There are many video games that players play and cherish. With countless worlds and stories to explore, the appeal of video games will never fade. There are an incredible amount of titles out there, but a select few stand above the rest.
The following top 50 games are ordered by their Critic's & User Ratings (as recorded by Metacritic) as well as their player bases and influence on esports and gaming as a whole.
It's time to travel through time and revisit some of the best video games of all time!
50. Portal 2
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Portal 2 is the sequel to the title named “Game of the Year” 2007 by over 30 publications around the world.
Portal 2 promises to break new ground in next-generation gaming by expanding the award-winning recipe of innovative gameplay, immersive story, and creative inclusion of music while also introducing multiplayer co-op game modes.”
This game is very well-crafted, has fun puzzles and fantastic writing that makes it a loveable game all around.
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Bloodborne is an action RPG in which you hunt for answers in the ancient city of Yharnam, now cursed with a strange endemic illness spreading through the streets like a disease. Peril and madness infest this dark world. You're tasked with uncovering its darkest secrets which will be necessary for you to survive.
Armed with a singular arsenal, including saw cleavers, you'll require wits, strategy, and reflexes to dispatch the agile and intelligent enemies that guard the city's underbelly. You will utility holy chalices to access an array of vast underground ruins, chock full of traps, beasts, and rewards, to explore and conquer on your own or with other people.”
Bloodborne is an uncompromising combat RPG from the creators of Dark Souls and Sekiro that has excited players for years.
48. Batman: Arkham City
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Developed by Rocksteady Studios, Batman: Arkham City builds upon the intense, atmospheric foundation of Batman: Arkham Asylum, sending players soaring into Arkham City, the new maximum security ‘home' for all of Gotham City's thugs, gangsters, and insane criminal masterminds.
Set inside the heavily fortified walls of a sprawling district in the heart of Gotham City, this highly anticipated sequel introduces a brand-new story that draws together a new all-star cast of classic characters and murderous villains from the Batman universe, as well as a vast range of new and enhanced gameplay features to deliver the ultimate experience as the Dark Knight.”
The aesthetics of this game perfectly match Arkham City and make it all the more enjoyable to kick villains' butts.
47. Donkey Kong Country
Release Date: November 21, 1994
Plot Summary (from Wikipedia): “Donkey Kong Country is a 1994 side-scrolling platform video game developed by Rare and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
The game centers on the duo of Donkey Kong and his nephew Diddy Kong, who are on a quest to recover their stolen banana hoard from King K. Rool and his henchmen Kremlings.”
Donkey Kong is almost as appreciable as Mario, and this side-scroller was majorly influential on other contemporary video games.
Release Date: March 31, 1998
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): ” In the distant future a small group of human exiles have been doomed to fight for survival on the edge of the galaxy. Through military strength, espionage and deceit, a unified Terran government has maintained an uneasy peace. As resources run short, however, these Confederate nations find themselves looking towards the rich worlds of their alien neighbors, the enigmatic Protoss. To further complicate matters, it seems that a previously unknown and deadly species known only as the Zerg has entered Protoss space and is destroying everything in its path.
As the military leader for your species, you must gather the resources you need to train and expand your forces and lead them to victory. Thirty unique missions will challenge you across three different campaigns as you control the fate of the galaxy.”
Starcraft is a mainstay in the RTS (real-time strategy) genre and was a pioneer in esports.
45. Dark Souls
Release Date: September 22, 2011
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Dark Souls is a dark fantasy RPG designed to completely embrace the concepts of tension in dungeon exploration, fear in encountering enemies, the joy of new discoveries, and a high sense of achievement in progressing.
The game is set in a dark fantasy world filled with decadent atmosphere, with a heavy emphasis on player freedom in discovering various tactics and strategies to use in combat.”
Dark Souls is recognizable for its unrelenting difficulty and has been developed into a sort of cult classic. Regaining your soul on failure has been adapted by other games including Hollow Knight and Lords of the Fallen.
44. Resident Evil 2
Release Date: January 25, 2019
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “In Resident Evil 2, the classic action, tense exploration, and puzzle-solving gameplay that defined the Resident Evil series returns. Players join rookie police officer Leon Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield, who are thrust together by a disastrous outbreak in Raccoon City that transformed its population into deadly zombies. Both Leon and Claire have their own separate playable campaigns, allowing players to see the story from both characters’ perspectives.
The fate of these two fan-favorite characters is in players' hands as they work together to survive and get to the bottom of what is behind the terrifying attack on the city. Will they make it out alive?”
This remake lives up to the previous version's glory and goes beyond to attract players old and new alike.
43. World of Warcraft
Release Date: November 23, 2004
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “World of Warcraft (WoW) is an online role-playing experience set in the award-winning Warcraft universe. Players assume the roles of Warcraft heroes as they explore, adventure, and quest across a vast world. Being ‘Massively Multiplayer,' World of Warcraft allows thousands of players to interact within the same world.
Whether adventuring together or fighting against each other in epic battles, players will form friendships, forge alliances, and compete with enemies for power and glory.”
World of Warcraft introduces players to a new, bright and bustling world that they can explore with their friends, and as such is a significant video game icon.
On August 26th, Blizzard released World of Warcraft Classic, which broke viewership records on Twitch.
Release Date: May 17, 2009
Minecraft is one of the most beloved video games of all time. It's open-world aspect and endless creative options give it replayability that outlasts the rest. Though it's graphics and gameplay are simple, Minecraft has a charm that simply can't be beaten by most games. All ages and tastes can appreciate the wholesome fun it has to offer.
