While it’d be easy to rehash my list of the best games of the decade, instead I’ll look at some titles that might not be the best of the best, but are games that made the gen something that bit more special. Some notable mentions are: Red Dead Redemption 2, Wolfenstein: New Order and Old Blood, Halo 5’s multiplayer, Resident Evil 7, this years stunning Streets of Rage 4. All games that I look back on incredibly fondly, but those below are ones that stand out for a different reason; these were fun alone but thanks to Xbox Live they managed to keep me entertained for months, nay years, on end
The game that sold me on the console to start with, I still have fond memories of waiting over 2 hours in line at EGX in London to try this game out. The debut from arguably one of the best developers out there, Respawn Entertainment, it ushered in much that we took for granted in online shooters that followed.
The fluid combat had been a staple of the Call of Duty series for a while, but when key members of Infinity Ward left to form Respawn they almost seemed to have something to prove. I’d argue that Titanfall (and its sequel and Battle Royal spin-off Apex Legends) have the most satisfying movement and combat in any game ever. The smooth 60fps performance made wall running, sliding and rapid gunfights a joy to behold. It’s that good that even my staple MP title Halo feels off when compared to Titanfall.
AI cannon fodder let even less skilled players feel involved, and we still see this today in titles like Fortnite and its ever changing ruleset. Killstreaks were nothing new by 2013, but is there any cooler one than dropping a massive fucking Titan from the sky? The way it arced down before slamming into the ground is as impressive to watch now as it was back then – and then piloting it is somehow even cooler! Add in some over the top, futuristic weaponry for both Pilot and Titan and the battles were a constant source of awe and wonder. At least, in between being blown away. There’s no doubt it suffered from being a console exclusive, multiplayer online-only game, but those 6 months I spent playing it almost every night will forever be looked back on fondly.
2) Rainbow Six: Siege
Much like above, Rainbow Six: Siege is one title that for me encapsulates a lot of what I’ve enjoyed this generation. I’m always going to be more of single player guy at heart, but getting together with a handful of my friends and spending a few hours online is where I enjoy much of my gaming these last few years. We were always big fans of the previous Rainbow titles, but Siege hit in a way that even R6:3 didn’t. Its use of strict 5v5 modes was perfect for our group size, but also allowed us to experiment within that with the use of different operators. Sure, Fuze’s Cluster Charge is great, but how about mixing it up and trying Ash’s barrel mounted breaching charge, or Bandit’s shock ability?
The slow pace of rounds kept tension high too, as the attackers slowly crept around destroying cameras and traps while the defenders tried to figure out where to expect the assault to come from. Going up against a fairly matched team made for some truly awesome rounds, and the thrill of being the last one standing after a quick flurry of gunfire always get the pulse racing. Even though each operator had their own loadouts and abilities things generally felt fair throughout too. Coming up against a player who was clearly above our level could quickly be demoralising, but it was that bit more satisfying to get our own back on them later on.
As with Titanfall, a lack of a proper solo campaign hurt it’s appeal a little (though the handful of training missions were a passable alternative) but then this is a game made to be played with a group of friends, first and foremost. Over the course of about 2 years we played almost three times a week without fail, and those will forever cement my appreciation for this gen, if only to chuckle at just how many times that included Cluster charging Ian by mistake…
1) Rocket League
I was a huge proponent of the PS3 title Super Sonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars. It was such a ridiculous interpretation of a sport I find dull (soccer) that I couldn’t help but be sucked in. I’d spend a couple of hours every night on it for well over a year back when I had that sort of time, and I loved every second. I was pretty damn exited then when Rocket League was announced – but gutted that it wasn’t coming to Xbox. I bought it on Steam but my PC at the time struggled to run it better than an N64 would, and the experience was slightly dampened. I’d yet to buy a PS4, so I watched from the wings as they got it first, and on PS Plus, no less.
As soon as it was announced as coming to our favourite platform though I did a little jump for joy! I bought and downloaded it day one (my second full priced purchase after the Steam copy) and man, was I a happy bunny. It looked great, played silky smooth and let me absolutely trounce all of the new Xbox players using my skills honed on SSARPC. Of course, it didn’t take long for the community to catch up to my honestly average skillset, but those few weeks were awesome.
It’s still a game I pick up almost weekly to this day. Matches are generally found quickly (cross platform play only improved this timing), and unless games are high scoring we can be done with a round in about 6 minutes. It’s the perfect time filler game; the action is simple to grasp and the matches are short enough for a genuine quick go, yet there is also the potential for ultra-high level play should you so wish to learn.
It recalls the simpler thrills of the arcade in its action, not bogging us down with anything more than accelerate, hit the ball, and try to score. Boosting, sliding, flying, and demolishing are essential to learn for dedicated play, but if you’re just after some quick fun it can almost be as entertaining to watch as the opposing team wipe the floor with you using these skills!
The recent change to Free-to-Play has only increased the player base (and let me finally get it on the Switch), and it seems that Rocket League is only going from strength to strength. I’, not a fan of the loot box-style unlocks and battle pass, though they too have been vastly improved in recent updates. That’s the price we pay for a free title though, and you can always just ignore them and focus on the action which remains unchanged, and as good as ever. As long as Rocket League lives, I’ll be a regular on there – and one day, I might even become good at it.
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