The Top 100 Video Games of All Time


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May 09, 2024

The Top 100 Video Games of All Time

IGN’s Top 100 games list encompasses the best of the best throughout history, spanning generations of consoles, PCs, handhelds, and more. Our list last saw a major update back in 2019, and since then,

IGN’s Top 100 games list encompasses the best of the best throughout history, spanning generations of consoles, PCs, handhelds, and more. Our list last saw a major update back in 2019, and since then, there have been several games released that deserved to be added. Just as importantly, we looked at the totality of the top 100 as it stood and asked ourselves a few key questions. This lead to some beloved games dropping off, and other games we previously missed being added.

Games in our top 100 have to measure up to a few key metrics: how great a game it was when it launched, how fun it is to still play today, and how much the game reflects the best in its class. While past versions of this list have put a big emphasis on a game’s impact and influence, we’ve essentially taken that out of the equation. Many games that left a mark and inspired future developers may not stand the test of time and be all that fun to play right now. Or, quite simply, they may have been surpassed by other games.

With all of that said, IGN’s list reflects the current staff’s 100 best games of all time - a collection of games that continue to captivate us with their stories, wow us with their revelatory approach to game design, and set the standards for the rest of the industry.

The original Borderlands captured the attention of gamers, seemingly from out of nowhere, and its sequel took everything that made the original great and expanded on it. From its seamless continuation of the Borderlands vault hunting lore, to its unmatched writing, Borderlands 2 remains the high point in the Borderlands franchise. Borderlands 3 is overflowing with improvements over its predecessor The Pre-Sequel, but Borderlands 2 still can't be beat for its awesome levels, excellent DLC, and series-best villain, Handsome Jack. - Seth Macy (Read IGN's Review)

When I was famished for Dungeons and Dragons, Divinity: Original Sin 2 filled that void for me. I’ve since recommended it to all of my real-life D&D parties, and they’ve all come back with the same opinion: This is the best D&D experience you can get from a video game. The built-in story is decidedly plenty and nearly infinitely replayable. The premade characters all have their own special storylines, and the numerous ways things pan out depends on player actions, backstory choices, race, and more. Regardless of class or difficulty level, DOS2 is a fun fantasy world to get lost in no matter what. - Casey DeFreitas (Read IGN's Review)

Final Fantasy VII is a landmark JRPG for a variety of reasons, but many of its achievements have now been lost to the winds of time and technological progress. Yet, its age has done nothing to change its status as the series' most popular and beloved entry, which has come about thanks to its wide cast of detailed, emotionally-driven characters that journey through one of the most memorable worlds to emerge from Japan's development scene. The pacing of its continually timely tale is its masterstroke; Square allows you to slowly fall for its rag-tag bunch of eco-terrorists before introducing its main villain - the forever chilling Sephiroth - and then focusing the story on much more personal stakes, despite the looming apocalypse. While overall the story is heavy, the world thrives on its idiosyncrasies - a variety of bizarre enemies, comedic minigames, and absurdly sized swords. It's this combination of light and dark that makes Final Fantasy VII such an enduring classic. - Matt Purslow (Read IGN's Review)

There are plenty of entries in the Assassin's Creed franchise that could find their way onto a Top 100 list, but for our dubloons, Black Flag was as much fun as we’ve had in the franchise. AC4 is an exceptional blend of both the massive open-world exploration and the stealth-focused mission structure that gave the series its roots. Its naval combat and oceanic exploration offered boundless fun, and there still hasn't been a historical guest star that rivaled the likes of Blackbeard or Mary Read. - Jon Ryan (Read IGN's Review)

When Monkey Island 2 came out, we knew who Guybrush Threepwood was, so we knew what to expect. Or so we thought. Somehow, creator Ron Gilbert threw everyone for a loop, ending Monkey Island 2 in a carnival, leaving us to wonder if everything we'd played in the first two games took place in a boy's imagination, or if the ending itself was simply another LeChuck voodoo spell. Regardless, the story, jokes, and pacing were all tightened up for the second chapter, making it arguably the best of LucasArts adventure games. - Ryan McCaffrey

Burnout 3: Takedown is an undeniable classic. Its predecessor, Point of Impact, had fine-tuned the balance of high-speed racing and vehicular destruction, but Takedown perfected it. This was one of those games you could easily lose hours playing, either alone or with friends. However, few things could ruin a friendship faster than wrecking someone's ride just before the finish line – though thankfully all was (usually) forgotten during the next round of Crash Mode. - Jon Ryan (Read Our Review)

Starting the journey of Fallout 2 as a tribesman with nothing more than a loincloth and a spear to my name and gradually fighting my way up to a power-armored, gauss-gunning killing machine is a fantastic and surprisingly natural feeling of progression – one that few games have been able to match. Exploring a vast post-apocalyptic world full of deadly raiders, supermutants, and deathclaws is daunting but exciting. Thanks to attention to detail, atmospheric music, powerfully written morally ambiguous quests, and voice-acted interactions with key characters, the world feels personal and vivid even though we view it from a distant third-person camera. - Dan Stapleton (Read Our Review)

League of Legends exists in a magical place that lies somewhere between intense competition and fun and enjoyable strategy. Though there’s a lot to master, League of Legends is equipped with great modes that make the MOBA easy to learn, yet is still incredibly challenging as players scale the competitive ladder. While the excellent Summoner’s Rift stands as the primary battleground for competitive play, the other modes also provide a great means for a fun chance to practice with Champions when things get too tense. With continuous improvement updates and a constantly changing roster, League of Legends stands as one of the best competitive games in existence. - Miranda Sanchez (Read Our Review)

Mega Man 3 took every lesson that Capcom learned from Mega Man 2 and expanded, refined, and remixed it. While taking on new enemies like Snake Man and Magnet Man, our plucky robot hero managed to learn a few tricks that would become mainstays for future games. The slide ability gave Mega Man a much needed upgrade while his friendly robot pooch, Rush, allowed him to explore greater heights and find more hidden secrets than in any of his previous outings. There’s a long running debate as to whether Mega Man 2 or Mega Man 3 is the definitive NES Mega Man game, but for our money it’s the third installment, hands down. - Zach Ryan

With its debut on the Switch, Animal Crossing: New Horizons made a big leap from life simulator to a new form of artistic expression. New Horizons adds terraforming to the mix, along with outdoor decorations so you don’t just give a home tour anymore. And if you are playing solo, it’s still a blast: The core rocks-to-riches game is overhauled and quite fun: Your natural resources, fish, bugs, wood, flowers, can be used to either buy or craft things for your island. There’s an endless daily checklist, but not a lot of pressure to get it done – unless you’re expecting company. This makes for a game you can check in on at your own pace, and as it moves through the seasons, visiting your town can be one of the most relaxing, meditative, and experiences out there. Sharing this experience (and your creations) with friends along the way is a unique, friendly, accessible social experience that no other game has quite nailed so well. - Samuel Claiborn (Read Our Review)

Thief II took everything right about stealth games, and then added a dash of steampunk-infused magic. Looking Glass Studio crafted a believable world where technology was on the rise and the magic of the old world was on the run. Adding to the mix was the perfect anti-hero who wouldn't even consider the possibility of saving the world unless it meant no more houses to steal from. Thief II gave the player all the right tools for the perfect heist, along with interactive maps for writing notes. It rewarded taking your time, and listening to some of the best guard banter in any game to date. Silently sprinting along rooftops, ducking through secret mansion passages – the game didn't just make you feel like a thief, it made you feel like a master of the craft. - Brendan Graeber (Read Our Review)

SimCity 2000 is a beautiful, funny, detailed sandbox that gives players control of a huge, customizable map that they can manage how they see fit. You can build the perfect metropolis or you can burn it all to the ground with catastrophes like earthquakes and alien attacks. Compared to the other entries in the series, the game hits that player agency sweet spot so you feel like you’re empowered to save your city without being overwhelmed by choice. You need to make sure your Sims have access to electricity and water, but also that they’re safe, have access to healthcare, and the roads are maintained. As your city grows, you’ll have to keep track of things like mass transit, entertainment, and the economy but the difficulty curve never feels too steep, and success always seems just a stadium away. - Christian Holt

