I think the theme of these blogs is “nick something I saw on Twitter and turn it into a blog post”. It’s not the best plan, probably, but it definitely doesn’t sound like the worst either.
Anyway, there was a meme a few days ago asking for your Top 5 Video Games of the Decade. Which did cause a little bit of fear as I checked a couple of release dates, and then breathed out when I found that, no, they were *not* more than 10 years old, and my sense of time may be dubious, but I’m still not at the stage where twenty years ago seems like five, hurrah!
So, being a PC gamer, all of my games have been released on the PC. And it’s interesting (to me, probably to no-one else) how my preferences have changed over the decades, and how they haven’t. In the nineties, there was nothing more exciting than a new RTS game, but even though Age of Empires II is having a resurgance at the moment, I’ve no interest in playing it again. (Though I did put a fair few hours into They Are Billions, which I do absolutely rec for some modern and very keen RTS.)
My love of RPGs though, that’s just grown and grown. And a few years ago I discovered MOBAs and after trying a few found that DotA 2 was the most fun.
I miss having an MMORPG though. At the start of the decade Star Wars The Old Republic came out. And, for some years, it was glorious. As a sequel to the Knights of the Old Republic RPGs it was, while not *ideal* for giving that storyline some closure, at least something. And there was so much to love about, and so much story to get through (eight character storylines! Eight!). I had overwhelmingly good experiences in flashpoints (aka SW dungeons), my guilds over the years were uniformly lovely. And I could be the grey Sith Lord with a pretty dress that I always wanted to be.
But it was an expensive game to make, very expensive. And it wasn’t Warcraft, so, yeah. Adding the sort of content you wanted as a player meant adding to *eight* different storylines. It would’ve had to have been a *phenomenal* success for that to ever have been contemplated. And it wasn’t. At first they managed some different content depending on whether you were Sith or Republic, but in the past few years it congealed into one single storyline that killed my enthusiasm for the game. Alas.
But enough with the moping! Here are my five top games of the decade…oh, no, hang on, should these be in order? I can’t do these in order, I’ll be staring at the screen trying to decide for an unacceptable length of time.
So, In No Particular Order, my Top Five Games of the Decade!
One of my gaming rules: I must never, ever look at how many hours I’ve spent playing Skyrim. I’m pretty sure that at one point it was eight hours sleep, eight hours Skyrim, eight hours everything else. If you too loved this game, then you understand this questionable life decision.
I remember watching some gameplay online before its release and I was blown away. The way it looked, the choices you had to make, the character customisation. The OPEN WORLD. It was mind-blowing. And you could just wonder around doing sod all except picking flowers and making potions and it was still immensely satisfying.
And even when you’ve played so often you’re familiar with every location on the map, the modder community gives you so many options to change things up…or just get yourself a very very nice house. (Oh, the housing! The first time I could afford the Whiterun house, that was pretty magic.)
And while most characters are pretty shallow, and the civil war questline was not the best realised, this was more than made up for by everything else. Partic love for the Thieves’ Guild and Dark Brotherhood questlines. (I ❤ the Dark Brotherhood one so much I went back and played Oblivion just so I could properly get the injokes.)
It’s been nine years and thousands of hours played, and I still haven’t finished the main questline. One day…one day…
I’d never heard of Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas until I played DotA 2. Even though they’re some of the biggest games in the world. On a whim, I downloaded it as it was the most popular free game on Steam. I can’t remember why I stuck with it, it’s *not* an easy game to learn or particularly friendly atmosphere for beginners, but about a 100 games in I suddenly realised just how bloody awful I was. (I’ve since been informed this is not uncommon: it’s when you start to understand the game that you start to understand how bad you are at it.)
Then I started to try and learn it properly. And there’s such a lot to learn. Ther are over 100 heroes, each one with at least four abilities, over a 100 items and you have six item slots to fill. And what hero you play and what items you pick depend on your team’s draft and how you can work togther, and the other team’s draft and how they counter your heroes. Never mind how to play the three lanes, how to play your position (1-5), what to do in early/mid/late game, how to respond to enemy movements. How to team fight. When to push or back. When will the mid rotate? When will rosh be up? Why is no-one carrying detection? What do all these questions mean?
