15: Divinity Original Sin 2 (2017 PC)
I am the geeky type to play Dungeons and Dragons but have never had the opportunity to play it. I imagine DOS2 is the closest I will ever get. From obsessing over how to build my character (stealth archer… duh), to figuring out all the ways to leave Fort Joy. There sheer amount of options and places to explore in this game make you realize we really have reached a new level in modern day RPGs. Sometimes stumbling into a cave can lead you down a three hour quest you had no idea was even starting until suddenly you are getting strung up by gigantic spiders and wondering how you were going to escape. Every action having a real consequence makes every second feel so impactful, and decision making is fun solo, or as a group. A meandering third act and some brutal inventory management stops this game from being much, much higher. Play alone, or with friends, and be whatever type of person you want to be.
14: Hearthstone (2014 Mobile)
We started out playing with our Pokemon and Yugioh cards, and now we are here: Playing Hearthstone. Deck building and card playing games is an unstoppable genre with tons of strategy and plenty of fun “boxes” to tick. Hearthstone managed to take the lead in my heart due to the tons on unique gameplay elements they were able to implement, the simplicity of joining the genre, and most importantly, bringing the game to mobile. Hearthstone, the undisputed king of mobile games. At any point, you are 15 seconds away from having anywhere between 10 and 240 minutes of fun. Don’t spend a dime if you don’t want to, and at the end of every login get that sweet sweet feeling of opening a new card deck. Find that one strategy you fall in love with (grim patron, dreadsteed, face hunter, zoolock, playing Druid I guess, trap mage, spending loads of cash to get Dr. Boom, etc) and just like that: addiction.
13. Celeste (2018 PC/Switch)
Growing up Super Mario and Crash Bandicoot made me believe the days of frame perfect platforming where a thing of the past. Celeste reignites that genre and improves upon it so many ways. The depth and complexity of the mechanics ramp up and up as the game goes along, but at it’s core, all you need is a jump, a dash, and some timing. The game never feels overwhelming (unless you try the extra hard stuff) and the message throughout climbing the mountain teaches you a lot about yourself. I dare say the best story from a platformer ever made. One boss fight has the protagonist (Madeline) quite literally running from her doubts and insecurities (Badeline). The mechanics of the fight are incredible, forcing you to time a few jumps to perfection with some frame perfect reactions. But on top of your fingers racing to complete the fight, your heart is beating with the fear, desire, and passion to see our protag through. Coupling the triumph of beating a video game with the real life emotion we deal with everyday in a simple platformer game makes this one a masterpiece.
12: PUBG (2017 – PC)
My first battle royale experience and still one of the best to do it. PUBG made my heart race in a way that I thought not possible. The thrilling experience of being one of the last alive when 100 guys started and only a few remained is amazing. It’s obvious to see why this is the game that made broadcasting your heart rate on Twitch so popular. The realistic take on this game combined with the satisfying gun play make for unbelievably addicting formula and winning an unmatched feeling of joy. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, still four of the best words a gamer wants to hear.
11. XCOM 2 (2016 – Xbox)
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to be the lead military general of the United States when Aliens invaded (and honestly, who hasn’t) then I have a game for you. A turn based tactical shooter (most people say “what?!” here) that has a very fun overworld combined with a fantastic gameplay loop. Building my units up to be unstoppable forces only lose them to permadeath helps raise the stakes every mission. Add the fact that I customized them all to look like my friends and when Hannah got sniped in the next to last mission I was seriously crushed… I mean it sucked to lose Hannah, my wife, but most importantly she was my best assault character and it made the final mission that much harder.
10. Pokemon Sword/Shield (2019 – Switch)
I am trying really hard to not be knee jerking about this. I am. This game came out a month ago. But I can say with confidence, it is the best Pokemon game ever made. And I love Pokemon. I have been playing Pokemon for TWO decades. But take the formula that we all love, put it on the best system it has ever been on, fix all the little things take makes a long time player annoyed, and add a ton of cool new Mons. I love this game so much. I have never spent so much time in a post game of Pokemon ever! Yes, I wish there was more Mons, but also, for the first time, I have completed my pokedex and feel that learning all I need to know is actually plausible. Favorite Mons: Froslass, Milotic (always and forever), Togekiss, Whimsicott, Glaraian Darmanitan, Galarain Rapidash, Hattrem, Toxicroak.
9. Smash Bros Ultimate (2018 – Switch)
The best fighting game ever made with the largest and most diverse cast of fighters. Platform fighters will always be my fighting game of choice and Smash Ultimate is the peak of all the smash bros games coming together. The DLC fighters have been EXTREMELY weak, but the original cast is so strong, the game will fun for an extremely long time. Not to mention a solid single-player, lots of cool modes, and the game can be fun with your 12 year old nephew and with a competitive stranger. Very odd for a fighting game. If your playing no items, final destination, fox only… or high items 4 v 4 on Hyrule temple, Smash Bros Ultimate lives up to it’s name in spectacular fashion.