With the mechanical abandon of a Mario game and the worldview of Werner Herzog, Inside spends its three brilliant hours of life holding the player in a loop of intrigue, delight, and disgust. Playdead's bleak, gorgeous puzzle-platformer builds on its predecessor Limbo in all the right places – hello, color palettes; goodbye, boring gravity puzzles. It leaves us with a game that sleekly pivots from brain-teaser to body horror until hitting an ending that ranks among gaming’s best. Inside’s quiet genius lies in how the puzzles creep beyond its ever-changing challenges, and into its story. I’ve spent as much time or more wondering what it all means as I did playing through. If you’ve played, you understand. If you haven’t, you need to. - Joe Skrebels (Read Our Review)

Titanfall 2 is one of the best FPS games that many haven’t played. In a sea of indistinguishable shooters, Titanfall and its sequel dared to do something different. Other shooters have included mechs in the past, but Respawn Entertainments' dedication to creating robust relationships between Pilots and Titans stands out. T2's level design also sets it apart from others in the genre with its combination of Pilot and Titan gameplay. Stand-out examples include the time-shifting fifth mission Effect and Cause, and The Gauntlet featured in its tutorial that still has the speedrunning community setting new records to this day. - Jada Griffin (Read Our Review)

When Tony Hawk Pro Skater came out, it was like nothing anyone had ever played before. It just felt so insanely intuitive, it had great music, it just felt… cool? There was not one demographic that wasn’t drawn into the cultural singularity of gaming and skateboarding like a rent-a-cop to a skate video shoot. Enter Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, an improvement upon the original in virtually every single way imaginable, the popularity of the game exploded in a way that could only have ended in steadily diminishing annual releases. Still, THPS2 remains the perfect skateboarding game. - Brendan Graeber (Read Our Review)

Kill a monster, make gear out of its parts, and hunt a stronger monster sounds like a gameplay loop that can get old fast, but Monster Hunter: World has taken that decade-old hook and perfected it. World has streamlined the cycle and made the introduction into monster hunting more palatable for newcomers all without watering down the deep action-RPG mechanics longtime fans loved most. With 14 unique weapons that all control entirely differently, endless armor customization options that change more than just fashion, and incredibly difficult fights that reward players with an incomparable sense of accomplishment, Monster Hunter: World is in a league of its own when it comes to endless replayability and challenge. Add in the fact you can hunt with your best friends, and you have a recipe worthy of the Meowscular Chef himself. - Casey DeFreitas (Read Our Review)

Resident Evil 2 Remake redefined what a ‘remake’ could be. For players new to the game, this was a meticulously crafted survival horror experience that felt completely in step with the genre in 2019, while veterans got to enjoy a lovingly crafted piece of nostalgia that felt like the game they remembered from 1998. It trod a brilliant tightrope, capturing the inherent weirdness of the original while updating the control scheme to a fluid over-the-shoulder camera far more suited to the way we play games today. The result was uneasy but never frustrating, subversive but familiar. All remakes should learn from this one. - Lucy O'Brien (Read Our Review)

System Shock 2 paved the way for the genre-blending first-person games that are commonplace today, perfecting the formula years before anyone else would even try. Its premise was straightforward: you found yourself alone on a space station where you were apparently the only thing left alive. Well, the only organic thing. Rogue AI SHODAN wastes little time in establishing herself as your formidable opponent. Along the way you pick up elements of the backstory through audio logs and can mold yourself in any way you choose from a DPS/combat focus to a pure hacker that can infiltrate any system. System Shock 2 was tense, smart, and as great as it was immediately upon its release in 1999, ahead of its time. - Ryan McCaffrey (Read Our Review)

Mortal Kombat 11 is quite simply one of, if not the most complete fighting games in existence. It’s got one of the most impressive story modes in the entire genre; a highly respectable roster of 25 outstanding characters, with 12 more added as DLC; a fantastic set of tutorial modes; an unrivaled set of unlockable cosmetics for every character; an equally unrivaled vault of unlockable goodies found in the game’s unique Krypt, which is almost a game unto itself; and most importantly, it’s got one of the best online netcodes across all fighting games. - Mitchell Saltzman (Read Our Review)

Persona 5 Royal is the absolute best Persona has ever been. From its character designs to its jazzy soundtrack to the menus that house them, it overflows with style and flair. But this game goes more than skin deep with an incredibly compelling story and turn-based combat that rewards tactical thinking both in and out of fights. While Persona 5 already deserved its spot on this list, its 2019 Royal edition managed to take an incredible game and make it even better with new story additions and innumerable smart improvements to nearly every system, further cementing it as an all-time great. - Tom Marks (Read Our Review)

The most boring thing to note about Dark Souls is its difficulty. Why? Because it stops you from focusing on all of the things that make it the most influential game of the last decade. You fail to mention how incredible Lordran is – a single continuous location that spirals from lava-flooded ruins to a glistening city of the gods. A place where new paths often lead back to familiar locations, so that exploring it for the first time feels like solving a puzzle. You overlook its precise, nuanced combat or the fact it has the most interesting and meaningful bosses of any game. And you certainly never get round to discussing its story, which revels in ambiguity and invites interpretation like no other. - Daniel Krupa (Read Our Review)

Over 10 million players amassed over the first two weeks of the Fortnite release and Epic quickly changed their Battle Royale to a free-to-play model. Almost overnight, Fortnite became the reigning battle royale game to play as consistent updates to the map and limited-time game modes rolled out. With the steady flow of fresh content and updates to Fortnite’s Battle Royale, it stands out in its genre as a colorful and unique title other games have yet to compete with. - Stella Chung (Read Our Review)

The world of Albion came alive on the Xbox 360, while Fable 2 was also one of the first games to give you a full-time canine companion. The dog was, in gameplay terms, rather straightforward, but for many players, the pooch tugged on your heartstrings and made you care about him/her in a way that you typically wouldn't above the average human or fantasy-pet RPG. Solid combat, a multiple-choice ending, great music and world-building, and a deft balance of action, adventure, and role-playing helped make Fable 2 both the pinnacle of the series and one of the finest bits of escapist fantasy ever coded. - Ryan McCaffrey (Read Our Review)

In 1997, GoldenEye was a revelation. Not only was it a more-than-decent movie tie-in, but it became the blueprint for console first-person shooters, serving up a wonderfully engaging single-player mode that made you feel like Bond, with split-screen multiplayer that quickly became a staple in dorm rooms across the world. - Alex Simmons (Read Our Review)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is quite simply the ultimate Smash Bros. game. From the roster size of nearly 100 fighters, to the enormous World of Light story mode, to the library of over 800 classic video game songs jam-packed within, it’s a game unlike any other. Smash Bros. has always been simultaneously the quintessential party fighter, as well as one of the most hotly competitive fighting games, a split that has resulted in two different audiences for the series. What’s perhaps most amazing about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, however, is how it delivers a fighting game for Nintendo Switch that is just as fun for the casual audience as it is for the hardcore crowd. - Mitchell Saltzman (Read Our Review)

Both the original freeware version of Spelunky, and its 2008 HD remake are two of the most influential games of all time due to their monumental impact that shaped the entire roguelike genre. The HD remake was largely viewed as being a near perfect game, in particular. That is, until Spelunky 2 came along 12 years later and somehow managed to improve upon every single facet of its mechanics without ever sacrificing the procedurally generated magic that made Spelunky so special. Spelunky 2 is a game all about storytelling, only the stories told aren’t the ones the game scripts for you, they’re the ones you craft for yourself by exploring its constantly changing worlds, fighting against nearly impossible odds, with both the successes and the failures being equally memorable. - Mitchell Saltzman (Read Our Review)

It’s easy to underestimate Return of the Obra Dinn at first glance. A 1-bit game about being an insurance evaluator on an empty boat may not light your heart ablaze, but that simple shell houses one of the most clever, captivating, and unfalteringly impressive puzzle games you’ll ever play. It’s a mystery game that empowers its players to actually solve its otherworldly cold cases for themselves, relying on the real detective work of observation and deduction to uncover its secrets rather than highlighted objects and scripted set pieces. There’s very little else like Return of the Obra Dinn out there – and once you play it you’ll undoubtedly be wishing for more. - Tom Marks (Read Our Review)

Dota isn't a game; it's a lifestyle. The high barrier to entry will drive away new players, but those who crack the shell and get hooked have a very strong chance of rarely playing anything else again. Its 100+ heroes all play differently, and coming close to truly understanding one could take hundreds of hours. Even then, there's always something new to learn. Every failed strategy, every death, every comeback is a chance to discover something new. Dota 2 is at its best when you're playing with a team of five friends. Gathering gold, killing enemies, taking objectives as a coordinated team, then making a final push to victory is an incredible high that you'll want to experience again and again. - Miranda Sanchez (Read Our Review)