The community surrounding it has flourished since its inception, creating new ways to play the game all the time. In addition, it boasts a massive player base even after ten years and will continue to have it far into the future.
41. Dota 2
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Plot Summary (from Wikipedia): “Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video game developed and published by Valve Corporation. The game is a sequel to Defense of the Ancients (DotA), which was a community-created mod for Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion pack, The Frozen Throne.
Dota 2 is played in matches between two teams of five players, with each team occupying and defending their own separate base on the map. Each of the ten players independently controls a powerful character, known as a “hero,” who all have unique abilities and differing styles of play. During a match, players collect experience points and items for their heroes to successfully defeat the opposing team's heroes in player versus player combat.
A team wins by being the first to destroy the other team's “Ancient,” a large structure located within their base.”
Dota 2 has excellent replayability and a thriving esports scene that sets it apart from many other games out there. The recent esports event, Dota 2 The International 9, had a prize pool of over $30 million.
40. Red Dead Redemption
Release Date: May 18, 2010
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Developed by Rockstar San Diego, as a follow up to the 2004 hit game Red Dead Revolver, Red Dead Redemption is a Western epic, set at the turn of the 20th century when the lawless and chaotic badlands began to give way to the expanding reach of government and the spread of the Industrial Age. The story of former outlaw, John Marston, Red Dead Redemption takes players on a great adventure across the American frontier.
Utilizing Rockstar's proprietary Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE), Red Dead Redemption features an open-world environment for players to explore, including frontier towns, rolling prairies teeming with wildlife, and perilous mountain passes – each packed with an endless flow of varied distractions.
Along the way, players experience the heat of battles, meet a host of unique characters, struggle against the harshness of one of the world’s last remaining wildernesses, and ultimately pick their own precarious path through an epic story about the Wild West and the cowboys that inhabited it. [Rockstar Games]”
This unique take on the Western genre truly thrusts players into a gritty, brutal frontier that is unforgettable.
39. Halo 2
Release Date: November 9, 2004
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “The Covenant alien race threatens to destroy all humankind, and the only thing standing in its way is Master Chief, a genetically enhanced supersoldier. Master Chief returns in Halo 2, which features new vehicles, tools, environments, and more.
This time, you can interact with your environment, dual-wield, board opponents' vehicles, and even switch sides to play the role of a Covenant Elite. Halo 2 also supports broadband multiplayer action via Xbox Live.”
Halo 2 furthered the Halo franchise into one of the most recognizable ones of our lifetime.
38. Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Release Date: November 21, 1992
Plot Summary (from Wikipedia): “Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a platform game developed and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis console, released worldwide on November 1992. It is the second main entry in the Sonic the Hedgehog series and introduced Sonic's sidekick, Miles “Tails” Prower, controllable by a second player.
In the story, Sonic and Tails must stop series antagonist Dr. Ivo Robotnik from stealing the Chaos Emeralds to power his space station, the Death Egg.”
This Sonic game brought new fame to the hedgehog and introduced characters and helped expand their world!
37. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Release Date: November 10, 2009
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Modern Warfare 2 continues the gripping and heart-racing action as players face off against a new threat dedicated to bringing the world to the brink of collapse. An entirely new gameplay mode that supports 2-player co-operative play online that is unique from the single-player story campaign. Special Ops pits players into a gauntlet of time-trial and objective-based missions. Rank-up as players unlock new Special Ops missions, each more difficult.
Missions include highlights from the single-player campaign, fan favorites from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and all-new, exclusive missions. Setting a new bar for online multiplayer, Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer delivers new capabilities, customization, game states and modes.”
This is one of the most memorable games in Call of Duty history, as it had a gripping story and the most addictive multiplayer experiences for the time.
36. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Release Date: October 27, 2002
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Welcome to Vice City. Welcome to the 1980s. Having just made it back onto the streets of Liberty City after a long stretch in maximum security, Tommy Vercetti is sent to Vice City by his old boss, Sonny Forelli. They were understandably nervous about his re-appearance in Liberty City, so a trip down south seemed like a good idea. But all does not go smoothly upon his arrival in the glamorous, hedonistic metropolis of Vice City.
He's set up and is left with no money and no merchandise. Sonny wants his money back, but the biker gangs, Cuban gangsters, and corrupt politicians stand in his way. Most of Vice City seems to want Tommy dead. His only answer is to fight back and take over the city himself. [Rockstar]”
This isn't the premier GTA game, but it certainly does the series proud and was a driving force in the proceeding games.
35. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Release Date: December 3, 2002
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Now you have a link to one of the greatest adventures in The Legend of Zelda series. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past revives the classic SNES game on the Game Boy Advance and adds a new multiplayer mode. In a Link to the Past, Link travels between the light world and the dark world, conquering fierce monsters and uncovering Hyrule's deepest secrets along the way.
Also included is Four Swords, which lets you play with up to three other players, slashing through dungeons and collecting rupees. Whether you choose solo or competitive play, The Legend of Zelda will keep you occupied with its brain-bending puzzles and fun swashbuckling action.”
It's impossible to keep the Zelda series out of this list, and it's for a good reason, as it has so much going for it.
34. Mass Effect 2
Release Date: January 26, 2010
The Mass Effect trilogy is a science fiction adventure set in a vast universe filled with dangerous alien life forms and mysterious uncharted planets.
In this dark second chapter, Saren’s evil army of Geth soldiers has just been defeated, and humans, who are still struggling to make their mark on the galactic stage, are now faced with even greater peril. [BioWare]”
Mass Effect 2 brought players into a captivating world with rich characters and a Sci-Fi action experience that won't be forgotten.
33. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec
Release Date: July 9, 2001
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “With the addition of two new courses (a downtown Tokyo circuit and the Monte Carlo Grand Prix course), an impressive range of cars (from Vipers to Cooper Minis), and a soundtrack featuring everything from Lenny Kravitz to Jimi Hendrix, this highly anticipated title is finally ready to be driven.”
This racing game really lived up to the hype of the time and delivered its realistic driving system to perfection.
32. Tekken 3
Release Date: April 29, 1998
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “An ancient evil force has reawakened, attacking in secret and feeding on the souls of mighty warriors. To lure it out of hiding will take the greatest fighting contest the world has ever seen.
Some are fighting for revenge, some for honor, Ultimately, all are fighting for their lives and the fate of all mankind.”
Tekken 3 completely revolutionized the fighting genre and debuted tactical fighting styles that impress even today.
31. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Release Date: Aug 21, 2012
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive features new maps, characters, and delivers updated versions of the classic CS content.”
The enthralling action of CSGO gives it one of the most addicting FPS experiences.
CSGO has a colossal esports scene with events drawing tens of millions of viewers.
30. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Release Date: October 25, 2000
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Thrown into a parallel world by the mischievous actions of a possessed Skull Kid, Link finds a land in grave danger. The dark power of a relic called Majora's Mask has wreaked havoc on the citizens of Termina, but their most urgent problem is a suicidal moon crashing toward the world. Link has only 72 hours to find a way to stop its descent.”
The Legend of Zelda is a brilliant series and Majora's Mask lives up to the precedent Ocarina of Time set two years before.
29. Diablo 2
Release Date: June 29, 2000
Diablo 2, developed by Blizzard Entertainment for computer systems, is a hack-and-slash dungeon crawler with loads of replayability. It uses randomly generated wilderness areas and dungeons to create endless unique areas for players to explore.
There are many dark fantasy and horror themes prevalent within Diablo 2 that set it apart from regular fantasy genre games. In it, the player has already defeated Diablo, the Lord of Terror, to save the world of Sanctuary. But the hero is now corrupted and demons are entering the world around him.
The settings are much more varied than that of the original Diablo's. There are many different global regions that are explored, each having their own architecture and environments. Diablo 2 was well-received on debut and is definitely one of the best games of all time.
28. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Release Date: October 26, 2004
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Five years ago Carl Johnson escaped from the pressures of life in Los Santos, San Andreas… a city tearing itself apart with gang trouble, drugs, and corruption. Where filmstars and millionaires do their best to avoid the dealers and gangbangers. Now, it's the early 90s. Carl's got to go home. His mother has been murdered, his family has fallen apart and his childhood friends are all heading towards disaster.
On his return to the neighborhood, a couple of corrupt cops frame him for homicide. CJ is forced on a journey that takes him across the entire state of San Andreas, to save his family and to take control of the streets. [Rockstar]”
With characters that speak to audiences, this part of the GTA series added a lot to the chaotic, action-packed series.
27. Red Dead Redemption 2
Release Date: October 26, 2018
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Developed by the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game’s vast and atmospheric world also provides the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience. America, 1899. The end of the Wild West era has begun. After a robbery goes badly wrong in the western town of Blackwater, Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang are forced to flee.
With federal agents and the best bounty hunters in the nation massing on their heels, the gang has to rob, steal and fight their way across the rugged heartland of America in order to survive. As deepening internal fissures threaten to tear the gang apart, Arthur must make a choice between his own ideals and loyalty to the gang that raised him. [Rockstar]”
Though this is a much newer game, it redefines the Western genre of games and is one of the most iconic modern games. Red Dead 2 and God of War caused tons of debate about which deserved respected ‘game of the year' awards.
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Overwatch is a highly stylized team-based shooter set on earth in the near future. Every match is an intense multiplayer showdown pitting a diverse cast of soldiers, mercenaries, scientists, adventurers, and oddities against each other in an epic, globe-spanning conflict.”
This fast-paced first-person shooter brings people all around the world together and has one of the most vibrant esports scenes to date.
The Overwatch League has team valued at $30 million+ and broadcasts on TV stations such as ABC and ESPN.
25. Metal Gear
Release Date: September 3, 1998
Metal Gear is a name known by many. This particular installment in the series was the first one, released in 1987 for the MSX2 computer. It's an overhead military action-adventure game that relies heavily on stealth instead of brutish combat.
The story revolves around Solid Snake. He's a special forces operative who has to infiltrate Outer Heaven to destroy the biggest threat to the world: Metal Gear, Metal Gear is a tank-like machine that can launch nuclear missiles all over the world, a devastating threat indeed.
The action and suspense never fail to encapture the player and provides a gripping video game experience. This game is notable on its own, but as it led to a hefty amount of sequels, and is more notable than most for its long-lasting legacy in the video game industry.
24. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Release Date: September 20, 2000
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “As most major publishers' development efforts shift to any number of next-generation platforms, Tony Hawk 2 will likely stand as one of the last truly fantastic games to be released on the PlayStation.”
All the skater boys and girls will surely remember this iconic game. There aren't many games that appeal to this audience, but this one was executed so well it did, and to many others too.
23. Soul Calibur
Release Date: September 8, 1999
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “This is a tale of souls and swords, transcending the world and all its history, told for all eternity… The greatest fighter returns, this time on Sega Dreamcast.
Soul Calibur unleashes incredible graphics, fantastic fighters, and combos so amazing they'll make your head spin!”