8. Apex Legends (2019 – Xbox)
For me, the best battle royale game ever made. I remember being told by one of my basketball players to check out this new, free game. I went home and downloaded it quickly, and boom, I was hooked. The legends having unique and impactful abilities combined with the tightest, fastest pace gun play in the genre, makes the perfect blend between skill, strategy, and accuracy. The heart pounding rush of the final circle of PUBG mixed with the skill and speed out playing your opponent in Call of Duty blends perfectly together in one perfect game. I love this game so much, I would consider to be the best shooting game of this console’s generation.
7. Into the Breach (2018 – PC/Switch)
A puzzler disguised as a strategy game, Into the Breach is the perfect level of difficulty for me. A game that shows you exactly what the enemy is going to do before they do it, and you have to counter their attack turn by turn. You feel like a military genius, success after success. But all it takes is for one, less than ideal turn, and your problems start snowballing out of control. In a way it is a simplified version of XCOM but the mission being 15 minute brain teasers as opposed to 45 minute slug-fests. Diversity in mechs and enemies make the game extremely replayable, and having it on switch makes it even better.
6. Fire Emblem Three Houses (2019 – Switch)
Trying my absolute hardest not to be a prisoner of the moment here. Fire Emblem is one of my favorite series ever, and three houses is the best Fire Emblem game ever made. Managing my troops on every intricate layer, from friendships to gear to battle tactics. Is an obsessively fun formula. Only to be followed up by tactically challenging, intense battles. The school formula gets old towards the end, which is totally fine, because as the story picks up pace you are begging to get to the next fight. I sunk 65 hours into this game as fast as humanly possible. And I can’t wait to return for more.
5. Black Ops 1 & 2 (2010/2012 – Xbox 360)
My only dual listing on the group, they belong together in my mind as they represent something so near and dear to me, but also now seem totally intertwined with another in my memory. Blops is the best Call of Duty line of all time, disagree, and you are wrong. Blops 1 and 2 represented a time where hopping on and playing public matches all day was the only thing to do. It was when online multiplayer hit it’s apex. Matches were smooth, combat was fair, matchmaking worked… most of the time, and the game was mostly devoid of BS grinding and useless filler. There probably wasn’t a single time during that span I could log on and no one else would be on to play with. It was phenomenon, one I was gladly swept up in. Probably the experience most akin to how Fortnite is now.
4. Undertale (2015 – PC/Switch)
Undertale is a simplistic game on its surface that might leave people inclined not to try it. I have to urge you, if you have not played a game on this list, this is the one. A short ten hour game with a story you have to experience. Undertale pushes the boundaries of what a game can do and every corner turned is a new adventure for both your avatar and yourself. Don’t go online or google anything when playing, and just experience the experience. Also that soundtrack. Just amazing. This game is the closest thing to ART I have ever experienced while holding a controller.
3. Gears of War 3 (2011 – Xbox 360)
No single game lived up to the extremely high bar I had set for it. It obviously helped I was pretty good at the game, but my favorite memories are of LANing this game with the boys. Whether it was horde or VS, Gears 3 delivered so many memorable moments, in so many memorable ways. The introduction of death match elements combined with the tried and true round by round versions kept each login feeling fresh. The diversity in loadouts gave people many different ways to play (even if you played with a sawed off and a retro lancer…I guess). *clap clap* NOICE!
2. Mass Effect 2 (2010 – Xbox 360)
The absolute revelation of playing a game on the original Xbox, and then playing it’s sequel on an Xbox 360, and your choices from then are affecting the game you are playing today. Was MIND – BOGGLING. Combine an awesome narrative, the best cast ever assembled (Mordin, Miranda, Jack, Liara, Legion, Thane, and yes even Garrus). I still LOVE these guys today and would fly halfway across the galaxy to fight any galactic threat they needed me to. Not to mention an amazing good vs. evil system, insanely fun combat, and satisfying RPG elements. The crown jewel of one the best RPG series of all time.
1. League of Legends (2012 – PC)
If you notice the years of my top 15 you’ll notice a pretty large gap in the middle of the decade. I attribute that mostly to this game. The deepest multiplayer experience you can ever be apart of, League of Legends. I’ve made life long friends because of this game, watched professionals play this game, bought merch around this game, and spent hundreds of dollars to make my dude look different in this game. League of Legends offers a new game, every time you login, and Riot has done a masterful job revamping and revitalizing time and time again. I’ve played League for 7 years, much much longer than any other game on the list, and I can see myself playing it for 7 more.