The Most Agreeable Games of the Generation

Lewis: I’ve just been reading Eurogamer’s list of the games of the generation, and it struck me how very different it is from any list I’d make. For a start, I haven’t played six out of the top ten, and I wasn’t massively taken with Outer Wilds or Nier: Automata, to the point where I gave up on them before the end.

So I was thinking it would be fun to make our own list – what games released since November 2013 would make your top ten?

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few absolute standouts that have really stuck in my mind:

  • Monster Hunter World
  • Astro Bot: Rescue Mission
  • Alien: Isolation (review)
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4 (review)
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • No Man’s Sky
  • XCOM 2
  • Hollow Knight (review)
  • Sunless Sea (review)
  • Sunless Skies (review)
  • Inside
  • Hitman
  • Control
  • Mario Kart 8

And I could probably think of a few more, but that’s already more than ten. How about you?

James: Yeah, I’d be up for that! Seven years covers so many games! I’ve only played three in your list. If I’m picking games I consider to be excellent as opposed to ‘average’ games I just really enjoyed, I think I’d go with something like the following:

  • The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Life is Strange (review)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order (review)
  • DOOM
  • Stellaris
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2
  • Pillars of Eternity: Deadfire
  • The Hex
  • Titanfall 2
  • Fall Guys?

To be honest, I could probably come up with a really good list of universally acclaimed games I have not played!

Lewis: That’s the trouble, isn’t it? I haven’t played Breath of the Wild or Witcher 3, but judging by their reputation, they’d probably be up there in my top ten. Then again, I’ve also ended up bouncing off games that loads of critics love, so who knows.

Life is Strange from your list is a good example. I’ve started playing that game twice and bounced off it twice. But maybe if I kept going it would draw me in… It’s case of finding the time though, isn’t it? Like, I would love to play Pillars of Eternity, it looks fabulous, but it seems impossible to find the time for a 70-hour RPG.

Good call on Wolfenstein: The New Order, that’s an absolute cracker, and I love its reimagining of the 1960s. It completely revitalised the Wolfenstein series after a couple of completely dreadful entries, which was seriously unexpected at the time.

I just thought of another milestone game: Fire Emblem Awakening. Although, after checking it’s entry on Wikipedia, it seems that it came out at the start of 2013 rather than the end, so we can’t allow it. Damn. All the Fire Emblem games are great, but Awakening was a real turning point for the series, just like The New Order was for Wolfenstein. 

James: I realised FTL: Faster Than Light is probs worth a mention as that was an absolute gem of a game! I’ve bounced off a few ‘good’ games in my time. In fact, I did with both the original Divinity: Original Sin and Pillars of Eternity – I really enjoyed both of the sequels though…

I had fun with XCOM 2, but for some reason I didn’t find myself enjoying it as much as Enemy Within, for reasons I’m not sure I can articulate. Maybe I just got better at it and therefore felt less tension? Alien: Isolation looks terrific, but I’ve not played it because I’m a coward.

I probably just completely overlooked Mario Kart 8, despite the fact I’ve only ever had good times playing it. Mario Kart has always just kind of been there in one form or another for so long now I think I just stopped thinking about it. Like hot water – you’d miss it if it wasn’t there…

Matt: Tackling such a list is so daunting! Unfortunately I only game on one system, so I lack the breadth to make any truly informed decisions. Granted, I keep abreast of games culture at large, and while I see and understand the reasoning behind a lot of popular games, I don’t have the experience with them to make any obligatory ‘top ten’ choices.

Thank you all for reminding me I have the Witcher 3 and haven’t touched it! It looks fantastic and it’s definitely in my wheelhouse, but again, I haven’t actually played it. My short list includes games that I think in some way revolutionized gaming as a whole. I love Mario Kart 8 with a fiery passion… but at the end of the day it’s still just Mario Kart.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • What Remains of Edith Finch
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • Old Man’s Journey (review)
  • Super Mario Maker
  • Affordable Space Adventures
  • Dragon Quest XI
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (review)
  • Dead Cells (review)

Beyond Witcher 3 (which I could play), games that I think would be monumental that I can’t play are Red Dead Redemption 2, Final Fantasy VII Remake and Spider-Man. It’s a lot to grok, folks!

