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Shacknews Community Top 100 Games of the Decade: #50-31

The Shacknews Chatty community has come together to vote on the Top 100 Games of this decade. Today, we continue through with #50-31.

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Shacknews is getting things ready for our annual celebration for the Year in Games. But 2019 is a little special. That means we've hit the end of the decade and that means we have also begun looking at the very best games of the past ten years. That's a lot of games to look at and consider, so we chose not to leave this grand task to the Shacknews staff. Instead, we are choosing to spotlight the loyal Shacknews community, the many posters of Chatty. So join us throughout the week, as we continue looking at the Top 100 Games of the Decade, as voted on by the Shacknews Chatty community.

Chatty has been a proud institution here at Shacknews since the site's inception over 20 years ago. Many have gone on to become developers, programmers, public figures, but most importantly, all of them are video game fans. So over the past few weeks, we've polled the Chatty posters on what they consider to be their best games of the decade. Through a rigorous process, we've put together a full list of 100 games and we'll roll those out over the next five days. We started with the first 25 games on Monday, the next 25 on Tuesday, the next 20 today, another 20 on Thursday, and will end on Friday with the Top 10.

In case you missed it:
Shacknews Community Top 100 Games of the Decade: #100-76
Shacknews Community Top 100 Games of the Decade: #75-51

So with no further delay, let's continue the Shacknews Community Top 100 Games of the Decade.

Marvel's Spider-Man

#50 - Marvel's Spider-Man (2018)

Spider-Man hit his video game peak with the 2004 PS2/Xbox/GameCube movie adaptation, Spider-Man 2, which gave the web-slinger a GTA-style open world and fluid web-slinging mechanics. Since then, he's had a bunch of games that ranged from bad to above average, but never one that reached the heights of the 2004 classic. But then Sony and Insomniac Games came together to totally surpass the bar set by Spider-Man in every conceivable way. With incredible combat, outstanding stealth gameplay, one of the best narratives ever seen in a Spidey game, and a fully-realized Manhattan, Marvel's Spider-Man stands out as the best game in the franchise and one that Shacknews holds up as our 2018 Game of the Year.

Borderlands 2

#49 - Borderlands 2 (2012)

Gearbox had already established Pandora as a haven of scum and villainy, but Borderlands 2 upped the ante in every way. It built a more robust Pandora, while also telling an epic story that pit the game's Vault Hunters against one of the decade's most memorable villains: Handsome Jack. Borderlands 2 shaped the franchise into what it is today, going balls-to-the-wall on new weaponry, creative abilities, and memorable characters. Plus, it had enough post-launch content to keep fans playing for years to come.

Hear it from Chatty:

"Certainly one of my top 5 favorite games of all time. Just the right balance of crazy action and silly humor in co-op. I devoured all main game content and DLCs. Also helps that Maarten gave me a shout-out in the credits."
-Mad Brahmin Disease

Wolfenstein: The New Order

#48 - Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014)

There wasn't much gas left in the old Wolfenstein license, but Bethesda and MachineGames found a way to completely reinvent the franchise and modernize it for a new generation. The best part is, they didn't even have to forsake the classic old-school FPS gameplay in order to do it. The New Order introduces a new normal to the Wolfenstein world, one in which the Nazis won World War II and America lives under Axis subjugation. B.J. Blazkowicz is the preeminent badass, the kind of modern warrior one can argue Duke Nukem should have been, able to readily gun down enemies, but also able to utilize a fantastically-implemented cover system whenever the situation calls for it.

Wolfenstein was back! And somehow, this wouldn't even be the most impressive revival that Bethesda had up their sleeves this decade.

Titanfall 2

#47 - Titanfall 2 (2016)

So how does Respawn up the ante from the first Titanfall, which introduce amazing mechs with innovative infantry combat? By adding one of the best single-player campaigns to hit this kind of game in years, of course. Titanfall 2 improved the game's signature multiplayer in a variety of ways, adding whole new Titans, as well as better map design. However, the most memorable addition is a campaign that conveys the bond between a Pilot and his Titan. It was a truly great effort, one sadly ignored by publisher EA, which opted to release Battlefield 1 just one week later! But Titanfall 2 is finding new life in a post-Apex Legends world, partly because of this month's PlayStation Plus giveaway.

Hitman

#46 - Hitman (2016)

Hitman was another franchise that found itself at a crossroads earlier in the decade. The series started the decade with 2012's Hitman Absolution, which proved critically mediocre and disappointed on the sales charts. It was time for the series to start anew. So IO Interactive went back to the drawing board and rebooted Agent 47 for a new generation. The result was 2016's Hitman, an episodic season filled with new targets, massive playgrounds, and a greater emphasis on open-ended, procedural events, as opposed to linear missions. Agent 47 had a new lease on life, one that would change the direction of the franchise for the better.

The Witcher 2

#45 - The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (2011)

It's the Shacknews 2011 Game of the Year! And with good reason! Let's take an excerpt from our original 2011 GOTY post.