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe may be a re-release of the original Wii U kart racer, but its function is as both a fantastic kart racer in its own right and a more complete package of an already great game. Its selection of classic and brand new tracks make for an excellent rotation of races that keeps things fresh no matter how much you play with a thorough roster of racers and plenty of kart customization options. While it's not the marquee attraction, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's suite of multiplayer options beyond racing are some of the best the franchise has had since the N64 days of Block Fort. But it's really the finely tuned racing of Nintendo's long standing franchise that takes the spotlight — it's never felt better to race (even in the face of Blue Shells), while courses are beautiful, wonderfully detailed, and represent some of the best of the franchise both new and old. - Jonathon Dornbush (Read Our Review)

When you walk into a room full of arcade games, something looks different about Donkey Kong. Its pastel blue cabinet is a bit shorter than the others; a bit rounder, more welcoming. The glowing marquee and art on the game depicts characters that belong on a 1960s pizza delivery box. When you put a quarter in, the machine shows you a little cartoon of an ape clambering up a ladder, mocking you. It asks “How High Can You Get?” and the instructions end there. Barrels and fire fill the screen while the characters’ intricate animations for every movement continue the illusion that you are playing this cartoon. You probably don’t get very high. Hopefully, you have more quarters. - Samuel Claiborn

The Sims 3 was a fantastic leap forward in the franchise, showcasing what a more open and customizable base version of The Sims could look like. While the Sims 4 has grown significantly in the years its been out, its base version (and especially its launch version) lacked in items, features, and general options compared to The Sims 3. If we're looking at each game from their base features and even expansions, The Sims 3 simply did more despite having more simplified actions and Sims emotions. There's a lot to love about each, especially with the free updates developer Maxis has given Sims 4 since launch, but The Sims 3 takes the crown in being the best base version of The Sims yet. - Miranda Sanchez (Read Our Review)

Sam Fisher's third adventure is actually three masterpiece games in one. In the campaign, a stunning real-time lighting engine and open mission design allows you to play in countless different ways: total stealth, full gunplay, or a gadget-fest. Game 2 is the four-mission two-player co-op campaign, in which two young agents work together in a side story that runs parallel to Fisher's adventure. You literally have to play together, from boosting each other up to high ledges to going back-to-back to scale elevator shafts, the co-op mode committed to cooperation in a way no other action game had. And then you had Spies vs. Mercs, which took the asymmetrical multiplayer mode introduced in Pandora Tomorrow and refined it into something truly unique in the gaming world. Agile, non-lethal spies playing in third-person view faced off against slow-moving but heavily armed mercs that saw the game through a first-person helmet. It was tense, riveting, and brilliant. - Ryan McCaffrey (Read Our Review)

In this era of Trophies and Achievements, completing everything in a game is common. But when Yoshi’s Island came out, the reward for exploration was greater than a Gamerscore: for collecting all of the extremely well-hidden red coins and flowers and then finishing a level with 30 stars (which basically means you can’t get hit), you received a 100% rating. If you did this on every level in a world, you unlocked two more levels in each of the six worlds. And these levels were even harder than the others! I spent many hours 100%-ing my Yoshi’s Island cartridge and the save stuck with me all the way until an unfortunate incident while reviewing a contemporary knockoff Super Nintendo. I’ve never been so excited to start over from scratch. - Samuel Claiborn

Silent Hill 2 was the first in the series to establish the town itself as a character – in a genre oversaturated with run-of-the-mill killers, zombies, aliens, and other more conventional adversaries, Silent Hill 2’s focus on horror in architecture, in the layout and personality of a space, of the human psyche turned tangible, was vastly more interesting to me. Most of all, it was scary – like, actually scary: an exploration of the depths of human depravity and the effects it has on the people and places around us that few video games have handled with such a disturbing grace and maturity. - Lonnie Rad (Read Our Review)

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is just how much it dwarfs Grand Theft Auto III in every way. Forget one city. Have three, with vast swathes of forests, countryside, and desert in between. Want more vehicles? Have over 250 of them, including jump jets, combine harvesters, lawnmowers, bicycles, semi-trailers, forklifts, and so, so many more. Music? No problem. How does 11 radio stations and over 150 tracks sound? Not enough? How about a functioning casino? How about a jetpack? How about same-screen free-roaming co-op? How about fast food that actually makes you fat? And how about we put Samuel L. Jackson in it? Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was the all-time best-selling game on PlayStation 2 – itself the best-selling console of all-time – and it’s just not at all hard to see why. - Luke Reilly (Read Our Review)

Kicking alien invaders off of Earth in XCOM 2: War of the Chosen never gets old. Thanks to its procedurally generated maps and wide range of enemies, abilities, and ever-improving gear and weaponry, the tactical possibilities for your squad are all but endless. Especially when played on high difficulty in the no-takebacks Iron Man mode, every decision can mean the difference between life and permadeath for characters who begin as blank slate rookies but become an elite team. (And that's before you even get started on mods.) - Dan Stapleton (Read Our Review)

Ostensibly a drab government building, Control's main setting of The Oldest House is actually a shifting, twisting, and teleporting behemoth, which the team uses to consistently marry the everyday with the supernatural in increasingly bizarre and exciting ways. And exploration around this world is some of the best in third-person action - Marvel may not have ever given us a proper Jean Grey videogame, but playing as Jesse Faden offers enough telekinetic powers to play with that at once feel powerful and spry, weighty yet nimble in a way that translates to both exploration and combat. Control may seem unassuming, just like its location, on the surface, but digging just a couple levels deeper reveals how layered, nuanced, and enchanting its world really is. - Jonathon Dornbush (Read Our Review)

All Ghillied Up was my first glimpse of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in action, and as two camouflaged snipers worked their way through an irradiated Pripyat in Ukraine, I was instantly hooked. The highlight – not just of the demo but arguably of the entire game – was watching, breath held, as an entire armored patrol trundled past, inches from our hiding spot, and it’s a moment of tension that’s never been matched in a shooter since. Electric set-pieces and superb pacing make Modern Warfare’s single-player campaign one of the most memorable first-person shooters ever, but it’s the perfectly balanced multiplayer that made it the de rigueur online game for years to follow. Multiplayer shooters were never the same again. - Alex Simmons (Read Our Review)

While the Tomb Raider reboot in 2013 kicked off a new direction for the iconic heroine that was more in line with modern AAA storytelling (read: Lara was given a deeper backstory and a personality), Rise of the Tomb Raider took it and ran a mile. It continued to flesh out Lara as a driven, wary character while upping the ante on what made the 2013 game so fun; fluid traversal, crunchy combat, and beautifully intricate puzzle tombs. Add a delicately told emotional throughline centered on Lara’s relationship with her father, and you’ve got what is currently the series’ apex. - Lucy O'Brien (Read Our Review)

After Arkham Asylum laid the groundwork for a superhero game that hit all the right beats, Batman: Arkham City took everything to the next level by letting Batman loose in the streets of Gotham. Not only did it nail the feeling of stalking and beating down thugs with an impressive array of gadgets, it raised the stakes of what a caped crusader could deal with in a single night. Arkham City’s heaping helping of infamous rogues let you experience them in their element, and found perfect ways for Batman to foil them via both brain and brawn – leading to some of the best boss fights ever conceived. Each supervillain added to the oppressive weight of trying to save the day with the odds stacked against you, and the story’s climax remains one of the most striking moments in video games. - Brendan Graeber (Read Our Review)

Dishonored 2’s wildly fun skillset is perfectly paired with its chaotic playground; tinkering with both means no two playthroughs will ever be the same. Bend Dishonored 2, try and break it, and you’ll be amazed and how deeply it caters to your most deranged experimentation. Like its predecessor, it’s also incredibly stylish, the Southern-European city of Karnaca bursting with ideas and history. Play it low-key, and Dishonored 2 is one of the best stealth games ever made. Play it high-chaos, and you’ll never settle for a mere gun in a first person video game again. - Lucy O’Brien (Read Our Review)

