I always felt the best way to find a video game reviewer you can trust, is to see if they like the same games you do. So if you want to know whether it’s worth your time to read my reviews, I’ve decided to compile up a list of what I consider to be the top 10 best games I’ve ever played. I’ll obviously update this list if a new game should ever be added.
Before you dive in, there are going to be some games noticeably missing from my list. So here’s my disclaimer: I’m still going through Elden Ring before I decide whether or not it deserves a spot. Red Dead Redemption 2 is also on my to-do list, as well as finally giving The Witcher 3 a fair shot. Here are the games (in no particularly order) that almost made the list, but didn’t.
- God of War Ragnarok
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- Final Fantasy VII Remake
- Chrono Trigger
- Warcraft III
- Monster Hunter World
- Borderlands 2
- Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: Season One
- Life is Strange
- It Takes Two
Factorio | Wube Software
Factorio is actually like doing work, but while playing a video game. But there’s something about it that’s just oh so satisfying once you have everything setup the way you want it and it all just flows together. It’s like scratching a brain itch, just with conveyor belts and subassemblies. When I was younger, I absolutely loved simulation games like SimCity. To me, Factorio takes that to a whole new level — instead of having to worry about how to keep your imaginary residents happy, you’re figuring out how to efficiently automate the construction of imaginary things.
The support for Factorio has been absolutely wild, and some of the best I’ve seen from an indie game. It has offered me hundreds of hours of entertainment and it’s just a game I revisit from time to time. Not just to see the changes the developer has added, but to see if I can find new ways to do things better. Sometimes I do things worse, which just proves I’m getting dumber as I get older.
If you want a laid back, casual game that will give you a very odd sense of satisfaction, check out Factorio. Those hundreds of thousands of overwhelmingly positive reviews aren’t a lie.
9. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim | Vanillaware
You probably won’t see 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim on very many “best video game” lists, but that’s why they’re all wrong and I’m right. I picked this game up on a whim because I wanted a visual novel-type game where I could turn my brain off and get some mindless entertainment. Oops. This is not a game where you turn your brain off. At all.
The unique feature of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is that you control the order that the story is told — mostly. There are some road blocks that are placed until you progress through another character’s point of view, but for the most part, you control the narrative by choosing which character’s story you want to experience at that moment in time. I won’t spend much time talking about the actual gameplay in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim. There are these battles that are part tower defense and part strategy. Whatever, they’re fine, they’re fun, but they’re not the reason why you’ll want to play this game.
The sci-fi story told in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim will seem a bit puzzling and confusing as you progress through the game. Keep in mind, it’s very likely other people experienced the story in a different order than you. But what’s so magical about this game is that moment when you realize it’s all coming together. All those little bits of information start making sense, and then, well, your mind just gets blown.
There isn’t even a specific type of gamer I would recommend 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim to. I just think everyone should experience it. It’s so creative, so well written, and all the characters are so memorable.
8. Doom II
Doom II | id Software
My younger self would never forgive me if I didn’t have Doom II on my list of the best games I’ve ever played. I don’t think there’s much to say about Doom or Doom II that hasn’t already been said over the last 30 years. Doom II is the main reason I learned how to connect online, discovering local dial-up BBSes just so I could play Doom II online against other human players. Back then, this concept blew my mind, but it went on to play a major role in my life.
It was also my gateway into figuring out how video games are designed, and what makes a video game fun. I spent countless hours creating custom .wads for Doom II, playing them with my friends to see what was enjoyable and what was not. I still have a large collection of custom maps we collectively created for Doom II.
It’s arguably the last great first-person shooter that didn’t allow you to aim up or down, a sign of simpler times. But man, was it fun sketching out a map while in class, and getting home, making it a reality in DEU2, and playing it with friends that evening. Imagine if you could create a custom Mario Kart track and publish it, making it playable in less than two hours. That’s what Doom II used to be.
