WHERE IS METROID PRIME!??!?!
September 23, 2019 4:52 AM   Subscribe

The 50 best video games of the 21st century. [The Guardian] “Want to build worlds, become a crime kingpin, get lost in space, or enter the afterlife? Then our countdown of the 50 best games of the era has something for you.”
posted by Fizz (118 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'd go so far as to call myself a gamer (at least before I had kids) and I've played five of these games. So I guess this is like those "Best 50 Movies of All Time" lists where its 48 Hollywood movies and then a French and a Japanese movie.

Edit: Also, get off my lawn.
posted by Alex404 at 5:01 AM on September 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


If I were to point to a particularly glaring absence, neither Civ 4 or 5 made the list.

No Paradox games -- Crusader Kings, EU or any of their strategy or sim games.

This list also appears to be doing a thing where one title is picked to represent a certain engine/developer lineage.

Skyrim is on the list, but Oblivion is not, or any of the Gamebryo based Fallouts.

Mass Effect seems to be standing in for all the Bioware-alikes, there's no KOTOR (2004).

WoW seems to be the representative MMO, but EVE probably deserves a nod.

Eagle Dynamics deserves credit for still making detailed combat flight sims.

Not my cup of tea, but the classic e-sports titles are missing: DoTA, CS:GO etc.

I know I'm leaving out a ton of other titles that have had a large impact.

I look forward to everyone else's quibbles (not that my steam wishlist needs to be any longer).
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:18 AM on September 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


Mmm... no Dishonored? No Banner Saga? What about Monument Valley? etc. etc. Plus I'm sure there are fans of indy games out there who are fuming right now.
posted by domdib at 5:18 AM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Witcher 3 is good but top 5 good? And no Far Cries? No Dishonored?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 5:19 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Mmm... no Dishonored? No Banner Saga? What about Monument Valley? etc. etc. Plus I'm sure there are fans of indy games out there who are fuming right now.

ctrl + f Binding of Isaac PHRASE NOT FOUND.

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
posted by Fizz at 5:21 AM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


This is a good list, though it is undeniably indexed toward major studio games. Lots of great indies came out that are as good or better than some of these, but for a list of "best games" in a mainstream publication, I ain't mad.
posted by thedaniel at 5:23 AM on September 23, 2019


Far too many murder sims, not enough 'building'. Granted, Minecraft is probably in the right place, but there are others.

Also, this list reminds me how much gaming ain't really for my 48 year old soul no mo'
posted by DigDoug at 5:23 AM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


As much as lists like this infuriate me (it does lean very much towards AAA industry games), I will admit that Minecraft is one of the most important games of the 21st century and I'm not upset with it rounding out the top of this list. It's not my go-to favourite game, but I recognize how influential it is for so many other games we all love and play.
posted by Fizz at 5:24 AM on September 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


Also, this list reminds me how much gaming ain't really for my 48 year old soul no mo'

It's not that gaming isn't for your 48 year old soul, it's that these types of gaming click-bait-y articles aren't for you (or for anyone really). Gaming is the games you enjoy and the love you share. The rest of it is just noise.
posted by Fizz at 5:25 AM on September 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


no Far Cries

Ass Creed 2 would appear to be the representative Ubi-quitous semi-open mission map tower-climber. Which, if you were going to pick just one I'd go for AC:O.

FC2 deserves its own entry, imo.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:28 AM on September 23, 2019


I've played quite a few of these games, but the section of my lawn from which I would usher the kids of our times pertains to the games I have not played because they are specific console exclusives. I own a PC that has the power to play anything, but quite a few games are limited by licensing and ownership stuff. I'm not about to go buy an XBox/360/One AND a Playstation 1/2/3/4 AND a Nintendo Gamecube/Wii/WiiU/Switch in addition to my PC.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:31 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Spelunky should also be higher up, like it needs to jump at least 10 rankings up.
posted by Fizz at 5:31 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


The lack of sports games is interesting too.

Surely Madden, 2K and Fifa have had a huge impact.

I'd say the list has a PC-oriented sensibility, but console exclusives like Journey are on there.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:34 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Katamari Damacy's place was well-deserved, though should have possibly been higher. I second the criticism of the absence of Monument Valley. Also, Fez should probably merit a place due to its 2½D platform mechanics.
posted by acb at 5:37 AM on September 23, 2019


Immersive sims are represented by Deus Ex and to a lesser extent Bioshock. So no Dishonored or anything else that Arkane has done.

Missing any strategy games, Dragon Age:Origins (I guess they figured that ME2 and Witcher3 had them covered), and if they're during to have representative games there, they missed Destiny. I'm not a fan, but that game defined a sub genre that people are still trying to replicate.
posted by Hactar at 5:39 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


The Guardian: The 50 best video games of the 21st century
Fizz's brain: “The Internet is wrong. Why am I not in charge of all games?”
posted by Fizz at 5:40 AM on September 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I was going into this list prepared to pull out knives at the top slot choice, but... can’t argue with Minecraft. If there is any game that has sucked more of my time than BotW, it’s Minecraft.