The island setting of The Witness enveloped me in its striking color palette and minimalistic soundscape. Weaved into this tranquil setting however is a series of fiendish puzzles, each offering a unique challenge. These puzzles had me scrawling patterns on pieces of graph paper, reflecting the sun, and listening to the local wildlife – I explored every corner of my brain, and this island, in search of increasingly-evasive solutions. The final challenge had me questioning my sanity. Being stuck on one particular conundrum seemed frustrating at the time, but that all washed away in a sense of near-unparalleled euphoria once it had been solved. Unlike so many games that are desperate to hand-hold and drip-feed, The Witness has a refreshingly high opinion of its player, expecting them to think for themselves. It’s what makes The Witness so challenging but also deeply special. - Simon Cardy (Read Our Review)

Journey is the closest a video game has come to emulating the effects of poetry. In terms of structure it’s so simple: you must reach a snowy mountain peak visible in the distance. Along the way, your character surfs across glistening deserts, hides from flying creatures made entirely from cloth, and occasionally meets other players embarking on the same pilgrimage. Journey has a unique and special tone: it’s dreamlike and melancholic for the most part, but it’s the rapturous conclusion which truly elevates it. Words like "breathtaking" are used so liberally their meaning has been hollowed out, but Journey deserves to command its full significance. - Daniel Krupa (Read Our Review)

Many games attempt to emulate cinema, dealing in the same tropes and stock characters. Initially, it looks like Uncharted does the same thing – it focuses on a treasure hunter who frequently finds himself in danger across exotic locations. But when you play Uncharted, especially the second installment, Among Thieves, you realize it surpasses much of Hollywood with ease. So often action exists for action sake – to look cool – but Uncharted 2: Among Thieves uses it to reveal more about its central character, Nathan Drake, and his relationships with a strong cast of supporting characters. That’s not to say the action isn’t spectacular. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves set a new benchmark for cinematic action, graphical fidelity, and established Nathan Drake as one of the great video game characters of his time. - Daniel Krupa (Read Our Review)

Blizzard performed alchemy here. Overwatch should be leaden – a Team Fortress cover version with two-and-a-half modes and a MOBA approach to character design. And yet what we have is gold. The key here is in how Blizzard looked beyond simply making a good shooter – it made an interesting one. Its backstory is PG-13 Pixar, its characters are diverse and lovable, and much more. Pro gamers, cosplayers, fanfic writers, ARG detectives and everyone in between have all been given a reason to play a single game – no mean feat. And this isn’t to play down the game itself – Blizzard didn’t make a Team Fortress clone, it made a successor. It’s a swift, satisfying shooter, with a whirling game-to-game internal meta of character picks and counter-picks. - Joe Skrebels (Read Our Review)

Apex Legends continues to bring one of if not the best free-to-play Battle Royale to fans, and its shining accomplishment may just lie in its revolutionary ping system. Its ability to give players the capability to instantly and efficiently communicate in the middle of hectic yet strategic battles is one of the most impactful innovations in gaming. Apex also bucked the default character trend by giving characters unique personalities. These are ingrained in their DNA and reflected in their relationships, connections, playstyles, and abilities, all of which feature prominently surrounding media and in-game events to create a winning combination to give everyone a favorite Legend. Apex has seen its share of growing pains over the years, but its dedication to its fans, constant updates, and evolving metagame continue to keep the attention of fans new and old. - Jada Griffin (Read Our Review)

In a genre as old as the Metroidvania, it's rare for a game to breathe fresh life into it as much as Hollow Knight did. Its winding subterranean halls are deeper than you’d expect in just about every way you can imagine – from its impressive size and scope, to its comprehensive but delicately told story and lore, to its innumerable upgrades and secrets to uncover. It’s easy to get lost in its caves, or at least lose track of time while exploring them – but once you find your footing you’ll be more than glad you did, because they’re home to one of the best games this genre has ever produced. - Tom Marks (Read Our Review)

I restore classic arcade and pinball machines and one of my favorite projects was bringing a Ms. Pac-Man cocktail machine back from the dead. With a rebuilt monitor, restored art, and of course the speed chip that makes it many times faster, Ms. Pac-Man made a popular addition to my homecade. We run an occasional high score competition at IGN and so I thought it would be cool to bring it into our lunch room for a bit. For a month, the machine was never left alone. We work in an office surrounded by the latest toys and games, but Ms. Pac-Man attracted crowds. People changed their commutes to come in early and stay late just to play. Frequently we'd be across the office in a conference room and the strains of the Ms. Pac-Man cutscene music would waft over and make everyone giggle. There are very few games which can create so much happiness after so many decades. - Samuel Claiborn

Many of the things I value most in skill-based games, I value because of Counter-Strike: good level design, team-based dynamic, the dedication required to master it, a friendly sense of competition, and a solid sense of community. It taught me the joy of earning my victories in a game, but also the importance of learning from my failures. It’s the reason I love first-person shooters and the reason I stuck by PC games at a young age, and I owe it all to its earliest iterations. - Lonnie Rad (Read Our Review)

Left 4 Dead 2 came out exactly a year after the original, which upset a lot of people who (incorrectly) assumed the sequel would be a glorified expansion pack to the first. But Left 4 Dead 2 does exactly what a sequel needs to do: be better in every way. L4D2 - developed in-house at Valve - has more creative levels in its campaign, more special infected to kill (or play as, if playing in Versus Mode), a bigger variety of weapons, and protagonists with some actual personality. Though the original development team went on to create the asymmetrical multiplayer shooter Evolve, nothing has quite matched the visceral thrills and scares of Left 4 Dead 2, which stands as one of the pinnacles of modern co-op gaming. - Jobert Atienza (Read Our Review)

The story of Ness, Paula, Jeff, and Poo's journey across a strange, slanted version of America was such a vast departure from previous RPGs I'd played like Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger, and its probably the game that I rented the most. It wasn't drenched in fantasy tropes and pathos, but rather brimming with color, humor, and some of the weirdest characters and events I'd ever seen in a game. Simultaneously, it knows how to pack an emotional punch. So yeah, I rented it. Obviously, it didn't come with the pack-in player's guide, so I only made it so far before I had to return it. Then I rented it again. And again. And again. Eventually, my parents noticed that my college fund was being given to Blockbuster, so they nipped the problem in the bud and bought it for me. It's been my favorite JRPG ever since. - Andrew Goldfarb

What hooks you instantly in Diablo II is just how perfectly measured the core gameplay loop of killing, looting and upgrading is. Whether you’re just starting out or wading through Hell with a hardcore character, Diablo II has a momentum that’s impossible not to be swept up in. The odds are always overwhelming, the atmosphere always malevolent, and the reward always worth the risk. The simple joy of wading through thick knots of enemies with my necromancer and his summoned brood of skeletons and mages, setting off chains of corpse explosions and painting the world red was an end game in itself. - Cam Shea (Read Our Review)

Not only were players treated to an excellent RTS experience in StarCraft, but their reward for completing sections of the campaign were evocative visuals that further immersed you in a world where humans are losing a war against brutal aliens. As I played through the storyline I learned to love the different little characters I interacted with and felt genuine anger when the Zerg managed to capture Kerrigan and bend her to their will. Still, the highlight of StarCraft is its multiplayer. Few gaming moments are as satisfying as defending your base against a Zerg rush as the Protoss or successfully sending in a fleet of Terran to decimate an enemy's base. - Destin Legarie

I believe the defining characteristic that draws people to World of Warcraft is the freedom to play the game as you see fit. Like grouping with friends? The game gives you the ability to start with a crew and play through the entire game together, regardless of race or class. Want to make a go at it solo? Then take on quests alone. The higher level dungeons and raids demand teamwork, but with its stellar Looking for Group system, finding people to tackle a hard boss has never been easier. It’s always worth mentioning the warring factions of the alliance and horde. While choosing a faction seems a tad more meaningless than it used to, mainly because the factions basically are tasked with the same things, the old days of Crossroads and Tarren Mill are memories some players will have forever. - Mark Medina (Read Our Review)

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic almost single-handedly rescued Star Wars video games from purgatory. It was also one of the first times the beloved IP was handed to a world-class developer in BioWare. The result was not just one of the best role-playing games ever made, but one that helped legitimize Western RPGs on consoles and establish the fledgling Xbox as a destination for top-tier third-party games. KOTOR was a 40-hour role-playing epic set 4,000 years before the Original Trilogy. As such, it had the freedom to tell the story it wanted and invent a new universe of characters without Lucasfilm slapping it on the wrist and telling it no. And so we got Revan and one of the best twists in gaming history, and we got the dark wit of robot party member HK-47. Best of all, we got a Star Wars story where your choices truly mattered. Choosing to double-cross someone you'd agreed to help would earn you Dark Side points, and eventually you could become truly evil and sadistically powerful. But so too could your benevolent actions bring you to the Light Side and make you a virtuous hero. - Ryan McCaffrey (Read Our Review)