7. Dark Age of Camelot
Dark Age of Camelot | Mythic Entertainment
While most people had Everquest as their first entry into the world of MMORPGs, Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC) was mine. I remember buying this game with a friend during my second year of college, when Diablo II and Counter-Strike started to get boring. And really, it’s a miracle I managed to graduate because DAoC completely consumed my life for a couple years. All those stories you hear about MMORPG addiction? It was so true. I would be online 18 hours a day, farming bubbles of XP until the sun came up. Or losing bubbles of XP because I dozed off on a pull. Yes, DAoC had negative progression when you died.
Over 20 years later, I have yet to find a community like the one we had on Midgard/Guinevere. This was a time that voice chat wasn’t really used, and yet we had gank groups and relic raids all coordinating with one another through forums and in-game typing. It really felt like you knew nearly everybody on your realm and server, recognizing people by where they sat AFK, or the color combination they dyed their gear.
I’ll also say that DAoC’s relic raids were truly unique and I don’t believe I have experienced anything comparable ever since. The time it took organizing and preparing a raid, from figuring out who was carrying what siege parts, to coordinating the distribution of said siege parts. Then we had to find someone we could trust to run the relic back, along with assigning one or two of the best gank groups on the server to guard the relic holder. Some of my most memorable times I had were running in gank groups and winning 40 vs 8 fights out in Emain Macha. Those who were able to experience DAoC in its prime, consider yourself fortunate. I don’t think we’ll ever have a game like it ever again.
6. Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 | Monolith Soft
I don’t know if it was because I was so JRPG deprived in 2022 — Tales of Arise was a massive disappointment to me — or Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was really that good, but I fell in love with the game. All 150+ hours of it. And this is after re-playing the first Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and its amazing DLC Torna The Golden Country leading up to the release of Xenoblade Chronicles 3. You would think I would be burnt out by then considering each game takes anywhere from 60 to 80 hours to complete, if not more. But nope, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was my 2022 Game of the Year.
Yes, I found it to be a much better overall experience than even God of War Ragnarok. Its characters, story, soundtrack, and world, are just so well developed. Most importantly, I felt like it had the best ending that story could have had. I know some people don’t agree with me, but I wouldn’t have changed a single thing.
This game is the culmination of the Xenoblade Chronicles trilogy and what I really appreciated about it is that Monolith Soft didn’t sit around and try to figure out ways to improve on previous installments’ gimmicks. Instead, it listened to its fans and straight removed the things people didn’t like in the previous games. Although it did improve on the battle system, I still believe it should have borrowed more elements from Torna’s. But the amount of classes you get access to and how you can mix them throughout your party members open up a lot of possibilities.
There’s just so much to do in Xenoblade Chronicles 3, even after you finish the game. There’s a season pass with even more content incoming, including a sizable story expansion that should be similar to Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s Torna The Golden Country.
I didn’t expect it to win any Game of the Year Awards last year because it is a pretty niche JRPG, but it totally got robbed for not winning more best soundtrack awards. I’m sorry, but God of War Ragnarok’s soundtrack doesn’t even belong in the same tier as Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s soundtrack. This is some SSS-tier music that belongs in the same echelon as NieR and Final Fantasy. Just listen to FLUTE GUY do it justice.
Anyways, if you remotely like JRPGs, you should play Xenoblade Chronicles 3. No, you don’t have to play the previous two games to enjoy this one, but there are some nice references that are more enjoyable if you do. But unless you have 300+ hours to spare, I wouldn’t recommend doing what I did, especially since Xenoblade Chronicles 2 isn’t for everybody. This one though, it’s a masterpiece and no one can change my mind.
5. Diablo II
Diablo II: Resurrected | Blizzard Entertainment
If you look over some of my older content on this site, you’ll probably get the idea that I love the Diablo franchise. I sunk a thousand or so hours into Diablo III, even struggling to get to Act IV Inferno before the nerfs came in at launch. But as modern as Diablo III was, it was not as fun as Diablo II. Not even close. While I know I spent a bit over 1,000 hours playing Diablo III in its lifetime, my Diablo II playtime was at least double, if not triple that. It’s pretty much the only game I played my first year in college, chasing the ladder every season with a different class.
