The ’10s are coming to a close and wow, this decade has been filled with tons of incredible gaming experiences. We fought the Reapers in Mass Effect, we trudged through Tamriel in Skyrim (about a thousand different times), we took parkour to new heights with Mirror’s Edge – it’s been an amazing ride so far.
With 2020 already jam-packed with highly anticipated titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Hellblade 2, the team here at Turtle Beach wanted to reflect back on some of our favorite gaming experiences over the last 10 years.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dan Whitehead, Writer
My favourite part of Lord of the Rings is all the business in Rohan. My favourite role-playing series is The Elder Scrolls. It was always pretty much a sure bet that Skyrim, which opened up the rugged Northern wilds of the realm of Tamriel, would tick all of my boxes. It did that, and a whole lot more.
One of the things I love about The Elder Scrolls is the way it uses those ghosted map markers, not to show you where you should go, but where you could go. As you approach, and each icon fills in with a little drum roll, you have no idea what to expect. It could lead to a major new questline, it could be a self-contained location with its own curious tale to tell, or it could be the start of a vast underground labyrinth loaded with loot and enemies.
When so many open-world games use map icons to show you where every last thing you need can be found, Skyrim uses them to show you where to start on your own adventures. It’s that sense of wide-eyed possibility that thrilled me – that still thrills me – and it’s why I still keep returning to Whiterun, Falkreath and Windhelm almost ten years later.
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Mass Effect 2 – Liana Ruppert, Writer
Hear me out: Garrus Vakarian. Done.
Kidding, but my love for Mass Effect is unreal, especially the trilogy. With 31 playthroughs of Mass Effect 1-3, all of the collectibles, comics, novels, and even a full arm tattoo, my love for the Citadel and our beloved Commander Shepard knows no bounds. That, and Mass Effect 2 really epitomized what made BioWare so great as a storyteller.
I’ve been gaming for over 30 years now and I don’t think a game has made me feel so strongly about the course of events, about the characters and relationships, as BioWare did with their second Mass Effect entry. This game is heavily reliant upon choice. If you don’t make those ship rounds to talk to your crew as Commander Shepard, some of them aren’t going to make it. That, or they just straight-up won’t like you. This was more than a game, this was about building, and maintaining, serious relationships both platonic and romantic.
Some decisions resulted in character suicide, others in murder, and some with a despondence too often seen in times of war. Plus, the Reapers were an epic foe both dangerous and dripping with philosophy. I’ve never felt quite so badass as I did when playing this game and that relationship to this adventure is a big part of why I have so many playthroughs.
Mass Effect 2 is much more than a game to me, it’s home.
Dark Souls – Henry Stenhouse, Writer
Game of the Decade, eh? There are certainly a few contenders, but for my personal pick, I’ll have to go with Dark Souls. I was introduced to FromSoftware’s world a little later than most, which meant there was already a vast pool of knowledge and experience to drink from regarding classes, weapons, the world and it’s lore. I lapped it up, relishing the chance to learn from those who’d paved the way, both inside the game and out.
Though it draws clear inspiration from The Legend of Zelda, Dark Souls very much does things its own way. It’s up to you, the player, to explore and draw as much or as little knowledge as you like from the remnants of its decaying world. Dark Souls’ land of despair went on to inspire several copycats, but also the brilliance of Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Nearly ten years later and we’re still feeling its blood run through the veins of recent releases like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. A lasting lineage indeed.
On a personal note, the Souls series remains one my favorite co-op adventures. Yes, I admit it, I buddied up with a pal through all of Dark Souls 1-3’s trials and torments. You might not like it, but I’d argue it’s the best way to experience them all. Can we get a fully co-op game next, FromSoft?
Journey – Morgan Shaver, Writer
It’s hard to pick a Game of the Decade as so many incredible titles have released over the last 10 years, particularly within the indie scene. However, no game managed to move me quite as much as Journey from thatgamecompany. I remember the first time I played Journey, I encountered a stranger who decided to travel alongside me. This experience is special as, when you finish a section with another player, they’re able to join you in the next section, and so on and so forth. You can always decide to part ways and go it alone, but this mysterious player dedicated several hours to beating the game with me.
True, Journey encourages this kind of play, but it doesn’t force it either. For example, you have the ability to charge up the scarves of other players, which assists in movement. Journey’s multiplayer is anything but conventional. You know nothing about the people you meet in Journey, other than they are real and playing at the same time as you. Likewise, these people have no idea who you are. The only form of communication you’re given are little chirps and melodies from your character that could mean anything from “Go this way!” to “Check this out!”
If you beat the game with someone, you’re gifted the ability to learn their gamer tag so you can add them as a friend, but you don’t have to. I’ve made several real-life friends playing Journey, and still wonder about others who I shared brief moments with in-game. There’s no question that Journey is a game about bonding with others, but you’re never punished for playing solo. The world feels a bit lonelier when you’re on your own, but the core game never strays from its goal of offering a poignant experience that lingers in your mind long after you’ve finished playing.