Like Fallout 3 before it, Fallout New Vegas throws us into a harsh, post-nuclear America. But it very quickly becomes something greater than just more of the same thanks to some amazing writing and touches by some of the minds behind the original Fallout and Fallout 2. It’s not limited to mechanical tweaks like improved real-time combat and crafting. Several factions with deep, shades-of-gray characters populate the wastes with interesting moral decisions, making the conflict between the New California Republic, Caesar’s Legion, and the mysterious Mr. House feel like anything but a black-and-white choice between good and evil. The fact that we get to decide the outcome makes it even better. - Dan Stapleton (Read Our Review)

Final Fantasy VI was a revelation. Its dark, steampunk-laden world was like nothing I’d ever seen before, and I loved how the heroes were more brooding and complex than their cheery predecessors. The music affected me profoundly as well; some of my favorite Nobuo Uematsu pieces are from the Final Fantasy VI soundtrack. But what really sets Final Fantasy VI apart is its many iconic moments, including Magitek armor moving slowly through a snowy field and Celes singing at the opera house. Along with its incredible story and soundtrack, Final Fantasy VI also features a fantastic combat system with a whopping 14 playable characters. Final Fantasy VI is considered a milestone in the Final Fantasy series, and with good reason. - Meghan Sullivan

Before you can catch all 151 Pokémon, Pokémon Yellow first teaches you how to respect and care for the sometimes temperamental creatures. The game takes all the best elements from Pokémon Red and Blue and upgrades it to make it feel more like the anime. The best change to the originals, of course, was a Pikachu following you around on your journey. Suddenly, the Pokémon weren’t just creatures you summoned for battle; they become emotional creatures that accompany on your adventure. They’re no longer just fighters you bring along. The small story elements that link Pokémon Yellow back to the anime were a fun way to let the player relive the beginning of Ash’s journey, but ultimately, Pokémon Yellow is simply one of the best ways to experience the Pokémon universe – it's as simple as that. - Miranda Sanchez (Read Our Review)

Metroid Prime was gorgeous and fast, but it was also amazingly packed with detail: birds, bugs, and other wildlife occupied the ruins of the game, while hieroglyphs and etchings revealed its history. Metroid Prime was also a lonely game. Metroid Prime dropped you into the Chozo ruins with no one to talk to. Exploring an alien planet solo is what the series is all about, and why the subsequent games with space marines and hunters just didn't work as well. - Samuel Claiborn (Read Our Review)

To me, everything about Skyrim was a vast improvement over its predecessor, Oblivion. The craggy, intimidating peaks of the Nord homeland and the saga of the Dovahkiin were much more interesting than the relatively sedate happenings of their neighbors in Cyrodiil. But what’s more, there’s so much lying just around the corner, off the beaten path, that you could never even stumble upon it in a hundred hours as the Dragonborn. But the fact that such care for detail, for world-building, for exploration and for immersion was paid to every tome, tomb, and quest, is enough to cement Skyrim as one of the absolute best role-playing games we’ve ever seen, and one of the best games of all time. - Brandin Tyrrel (Read Our Review)

With a perfect blend of atmosphere, action and story, Resident Evil 4 totally redefined the 3rd person shooter, and it featured some incredible set pieces like battling against chainsaw-wielding maniacs, giant men, giant fish, tiny men in Napoleon costumes, and medium-sized centipede men. RE4 unlocked the true potential of the series in a way that hasn’t been matched before or since, and will probably always be the most universally beloved Resident Evil title. - Jeremy Azevedo (Read Our Review)

Few games have ever inspired the same sense of awe that Shadow of the Colossus does within its first 10 minutes. Climbing that first ledge and coming face to face with the first Colossus is among the most impactful, and almost terrifying, experiences in all of gaming. From its beautiful, crumbling ruins to the hulking, ancient Colossi, Fumito Ueda’s sun-soaked action/adventure game is drenched in a muted, melancholy aesthetic that has become synonymous with his, admittedly limited, works. Part love story, part monster hunt, part parable, Shadow of the Colossus borrows heavily from what came before, but inspires much of what came after. - Zach Ryan (Read Our Review)

2013’s The Last of Us pulled very few punches, choosing to eschew a tidy, walk-into-the-sunset hero’s victory for a morally ambiguous rug pull. Its follow-up was more unlikely still; a revenge tale that put us in the shoes of a character we were encouraged to hate early on. Somehow, The Last of Us Part 2 makes it work, and the warring stories of its beautifully performed dual protagonists are told with no punches pulled, once again leaving us in a more ambiguous space than AAA games would usually allow. Plus, its combat is fluid, it looks gorgeous, and its sinister creature design means it’s genuinely tense from moment to moment. A masterpiece. - Lucy O'Brien (Read Our Review)

Not only did I get completely lost in the massive single-player world of Red Dead Redemption, to the point where I'd started talking with a bit of a drawl because I was so used to hearing it, but it also drew me into online gaming unlike anything I'd played before. Never before had I so successfully crafted my own stories and adventures (with friends and strangers alike) than in Red Dead's Free Roam mode. It was the kind of game you couldn't wait to discuss with your friends the next day. Everyone had their own amazing tales to tell about their time in the old west, and you were constantly making new ones every time you turned it on. - Jon Ryan (Read Our Review)

It wasn't until Snake covertly slithered his way onto the PlayStation that Metal Gear cemented itself as a big deal. The moment-to-moment gameplay was about being sneaky, and players were rewarded for outsmarting the defenses of Shadow Moses quietly and cleverly, but things frequently got loud during iconic boss fights and over-the-top action setpieces. However, where Metal Gear Solid was truly groundbreaking was its emphasis on narrative and cinematic presentation. Hideo Kojima's love of Hollywood action movies was readily apparent through slick cutscenes, Yoji Shinkawa's character and mechanical designs added a heavy dose of anime sensibility, and the whole experience sounded amazing thanks to the musical contributions of Harry Gregson Williams and a stellar voice cast. Metal Gear Solid looked like a movie, sounded like a movie, and felt like a movie, but still played like a video game, striking a delicate balance that the medium is still striving for over twenty years later. - Max Scoville (Read Our Review)

Civilization IV is a great turn-based strategy game on its own, but it wasn’t until the Beyond the Sword expansion that it became truly legendary, and the highlight of the 28-year-old Civilization series. The changes it makes are sweeping: it adds corporations, which add another religion-like layer, fleshes out the espionage system and victory conditions, and enhances the AI to put up a great fight. Meanwhile, random events ranging from tornadoes to baby booms make every playthrough even more unique and eventful than ever before. And that’s on top of a game that’s so addictive to begin with that it’s cost us countless nights of sleep whilst chanting its “Just one more turn” mantra or humming its Grammy award-winning theme song. - Dan Stapleton (Read Our Review)

There's not a ton left that we can really say about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time outside of the fact that it's indisputably one of the greatest games ever made. Not only did it redefine action/adventure games, but it completely changed the way the industry thought about 3D combat and exploration. An epic tale that introduced new characters, new lore, and an ever-expanding timeline theory, this version of Zelda took what was great about its predecessors and expanded on those themes and ideas exponentially. Solving puzzle across time, riding Epona through the vast expanse of Hyrule, and the final confrontation with Ganon are moments that will stick with Zelda fans forever, but in 1998 they were mind-bending, genre-defining. - Zach Ryan (Read Our Review)

The premise of Minecraft is incredibly simple—mine materials such as stone and wood, and build things with it. Yet, the possibilities are incredibly limitless. The world always begins as a bright sunny day, and you use this time to chop down trees, dig, and maybe even slay a few animals for food. It’s great, until the sun starts to set and the actual enemies start to appear. It’s at this point you realize this is actually a survival game, and you’re forced to either burrow underground or make a quick makeshift wood cabin. Then as the sun rises and you watch all the enemies burn to a crisp, you are finally free to explore again, you are hit with a joyous urge to explore and dive even deeper into the game. From then on, the only thing that’s standing in between you and literally anything, is imagination. - Mark Medina (Read Our Review)