Soul Calibur introduced great fighting mechanics that have impacted the genre for years after.
22. Chrono trigger
Release Date: November 25, 2008
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “When a newly developed teleportation device malfunctions at the Millennial Fair, young Crono must travel through time to rescue his unfortunate companion from an intricate web of past and present perils. The swashbuckling adventure that ensues soon unveils an evil force set to destroy the world, triggering Crono's race against time to change the course of history and bring about a brighter future.
It features an engaging and unparalleled storyline, leading to the discovery of multiple epic conclusions to a journey that transcends time. An inspiring musical score created by Yasunori Mitsuda. The intriguing battle system made possible by the unique combination of the Active Time Battle system and Tech skills.”
Chrono Trigger had an addicting combat system and captivating characters that make the game a special treat.
21. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Release Date: May 19, 2015
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an RPG based off of Andrzej Sapkowski's fantasy novels. It features a well-crafted open world where you play as Geralt of Rivia who must slay monsters and eventually rescue his adopted daughter. There were so many things this game did well to make it a truly immersive experience and a modern masterpiece.
Some of these things were the realistic world, the character development of Geralt, and the meaningful side quests. The side quests, in particular, are exemplary from this game, as they were like stories in themselves and had real impact on the world.
Overall, this is one of the best fantasy RPGs out there and essential for any lovers of the genre.
Netflix is releasing a Witcher TV show shortly, starring Superman's Henry Cavill as Geralt.
20. Metroid Prime
Release Date: November 17, 2002
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Samus returns in a new mission to unravel the mystery behind the ruined walls scattered across Tallon IV. In Metroid Prime, you'll play the role of this bounty hunter and view the world through her visor, which displays information ranging from current energy levels to ammunition. Equipped with a Power Beam and Gravity Suit, you must shoot locked switches, solve puzzles, and eliminate enemies.
It's up to you to explore the world and recover more power-ups, which gradually open more gameplay areas.”
Metroid Prime had some of the best graphics of its time, and with its incredible first-person action, it remains one of the best games to grace our controllers.
Release Date: August 21, 2007
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “BioShock creates a living, unique and unpredictable FPS experience. After your plane crashes into icy uncharted waters, you discover a rusted bathysphere and descend into Rapture, a city hidden beneath the sea. Constructed as an idealistic society for a hand-picked group of scientists, artists and industrialists, the idealism is no more.
Now the city is littered with corpses, wildly powerful guardians roam the corridors as little girls loot the dead, and genetically mutated citizens ambush you at every turn. Take control of your world by hacking mechanical devices, commandeering security turrets and crafting unique items critical to your very survival.”
“Upgrade your tools with ionic gels, explosives and toxins to customize them to the enemy and environment. Genetically modify your body through dozens of Plasmid Stations scattered throughout the city, empowering you with fantastic and often grotesque abilities. Explore a living world powered by Ecological A.I., where the inhabitants have interesting and consequential relationships with one another that impact your gameplay experience.
Experience truly next-generation graphics that vividly illustrate the forlorn art deco city, highlighted by the most detailed and realistic water effects ever developed in a video game. Make meaningful choices and mature decisions, ultimately culminating in the grand question: do you exploit the innocent survivors of Rapture, or save them? [2K Games]”
The dynamic setting in Bioshock is one of the main draws along with a great story and unique gameplay.
18. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Release Date: November 11, 2011
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “The next chapter in the Elder Scrolls saga arrives from the Bethesda Game Studios. Skyrim reimagines the open-world fantasy epic, bringing to life a complete virtual world open for you to explore any way you choose. Play any type of character you can imagine and do whatever you want; the legendary freedom of choice, storytelling, and adventure of The Elder Scrolls is realized like never before.”
“Skyrim's new game engine brings to life a complete virtual world with rolling clouds, rugged mountains, bustling cities, lush fields, and ancient dungeons. Choose from hundreds of spells, and abilities. The new character system allows you to play any way you want and define yourself through your actions.
Battle ancient dragons like you've never seen. As Dragonborn, learn their secrets and harness their power for yourself.”
The gameplay and customization in this game made it an instant classic with endless replay value.
17. Perfect Dark
Release Date: May 22, 2000
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Step into the Dark… As Carrington Institute's most promising new Agent, Joanna Dark must uncover the truth behind the dataDyne Corporation's recent technological breakthroughs.
Breakthroughs, which could have serious consequences for humanity.”
Perfect Dark built off of the ideas and gameplay from GoldenEye. With a fantastic single-player and innovative multiplayer, Perfect Dark stands as one of the best games of all time.
16. Resident Evil 4
Release Date: January 11, 2005
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Resident Evil 4 marks a new chapter in the Resident Evil series. You'll rejoin Leon S. Kennedy six years after his first mission as a rookie cop from Resident Evil 2. Now a US agent, Leon is on a top-secret mission to investigate the disappearance of the president's daughter.
As Leon, you must make your way to a mysterious location in Europe, where new enemies await. Take them down by using enhanced aim-and-shoot features and a new action button.”
This survival-horror game keeps players hooked from start to finish, whether they want to or not.
15. The Last of Us
Release Date: June 14, 2013
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Twenty years after a pandemic radically transformed known civilization, infected humans run amuck and survivors fight one another for sustenance and tools – literally whatever they can get their hands on.
Joel, a salty survivor, is hired to smuggle a fourteen-year-old girl, Ellie, out of a rough military quarantine, but what begins as a simple job quickly turns into a brutal journey across the country.”