But it is *good*. It is *such* a good game. The depth of gameplay, the strategy, the story that plays out each game. THE FEELING OF VICTORY.
And if you do play DotA, yes, I am a Techies player. I’m not ashamed. BOOM.
Mass Effect 2
I think it’s pretty hard for any gamer to argue against ME2 being one of the decade’s greats. It gets everything right: the plot, the characters, the graphics, sound, feel of the combat. The atmosphere of its set pieces are gorgeous. The stakes feel epic, YOU feel epic. It takes everything awesome about ME and makes it awesomer.
I’m going to make a confession here, one many of my fellow ME players will be shocked and confused by: I ship Shep with Kaidan. He always survives Virmire. I just can’t kill him no matter how hard I try. It’s Knights of the Old Republic’s fault. The first RPG I fell in love with. The voice actor is the same as one of the leads in KoToR, and Carth Onasi and his emo remains my favourite Bioware romance.
In ME2 I tend to go for Thane though. Because it sounds like his planet was inspired by Dune.
But, yes, ME2. What a game. It’s ghastly typing this as I want to stop writing and go start a new playthough. I keep meaning to do one where Everyone Dies.
(I wanted to say ME3 in many ways for it too is full of magnificence, but yes, the ending. I still can’t. I ❤ the Indoctrination Theory though. And if that’s what they intended, they are brilliant, brilliant people, and it is a *perfect* ending.)
And, yes, I know the image above is from ME3. But Fem!Shep ftw.
Dragon Age II
Yes, I said 2. As in TWO. As in that one where there is one dungeon and they just block off different doors each time.
The thing is, as flawed as the map is, everything else about DAII I’m pretty in love with. Most important of all to me is the characters. There are My Dudes. I have Dudes in every game (Alastair, Morrigan, Cassandra, Dorian…) but the ones I feel I just want to hang out with live here. Even Aveline, and I don’t much like Aveline. But Varric and Isabella, and anyone else from this game are my party of choice. (<3 Varric in Inquisition, but his relationship is v different with the Inquisitor, and the way they developed it so differently for the two PCs is brilliantly done, but it’s the BFF vibe that delights me most.)
I love we’re just hanging about this city. I love we skip ahead years and years. After the epic high fantasy of DA, I love we’re going so low here, and I’m not trying to save the world, I’m just trying to save my friends. DA 2 feels like family in a way the other games don’t. And it’s that feeling that makes it…it’s difficult to say favourite for I love them all in slightly different ways, but it’s the one that gives me the warmest feelings.
What’s this? A turn-based strategy game? Do they still *make* those? (Not entirely a rhetorical question…I don’t know any recent ones that aren’t Civ.)
I’ve played Civ since I was tiny. I remember the very first one, and Ghandi’s propensity for nuking you (and, er, where you could play as Stalin). I absolutely adored the second one and spent a lot of time making my own maps. Hated three, loved four, didn’t like five, but, yes, sticking with the Star Trek films rule that the even numbers are the good ones, I like VI a lot. It still drives me a bit flargh that I can’t use the cursor keys to move units. But I’m more or less used to it after a few hundred hours. The real joy of five though is the cultural victory. And that I get it by heisting paintings and digging up artifacts. Once upon a time, I had such joy in space-racing. But now it pales in comparison to theming my stolen art and making everyone in the world want to join my civilisation because CULTURE.
Also, kudos to Civ for keeping expanding the countries and rulers it features. This game is responsible for a lot of my interest in history, and gave me my introduction to a whole bunch of historical figures. (I can’t remember what game it was, but Civ was where I first encountered Mansa Musa.) VI has one of my fav’s, Tamar of Georgia, and has really expanded the number of African civilisations in the game, introducing me to whole new swathes of history.