Halo: Combat Evolved simply felt at home on a gamepad, and the fact that it had a likeable and heroic protagonist, a rich sci-fi universe that felt fleshed-out despite this being the first game in the series, and Halo became an instant smash hit. But its story was only half of its success. Halo was quite simply one of the best multiplayer shooters ever upon its release, thanks to its incredible complement of weapons (two-shot death pistol FTW!) that mixed seamlessly with third-person-controlled vehicles across a swath of classic maps like Blood Gulch, Sidewinder, Hang 'em High, and more. That it was all set to the chanting-monks theme song that, like the game itself, became legendary. - Ryan McCaffrey (Read Our Review)

When Half-Life first came out in 1998, it was immediately obvious how transformative a game it was. Valve not only proved it was possible to tell a real, atmospheric story from within a first-person-shooter, but did it so brilliantly that its lessons have informed virtually every shooter campaign since. Stepping into the Black Mesa Research Facility as mild-mannered Gordon Freeman and bearing witness to the accident that sets off an interdimensional invasion is a master class in introducing a game’s universe. Instead of stopping the action and playing a cutscene to advance the story, Half-Life’s tale all plays out from Gordon’s perspective, never taking control away from us, but directing our eyes toward its scripted events. Iconic monsters – most notably the Alien facehugger-like Headcrabs that transform scientists into gruesome zombies – and impressive soldier AI gave Half-Life a spooky atmosphere backed up by enemies that pose a real threat. Great and memorable weapons, from the simple crowbar to the silent sniper crossbow and the biological homing weapon that shoots alien bees, made fighting through the spooky ruins of Black Mesa a fantastic battle. - Dan Stapleton (Read Our Review)

Final Fantasy 14 has long moved beyond its redemption arc and entered its dominant era. No other MMORPG has spent the past decade so consistently, releasing critically-acclaimed expansion after expansion. Square Enix’s hard work has paid off too as each year millions more players sign up to see what the buzz is about. Final Fantasy 14’s success doesn’t just hinge on its playability as an MMO, but its appeal to fans of single-player JRPGs as well. This dual-threat approach, plus a level of dedication to players’ happiness means no discussions about the best MMORPG of all time, let alone game, can be complete without talking about FF14. - Matt Kim (Read Our Review)

DOOM changed my life. My gaming life, at least. Having spent my entire existence up to that point playing platformers, side-scrolling action games, etc. on 8- and 16-bit consoles, DOOM's first-person shooting was a jaw-dropping paradigm shift. Everything about DOOM was incredible. The graphics were colorful and convincing. Lightning was spooky. It felt like you were on a Martian moon. It's music was memorable. Weapon design was brilliant, and enemy design even more so. From the imps to the Cacodemons to the Cyberdemon, nearly every creature in DOOM was the stuff of nightmares – and in a then-unheard-of gameplay twist, they hated each other as much as they hated you. And then there was DeathMatch. Whether you were connecting two PCs with a serial cable for one-on-one action or throwing a LAN party where four people hauled their PCs to the same place (bulky CRT monitors and all!) to chainsaw each other in the game, DOOM DeathMatch changed everything. And, incredibly, it's still fun. - Ryan McCaffrey

The classic Russian tile-matching puzzle game by Alexey Pajitnov blew my mind way back in the day. I still remember spending hours sitting in front of the TV with the NES sitting at my feet, rotating brightly colored puzzle pieces as they fell from the abyss, attempting to arrange them into horizontal lines that when assembled correctly would disappear and cause me to advance to the next stage. It was crazy fun, even when blocks began to fall at an alarmingly fast pace and I fell into a frenzied panic. But no matter how many times I had to start the game over, it was just too much fun to stop. There was always the chance that this time I’d get the right puzzle piece at the right time and could move on to the next stage. I never got tired of it, and even now Tetris remains one of my favorite games of all time. - Meghan Sullivan

There’s a reason a snake’s skeleton, and not a snake itself, features prominently in the title sequence of Snake Eater. This was the game that stripped the Metal Gear formula down to its very core and proved that it could still function even outside our expectations. It forced us to take what we knew about espionage and infiltration and learn how to apply it in a new, unfamiliar environment, and it did so with a bold and elegant understanding of its own systems. You could have all the stealth know-how and military training in the world, but out there in the unpredictable jungle of the Russian wilderness, you were exposed, vulnerable… a Naked Snake. And it worked. Snake Eater is arguably one of the most interesting love stories ever told in a game, one of the strangest and most exciting Cold War-era adventures, and one of the first games to truly make me reflect on my actions as a player. It manages to be tragic, sometimes devastatingly so, and yet still maintain that absurd comedic flair that I admire about this series. Any game that can make you emotional about climbing a ladder deserves some kind of recognition. - Lonnie Rad (Read Our Review)

VR is still a relatively young medium, and while plenty of games had already showed off its exciting potential, none of them had actually harnessed it so completely before Half-Life: Alyx. It raised the bar to astronomical heights – for what a VR campaign could look like, what VR shooting could feel like, and how a VR story could move you. Part of its strength comes from how completely it embraced that medium, pushing the player to investigate every corner and crevice in a way traditional 2D games simply can’t. But while that masterful design unequivocally positions it as the best VR game ever game, its incredible world, story, and encounters (and the way they set the stage for the future of Half-Life) make it a truly impressive FPS regardless of platform. - Tom Marks (Read Our Review)

God of War didn't just pull off the impressive feat of reinvigorating and reinventing a franchise that had seemingly run cold, but it also smartly subverted what came before to create an adventure that both played to its past and stood on its own as one of the finest games of its generation. Nearly every facet of Sony Santa Monica's Norse epic is working in concert with one another to craft a thrilling, memorable, and engrossing adventure. From its haunting score, to the beautifully written and acted story of Kratos and Atreus, to the incredible feel of the Leviathan Axe, God of War's impressive craftsmanship shines through at every step, honoring the past while forging its own path. - Jonathon Dornbush (Read Our Review)

Chrono Trigger is widely regarded as the greatest RPG of all time, and for good reason. What begins as a typical “day-in-the-life” adventure, quickly spirals into a sprawling, epoch jumping romp that is equally exhilarating and endearing. Created by a “dream team” at Squaresoft including Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii, and character designs by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama, Chrono Trigger’s pedigree was only outshined by its universal praise upon its release in the spring of 1995. Even at the twilight of the SNES’ lifespan, Chrono Trigger’s branching narrative, colorful characters and unforgettable soundtrack were more than enough to earn it a place on our list in this timeline or any other. - Zach Ryan

There's a reason first-person puzzle games far and wide are constantly compared to Portal — though a brief adventure, its gameplay, tone, writing, and structure so cohesively work together to create one of the most memorable, challenging, and fascinating puzzle games around. Arming players with the now-iconic Portal gun and the devastating - and lethal - wit of Glad0s, Valve guided players through a fantastically orchestrated and escalating set of physics-based puzzles that ended with one of the most memorable end-credits songs of all time. But for as great as its puzzles are, and the way they take the simplicity of two portals you can shoot almost anywhere into such fascinating territory, it's also Portal's world-building that equally makes the game such a memorable touchstone. - Jonathon Dornbush (Read Our Review)

What can you say about the definitive fighting game, the game that has spawned countless imitators, acolytes, and sequels? Street Fighter II remains a classic in video game lore, making series mainstays Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li as well as words like “Hadouken” part of the public lexicon. Everyone has a favorite character and that’s because of its diverse, fantastical character design. While exceptionally balanced, the imaginative design and high-end graphics for its time helped set it apart. Street Fighter II became perhaps the first fighting game global arcade smash and it is still celebrated today. - Christian Holt

Mario's move out of arcades and into the Mushroom Kingdom changed our hobby and our industry as we know it, setting off a chain of events that shaped gaming as we know it today. Super Mario Bros. has been re-released many times, but there's no such thing as too many times because it's still fun and it's still some kid's first time ever playing a game. Its influence cannot be overstated. Example: literally everyone reading this can hum its theme song, right now, from memory. See? Now it's playing in your head again. You're welcome. - Ryan McCaffrey

A small child falls into the world of monsters and suddenly finds themselves the target of an ancient grudge that calls for their death. Undertale puts the player in a unique situation; where you'd usually kill everything in your way, Undertale gives you the option to spare every monster you meet, though it never requires it. Every monster killed or spared alters something in the world, whether it be another monster wondering what happened to their friend, an opportunity for a hilarious date, or a slightly easier time with a specific monster's bullet hell battle. Undertale is jam-packed with emotion, charm, and determination to show that your actions make a difference, no matter how small you think they may be. - Miranda Sanchez (Read Our Review)