The Last of Us delivers masterful storytelling and characterization that solidifies it as one of the greats. The world awaits The Last of Us 2, which will most certainly be one of the top games on this list.
14. Half-Life 2
Release Date: November 16, 2004
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism and responsiveness, Half-Life 2 opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors — even the emotions — of both friends and enemies. The player again picks up the crowbar of research scientist Gordon Freeman, who finds himself on an alien-infested Earth being picked to the bone, its resources depleted, its populace dwindling.
Freeman is thrust into the unenviable role of rescuing the world from the wrong he unleashed back at Black Mesa. And a lot of people — people he cares about — are counting on him. [Vivendi Universal]”
Half-Life 2 had some of the best storytelling and gameplay of its time for PC, solidifying it as an essential game in this list.
13. Halo: Combat Evolved
Release Date: November 14, 2001
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Enter the mysterious world of Halo, an alien planet shaped like a ring. As humankind's super-soldier Master Chief, you must uncover the secrets of Halo and fend off the attacking Covenant. During your missions, you'll battle on foot, in vehicles, inside, and outside with alien and human environments.
Your objectives include attacking enemy outposts, raiding underground labs for advanced technology, rescuing fallen comrades, and sniping enemy forces. Halo also lets you battle three other players via intense split screen combat or fight cooperatively with a friend through the single-player missions.”
Halo: Combat Evolved was only the start in a line of games that would compel players for years to come.
12. Super Mario Galaxy 2
Release Date: May 23, 2010
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Super Mario Galaxy 2, the sequel to the galaxy-hopping original game, includes the gravity-defying, physics-based exploration from the first game, but is loaded with entirely new galaxies and features to challenge players. On some stages, Mario can pair up with his dinosaur buddy Yoshi and use his tongue to grab items and spit them back at enemies.
Players can also have fun with new items such as a drill that lets our hero tunnel through solid rock. [Nintendo]”
Adding onto the amazing Super Mario Galaxy created a whole new Mario experience for fans of all genres.
11. Pokémon Generation One (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow)
Release Date: February 27, 1996
Plot Summary (from Amazon): “Welcome to the world of Pokémon, one filled with wild Pokémon and the people who attempt to tame them. You are a boy on a quest to become the best Pokémon trainer in the world. Professor Oak, the leading authority on Pokémon, has given you your choice of three tame Pokémon in exchange for your helping him catalog and document every Pokémon in the world.
But to catalog a Pokémon, you have to capture it. You do this by first beating it up with one of your trained Pokémon, and then hitting it with an empty Poké Ball. As your tame Pokémon gain experience in battle, their abilities improve, and they earn access to new attacks. Sometimes they even evolve into more advanced Pokémon.”
These games created a global gaming revolution and are still held in high regard even after 20 years.
10. God of War (2018)
Release Date: April 20, 2018
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “His vengeance against the gods of Olympus far behind him, Kratos now lives as a man in the lands of Norse Gods and monsters. It is in this harsh, unforgiving world that he must fight to survive, and teach his son to do the same. As a mentor and protector to a son determined to earn his respect, Kratos is faced with an unexpected opportunity to master the rage that has long defined him.
Questioning the dark lineage he’s passed on to his son, and he hopes to make amends for the shortcomings of his past. Set within the untamed forests, mountains, and realms of Norse lore, God of War features a distinctly new setting with its own pantheon of creatures, monsters, and gods.”
This God of War sequel is more than a brutal action game; it tears at the heartstrings of players for its character development and fantastic story.
9. Super Mario Galaxy
Release Date: November 12, 2007
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “The ultimate Nintendo hero is taking the ultimate step … out into space. Join Mario as he ushers in a new era of video games, defying gravity across all the planets in the galaxy. When some creature escapes into space with Princess Peach, Mario gives chase, exploring bizarre planets all across the galaxy. Mario, Peach and enemies new and old are here. Players run, jump and battle enemies as they explore all the planets in the galaxy.”
“Since this game makes full use of all the features of the Wii Remote, players have to do all kinds of things to succeed: pressing buttons, swinging the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk, and even pointing at and dragging things with the pointer. Since he's in space, Mario can perform mind-bending jumps, unlike anything he's done before. He'll also have a wealth of new moves that are all based around tilting, pointing and shaking the Wii Remote.
Shake, tilt, and point! Mario takes advantage of all the unique aspects of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controller, unleashing new moves as players shake the controller and even point at and drag items with the pointer. [Nintendo]”
This awesome party game reimagined Mario and his adventures and was a real treat to play.
8. League of Legends
Release Date: October 27, 2009
Plot Summary (from Riot Games): “League of Legends is a fast-paced, competitive online game that blends the speed and intensity of an RTS with RPG elements. Two teams of powerful champions, each with a unique design and playstyle, battle head-to-head across multiple battlefields and game modes.
With an ever-expanding roster of champions, frequent updates and a thriving tournament scene, League of Legends offers endless replayability for players of every skill level.”
As the most popular esport in the world, the impact this game has had on individuals and the esports scene is unparalleled.
7. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Forget everything you know about The Legend of Zelda games. Step into a world of discovery, exploration, and adventure in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a boundary-breaking new game in the acclaimed series. Travel across fields, through forests, and to mountain peaks as you discover what has become of the ruined kingdom of Hyrule in this open-air adventure.
Explore the wilds of Hyrule any way you like – Climb up towers and mountain peaks in search of new destinations, then set your own path to get there and plunge into the wilderness. Along the way, you'll battle towering enemies, hunt wild beasts and gather ingredients for the food and elixirs you'll need to sustain you on your journey.”