If I wasn’t actively farming in Diablo II, I was probably semi-AFK in trade channels. I used to host so many runs that I began to make friends in the game, so we would all share the loot we didn’t need. It also allowed us a room to safely transfer things to our mules without having to do it publicly. Those were difficult times in online gaming.
I was really excited for the release of Diablo II: Resurrected that I even took a few days off work. I didn’t have high expectations for the servers to survive launch, but I was in the minority of people who got hit with every bug imaginable. My account was locked inside the game for an extended period of time and when I finally got to access it, my character was rolled back, missing levels and items. But hey, server issues are expected, I just got really unlucky while most everyone I knew was able to play and enjoy the game.
None of that should impact what Diablo II was to me. It’s still one of the best games I have ever played, from its build diversity to its itemization. And really, Diablo II: Resurrected shows just how well it has aged.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild | Nintendo
I have to preface this by saying I struggle with massive open world games. I have tried Skyrim and The Witcher 3 countless of times and have never succeeded in putting more than a couple hours into each one. I just get so overwhelmed by the number of quests and map markers that I never seem to get anywhere with the game. So even though The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launched with rave reviews, I kept telling myself that it would just be a waste of money because I’ll run around the world for a few hours and never play the game ever again.
Well good thing I gave it a shot, because Breath of the Wild was, well, a breath of fresh air for the open-world genre. And I think it has gone on to inspire many new games, most notably, Elden Ring. It’s hard for me to put into words what it is that Breath of the Wild does so well that compelled me to play through the entire game. But I do believe it’s like Elden Ring, in that it doesn’t really hold your hand or pester you with quest markers. Instead, you really do have a giant open world to explore, at the pace you want to explore it, and free to do whatever you wish in it (mostly).
If at this point you still haven’t played The Breath of the Wild with its sequel around the corner, I don’t think there’s anything I can say to convince you to play the game. But if you didn’t try it because you hate open-world games, you should probably reconsider. It’s just an amazing experience with fantastic puzzles, memorable boss fights, and some random humor mixed in.
3. NieR: Automata
NieR: Automata | Square Enix
There is something truly special about NieR: Automata, and if you’ve never experienced it, please give it a try. Yes, it’s very anime-y and Yoko Taro does Yoko Taro things throughout the game, but it’s so unique and so cleverly designed that it’s simply a masterpiece. The action-oriented combat system is quite fun to play, especially with the variety of bullet hell sequences littered throughout the game. Keiichi Okabe crafts one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard in any form of entertainment. All these pieces just fit together to make one of the best games I have ever played.
If you do take the plunge, make sure you spend the time to go through all three routes of the game. One of my biggest regrets in my entire gaming career was rushing my first complete playthrough of NieR: Automata. I think there was some other game that was releasing soon, so I decided to sit down one weekend and just blow through essentially the remaining 65% of the game. I completely regretted it once I got towards the end and realized just how amazing NieR: Automata is. I really wish I took my time to go through it all.
There’s also NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… that I recommend if you enjoy NieR: Automata. It’s a prequel of sorts, but it’s just not as magical as NieR: Automata was, in my opinion. But hey, it has Kainé and Kainé is pretty damn awesome.
2. Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV | Square Enix
If this post was a list of my favorite video games rather than the best games I’ve ever played, then Final Fantasy XIV would be at the top of the list. But this isn’t about favorites and as great as Final Fantasy XIV is, it’s not the best game I’ve ever played. But it’s close. Despite being an MMORPG with all your typical “carrot on a stick” elements, the team at Creative Business Unit III has made considerable improvements to make Final Fantasy XIV more akin to a single-player JRPG. Ultimately though, it has a combat system that is GCD (global cooldown) based, which limits its gameplay potential.
Yes, I own the original Collector’s Edition and I have this awesome certificate to prove I endured the misery of Final Fantasy XIV 1.0. Photo credit: Jason Siu / Full Cleared
My history with Final Fantasy XIV wasn’t always smooth. After A Realm Reborn was released, I played the game quite a bit. But after some intense Twintania raiding, I was clearly not cut out to fail for days on the same encounter. I took a very long break from Final Fantasy XIV as a result, and didn’t return until right before Stormblood was released. But since then, I have learned to take a more casual approach to the game and I absolutely love it — to the point that I annoy everyone to try to play the critically acclaimed MMORPG that has a… just kidding I’ll stop.
Seriously though, the way Final Fantasy XIV was able to wrap up the Hydaelyn vs. Zodiark story with the latest Endwalker expansion was truly impressive. From what the game was at its original release to what it has become today, it’s truly a marvel and the turnaround is well documented. At the time of writing, my total play time in the game is 160 days, 4 hours, 53 minutes and I can’t wait to see where 7.0 will take us.
For an MMORPG, Final Fantasy XIV manages to balance all the things better than any other MMORPG I have ever played. And trust me, I have played a lot, including nearly 1,000 hours into Lost Ark last year. If I had to sum up FFXIV in a few words, I would call it the amusement park for Final Fantasy fans. You can be entirely casual and run dungeons on your own thanks to the Trust system. You can go and raid in a wide variety of different fights, from eight man to 24 man. You can sit around and craft all day to make money and fail miserably to buy a house. There’s even The Gold Saucer, packed with mini-games and Chocobo racing. Or you can just
be a degenerate and sit in Limsa Lominsa all day long and make friends. Hey, I don’t pay your sub.
Anyways, even if you have no interest in MMORPGs or have never tried playing an MMORPG, it’s worth giving Final Fantasy XIV a shot, since it has a free trial. Oh, and I have to mention the music. It’s so good. Soken is so good.
1. The Last of Us Part I
The Last of Us Part I | Naughty Dog
I often say that I consider The Last of Us Part I as the best game I’ve ever played, but it’s not my favorite game of all time (that goes to Final Fantasy XIV). I think there’s a big difference between “best” and “favorite” when it comes to video games — The Last of Us Part I isn’t a game I want to return to after completing it. I didn’t even bother getting the Platinum trophy for the game. But to this day, I have yet to experience a game that threw me on a rollercoaster of emotions like The Last of Us Part I… and have such a great ending.
The thing is, I found the game absolutely miserable to play and I think that’s the most brilliant part of it. It’s really not an enjoyable game and it’s designed to make you feel dread, especially when you’re low on resources and entering yet another dark corridor. But the story of Ellie and Joel is just so well told, so well acted, and so well done through various gameplay elements, that I still have yet to experience a game that I consider better than The Last of Us Part I.
For me, a great game is one that is memorable. If I finish a game and immediately forget some of the major plot points, locations, or even major characters, it’s just not a great game. I don’t know how many years that final sequence in The Last of Us Part I was burned into my brain and nearly a decade later when I went through the remake on PS5, I could still remember exactly how I felt at the end of my first playthrough. More importantly, I found the characters’ story arcs to be really natural and not once did I have to suspend my disbelief. Quite honestly, I was utterly shocked all that character growth wasn’t just tossed out the window like in other video games, television shows, and movies. It actually all paid off at the end.
There have been games that I thought would dethrone The Last of Us Part I, but then they just fail to stick the landing, or I found the ending to be rushed and poorly done. God of War Ragnarok is a great example, which you might be surprised to find noticeably missing from my list altogether. My initial 15 hours of that game felt brilliant, to the point that I started thinking it might be one of the best games I’ve ever played. But after a major plot point, I felt like the game just tumbled downhill and never recovered.
I never got that feeling with The Last of Us Part I. It’s just a damn good video game, even after all these years.
March 8, 2023: Fixed some formatting issues caused by a few sitewide changes.
February 17, 2023: Added Best Buy shopping links to my recommendations.