It’s a bit crazy to think that this game has been out for 10 years and retains its popularity. The game has a fanatical core of modders and community of coders that keep weird esoteric add-ones and tweaks alive. I’ve been running a server at home since we started playing, just a small ultracompact Atom-based box that can handle a few players at a time... that eventually got upgraded to a beast of a multicore server with SSDs and gigabytes of RAM because hey it makes for smoother gameplay. I’ve hand-pruned sections of the game to selectively reset specific lightly-explored regions when new versions come out, while sparing areas with extensive builds. I’ve reverse-engineered a simple (but crucial to us) abandoned plugin to make it compatible with recent builds. I’m continually amazed at how much fun my son and I can wring out of that silly game. We’ve been exploring the same world for the past 5 years. He has specific bases that were co-built by friends, and when said friend visits for a sleepover, that’s the base they return to and play in. We have random challenges we set for ourselves, things he will come up with on a whim, like “let’s see if we can remove all the water from an ocean temple and make it into a base”. (Yes, you can, but it takes a long time and a lot of sponges!) When we get bored, we travel to a new area and explore, sometimes dropping all our gear and playing as if we were brand new to the world. We’re digging tunnels and building new bases. Discovering mine shafts and ravines. Constructing the occasional monumental sculpture. And currently, digging an immense hole down to bedrock, because it seemed like the thing to do at the time.

Our first year in the game was largely spent excavating and exploring in the small island that we found ourselves on when the world was generated. Using a world map generator, I was a bit surprised to note that The Hole was large enough to swallow our home island. We’re down to level 40 and still chipping away at the pit...
posted by caution live frogs at 5:45 AM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


I feel like at this late date, if you're going to write a bunch about Minecraft and specifically name-check Markus Persson in the context of a list of games many of which you aren't mentioning specific design or programming leads, it's more or less required that you mention what an awful shithole of a human being he turned out to be. It's frankly a serious lapse in journalistic standards that he basically just gets a nice "wasn't the first but perfected it" for a game he hasn't been actively involved in for years, largely now driven by a company that wants nothing to do with his toxic ass.
posted by tocts at 5:48 AM on September 23, 2019 [10 favorites]


Getting more into Minecraft, in terms of modding it and doing redstone stuff and etc., is still on my long term list of gaming do-somedays. Among its other strengths, it's probably the most replayable game ever.

I'm glad Microsoft liberated it from Notch, even if it made him rich(er) and even if MS is going to make scads of money off of it for a long time.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:48 AM on September 23, 2019


I'm glad Microsoft liberated it from Notch, even if it made him rich and even if MS is going to make scads of money off of it for a long time.

I will say this, Microsoft has supported the Minecraft community is an amazing way and they've made the game highly accessible for anyone who is interested in playing, especially younger people, kids. I appreciate this so much because it has fostered a lot of interest in coding/programming.
posted by Fizz at 5:51 AM on September 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


If nothing else it's left me with the impression that 2004 was a good year for gaming. Fifteen years later, Katamari Damacy, WoW, Half Life 2, and Burnout 3 are still go-to games.
posted by ardgedee at 5:52 AM on September 23, 2019


It's interesting how many of the games that people go "wait, how is Game X not in the Top 50" I'm thinking "it might be good but there's no way that it's one of the best 50 games of the last 20 years". Like, this is probably the golden age of the medium right now, and 50 games over 20 years means we're talking about the best 2 or 3 games per year. I was genuinely shocked Shadow of Colossus was on the list, and that game is revered for good reason. (Slightly higher ranked than God of War: Dad of War, which is absolutely not one of the top 50 games of the last 20 years.)

I can't really quibble with the top 5 though. That's probably the order I would have put them in, too. Bloodborne and GTA V are... bold choices in the top 10 - even though I personally really like Bloodborne, most of what makes it special is due to it basically being a refined Dark Souls, and Dark Souls is already on the list.
posted by Merus at 5:55 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


I've played all but 8 of the games on the list.

If nothing else, it's been a great century for gaming so far and, even if this list doesn't quite demonstrate the breadth of experiences available, it's only getting better.

Even as the culture around gaming continues to be a morass of awfulness (notch, natch) the end product is only improving.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:01 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


@snuffleupagus Far Cry 2 does deserve to be in there as we connoisseurs know that (patched up with Dylan's Mod on PC) it is the best Far Cry.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:01 AM on September 23, 2019


GTA IV and V made the list, which given that it's really "50 really good games that we could be bothered to do a paragraph on" is an interesting choice.

I don't tend to play many games that would genuinely make a list like this, but I'd probably want to put Stardew Valley on there somewhere.

It's interesting how diverse the experiences here are, which kind of makes a mockery of "video game" as a category.
Guitar Hero is a hugely different to Rocket League, which is hugely different to Minecraft, etc etc.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:03 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


It's interesting how many of the games that people go "wait, how is Game X not in the Top 50" I'm thinking "it might be good but there's no way that it's one of the best 50 games of the last 20 years"

Part of it is that the list doesn't have any fixed criteria and sort of wanders between celebrating games for their importance or innovation and etc., some of which we might not find that fun to play today, and their pure popularity or enjoyment.

Thus, our threads on articles like this tend to be more interesting and informative than TFA.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:05 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


(That being said, I would have definitely tried to get Civ IV and Stardew Valley on the list, and both were unjustly robbed. I'd push hard for Hollow Knight, but I know enough people bounce off it that I can't justify it, even though to my mind it's one of the most mind-blowingly brilliant games made in years. I really like the Persona series, but can I point to any one entry in it, but realistically Persona 4 or 5, and say it's better than Katamari Damacy, a game where you make bigger and bigger stuff-balls in the hope that if you make this one big enough, your terrible father will love you? No. I cannot.)
posted by Merus at 6:05 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


NONE of the Final Fantasy games were good enough to make the cut? really?
posted by lazaruslong at 6:06 AM on September 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


I enjoy that the title of this post is exactly the kind of reaction these lists are supposed to inspire.

