Although it’s been 12 years since the start of the 2010s, there are still games from the start of the decade such as Minecraft and Skyrim still getting updates to this day, with the next big Minecraft update releasing some time in 2023.
These video games would set the bar for what would turn out to be the decade that cemented gaming’s place as a titan in the industry. From massive AAA titles to the humble indie darlings, these games have stood the test of time with impressive vigor.
Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
Fallout: New Vegas, typical of a Bethesda release, was riddled with bugs upon release. Not to mention, it looked dated in a decade that was starting to embrace high polygon counts. Despite all of these strikes against them, Fallout: New Vegas continues to be touted as the best Fallout game by a huge chunk of the franchise.
With its amazing writing, a memorable cast of characters, and of course, a stubbornly hard-working mod community, Fallout: New Vegas is still beloved, especially in contrast to its polarizing follow-ups Fallout 4 and Fallout76. u/LuckyManMoogSolo explains as much, saying “The story is really good and well written, as well as the characters having fun and thought-provoking dialogue, especially in the DLCs.”
Starcraft II (2010)
Starcraft II is still worth playing as its considered the last RTS game to truly reach mainstream heights, and it did so with humongous expectations on its shoulders. Over a decade after the release of its predecessor, Starcraft II easily settled into the role of the premiere real-time strategy game of the 2010s.
It’s telling that a decade after its release, no RTS game has since reached its peak of popularity, and it;’s all thanks to the polished production, wonderful visuals, and amazingly complex gameplay. u/mrgnmcd simply states when asked what the best RTS of recent times was “SC2 is still the best RTS around for polish and unit control”.
Portal 2 (2011)
The first Portal was beloved for its quirky sense of humor, thought-provoking puzzles, and groundbreaking creativity. Portal 2 is the exact same positives, but much bigger. With more fun dialogue and new mechanics to add twists to the portal puzzle formula, Portal 2 is a beloved yet sad reminder of the last original IP that Valve worked on, at least until Alyx came around.
Portal 2 manages to be two games in one, with its hilarious main story and the amazingly fun couch co-op campaign with its own unique set of multiplayer puzzles. u/devocalized- summarizes the most important quality Portal 2 has by saying “Portal 2 is the most fun I’ve ever had with a video game”.
Driver: San Francisco (2011)
Driver: San Francisco is a shining example that an old dog (or car) can learn new tricks. They just need to get weird about it. The underrated racing game Driver: San Francisco, despite being the fifth entry in a driving franchise, takes a weird turn. The incredibly unique “shifting” mechanic allows the player to body surf between drivers of the city to complete missions and solve mysteries, ramming the franchise into the supernatural.
Its campy style, innovative gameplay mechanics, and psychological aspects make it a driving game unlike any other. Hopefully, the upcoming Pacific Drive revitalizes the “weird driving game” subgenre. u/NiteVelocity1 simply states “This game is so unique, it stands out in the Driver series but also sets itself apart from racing games outside the Driver franchise too because there’s no other racing game out there like Driver SF”
Often touted as the “2D Minecraft”, that title is dismissive of just how fantastic and different of a game Terraria really is. Whereas Minecraft is centered around building, Terraria has prided itself on adventure and combat. Most of Terraria’s morbidly awesome bosses would wear the Ender Dragon like a scarf.
It’s essentially an open-world RPG where the players get to forge their own stories. Even with its final update in 2020, Terraria still boasts a massive player base. u/Frthoydidulook gushes over the game by saying “It has a good sense of progression, it has an amazing fighting system, and it has THOUSANDS if not MILLIONS of entertaining mods from vanilla to calamity to even some meme mods”.
Hotline Miami (2012)
Arguably the game that put indie developer Devolver Digital on the map, Hotline Miami is a fast-paced top-down action shooter with intense violence, an earworm of a synth soundtrack inspired by 80s club music, and a steep learning curve. With this game, Devolver Digital shifted gears from a Serious Sam publisher to one known for giving indie developers a chance to make their unique ideas shine.
Hotline Miami walked so that future hits such as Enter The Gungeon and Absolver could run. Add to that the overtly cynical and grimy story that would make 70s filmmakers blush, and Hotline Miami cements itself as a classic. u/dexemplu passionately describes his experience “The moment the game ended was the moment I woke up. It wasn’t just an application closing, it was an amazingly awful and new experience ending.”
Sleeping Dogs (2012)
Sleeping Dogs is a criminally underrated gem because many at the time dismissed it as a “GTA Clone”. If there are any similarities, they are only surface-deep as it has an in-depth martial arts fighting system for an open-world game, which was certainly better than anything GTA has had in their games. This is thanks to its main inspiration, Hong Kong cinema.
The game’s focus on up close and personal martial arts makes all the firefights and car chase scenes feel that much more important. All of this takes place in a stunning recreation of Hong Kong’s beautiful urban setting that oozes personality. u/ArttuH5N1 simply sums it up by saying “If you love action movies from Hong Kong, you’re gonna love this game.”
FTL: Faster Than Light (2012)
FTL: Faster Than Light is a “roguelike” space exploration game with a very unique premise. Instead of being the rebels, the game puts the player in control of the last vestiges of The Federation. specifically the crew of one of its last remaining spaceships. This will not be easy if the roguelike element hasn’t clued gamers in.
It’s a brutal game and every crew member lost is one less person in the final confrontation. FTL combining real-time strategy elements with a roguelike progression system remains rare in the industry, but as games like Cult of the Lamb prove, that influence is still felt today. u/logicalfallacy16 garnered thousands of upvotes by saying “This game is just an absolute treasure. One of the greatest strategy games of all time.“
The Stanley Parable (2013)
The Stanley Parable got a pseudo-sequel recently in the form of The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe. The game reminded players all over again of how novel its predecessor was, and ironically, how on point it remains to this day. Many of the game’s criticisms and snark towards the games industry remain true to this day, which is hilarious or depressing depending on players’ moods.
The Stanley Parable is more of a narrative experience guided by the player than a traditional “game”, and pokes fun at its own concept as “pretentious” several times in a charming way. u/Kodiologist sums it up best by saying “I thought The Stanley Parable was kind of the opposite of pretentious: it lampoons pretentious art games.”
Papers, Please (2013)
The premise of a border inspector approving visas and paperwork might not sound exciting, but Papers, Please proves gamers wrong with its fantastic storytelling, visuals, and unique gameplay mechanics. Papers, Please is a wickedly sharp dystopian thriller that’s unlike any other game out there, except perhaps its spiritual predecessors, The Republia Times.
Papers, Please do everything it can with its concept and then some. Whether it’s the bizarre sense of humor, unorthodox “document puzzles”, or the ever-looming storyline about state-sponsored oppression, Papers, Please is a perfect example of why the indie scene is a bastion of creativity. u/Shivershorts beautifully summarizes their experience by saying “Papers Please may be a perfect marriage of video game mechanics and emotional storytelling. I highly recommend it to anyone curious about a unique experience.”
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