“Shrines dot the landscape, waiting to be discovered in any order you want. Search for them in various ways and solve a variety of puzzles inside. Work your way through the traps and devices inside to earn special items and other rewards that will help you on your adventure.
Battling enemies requires strategy – The world is inhabited with enemies of all shapes and sizes. Each one has its own attack method so you must think quickly and develop the right strategies to defeat them.”
This breathtaking story is marvelous for long-time fans as well as newcomers to the series.
6. Final Fantasy VII
Release Date: September 3, 1997
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “An epic adventure across three cd-ROMs. What begins as a rebellion against an evil corporation becomes much more. And what erupts goes beyond imagination.
With vivid landscapes, lush 3D animation and environments, Square Soft's multi-million dollar masterpiece is like nothing ever seen before.”
There are many installments in the Final Fantasy series, but this one stands out as one of the best for fans everywhere.
5. Super Mario World
Release Date: November 21, 1990
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “During a vacation in Dinosaur Land, Princess Toadstool gets kidnapped, and a spell is cast on the inhabitants of the island. When they stumble upon Yoshi, a young dinosaur, Mario and Luigi learn that Bowser is responsible for the terrible misdeeds. Now, all Yoshis are trapped in magical eggs that Bowser has hidden throughout seven castles.
Many hidden paths aid Mario in making his way to Bowser's castle, completing 74 areas, and finding all 96 exits. Discover items, including a feather that gives Mario a cape that allows him to fly or a flower that shoots fireballs, in layers upon layers of 2-D scrolling landscapes. You can even ride Yoshi and swallow your enemies!”
Super Mario World had unique levels and boss battles that brought the Mario franchise to the next level.
4. Super Mario Bros.
Release Date: September 13, 1985
Plot Summary (from Wikipedia): “Super Mario Bros. is a platform video game developed and published by Nintendo. The successor to the 1983 arcade game, Mario Bros., was released in Japan in 1985 for the Famicom, and in North America and Europe for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985 and 1987 respectively.
Players control Mario, or his brother Luigi in the multiplayer mode, as they travel the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue Princess Toadstool from the antagonist, Bowser. They must traverse side-scrolling stages while avoiding hazards such as enemies and pits with the aid of power-ups such as the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower and Starman.”
This is the classic of classics, a game that everyone knows and loves, and holds a special place in every gamer's heart.
3. GoldenEye 007
Release Date: August 25, 1997
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “You are Bond. James Bond. You are assigned covert operations connected with the GoldenEye satellite. M will brief you on your mission and objectives from London. Q Branch will support your efforts with a plentiful supply of gadgets. Moneypenny offers you light-hearted best wishes and you're off!
Your mission begins in the heavily guarded chemical warfare facility at the Byelomorye Dam in the USSR. Look and shoot in any direction as you navigate 12 interactive 3-D environments. Use stealth and force as you see fit in matters of international security. Consider the military personnel expendable.”
The fast-paced action Goldeneye 007 had made for a fantastic game to play alone and became even better with friends.
2. Grand Theft Auto V
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “Los Santos is a vast, sun-soaked metropolis full of self-help gurus, starlets and once-important, formerly-known-as celebrities. The city was once the envy of the Western world but is now struggling to stay afloat in an era of economic uncertainty and reality TV.
Amidst the chaos, three unique criminals plot their own chances of survival and success: Franklin, a former street gangster in search of real opportunities and serious cheddar; Michael, a professional ex-con whose retirement is a lot less rosy than he hoped it would be; and Trevor, a violent maniac driven by the chance of a cheap high and the next big score.
Quickly running out of options, the crew risks it all in a sequence of daring and dangerous heists that could set them up for life.”
GTA V is recognizable for any gamer. It continues the anarchy GTA fans love and added a diverse multiplayer experience that amuses long past its release.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Release Date: November 23, 1998
Plot Summary (from Metacritic): “As a young boy, Link is tricked by Ganondorf, the King of the Gerudo Thieves. The evil human uses Link to gain access to the Sacred Realm, where he places his tainted hands on Triforce. Because of this, he transforms the beautiful Hyrulean landscape into a barren wasteland.
Link is determined to fix the problems he helped to create, so with the help of Rauru, he travels through time gathering the powers of the Seven Sages.”
This beautiful adventure has one of the most compelling stories in video games. As such, it holds a special place in many peoples' hearts.
The Legend of Zelda (1986)
Release Date: February 21, 1986
This is where it all began. The Zelda franchise is one of the most beloved and highly rated video game franchises of all time, and a list of this sort wouldn't be complete without including the pioneer. This action-adventure game released in 1986 continues to be impactful today.
In The Legend of Zelda, players take on the character of Link as he ventures through Hyrule to collect the Triforce of Wisdom with the goal of rescuing Princess Zelda from the villain, Ganon. He must travel through numerous dungeons and defeat various enemies to find each piece.
The legacy this game has is absolutely astounding. It has become one of the best video game franchises ever and holds high acclaim with many critics and average gamers alike. With such a huge impact on the industry and on people's lives, this game deserves a ton of recognition.
Divinity: Original Sin II
Release Date: September 14, 2017
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is arguably one of the best role-playing video games ever. Players create their character and take off on an adventure across an open world with hours upon hours of adventuring. They can do so by themselves or with up to three others in their party.
This game is perhaps most notable for its complexity and interactivity. This is one game where it truly feels like every choice you make it your own and that every decision matters. In an RPG, this is a wonderful experience to have.