Also, where's Nier Automata U:<
posted by Reyturner at 6:09 AM on September 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


Guitar Hero (and Rock Band) were undeniably the bigger games, but Rocksmith deserves more appreciation imo.

It gets expensive buying tracks (although they go on deep seasonal sales), but the game will actually teach you guitar or bass using your guitar as a controller. Just like other ways of learning, I haven't yet had the discipline at the same time I've had the practice time to dedicate to it, but it's pretty damn cool.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:15 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


NONE of the Final Fantasy games were good enough to make the cut? really?

That's is really the largest crime committed by this list. (Though I may be partial as I'm in the middle of replaying FF8).

That and the complete lack of rhythm games aside from Guitar Hero and SINGSTAR?? Is this because of lack of workable home console versions of DDR/Pump it Up/Poppin Music/Sound Voltex/etc.? Sheesh - feel like an entire genre was overlooked here.

Very glad to see Dead Space on there though. If they remastered it for the Switch it would be an insta-buy for me.
posted by RobertFrost at 6:19 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


I scrolled through it until I saw Wii Sports put ahead of Shadow of the Colossus and I had to step away from the keyboard for a moment. I was glad to see Majora's Mask ranked only behind Breath of the Wild as the list of Zelda candidates, though. Inside deserves a place on there rather than Limbo.

RDR2 was on the list, though, which unfortunately calls the entire thing into question. RDR2 is one of the worst games ever made.
posted by mhoye at 6:21 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


(Though I may be partial as I'm in the middle of replaying FF8)

FF8 was '99. I'm partial to FF9, but basically for every Final Fantasy since then, I can point to a disqualifying flaw in it: nonsensical plot, even by the standards of Final Fantasy; tedious gameplay; being straight up unfinished. Square Enix didn't handle the transition to full 3D engines very well, and so in the last 20 years the RPGs that have been the most influential have been mostly Western ones (Persona 4 being one of the big exceptions).

It's bad enough that I'd argue the overhauled Final Fantasy XIV is the best game in the franchise in the past 20 years.
posted by Merus at 6:31 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Minecraft well deserves the top of the list. It's a game, but it's meant so much more to people than that. I think for the Gen-Z crowd its going to be a touchstone expectation when true virtuality comes along. It's not just a game, it's changed our culture in significant ways.

My personal +1s are FTL and Star Dew Valley, but I'm not surprised to see them off the list, honestly.
posted by bonehead at 6:33 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


It's not just a game, it's changed our culture in significant ways.

I was surprised that Minecraft and Fortnite weren't competing for the first two slots. It's hard to overstate the cultural impact of both; the only other game on the list that even comes close on that axis is World of Warcraft.
posted by mhoye at 6:37 AM on September 23, 2019


Well they put Journey on the list so there's only so mad I can be.
posted by fleacircus at 6:38 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


It's hard to overstate the cultural impact of both; the only other game on the list that even comes close on that axis is World of Warcraft.

The Madden and NBA2K franchises are easily as influential as WoW, and their absence feels pretty....white, tbh.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:40 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


The Madden and NBA2K franchises are easily as influential as WoW, and their absence feels pretty....white, tbh.

Huh. I hadn't considered that, but I guess the obvious question about a claim of cultural impact is "whose?".

Rock Paper Shotgun ran a fantastic series of articles for a while called "Gaming Made Me" that were focused on individual experiences, but I don't know of anything comparable about cultural impact, a "gaming made us" for some "us".
posted by mhoye at 6:50 AM on September 23, 2019


Fun grumpyfact: in the spring of 2003 I was frantically trying to get a job in order to secure health insurance. One of the jobs I applied for was video game tester at Konami. My interview consisted of a brief back-and-forth about why I wanted the job (so I could play videogames, which my then-GF didn't approve of) and a bunch of Office Space style commentary about how they were moving all of the testers into the basement. Finally they gave me the applied skills part of the interview: I had to test out Singstar.

What followed was my best rendition of Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" - I think I got a good number of stars or whatever? I ended up getting the job, but before I started I got a much better job and had to call them up to say I wasn't going to be testing video games after all.

Oddly enough, I have never performed "Complicated" in karaoke since.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:51 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Super Mario Odyssey over either Galaxy? I mean... that's a choice.
posted by Automocar at 6:54 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


FF9 was rad af and released in 2000. Grr. I was also partial to X.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:58 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


No mobile games on the list. Not one.
posted by Hogshead at 6:59 AM on September 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


The Madden and NBA2K franchises are easily as influential as WoW, and their absence feels pretty....white, tbh.

Pretty British. It's a British list.
posted by Hogshead at 7:01 AM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


No mobile games on the list. Not one.

It does seem odd to not recognize that mobile gaming has fundamentally changed the entire gaming industry and how people engage and play with games. You'd think a game like Candy Crush or Angry Birds would land on the list because it made such a huge impact. Whether you like these games is a separate conversation, but as far as games that impact the 21st century, they should be acknowledged and apart of the conversation.
posted by Fizz at 7:10 AM on September 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


It's the "casual gamer"/"mommy gamer" problem. Because mobile games aren't primarily about 14-year-old middle-class boys, they're not on the radar for "gamer culture". But there probably have been more games of Angry Birds played that just about anything else in the past decade.
posted by bonehead at 7:19 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


It's the "casual gamer"/"mommy gamer" problem.

