The eighth generation of consoles was quite a ride and arguably the best time I’ve had playing games (if it weren’t for Mass Effect the generation before, but look, I digress!). There was so much variety in the experiences available, from huge AAA productions to a blowout of quality indies and everything in between – seemingly something for everyone. It was genuinely incredibly difficult to nail this list down. It took me months to think about! But in the end, I’m happy with it, and I want to share it with you all! Quick spoiler: I took the liberty of including Breath of the Wild, even though it’s mostly associated with the Switch version (ninth gen?), but as it was a cross-gen release with Wii U, let’s just let it slide this time.
And of course, with so many incredible games over the years, there were a whole bunch that didn’t quite make the cut but that I couldn’t leave out. So here’s my honorable mentions.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Sunset Overdrive, Batman: Arkham Knight, Resident Evil 3, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Titanfall 2, Days Gone, DOOM, DOOM: Eternal, Final Fantasy VII Remake, inFamous: Second Son, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, Until Dawn, Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Dishonored 2, Firewatch, The Evil Within, The Evil Within 2, Detroit: Become Human, Gears of War 4, Oxenfree, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, What Remains of Edith Finch, Little Nightmares, Death Stranding, Metro Exodus.
And, without further ado, my Top 25 Games of the Eighth Generation!
25. Resident Evil VII
Resident Evil brought back to its roots and amplified to eleven in first person view. I wasn’t even a huge Resident Evil fan up to this point, though I *was* a fan. Resident Evil 6 burned me hard with its focus on extreme action and this felt so fresh to play. This solidified the franchise as a staple of the horror genre for me and opened me up to get back into the series.
24. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Don’t kill me now. I’ve never been hugely into Zelda, even as a kid. I grew up on Double Dragon, Shinobi, and Mario and for some reason never gravitated towards it. Breath of the Wild is the first game in the series I ever finished and I enjoyed my time with it. Fun combat, huge world to explore (albeit a little barren), and so many fun mechanics to play with.
23. Wolfenstein: The New Order
A masterful FPS and a great way to bring the Wolfenstein IP back to the forefront. I still think it’s far too underrated but I digress. Fantastic shooting mechanics, a great score and awesome character performances all around. Machinegames knocked it out of the park.
22. Assassin’s Creed Origins
Like Wolfenstein, I adored Origins because of the way it re-imagined “Assassin’s Creed”. Ancient Egypt is one of my favorite settings in any form of media and the Ubisoft teams did such a good job recreating it. The new take on combat, quest lines and RPG mechanics felt fresh, and Bayek and Aya remain two of my favorite leads in any Assassin’s Creed game.
This ended up becoming my favorite Remedy game. The combination of chaotic gunplay, insane physics and a mind-bending story against the backdrop of dark, brutalist architecture was so purely Remedy that I couldn’t help but fall in love. Taking place in the same universe as Alan Wake and making that connection was the cherry on top. Can’t wait to see where the studio takes it next.
While not connected to the original Prey (which I also loved back in the day), this game is worthy of the praise it gets, which frankly still isn’t enough. With a huge space station to explore and so many ways to tackle objectives, this felt like a space playground. I’m a sucker for ‘immersive sims’ and sci-fi. Combine the two and you’ve made one of my favorite games in the last several years.
19. Gears 5
Gears of War has always been one of my favorite shooter IPs since the very first one. That marked the beginning of my love for it and as always, I’ve been day one on every mainline Gears game since. Gears 5 took it in a direction I really enjoyed. Even though the open world could have used more…”stuff” to do, it was a welcome refresh. I also liked the story implications. Excited to see where it goes in the next game.
18. A Plague Tale: Innocence
A game that took me completely by surprise and, as you can see by its placement here, one that resonated strongly with me. The setting was unique, the gameplay varied enough to keep me engaged the entire time, the visuals were jaw dropping and character performances wonderfully executed. What’s even more pleasantly shocking is all this came from Asobo Studio, which at the time was a relatively smaller team. Crazy high production values. Loved it.