Bloodborne initially presents as a work of Gothic horror – you spend the opening hours inching through Yharnam’s dark alleyways and ominous churches, culling hordes of muttering werewolves – but this soon gives way to a weird tale worthy of Lovecraft himself. But its ambitious story – of religious and scientific schisms, of dreams and reality, of idiot gods and nightmare newborns – is told not in the overwritten prose favoured by Lovecraft but by an exceptionally savage third-person action game. From Software intentionally ditched Dark Souls’ trusted shield to force the player to be more aggressive. Director Hidetaka Miyazaki wanted every slash inflicted by its arsenal of gruesome weapons to feel as if you were fighting for your life. As is usually the case, his design works flawlessly. - Daniel Krupa (Read Our Review)

BioShock will likely always be remembered for its game-changing “Would You Kindly?” twist, but the first adventure in Rapture is so much more than a dressed-up dupe. From first encountering a splicer caring for a gun the way a mother cares for her baby to the still-enrapturing Andrew Ryan twist toward the game’s end, BioShock delivers one enrapturing setpiece after another. That’s largely in part thanks to one of the most memorable locations in gaming history. So much story is embedded in the dilapidated hallways and shuttered rooms of Rapture, a decaying underwater labyrinth that demands to be investigated. The mark of a good experience is one that you keep thinking about long after you’ve finished it. And I still haven’t stopped thinking about BioShock, its incredible location, and those awesome Plasmids. - Jonathon Dornbush (Read Our Review)

I still think about three moments in The Last of Us at least once a week. The first is when Joel’s life changes in a moment in the game’s intro. The second moment arrived late into the game and demanded I make a certain gameplay choice because that’s how Joel would act, even if it wasn’t what I wanted to do. That dissonance struck me, but made so much sense. This was Joel and Ellie’s story I was experiencing, and those characters feel so real thanks to the script, animation, and Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson’s stellar performances. The Last of Us marries its storytelling with its gameplay, and nothing made me feel more than that last moment. The game’s final discussion between its two protagonists is filled with so much emotional weight because of their experience – because of what you experienced – that it’s difficult to think of another ending so perfectly true to this unforgettable experience. - Jonathon Dornbush (Read Our Review)

For all its inter-dimensional threats, monster hunts and magic powers, I’ve always thought The Witcher 3’s key achievement is in how it nails the mundane. Geralt’s fantasy world is one of mud, thatch and metal, his main quests are freelance work, and he loves a game of cards down the pub. That sense of reality is what helps you empathise with Geralt, understand the world, and really understand how bad things have gotten when the crazy shit starts popping off. An RPG with enough complexity to satisfy the urge to tinker, but enough character never to feel impersonal, Wild Hunt is a staggering achievement no matter how you look at it. Its story deftly balances cosmic threat and family drama, its choices feel truly meaningful and world-changingly effective, and it looks gorgeous in its own grubby way. Even its two DLC expansions are among the best ever released. Geralt’s final journey might be built on the mundane, but that makes it nothing short of magical. - Joe Skrebels (Read Our Review)

Few games had more of a buildup prior to their release than Halo 2, and even fewer managed to live up to them in the way that Halo 2 did. Master Chief taking the fight with the Covenant to Earth was epic, action-packed, and visually stunning on the original Xbox. Sure, the campaign didn't so much end as much as stopped, but the shocking reveal of the playable Arbiter and his story that mirrored the Chief's was a twist no one saw coming. Furthermore, and perhaps even more importantly, Halo 2 was the killer app for Xbox Live. It brought the party system and matchmaking hopper concept to consoles, instantly making every other online console game look archaic in its infrastructure by comparison. Of course, it helped that the multiplayer gameplay was, well, legendary. - Ryan McCaffrey (Read Our Review)

There is one specific moment in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night that elevates it from merely being a “game I love” into its position as one of the best games ever made. It’s also one of the most epic video game secrets of all time. After you’ve played through the entire game, defeating massive bosses, equipping badass loot and discovering dozens of secrets, right at the moment you think you’re about to win, you discover you’re only halfway done! Symphony’s (spoilers!) inverted second castle is much more than just a lazy way to extend the quest. It has devilish new enemy patterns, new bosses, and fantastic new equipment. Symphony of the Night is much more than just a fun side-scroller with an awesome twist, though. Art, animation, sound, gameplay, design… even replay value, thanks to multiple playable characters, all come together perfectly for one unforgettable experience that hits every note it needs to. - Justin Davis (Read Our Review)

Supergiant has released a string of incredible action games since its foundation, but Hades is all at once its best game, one of the finest takes on and best introductions to the roguelike genre, and a fresh, vibrant, and beautiful take on Greek mythology. As the son of the titular Hades, Zagreus, you'll try escaping the underworld again and again and again, and Hades makes that Sisyphean task constantly rewarding (and not just because Sisyphus is actually a character). Hades places as much an emphasis on the wide array of powers you earn every run, which allows for so much variety in how you approach a run, as it does on permanent progression, either in unlocking weapons, overarching stats, and more. But it doubles down on those rewards, with new bits of story, character development, and lore being just as important to every death and rebirth as the mechanical knowledge and upgrades you unlock. That's bolstered by a suite of incredible voice performances, fun twists on Greek myth, and a fantastic soundtrack that makes each attempt at breaking free memorable. - Jonathon Dornbush (Read Our Review)

If Grand Theft Auto V is anything it’s a game of immense, obsessive detail. There is no open world that feels as authentic and lived-in as Grand Theft Auto V’s Los Santos and its surrounding countryside. Turn it on and pick a street. Analyse it. Look at the unique shopfronts that aren’t repeated anywhere else. Look at the asphalt, worn and cracked; punished by the millions of cars that have hypothetically passed over it. Look at the litter, the graffiti. Grand Theft Auto V’s mad mix of high-speed chases, cinematic shootouts, and hectic heists may be outrageous at times, but the environment it unfolds within is just so real. A technical titan and an endless source of emergent fun, it’s no wonder Grand Theft Auto V is one of the most successful games ever made. No game sells over 155 million copies by accident. - Luke Reilly (Read Our Review)

Super Mario Bros. 3 was a game that exceeded my every hope and wish for it, and I spent hundreds of blissful afternoons defeating Koopa Kids, rescuing kings, and discovering secrets strewn throughout Mushroom World. Mario 3 earned a place on my list of favorite games way back in 1990, and 25 years of gaming progress have yet to dislodge it. Super Mario Bros. 3 is a textbook example of how to make a perfect video game sequel. It’s a mixture of the original’s best elements, combined with an almost excessive amount of imaginative new ideas. So much of what we consider so quintessentially Mario – the suits, the boos, the overworld – all actually originated here. - Justin Davis

Simply put, there’s nothing else quite like Disco Elysium. The premise is straightforward: A body has been discovered, hanged from a looming tree in the backyard of a hostel, and it’s up to you to work out how it got there over the course of the 30-hour story. It’s a unique blend of noir detective fiction, traditional pen-and-paper RPGs, and a large helping of existentialist theory. Its twisting plot, a cast of memorable characters, and sheer depth of choice combine to create an experience that begs to be savored in a world riddled with crime, poverty, and violence. And, somehow, it manages to make all of this fun and, surprisingly often, funny. It quickly becomes clear that this isn’t simply a whodunnit, but a journey that will challenge you to solve crises on both profoundly personal and societal levels. A gorgeously designed isometric RPG that makes you think at every turn of its richly detailed streets, Disco Elysium is truly a unique experience, and one that will surely live long in the memory of any who have, for many years to come. - Simon Cardy (Read Our Review)

Half-Life 2 forever changed our expectations for what a first-person shooter could be. Its richly imagined world and wonderfully paced gameplay is a delight, never letting up and brimming with invention. The Gravity Gun is obviously the poster child of Half-Life 2, turning each environment into a tactile playground in which you can create improvised weapons and solve basic but clever physics puzzles - and its importance can’t be overstated - but there’s an awful lot more here. We’re introduced to Alyx Vance, a supporting character with a rare warmth and intelligence. We’re transported to an iconic city, where Combine barricades loom with grim authority, and Striders stalk the streets with an otherworldly menace. We get to set Antlions on our enemies and in which we play fetch with a robot Dog. In short, it is a truly memorable piece of game design. - Cam Shea (Read Our Review)