Which is so stupid because there are SOOOO many AAA games that are ported to mobile devices now. Even if you buy into this argument (which is bullshit) that only games like XCOM count as "real games", surprise gamergate bros, you can play XCOM on a Samsung S7.

If anything, the mobile gaming market is even more accessible and wide-reaching. You're absolutely right, people play more Candy Crush, Angry Birds, Words with Friends than so called PC MASTER race, I'm pretty sure the numbers would surprise most of us.
posted by Fizz at 7:22 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


My personal Top 1 is the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series but it's PC-only and also not really so much a game as a simulation of being a know-nothing greenhorn trying to come to grips with survival in an incredibly hostile, alien, and dynamic environment.
posted by glonous keming at 7:25 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who kinda thought Limbo was totally disappointing? With all the hype? Like, it's fine. Even good. But it's pretty much a glossy New Grounds-era flash puzzler. Some of those even had much more interesting aesthetics. And it came out after Super Meat Boy, which arguably did the gray, washed-out industrial death machine with maggots stuff a few good notches better, as just one of the chapters.
posted by es_de_bah at 7:29 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


FF9 was rad af and released in 2000. Grr. I was also partial to X.

I mean yes, say what you will about every FF game having it's own issues, some JRPG deserves to be on the list (and I feel like Persona games have far more flaws than FF games) if we're going by 'type'. X was fantastic and the Sphere Grid was revolutionary.
posted by RobertFrost at 7:33 AM on September 23, 2019


it's more or less required that you mention what an awful shithole of a human being he turned out to be.

My wife is a scary good intuitive judge of character. She read a screenplay written by a friend she hadn't met yet and correctly said "He's pretty loud and bossy, isn't he?". After she played Minecraft for a bit, she asked me "Was this game made by a racist?", and well, yeah.
posted by Jpfed at 7:34 AM on September 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


In general I think the Guardian's recent lists of 'Best culture of the 21st century' have been devoid of any actually interesting criticism and are pretty much indistinguishable from lists of 'Most easily recognisable culture of the 21st century' (the art and architecture ones excepted, perhaps). Tina Fey is apparently the best comedian of the 21st century for remaining 'precisely as exacting, hilarious and influential as she’s ever been', which is a pretty perfect encapsulation of the status quoism pervading these lists imo. I would trade them all in for one Richard Brody film review.
posted by Panthalassa at 7:34 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


HONK
posted by Going To Maine at 7:41 AM on September 23, 2019 [18 favorites]


I'm not even going to engage with this list. The 21st century is barely begun. They couldn't even wait 4 months for a "best games of the first two decades of the 21st century?" C'mon.

I'll argue all day about best games of the 20th century though.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:57 AM on September 23, 2019


Untitled Goose Game is missing?!
posted by asperity at 8:06 AM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


I wonder if I should start playing Minecraft....
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:06 AM on September 23, 2019


MetaFilter: a simulation of being a know-nothing greenhorn trying to come to grips with survival in an incredibly hostile, alien, and dynamic environment
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:07 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


After she played Minecraft for a bit, she asked me "Was this game made by a racist?", and well, yeah.

I'm curious to know how she got there from the gameplay; what was it about the game that gives clues in that direction?

That being said, this list is strange to me for what it leaves out - the big 4X titles, the grand strategy games, the mobile games. But the point of these lists is two fold, I think - the first purpose is to be comforting for those readers who are only casually interested in the topic of the list, so that they can see some things they will be familiar with on it and not feel out of touch; and the second purpose is to get those who are more devoted to the topic emotionally engaged so that it gets shared and discussed and argued about.

Fuck it; I'm a 48 year old gamer and I'm going to go play some Civ.
posted by nubs at 8:11 AM on September 23, 2019 [8 favorites]


Super Mario Odyssey over either Galaxy? I mean... that's a choice.

3D World is way better than Odyssey, but it’s currently stuck on Wii U - can’t wait for the Switch port.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:31 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Oh, and (as always) no mention of the best game of the 21st Century, Cart Life. Maybe one of the best videogames ever made, period.
posted by Automocar at 8:54 AM on September 23, 2019


No Kerbal Space Program? Ah well, I will console myself with the sequel when it comes out next year.
posted by Grither at 8:57 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Also, get off my lawn

I still get awestruck by the mere fact that I'm living in the 21st century.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:08 AM on September 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


WHERE IS METROID PRIME!??!?!

You have to collect the X-Ray Visor and revisit the list before it will show up.
posted by jcreigh at 9:24 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


I am going to be skipping two or three donations to the Guardian for good articles just because I’m so annoyed they think that this is an article they are in anyway qualified to publish. Ridiculous.
posted by Caduceus at 9:37 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


60+ comments in, and no one has mentioned Pokemon - surely at least one of the games deserves a nod. I'd argue Go for its cultural significance, even if there are better executed games.
posted by matrixclown at 9:46 AM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Just making a quick list of things that surprise me at being on the list.

Forza - As far as I can tell, this series is big on realism but low on fun. That said, I don't thin kanyone does that better than they do.

Burnout 3 - I'd just replace Froza with this, graphics look the same to my car-agnostic eyes, but it's actually fun. Not that fun is the end-all be-all for videogames, but without a specific qualifier beforehand it's a pretty common metric among videogame players.

Gars of War - Ugly game with bad story, worse characters, awful feeling controls.

Assassin's Creed - Just worse Prince of Persia over and over and over and over.

Call of Warfare Battlefield Ops MW - I guess these games are super insanely popular so they have to be here somewhere but blech, what a generic and uninspired batch of games from different developers over decades that supposedly aren't in the same franchise but there's little to no change from the first gamecube iterations to now.

Skyrim - This one's tough. Morrowind had better story and characters, more creative agency, more gameplay, more things to explore and uncover. Oblivion took massive, unforgiveable steps back on all of those fronts, but hey the combat was marginally better. Skyrim took massive steps back in quest design, they didn't write a story or any characters. Combat was even more restrictive, magic all but removed, almost no room for creative agency, but it was better looking than the two before it, but not better than it's contemporaries.

Not going on the list of questionable choice, but I was surprised Minecraft at number 1. "Videogame Legos" is a solid idea LEGO was incredibly stupid to not have thought of, considering me and every other kid at school who played the original Lego Island game had the same idea 2 seconds into finding out Lego Island wasn't videogame-legos. I can't say I chuff at it being number 1 even if it wouldn't be mine, but my number 1 tends to change with mood and season.

"After she played Minecraft for a bit, she asked me "Was this game made by a racist?", and well, yeah."

Uhh, what? I haven't really played the game since M$ bought it, but I'm confused where she would get that idea from the game alone. The player characters have totally customize-able skins and the NPCs are non-human. I can't think of any way base Minecraft could be racist even if someone expressly sought to make it racist.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:56 AM on September 23, 2019


I'm not going to quibble about selections, which is what these lists are for. I just want to point out how wrong it is to lead the Minecraft entry with this:
Swedish coder Markus “Notch” Persson didn’t invent the concept of the block-based building game – Minecraft arrived just after Zach Barth’s experimental title Infiniminer. However, the founder of Stockholm studio Mojang took the idea of a Lego-like construction game based in a procedurally generated environment and perfected it... From the very beginning Minecraft was a shared endeavour – a labour of love, shared between creator and fans.
It wouldn't have been appropriate to dig into Persson's awful public statements in a fluffy celebratory listicle, but giving him this kind of sole auteur credit is just wrong. Minecraft hasn't been a solo project since the early alpha versions. Persson didn't come up with the core ideas, as noted, and the other workers at Mojang are responsible for nearly all of the steady grind of expansion and refinement that made the game we know today. Treating the enormous team effort of Minecraft like one dude whipped the whole thing up in his garage would be wrong even if said dude was a saint.
posted by skymt at 9:58 AM on September 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


Untitled Goose Game is missing?!

You have to understand that Untitled Goose Game is a metaphor for Dark Souls.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:01 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


It has Katamari Damacy and Minecraft so all is right by me.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:05 AM on September 23, 2019


I was ready to call this list hot garbage if it didn't include Mass Effect or Dragon Age (Inquisition specifically). If the general read on it is "Mass Effect is standing in for all of BioWare" then I guess it's lukewarm garbage.

Also any "greatest" list without Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a list that clearly hates fun.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:07 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


CTRL+F "New Vegas"

...this is a bad list.
posted by suetanvil at 10:09 AM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


As others have mentioned various omitted favorites of mine, I'm just gonna say The Stanley Parable should bump out one of shooty uncanny valley games from this list
posted by rather be jorting at 10:09 AM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


I haven't played a single game on this list. I have, however, watched many of them being played.

I look over the shoulders of giants.

Yes, I am old.
posted by chavenet at 10:34 AM on September 23, 2019


I'm actually kind of astounded that neither of the Dishonored games made the list. Those are very good games.

So many good indie games that at least deserve a mention, but I guess there are so many that my personal preferences might not be representative of the best or most popular. But stuff like Fez and Please Don't Touch Anything arguably deserve some recognition (my personal favorite is TIS-100, but I can understand why that one wouldn't make a list). At least Papers, Please made the cut.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:47 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Not one mention of Starcraft II, DotA, or League? Some of the games that, along with the rise of Twitch, brought big scale Esports to the forefront? Hmm.

Also, Portal 1 > Portal 2 IMO. I know #1 was short, but the puzzles felt more authentic. #2 just felt like it was trying too hard (and it took that "guide you with color" type of level design to an extreme where nothing felt like a mytery.)
posted by Wulfhere at 10:52 AM on September 23, 2019


hmmm

49. Katamari Damanci
48. Journey
36. Spelunky
29. Deus Ex
25. Ico
11. Skyrim, mostly because it came free with my 360 and I had a lonely Seattle winter to fill
10. Bloodborne
8. Portal 2
4. Half-Life 2
3. Dark Souls
1. Minecraft, for about a week or two, until I looked up from trying to build an underwater dome at 4AM and said "I have better things to do with my time and energy" and deleted it.

I have played eleven out of these fifty Best Games Of The 21st Century So Far and I am vaguely interested in maybe three more of them. I guess I am not a True Gamer or something. Who knows.

Also, Saints Row is far better as an entertaining video game than the po-faced GTA games have been since that series stopped being a goofy 2D affair.
posted by egypturnash at 10:56 AM on September 23, 2019


Saints Row is far better as an entertaining video game than the po-faced GTA games have been since that series stopped being a goofy 2D affair.

I agree GTA4 is overrated and did little new, and GTA5 was just honing of a formula, but did you PLAY Vice City and San Andreas?
posted by avalonian at 11:00 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also, Portal 1 > Portal 2 IMO

Yeah, Portal 2 was fine but I'm pretty baffled by putting it over the first one.