In the next decade, I genuinely hope to see more games like Journey. Games that subvert your expectations and offer different ways to “play” something. Of course, I’m always content with going back and replaying Journey again for the millionth time too.”
Grand Theft Auto V – Nicholas Barth, Writer
This decade has provided me with countless fond gaming memories through a treasure trove of amazing titles. However, Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V stands out from the rest when it comes to all of the games that have been released in the last few years. The campaign of the title was revolutionary still to this day with its three protagonist storyline, jaw-dropping graphics, pure gameplay insanity where the world is your destructive playground, and much more. Not to mention, the online portion of Grand Theft Auto V is exceptionally impressive and worthwhile.
Its entertaining nature has led to the game having the staying power that is extremely difficult to achieve in today’s video game industry when new games are coming out regularly. There is a reason why the high-profile game became the most financially successful media title of all time this decade.
Dota 2 – Andy Ho, Product Management
Revolutionizing esports, setting the stage for competitive gaming, and helping pave the way for other MOBAs, definitely HAS to move Dota 2 to the top of the list for Game of the Decade. Personally, this game has been an outlet for stress and has allowed me to connect with people all over the world. After putting over 6,000 hours in this game….I can definitely say that the variety of heroes and patches has made this game still seem so “fresh” to me even after all these years. Having been to a lot of esports tournaments, nothing compares to the energy of the annual Dota 2 tournament, The International. With players coming from all over the world to cheer on the teams who compete for a 25+ million dollar tournament, it is definitely one of the top gaming events every year. With the type of community that it has plus being a game that never gets old, I put this as the top game of the decade for me.
Persona 5 – Edwin Rim, Engineering
For me I would have to say that my choice is Persona 5.
It’s a great combination of strategy, storytelling, and artistic representation, coupled with a unique battle system and a fantastic soundtrack. 100% recommended to any fans of JRPGs and to anyone who is interested in the storytelling aspects of games in general.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Justin Musser, Social
How do you decide on a game of the decade? Reach? Appeal? Staying power? Impact on the industry as a whole? How about all of the above?
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim meets every criteria for game of the decade and then some, including winning GOTY itself numerous times over. This towering game not only left its mark on the game industry, but it also CONTINUES to do so. With a more recent port to VR (and cue the soon to VCR and toaster memes) and every other major console. This was the game that kept giving. From ports to VR, to Macho Man Randy Savage mods (Ohhhh YEAAAH), there was almost nothing that Skyrim could not do given enough time in the hands of the community. Ten years later and this gem is still deserving of every minute you put into it. Just don’t tell Todd Howard you don’t own it yet.
Red Dead Redemption 2 – Erin Steele, Product Management
This one’s tough! But I will have to say… Red Dead Redemption 2. Its story was well done, the open-world experience included so many Easter Eggs to discover, so many different objectives, and paid homage to some of history’s most interesting events and groups of people.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire – Vincent Fazio, Social
I was not super impressed with the first Pillars of Eternity. I’m a huge Obsidian Entertainment fan, and I loved playing through CRPG classics like the Baldur’s Gates and Icewind Dale, but for some reason it just didn’t click for me like I thought it would. It’s not a bad game by any stretch, but every time I tried starting up a new character and giving it another shot I would struggle to stay interested enough to make it out of the first few areas. I’m not sure if it was the hopelessly bleak tone, or the tons of unique spins and takes on traditional fantasy tropes that Pillars like to employ, but my momentum was halted every time.
Despite this, I was still excited to give Pillars another try when the sequel came out, and boy am I not disappointed that I did. For me, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire was an amazing experience, and was more of a role-playing wonderland for
The game opens with your character essentially being brought back to life by the god of death, and given the task of hunting down another god that has taken the form of a giant kaiju-sized statue. A god, that in this enormous form, is making its way through the ocean and string of islands that make up the titular Deadfire Archipelago, belligerently laying waste to everything and everyone in its path on the way to its unknown goal and destination.
The stakes are huge, and the storytelling is immaculate, as you meet all sorts of friend and foe on your nautical journey to stop this rogue god and save the people and civilization that make up the islands. In fact, it’s the story and the production that make Deadfire so special. Of course, if tactical combat is all you are looking for from a CRPG experience, then Divinity: Original Sin 2 is probably the choice you should make. But… if you’re like me, and enjoy the characters and story and lore when they come together just perfect, then there is no better trip I can recommend than heading down to the Deadfire.
Honorable Mentions: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Spelunky, MGSV: The Phantom Pain, Fallout: New Vegas, Hollow Knight, Destiny 2, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, & Divinity: Original Sin 2. If I could pick them all I would.
BioShock Infinite – Elliot Yang, Designer
I forgot how long a decade was but thank god it was long [Editor’s note: A decade is still 10 years]. Here is my pick plus a few runner-ups:
- Bioshock Infinite
- God of War (2018)
- The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
And that’s our picks for Games of the Decade! Agree with any of our choices or was your favorite not featured? Let us know your own favorite gaming experiences from the last 10 years!
Read More: Turtle Beach’s 2019 Game Of The Year Picks
There were a ton of amazing games released this year – here are some of our favorites!