The ninth generation of console gaming officially kicks off this month with the launch of the highly anticipated PlayStation 5, and also the Xbox Series X. Therefore this is the perfect time to look back at the vast assortment of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games to decide which was the best game of each genre that released between 2013 and 2020.
I’ll try not to waffle on and on about my picks as I will have already spoken at length about them on the site in the past, and will instead focus on their best merits for why they’ve won the best game in their genre.
Racing – Forza Horizon 3
Everything about this game, from its huge and varied map to its large assortment of fun and responsive cars, makes it a real dream to play. One moment you can find yourself crashing through the rainforest in a buggy, the next drifting a muscle car through the city streets of Surfers Paradise before racing a hypercar down the freeway and into the outback.
The expansion packs for this game are indisputably second to none, with Blizzard Mountain bringing a much more vertical environment than players were used to, before Hot Wheels came along and…. Well you know the rest.
Even if racing games usually aren’t for you, at the very least you should experience Horizon 3’s Hot Wheels gameplay as I can promise you there is no greater thrill on four wheels in this entire generation.
Stealth – Dishonored 2
I don’t play stealth games normally but Dishonored 2 is a clear exception for how well its stealth mechanics are implemented. The mere act of crossing a guarded room presents so many creative options that it’s impossible to not marvel at the genius structuring which Arkane Studios have clearly put a lot of thought and work into.
If you want to play Dishonored 2 unencumbered with the idea of being sneaky, the way I always play, you can use the large selection of weapons and powers at your disposal to achieve your objectives. The sheer variety in this gorgeous and flawless game cannot be overstated, and no matter your preference of playstyle you are guaranteed to come away from Dishonored 2 satisfied and eager to play it again.
RPG – Final Fantasy XV
A beautiful tale of friendship and brotherhood but with plenty of melancholic and genuinely touching character moments, the depth and boundless quality of Final Fantasy XV is the reason I am still playing it to this day after hundreds of hours with it.
The combat in XV embodies the term ‘spectacle fighter’ and every battle from a low level mob of enemies to one of the unforgettable boss fights feels hand crafted to be nothing shy of spectacular. The boss battle against Leviathan around the games three quarter point is, despite its fairly simplistic combat style, one of my favourite boss fights of all time.
As you would expect with any Final Fantasy game, the music is sheer perfection, and the addition of making previous Final Fantasy soundtracks available while driving between locations has to be one of the best ideas of this generation.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: While you don’t have to watch the companion film, Kingsglaive, to understand the plot of Final Fantasy XV, you still absolutely should as it’s a brilliant film and provides extra insight into the schemes of the Empire and the power of the Lucii.
Indie – Oxenfree
Possibly the best surprise of the entire generation, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Oxenfree when I started playing it. Within the first hour I was completely besotted with the visuals and characters (except Clarissa but she grew on me later) and the intriguing mystery that envelops them had me hooked in an instant.
I’ve completed several playthroughs of Oxenfree, in fact I’m playing one now, as it’s an atmospheric and beautiful game from start to finish that must be experienced to be believed.
Shooter – DOOM
Perhaps the clearest winner for its category (though I did ponder giving the crown to Titanfall 2 for a bit) Doom has to be the best shooter I have ever played. Every shot fired feels heavy, powerful, impactful and deadly, reducing all who oppose the Doom Slayer to chunks of crimson jelly and dust clouds from shattered bones. Switching on the fly between eight guns, not to mention the chainsaw and the BFG, Doom has an adrenaline triggering soundtrack and such delightfully gory visuals that make it a joyous thrill ride through Hell.
Absolutely nobody could finish a playthrough of Doom and not dive right back in to the earlier levels to carve through the hellish forces with their fully upgraded weapons. Open maps that reward exploration compliment the gameplay so well that if you are happy to ignore your objective for a couple of moments you can find yourself exploring areas that you wouldn’t typically have any reason to go to. Naturally, these areas are infested with demons who would prefer you didn’t trespass there, adding further reason to spread their entrails around for all to see. Delicious stuff.
Horror – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
No I’ve never played it, but if you asked me which horror game looks the best that I would be the most willing to attempt, look no further than Resident Evil 7. I’ve really liked the look of the upcoming Resident Evil 8 but no force on Earth could compel me to suffer my way through it.
Open World – Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
This was a tough one as there are so many choices to pick from. Ultimately, as any rational person would determine, it had to be the game I’ve played for 300 hours with absolutely zero regrets. I love all the characters, the combat is spectacular and consistent, and the world of Ancient Greece is simultaneously dripping with mystery and warm and inviting.
Taking the Assassin’s Creed franchise in the open world RPG direction was the best course of action in my heavily biased opinion. Judging by the growth shown through Origins and Odyssey, continuing on into Valhalla, it is becoming more and more evident that Ubisoft can do no wrong with this amazing franchise.
I hope the rumour of an Ancient Rome setting for the next game after Valhalla is true, but no matter what it is I will absolutely be sinking hundreds of hours into it regardless.
We have our nominees, but which of them will be my Game of the Generation..
It was a three-way tie between this, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Dishonored 2, but ultimately it has to be Final Fantasy XV. One of the incredibly sparse games that can make me feel genuine emotion as I play it (‘walk tall my friends’ gets me every time), I feel every heartbeat and sword swing of the protagonists as the game unfolds.
Ardyn Izunia is a fantastically written villain who I love to hate but also sympathise with, and Darin De Paul’s mellifluous voice (he taught me that word, look it up) etches his every syllable forever into my memory.
Every game I have spoken about in this article is a ten out of ten game and an absolute must-play, and it’s hard to put into words, apart from the ones I’ve just used as to why Final Fantasy XV simply must be experienced by literally everyone. A timeless masterpiece that I will never grow tired of, and I’m sure you’re sick of hearing me talk about it now so I’ll stop.
Thank you for reading my choices for the best game of each genre this generation. I am incredibly excited to see what experiences and moments the ninth generation will bring, and you can keep up to date with all that happens for me and everyone else on the team right here at Respawning.