A sprawling Western that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Grand Theft Auto V as one of gaming’s greatest open-world achievements, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game of rare scope and even rarer quality. A beautiful ode to an ugly era, RDR2 combines Rockstar’s most authentic and lived-in open world ever with its most earnest storytelling to date, filling in the gaps with an astonishing array of deep systems and nearly endless emergent gameplay opportunities. Its slower pace allows us to binge on the world like a virtual museum but, when the lead starts flying, it puts the wild back in the west (and then some). Few games manage the level of uncompromising detail as Red Dead Redemption 2 does. Do we need to discuss the horse balls again? - Luke Reilly (Read Our Review)

Mario games are synonymous with fun and innovation, and perhaps Mario 64 is the best example of the latter. It gathered the core elements of Mario’s best 2D, side-scrolling adventures and worked out how to translate them into a groundbreaking 3D world. It was still recognisably Mario – he collected mushrooms and ran and jumped his way to success, but he was forever changed. He could now long jump, triple jump, and backflip. While the underlying challenge remained the same and the locations were reassuringly familiar, the shift in perspective changed everything. What’s even more impressive is that Mario did not simply enter a new dimension with ease, he did it with style that few games unburdened with such technical challenges ever achieve. Mario 64 might now look a little blocky but it remains bold and brilliant, too. - Daniel Krupa (Read Our Review)

Where Mass Effect set the stage for a futuristic Milky Way, Mass Effect 2 let you explore and experience so much more of it. As Commander Shepard, I traveled the galaxy on the best recruitment trip I could have wished for, and experienced possibly one of the most heart-wrenching stories – but whether or not the game ends in tears is entirely up to you. As you head out for a suicide mission, you’ll meet some of the best-written characters that feel original and have the power to evoke true emotions. Perhaps one of the best parts about earning the loyalty of each of the companions was discovering more about their respective species and seeing how they’re surviving in a violent galaxy. Maximum loyalty for my companions in Mass Effect 2 was not an option; for my heart’s own good, it was a requirement. - Miranda Sanchez (Read Our Review)

Super Metroid’s minimalistic environmental storytelling set a bar, way back in 1994, that I believe has still yet to be eclipsed. The planet Zebes is atmospheric, oppressive, and extremely lethal. At first glance, there doesn’t even appear to be any story. But then you start to look more closely. The parasite-riddled dead soldier outside of an early boss room. The crashed, half-submerged alien spaceship that may or may not be haunted. It’s brilliant and confident. But it’s Super Metroid’s ability to consistently invite the player to be curious – and then rewarding that curiosity – that makes it one of the greatest video games ever made. It’s not just that there are secrets hidden everywhere (although there are, and it’s awesome) – it’s that the game teases you with tantalizing clues – items, always just out of reach. Super Metroid is an impeccable action-platformer – that’s the “easy” part. What makes it truly special is its genius combination of puzzle-solving, atmosphere, storytelling, exploration, game design, and gameplay. There’s nothing else like it. - Justin Davis

From it’s unforgettable beginnings guiding a swordless Link through the rain, to the final showdown with Ganon and utilizing mastery of sword and bow to defeat evil, The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past measured out a perfect pace of dungeons, exploration, and a gripping narrative that was almost unheard of at the time. It’s open landscape was always inviting but never felt aimless – striking the perfect balance of freedom and purpose in your quest to save Princess Zelda. This iteration of Hyrule was more than just moving between enemy-filled screens, it encompassed everything an immersive experience should be: a vast open world that teased you with secrets hiding just beyond your reach, begging you to come back with new and inventive tools. Each zone – whether in the cheerful overworld, dimly lit caves, or the intimidating Dark World – was brought to life through a culmination of details like the sound of the Tempered Sword cleaving the air, the catchy jingle of a puzzle well-solved, and the ambient tunes of Koji Kondo’s score. - Brendan Graeber

Portal undoubtedly came out of nowhere and shattered the mold, but Portal 2 took that raw and incredible concept and managed to shape it into a more polished and impressive package. It cranked the dials up on just about everything that made the original so special. The mind-bending puzzles, the surprisingly dark story, and the ridiculous humor that balanced it out - each piece of that picture was refined and refreshed to build a sequel that actually surpassed the ambition of an already extremely ambitious game, making something both familiar and altogether new. It gave us a deeper look into the wonderful world of Aperture Science without completely dragging all of its mysteries out into the light. It also mixed its “thinking with portals” puzzles up even further by weaving in gel mechanics that felt entirely fresh and completely natural at the same time - while simultaneously and subtly using them to tie gameplay mechanics into the story, patiently waiting until its incredible finale to pay off those setups with one of the weirdest and most spectacular video game endings around. Couple that with a seriously good co-op campaign and even a full-on custom level builder and sharing systems added post-launch and Portal 2 has stayed the high bar by which all first-person puzzle games should be measured, even nearly a decade later. - Tom Marks (Read Our Review)

Super Mario World is a relatively simple game to describe. It’s a Super Mario game, and we all know what that means: Mushrooms; perfect running and jumping action; and a giant world to explore, crammed with secrets. But what sets Super Mario World apart from other 2D Mario games is its irresistible complexity. Subsequent Super Mario games, like the New Super Mario Bros. series, simplified the overworld, trading Super Mario World’s cool hidden paths for linear tracks, largely abandoned the skies and treetops of Super Mario World’s vertical levels for ground-based obstacle courses, and did away with flying almost entirely (capes rule, helicopter hats drool!). Super Mario World is the crescendo to the slow build in technology and game design that started with Super Mario Bros. Let Super Mario World’s placement on this list be a challenge to future game developers. We dare you to make a better game: Puzzling, but not opaque; tough but not intimidating; beautiful, funny, joyful, and universally recognizable. - Samuel Claiborn

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild eschewed the semi-linear, borderline predictable path of the 3D Zelda games before it in favor of a bold, crazy new approach: let players do what they want, how they want, and in whatever order they decide. By marrying an open-ended approach to quest structure with the ability to freely explore a vast, beautiful, intriguing world with little specific regulation, the 3D Zelda game template was shattered about as fast as the average breakable weapon in Breath of the Wild. The result is a gorgeous, freeing open-world action/adventure experience that evokes the wonder and fear of exploring a bold new place with the empowering tangibility of becoming its hero. - Brian Altano (Read Our Review)

Where did your favorite game fall on our list? Let us know in the comments below!

100. Borderlands 299. Divinity: Original Sin 298. Final Fantasy VII97. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag96. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge95. Burnout 3: Takedown94. Fallout 293. League of Legends92. Mega Man 391. Animal Crossing: New Horizons90. Thief II: The Metal Age89. SimCity 200088. Inside87. Titanfall 286. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 285. Monster Hunter: World84. Resident Evil 2 (Remake)83. System Shock 282. Mortal Kombat 1181. Persona 5 Royal80. Dark Souls79. Fortnite78. Fable 277. GoldenEye 00776. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate75. Spelunky 274. Return of the Obra Dinn73. Dota 272. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe71. Donkey Kong70. The Sims 369. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory68. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island67. Silent Hill 266. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas65. XCOM 264. Control63. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare62. Rise of the Tomb Raider61. Batman: Arkham City60. Dishonored 259. The Witness58. Journey57. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves56. Overwatch55. Apex Legends54. Hollow Knight53. Ms. Pac-Man52. Counter-Strike 1.651. Left 4 Dead 250. EarthBound49. Diablo II48. StarCraft47. World of Warcraft46. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic45. Fallout: New Vegas44. Final Fantasy VI43. Pokémon Yellow42. Metroid Prime41. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim40. Resident Evil 439. Shadow of the Colossus38. The Last of Us Part 237. Red Dead Redemption36. Metal Gear Solid35. Sid Meier's Civilization IV34. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time33. Minecraft32. Halo: Combat Evolved31. Half-Life30. Final Fantasy XIV29. Doom28. Tetris27. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater26. Half-Life: Alyx25. God of War24. Chrono Trigger23. Portal22. Street Fighter II21. Super Mario Bros.20. Undertale19. Bloodborne18. BioShock17. The Last of Us16. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt15. Halo 214. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night13. Hades12. Grand Theft Auto V11. Super Mario Bros. 310. Disco Elysium9. Half-Life 28. Red Dead Redemption 27. Super Mario 646. Mass Effect 25. Super Metroid4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past3. Portal 22. Super Mario World1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild