This is it. Anyone who reads my articles and list features fairly frequently are unlikely to be surprised by any of the games I mention here, but here I go with my top five games of the entire decade.

5) Horizon Zero Dawn (2017)

For a game I had no interest in whatsoever throughout its pre-launch marketing, I was absolutely delighted at how hooked I was within the very first hour of gameplay, with a thrill for the game that didn’t wear off until I’d explored every stunning inch of its world. Even now, two and a half years since I played this title I still remember almost every detail of the experience as if I’d only finished playing it yesterday. The selection of fun and diverse weapons, the deep and interesting characters, the mysterious and stunning world, you simply must give this game the chance it deserves if you haven’t already.

Under every stone, around every corner, behind every face in Horizon Zero Dawn, you will find stories to tell and legacies to be forged. The majestic landscape and rich rewarding combat make this a game I will never forget, and a definite privilege to play.

4) Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014)

If you tally up the hours I’ve spent on all games this decade, none would come close to the time I’ve spent on Shadow of Mordor (except potentially Skyrim). I played hundreds of hours of it on Xbox One, and a further fifty hours after purchasing it for PS4 when I realised I could earn the Platinum. I’m a big fan of cinematic battles, especially if I’m front and centre in them, and facing off against hordes of Uruks as Talion never got old for me.

I adored the Nemesis system, and took a lot of time in choosing which Uruks I wanted to take over as max level Warchiefs in each of the maps, before gradually having new Captains rise up and turn against them.

In my very first article on Respawning, Five Fits of Fury, I listed an Uruk called ‘Hork the Defiler’ as the reason behind one of these fits. I couldn’t get the best of him no matter how hard I tried, and he haunted my dreams and hours away from the game, taunting me and calling me a ‘filthy tark’ so many times I started using the word outside of gaming, much to many people’s confusion. Eventually I got the best of him, branded him and named him one of my Warchiefs, a role he still holds six years later in 2019.

3) Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (2018)

This could have been Assassin’s Creed: Origins or Odyssey, but as I played a hundred hours more of the latter it gets this place on the list. Similarly to Skyrim, this is the sort of game where you can have a clear destination but get sidetracked for hours exploring the rolling countryside and crystal clear sea unfurling for miles around you. The interactions between protagonist Kassandra (or Alexios if you choose him) and the hundreds of Greeks you can interact with on your Odyssey is always a joy to be a part of, with the new addition to the series of branching dialogue choices really serving to allow the player to project themselves upon their choice of character.

Even after 170 hours in this world I am still hooked on the combat, where you can battle anything from one challenging rival, to an entire army, to even the legendary Minotaur, and look damn good doing it. The selection of weapons is inspired too, controversially abandoning the Assassins Creed signature hidden blade for the first time and replacing it with the blade of the spear used by King Leonidas of Sparta himself.

If you enjoy open world adventures, rich exploration and rewarding cinematic combat then Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey should absolutely be the next game that you play.

2) Dishonored (2012)

A beautiful, violent painting in motion from a franchise I get addicted to whenever a new installment is released. Due to my typically bloodthirsty playstyle I have only ever played Dishonored games on high chaos (an evil mass-murderer), but I can truly appreciate that players who have the opposite style to me have just as much fun being benevolent as I do being malicious.

The truly phenomenal cast of memorable and interesting characters are some of my all-time favourites from any video game. I want to highlight Daud and Kirin Jindosh in particular for how immensely intimidating and awe-inspiring they both are, especially when you consider their limited screen time when compared to series leads Emily Kaldwin and Corvo Attano.

I’ve mentioned before that I had to come way out of my comfort zone to try Dishonored back in 2012 as I’m not a fan of stealth games, but I couldn’t be happier with my decision to do so. Dishonored serves as a lesson for me that anything can be a positive surprise given just time and chance, and my adoration of this franchise is as undying as the Void itself.

1) Final Fantasy XV (2016)

I decided this was my favourite game of all time before I’d finished it, and following the wholly satisfying and powerful ending, cemented it in my mind as the best video game I had ever played. I love the characters, the camaraderie, the adventures, the story, the world… I love everything there is within Final Fantasy XV, as well as its DLC and tie-in movie, Kingsglaive.

I know a lot of people have negative feelings towards the infamous 13th chapter, which sees protagonist Noctis separated from his friends (and car) and forced down narrow corridors where he often has to hide from enemies. This didn’t faze me in the slightest as the darker tone the game wanted to bring across to the player, combined with the elation of being reunited with your squad later, really served to prove that Noctis isn’t a one man army and that he is his best self when he is supported by his friends.

I gave all games in my top ten list a 10/10 after I played them, but I believe Final Fantasy XV stands head and shoulders above the rest, and the next decade is going to have an incredibly tough time knocking this title from its lofty perch in my gaming memories.

Honourable mentions to God of War III (2010) and Saints Row 4 (2013)

That’s it! Another decade down with the next kicking off with a huge games line-up for 2020, including the hotly anticipated launches of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. I hope you had a great Holiday 2019, and Happy New Year to you and yours for 2020. I know I’ve got big things in the works, and so whether it’s through Respawning or Void Euphoric Records, I will catch you very soon. Thanks for reading!

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