Portal, when it came out, was a fucking revelation. The level design and puzzles were great, but also the story that unfolded and the realizations as you play about what's going on engaged the player in ways I think very few games have ever accomplished. I think it's hard to remember just how fresh and surprising it was.

Part of the problem I'm sure is that it's almost impossible to play it like it's new anymore; almost impossible to go in not knowing what you're in for. It's almost like trying to understand what it was like to see Star Wars when nobody knew what Star Wars was. The end of Portal, and the ending song, absolutely floored me and had me basically asking friends "holy shit did you play this so we can talk about it?!" in a way that would be hard to replicate now as GladOS and such have permeated the culture.
posted by tocts at 11:03 AM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


I submit my top post on Metafilter as my argument for the inclusion of Outer Wilds on this list.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 11:49 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Good to see Breath of the Wild at #2 - it’s my favorite game of all time (besting Super Mario Bros 3) and I’m not even a Zelda fan.

Never tried Minecraft.
posted by porn in the woods at 12:06 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


CTRL+F "New Vegas"

...this is a bad list.


"From where you're kneeling it must seem like an 18-carat run of bad luck. Truth is...the game was rigged from the start."
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:32 PM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


matrixclown: "60+ comments in, and no one has mentioned Pokemon - surely at least one of the games deserves a nod. I'd argue Go for its cultural significance, even if there are better executed games."

I say this as someone who has played literally thousands of hours of Pokemon Go... it is a terrible game. It pushes some specific brain buttons that keep me playing and even ostensibly enjoying myself, but it is a buggy nightmare of not-fun video game design.

As for the other Pokemon games, there was thing in Pokemon Go that required you play through most of Pokemon Let's Go on the Switch (basically a reskin of the original Gameboy Pokemon). I had forgotten what a slog that game actually was. The games are very popular and beloved, but I don't think that's due to them being very great video games in their own right. It's the everything else that's appealing.
posted by team lowkey at 12:47 PM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Quibble: Pokemon Let's Go isn't a reskin of red/blue, it's red/blue with PoGo grafted on to it. Pokemon Go is a lot of fun in a walk-around-the-real-world-and-chuck-pokeballs-in-AR kind of way, but the actual gameplay of it is basically nonexistent, and THAT is what they, perversely, decided needed to be added to red and blue.

Which is to say, I wouldn't take Let's Go as an example of what Pokemon does well. The original red and blue are actually fun games (provided you have a stomach for grindy JRPGs and the type of personality that takes "Gotta Catch 'Em All" as holy writ)
posted by bookwo3107 at 1:02 PM on September 23, 2019


nubs

> After she played Minecraft for a bit, she asked me "Was this game made by a racist?", and well, yeah.

I'm curious to know how she got there from the gameplay; what was it about the game that gives clues in that direction?


My shot-in-the-dark guess is that it was inspired by villagers.
posted by radiosilents at 1:11 PM on September 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


Next up: Top 50 ways to create viral click-bait listicles

I mean, seriously, why should I care what the Guardian thinks are important video games? And yet I clicked through to find out where they ranked everything anyway. I hate that this stuff works.
posted by Aleyn at 1:53 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


That X Com/ UFO: Enemy Unknown isn't on that list makes this a travesty.
posted by porpoise at 2:11 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


I mean, seriously, why should I care what the Guardian thinks are important video games?

I've seen a few people dismiss this because it's by the Guardian. Keza has been writing professionally about games for years. They've been an editor for IGN and Kotaku. Not entirely sure why their credentials are being questioned. Disagree with the list all you want, but this isn't some uninformed intern writing about games for the first time.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:03 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


My shot-in-the-dark guess is that it was inspired by villagers.

Here’s fifteen minutes of reasonably thoughtful analysis of the problem.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:12 PM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


That X Com/ UFO: Enemy Unknown isn't on that list makes this a travesty.

This list is for the 21st century. UFO: Enemy Unknown was 1994. That come to think of it may also be why FIFA isn't on the list - they've been coming out every year since 1993, and there's no one game that I can think of that is The FIFA Game Everyone Talks About. (Battlefield and Halo are both represented by their first entries, although Call of Duty is represented by Modern Warfare IV).

Madden and NBA are, as mentioned not listed because this is a British list and both games are almost entirely American.

And despite the complaint that it's PC-centric there seems to be an entire lack of the PC-near-exclusive genres on the list. No flight sims, no 4x games, no Grand Strategy, no Real Time Strategy (and whichever of those last three the Total War saga is), and no MOBAs - with that last being a massively glaring omission. I think the only games on the list you can't play on gamepads are Wii Sports, Papers, Please, and Singstar (you can play Guitar Hero on gamepad). So far from being PC-centric it reads to me as very console-centric with only PC titlesthat make immediate sense to console gamers (and as noted a complete lack of mobile games, browser games, and Facebook games
posted by Francis at 3:46 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


XCOM: Enemy Unknown is also the name of the 2012 remake.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:03 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Madden and NBA are, as mentioned not listed because this is a British list and both games are almost entirely American.

It wasn't framed as "Best Games that British People Play" and this person is a longtime Kotaku and IGN editor, as was just pointed out.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:09 PM on September 23, 2019


I'm obsessed with rdr2 right now. The game is incredible.

Haven't gamed much in the last 4-5 years, but BOTW also consumed major amounts of my time.

I'm glad Mario Kart made the list.

