2017.12.27


Source.

As avid historians of video games, J and I have a pretty good depth and breadth of experiences. This'll be my first attempt at a list feature [l], written in 2019 but backdated to 2017 when he actually authored the list. Also it's actually a top eleven due to a last-minute addition/re-think.
Honorable Mention


The List

11. Skyrim

As you know, I love me some open world exploration. For my money, this world was more intricate and fun to explore than just about any other. And shouting people off of cliffs always brings a smile to my face. Had some good quests, but had some weak ones too, but the amount of stuff to do largely overshadows this. Still have to beat the DLC.


10. Mario 64

This game blew my mind when it first dropped. It's Mario, in 3d! It also controlled so well that it was fun just running and flipping around the levels, even when you weren't going for a star. Plus you could stretch Mario's face at the title screen, which never got old.


9. Halo 3

Back when Bungie was good. Co-oping this game on Legendary difficulty was such a blast.


8. Fallout 4

See #11 for the reasons for this one, I just happen to like guns better than swords. I debated between this one, FO 3, and FO NV, but went with this one only because I found the combat a bit better, and because you can craft a scope onto your sawed-off.


7. Gran Turismo 2

My interest in racing games has waned as of late, but this just felt so real to me at the time. I loved the different feel of all the cars (except the American-made ones, obviously). I loved the rally races. I even loved (most of) the license tests! Impreza 4eva!


6. Metal Gear Solid

I think I've played all of the subsequent installments, vice 4 (stupid Sony exclusivity), but this is still my favorite one. Until this point, I didn't know that a cool (if crazy) story and gameplay could be combined into something so engaging. And you just felt like a badass playing this game.


5. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

I've probably played through this game more times than any other save BL2. I know where all the good weapons are, I know where all the breakable walls are, I know how to open the inverted castle. I know it all… And somehow I don't get tired of it.


4. Final Fantasy VII

Ah, my first foray into RPGs. Up until this point, they just seemed so boring. I obviously didn't know what I was missing.


3. The Last of Us

Probably the best example of a tight, well-told, emotionally-affecting story I've ever experienced in a video game. I don't expect it to be topped any time soon. I felt more feels while playing this game than I have watching any movie or reading any book. Ok, The Road comes close...


2. The Witcher 3

Open world? Check. Good Story? Check. Meaningful decisionmaking? Check. Interesting characters and side quests? Check, check, check. Probably the most ""complete"" game I've ever played. What I mean by that is that from my perspective it hits almost all of the right notes for me. Awesome, awesome game.


1. Borderlands 2

Surprise surprise. Yeah, I really don't need to go into this one. Ed: We have many, many playthroughs under our belt. We love the gameplay, the story, the characters, and Gearbox.


My thoughts (as I related them to J at the time)

The list demonstrates a pretty good breadth of experiences, I like that it covers the sandboxes, the RPGs, the cinematic games on rails, and of course the MMOFPSRPGs.

These are all modern era, it feels weird not to have a Mario 3 or Zelda I or Super Metroid or Ocarina in there.  But when you start going down that road you have a lot of titles that were mindblowing at the time, but don't really align with the post-Mario 64 world.

Similarly, I feel like FO3 was a major leap.  FO4 was bigger and better, but just incremental progress compared to its predecessor.  GT2 was amazing back when we had time to put in long gaming sessions.  And MGS really brought the cinematic feel to a game (which TLoU took to the next level), as well as creating a world of ever-changing rules rather than just ramping up the difficulty.

The internet is shocked HL did not make the list.  It's weird because the game feels kind of vanilla in retrospect, but was remarkable at the time.  I blame the lack of a distinct style.