For this list we’re looking at the most outstanding title to release every year from 2000 to 2020. Let us know in the comments what your favorite game of the 21st century is.
2000 Diablo 2
The action rpg that defined the genre diablo 2 is one of many exceptional offerings from blizzard over the years the story is outstanding and the visuals more than hold up today.
The best part of the game is by far the gameplay you’ll quickly get addicted to the randomly generated loot system desperately searching for superior gear to progress through the story online there’s even more fun to be had if you team up with friends and build a specific party and decades later.
There’s still a healthy community leveling up characters and playing together few if any RPGs that came after diablo 2 have been able to match it
2001 Halo Combat Evolved
First person shooters had already dominated the 90s with giant franchises like doom and wolfenstein but in 2001 bungie made a name for themselves by launching one of the most iconic shooters of all time.
Halo was a launch title for the brand new xbox after microsoft bought the studio and it was certainly a system seller the game pioneered what competitive shooters should be in the 21st century and years later many AAA titles are still living in halo shadow aiming for its lofty heights it remains one of the best launch titles for any new console and subsequent releases are still major fixtures in the esports scene.
2002 Grand Theft Auto Vice City
After the roaring success of gta 3 people already had high expectations for the second 3d grand theft auto and rockstar didn’t disappoint in 2002.
We traveled to vice city in the 1980s a fictionalized version of miami for a scarface inspired story about narcotics and the mafia vice city set the standard for sprawling open worlds beautiful graphics and biting satire.
As we follow the life and times of tommy ever since people have been paying for rockstar to return to vice city as a setting just like we’ve had grand returns for liberty city and san andreas thanks to how beloved this defining game is while we did get vice city stories it’s about time the setting got the hd treatment first talk about technology and sleeping you know that play in the future.
2003 Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic
The year was 2003 the prequel trilogy was still unfolding lucasarts was still making video games and bioware was looking for a new IP the result was knights of the old republic a star wars RPG that we didn’t even know we needed maybe that let players decide whether they wanted to pledge themselves to the light or succumb to the dark.
It has stiff competition plenty of people consider kotor the greatest star wars game of all time this is because it understands the source material and has a lot of respect for it while blending in the tide and true RPG mechanics bioware is known for there’s no limit to how many times you can defeat darth malek and still enjoy yourself.
2004 World of Warcraft
Few games have had a cultural impact felt as far and wide as the one world of warcraft created upon release the MMO all other MMOs strive to be wow is going strong to this day.
With blizzard still releasing updates and enormous expansion packs to keep the story going it permeated pop culture at the time of its release with wow addiction even getting lampooned by south park in one of the show’s best episodes and if you want to know exactly how it felt to boot up the game for the first time in 2004 blizzard released world of warcraft classic in 2019.
2005 Resident Evil 4
By 2005 the resident evil series was already beginning to stagnate thanks to a huge number of releases over the previous nine years to keep it fresh capcom needed to do something bold and that thing was transforming the tank controls and fixed camera angles into an over-the-shoulder shooter.
It turned out to be the best decision they ever made and resident evil 4 was born following leon kennedy as he fights against a zombie outbreak in rural spain.
It may be more action-packed than its predecessors but it kept the scares coming it’s since been ported to a dozen platforms and rumor has it a big budget remake is in the works.
2006 Gears of war
May have defined the first person shooter on xbox but gears of war defined third person action games one of the best games to come to the 360.
The first gears title introduced us to the conflict between the humans and the locust as well as that famous gameplay that has given the series.
Its impressive longevity with the best graphics of the day it said that the reason the 360 got a boost in ram was to push gears of war to its full potential a gamble that certainly paid off to this day.
It’s one of the most played games on xbox live and gears continues to be a flagship franchise for microsoft.
It’s impossible to understate the impact of bioshock nobody knew what they were in for when they first descended to the underwater city of rapture which was as nightmarish as it was beautiful players explored not only rapture’s submerged streets but also the corrupt ideologies of its leaders from the deranged surgeon steinmann to the city’s megalomaniac founder andrew ryan.
To survive you needed to upgrade your weapons and your own body injecting yourself with plasmids to get an edge on the marauding splicers and if all that wasn’t good enough bioshock executed one of the most famous plot twists in gaming and has since become a prime example of why video games are art.
2008 Grand Theft Auto
The fourth numbered gta has a slightly darker tone to its wackier siblings as we returned to liberty city this time in the shoes of nico bellic an immigrant on his way to the U.S. to start a new life and get revenge on some faces from his past the satire gta is known for was even less forgiving and for once in the series crime doesn’t pay.
Though it proved a little divisive among rockstar fans for its difference in tone the game is definitely stronger for tackling the myth of the american dream so seriously and of course liberty city is as fun as it is grimy.
Since its initial release minecraft has taken over the world a fixture in the lineups of gaming streamers and youtubers alike minecraft is a game that anybody can play and fall in love with from kids just getting into video games to the most hardcore players who want something with endless potential and deep gameplay systems it is primarily about freedom.
It gives players far more agency than plenty of other titles whether you’re playing alone or with friends with a specific goal in mind or just to kill some time it’s impossible to go wrong jumping into minecraft whenever you get the urge.
2010 Mass Effect 2
The mass effect trilogy is widely considered to be one of the best stories in gaming provided you ignore that ending and the creme de la creme of bioware’s sci-fi rpgs is mass effect 2.
Recently resurrected by the elusive man and his sinister company cerberus shepard is tasked with taking down harbinger a particularly nasty reaper with faster tighter combat.
Opportunities for split-second narrative choices mass effect 2 took everything the first game did well and rolled with it now bioware knew what they wanted mass effect to be and they delivered an outstanding game
2011 The Elder Scrolls 5 Skyrim
If you haven’t yet played skyrim it’s presumably because you haven’t owned a game console for over a decade and you don’t have a computer because it’s available on pretty much everything full of long arcing quest lines a wide variety of factions to ally with or vilify and plenty of different play styles to try.
It’s easy to see why skyrim has been a must play from its release through to the present and if you’re tired of the base game after all this time it’s got one of the largest modding communities out there so go wild.
2012 Borderlands 2
Where off-the-wall chaotic looter shooters are concerned borderlands 2 wrote the book and remains a cornerstone of the genre upon release it took everything the first game did and made it 10 times better with superior gameplay a deeper class system a better story and more of those iconic cel-shaded graphics.
The game’s got so much variety you could play it 10 times through and never feel bored which plenty of people surely have since 2012 but just as memorable as the gun play is the humor borderlands 2 has pop culture references in droves and you can’t help but feel satisfied every time you get one
2013 The Last of Us
Naughty dog has always been on the cutting edge and that was never truer than when they released the last of us back at the close of the ps3 era pushing the console’s capabilities to a breaking point it was easily the most beautiful game in that generation and it had a story to compliance with match city personnel is mandatory look.
Controlled joel a survivor hardened by 20 years in a zombie apocalypse as he needs to escort teenager ellie across the u.s players bond with ellie in real time just like joel and by the game’s incredible finale you’ll be left wondering who the true villain is after you wipe the tears from your eyes.
2014 Dragon Age Inquisition
Bioware struck gold once again when inquisition released the sequel to dragon age origins we deserve inquisition stuck close to the plot and themes of the previous two games miraculously remaining welcoming to players who were new to the series this time around while not disrespecting.
The most hardcore fans with a large map spanning both feraldon and orlay there were gorgeous biomes wherever you looked from the unforgiving western approach to the green and lush emerald graves its rich world was unmatched and all your actions felt like they were important in determining theta’s fate and saving the world.
It was time for from software to do something different so in 2015 they forwent another high fantasy release and went for a totally different aesthetic victorian gothic with a twist halfway through that revealed the true inspiration as hp lovecraft but where bloodborne succeeded most was in its bold choice to remove a key element from every fromsoft game up until then.
The shield now you have to get up close and personal with your enemies or meet your end you’ve got to strike fast dodge parry and keep going even when you get hurt to rally lost health but what’s waiting behind mastering those mechanics is one of the best video games ever made.
Blizzard once again showed why they’re one of the best developers in the industry when they released the widely popular hero shooter overwatch in 2016. Since its launch overwatch has grown to have an enormous roster of colorful and diverse characters all with unique play styles and gimmicks assuring us that there really is something for everyone.
It exploded onto the esports scene immediately and thanks to blizzard’s focus on eliminating toxicity it’s definitely one of the more welcoming competitive shooters you can jump into overwatch 2 may be on the horizon but the original is surely going to be around for a long time regardless.
2017 The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
At launch it wasn’t clear what type of console the nintendo switch would be would it be a return to form or another misstep one of the first games released proved that the switch was here to stay in the few short years since it came out breath of the wild has changed the way people play and make games stunning visuals.
A minimalist story breath of the wild provides players with ultimate freedom of when to do something and how to do something and if you so desire you can even go fight the final boss right away it was this razor sharp focus on exploration that gave breath of the wild its edge setting a new industry standard.
2018 God of War
There were a lot of heavy hitters in 2018 but god of war was an incredible and refreshing reboot of a franchise that seemed to have disappeared kratos returned with a vengeance now transplanted from ancient greece to midgard fighting gods and monsters from the lesser represented norse pantheon.
You’ll certainly never forget the moment you come face to face with jorman gander the world serpent where god of war really excels is the growing father-son relationship between kratos and atreus who learned to trust each other and work together throughout the story and it’s got arguably the best graphics scene on the playstation 4.
2019 Sekiro Shadows Died Twice
From software’s most recent offering yet again switched up the game just as soon as you thought you had them pinned down sekiro had a slightly more prominent story than other souls titles but even more challenging gameplay you now have to constantly attack to weaken your enemies posture and only then could you start to damage them set deep in the heart of feudal japan.
Sekiro has the best graphics of a from soft game to date and a more varied array of bosses than even dark souls in sekiro it’s just you your sword and your prosthetic arm and mastering them to beat the game is a thrill like no other.
2020 Cyberpunk 2077
It’s taken over eight years and a numerous amount of delays but 2020 was finally the year we got our hands on cd projekt red’s most hotly anticipated game despite a good number of glitches contained in the launch version cyberpunk 2077 has no doubt wowed us with its excellent gameplay and story all of which take place in the incredibly immersive night city seriously.
The amount of detail that has gone into this game is absolutely staggering and the huge variety of things to do means you won’t be putting this game down for a long time plus keanu reeves starring as johnny silverhand is that nice little cherry on top that we didn’t even know we needed.