Gaming 15

Game of the Decade Awards (2010s)

Now that we’re officially in 2020 and we’ve done the 2019 game of the year awards, it is time to look back at the best games throughout the 2010s. This is our Game of the Decade – 2010s article, the third in our game of the decade series of articles. See the others here: 1990s, 2000s.

These awards are similar to our game of the year awards, with awards for different aspects of games and different genres, however there is no overall game of the decade or mod of the decade awards, as that becomes far too subjective for us. The other main difference is that total conversion mods are eligible for more awards here than for regular game of the year awards. We do not want to ignore the fact that modders often surpass game developers in artistic creativity, ambition, and execution. Of course, there are some genres we are unable to cover such as Tycoons, as we are a small team here at GND-Tech, so we will have to omit awards for those genres unfortunately.

So, without further ado, let’s move on and take a look at the first award.

Best Sound Effects

Game Title: SOMA
Release Date: 2015
Developed By: Frictional Games
Published By: Frictional Games
Platforms: PC / Linux / Mac / XBOX One / PlayStation 4
Genre: Horror

It was a very close call, but we had to give this award to SOMA (2015). The attention to detail in SOMA’s sound effects are breathtaking: it has a highly physics enabled environment, with pretty much every miscellaneous item being a physics object that you can move around, throw, drop, and every one of these objects will make a distinct and appropriate sound for every possible surface you drop them on.

Many of its under water sound effects were recorded first hand using special equipment under water. On top of that, the recording and mastering quality of all of SOMA’s sounds are phenomenal, and it has one of the most effective surround HRTFs of any game that isn’t using DirectSound3D/OpenAL or a newer technology like Steam Audio. Its soundscape is completely immersive. Frictional Games has always been top notch with regards to sound, and even though SOMA abandoned OpenAL hardware acceleration, it comes out on top.

Other Nominees

  • Rising Storm 2: Vietnam (2017)
  • Arma 3 (2013) with JSRS and Enhanced Soundscape mods
  • Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (2013)

Most Technologically Impressive

Game Title: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and Wolfenstein: Youngblood
Release Date: 2017, 2019
Developed By: Machine Games, additional work by Arkane Studios in Youngblood
Published By: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PC / XBOX One / PlayStation 4 / Switch / Stadia (Youngblood)
Genre: FPS

This was a very closely contested contest, that would’ve been much easier had DOOM Eternal not been delayed. We had to go with its immediate technological predecessors, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (2017) and Wolfenstein: Youngblood (2019). They demonstrate some of the most incredible optimization of any game, really leveraging the Vulkan API and advanced technologies such as async compute and double-speed FP16 execution (Rapid Packed Math for AMD, double speed half-precision compute for Nvidia), along with some of the very best and most intelligent multithreading of any game. It is no surprise that id Tech games win this award.

This is how these games, with top notch graphics quality and very busy, intense action sequences, run better than pretty much any 2000s game on modern hardware. They use your hardware better. At 3440 x 1440 with a Ryzen 9 3900X and RTX 2080 Ti, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus on maximum graphics quality yields an average of 215 FPS with a minimum of 150 FPS in the second most intense scenario in the game, pictured above.

Visually, these games have some of the best particle effects of all time, and they feature the best implementation of the MegaTexture technology (which is optional with id Tech 6). MegaTexture is really beneficial immersive games that are not massive open worlds; it paints a single massive texture (e.g. 32000 x 32000 pixels) that covers the entire polygon map. Early versions of MegaTexture, most notably in RAGE, did not use an adequate resolution, resulting in abysmal texture quality in some places, but these two games really make it worth it. The visual txture resolution is not groundbreaking, but MegaTexture eliminates texture repetition that plagues traditional tile based games. This makes it immediately artistically superior, and the sacrifice in texture resolution compared to some games that thoroughly use separate 4k textures is certainly worth it, as the texture resolution still looks fantastic and the lack of obvious repetition makes for a much more realistic appearance. It is hugely beneficial for the texture artists too.

These games also have some of the highest quality first person animations, and some of the most fluid FPS gameplay mechanics of all time. The only things they lack that would set them more clearly above every other game technologically are a more physics enabled environment, and ray tracing. Wolfenstein: Youngblood is getting ray traced reflections in the future, and the soon to be released DOOM Eternal will be the debut of id Tech 7 with ray tracing. That will probably outshine every other game technologically.

Other Nominees

  • Quake II RTX (2019)
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 (2019)
  • Metro: Exodus (2019)

Best Multiplayer Shooter – Versus

Game Title: Natural Selection 2
Release Date: 2012
Developed By: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Published By: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Platforms: PC / Linux
Genre: FPS / RTS

Unfortunately, while this genre has only continued to increase in popularity, the average game quality in this genre has plummeted compared to the 2000s. Multiplayer shooters in the 2000s are accurately categorized as having an abundance of content, multiple popular game modes with some being original, technology designed to improve gameplay, extensive moddability leading to a mix of “official” servers and highly customized or modified servers, some even running mods that make for a totally different game or even genre experience.

On the other hand, multiplayer shooters throughout the 2010s are accurately categorized as emphasizing only one game mode (most notably Battle Royale, or Hero shooters or Looter Shooters), having the bare minimum of content at release with overpriced DLC to sell you more content, gameplay is designed around microtransactions that lead to unlocks, no moddability, and no more ability to host your own dedicated servers. It is an objective downgrade as the big multiplayer shooters of the 2000s allowed for all of this and more.

To perfectly illustrate this, make note of this example: PC gamers went from considering Unreal Tournament 2003 (as the name implies, this released in 2003) unacceptable for having too little content (52 maps, 8 game modes, 14 UNIQUE weapons, 100% endless moddability, dedicated server application and SDK included with the game) to being perfectly fine with unmoddable games limited to rent-a-server programs, 8-12 maps, 1-4 unoriginal game modes, only generic guns with mostly the same functionality and poor balance, and hundreds of dollars worth of DLC in the 2010s.

Only a few multiplayer versus shooters released during the 2010s really separated themselves from the awful 2010s tradition and more strongly resemble the 2000s in quantity and quality of content. The game that does this perhaps more than any other is our winner, Natural Selection 2 (2012). A sequal to a Source mod, Natural Selection 2 not only got extensive content updates free of charge, not only did it always have moddability and a dedicated server browser, not only was it technologically advanced for its time, but it utilizes the game mode that separated the series from everything else besides Tremulous (which came out after the original Natural Selection). Natural Selection was one of the most innovative shooters of all time, and its sequel only improves things. In this game, one team plays as Marines, another plays as Aliens which evolve across five different forms (yes, the game Evolve lifted this concept from Natural Selection).

Furthermore, each team starts with one commander, which plays an RTS instead of an FPS. It features complex, immaculately designed maps (and lots of them), and the goal of the game is to destroy the opposing team’s headquarters (which is what the Commander is stationed in). You can try to just bumrush the opposing team’s HQ from the start, but the map complexity and number of ways to approach makes this largely unfeasible, so you’ll never see it happen. Plus, each team can expand and create more HQs, so the goal then becomes to destroy them all.

The Commander manages resources to outfit the team with equipment upgrades and structural upgrades. Regular players on the team will assume different roles, and they will build different structures around the map in order to control more of the map, in order to make the conquest of the enemy headquarters more feasible. Marines need electrical power to build structures, Aliens need their infection to spread. Structures include spawn points, simple armories for Marines, advanced armories for Marines which can produce mech exoskeletons and jetpacks (indeed, Titanfall did not introduce jetpacks to the PvP FPS genre), defensive structures, and so many more.

The end result is the most strategic FPS experience of all time. Natural Selection 2 does everything right and easily claims this award.

Other Nominees

  • Rising Storm 2: Vietnam (2017)
  • Rising Storm/Red Orchestra 2 (2011-2013)
  • Insurgency (2014)
  • Day of Infamy (2017)
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (2012)

Best Multiplayer Shooter – Co-op

Game Title: Arma 3
Release Date: 2013
Developed By: Bohemia Interactive
Published By: Bohemia Interactive
Platforms: PC / Linux / Mac
Genre: FPS / Military Simulator

The Arma franchise claims this award once again with Arma 3 (2013). One of the finest examples of a game with long term support, it still has new content releasing today. Too much support actually, as it’d be best if they moved on to Arma 4 for much needed engine improvements.

Arma 3 is the latest and greatest in this mil-sim franchise, a franchise unparalleled in scale and amount of content within the shooter genre. It can simulate CQB all the way up to full fledged war scenarios with every type of vehicle you can imagine, from bikes to jets and submarines, all of which are detailed enough for simulation use (as Arma is based on an actual simulation software used by various armed forces, Virtual Battlespace). You can be a buck private, a squad commander, a platoon leader, command your own company, and beyond. It can even be played as an RTS. It is also extremely moddable and you can even import content from the previous Arma games into it (maps, units, objects).

None of this is new to the franchise, but Arma 3 made some much needed improvements to the series in mechanics, vehicle simulation, but most notably with its 3D mission editor. As far as co-op goes, you can play with just a few friends on official missions or better yet missions downloaded from Steam workshop, or you can make missions yourself. Or you can do something like give each of your friends their own unit to command and go separate ways in one of its gigantic open world maps.

Essentially, you can do whatever you want. This level of flexibility combined with how well designed most elements are (besides the engine and AI) make it a pretty clear choice for this award. Unlike other multiplayer games (especially co-op) released throughout the decade, Arma 3 is a true PC game not being limited to peer-to-peer gameplay or just lobby creation and being automatically matched to an official server. You can host your own dedicated server and customize it or mod it up as much as you desire.

Other Nominees

  • Serious Sam: Fusion 2017 (2017)
  • No More Room in Hell (2013)
  • Killing Floor 2 (2015)
  • Insurgency (2014)
  • Day of Infamy (2017)
  • PAYDAY 2 (2013)

Best Quest Design

Game Title: Pathologic 2
Release Date: 2019
Developed By: Ice-Pick Lodge
Published By: tinyBuild
Platforms: PC / XBOX One / PlayStation 4
Genre: Survival

This award goes to a single player story driven game designed around immersion whose quest design is truly remarkable and creative, transcending generic repetitive typical game quests like “Go here and shoot everyone and then return to me”. So this award naturally excludes a lot of excellent shooters such as DOOM, and it naturally includes a lot of RPGs but other types of games as well. Pathologic 2 (2019) definitively wins this award. This game, like its predecessor but even more so, is truly innovative with its quest design, perhaps the most innovative of any immersive game since Fallout (1997). Just take a look at Ice-Pick Lodge’s philosophy:

“To us, a game as a dialogue between its developers and the players, and a player is a co-author. Our job is to set the stage, redefine the laws of the world, introduce the problem, and point out how its core connects with everyday reality. The players do the rest, completing the act by virtue of their unique interpretations.”

Pathologic 2 quests are designed around not holding the player’s hand, but instead making the player rely on their own intuition and decision making to prioritize objectives. It is utterly impossible to do every quest in Pathologic 2 on a single playthrough; the game takes place over the course of 12 days, time is your enemy. People don’t wait on you forever and you must accept failure every time you play Pathologic 2.

Every single quest is unique and meaningful, something only a handful of nonlinear games accomplish. Quests in Pathologic 2 are also very procedural, some are randomized, others only appear if you’ve done certain things and are in the right place or the right time. The game is largely different every time you play it. I remember one time I was walking down a street when I suddenly heard a piano playing out of an abandoned house. I go to check it out, and I find another character I’m very familiar with in the house, who was also investigating the sound. She says the place was deserted, but she was familiar with the music as it was something her deceased mother had created and taught to nobody else. You can encounter this piano piece being played out of abandoned houses a few more times, until eventually you come across the husband of the woman who wrote it, which leads into a conversation that adds a new dimension to the game’s story and world.

Other quests come up on the fly and are really decided by the player, most particularly if someone gets infected by the plague (the game revolves around a plague outbreak as the name implies), since just about everyone can become infected at any time, and you must decide whether to treat them or not. This keeps you on your toes, to say the least. Other quests involve following up on rumors; someone mentions something weird happens in a certain place at a certain time, so you go there on your own and you might get a glimpse of it. The game is just endlessly dynamic and creative. There’s no way to effectively portray just how unique and varied its quests are since it literally applies to every single one, despite it being a 25 hour open world game.

Other Nominees

  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. NLC 7 Build 3.0 (2018)
  • Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
  • Disco Elysium (2018)

Best Story, Writing Quality

Game Title: SOMA
Release Date: 2015
Developed By: Frictional Games
Published By: Frictional Games
Platforms: PC / Linux / Mac / XBOX One / PlayStation 4
Genre: Horror

Arguably the most important award, the 2010s saw an overall decline in the writing department compared to the 2000s, but a few games did reach those heights. It was an extremely close call between the top nominee below and the winner we selected, but we had to go with SOMA (2015). See our review of it here. Going into it, I knew the developers, Frictional Games, were extremely talented. They had proven themselves with Penumbra and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. But I assumed they had hit their writing skill ceiling with Penumbra, which made our list of the 10 greatest video game stories of all time.

Thankfully I was wrong. SOMA marks a substantial improvement in every way over all of their previous works. It is one of those rare instances where a substantially higher budget actually resulted in huge improvements in the game itself, in areas that matter much more than just animations and Hollywood voice acting. We analyzed its story in the review above, but essentially it is not only thematically rich, but it brilliantly evokes emotion through gameplay, something no other form of storytelling can do obviously. It is a most refreshing take on the nowadays common subject matter of AI and what it means to be alive. The most refreshing take in many years, largely due to the gameplay-assisted storytelling.

Other Nominees

  • The Talos Principle (2014)
  • Pathologic 2 (2019)
  • Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
  • The Witcher 3 (2015)
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. NLC 7 Build 3.0 (2018)

Best Racing Game

Game Title: Project CARS 2
Release Date: 2017
Developed By: Slightly Mad Studios
Published By: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platforms: PC / XBOX One / PlayStation 4
Genre: Racing Simulator

As bad as the 2010s has been for some genres, racing games have actually improved. Racing simulators have achieved new levels of realism as technology has improved, classic franchises such as Forza have continued to improve, and some of the most ambitious racing games of all time have released this decade. It was closely contested, but we’ve chosen Project Cars 2 (2017) as our winner.

This is just the definitive “simcade” racing game. It is the same type of racing game as Assetto CorsaForza Motorsport, and Gran Turismo; these games have all kinds of road cars and race cars from most categories, making them jacks of all trades. They are not full fledged racing simulators as none simulate any actual racing career, though some of these do simulate some real races/events.

Why Project CARS 2 over the rest? It and Assetto Corsa have far more realistic driving physics than the annoyingly unrealistic Forza Motorsport 7, although Forza has the strongest car selection with Project CARS 2’s selection being the second best of these three. But the main difference maker aside from realism is VR. Project CARS 2 is a flawless VR game, while Assetto Corsa has a barely functional, extremely clunky and intolerable OpenVR implementation and Forza Motorsport 7 has nothing. Once you try VR racing, you cannot go back. It’s a shame Project CARS 3 was a bust.

Other Nominees

  • Forza Motorsport 7 (2017)
  • Assetto Corsa (2014)

Best Stealth Game

Game Title: Dishonored
Release Date: 2012
Developed By: Arkane Studios
Published By: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: Stealth
Genre: PC / XBOX One / PlayStation 4 / XBOX 360 / PlayStation 3

For this award, we had to go with Dishonored (2012). It’s no Thief (and the Thief game from 2014 was abysmal), but it is a wonderful game in its own right. Artistically sublime, mechanically incredible, Dishonored lets you finish the game without ever being detected by an enemy, if you’re good enough. The level design is excellent in providing the player with many different ways to advance, not unlike a Thief game (though with more use of rooftops due to magical abilities), and it lets you decide how to deal with your targets; spare them or kill them. You never have to kill in the game, but doing so is very fun whether doing so directly or doing it from the shadows.

While its sequels improved mechanics further without dumbing down the level design, the first game remains superior artistically and has much better writing.

Other Nominees

  • Dishonored: Death of the Outsider (2017)
  • Dishonored 2 (2016)
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut (2013)

Best Horror Game

Game Title: SOMA
Release Date: 2015
Developed By: Frictional Games
Published By: Frictional Games
Platforms: PC / Linux / Mac / XBOX One / PlayStation 4
Genre: Horror

Here we have the only game to win multiple awards in this article (and three at that!), SOMA (2015). Its magnificent writing serves as a powerful psychological horror story of sorts, and the atmosphere is top notch. The under water setting makes you feel stranded and hopeless, and poses a threat of its own at times. SOMA also benefits from diverse enemy encounters; most enemies you see throughout the game have a completely different model, AI, and abilities, so you rarely know what to expect.

As with every game by Frictional Games, encounters with enemies are very tense as you always feel weaker than them, and like Amnesia: The Dark Descent there is no combat. But for as much horror gameplay SOMA has, the horror derived from its story themes are what put it at the top.

Other Nominees

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010)
  • SCP: Containment Breach – Unity (2018)
  • Underhell (2013)

Best Shooter

Game Title: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. NLC 7 Build 3.0
Release Date: 2018
Developed By: NLC Development Team
Published By: N/A (original game, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl, was published by THQ)
Platforms: PC
Genre: FPS / Survival Horror

Our winner for best shooter of the 2010s is actually a modification, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. NLC 7 Build 3.0 (2018). It is basically a masterpiece of a reimagining of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl, which won this award for the 2000s. It shares core plot and story elements, but transforms it into its own unique experience by rewriting just about all of it and redesigning quests completely. Its quest design emphasizes nonlinearity but are also unforgiving, as they rely on intuition instead of hand holding much like classic RPGs such as Fallout and Fallout 2.

NLC 7 has excellent character development, giving so much more meaning to this S.T.A.L.K.E.R. title than any other. Only in NLC 7 will you really understand why Marked One went to The Zone in the first place, and much of its dialogue presents itself almost as the philosophical musings of a Tarkovsky film (likely not a coincidence). In NLC 7, you’re dealing with characters, not quest-giving robots or mere targets for your gun.

Its quest design is what really sets it apart from other shooters, borrowing not only from classic RPGs but also resembling the likes of Pathologic in that you are bound to fail quests and you must accept this. It achieves intelligent difficulty through logical design, no artificial difficulty, and some of this comes from its quests which also just become so much more fun. For example, an early quest involves rescuing someone from captivity of nearby Bandits. You can do this the usual way of killing the bandits, swooping in and rescuing the hostage, or you can come up with an alternative plan to approach unarmed and make a deal with them. It is possible to make such a deal, and if you do this, not only does it end peacefully, but it creates a chain reaction of events that’s more reactive than what most video game RPGs provide. It alters two other scripted bandit encounters later in the game (one dozens of hours later in which the encounter goes from an outright hostile shootout to conversation first), which go on to affect many other events in logical ways.

As for the shooting itself, NLC 7 is designed by someone with first hand experience in warfare, and it shows in the attention to detail. It has an excellent selection of weaponry, standard customization by modern standards (nothing groundbreaking), but has features such as the ability to change reticles and enable/disable reticle illumination on battery powered optics. Weapon handling is notably realistic, and it takes advantage of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s advanced ballistic system, different ammo types (e.g. armor piercing vs FMJ), and jamming.

But there’s much more to its gameplay mechanics than just shooting. It is a hardcore survival game without artificial difficulty or annoying crafting systems. It has an excellent inventory design, and you will get used to things such as battery drain, having to wear a gas mask in toxic areas and clean it with water when it gets dirty, mutants with more creepy and bizarre properties, much deadlier anomalies than any other game/mod in this series (they’re everywhere and many are harder to see, some are even totally invisible), emissions, it’s an extremely hostile world, one of very few games that is always a good challenge regardless of what difficulty mode you play on. And let’s not forget the artifacts, which are the anomalous formations produced by anomalies. They are infinitely more exciting in NLC 7 than in virtully any other mod, due to their balancing and more unique properties.

This mod, which is a 100 hour story focused experience, is an FPS experience that just succeeds on every level. It (or a future version of it) will likely be the most accomplished single player FPS at least this century.

Other Nominees

  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Vector of Alienation (2015)
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Oblivion Lost Remake (2015)
  • Shadow Warrior 2 (2016)
  • Arma 3 (2013)
  • Natural Selection 2 (2012)
  • Serious Sam: Fusion 2017 (2017)
  • Prey (2017)
  • DOOM (2016)

Best Turn-Based Strategy

Game Title: Total War: ATTILA
Release Date: 2015
Developed By: The Creative Assembly
Published By: Sega
Platforms: PC / Linux / Mac
Genre: TBS / RTT

Once again we give this award to a Total War game, but some might not expect that the one we chose for this award is Total War: ATTILA (2015). In many ways this is the best Total War game to date, but often gets overlooked simply because it’s not one of the ROME, Shogun, Medieval, or Empire games. It is set in the Late Antiquity period (it begins in 395 AD specifically), which is the transitional period between classical Rome and the Medieval era. So it was an interesting time both technologically and politically, and features an iconic historical figure as the title character, Attila the Hun, who is not yet in power at the start of the game.

So why is this one of the best Total War games? It has one of the most diverse rosters of any Total War game, from the Eastern and Western Roman Empires to the Franks, Huns, Sassanid Empire, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, and so many more. Its different playable factions tend to differ from one another more than in other historical Total War games, so gameplay diversity is incredibly strong in Attila. Not only are the factions diverse, but they are exquisitely detailed in models, animations, and combat abilities, again outshining all previous Total War games here. Add to that some of its new gameplay features like inner city battles, the new attrition systems that make it much more of a survival game which adds a new strategic layer, the family tree political gameplay it introduced to the series, as well as the incredibly detailed individual combat animations (still the best in the series), the much more polished campaign map, and the decent moddability, and this game becomes a force to be reckoned with.

It is rather shocking that this game wasn’t as well received as other Total War games, and the main reason aside from it not being one of the most famous historical settings, is its performance. All those new individual combat animations are very demanding to render on a large scale, the CPU really gets hammered and Attila is too old to benefit from the potential performance improvements offered by Vulkan/DX12 and it comes from an era where games were optimized for quad core processors. Still, it was plenty playable on high end hardware from the time and especially today, so that doesn’t really diminish much from the overall experience unlike the massive performance limitations in Arma 3.

Compared to other Turn-Based Strategy games, Total War is just naturally more diverse with its huge scale and incredibly detailed, action packed combat which is actually Real-Time Tactics. This game, like others in the series, just accomplishes so much. Newer historical Total War games (Thrones of Britannia and Three Kingdoms) experiment with new features that are sometimes not very well executed or even controversial in nature, and they lack the unit diversity of Attila. The Total War: WARHAMMER games sacrifice a lot on the Turn-Based Strategy side of the game.

Other Nominees

  • Total War: Three Kingdoms (2019)
  • Total War: WARHAMMER II (2017)
  • Civilization V (2010)
  • Civilization VI (2016)

Best Turn-Based Tactics

Game Title: XCOM 2
Release Date: 2016
Developed By: Firaxis Games
Published By: 2K Games
Platforms: PC / Linux / Mac / XBOX One / PlayStation 4
Genre: TBT

Whenever discussing the best Turn-Based Tactics game of any given time period, chances are you’re talking about an XCOM game versus games trying to be like them. XCOM was just the pioneer. The series still couldn’t be dethroned; XCOM 2 (2016) wins this award. We had high hopes for Phoenix Point (2019) which does introduce some lovely new ideas, but doesn’t execute on them as best as possible plus it remains extremely buggy, but we sure would like to see some of its features worked into in XCOM 3.

XCOM 2 is one of the closest things to a perfect game we’ve played, and nearly every element that can be merely objectively improved over its predecessors has been. On top of that, it has incredible classes and abilities that make for wildly fun gameplay. The strategy layer is improved, the tactics layer is improved, and the story is much improved. There’s nothing thought-provoking about its story, but it is an adrenaline filled action packed experience worth remembering, which sounds like an odd description for a Turn-Based Tactics game. But make no mistake, the gameplay is brilliant and as relentless as ever for the genre, especially in the early stages. Although the War of the Chosen expansion is a must, it is pretty easy to just take extra side missions and become overpowered in the late game, so you may want to avoid that.

Other Nominees

  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)
  • Phantom Doctrine (2018)

Best Real-Time Strategy

Game Title: Crusader Kings II
Release Date: 2012
Developed By: Paradox Development Studio
Published By: Paradox Interactive
Platforms: PC / Linux / Mac
Genre: Grand Strategy / RTS

Real-Time Strategy is one of the most diverse genres in existence. So many of them try something completely and utterly different, so we have to choose this award based on accomplishment and innovation. For this decade, we had to go with Crusader Kings II (2012). Of all the great Paradox strategy games, Crusader Kings II has the benefit of having been out for a bit longer and received tons of content additions, making it difficult to match. There’s a theme to all of their games, but the unique character focus of the Crusader Kings games combined with the vast scope of what you can do politically in Crusader Kings II stands out a being innovative for a strategy game. The strategy layer is just so vast.

And then there are the mods. Crusader Kings II over the years has gotten some of the most incredibly detailed and ambitious mods of all time, such as A Game of Thrones. So even if you are not a fan of the time period of Crusader Kings II, you might be able to find a mod just for you, making this like many games in one.

Other Nominees

  • Europa Universalis IV (2013)
  • Hearts of Iron IV (2016)
  • Men of War: Assault Squad 2 (2014)

Best Real-Time Tactics

Game Title: Total War: WARHAMMER II
Release Date: 2017
Developed By: The Creative Assembly
Published By: Sega
Platforms: PC / Linux / Mac
Genre: TBS / RTT

How do you not give this award to Total War: WARHAMMER II (2017)? Each game in this series gets combined into the latest one, so at the end we’re going to have three games in one, but each one has an incredible amount of content on its own. We’re now up to 14 playable factions (all totally different) with 25 individual subfactions total. The diversity of models, animations, the differences each main faction has in tactics and also campaign gameplay, it is all incredibly ambitious and well executed.

This game also benefits from being extensively moddable, and probably the most important type of mod to get is custom maps, as modders have done amazing things with battle map design. This game is addicting and hard to resist. The Turn-Based Strategy layer is very good although simplified compared to the historical Total War games, its bread and butter is undeniably the Real-Time Tactics combat.

Other Nominees

  • Total War: ATTILA (2015)
  • Men of War: Assault Squad 2 (2014)

Best RPG

Game Title: Fallout: New Vegas
Release Date: 2010
Developed By: Obsidian Entertainment
Published By: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PC / XBOX 360 / PlayStation 3
Genre: RPG

We have previously discussed at length how much the video game RPG genre has deteriorated in the 2010s. It is mostly limited to games that are outright afraid of role-playing, games that just try to be nostalgic and use old technology (with one even using Infinity Engine from the 1990s) instead of trying to be their own great work of art, and games that do both of those things. Very few RPGs even tried to be noteworthy, and even fewer pulled it off. The rather obvious pick for us is Fallout: New Vegas (2010) which for most of the decade should’ve been referred to as “The last great RPG.” Certainly Obsidian’s last great one.

Fallout: New Vegas is written more like a proper Fallout game – a satire that offers lots of role-playing (although less than Fallout 2), but then it was packaged up in Bethesda’s Gamebryo engine format, making it an FPS-RPG, and on that note it’s one of very few FPS-RPGs with no less role-playing than the great “cRPGs” (the other being Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines). But New Vegas even makes improvements in writing quality over the original Fallout games, particularly in character development which is best showcased in the highly underrated Dead Money and of course in Lonesome Road.

It is an open world RPG with hundreds of hours of meaningful content. It’s incredible it came out as good as it is considering the less than 2 year development cycle for it.

Other Nominees

  • Disco Elysium (2019)
  • Pathfinder: Kingmaker (2018)

Dark Horse of the Decade

Game Title: The Talos Principle
Release Date: 2014
Developed By: Croteam
Published By: Devolver Digital
Platforms: PC / Linux / XBOX One / PlayStation 4 / Switch / Android / iOS
Genre:

Who would’ve thought that Croteam, a talented development studio only really known for the Serious Sam franchise originally, could just one day out of the blue create one of the best written games of all time? They did just that with The Talos Principle (2014). There’s no bigger dark horse in gaming than this. This game has a spot in our top 5 best stories in video game history and that’s not changing any time soon.

It’s one of the closer games to perfection we’ve ever found, having truly brilliant puzzle design that involve very fun gameplay mechanics to solve, incredible art design, magnificent soundtrack, exquisite engine technology that has been kept up to date (and it was one of the first Vulkan games). It is just an undeniable masterpiece that packs an extraordinarily powerful emotional punch.

Other Nominees

  • Pathologic 2 (2019)
  • SOMA (2015)
  • Underhell (2013)

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Ritty

The last of us should be on here for storytelling

Snuff_Princess

Naughty Dog’s movie pretenders will never be on any video game storytelling list. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t turn around.

wallydogg

Have to disagree with tons of those subpar pics. New Vegas. Dear god no way is that the best. Writing was half ass in my opinion plus the bugs were game breaking. Graphis were subpar as well. The best real time strategy of all time is Supreme Commander by a long shot. Still play it regularly. Those are just the most obvious ones to me

badumtsss

cant believe no mention of witcher 3 should be game of the decade contender and rpg winner with dark souls 3.
The picks were very “sophisticated”(which i love to play as well, then where th is Nier:?) its stupid that very few AAA/pop games won/nominated.

lol

This is the epitome of someone who is incapable of distinguishing the qualities found in video games. Terrible terrible website you got here. No wonder managed only 210 twitter followers over the course of a decade.

Snuff_Princess

You do realize comments like that are meaningless if you don’t specify what the problem is or what games should be nominated instead? “Lol, you is dumb” is your contribution.

lol

You used personal anecdotes to shoehorn your room temperature IQ opinions as “facts”. This website and its nightmarishly low quality is comedy gold. Twitter followers dropped to 205… Keep it up!

Snuff_Princess

This one is surprised that Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs wasn’t a nominee in your story/writing section even though it is on your Best Stories – list.

Snuff_Princess

But whose idea was it to add The Witcher 3 which isn’t even an honorable mention on that same list? Charcharo’s, or the stable genius, Ronald Dump’s?

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