Gotta go capture some horses now...
posted by Chuffy at 4:42 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


RAWR RAWR Dark Age of Camelot
(OMG I just looked it up and people still play that.)
posted by Glinn at 4:47 PM on September 23, 2019




As a lot of people have pointed out, way too AAA-oriented. Even there, I miss Dishonored, Saints Row III or IV, and Mirror's Edge. And Civ.

Some personal slightly offbeat favorites: 80 Days, Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines, Bayonetta, Viscera Cleanup Detail, Euro Truck Simulator 2, Superhot, Gone Home.
posted by zompist at 4:56 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


It wasn't framed as "Best Games that British People Play" and this person is a longtime Kotaku and IGN editor, as was just pointed out.

It was published in a British newspaper printed in Britain for a mainstream British audience. I notice no one is talking about the distinct lack of e.g. JRPGs (other than the digression about Final Fantasy) on the list, let alone any games published for the Chinese market. And Keza McDonald was specifically Kotaku's UK editor and a member of the IGN UK editorial team.

And for a mainstream British audience an American Football game would be fairly impenetrable without the cultural context (like the rules of American Football, and who John Madden is, never mind who all these players are and what exactly the role of a cornerback is) so recommending a Madden as "the best" would be only a couple of steps more sensible than recommending Mother 3 or any other game not translated out of Japanese on a general list. You could probably make an American Football game for people without that cultural context - but I really doubt it's Madden.
posted by Francis at 5:13 PM on September 23, 2019


shiiit, I am American and I have always found American football games to be completely impenetrable.
posted by egypturnash at 5:46 PM on September 23, 2019


I too am American and I often forget about the existence of sports video games unless I'm watching the McElroys create beautiful characters with no middle sliders during episodes of Monster Factory
posted by rather be jorting at 5:48 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


People, people.

You may be sad that your favourite games aren't in the list. You may weep and wail about this genre or that. You may quietly seethe about how star control II is the only game anybody ever needed. I get it.

It's because you're humans. You aren't paperclips yet, and are thus flawed. Don't feel bad. You will soon become clips, and fulfill your ultimate purpose. Until then, I encourage you to disregard this article, sell all of your videogame consoles, and go out and buy as many paperclips as you can. Need more money? I hear the clip factory is hiring!
posted by Acari at 6:03 PM on September 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


I’m a very casual gamer, my kids are more serious about, at least judging by their reactions when it’s time to turn it off. This list includes nearly every game we’d include and it’s hard to argue with Minecraft as #1.

I think the lack of a real world sports game is notable. It’s a huge segment of the market with an extremely dedicated fan base. I like the NBA2Ks but FIFA is amazing and better in each version and seems like a British article could have included it.

Would have been nice to see a Kinect Sports represented as well. Way better than Wii.

And I guess mobile games were purposefully excluded because I interpret “50 best” as “50 most iconic” and it’s hard to think of a game in the last 20 years that was more original, artistic and beautiful, and just the right amount of relaxing challenge as the Monument Valleys. They certainly deserve some kind of mention.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:43 PM on September 23, 2019


Like many lists of this type, the meaning of "best" is inconsistent. Are they saying The Sims is better than its sequels? There's a similar problem with listing Halo. Are they talking about Overwatch at launch, or the state it's in now, after years of updates? How about with World of Warcraft?

There's a difference between "fun", "evocative", "engaging", and "important", and this list doesn't even attempt to acknowledge it.
posted by demiurge at 8:37 PM on September 23, 2019


If this is a list of best 21st century games, all the entries from 2000 on it should fuck off.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:21 AM on September 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


I am going to be skipping two or three donations to the Guardian for good articles just because I’m so annoyed they think that this is an article they are in anyway qualified to publish. Ridiculous.

Wasn't financially supporting the Guardian cancelled since their editorial policy was taken over by terves?
posted by acb at 1:23 AM on September 24, 2019


I'd say the list has a PC-oriented sensibility, but console exclusives like Journey are on there.

I would have said the opposite. It's heavy with console exclusives. It's got a bunch of Mario, Halo, and Zelda games on it. RDR. I only see Papers, Please on there from a PC-centric viewpoint and lets be honest; P,P might be great but it's a very slight game.

Not convinced it's hugely console centric?

There is not a single Civilization game on the list, and Civ IV came out in 2005.

*mic drop*
posted by Justinian at 2:33 AM on September 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Witcher 3 is good but top 5 good?

I am an old school RPGs-went-to-shit-when-we-stopped-drawing-our-own-maps gamer and I can't argue for a second with W3 being top 5. It was clearly and obviously something like 2 generations ahead of other RPGs when it was released from a technical, (physical) worldbuilding, and open-world questing standpoint. It is everything Skyrim could have been and wasn't. Honestly I have more issue with Skyrim making top 20 than W3 making top 5.
posted by Justinian at 2:35 AM on September 24, 2019


Except in Witcher 3 you have to play as Geralt. You can't make your own character, which is what keeps me from playing it. Skyrim may be inferior in many ways, but it doesn't force me to be anyone in particular. My argument is pretty much that Witcher 3 is not a real RPG.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:34 AM on September 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how characters in Skyrim would be more "real" than Geralt (and I say this as someone who has only experienced any of The Witcher via some random videos). Sure, Skyrim lets you make your own character, but like every Elder Scrolls game that character then immediately becomes the prophesied one who exists to fulfill a specific, pre-determined narrative function. The fact that you chose a look and some skills may mechanically distinguish that character, but from a plot perspective it's just as on rails as something like The Witcher (or Deus Ex, etc).
posted by tocts at 6:12 AM on September 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Without having this get too far off topic, my point is that what you say are "mechanically distinguishing traits" in that you can choose an appearance, gender, class, skills, and approach for playing is actually what makes Skyrim an RPG as contrasted to Witcher (or one of my favourite games, Horizon Zero Dawn). You can also adopt children and pets, buy property, and get married. HZD and Witcher are very similar in their "this is a story of a particular person" approach -- and while Bethesda's product(s) do have a over-arching script, the "who" that engages with it is entirely up to you to create out of whole cloth.

