My Top Games of the Generation
Without further ado...
08. Forza Horizon 4
06. Assassins Creed Odyssey
05. Sea of Thieves
04. Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order
The first videogame that really nailed the feeling of wielding a lightsaber combines with stunning visuals to tickle all the Star Wars nostalgia in your heart. A balanced mix of exploration and combat keeps you moving along while the story takes risks you wish the movies did. Great performances bring the whole thing together all the way to the end. My only quibbles would be with how combat feels weighted towards the end of the game when you have all your powers and abilities upgraded, but maybe that’s just because being a Jedi is more exciting than being a Padawan.
03. God of War (2018)
You never leave the point of view of the main character, and the game never breaks that single take cinematography style. The end effect is that on multiple fronts this videogame sets new expectations. Performances, visuals, storytelling... nothing is less than perfect. At most I could quibble about how rough going combat feels at first, or the story feels a bit padded after the halfway mark. Even then, I’d still recommend this game hands down to anyone looking for something to check out on their Playstation 4.
02. Witcher 3
The last two games on my list seem very similar at first. They both feature big open worlds set in a medieval fantasy genre. Your hero collects new abilities and gear as they explore and unravel mysteries. You even have a faithful horse companion in both. The difference is that the Witcher features storytelling and characters that are darker than anything Nintendo would ever approach. Thankfully the dark never sinks the player into cynicism which is sometimes a problem in “adult” storytelling. *Cough* Game of Thrones *Cough* Unlike Zelda, you choose how to treat other characters and how to resolve problems. Your choices and how they affect the world are unmatched here. What you do will have a HUGE impact in whether the world is saved, or not.
01. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
This series can lay claim to being one of the first open world videogames. The promise of exploration has been hobbled by limitations of technology and design for decades. Until now. An interlocking set of systems build into a world that meets your expectations for things like “my wooden stick will catch fire if I wave it in a fire.” Then it gives you the unexpected when things like a gust of wind blowing an enemies campfire into that set of conveniently placed exploding barrels. As you explore the broken world of Hyrule you’ll manually mark your map with notes of things to investigate, and slowly piece together the story of how the heroes lost the battle with Gannon. Rarely do videogames have you fail, and even rarer do games start their journey after said failure. The quiet melancholy of a world waiting for rebirth makes this an experience you won’t forget.
> For more discussion about just this game go here: https://www.critical-distance.com/2020/09/16/breath-of-the-wild/.
This one really touched everyone, including me.
Marvel’s Spider-Man - I really loved this game, but when making my list it felt like the flip side of Jedi Fallen Order. If you’re more into superheroes you could just swap this one in that spot on the list. Otherwise this would be my #11 game of the generation.
Control - The world, visuals, characters and story were amazing... but I felt like the core combat loop was under developed & poorly balanced. It harkens and borrows much from Metroid, but then just gives you the boring shooter game core weapon set with none of Metroid’s inventiveness or ability combos.
Persona 5 or Final Fantasy 7 Remake - Haven’t played them yet, but these Japanese developed role playing games are supposed to be some of the all time greats.
Kentucky Route Zero - It's not a genre I usually play, and it was released in pieces over the generation. So I haven’t gotten around to playing it. However, it appeared on multiple best of lists every year.
Uncharted 4 - They’re always good games, but honestly they have too much combat and too much story padding. This one was no different.
The Last of Us 2 - I’m sorry but a depressing take on humanity isn’t made better by the developers putting a ton of blood, sweat, and tears into making it the most polished PS4 game of the generation. Yes your tech is amazing, but my god could you tell a story that isn’t a single bleak note hammered again and again?
Red Dead Redemption 2 - As an experience it's unparalleled. As a videogame it's not good. Clunky controls (both movement and how you interact with the world). Forgettable music. A storyline that goes nowhere over & over combines with an uncharismatic main character you’ll struggle to give a shit about.
Ghosts of Tsushima - They were clearly inspired by Assassin’s Creed games and so when it came time to make my list I went with the game that didn’t have me fighting the camera and my enemies at the same time. Shout outs for visuals and some of the shortest loading times I’ve ever experienced in an open world game.
Outer Wilds - The concept is better than the execution. That’s it. The idea of being stuck in a time loop is a great way to keep a space exploration game from being unfun when you get stranded on a planet, but moving interacting with those environments is so clunky that you don’t feel like getting out of bed when time resets.
Neir: Automata - I won’t give away any spoilers, but know that when you see the game over screen for the first time... there’s more to come. It doesn’t make my top 10 list because the story just doesn’t really come across as anything but a series of buzzwords and haughty philosophy statements spoken by scantily clad sexy androids.
Bloodborne & Seirko - I don’t like really hard and/or punishing videogames. The “souls-like” genre is just that. So I didn’t play these games.
Fortnite - I don’t find a lot of enjoyment in multiplayer only focused combat games. So I don’t play them. Also, is this really a game anymore? Or is it an entertainment platform that now lives on every device with a screen?