17. The Wolf Among Us
This remains my favorite of Telltale’s games because it’s based on such a vivid world: the Fables license. I absolutely adored the take on old legendary tales like Snow White and the big bad wolf. The writing and VO were top notch and there were some legitimately tense moments that had me on the edge of my seat, drowning in indecision. I’m so thrilled the sequel is finally coming…at some point!
16. Cyberpunk 2077
This might be a controversial one to include here, but let me explain. While I do concede the game was riddled with bugs at launch, they *still* weren’t to a level that overtook the enjoyment I got from playing. The game is filled with lots of great characters, some more than others, the shooting was satisfying, and many of the quest lines were of high quality that CD Projekt RED is known for. Its technical state was unfortunate, but I was left very satisfied with the narrative, quest design and character performances, enough to propel it to this spot.
15. Yakuza 0
This was my very first foray into the Yakuza series and I’m so, so glad I decided to jump in. Witty, hilarious, confusing, emotional and powerful all rolled into one; that’s how I could describe Yakuza. Yakuza 0 had fantastic pacing, incredibly endearing characters (both in mainline quests and side quests), fun combat and a badass mobster story that sucked me right in from the very start. Once it got hold of me, I knew I found a new favorite series.
14. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan. I like it well enough. I think the Jedi/Sith conflict is neat, the various species and planets interesting to learn about, and there’s been some genuinely great characters to spring out from the IP, but I’ve never been as deep into it as others. It says a lot then when I put a Star Wars game this high up the list, but that’s how good Fallen Order was. Blending that universe with a Metroidvania’ish world design and Souls’ inspired combat was brilliant. I loved exploring all those levels and the story was actually fairly fresh. Can’t wait to see where Respawn takes it next.
13. Resident Evil 2
Like I said at the very top, I’ve always played and enjoyed Resident Evil games, but that didn’t start at the beginning. It started with the Resident Evil Remake on GameCube (great game). I’d never played Resident Evil 2 up to this point, so this was me going in completely fresh, and damn was it worth it. Experiencing a classic like this in a gorgeous new coat of paint and brought up to modern standards both mechanically and through sheer production values was an absolute treat.
12. Ghost of Tsushima
I’ve always been a Sucker Punch fan. From the early days of Sly Cooper to hitting it big with inFamous, the team’s always managed to carve out their own identity with unique worlds and fun gameplay. Ghost of Tsushima continued that, and easily propelled into my top 10 games of 2020. The world was utterly gorgeous (seriously I must have taken 500 screenshots), the musical score was powerful, and the combat was surprisingly deep. It was a joy to explore and there were many heartfelt moments; more than I anticipated. Phenomenal game.
11. Marvel’s Spider-Man
If it wasn’t for Batman Arkham Asylum, this would be my favorite superhero game of all time. Web slinging was invigorating, combat with all powers at your disposal was a blast, and the entire cast felt worthy of the Spider-Man name. Production values were absolutely sky high. Insomniac nailed it.
Oddly enough, this is the only ‘Souls’ game I’ve ever completed as I’ve never been too big into the formula. Bloodborne just clicked with me. The emphasis on attacking and regaining health lost made for a slightly more accessible approach to gameplay, at least for me. Enemies were as tough as ever but that little design choice helped me push through the gorgeously creepy world that was Yharnam. Unforgettable art direction, world design and combat.
9. Life is Strange
This is a special one that just strongly resonated with me. The characters were of course the stars of the game, and following each one’s personal journey through their highs and lows was such a memorable experience that I had to include this one way up on the list. There’s nothing I can say without spoiling too much, but every episode was filled with scenes and character performances that ‘hit me in the feels’ HARD. I’ll never forget it.
Though short, Inside just sticks with you for years. Every step taken is one that fills you with dread and a looming sense of doom. The platforming and puzzle play against the backdrop of a cruel world were so well done that I still talk about the game today. Playdead knows how to craft their freakish platformers, that’s for sure. And THAT ENDING. Just what the hell!
7. Dragon Age: Inquisition
This was BioWare’s first go around with the Frostbite engine (challenges well documented), and it was such a commendable accomplishment, especially given how massive and filled with content it was. BioWare has always had a special way of creating characters that almost always command my interest and attention and it was no different here. From Dorian to the Iron Bull and the enigma that is Solas, I just loved chatting with them all any chance I could get. The various locations were fun to explore (even if packed with some filler content) and I found the combat to be quite engaging once you upgrade your character. Can not wait for the next game.
6. Horizon Zero Dawn
A post-apocalyptic pseudo sci-fi world, gorgeous scenery, dialogue trees, bow and arrow combat, and robotic beasts roaming the lands; basically a Shinobi602 game if I’ve ever seen one. I absolutely adored the world Guerrilla created here. Taking down towering robotic dinos with a variety of weapons at my disposal was exhilarating. Aloy quickly became one of my favorite protagonists because of her wittiness and refusal to take anyone’s bullshit. The narrative instantly grabbed me and built up perfectly from beginning to end. What a game.
5. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
If there were ever a game that I could comfortably say ended a story perfectly, it’s Uncharted 4. Even though it was filled with as many jaw dropping set-pieces as its predecessors, it implemented fantastic combat scenarios every step of the way. Combat was widened with much more open levels, the best shooting the franchise had seen and the good ol’ rope. Going on one last adventure with Nate, Sully and Elena after following them for so long hit me so hard. There were so, so many tender moments that propelled this to my favorite in the IP. Nate earned his rest. Time to relax treasure hunter.
4. The Last of Us: Part II
People have asked me which I prefer all the time: the original or Part Two? I genuinely can’t answer that because each one sets out to do its job and succeeds impeccably at it. The Last of Us: Part II showed two sides of a coin and tied those sides in ways I didn’t expect. The combat encounters were so well executed. Animation work, visuals and character performances were industry leading and I was personally a fan of where Naughty Dog took the story. Much of it made sense to me and I was left with one of the most satisfying games I’d played in a good while.
3. God of War
Even though I’d always been game for a new God of War after Ascension (2013), I have to admit I wasn’t itching for one. But 2018’s God of War has pushed the series so far in front of the rest of the pack that the upcoming sequel is one of my most anticipated games at the moment. Sony Santa Monica studio could not have delivered a more perfect game. Kratos was given so much more depth, more than the entire series combined up to that point. Expanding into Norse mythology was hugely welcome, and surrounding Kratos with endearing characters, particularly his son (even though he was a brat sometimes) worked perfectly to accentuate the already strongly motivating plot. Goddamn I loved this game.
2. Red Dead Redemption II
I still stop and think just how insane Red Dead Redemption II was. Seriously, there are so many systems intertwining and working together in the game that my game dev brain screams in anguish just imagining the amount of time and effort went into building and testing everything. The story of Arthur Morgan and his gang was filled to the brim with moments of pain, laughter, despair, hopelessness and honest questions. The world genuinely felt alive like none I’ve ever played and I won’t be forgetting it any time soon. In fact, I’ve been meaning for another replay…once…I…get my already massive backlog in order.
1. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
As is probably no surprise to many, this is the one – the one that easily takes the crown. I loved The Witcher III: Wild Hunt so much in fact that it found its place in my top 5 games of all time. I wouldn’t even know where to start. Do I talk about absolutely gigantic list of quality quests? Side quests that were some times more involved and in-depth than main quests in other RPGs? Do I talk about the robust dialogue options available to hundreds of characters or the memorable cast? Do I mention that even though the world itself was monstrously big, every foot still felt hand crafted. I could talk about the unforgettable soundtrack or way weather dynamically changed each scene and scenario. Even though the combat was a little lacking, everything else about The Witcher III was so damn good that it had no problems reach my top spot. Wind’s howling.