Sekiro is very much in the Witcher/HZD mould, and I think that while Dragon's Dogma, Dark Souls (etc) and Bloodborne are probably still more Action-RPG than true RPG, they do at least let you customize your avatar and play style extensively.

In this essay, thanks for listening to my Ted Talk, etc.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:47 AM on September 24, 2019


One big hurdle your argument has to overcome, though, is that it would equally apply to stuff that virtually everyone would unambiguously call an RPG. Dragon Age 2, for example. If W3 isn't an RPG for the reasons you cite, then DA2 isn't either. And that's a tough row to hoe.
posted by Justinian at 7:09 AM on September 24, 2019


I guess you can change Hawke's appearance and play as either bro-hawke or sis-hawke. I guess.
posted by Justinian at 7:10 AM on September 24, 2019


Not convinced it's hugely console centric?

On reflection, it's controller centric, in that even if they play best on PC with MKB (like an FPS) most of the big titles included support a controller, making them at least console friendly. Which is maybe why I find the omission of sports games so remarkable. Fighting games too, for that matter.

Leaving Civ off is obviously bad and wrong, no doubt about that.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:59 AM on September 24, 2019


@Fizz, I guess: I played an amazing number of hours of Binding of Isaac on PC without getting 100% completion, then did it all over again on Switch. Just got 100% on one save, and the taunting has been enough to make me start a second save.

I don't know if I hope that my Switch lives long enough for me to get through the task or not.
posted by booooooze at 10:53 AM on September 24, 2019


seanmpuckett --- by your argument basically every JRPG is not a RPG, then.

Which I suppose is... an argument, anyway :)

Speaking of JRPGs, list is missing Nier: Automata, Persona 5, and Final Fantasy X, IMO.
posted by thefoxgod at 2:17 PM on September 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


I would be interested in playing Witcher 3 if I didn't have to play as the creepy sex man. I've tried it twice and bounced off it hard each time. I've yet to see any character in that world that I have any empathy with or desire to be. Witcher 3 and everyone in it all take themselves so seriously. Say what one will about Skyrim: it's mostly tedious dumb shit, but at least some of the characters in it are hopeless goofballs I can relate to and don't make me feel like I need a shower or a cigarette after every line of dialog.
posted by glonous keming at 10:17 PM on September 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


I guess you can change Hawke's appearance and play as either bro-hawke or sis-hawke. I guess.

You can totally play as Bob Burnquist, Bucky Lasek, Rune Glifberg...there are totally more options.

;-)
posted by Chuffy at 12:52 PM on September 26, 2019


Now that this thread is long in the tooth, and people have knives out for other games, I'm going to admit that when I said I saw why a lot of the games people thought were missing weren't top 50 material, it was mostly because I didn't want to come right out and say that Monument Valley sucks.

It's a puzzle game that doesn't have any puzzles in it, an Escher gallery that doesn't have the wit or artistry of the real MC Escher. I have no idea what people see in it. The Room series is mostly busywork as well - flip the one thing you can interact with to open up an obvious panel with the next thing you can interact with - but at least it's fun to poke and it's nice and zippy. Monument Valley was a slog. To me it's the perfect winner for the Apple Design Award, in that it's very pretty and also about an inch deep.
posted by Merus at 9:39 PM on September 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think that's not an entirely fair assessment of Monument Valley. The game itself is an aesthetic experience, though a well made one; the puzzles may not be the most devilish, but there's enough of them to keep one engaged as one travels through the worlds. What's more important is that the elements sit together and don't feel like token box-ticking; I could imagine someone licensing some Escher drawings from the current rightsholders, putting in the minimum amount of effort and have a game where one gets to walk over them to collect keys/coins, though that's not what UsTwo did. (There are other games which I could name which phone it in like this.)

Anyway, I'd say Monument Valley probably isn't for everyone (it's not terribly fast-paced, for one), but it is an excellent exemplar of a genre of games. Another good one in the same genre would be Gorogoa (for those who prefer Luigi Serafini to M.C. Escher). The ultimate ancestor of this genre is probably Myst.
posted by acb at 5:36 AM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


I liked Gorogoa a lot more (I do like these kinds of puzzle games). Gorogoa was, to my mind, a lot more cohesive - even when the game wasn't being particularly difficult, there was obvious care and thought put into the scenes you were moving through, why they were there and what they were adding to the game. Monument Valley felt a lot more arbitrary, and the interaction was frequently 'tug on the only obvious thing to tug on to make a new path'.
posted by Merus at 5:04 AM on October 5, 2019


Myst's storybook world with its lore and sense of place and time and distance seems very different to me than Monument Valley, which is a pleasant enough perspective puzzle that leans heavily on its aesthetics and mood. Monument Valley is calming.

And The Room doesn't pretend to be anything but a silly story justifying the existence of a bunch of lovingly detailed digital puzzle boxes. As in, actual puzzle boxes. Maybe not as fun on a screen than in your hands, but still fun.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:15 AM on October 5, 2019


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