"The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings may be draped in the cloak of a brutal fantasy world filled with monsters and magic, but it offers an interesting reflection of real-world problems. It's a political drama where those in command are governed by fear and uncertainty. It shines light on racism and sexism in ways that shows developer CD Projekt RED is unafraid to push narrative boundaries beyond most games in its class."

And beyond that, it was a total triumph for PC gaming development, putting forth one of the most gorgeous games to hit the platform. CD Projekt RED set the bar for what PC gaming should be, setting The Witcher 2 as a status symbol. If you owned a high-end rig, you felt the rush of what this world had to offer. And the Polish developer was just getting started.

Saints Row The Third

#44 - Saints Row: The Third (2011)

The original, unapologetic Grand Theft Auto imitator found itself in a strange position at the start of the decade. Rockstar had gone in a more serious direction with GTA, putting together a more mature narrative with GTA IV and V. So Volition naturally decided to go in the complete opposite direction and make Saints Row as preposterous and cartoonish as possible. The result was one of the most fun open-world games on the market. Saints Row still kept its old storyline intact, but focused far more on zaniness and over-the-top bombast. While GTA was still great in its own right, Saints Row: The Third was the first game that made the series truly feel like its own entity and less like a GTA imitator.

Hear it from Chatty:

"Dildo bat."
-GrimmyD

Prey

#43 - Prey (2017)

The decade started off in a weird place for Prey. There looked to be a game in the works, a pretty good one, too. It was one of my first E3 shows as a member of the Shacknews staff when I saw this game for myself. But then it was abruptly cancelled and it looked like nobody would ever hear about the Prey series again. Suddenly, Bethesda and Arkane Studios decided to start the Prey franchise from scratch, telling the story of Morgan Yu and the conflict with the Typhon. It proved to be one of the best games of 2017, taking players onto the vast sci-fi space of Talos 1 and telling an engaging story that contains multiple endings. It was a new beginning for the Prey series and one we're excited to see more of in the future.

Dark Souls 3

#42 - Dark Souls 3 (2016)

One of the gaming series that defined this decade was Dark Souls and there was a lot of excitement for FromSoftware's third entry. Even if it was just more Dark Souls, that would have been enough. But this was now a seasoned developer, one able to implement ideas and lessons from past works like Demon's Souls and Bloodborne. With more fluid combat, Dark Souls 3 proved to be one of the strongest FromSoftware titles to date. But even with the improved combat, this is still a challenge that's not for the faint of heart.

Stellaris

#41 - Stellaris (2016)

While there were a handful of games that took place within our cosmos this decade, Stellaris dared to go beyond. Set in the future, players could explore the outer reaches of space and go deeper into the 4x strategy genre than they could have imagined. Stellaris is a game about exploration, conquest, engaging with galactic cultures, and the evolution of civilization across the galaxy. It was Europa Universalis on a much grander scale, offering virtually limitless possibilities. And best of all, it's accessible, even for those who consider themselves strategy novices.

Stardew Valley

#40 - Stardew Valley (2016)

Farming has never felt quite as engaging as it has in ConcernedApe's Stardew Valley. What started out as an homage to the Harvest Moon games has taken on a life of its own and has blown up into one of the best simulators on the market. Players take on all the responsibilities of putting together a successful farm, while also engaging in a number of social side activities. They can get to know characters around the area, making friends and maybe even getting married. And of course, there's the more dangerous aspect of farm living, which involves exploring treacherous caves for supplies. Stardew Valley has only gotten better with time, especially now that ConcernedApe has added cooperative multiplayer.

Hear it from Chatty:

"Charm the residents of a small town while you build a farm. There is not a more relaxing game to melt into when you're having a bad day."
-Psigun

"I would have never guessed that a farming simulator would take up so much of my life these past few years, but here we are."
-Grumbeld

Journey

#39 - Journey (2012)

Arguably the game that put ThatGameCompany on the map. Journey is about feeling like a speck in a much grander world, as players trek towards their final destination. It's about being in awe of one's surroundings, while working to ascertain where to go next. It's a visceral, colorful, emotional experience, one that many indie games have tried to capture since. But none since have been able to capture Journey's raw power. Journey is one of the greatest examples of "games as art."

Hear it from Chatty:

"Journey was an incredible experience which haunted my thoughts for weeks after. Deep without being pretentious. An imaginative use of gameplay mechanics and communication. Beautiful. Moving. Art."
-VictoriouSecret

Divinity Original Sin 2

#38 - Divinity: Original Sin 2 (2017)

Larian Studios had a tough act to follow after the first Divinity: Original Sin, which itself is considered a classic. The sequel lived up to the studio's previous efforts and surpassed them in spades. Original Sin 2 features a much more ambitious narrative, one that makes sure to flesh out the stories of numerous characters. They're stories that can unfold all at once, either by recruiting them while going solo or by playing in a giant co-op setting. New classes, the cleverness of the Undead race, improved inventory, and the creative Dungeon Master mode made Divinity: Original Sin 2 one of the most replayable RPGs to release this decade. An incredible achievement from the team at Larian.