Lewis: Just Mario Kart? Philistine! It’s PEAK Mario Kart, an absolutely phenomenal game!

But thank you for reminding me of Affordable Space Adventures, that was utterly superb, and one of the rare titles to actually, properly use the Wii U gamepad. What a gem, I absolutely loved playing that game.

I also nearly put Dead Cells on my list, but in the end I find the constant restarting a little frustrating. It’s brilliant to play, and I’ve spent hours noodling around in it finding alternative routes, but even now I’ve still never got to the end. I got to the final boss once or twice, but then ended up dying and being sent straight back to the start. Grrrrr…

James: One thing I would add is that Red Dead Redemption 2 is probably conspicuous by its absence on our lists. I played it for a bit, and although it’s clearly a technical masterpiece, I didn’t actually have that much fun with it. I found there was quite a lot of tedious faffing about which kept getting in the way. The controls were cumbersome and I actually quite disliked most of the rest of the gang (not John… never John). The constant whining that there was “no place for people like them” any more was pretty grating – people might be more accepting if you just stopped shooting and robbing them all the time. Then I hit a bug which prevented Arthur from sleeping or making camp, which cost me a load of progress, and I never went back to it…

I just picked up God of War and Spider-Man second hand for the PS4, in anticipation of not being able to leave the house all winter. Not had a chance to fire them up yet, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about both of them.

Abhik: I’ve been following this thread and I agree with what Matt says – such a list does sound incredibly daunting. I can never decide whether I should put in the games I have a soft spot for or the ones that deserve to define the generation in an article like this. There seems to be a glaring gap between the two. I have a personal rule of thumb, though: one that could be considered laughably simple, but I’m going to hold on to it for now. I ask myself whether the game made me smile, and with titles that I adore, the answer is an obvious “YES”. There’s always that point when you’re so fascinated with the level design or the mechanics and the overall atmosphere and vibe of the game that you know you’re going to have a great time going forward, and you can’t help but smile thinking of the brilliant investment of time and money you just made. That moment to me is more precious than any drawn-out rationale that justifies whether or not this is a ‘good’ game.

Based on that, here’s my list:

  • Celeste (the only game I’ve bought twice)
  • The Swapper (came out in May 2013 but I had to add this, sorry)
  • FAR: Lone Sails (review)
  • Katana ZERO (review)
  • Ori and The Will of the Wisps
  • Factorio
  • Satisfactory
  • Subnautica (review)
  • Stardew Valley
  • Death Stranding
  • A Story About My Uncle
  • Shadow Tactics: Blades of Shogun
  • DOOM Eternal
  • NieR: Automata
  • Furi
  • Nex Machina
  • Disco Elysium 
  • Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved
  • Wide Ocean Big Jacket (I found out about this through AMAP and I loved everything about it)

Inside and Baba is You (review) are both honorable mentions and I’m going to restart Control on PC because the load times on PS4 made it a pain even though the brutalist aesthetics are right up my alley. I haven’t played Alien: Isolation yet – which is odd because I have read and watched so much about the brilliant in-game AI. I should give it a try soon. 

Oh and I forgot to mention Gris and Transistor. Beautiful games.

Lewis: Ooooh, nice list. It’s made me think that indie games often get left out of ‘games of a generation’ discussions, which tend to focus on the ‘big’ games. But even though indie games can be short, they can have a massive impact. I remember thinking about FAR: Lone Sails for days afterwards. Your list also reminded me that I really, REALLY need to play Disco Elysium. I’ve been following that game for years, and it seems right up my street! Maybe that will be my winter lockdown game…

And YES, I totally agree on all the Red Dead Redemption 2 points. There were so many things to love about that game, but so many irritations, too, like the absolutely mad control scheme. I ended up giving in about two-thirds of the way through, as it dragged on endlessly towards a blindingly obvious conclusion. BUT, I did have a lot of fun just losing myself in the wilderness, coming across bizarre side stories and weird Easter eggs, like the UFO and the weird death-cult shack. So mixed feelings – but my main feeling was that it needed a damn good and utterly ruthless editor to prune away the feature creep and let the core game bloom.

James: Ah yeah – Gris and Disco Elysium were both great! Let’s just have a list of 80 games. Much easier…

Lewis: Consensus is overrated. Let’s embrace multiplicity.

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