Critics have called praised these elements of the game, but many more too. The game feels like a whole new world that you can impact, instead of following a path laid out for you. The charm of this game is unavoidable for one who's played it and gives it a special spot on this list.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Release Date: October, 2009
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was developed by Naughty Dog and released on the Playstation 3, and later, Playstation 4. The first Uncharted was a huge success, and this one exceeded all expectations set by its predecessor. This third-person action-adventure is a must-play for fans of the genre.
In this game, the story continues two years after the end of the first. Nathan Drake, the protagonist, teams up with two others to search for the rare Cintamani Stone Shambhala. Along the way, they also must battle a mercenary group that threatens their survival.
This game has a gripping story with great depth and character development. Along with great graphics, its action scenes have a movie-like appearance that has impressed critics everywhere. This cinematic experience is breathtaking and worthy of making this list.
Release Date: December 17, 1993
Mega Man X is the first installment in the Mega Man X series, a wildly popular one, and the first to hit the 16-bit console. It featured fantastic gameplay, sound and graphics that did well to innovate and modernize the Mega Man franchise.
In this game, the player plays as, you guessed it, Mega Man X, who is an android of the Maverick Hunters. With his partner, Zero, they must stop the eradication of the human race by the nefarious plans of Maverick leader Sigma.
The game has received a great deal of critical acclaim. It had satisfying gameplay elements with a challenging enough difficulty to make it a top-tier gaming experience. This brought the Mega Man franchise to a new level and deserves recognition for that on top of its appeal by itself.
Release Date: December 10, 1993
DOOM is a pioneer of the first-person shooter genre released in 1993 originally for the MS-DOS. The player plays as a space marine, referred to by many as Doomguy, as he blasts through hordes of demons straight from Hell. It's a gnarly adventure, especially for the time.
The player fights through nine levels of pure carnage, taking them all the way from Mars to Hell itself. You had to maintain multiple resources, including your health, armor and ammunition, or else face the full wrath of the demon hordes.
Its story is visibly lacking, but that's not what enticed players anyway. The game practically revolutionized action-oriented games and has made numerous Top 100 Video Game lists. For the time, it was an extremely immersive video game and is an extremely influential game in itself.
Super Mario Bros. 3
Release Date: October 23, 1988
Ahhh good old Super Mario Bros. 3. Not only was this a great sequel to the Super Mario Bros. series of video games, it made a great television show too. But, the game itself was very similar to its predecessors, keeping the story of rescuing the Princess from Bowser intact.
Despite this, it was raved about by critics as one of the best video games of all time, and for good reason. That's because the game had great graphics, gameplay, sound and depth. It wasn't a pushover easy and was challenging enough to give it a ton of replayability.
The most noticeable feature added in this game was Mario's new powerups. The Super Leaf, which gave him a raccoon-like appearance and flying capabilities, and the Grog Suit and Hammer Suit. This is a beloved Mario game for many reasons though, and is a must-play for fans of the series.
Super Smash Bros.
Release Date: January 21, 1999
Everyone knows the fun of Super Smash Bros. Whether you played it, or any of its sequels, its one of the most fun party games out there. But here we'll pay tribute to the original that started it all, Super Smash Bros. for the N64.
This fighting game was released in 1999 for the Nintendo 64 and was the start of a revolution. Players could control their favorite Nintendo characters and duke it out with their friends to see who was the best. There were two modes, stock and time, that had different win conditions that players could choose from.
The modern versions of this game have a ton of characters, but in the beginning, there were only twelve. Despite this, these were the best of the best characters that provided endless hours of enjoyment for players. As this game was so well-received, it helped to spawn multiple prequels and a legacy like no other.
Super Mario 64
Release Date: June 23, 1996
Super Mario 64 is one of the better-known installments in the massive Mario franchise and for good reason. Its the first Mario game to feature fully three-dimensional gameplay and an open world that the player could explore as they worked towards the main story gold.
It was an extremely ambitious video game for its time. It had boundary-pushing visuals, gameplay and music that truly set it apart from other Mario games. The story was typical for the series, where Mario had to save Princess Peach from Bowser, but its gameplay is why it's rated so highly.
Many critics have given Super Mario 64 very high acclaim. It has received perfect scores from a few critics and frequently is on best video games of all time lists. Besides its funky camera system, this game is fantastic in nearly every element.
Release Date: July 27, 1989
Mother is the first installment in the Earthbound series, one many gamers hold dear to their heart. It has similar gameplay to the Dragon Quest series but is strikingly different in the fact that it is set in the late 1900's United States.
The story follows a boy, Ninten, who battles creatures with the help of his great-grandfather's studies on psychic powers. Instead of fighting using traditional tools of most games (blades, magic), you use toys, baseball bats and psychic powers.
Mother utilizes a random encounter combat system, and outside of it, the player explores the world from a top-down perspective. It was advanced for its time and had great graphics and music that really drew players in. It is a true classic that will endure for generations to come.
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Borderlands 2 is a shooter-looter sort of game, with a heavy emphasis on finding new, unique gear. But anyone who's played it knows there so much more to it. It's a witty game with intriguing role-playing elements that add a special appeal. The dialogue is funny and there is a surprising amount of humor that a first-time player might not expect from a shooter game.
On release, it was praised by critics. It has a unique art style that sets it apart from the majority of other games, but most people loved the charm of the humor and world. Because of this, it was nominated for a whole host of awards.
To state that Borderlands 2 was merely the Game of the Year in 2012 is not enough, and hopes are high that the soon to be released sequel will live up to the same standard.