Hear it from Chatty:

"One of the best RPGs ever."
-crust

Subnautica

#37 - Subnautica (2018)

Subnautica takes survival into a whole new realm, taking players underwater. The game largely revolves around surviving the harrowing ocean depths and all of the various dangers that can be found under the sea. While researching remnants of an alien civilization, players can be assaulted by a number of killer futuristic fish and numerous parasites. The ocean is a dangerous place, but surviving for as long as possible while pushing your research forward is part of the joy of Subnautica.

The Witness

#36 - The Witness (2016)

Jonathan Blow's giant island puzzle takes a moment to get used to, mainly because players get thrown immediately into the action with no setup, no objective, and no context. But exploring the island is a big part of the experience, especially as it starts to sink in that the idea is to solve a series of line-based puzzles. The way the puzzles all come together and the way in which the island starts to open up is a key component of The Witness. It's a fascinating experience, even if the ending is a bit… odd.

Hear it from Chatty:

"A puzzle game of this caliber is extremely rare."
-borzoi

Apex Legends

#35 - Apex Legends (2019)

As great as the Titanfall games were, they weren't considered commercial successes. Respawn needed to try something new, something that would take advantage of their immense talents while also capturing the average Joe. The solution was battle royale, one that the developer dropped by total surprise the morning after the Super Bowl. Apex Legends captures the essence of battle royale, while combining it with the excellent infantry combat formula established in Titanfall. Relying more on teamwork and less on shooting prowess, Apex Legends has been able to carve its own space in an increasingly crowded field. In fact, it's arguably the best of the battle royale bunch right now.

Hear it from Chatty:

"Best version of my favorite genre of the decade. Respawn nailed every aspect (expect micro-transactions)."
-dmaownsyou

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

#34 - XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

This is it. One of the most successful reinventions of a classic franchise to come this decade. Firaxis worked true magic with XCOM: Enemy Unknown, defining the entire RTS genre for the future. Whether it's Enemy Unknown or the Enemy Within expansion, Firaxis put together an incredible story of humans resisting against the invading alien menace. The combat, the cover mechanics, the various systems, all of it combined to make one of the best RTS packages to come along in many years, one that became the standard for the genre moving forward.

Hear it from Chatty:

"A simplified yet faithful remake of the genre defining 90s turn based legend that's worthy of the name, if not the hyphen."
-RevRaven

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

#33 - Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011)

Here's another successful reinvention of a classic franchise. Square Enix and Eidos Montreal put together an amazing first-person shooter, one that incorporated different augmented abilities and stealth elements. But while the shooting was great, it was the open-ended manner in which players could approach the story and the gameplay that made Human Revolution stand out as an incredible achievement. Players could approach situations with guns blazing, with silent stealth, or even non-violently. Ingenuity is rewarded every bit as much as wanton violence is, helping ensure that players and their friends approach the same story differently. There was a lot of water cooler talk for this Deus Ex when it came out and the number of options Eidos Montreal presented its players proved to be a major influence for this genre throughout the decade.

Hear it from Chatty:

"Story depth, gameplay, music, voice-acting, all top notch."
-rms

Dead Cells

#32 - Dead Cells (2018)

To best describe the greatness that is Dead Cells, we turn to Chris Jarrard's original review:

"I’m not a big Metroidvania guy, but Dead Cells managed to conjure up the same feelings I had when I played Super Mario World, Portal, and Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl. It isn’t perfect, but no game is. It evokes feelings that remind me why I fell in love with video games in the first place. It is the video game equivalent of getting your back scratched while you take a dump. I give Dead Cells my highest possible recommendation. 9/10 prison poop flush resurrections."

Recommendations don't come much stronger than that.

Hear it from Chatty:

"Basically the perfect rogue-like 'vania' game. Great difficulty at the higher end that never feels cheap -- if you die in this game (and you will, often), it is always your own fault."
-granpachook

Dota 2

#31 - Dota 2 (2013)

The decade will largely be remembered for the advent of the battle royale genre, but let's not forget that this was also the decade of the MOBA. It's a genre that's largely been led by Dota 2, with Valve not only making a fun 5v5 top-down battle arena game, but also making one that has headlined in giant stadiums around the world. Dota 2 is a game that's great to play on the small scale and one that's a spectacle to enjoy on the greatest scale of them all: the annual International.

Hear it from Chatty:

"The most solid and innovating MOBA game. Always innovating on itself over its entire life cycle. Developers/designers who are not afraid to radically change how the game flows while still maintaining what many considered one of the best balanced multiplayer games. Revolutionized the esports scene, by always bringing bigger and bigger prize pools. Popularized loot boxes and battle pass systems (probably not a point in its favour...). Countless hero combinations and constant support over its whole life time make it always fresh."
-Zoopy_Iscariot


That's it for now. We'll continue our countdown tomorrow! Come back all week as we run through the rest of the Shacknews Community's Top 100 Games of the Decade.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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