In my musing on the last 7 years of gaming, a few titles stood out for their impact on me. More specifically, there were certain games that were unique experiences worthy of a “Games of the Generation” title. Keep that term in mind. “Unique”. For me, for a game to hit my list it needed to be more that just graphically stunning. It needed to be like a fresh experience, not just a incremental refinement of previous titles in a genre.
I have been reflecting on this generation of consoles, specifically the Xbox One and Playstation 4. I must admit though, the Xbox One failed to capture my attention this gen. There was a couple of awesome months of replaying the Halo games in the Master Chief Collection. However, shortly after it was left unplugged and unloved, as the PS4 amazing exclusives captured much of my attention.
To that end, and surprisingly. The Last of Us 2 will not feature, as much as I looooved the game and the deep respect I hold for its brave narrative direction. But it can’t be ignored, it is still essentially the same stealth-action adventure game I have been playing for many years. Brilliant, yes, refined, certainly- but not “unique” in the current day and age.
So onto my list. To keep this endeavor succinct and a bit of a challenge for myself, I have limited it to 5 top spots for the entire generation!
5th Best of the generation – Death Stranding
Hideo Kojimas mail-man simulator is very divisive among critrics. But it cannot be argued that isn’t unique title. I loved Kojimas unabashed rendering down of the bloated open world genre to something so simple, yet so engrossing. Traditional open world games are built around getting from point A to point B quickly and frankly, mindlessly – just to get to the quest marker to start the mission, find the ‘thing’ or talk to the person, etc.
Death Stranding is about the actual ‘Journey’ from point A to B. This AAA game was the sublime experience of planning and executing a dangerous cross country journey…and I loved it. The enigmatic narrative and a complete dedication to Kojimas vision was just awesome. A AAA title with no sign of ‘design by committee’, or mainstreaming of mechanics. I loved that this open world game was the complete polar opposite of an icon laden, ‘Ubisoft-ified’ open world game, that have permeated every orifice of generation.
4th Best of the generation – Playstation VR
Yes, yes, I know I’m already breaking the rules here, as the PSVR encompasses so many games. But I can’t ignore what a huge effect VR has had on me this generation. The first time I played SuperHot VR, my mind blew. There a countless smaller VR titles which even as mere proof of concepts, showed the potential of Video Games in the future. The big AAA standouts in the PSVR space like Firewall: Zero Hour, Blood and Truth, Astrobot and Star Wars: Squadrons pushed the sub-platform to new levels, but also to its technical limit. Suffice is to say Sony, I am more than ready for PSVR2, so get on it!…. and ideally a port of Half-Life: Alyex!
3rd Best of the generation – Destiny 2
It’s well documented my love/hate relationship with Destiny. It is a rock solid shooter and the only game in the MMO space that has captured my attention in any way. I’m talking in excess of 1000hrs this generation. (Yes I am still married and have held down a job.) Destiny 2 is my comfort food. It has best in class shooter mechanics, an ever changing game space with new missions, quests and weapons, to keep me coming back for a new fresh experience. If, 10 years ago someone would have said I would have sunk 1000hrs into an always online, shared world shooter. I would have scoffed. “I’m a single-player focused gamer!” But there is nothing quire like it in the FPS space and I love it so, so much.
2nd Best game of the generation – Horizon: Zero Dawn
I loved Horizon but this high placing surprised me, I gotta be honest. But when I reflected on my PS4 experiences, Horizon had something nothing else in the open world space had. Truly interesting combat situations just wandering a game world. A huge array of robot animals and dinosaurs that could be hunted in a multitude of clever ways. A totally new IP, beautifully fleshed out, with a fascinating mash-up of scifi robots and caveman technology packaged up in one of the prettiest games on the platform.
Best of the generation – Titanfall 2
Titanfall 2 is pure fun. The best fps campaign in decades, backed up with what I eventually came to feel, was the best multiplayer action I have ever experienced. The whole game experience felt fresh, which is a mammoth accomplishment for in First Person Shooter space. The variation of scale between the Titan and Pilot modes, offered a shooter experience that can’t be found anywhere else. I love literally everything about Titanfall.
Criminally undervalued by EA, released in a terrible 2016 launch window between Call of Duty and Battlefield, this shooter was initially overlooked by many. But I would argue is now a masterclass example of game design. Respawn, where is Titanfall 3!!
Most Disappointing game of the generation – Anthem
Take a cup of Bioware, add awesome looking Iron-Man power armor, years and years of development and a sprinkle in some big publisher dollars and you have a recipe for a AAA block-buster…right?!
Nope. I won’t rehash the drama and the fascinating fall from grace my beloved Bioware suffered in 2019. Simply put, Anthem was a total cluster fuck and hopefully a valuable lesson for the fake ‘talking heads’ at the helm of these big money hungry video game publishers.
So there you have it. My TOP 5 games of this generation. This was tough to be honest, as I wanted to make an honorable mentions list etc…but then it all becomes to easy.