identifiable. There's a damn good reason "Rip & Tear" has remained in the gym playlist for over three years now. -Miles Dompier

2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim's soundtrack is iconic and instantly recognizable. There are times when I'll even play the soundtrack while cleaning the house. All of its music, whether you're fighting a dragon or simply wandering the vast mountains and valleys, serves a purpose. If you ever aspire to make a fantasy-themed soundtrack, this is the greatness that you should be aiming for. It's simply sublime on every level, perfectly capturing the essence of the titular continent and its people. -Jennifer Locke

3. God of War

From epic, sweeping Nordic tracks to more quiet, morose, mournful tunes, the soundtrack in God of War is never anything short of excellent. From the moment the game was introduced with a live orchestra in 2016, Bear McCreary composed a soundtrack that would perfectly match this incredible journey that players would undertake. It backs up emotional moments as Kratos comforts his son and incredible moments as gods pummel each other and tranquil environments radiate sheer beauty, all with equal care and awe. -Samuel Tolbert

4. Destiny (series)

It's fair to say that life after Halo hasn't been unkind to Bungie, with Destiny becoming a globally beloved IP that continues to pull in the players as we end the decade. The open world, the lore, and the gameplay mechanics are all parts of Destiny that are universally and frequently praised. However, there's another aspect to Destiny that deserves its moment in the spotlight. The soundtrack is ever-present, delighting the ears while immersing in the world of Destiny, haunting at times, but always generating splendor and atmosphere aplenty. The soundtrack is never something you wish wasn't there, it's so seamlessly integrated into the experience. -Richard Devine

5. Death Stranding

A lot of Death Stranding is meandering on purpose. You play Sam Porter Bridges, a man tasked with crossing the country to unite isolated communities after a world-ending catastrophe. Most of the time you're drenched in silence with nothing but the sound of your footsteps and heavy breathing to fill the void. However, every so often you unlock a song. These tracks, often credited to Low Roar but featuring other artists, are beautiful and meditative, but also uplifting in a hard-to-pin-down way. These tracks, coupled with the sometimes dreadful score, create an environment that feels purposeful. There's a lot of complex feelings here, but it all relates to a complex and sometimes confounding game. -Carli Velocci

6. Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn's soundtrack is full of sweeping choruses that truly encapsulate the immense beauty and scale of the game. It combines elements of older, simpler music with that of instruments that evoke our sense of wonder at technology. Themes of nature vs machinery clash in a way that sounds heavenly. There's not a moment in HZD where you won't be in awe of its soundtrack. I'm listening to it right now as I write this. -Jennifer Locke

7. Bastion

I didn't know the power of a great game soundtrack until I played Bastion. This game from Supergiant, which came out in 2011, is the total package. It has a great story, haunting narration, dynamic and bright graphics, but most of all, a soundtrack that lifts each of these elements. Darren Korb, who composed a lot of music for Supergiant's catalog, understands the themes at the core of Bastion — how a calamity is inevitable, but we can rebuild anyway — and works it into the score and songs. It all feels both somber and hopeful, filled with soft acoustic guitars and hard chords that sound like the act of building. Nearly a decade after release, the soundtrack still hits all the right notes. -Carli Velocci

8. Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

There's a reason that people keep wanting composer Jesper Kyd to come back to the Assassin's Creed series. The songs he composes are just that good. "Ezio's Family" in particular has practically become the theme song for the franchise, and even though it first debuted in Assassin's Creed 2, it continued to bring music to our ears in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. You feel really for Ezio's journey listening to that song, and Jesper Kyd knew how to transport you back to the Italian Renaissance. The entire soundtrack is phenomenal. -Jennifer Locke

9. NieR: Automata

The soundtrack in NieR: Automata was composed by Keiichi Okabe and is some of his finest work. From low, soft wails and peaceful tunes to something approaching brutal techno and sweeping, epic orchestrals, the tracks are never anything less than amazing and segue into each other beautifully. During hacking segments, retro-based sounds are used, replacing the myriad music players think they've gotten used to, which provide incredible variety. All of this culminates during the end credits in a massive version of the game's main tune, with variations that include English, Japanese and an invented language for each of the game's different ending routes. -Samuel Tolbert

10. Kingdom Hearts 3

How many other soundtracks can combine elements of our favorite Disney properties? Not many. This one has fast-paced action music to get your blood pumping, beautiful medleys, and somber notes for some of its heavier scenes. Music, like the characters themselves, is part of the bread and butter of Kingdom Hearts — the nostalgia in this one certainly helps. Where the game disappointed so many fans, at least the soundtrack slapped. So that counts for something. -Jennifer Locke

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Decade in games retrospective

Best photo mode in games

1. Marvel's Spider-Man

Spider-Man ESU suitSource: Android Central

J. Jonah Jameson is famous for constantly demanding that Peter Parker "get him pictures of Spider-Man" but I don't think he pictured this was how he was going to get them. Peter is known for propping up cameras near his fights so he can get the exclusive pics the Daily Bugle desires, so of course, he does so in Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4. This allows players to live out their Spider-Man fantasies in more ways than one. Where else can you take a selfie on top of a New York historic landmark? -Carli Velocci

2. Horizon Zero Dawn

Not having a photo mode in Horizon Zero Dawn would have been borderline criminal. The world is gorgeous, and its photo mode allows you to capture it to its fullest potential. By adjusting parameters like the focus distance, aperture, and brightness (among several others) you can become an amateur photographer with ease. Getting in some quick action shots during the middle of combat is cool, too. If I want to take a picture of a robotic dinosaur grazing in the sunset off in the distance, I can. -Jennifer Locke

3. God of War

Photo modes in games are incredibly valuable for sharing unique versions of each player's experience. Few games reflect that so well as God of War. The different angles and filters available play perfectly with the character models, which are among some of the most detailed in existence. Seeing the rage of Kratos reflected in Baldur's eyes or the detail in a Valkyrie being hit with the Leviathan axe can provide some amazing images while capturing those handfuls of tender moments throughout this father-son journey is always heartwarming. -Samuel Tolbert

4. No Man's Sky

No Man's Sky photo modeSource: Android Central

While the Photo Mode in No Man's Sky isn't the most feature-rich, the game itself provides the backdrop for some of the best shots to come out of a video game ever. The entire game was designed to look like the front cover of a '70s sci-fi novel, and it shows in every photo you take. The colors are vivid and the vistas you can take pictures of are often mindblowing, making it difficult to actually play the game. All you want to do is take pictures of everything. Actually, you could make that the entire game. -James Bricknell

5. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

There are a lot of little details in Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice that you may not be able to fully appreciate until you turn on its photo mode. You might have thought it only had dark, grotesque environments judging by some of its trailers, but there's a beauty to it. Not only can you capture some stunning images, but the photo mode also gives you a moment to breathe and not worry about the world around you. -Jennifer Locke

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