Release Date: July 21, 2017
Plot Summary (from Wikipedia): “Fortnite is an online video game developed by Epic Games and released in 2017. It is available in three distinct game mode versions that otherwise share the same general gameplay and game engine: Fortnite: Save the World, a cooperative shooter-survival game for up to four players to fight off zombie-like creatures and defend objects with fortifications they can build, Fortnite Battle Royale, a free-to-play battle royale game where up to 100 players fight to be the last person standing, and Fortnite Creative, where players are given complete freedom to create worlds and battle arenas.”
It’s Battle Royale is the main draw of the game and brought in over 125 million players in less than a year and is a cultural phenomenon today.
Up next is perhaps some of the most cherished Pokemon games. Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald make up Generation Three and are beloved by many. They were released on the Game Boy Advance and brought some upgrades in terms of graphics and gameplay. It added double battles which in turn created a new layer of intricacy to Pokemon battling that was welcomed by many.
The story is similar to its predecessors; the player must catch and battle Pokemon with the goal of beating the Elite Four and becoming the Champion. But they also had to foil the nefarious Team Magma or Team Aqua, depending on the game, and encounter Groudon or Kyogre (or Rayquaza in Emerald).
In 2014, remakes of the game were released on the Nintendo 3DS. This is definitely a classic for many Pokemon fans.
Pokemon Sun/Moon/Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon
Now onto the most recent Pokemon games, the Pokemon Sun and Moon series. This brings trainers to the region of Alola, where they have to travel to different islands and battle the Kahunas, who replaced the standard Gym Leaders. You still are entrusted with finding and catching Pokemon though, and with a ton of new Pokemon as well as new Alolan forms of old ones, its quite the task!
There were noticeable improvements to core elements of the game too, including a better battle interface and better balancing of certain mechanics. Additionally, Z Moves were added to the franchise. This new mechanic unleashed the hidden potential of a Pokemon's move to make it insanely strong. These games that made Generation Seven are fantastic for old and new Pokemon players alike.
We're now halfway through the list! And up now is another Pokemon generation, Generation Four. In Pokemon Diamond, Pearl and Platinum, players traveled the Sinnoh region to defeat the Gym Leaders and challenge the Elite Four. It added 107 new Pokemon to catch and train, while also adding a few gameplay features. The first of which is the reintroduction of the time mechanic, which wasn't present since Gen 2.
Secondly, the Poketch was introduced. This nifty little device had a bunch of tools to help trainers and fully utilize online services. Lastly, there was an underground area that players could explore, make secret bases and interact with friends. These new features to the game were marvelous add-ons to an already great series. Its no surprise they rank so highly here.
Pokemon Gold, Silver and Crystal are the second generation games of the Pokemon franchise. In them, your journey took you through the Johto region, where there was a plethora of new Pokemon to catch and battle. In fact, there were 100 brand new Pokemon to find here. This trio of games also introduced a time mechanic, Pokemon breeding and item holding, which are all still core mechanics to this day.
These games were critically acclaimed as some of the best in the series. As such, they received remakes for the Nintendo DS as well as being virtually released in their original form on the Nintendo 3DS. This game was a significant step forward for the Pokemon series and helped build it into the phenomenon it is today.
Diablo 3 is Blizzard's highly acclaimed dungeon-crawler RPG. In it, players choose one of seven classes and must fight in the world of Sanctuary to defeat Diablo, the Lord of Terror. There were some major improvements to the gameplay from Diablo 2 which gave it a better player experience.
Diablo 3 still boasts an impressive player base across multiple platforms. The highest volume of players is from PC though, which makes sense considering the game set the record for fastest-selling PC game back in 2012.
This dark RPG enthralls fans from past and present, and will undoubtedly do so in the future.
Grand Theft Auto IV
Release Date: April 29, 2008
23rd on the list belongs to Grand Theft Auto 4. GTA 4 was a massive hit at the time, as fans waited eagerly for it since Grand Theft Auto San Andreas in 2004. It took four years for GTA 4 to arrive, but it was well worth it. Its open-world was based on New York City and captured the both the grit and grandeur of the city excellently. The combat system was improved significantly, giving it a better, more responsive feel.
The story followed Niko Bellic, an Eastern European immigrant who comes to Liberty City to find the American dream. Unfortunately, he ends up getting tied up with gangsters and the criminal underground world and must fight to keep himself and his morality alive.
This narrative and characters, in particular, were given great acclaim. It stands as one of the best installments in the GTA franchise.
Release Date: March 23, 2017
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (“PUBG”) is largely attributed to being the force that drove the battle royale genre into fame. In PUBG, 100 players drop onto an island an fight against each other to be the last one standing. Players must loot equipment to become stronger while fighting other players and avoiding the shrinking edge of the map.
PUBG has a ton of replayability for casual players, but a competitive esports scene as well. It isn't as popular as the free-to-play Fortnite, but Fortnite owes a lot to PUBG for popularizing the genre. Regardless, PUBG is one of the biggest online multiplayer games that has demanded respect.
Release Date: June 6, 1984
Tetris is an iconic game developed all the way back in 1984. This puzzle game requires the player to manipulate variously sized falling blocks into lines. These lines then disappear, and after a certain number are cleared, the player starts a new level.
If you can't create lines, the stacks will build up and hit the top, where you lose. It's a rather simple game on the surface but requires players to be quick and reactive to whatever comes their way.
This game is on almost every platform imaginable, with fame coming from arcades to home systems alike.
Article Updated: September 9, 2019
Featured image via Technobezz.com